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What does Islam teach?

Islam’s primary message, as understood by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, is the continuation of the Abrahamic monotheistic tradition’s belief in one God. The three major dimensions of Islam include beliefs, ritual practices, and the effort to improve one’s character and actions. There are six major beliefs in Islam and five central practices that are referred to as the Five Pillars.

The last dimension of Islam focuses on the cultivation of excellent moral character to better oneself and the world around oneself. It teaches a set of values that promote life, liberty, equality and justice. Some of these values include:

  • Respect for the earth and all creatures
  • Care and compassion for those less fortunate
  • The importance of seeking knowledge
  • Honesty and truthfulness in word and deed
  • Striving continuously to improve oneself and the world

Why do people suffer?

This is a challenging issue for all religions that proclaim a belief in a God who is at once omnipotent and beneficent. We believe that God tries people in different ways, through both hardship and ease. While the cause of suffering is not always evident, the way that people respond to difficulty is a test of their moral fiber. Responding to hardship with patience and fortitude is a virtue for which we believe a great reward is promised in this life and the afterlife. Additionally, there may be a silver lining behind every difficulty. For instance, major disasters often bring out the best in people, inspiring them to perform remarkable acts as they respond to their own or another’s hardship with compassion and courage and come to the aid of those in need. Muslims also take comfort in their belief that life doesn’t end after death.

What do Muslims believe about angels?

Angels are mentioned many times in the Qur’an and Hadith (prophetic sayings). Unlike humans, angels are described as beings who obey God’s commandments without fail, by nature, and are assigned to specific duties. Two of the most prominent angels mentioned by name in the Qur’an are Gabriel (Jibril) and Michael (Mikhail). Gabriel is the angel of revelation and Michael is the angel in charge of rain and earth’s plant life.

Why can't you display images of the Prophet Muhamamad (upon him be peace)

The general consensus among scholars is that physical representations of the Prophet Muhammad are discouraged on the grounds that, since the prophets are exemplars, they should not be presented in a manner that either is disrespectful or might lead to idolatry. However, one can find representations of Muhammad and other prophets in different periods of Islamic history, mainly in the form of manuscript illustrations known as Persian miniatures, in which Muhammad’s face is often obscured by light.

Why did he marry a 9 year old?

The marriage could not have been consummated until she reached puberty. Once a person reaches puberty, they are considered an adult in Islam. Lady 'Aisha had so many virtues as her intellectual discernment and excellent memory served her well in transmitting the large prophetic heritage and set her par excellence as one of the top religious scholars of her time. She happened to live for fifty years after the death of the Prophet and the companions used to seek her juristic opinion on issues which seemed intricate to them.

What do Muslim believe about Jesus?

Muslims overwhelmingly revere Jesus and believe that he was born to the Virgin Mary through an act of God, without a father, just as Adam is believed to have been created by God without a father or mother. The Qur’an describes his conception and birth and his many miracles such as healings of the sick. The Qur’an also emphasizes that Jesus was a great prophet of God and a messenger who received revelation from God, but that he was, like all other prophets, only a human being. For Muslims, God, in his divine transcendence, is incomparable to His creation in every aspect, and therefore He does not procreate, even metaphorically. Muslims also believe that Jesus was not crucified but instead was taken to heaven and will return to earth to live out the rest of his life, a belief commonly known as the second coming of Jesus.

What do Muslims believe about Mary?

Muslims generally believe that she is the Virgin Mother of the Prophet Jesus who conceived him miraculously without a father. A chapter in the Qur’an named after her (Maryam in Arabic) emphasizes her piety and righteousness and her status as an exemplar for all people. The Qur’an also describes her as the greatest of all women: “God chose and preferred her above all the women of the worlds.” (Qur’an, 3:42)

Do Muslims celebrate Christmas?

While Muslims greatly revere Jesus, Christmas is generally considered a Christian holiday and not a part of Muslim cultures except where there are Christian minorities. There is even debate among Muslims over the celebration of Muhammad’s birthday. However, some Muslims celebrate Christmas as part of an American cultural observance similar to Thanksgiving or Independence Day.

Is the Qur'an recited only in Arabic?

Since only 15% of all Muslims are Arabs, the Qur’an has been translated into and is read in many other languages, with multiple English translations. However, because Muslims consider the original Arabic text to be the literal word of God, during ritual prayers, the Qur’an is recited in its original Arabic language (just as some Catholic churches still perform mass in Latin or synagogues perform part of their prayer in Hebrew). In order to fully comprehend the Qur’an for instruction and spiritual enrichment, non-Arab Muslims also read the translation in their native language.

What kinds of prayers do Muslims do?

Prayer among Muslims can take many forms. Three very common forms are Salat (canonical prayer), Dhikr (remembrance of God, which usually involves the repetition of God’s names or a litany), and Du’a (supplication, or asking God for a need or desire or for forgiveness).

Do Muslims believe in free will?

Muslims believe that humans have free will to commit good or evil, but that God’s knowledge and power encompasses all that happens in this life. That means that we will be held accountable for our actions, since God, while knowing what the outcome will be, allows people to act on their own free will to choose good or evil.

Can I pray behind an Imam virtually?

It is not correct to pray behind a remote imam, even if the prayer is being broadcast live with video and audio via television or the Internet. The only exception would be is if this is done within the confines of the mosque or in an enclosure(s) attached to the mosque, or if the gap between the imam and the congregation is relatively small, though Muslim jurists have disagreed over the permissible length of that gap.

