Islam is derived from the Arabic word "salaama" and has a two-fold meaning: peace and submission to God. This submission requires a fully conscious and keen effort to submit to the one Almighty God. One must intentionally andconscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah.
It is a universal religion and its objective is to create and cultivate in man the quality and approach of Islam. The faith of this religion is the oneness and sovereignty of God, which has shaped and looked upon all human races as one family.
Islam religion is against the idea that there are privileged people. Islam stands for the equality of all humanity without any discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, place of birth etc. Unlike other living things human beings have thinking potential and so they are invited to summit to the goodwill of God and obey His law i.e. become a Muslim. Anyone who follows Islam is known as Muslim.
The word "Muslim" is originated from the Arabic word signifying a person totally devoted to the will of the God. And the word "Allah" meaning "the one True God" is also of Arabic origin.
The history of Islam centers around Muhammad (messenger of god)(PBUH). He was born around 570 A.D. and was brought up by his extended family after the death of his parents. As he grew, he became discontented with polytheism and came to believe in one God, Allah. He began to have religious visions around age 40. During these visions, Muhammad (PBUH)would receive "messages" or "revelations" from God. He would memorize them and teach them to his followers. These visions are now recorded in the holy Qur'an (or Koran). Muhammad (PBUH)continued to receive these visions until his death in 632 A.D. The Quran has 114 suras. The Quran is believed to be the last revealed word of Allah and the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws.
The Quran covers a variety of issues such as creeds, morality, history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, good-man relationship, and human relationship in all aspects. Comprehensive teaching on which can be built sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law and international relations, are important contents of the Quran.
The complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of 'Allah' as recorded in the Quran is the religion of Islam. Islam preaches faith in the oneness and sovereignty of Allah, which makes man aware of the meaningfulness of the Universe and of his place in it. This belief frees him from all fears and superstitions by making him conscious of the presence of the Almighty Allah and of man's obligations towards Him. This faith must be expressed and tested in action. Faith alone is not enough. Islam religion has five pillars, essentially to be followed by every good Muslim, and they are:
(1) confession of faith in God and in Muhammad (PBUH)as God's messenger
(2) daily prayer at the five appointed times
(3) fasting during the month of Ramadan
(4) paying an alms-tax and giving charity to the poor and
(5) pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and its sacred shrine, the Kaaba.
Islam protects all the human rights: rights to life, liberty, freedom, equality, and justice and above this one of the basic concern is the security of the person. Islam teaches that the closest to Allah and the most beloved of Allah are those who are the best in piety. Thus all people, male and female, and regardless of race, color, nationality or ethnicity, are considered and treated as equal before Allah and before the law. Today Islamic religion has become the second largest religion in the world. Muslim occupies 20% of all the people of the world. In today's world racism, prejudice and discrimination have become a widespread problem of the entire mankind. Islam, for the last 1400 years has tried to end this discrimination and a unique example of oneness and brotherhood of all mankind can be seen clearly during the Hajj. Islam has established a universal brotherhood. It has stressed that a true brotherhood can be established only by virtue of mankind's strong relationship with one another through Allah.