Islam is a relatively new religion as compared to other popular and more followed religions of the world. However, Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion. There are believed to be more than 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. This makes Islam the second largest religion in the world by sheer size of followers, right after Christianity. So let’s try to get a basic understanding of Islam as a religion. Islam, by the literal meaning of the word, means to surrender, to submit. This submission is to one God, Allah. Hence, Islam basically means to surrender to the will of Allah.
Quran, the holy book of Islam, clearly defines that the basic purpose of mankind is to worship Allah. Muslims, or followers of Islam, are people who believe in one God and worship Him. They follow His commandments and His words sent to mankind by His books and His prophets. The first prophet of Muslims is Adam and he is followed by a chain of messengers or prophets, sent to the earth to protect mankind from sins and to make them obey Allah. Muhammad (SAW) is the last prophet of Muslims and Quran, the final word of Allah, was spread among people through him.
There are five basic pillars of Islam; the first and foremost being Shahada, declaration and belief in one God and Prophet (SAW), Salat (offering prayers five time a day), Zakat (giving of charity), Fasting, and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah). There are two major sects of Muslims; Sun’ni and Shi’a. Both of these facts believe in the five basic pillars of Islam and to follow them is essential for any able Muslim.
Islam believes in equality amongst humans. It strictly asks it’s followers to not discriminate on basis of caste or race or color. Muslims are suppose to treat all humans with respect and proper honor, even if they don’t share the same beliefs. Islam wants its followers to demonstrate peace and avoid conflict wherever possible. Sharia Law is the basic Islamic Law and every Muslim is to abide by Sharia Law. This law is not just a set of rules and regulations. Sharia is basically a code through which Muslims are expected to live their lives.