This view is not meant to discourage the use of modern technology and the latest methods of communication; rather, we encourage using it in a manner that is in line with the spirit of Islamic law (Shari’a) and its objectives. However we forbid using it for the purpose of praying behind a remote imam or to pray with a virtual congregation that he/she (the worshipper) is physically disconnected from and is only connected with through a broadcast live feed. This is for the following reasons:

  1. The understood implication of a “congregational prayer” necessitates that the congregants gather in the same place, and not simply at the same time. This understanding is not actualized in a ”virtual congregation,” which entails a physical separation of the worshippers and results in them not having witnessed the actual congregational prayer in the mosque: in reality, they are absent from it.

  2. This form of prayer goes against the objectives for which the Shari’a legislated congregation prayers, because it:
    • does not involve the ritual walk one takes to get to the mosque;
    • does not lead to bringing about unity and harmony among Muslims by congregating them together for it; and
    • does not promote “the mutual enjoining of righteousness and God-consciousness” (al-ta‘āwun ‘ala al-birri wa al-taqwā).

  3. It is not permissible for the gap between the rows in salat to be such a long distance, with buildings and roads acting as dividers between them, and resulting in the “virtual congregants” not being a part of the actual congregation, either in a literal or an Islamically legal sense. Acting upon this understanding has been the practice of the Muslims throughout history. This is also the opinion of the four followed madhāhib (with the exception of a few Māliki jurists). It has been a while since the advent of radio and television broadcasting, and since then you would hardly find a major scholar, legal expert (mufti), or fiqh committee anywhere permitting this innovated form of prayer, with the exception of a handful of people of knowledge who inferred its permissibility from the madh-hab of Imam Mālik. However, this view never became widespread, nor was it ever acted upon throughout the Muslim world, to the point that this matter (of not permitting such a view) has reached a level closer to the practical consensus of the Muslims. It has always been the case around the world that if Muslims wish at any time to pray in congregation, they would go to a mosque, not to a radio or television set. We appreciate the view of those who say that this ijtihād (reasoning) is specific to the current pandemic; however, we nonetheless disagree with this view and prohibit it because it is an innovation in religion. The Islamic Shari’a offers expansive ease and alternatives that are enough for us not to have to resort to such an ijtihād. All the benefits this view claims to offer are hypothetical, and can be attained in other than this form of prayer, which in itself contradicts the Islamic understanding of congregational prayer. In addition, anyone who permits such virtual congregations must be willing to allow worshippers to pray behind the imam of any mosque that shares his/her time zone, even if that mosque is in a different country altogether. Simply being able to entertain such an idea as a result of holding this opinion should be enough to demonstrate its weakness and deviation from what is accepted.

  4. The worshipper joining in on a virtual congregational prayer does not know his/her position in relation to the imam and whether or not he/she is standing ‘in front’ of him during the prayer. This is consequential, because standing in front of the imam nullifies the prayer according to many Muslim jurists. We cannot use the Ḥaram Mosque (in Mecca) as a basis to deduce a proof by analogy (qiyās) in order to permit such a prayer. Such an analogy would be flawed because the Ḥaram Mosque has clear distinct features about it that make it incomparable with any other mosque.

  5. There is a possibility that the live broadcast can be interrupted or cut off altogether (due to technical difficulties). In addition, there is usually a buffer involved in transmitting sound via broadcast, which results in a delay from the time the imam actually performs his rukoo‘ and sujood and the time the worshipper at home actually hears it, thereby resulting in the inability to properly follow the imam in prayer.

  6. Furthermore, if we permit virtual congregational prayers through broadcast at this time, it will be used as a pretext to continue permitting these forms of prayer even after this pandemic ends. People will choose to attend Jumu‘ah and other congregational prayers through broadcast in their places of residence and/or work, thereby resulting in a failure to fulfill the intent of the Legislator (Allah) in congregating the Muslims in the houses that He has permitted to be raised so that His Name be mentioned therein (i.e., the mosques).

  7. It should not be said this is a temporary concession, limited to Taraweeh, and is only being done out of fear of spreading the Coronavirus. Truly, there is no need for such innovations that are contrary to the intents of the Shari’a, because Taraweeh prayer, at the end of the day, is a Sunnah that we are permitted to perform at home. We have also demonstrated how the expansive ease of the Shari’a has made it possible for most Muslims to perform this prayer in their homes, with their families.

  8. The fact that there are prayer spaces (muṣallah) situated around the Ḥaram of Mecca wherein people pray while following the Imam of the Ḥaram – though they are disconnected from the actual mosque – is a unique situation specific to the Ḥaram Mosque and cannot be used as a basis to validate, by analogy, “virtual congregations” via Internet or television broadcast. We say that for the following two reasons:
    • The aforementioned salat which take place in prayer spaces around the Ḥaram’s vicinity are restricted to the hotels overlooking and surrounding the Ḥaram. Those who permit this type of salat do so due to the intense congestion in the Ḥaram, and because the prayer rows are still connected with one another in this case. They do not permit it simply because the broadcast is being transmitted live from the Ḥaram Mosque.
    • Following the Imam of the Ḥaram in this case is not being made possible through television or radio broadcast, rather it is because the sound is reaching them in the surrounding hotel prayer spaces directly from the Ḥaram itself. So it is as if these hotel prayer spaces are extensions of the Ḥaram. In addition, the administration of the Ḥaram Mosque does not provide this service to hotels located away from the Ḥaram, nor would you find anyone inside such remote hotels praying behind the Imam of the Ḥaram in any prayer.

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