Blog Post

Islam Simplified | A Guide to Better Understanding Islam

So you’ve heard these terms so many times, whether on CNN, the latest bill being passed or on the train station- Mozlems this, Muslims that, Islam this, Radical Islamists that. 

Some Muslims don’t drink, others own the bar down the street, some muslim women wear a hijab, some are covered from face, to head to toe, others are tanning in a bikini at the beach. So what’s the deal with these Muslims you might wonder? Who are they and what do they believe? 

This will be the first post of a series of “Islam 101″ blogposts to better explain what Islam is to those who think all we do is set off bombs and yell “Allah Akbar” *eye roll*

In this post specifically I’ll be covering some main ideas that will (hopefully) make the foreign map of Muslim beliefs be more navigable. 

The One Thing–  There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world and counting. Across the board, from east to west the one absolute thing that all Muslims have in common is their belief in the oneness of God.

Muslims believe that there is only one God. God has no father or mother, no son or daughter, no one shares His throne. None is equal to Him. He is the ultimate Creator, He is the only worthy of worship and surrendering to. 

This is a major point in Islam, Muslims do not worship idols, or their prophet Muhammad (swt) or any of the preceding prophets that they believe in. It’s just God, and God alone who is worth worship to Muslims.

Below are some verses from the Quran that I chose to illustrate this point, this is just one example (you can feel free to skip the quote since it’s kind of long):

“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” [Quran, 59:22-24]

Everything in Islam functions around this basic block of monotheism and God being at the ultimate top of the hierarchy that the religion branches out from.

This brings us to the second most important part of the religion that you need to know in order to understand what Muslims believe and how they function.

The Second Thing- The Holy Quran (Quran/Koran/Coran) is the book of the Muslims.

Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God as communicated to the prophet Mohammad (swt) by God through the archangel Gabriel. Or Jibreeel if you want to say it the arabic way.

Some things you should know about the Quran, is that it contains the same stories from the Torah and Bible with some changes and additions. Muslims believe that God’s message was altered as time went by in these previous scriptures, and the Quran is the final “revelation”.

In Islam, the Quran is seen as the true word of God, since the Quran has been unchanged since its revelation to the prophet over 1400 years ago. The very first copy of the Quran compared to a Quran printed last week, are identical in text.

So now that we’ve established the second most important aspect of Islam that dictates the actions and belief system of Muslims, let’s put the two together.

Muslims worship God and God alone, Muslims believe that the Quran is the unchanged and unchanging word of God that they follow.

This brings us back to our initial question, if that’s the case, then how come the end result is so different between Muslims and what they believe and what they practice and preach?? What causes these drastic variations between Muslims; like Muslim women who think it’s their mandated religious duty to cover up a certain way, and have a specific ceremony for marriage etc.

There are certain aspects of the religion that for the most part, the majority of Islamic scholars and clerics agree on, and have agreed on for centuries that are integral in the religion and cemented. Such things are the five pillars which are: praying five times a day, fasting the month of Ramadan, giving charity, performing the Hajj pilgrimage (which is basically a visit to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to visit the house of God), and to believe in God and his message as relayed by the prophet Mohammed (swt).

Muslims know they have to do these things, amongst others, the issue arises when it comes down to how they have to these things. How to perform Hajj? How to perform daily prayers? How much charity to give and to whom?

Ultimately it comes down to this; as Muslims we have to follow the words of God as they are presented in the Quran. The problem is, the Quran isn’t very specific. So, for example, when it asks Muslims to meditate/pray five times a day, it mandates that we do so, but it doesn’t explain how we are supposed to do it. And that’s because the prophet Mohammed (swt) explained and taught and showed these things, and we are to do them as he did.

The problem now, and this is where things get messy and funky and all confusing, is that video recording did not exist at the time (obviously), and the actions and sayings of the prophet Mohammad (swt) were relayed from one person to another.

Another example is the modesty part. The Quran commands women and men to dress modestly and guard their private parts. But the definition of dressing modestly varies from person to person and it comes down to the research you do, and the sources you believe in.

Now, if you’ve played a game of telephone, you know how messy this can get real quick. And despite the scrutiny with which certain scholars at the time attempted to collect and filter through the recounted stories of the prophet’s sayings and teachings, there are many Hadith* collections out there and it’s up to the individual to research and decide which is the most authentic for them to follow.

And let’s not even discuss the role that culture plays in this, because that is a whole other non-ending discussion for another time.

I will post the remaining explanations for this “Islam 101” segment sometime next week. Hope to see you then, in the meantime, my friends, hope you learned something from this super-condensed hasty and brief overview of why we crazy mozlems are all so different yet the same 😉


DISCLAIMER: I am not a scholar in Islam, I am writing this as a practicing Muslim person who is fairly knowledgable (or at least believes herself to be fairly knowledgable) about her religion. So, with that in mind if you are reading and see something wrong then: LET ME KNOW! Even if there’s anything I said that might’ve implied something that is wrong. Let me knowww.


