Common Questions about Islam

This is a list of Questions a lot of non-Muslims have about Islam. They address the common misconceptions, so we hope this helps you understand Islam and Muslims that you see everyday walking the streets, sitting in a nearby desk at work or College.

From the book: "Frequently asked questions about Islam"

ﷺ means: Allah's Peace and Blessings be upn him
Who is Allah?
It is the Arabic name for God. It comes from al and ilaah which when translated means “The God”. All Arabs (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) use the name Allah when they refer to God.
Who is Prophet Muhammad ﷺ?
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is God’s final Messenger. He is a descendent of Prophet Abraham and Ishmael. Even before his appointment he was famous in Arabia for his honesty and good character. Muhammad ﷺ abhorred evil acts committed in Arabia at the time, e.g. female infanticide, adultery, alcohol, abuse of women, idolatry etc.

He often used to go to a mountain cave where he used to meditate. At the age of 40, he received revelations. Muhammad ﷺ was very scared when Angel Gabriel visited him.

However, his wife’s cousin Waraqah bin Nawfal who was a Christian scholar, confirmed that it was the same angel who had visited Moses. Waraqah also predicted that Muhammad ﷺ would be expelled by his people from Makkah. Thus happened years later.

Waraqah died soon after the first revelation. The revelations came to be known as the “Quran”
Are there other requirements for Muslims other than believing in God and His Messenger?

Islam has 5 major pillars. They are:

  1. Belief in only one God and Muhammad ﷺ as His Messenger.
  2. Prayer Five times a day.
  3. Paying the Poor their due namely Zakaah.
  4. Fasting in the month of Ramadan.
  5. Pilgrimage (Hajj) - compulsory once in one’s lifetime if one has good health and the financial means.

A Muslim is required to observe all of them.

Do Muslims worship the black stone (Ka’bah) in Makkah?
The Ka’bah (cube) is the direction that Muslims face during their prayers. However, Muslims do not worship the Ka’bah at all. The evidence of this is that if the Ka’bah is destroyed by a flood or something else, Muslims will still face that direction in their prayers.

Again, if a Muslim is travelling and doesn’t know the direction of the Ka’bah, he/she is allowed to make his/her best judgement and pray in that direction and his/her prayers will be accepted even if he/she is not facing the Ka’bah. Muslims only worship and bow down to their Creator. Muslims worship One God, they have One Quran, they are one nation and they have one direction of prayer. All these aid them in their unity.
Did Muhammad ﷺ perform miracles?
God Almighty gave miracles to all Prophets. Muslim historians have recorded several miracles performed by Muhammad ﷺ. These could only be performed by one sent by God. The greatest existing miracle of Muhammad ﷺ that remains is the Quran.

The Quran is the only book in the world that has been preserved in its original and complete form. The Quran is the only book that has been fully memorised by millions of Muslims. For people to learn a book by heart is a miracle in its own. If all books and internet sites etc. were to be destroyed, the only one book that can be reproduced fully in its correct unadulterated, original form is the Quran. 
"إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ"
الحجر | 9
"Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian"
Al-Hijr | 9
In addition to that, the Quran contains several scientific details and historical facts that have only recently been discovered by science but were mentioned in the Quran more than 14 centuries ago. The miracles within the Quran are too numerous to mention here and so is the case with other miracles of Muhammad ﷺ.
Do Muslims pray to Muhammad ﷺ?
No. Muslims only pray to the One God who is the Creators and Sustainer of life. In spite of the fact that Muhammad ﷺ performed many miracles, he was an ordinary human being who is highly respected. All his miracles were only possible by command of God. Similarly, Muslims do not pray to any other Prophets or things other than God Almighty.
What is the Quran?
It is God’s final message to mankind. It is a book of Guidance and a constitution for every day living. It deals with every aspect of life, and provides practical solutions to life’s problems. The Arabs who were at the peak of eloquence of pure Arabic knew that no human could produce such a thing.

Muhammad ﷺ himself could not read nor write. Thus hearing a few verses would change their lives completely as they would accept the faith. Those who didn’t accept were challenged by the Quran to produce something similar to it but they couldn’t.

