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Islam (Arabic: الإسلام ?) is a religion. People who follow this religion are called Muslims. They believe in only one God. That God is called Allah but Allah is just the Arabic phrase for "the (only) God". Muslims read a holy book called the Qur'an. Muslims also look at the Sunnah and Hadith as important guides to understand. They believe that Muhammad was the last messenger of God who first taught the religion in ancient Arabia in the 7th century, but according to Muslims, he was not the first messenger of God to teach Islam to mankind.
Like two other religions today, Judaism and Christianity, Islam is thought to be an Abrahamic religion, because the three religions are believed to have been started by Abraham. In all three religions, Abraham is one of God's earliest messengers. Islam is now the second largest religion in the world.
Muslims, the people who follow the religion of Islam, pray in a holy place called the mosque. Most mosques have at least one dome and some have one or more towers. But a mosque does not need to have a dome or tower. Muslims take their shoes off before entering the mosque to pray. Prayer is one of the most important things that a Muslim does. The five most important things Muslims do in Islam are shown below.
The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Testimony: The Testimony (al-Shaada in Arabic) is the Muslim testimony that there is no god but God Himself, and that Muhammad is His messenger.
2. Prayer: Muslims pray five times at specific times of the day, which is one the five essential practices of Islam.
3. Alms: Muslims who have money must pay alms (Zakah or Zakat in Arabic) to help poor Muslims in the local community and other purposes like making peoples' hearts warm to Islam.
4. Fasting: Muslims fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. They do not eat or drink from sunrise till sunset for one lunar month. After Ramadan, there is a holiday called Eid al-Fitr (English: Festival of end-fast). Muslims usually have a party with families and friends and go to the mosque in the morning for a special Eid service.
5. Hajj: During the Hajj season, Muslims go to Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, which is located in Saudi Arabia. Muslims must make the hajj at least once in their life if they can afford to do so (there is no need if a Muslim does not have the money to make the Hajj). At the end of Hajj season, there is a holiday called Eid al-Adha (English: Festival of Sacrifice). Muslims who have made the Hajj must buy a lamb to sacrifice and cook as food if they have the money for it. Muslims believe that Abraham, one of God's earliest messengers, was told by God on the day of Eid al-Adha to sacrifice his son in Jerusalem. But the angel Gabriel congratulated Abraham's obedience to God and gave him a lamb instead. Muslims believe that in this time, God never allowed human beings to kill people in His name ever again.
Meaning of the word "Islam"
In Arabic, the word Islam means "submission". The word Islam comes from the Arabic word that means "surrender." By extension, islam means specifically "submission to Allah". The way to submit to God is through worshipping Him, obeying Him, following the rules in the Qur'an, and trying to be like the prophet Muhammad. The Arabic word salaam also comes from the root meaning "surrender," although the word salaam actually means peace.
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