Some great resources (that I approve of) to continue your research: To learn more about the oneness of God in Islam click HERE

*Hadith- a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran.


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Blog Post

About Your Faith

About Faith

-from an excerpt in Nahjol Balagha

(1) It is a road that is crystal-clear, inundated with light.

(2) Faith leads you to good deeds, and good deeds lead to faith. [rest of excerpt continues at end of post]

Notes on faith. Don’t let it wither, don’t let it dry out. I know how busy everyday life can get, I truly do, but you need to stop for a minute and take a breather. Continue reading

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Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

How could God exist and let such terrible things happen?

“Worship none other than God, for I fear for you the punishment of a momentous day.” – Quran 46:21

I wonder how people can deny the existence of God when there is less evidence to prove that, than the latter.

The physical absence of something does not mean it does not exist. The most meaningful themes in our lives are not physical- in fact- they are the most physically absent. Such as love and happiness and joy and growth. Their physical absence doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Furthermore, it irks me when people claim that “how could a god exist and let such terrible things happen on this earth?”

Which I understand where that argument stems from. There is a lot of pain and suffering on this earth, and there are a lot of unfair things. There are plenty of really messed up twisted unfair things that make you want to scream yourself to death, because it’s just not fair and it’s infuriating that you can’t do anything to change it. I get that, I really do. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s a logical argument to then believe that:

1. God doesn’t exist because terrible things on earth are happening

2. Terrible things continue to happen on earth even though “God” doesn’t exist

If God is out of the picture, and terrible things are still happening— who is to blame then? Who is making these problems? God doesn’t exist. You can’t put the blame on God. You don’t believe he exists. So why are there still problems?

Could it be that maybe there is enough abundance of food and goods for everyone- but that maybe people aren’t distributing it right because of our greed? Could it be that the bloodshed and genocides are fueled and caused and fought by people. Who created the concept of money? Wasn’t it people- who worships money? Isn’t it people? Who kills and steals and lies and belittles and humiliates for money? Isn’t people? People like you and me?

What about hurricanes, natural disasters? As if we don’t have the knowledge and the tools to know what’s coming at us and why. Look at the way we’re dealing with things like global warming. Have you seen those pictures of animals whose throats are wrapped with plastic bags and plastic bottle holders? Who made these? And who ignorantly tossed them into the sea to cause this? Wasn’t it humans? People like you and me. Who do certain behaviors without giving them another thought, without thinking what consequence our actions inch us towards on a personal and global level? Isn’t it people like you and me. Tell me. Am I wrong? Is it something else? Is the world just wrong because this “creator being” designed it to be painful and wrong and messed up? Do you not have a choice? Do you not have power over your actions? Or do you want to blame everyone but yourself?

And let’s go back to that. Let’s go back to the blaming part.

So you’re telling me, you don’t believe that God exists- but you’re going to go ahead and blame everything wrong in the world on God anyway. That’s like blaming your problems on an imaginary friend who you don’t even think exists. How in the world does that even make any logical sense.

You don’t want to believe in God, fine. That’s your call.

But please support it with a better argument than blame.

  • Authors note: This is my personal opinion. Please don’t go off assuming all sorts of things from this one post. I’m simply stating my problem with the logic of this one argument. I don’t believe that blame is a legitimate claim for the disbelief in God that some people have. I don’t have any issues or problems with peoples differing opinions and views on the matter. I wrote it simply for the purposes of having a dialogue on the topic, and not to point any fingers, or judge anyone.

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    بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

    For the New Islamic Year, I’d like to give you guys a gift from the Qur’an:

    ” وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ “

     It’s a wonderful reminder that wherever we are, wherever we go- that whatever happens this upcoming year and wherever we end up- through every detail of it, Allah (SWT) has been, and will be with us through it. That He will be witness to all of our highs and lows, and what ever hardships we face and how we’ll bravely overcome them or how we’ll terribly fail, through this entire process of changing and becoming who we are, Allah (SWT) will be witness. 

    I’m saying this as a reminder to tell you that HE will see all that you do this year, and also as a reminder that hey- HE will be there- so don’t forget to call on HIM. During both, the highs and lows, in gratitude and in cries for help, don’t forget that HE’s there. Truly feel his presence, and let it envelope you with feelings of safety and tranquility and righteous company. Happy Islamic New Years guys.

    ~M.G

    Spiritual Matters

    MY GIFT TO YOU THIS MUHARRAM | NEW ISLAMIC YEAR

    For this Islamic New Year, Muharram, I’d like to give you the gift of this powerful reminder, that Allah swt is always with you.

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