Core Islamic Beliefs
Despite the diversity of the Muslim world, there are central tenets of the faith that all believers uphold. The cornerstone of Islam is an absolute faith in One Almighty God and the fierce rejection of false gods and idols. Stemming from this faith is a commitment to the unity of mankind and recognition of the unified message revealed by God's prophets throughout time.
“Islam” is the name of the religion, and a person who practices it is known as a Muslim. The adjective “Islamic” usually refers to objects or places, not people. The term “Mohammedism” is an outdated name for the faith and is considered insulting to Muslims.
Oneness of God
It is hard to overemphasize the Muslim devotion to the One Almighty God Who created and sustains all that is in the heavens and on earth. Islam represents a total commitment to God. Muslims worship only Him and believe that He alone is the Lord. Muslims reject any notion that God shares divinity with any other thing.
In Islam, God is believed to be merciful, forgiving, just, and fair. Nobody has ever seen Him, but He can see and hear everything. He has power over all things, and there is no intermediary needed to become close to Him.
Oneness of Mankind
Muslims believe in the absolute wisdom of God and His power over all creation. Thus, Muslims are not in a position to question God about the diversity in the world or to arrogantly claim that they are better than other people. Islam makes it very clear that all people are created equal in the sight of God, and individuals are not to be judged on factors over which they had no control. The Prophet Muhammad once said, “You are all from Adam, and Adam was created from dust. No individual is superior to another, except in faith and piety.” In Islam, human diversity is considered a sign of the magnificence of God's creation, and it is a blessing for us to be able to share the earth with and learn about other cultures and peoples.
The equality of all people extends to all aspects of spiritual life. In Islam, there is no priesthood, nor does any one person or class have special “access” to God. All stand equal before God, able to receive His guidance, mercy, and blessings.
Muslims prefer not to use the word “God” since it is not considered a unique proper name; it can be changed to gods, goddesses, god-awful, and so on. Instead, Muslims use the name “Allah,” which they believe to be the unique name of the One Almighty God. For the purposes of this book, the terms “Allah” and “God” will be used interchangeably.
Oneness of the Message
Muslims believe that God is unique and unchanging. Islam teaches that God sent prophets to communities all over the world, at different periods of time, to repeat the same eternal message: Believe in God, and follow His guidance. Thus, Muslims believe that Islam (peaceful submission to God) is the original teaching that God gave to all nations.
Muslims also recognize that throughout history, there have been those who followed the message and those who rejected it. Islam acknowledges an individual's right to choose faith or not. No one must ever be forced to follow the message.
Muslims believe that while the fundamental message from God has remained constant throughout time, God has sent specific guidance and laws to certain communities. There may have been differences, for example, in dietary guidelines or prayer practices among the prophets. However, the essence of God's eternal message has remained unchanged.