The Quran still remains in its original pure unadulterated form today as it was revealed to Muhammad ﷺ more than 1400 years ago. The challenge to produce a book similar to the Quran or to prove it as not being from God still remains as well.
Are all Muslims Arabs?
No, in fact the vast majority of Muslims are non-Arabs. However, the vast majority of Arabs are Muslims. Islam is a universal religion and is intended for the entire human kind as stated in the Quran. It is not for a particular group, tribe or race.
What does Islam teach about Jesus?
Islam teaches that Jesus is the son of Mary, and that he is a human being. He was a Prophet of God who had a miraculous birth, i.e. he was born of a virgin and had no father. However, this doesn’t mean that he be taken as an object of worship in any way. Even Adam and Eve didn’t have a father. In fact they didn’t even have a mother. This is an even greater miracle than having at least a mother.

Jesus performed many miracles and other Prophets also performed similar miracles. Miracles can only be performed by the permission and aid of God alone. Islam also teaches that Jesus was not crucified but was raised to God – yet another miracle. He will return once again and will establish justice and peace on earth.
Do Muslims believe in the Original Sin?
Muslims believe that Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, both of them. However, after they were expelled from Heaven, they turned to God in repentance and He forgave them. Indeed, He is the Most Forgiving and Merciful. Islam teaches that no individual is responsible for the sin of another.

Thus, no one is responsible or blameworthy because of Adam and Eve’s sin. In Islam, every individual is born innocent and free of any sin.
What does Islam state about life after death?
Islam teaches that every soul shall taste death. However, this death is just the beginning of a new eternal life. This life starts from the grave where a person rests peacefully or is punished for his deeds. However, this is not the end of everything because on an appointed time that is known to God alone (the Day of Judgement), humans and animals will be resurrected for reckoning.

As for humans, God will question them many things including, how they spent their youth – in doing good or evil, the sources of their incomes – from permissible means or illicit means, the rights and duties of parents, orphans, neighbours,poor, needy and oppressed etc – in what way were they supported or were they denied their rights.

None will be able to lie on that day and none will be able to get a special hearing. Similarly, none will be able to influence Gods decision through economical, political or other means. God will give a decision to each individual and he/she will take his/her place either in Heaven or Hell.
What is the day of Judgement?
It is the day when the Most Supreme Judge will judge all humans and animals. He will not be unjust to anyone. Reckoning will start with animals and after they have received their rights from God, He will turn them to dust. Then, reckoning will start for humans. Everyone on that day will be given a chance to speak and every soul will be given its rights. On that day, people will be shown their way either to heaven or to hell.
What happens in heaven or hell?
The life there is an eternal one. All people who lived their lives according to God’s guidelines will enter paradise. God will reward them in abundance and they will have what they desire. As for those who chose to follow their whims and desires, such will enter Hell except if God forgives them and He is the Most Merciful.

The dwellers of hell will be punished for their rejection of God’s guidelines.There are some people who will be taken out of hell and placed in heaven after their punishment. However, there are others who will live in hell eternally.
Do Muslims believe that all religions lead to the same end?
No. Islam very strongly rejects this statement. How is it possible that the Quran prohibits idol worship and describes it as the worst sin and then all those who worship idols will have the same end as those who don’t? How is it possible that the Quran states that God does not have a son and then all those who take him to behaving a son have the same end as those who don’t? How is it possible that the Quran describes God’s attributes and then those who negate His attributes or make additions or deletions to it, face the same end as those who don’t?
What is Jihad?
Jihad means “to strive” or “to exert oneself”. A Muslim is required to strive in the path of truth with his soul and wealth. Jihad has many different levels and of the highest level of Jihad is to speak the truth in the face of a tyrant. Self-control or taking up arms in defence of oneself or ones family is also Jihad.

Similarly defending our homes from occupiers or tyrants is a form of Jihad. The word Jihad does not mean “war” but if Muslims are required to defend themselves, their families or their neighbours on a large scale then on such occasions, Islam does allow combative Jihad.

However, it is only the righteous Muslim Head of State who is allowed to call to combative Jihad. The declaration can come only if treaties are broken by the other party or Muslim lands or people attacked. However, every effort must be made to restore calm and peace before war is declared. War in Islam is only justified if it is the last resort. Again, the doors to restart peace talks must be kept open at all times.
Was Islam spread by the sword?
For several centuries, many who hated Islam have been deliberately confusing the ordinary masses by spreading lies such as the notion that Islam was spread through the use of the sword. 

