Day 15: Understanding Islam, part 3 — Beliefs and duties
By Jordan Rowley
, spiritual coordinator, Climbing For Christ
The principles and practices of the religion of Islam are vast. Any honest Imam or Islamic scholar would likely admit that there is much that even he doesn’t know about the Muslim faith. One could spend a lifetime of study and still have much more to learn. That said, there are six basic doctrinal beliefs and five key duties of Islam.
We briefly covered the six basic beliefs of Islam on Day 10. They are:
- Belief in the absolute unity and singularity of Allah as the one and only god.
- Belief in angels and other spirits who interact with man.
- Belief in the prophets as messengers of Allah culminating with Muhammad.
- Belief in the holy books through which Muslims are to guide their lives.
- Belief in the divine decree reflecting the sovereign will of Allah over every circumstance.
- Belief in the Final Judgment at which Allah will judge each human being as he wills based upon their deeds.
To have any hope of earning their way to Paradise, or “Jannah
,” one must not only believe these essential doctrines, but also fulfill each of the five duties, or the “Five Pillars of Islam.”
- Shahada – The testimony or declaration of faith. “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.” All Muslims make this confession. It is often whispered into the ears of newborn babies or spoken as the last words just prior to person’s death. Because the word Allah is simply the Arabic word for “the god,” it’s been said that reciting the first part of the creed “there is no god but Allah” makes one a monotheist, but the second part, “and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah” makes one a Muslim.
A minaret (Arabic for “a lighthouse”) with speakers through which the call to prayer is issued five times a day. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
No guarantee in Islam
- Salat – Prayer. Muslims are to offer prayers five times each day (sunrise, mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, and sunset). Each prayer time begins with ritual cleansing (by water) and consists of reciting specific phrases while in specific positions (standing, sitting, and bowing).
- Zakat – Give alms to the Muslim community. Each Muslim is typically expected to give approximately 2.5 percent of his wealth above a specific amount. Zakat, meaning “to be pure,” signifies the purification of one’s soul by giving. It is both a form of alms-giving as well as a tax. While voluntary in many nations today, zakat remains compulsory in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and elsewhere.
- Sawm – Fast during Ramadan. “Sawm” is an Arabic word for fasting. Although it is not limited to the observance of Ramadan, it is most commonly associated with this Islamic holy month, during which Muslims are to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations during the daylight hours. The fast is not only intended to bring one closer to Allah, it can also result in the forgiveness of sins. The Hadith states that “whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan… all his past sins will be forgiven.”
- Hajj – Make a pilgrimage to Mecca. This pilgrimage to the birthplace of Islam must be done at least once in each able-bodied and financially capable Muslim’s lifetime. The journey, taking place only in the final month of the Islamic calendar, is said to cleanse the soul and wipe away sins. During a hajj, Muslims perform a series of rituals, including walking seven times counter-clockwise around the Kaaba (the cube-shaped sacred mosque that all Muslims turn to during prayer), walking between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the devil.
These five religious duties of Islam are very meaningful to every devoted Muslim. However, most Muslims are aware that even if they do all of these things and believe the essential doctrines, they still do not have any assurance of going to paradise. It’s hard to imagine the most sincere Muslim believing each key doctrine of Islam and faithfully adhering to each pillar with all of their heart yet still not having any assurance whatsoever about the eternal destination of their soul.
The Christian Hope
Throughout the precious pages of our sacred Scriptures, again and again we find God declaring the assurance of salvation to those who place their trust in Jesus. It’s not by performing five specific duties or performing any amount of good deeds in hopes that we can outweigh our bad. The Christian hope is that those who simply believe in Jesus are given eternal life.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” – John 5:24
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” – John 6:47
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” – John 10:28-29
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:39-39
“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’” – Romans 10:13
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:11-13
- Muslims unknowingly trapped in a works-based, assurance-less religion. May the Son open their eyes and set them free.
- Those who fear their unknown fate. May they find peace and comfort through faith in Christ.
- Christians to be Spirit-led in sharing the truth that salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast,” but rather “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Day 1: Introduction to 30 days of prayer and preparation to preach the Good News to the Muslim world.
- Day 2: Understanding Islam, part 1 —Allah and his prophet.
- Day 3: The honor/shame culture, part 1.
- Day 4: Sharing the Gospel, part 1 — Truth and love, no compromise.
- Day 5: The Muslim unengaged.
- Day 6: What’s so radical about loving Muslims?
- Day 7: Entering rooms in the House of Islam —Pakistan.
- Day 8: Entering rooms in the House of Islam — Nigeria.
- Day 9: Entering rooms in the House of Islam — Turkey.
- Day 10: Understanding Islam, part 2.
- Day 11: Sharing the Gospel, part 2 — Simply Jesus.
- Day 12: Overcoming obstacles, part 1 — Family, fear, community and tradition.
- Day 13: Something is happening! New ways for new movements.
- Day 14: Entering rooms in the House of Islam – East Africa.
- Day 15: Understanding Islam, part 3 — Beliefs and duties.