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Islam means peace and submission; peaceful co-existence with the creation and submission to the creator. Those who practice the Faith of Islam are known as Muslims. Islam is not a new religion; it is actually a continuation of Judaism and Christianity. Muslims believe that when God created the world, he sent a line of prophets all of whom promoted virtue and prevented vice. The first prophet of Islam was Adam followed by others including Noah, Moses, Abraham and Jesus (Peace be upon them all). It is an integral part of Islam to believe in the above mentioned prophets and to believe in the Torah, Bible and the book of Psalms. Hence, Islam originated with the father of mankind Prophet Adam Peace be upon him.

What do Muslims Believe?

The message of Islam has been the same throughout the ages which is essentially: there is only one God Allah; the creator of the universe, the most merciful the most compassionate, He will judge mankind in the afterlife rewarding the righteous and punishing the evildoers. God has given this message through a succession of prophets, but each time people disobeyed and corrupted the guidance so that other prophets were needed to reinstate the message and guide people back to the correct belief. Subsequently, Muslims believe that after Jesus (PBUH), the people distorted and corrupted the pure message which he brought from God and thus God sent the final Prophet, Prophet Muhammed to guide mankind back to the correct path. The prophets were mortal men who received a special revelation from God; they are revered but not worshipped. Out of respect, Muslims write/say 'peace be upon him'(PBUH) after mentioning any prophet's name.

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) is the last and final prophet to be sent by God. He was born in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia around the year 571 CE. Like most people, he could not read or write. Even though he was born an orphan, he was highly respected due to his honesty, piety and excellent character. In a society of corruption, dishonesty, vice and immorality, Muhammed stood out due to his piety and supreme morality. His name was Muhammed but he was referred to as Al-Amin-Al-Sadiq (The trustworthy & truthful one). Arabia was engulfed in vice and transgression, people had ventured far away from the teachings of the previous prophet Jesus (PBUH) and God wanted to reinstate his religion. Thus at the age of 40, the angel Gabriel visited Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and informed him of God's decision to confer upon him the honour of prophet-hood. From this point onwards, Gabriel would periodically visit Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and bring to him revelations from God. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) would memorise these revelations and immediately instruct his scribes to write them down. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) preached the revelations to the people, urging them to live righteously and peacefully. The poor and humble accepted his message but the leaders of Makkah persecuted him and the other Muslims; they were tortured and driven away from Makkah. After 13 years of persecution and torture, Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his followers migrated to the city of Madinah where the people welcomed them and gave them refuge. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) lived in Madinah preaching God's message until his death in the year 632 CE. The humble and loving character of Prophet Muhammed drew thousands of people towards Islam. Annie Besant, a prominent author and women's rights activists writes: "It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher." For more quotes and references please click: http://www.cyberistan.org/islamic/quote1.html

Qur'an: the Religious Scripture

The holy Qur'an refers to the revelations which Gabriel would bring from God to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). All the revelations which Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) received over a period of 23 years constitute the holy Qur'an. God discusses five main topics in the Qur'an.
1) Belief in God, His prophets and the afterlife.
2) God's divine attributes, His power and the relationship between the Creator and the creation
3) Rulings on acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage etc
4) Advice and praise on good character and piety; admonishment on corruption and vice
5) Stories and examples

The Qur'an is solely the word of God and it is the ultimate source of guidance which is relevant and applicable to all places and times. Muslims believe that the Qur'an is an expression of many scientific and mathematical miracles; a simple Google search will give you more information on this. Many scientists, academics and notable people have embraced Islam after researching the scientific and mathematical nature of the Glorious Qur'an.

Few verses from the Qur'an:

'Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him in worship, and behave with excellence towards parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor; the neighbour who is near of kin and also the neighbour who is a stranger; the companion by your side and the wayfarer (whom you meet)', (Verse 36, Surah al-Nisa)
'The Pious and God-fearing are those who spend in charity during both times of prosperity and adversity; those who repress anger and pardon others; verily, Allah loves the good-doers'. (Verse 134, Surah al-imrán)
'O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may recognise one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is the most God-fearing'. (Verse 13, Surah al-Hujurát)

What do Muslims do?

