Islamic faithful believe that the religion has existed eternally but has been revealed over time by a series of prophets—including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus—culminating with the Prophet Muhammad (SAV)(570–632 C.E.). For Muslims, Muhammad’s (SAV) message is the final and definitive revelation of the faith.
The literal meanings of the Arabic term “islam” are “to submit” or “to surrender.” A Muslim, therefore, is one who submits to the will of Allah, or God, the sole creator of the universe. Allah’s message is contained in the Quran, the sacred scriptures of Islam, which were revealed to Muhammad and subsequently recorded and compiled in written form. The essence of this message is found in the shahada, the Islamic creed and the first of the faith’s “Five Pillars,” or fundamental duties: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.”
Islam’s remaining obligatory deeds include the performance of daily ritual prayers (salat); the payment of a tax to support the Muslim community, particularly the poor and needy (zakat); fasting during the holy month of Ramadan (sawm); and undertaking a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca (hajj).