The longest list of articles regarding the Islamic faith in the Koran, is in Surah 2, verse 177 ,’Faith is Belief in God, Belief in His Angels, Belief in His Books, Belief in His Prophets and Messengers, Belief in the Day of Judgment, Belief in God’s Divine Decree.
The theological debate, which can sometimes have relevant differences depending on the school and on the period of time, is therefore based on these main issues.
It would not be correct to assume that Muslims recognize only Muhammad as a prophet. Besides other messengers of the ancient times, the Qur’an lists many who are biblical characters, such as: Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elijah Elisha, Job, Joshua, Jonah, Zechariah, John (the Baptist) and Jesus. However their messages might have been altered and completed in the Koran, in order to make the Koran the perfect book, and Islam the perfect religion for all mankind.
The most important Muslim practices are the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’. The ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam. The first pillar is: Muslims bear witness to the oneness of God by reciting the creed, “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”; ritual prayer, is the second pillar; almsgiving, is the third pillar; fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam; the pilgrimage to Mecca, is the fifth pillar and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity in the world, for those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey . Only the most faithful followers fulfill these practices, however even the less observant Muslims do not question their validity.
These acts of worship, in fact, are not considered as human conventions by Muslims but as explicit divine orders. The most well-known Muslim practice is the ritual prayer which better reflects, even visibly, the meaning of the word “Islam” (which means submission to God). Muslims’ recitation of some verses of the Koran is preceded by ritual ablution. They prostrate and turn to face the holy city of Mecca and pray at five set times of day. Friday midday prayer is an obligatory congregational prayer for men, to be performed in the mosque. The first Surah of the Quran is repeated more than any other surah in the sacred book by Muslims, it is a sort of Muslim ‘Pater Noster’, “In the name of God, Beneficent and the Merciful, Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Owner of the Day of Judgement, Thee (alone) we worship, Thee (alone) we ask for help, show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favored, not the path of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.”
The fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the practices that strikes non-Muslims’ imaginations the most. Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations are not allowed between dawn and sunset during Ramadan.
These abstentions, and alms, serve to divert the body and the mind from earthly things and to turn one’s thoughts to God. During Ramadan, Muslims must also refrain from quarreling, lying and slandering. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, who are of full age, the age of puberty. Sick people, travelers, old people, pregnant women and women breast-feeding their children are exempted. Ramadan is a very important period of the Islamic year. It marks the moment of transition to adulthood and the beginning of a more widespread and conscious Muslim practice of those young people who have reached the age of puberty and start the Muslim practice.(P.B.)