Just as the tree has two parts, i.e., roots (Islam Fundamentals) and branches (Islam Doctrines), the teachings of Islam fall under two categories:
A. Usool-e-Deen (The Roots of religion Islam/Fundamentals of religion Islam)
1. Tawheed: Oneness of God
The most fundamental aspect of all beliefs revolves around the total acceptance of the Absolute and Perfect Creator. Belief in the Originator of all causes and effects with no effect on Him and that He is One, Ever living, Beneficent and Merciful. He has neither a colleague nor a partner. He begets not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like Him. The Almighty God is Unique and is Absolute in the Absolute sense. No entity in His Universe can ever comprehend His true state and none should even bother to try for it will lead to futility and insanity. Yet there is no doubt in any sane mind that His existence precedes all and His presence is absolutely ubiquitous (ever-present). For anyone to say that God does not exist is a liar and a fool because such a person can NEVER disprove His existence, whether scientifically or philosophically, or for that matter in any method known. Because He is Absolute and none is like Him, no one in the relative world can ever physically define Him, and thus all idol worshippers and those who ascribe a shape or a body to Him are wrong. Ascribing a shape to the One who is beyond our limited perceptions would be tantamount to lying and giving a false appearance and a false representation. In addition, to believe that one can see God in the physical sense of sitting on a throne like some mythical being is certainly an untrue statement and should never be accepted. The Almighty Creator brings to existence everything with utmost perfection and nothing in His Universe is imperfect. Thus to state that the Creator has created imperfect things is certainly a false statement. He is the One and Only and is Absolutely independent of anything and everything that exists. Glorified be His names, the Most High!
2. Adl: Justice of God
Adl is essentially part of Tawheed. Belief that God is Just. He will reward or punish any person according to his deeds and thus the notion of predestination (where all decisions are God's and not any one else's) in one's deeds does not exist. It is absolutely forbidden in Islam to believe that the Almighty, Merciful Allah planned our destiny and that the good and the bad are just His Will and there is no choice for us between them (God forbid!). Those who ascribe to such lies do so because they want to blame their own evils on Allah and claim the good for themselves! Although the attribute of Allah's Justice is not a separate entity of Allah for certainly the Almighty God can never be compartmentalized nor defined in any relative terms, it is nonetheless absolutely compulsory to believe and fully understand the importance of this attribute in Islam so as not to allow the evil suggestions of Iblees / Satan (curse of Allah be upon him and his progeny) and his companions from leading us astray.
3. Nabuwwat: Prophet hood
Belief in the Prophets of God (peace be upon them) who excel all other persons for whom they are sent for. All prophets of Allah are perfect and sinless (Masoom). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the last of the prophets sent by Allah and the sealer of prophets (Khatme Nabuwwat) for NO more are to come, EVER! The total number of prophets (pbut) that were sent by Allah to mankind is 124,000 and every nation on earth was given guidance through them. In fact, all major religions today on earth can be traced to have these divinely guided teachers as their original propagators of the Truth of Allah. The best of His messengers all came from the same tree i.e. family lineage and many of them are mentioned in the Holy Qur'an which describes who they were and what their mission on earth was. It is important to note that no prophet on earth ever negated or rejected any of the other divinely ordained prophets and thus their message was always the same and one in purpose. Each established the law of the One and Only God and showed the way of life for humans to observe. From the very first creation of mankind, there was always a prophet on earth which was Prophet Adam (pbuh). This guidance from the Merciful Allah to establish His complete laws continued to the last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who exemplified the letters of the law in his most perfect behavior. He completed and perfected the one and only True religion, Islam. With the revelation of the last Holy Book, the Holy Qur'an, which is the most protected and perfect book of God with us, he established as part of his mission, every conceivable and practical law for mankind to follow in order to attain spiritual perfection. Great prophets such as Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaaq (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Dawood (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Musa (Moses), Yahya (John), and Isa (Jesus), - (Peace be upon them all) - all came from the one blessed lineage of Prophet Adam (pbuh) and ended with the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is also important to note that anyone who ascribes imperfections or mistakes to these divinely guided personalities is ascribing it directly to Allah who is certainly free from such. Acceptance of such ideas is also rejection of the message of Allah entirely. Thus with prophet hood, a believer has to accept in their complete message without any reservations of possible errors or mistakes.