Islam is based on five pillars. These five pillars form the core practices a Muslim must observe and they define a Muslim. All Muslims throughout the world, regardless of colour, culture, cast or country, observe the following five injunctions.
1) Shahadah (Testimony) - is to believe with the heart and affirm with the tongue that, God is One and Muhammad (PBUH) is his final Messenger.
2) Salah (Prayer) - Muslim adults are required to pray five times at different intervals during the day. Prayers can be offered individually or in congregation, in a Mosque or anywhere else.
3) Sawm (Fasting) - Muslims who are physically able are required to fast for the period of thirty days once a year during the month of Ramadan.
4) Zakat (Charity) - Wealthy Muslims must to give 2.5% of their savings annually to the poor.
5) Hajj (Pilgrimage) -Muslims who are physically and financially able are required to perform the annual pilgrimage once in a lifetime.

Place of Worship

The place of worship for Muslims is called a 'Masjid' (Mosque). Men and women both worship in the Masjid and both have an equal position in the Masjid. However, Just like Judaism and other religions Islam promotes modesty which is sometimes expressed through segregation in order to prevent inter-mingling in a sacred place like the Masjid. Muslims can also worship at home, work etc. The Green Academy Trust in Nottingham is always happy to welcome visitors to the Mosque. The Mosque also hosts an information centre and a gallery of over fifty poster displays which cover all the main aspects of Islam. Entry is free. If you are interested in visiting a mosque, please contact enquiries@greenacademytrust.org.uk to arrange a visit.

Dates of Importance

Al-hijrah - is the first day of the Islamic New Year. It marks the day when Prophet Muhammed migrated to Madinah
10th Muharram - marks the day when God saved Moses and his people from Pharaoh. Muslims fast on this day to thank God.
Ramadhan - Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days (depending on the moon). Healthy adult Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse from dawn till dusk. It is a month of charity, reflection and self discipline. The Mosque holds daily events for both men and women throughout the month of Ramadhan.
Eid al-Fitr - the end of Ramdhan is marked with a day of feasting, gifts and visiting friends and family. Muslims observe a special congregation on this day and worship together.
Eid al-Adha - Is the 3rd day of the five day Hajj period and is known as The Festival of Sacrifice. Wealthy Muslims sacrifice an animal to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to obey God's instruction of sacrificing his son Ishmael. Muslims worship together and eat from and share the meat of the sacrificed animal.
Friday - on Fridays, Muslim men and women go to the mosque and worship in congregation. The Imam will deliver a Khutbah (sermon) which is a weekly reminder on issues pertaining to morality, worship and righteousness.

Muslims in Nottingham

Based on the 2011 census, Muslims make up approximately 4.4 % of the UK population, and 9% of the Nottingham population who come mainly from a Pakistani background. Muslims are the most ethnically diverse faith group with 5200 recorded conversions to Islam majority of them being women. There 30-40 mosques and Madrasahs in Greater Nottingham, mostly in the NG7 area. As well as religious functions like worship and Quranic classes, they provide schools, day nurseries, sports clubs, trips for young people and many other activities. The Muslims of Nottingham have been involved in many community projects such as Food Banks, Homelessness Outreach, Community Street cleaning and Interfaith; for project details please contact the Green Academy Trust. The Mosque also hosts an information centre and a gallery of over fifty poster displays which cover all the main aspects of Islam. Entry is free. If you are interested in visiting, please contact enquiries@greenacademytrust.org.uk to arrange a visit. Muslim Community Organisation and Karimia Institute also provide a range of services and resources for the local community. There is a local Muslim radio station, Radio Dawn, on 107.6 FM, broadcasting in community languages. Nottingham Muslim Women's Organisation provide a range of activities and events for women. email: mwoilkeston@gmail.com for details.