The fact, however, is that it is Islam’s wonderful way of life and its practicality in providing solutions to all aspects of life whether political, economic, social or personal that resulted in its globalisation 13 centuries ago. Neither are there records of Muslim armies entering Indonesia – the world’s most populous country, to “convert it,” nor is there a Muslim army today in the West which is witnessing an incredible rise in the acceptance of Islam amongst its citizens of Western countries.

Despite attempts to discredit it, abuse or accuse it, more and more people from all walks of life are finding solutions to life’s unanswered and unexplained problems in Islam. Islam continues to invite non-Muslims to learn the truth about Islam with an open mind, free from any bias and only from correct sources.
Are Muslims allowed to kill Non-Muslims?
Islam holds the life of every human as sacred. According to the Quran, killing an innocent soul is equated to obliterating all of humanity.
"مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ"
المائدة| 32
"Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors"
Al-Ma'idah | 32
The history of Islam itself portrays the upholding of this essential commandment. The Islamic empire ruled many parts of the world for approximately 1000 years. It signed peace agreements with anyone who wanted it. Places like India, Spain, Palestine and Egypt reflect the Muslims adherence to their religion. Had Islam commanded the killing of Non-Muslims, not a single Hindu, Jew or Christian would have been alive in these countries today. 

Moreover, the Jews who were being persecuted by Europeans found safe haven amongst Muslims and when Muslims were forced out from Spain, Jews chose to accompany them. The Prophet himself warned against harming Non-Muslim residents of a Muslim state (called Dhimmis in Islam, which means covenanted people) and said that anyone harming a Dhimmi has hurt the Prophet himself. 

The life of the Prophet and his companions are full of wonderful stories illustrating the excellent treatment, rights and justice that were accorded to Non-Muslims.
Does Islam oppress women?
The truth is that Islam elevated the status of women more than 14 centuries ago. Islam prohibited female infanticide, which was rampant in Arabia. It gave women the same status as man in creation. In matters of piety or spirituality, it declared that God alone is the Judge, as he best knows the hearts. Islam put an end to several crimes and injustices directed at women. It gave women the right to speech in public.

Women were allowed to oppose rulers on any issues that they considered inappropriate, inadequate or unjust. They could do this publicly without any fear of retaliation or retribution. Islamic history itself records many examples of these. In addition to that, Islam legislated that women could inherit and could own assets. It also legislated that a woman’s wealth was her property and no one could take it.

According to Islam, no matter how wealthy a woman could be, her clothing, protection, and sustenance is the responsibility of her husband if she is married or her father or brother if otherwise.

Several verses of the Quran were revealed commanding the believing men to be kind, just and pardoning to women. The Prophet also guided his followers to good treatment of females. Islam gives respect to women at every stage of her life – when she is a daughter, when she is a wife, and when she becomes a mother.

The evidence of Islam’s honourable treatment of women are too many for this booklet but the fact is evident. Islam continues to resurge in a manner unprecedented in the last 1000 years. What is amazing is that inspite of the accusations against Islam and its treatment of women, the number of women accepting Islam exceeds men.
Why do women have to lower their gaze and have a different dress code (Hijab)?
Islam emphasises modesty and thus certain guidelines have been placed to ensure the well being of society. Modesty applies to both men and women. Islam commands both men and women to
"قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ (30) وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ .."
النور| 30
"Tell the believing men to lower [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. (30) And tell the believing women to lower [some] of their vision ..."
An-Nur | 30

Lowering the gaze doesn’t mean looking down when walking and not being able to see where one is going, but implies that one should avoid lustful gazes, evil thoughts and intentions. As far as dress requirement are concerned, the following guidelines apply to both men and women.

  • Garments should be loose – not revealing body parts.
  • It should not be attraction in itself – e.g. bright colours.
  • It should not be transparent.
  • It should not imply a social status.
  • It should not resemble the garments of the opposite sex.
  • It should not resemble the clothes that are specific identities of other religions.
  • For men,the navel to the knees must be covered.
  • For women, the entire body other than the face(optional) must be covered.
If Islam is such a good faith, then why is the media flooded with stories about atrocities being committed by Muslims in the name of Islam?
It is true that the number of reports against Muslims and Muslim countries are numerous. However, the media is doing no justification in reporting as it only brings those cases that appear to be problematic. When a few of these cases are publicised, some people think that these acts are normal and everyday acts within Muslim countries.