4. Imamat: Guidance (The institution of the twelve Imams after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Belief in the divinely appointed leadership after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to protect and guide mankind with the revealed Truth, the Holy Qur'an and the true practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself. Because, Nabuwwat ended with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) (Khatme Nabuwwat). The roles of these leaders are an integral part in the protection of all the Messengers and their divine Messages. The Almighty Allah appointed through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, twelve Guides (Imams) to protect mankind from misrepresenting and misinterpreting the Truth. Belief in this is most important in Islam and no doubts about their positions should be allowed. They are indeed sinless (Masoom) and perfect in the highest sense of the word. The Imams have direct knowledge from God, and their verdict is the verdict of God. After the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), only they can interpret and guide mankind in every aspect of life and death and all believers must acquire guidance from them or else they will certainly be lost. They do NOT bring any new laws nor do they ever innovate their own laws. They always exemplify and elucidate the practical (Sunnah) and the written (the Holy Qur'an). It is also important to note that they NEVER disagree with each other in their manners and duties nor in their representations of the Divine Laws. They are from the best and the most blessed and purified lineage of the last Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and their names are as follows:
(1) Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who called him his only brother in this world and in the next, (2) Imam Hasan son of Imam Ali, (3) Imam Husain son of Imam Ali, (4) Imam Ali son of Imam Husain, (5) Imam Muhammad son of Imam Ali, (6) Imam Ja'far son of Imam Muhammad, (7) Imam Musa son of Imam Ja'far, (8) Imam Ali son of Imam Musa, (9) Imam Muhammad son of Imam Ali, (10) Imam Ali son of Imam Muhammad, (11) Imam Hasan son of Imam Ali, and the last and living Imam Muhammad son of Imam Hasan, the establisher of the Truth till the end of this world (pbuh). There is no successor to the Twelfth Holy Imam Muhammad son of Imam Hasan (pbuh) and he is LIVING today but is in occultation and appears only to those who are most in need and to those who are most virtuous and pious. By the Command of Allah, he will reappear to all when he will establish true justice on earth and will rule mankind compassionately with utmost perfection as is the Will of the Almighty Allah. He will abolish the evil establishments on earth and mankind will live under true guidance as should have been many centuries ago!
Imams are twelve and they are the only rightful Imams. There is no successor to the twelfth Imam. He is alive but invisible in accordance with the Will of Allah and will reappear when He commands, which will signify the coming end of the world.
5. Qiyamah: Day of Judgment / Day of the Resurrection
Belief in the Day of Judgment, when all human beings shall be raised from the dead and all their good and bad deeds shall be ultimately judged and recompensed accordingly. This belief is most essential WITH the belief in the One True God. The Day of Judgment will prove to all in this Universe that the Almighty Allah is the Creator of all from nothing and is the Absolute Master. His divine presence shall be most apparent on this important Day for all to witness. It is a judgment Day for His creatures to know themselves and their relationship to the Creator Allah. Just as pursuit for justice is inseparable in any society on earth, so is the Ultimate Day of Justice inseparable for mankind.
One who does not believe in 'Tawheed', 'Nabuwwat' and 'Qiyamah' is not a true Muslim; whereas in addition to the above-mentioned three items, Shia Muslims consider 'Adl' and 'Imamat' as also the fundamentals of religion Islam.
B. Furoo-e-Deen (The Branches of religion Islam/Doctrines of religion Islam)
01. Namaz/Salat: Prayer
Salat, Namaz or prayer is Wajib (Obligatory) for a Muslim five times a day. The prayers are obligatory on those who have become "Baligh" (puberty). For the purpose of fulfillment religious obligation a boy becomes "baligh" on completion of his fifteen year, and a girl on completion of her ninth year.
Prayers are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so a learned person who knows the Holy Qur'an, chosen by the congregation, leads the prayers. These five prayers contain verses from the Holy Qur'an, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one's own language.
Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said: "If Allah accepts one's Salat (Prayers), other good deeds of his will also be acceptable to Him. But if Allah rejects one's Salat, his other good actions will be surely rejected.
02. Roza: Fasting
Observance of fasts becomes obligatory from the day following the appearance of the new moon of the month of Ramadan till the night when the new moon of the succeeding month appears.
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.
03. Zakat: Wealth Tax
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both 'purification' and 'growth'. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year at the rate of one out of every forty, on the value of one's capital possessions such as gold and silver coins, wheat, barley, dates, raisins, camels, cattle and sheep, after satisfying certain conditions.
A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as 'voluntary charity' it has a wider meaning. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said 'even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.'
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: 'Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.' He was asked: 'What if a person has nothing?' The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) replied: 'He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.' The Companions asked: 'What if he is not able to work?' The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: 'He should help poor and needy persons.' The Companions further asked 'What if he cannot do even that?' The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said 'He should urge others to do good.' The Companions said 'What if he lacks that also?' The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said 'He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.'
"And offer prayers and pay Zakat and bow down with those who bow down (in worship)" Holy Qur'an 2:43
04. Khums: One fifth levy
Paying one-fifth of the amount of a year's saving (after deducting all legitimate expenses from the earnings of that year) is called Khums.
Sadaats (descendents of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) have a right over half of this amount which should be paid to those amongst them who are poor and needy. The other half belongs to the Imam and should be paid to his Naaebs (Mujtaheds).
"And know that out of all wealth you may acquire, one fifth of it is for Allah, and for the messenger and for his Kinsmen, and the Orphans, the poor and the wayfarer." Holy Qur'an 8:41
05. Hajj: Pilgrimage to Makkah
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments, which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Kaaba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last day of Judgment.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, is the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.
06. Jehad / Jihad: Holy War
Means to strive or fight in the way of God. Jihad literally means "strive" and as striving can be of various kinds and in different ways, it includes also fighting when it becomes the only alternative to defend the faith and the faithful.
07. Amar Bil Maroof: (To enjoin virtue) and 08. Nahi Anil Munkar: (To forbid vice)
"Let there arise out of you, a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the ones to attain felicity." Holy Qur'an 3:104
09. Tawalla: To love divine persons
Means to love and respect the Ahlul Bayt and to be friendly with their friends.
10. Tabarra: To keep away from enemies of divine persons
Means to disassociate or keep aloof from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt.
Islam Fastest Growing Religion: Frequently Asked Questions continued...