Expressing beliefs about the nature of God

Sacred texts

The Qur'an is the most sacred of texts and contains guidance on how to live. Together with other sacred texts, it is used by Muslims to express beliefs about the nature of God both in the mosque and at home. The Qur'an is also used during religious ceremonies and rites of passage, for example a couple may choose to have readings from the Qur'an at their wedding.

The Shahadah

The Shahadah is the Muslim declaration of faith and the first Pillar of Islam. It expresses the belief that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. In order to become a Muslim, a person simply has to declare the Shahadah in front of witnesses. This highlights the key importance of the Shahadah in Islam.

The Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Islam are the obligations that Muslims must satisfy to live a good and responsible life and to bring them closer to God. These are:

  • Shahadah - sincerely reciting the declaration of faith.
  • Salah - performing set prayers five times a day at specific times. This is a constant reminder of the importance of Allah in the life of a Muslim.
  • Zakah - giving a portion of one's income, usually one fortieth, to help the poor. This creates a bond between rich and poor and helps Muslims to purify their wealth and keep away from greed. It is usually paid once a year.
  • Sawm - fasting during the month of Ramadan, for Muslims who have reached maturity and are in good health. This helps Muslims connect with Allah, and also with those less fortunate than themselves who live with hunger daily.
  • Hajj - the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) made during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims are expected to undertake this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically able and can afford it.

Family life

Family life is another way Muslims express their beliefs about God. Most believe that family life was created by Allah for the benefit of society, and that Muslims should follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad, who raised a family. This is also reflected in the various rites of passage Muslims undergo through their life. For example, when a baby is born the father will whisper the call to prayer, Adhan, gently into the baby's ear.

Justice and equality

Many Muslims believe that death, or capital punishment, is a justifiable punishment for serious crimes such as murder. In countries where Shari'ah law is in place, the wishes of the victim and/or the victim's family will often be taken into account.

However, forgiveness is also important in Islam and Muslims know that if they are to be forgiven, they must forgive others.

Equality is important in Islam. The obligation of Zakah shows Muslims that they have a duty to provide for those less fortunate than themselves and to redistribute the wealth with which Allah has blessed them. This shows the importance of equality.

quote
Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and establish regular prayers and regular charity will have their reward with God.Qur'an 2:277