It is true that there are “black sheep” in every community but the way Islam is depicted in the media makes it seem that every Muslim is a “black sheep”. When a Muslim commits a wrong, his religion is quickly accused and Islam creates headlines but when others commit similar acts, there is often no reports or the religion does not get mentioned. Milosevic and Hitler were guilty of mass murder and ethnic cleaning, but their religions were never blamed.

According to Islam, every human being is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, blame cannot be placed on entire nations and communities because of one or a few individuals conducts.

Similarly, just like Christianity cannot be judged by the actions of Adolf Hitler or Slobodan Milosevic, Islam cannot be judged by the actions of any Muslim or group of Muslims who have committed a crime or many criminal acts. If anyone wishes to judge Islam or to understand it better, they have to study its authentic sources – i.e. the Quran and the practical exemplary way of the life of the Prophet.

Media companies are not driven by a mission to educate but to gain profits. Hence profits decide the headlines at the end of the day.

Islam urges everyone who wants to know more about Islam to study its sources rather than concentrate on Media reports.
What is Shari’ah? If Muslims want to live under this system, why don’t they live in a Muslim country?
Shari’ah is the constitution of Islam and Muslims. It covers every aspect of a Muslim life whether it is social, political, economical or personal. Its laws also extended to businesses, organisations and governments.

The purpose of Shari’ah is to ensure security, peace, protection and justice for all members of the society or the country regardless of their creed.

Such a system is currently non-existent in any part of the Muslim world. There is not one country in the world that is even close to be a true Islamic system. People must not be misled into believing that those are Muslim countries in the sense they follow or uphold Shari’ah law. In fact, Muslim countries are so called only because of Islam being religion of the majority of the population there and not for any other reason.

As a matter of fact, many Western countries are much closer to the Shari’ah than Muslim countries.
Why do Islam and Christianity have so much in common?
Jesus and Muhammad ﷺ are descendants of the great Prophet of God – Abraham. Muslims believe that although the name “Islam” is new, the message of Islam (i.e. worship one God and shun all evil) has been in existence since Adam. Thus we believe that Jesus who preceded Muhammad ﷺ by approximately 570 years was also a Prophet of God who came with the same message that Mohammad brought (i.e. worship one God and shun all evil).

However, with the passage of time, a lot of distortions crept in and the original message no longer exists. The whole concept of God is the greatest difference between Islam and Christianity. In addition to that, Christians believe in all Prophets of God up to Jesus while Muslims believe in all Prophets of God up to Muhammad ﷺ and including Jesus.
Are some forms of Islam more moderate than others?
There is only ONE form of Islam and that is the Islam taught to us by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as it was revealed to him. This Islam, as the Quran mentions, is a moderate religion and does not go to any extremes nor allows extremism.
"وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا .."
البقرة| 143
"And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you ..."
Al-Baqarah | 143
Some writers have tried to classify Islam into various forms. Some of these are: Political Islam, Social Islam, Mystic Islam, Traditional Islam, Moderate Islam, Fundamentalist Islam, Feminist Islam and soon. These classifications are wrong due to the simple fact that there is only one form of the faith and it has been like this for centuries. Islam is a way of life and thus politics, social justice, mysticism, feminism and moderation are all part of Islam.

Many people have difficulty in understanding this, as their view of faith and life are two different things altogether. However, in Islam, every action has a connection with faith. This includes going to work, visiting the sick, studying, engaging in business, an individual’s conduct with his family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. Representing the people in government, aiding the poor, speaking the truth at all times even if commanded to do otherwise by the employer are also part of faith.

Islam is a complete way of life.
What is Islam’s stance on other religions and minority groups?
Islam respects all humans regardless of their race or religious background. Islam gives individuals the freedom to worship what or who he/she likes but at the same time, it urges them to recognise their Creator.

Islam’s respect for other religions and minority groups is reflected in its unique history of tolerance and cooperation with them. The non-Muslim citizens of a Muslim state are called Dhimmis (covenanted people). These are guaranteed the protection of their lives, properties and honour exactly like that of Muslims.

The Prophet announced that anyone hurting a Dhimmi hurts the Prophet himself.

History itself records that Christians and Jews have lived in Muslim countries for years and continue to live there today. India, in spite of being ruled by Muslims for close to 1000 years still has a large Hindu population there. Had Islam not legislated respect and tolerance of these groups, none would have been spared.
Have Muslims made any contribution to humanity?

Islam encourages the seeking of knowledge at all times, regardless of ones age. The Quran pushed Muslims to seek knowledge. This Muslim started to travel the globe centuries ago seeking knowledge. Others came to cities like Baghdad to continue their research. It so happened that as a result of this “explosion in knowledge” Arabic became the language of international scholarship and the best scholars were graduated from Muslim Universities.

The first University in the world, "University of Al Quaraouiyine" in Morroco which was established by a Muslim woman "Fatima al-Fihri", still exist as a major centre of learning. Muslims excelled in many fields of knowledge – art, architecture, astronomy, geography, oceanography, history, languages, literature, medicine, maths, physics, chemistry, philosophy and so on.

Algebra, algorithm and Zero (0) are examples of common Muslim contributions to the world. The astrolabe and quadrant which enabled European discoveries are also Muslim contributions. Muslims also made detailed navigational and world maps. Some prominent Muslimc ontributor’s are:

  • Ibn Hayyan (Geber, 738-813) known as Father of Chemistry
  • Al Khawarizmi (Algorithm, 750-850) Father of Maths
  • Ar Razi (Rhazez 864-930) identified and treated smallpox, also made several contributions in the medical field
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 981-1037) his books were considered the authority of medicine for over 500 years
  • Al Zahran (Albucasis, 936-1013) recognised as Father of modern surgery
  • Al Idrisi (Dreses 1099-1166) made the first world maps which even clearly showed North,Central and South America, and
  • Ibn Rushd (Averroes 1128-1198) philosopher,astronomer and physician.
Why do Muslims have arranged marriages?
Having spoken to several people on this issue, I have come to realise that generally,there exists a great difference between the understanding of this phrase – “arranges marriages” – between Muslims and Australians of non-Muslim backgrounds. Many non-Muslim Australians perceive an arranged marriage to be one that is an agreement between two families with the bride and groom not having any say whatsoever in the final decision. Similarly,the bride and groom on many occasions do not see each other except after the marriage.

Such marriages have nothing to do with Islam at all. In Islam, acceptance or rejection of a proposal is entirely on those who are to get married. The individuals can discuss amongst themselves their future intentions and plans. They can meet more than once if need be but the interested parties are not allowed to spend evenings or nights out together before marriage. All meetings and discussions are only allowed under supervision of elders.

If for any reason whatsoever, any one of the parties is not fully satisfied, they have the right to decline the offer and no blame is on them. However, if they accept each other, they are married in a very simple ceremony which takes less than 5 minutes. Such is the description of marriage sin Islam and anything contrary to it is not Islamic if it takes place in a Muslim country.
What is Islam stance on B.B.Q’s?
One of the beauties of Islam is its flexibility integrate with other cultures and customs. Pakistanis, Arabs and Africans dress differently to each other, but all styles are acceptable in Islam as long as it doesn’t breach the Islamic guidelines on dress. Indians, Indonesians and Jamaicans have their own individual distinctive style of cooking and all the styles are permitted in Islam as long as they do not breach the Islamic guidelines relating to food.

Similarly, in the case of BBQ’s, if the meat and drinks meet Islamic guidelines and other rulers pertaining to socialising are respected then such BBQs are not only acceptable, but God rewards the hosts and the guests if they come together to improve their relations or for a good cause.
Should I accept Islam?
There is no compulsion for one to accept Islam. However, Islam encourages humans to search for the purpose of their creation and other practical solutions to life’s problems. Islam itself provides these answers and invites everyone to accept it but it doesn’t force anyone. Islam states that humans have been endowed with the faculty of understanding and reasoning and acceptance or rejection is entirely an individual’s choice. However, it also warns that every soul will be accountable for the choice it makes.