(The text in this transcript has been edited to match later updates and corrections, such as the details of the Obligatory Charity (Zakat). Also references to the Dawn Contact Prayer in the video have also been corrected within this transcript. Other edits include the removal of repetitive words, such as: “”la”, means “no”, “la”, means “no””. – Ahmad Wehbe).
What is Islam?
Essentials of Islam
Your host – Rashad Khalifa
Photographer – Kathleen Clarke
Bism Allah Arrahman Arraheem – in the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful.
Islam actually began with the first man, the first human being; Adam. He was the first messenger of God, he brought to his children and grandchildren the message of worshiping God alone, and this is Islam, submitting to God – worshiping God alone.
A series of messenger after Adam brought the same message; worship God alone. The first commandment in the Bible, the message of Moses, the message of Jesus, the messages of all the prophets of Israel:David, Solomon, and so on, is one and the same – the first commandment; worship God alone, with all your heart, and your body, all your soul. Worship God alone, the Quran states very clearly that the religion as far as God is concerned, is Islam (submission) – there is only one religion as far as God is concerned.
If you want to me be more specific, the original prophet of Islam is Abraham, because he brought all the religious practices in Islam. And we see this throughout the Quran, for example; sura twenty-one (21); verse seventy-three (73), tells us that Abraham was the original source – of course God is the original source for everything, but Abraham delivered to us the Salat prayer; the Contact Prayers, and the Zakat charity, this is in verse seventy-three (73); sura twenty-one (21). And we see this also with the fasting, the Hajj pilgrimage.
All the practices of Islam came to us through the prophet Abraham, the prophet Muhammad contributed the message, the scripture of Islam, which is the Quran.
The prophet Muhammad (مُحمّد) contributed the message, the scripture of Islam, which is the Quran. God revealed the Quran to us though the prophet Muhammad. The prophet Muhammad was born in the year five seventy (570) AD, and when he was forty (40) years of age he was appointed God’s final prophet, prophet means he brought a new scripture, the final edition of God’s message to the world, and that is the Quran.
The Quran was given to the prophet Muhammad in one night, as we see in the Quran, in many many verses, sura seventeen (17); verse one (1), in sura forty-four (44); verse three (3), and in sura ninety-seven (97). The release of the Quran from Muhammad’s soul to his mouth and his hand, was done over a period of twenty-three (23) years, from his age of forty (40), to the age of sixty-three (63). He died at the age of sixty-three. So over a period of twenty-three (23) years, the Quran was being released after being placed in Muhammad’s heart on the Night of Power – in Arabic; “Laylat al-Qadr” (لیلة القدر). The purpose of releasing the Quran over the period of twenty-three (23) years, is to help the prophet and the believers at the time to memorize the Quran as it was being revealed, and this is stated in the Quran – in the Quran it says; “linuthabbita bihi fuādaka” (لِنُثَبِّتَ بِهِ فُؤادَكَ); “to fix it in your memory” (25:32). So the release was very thoroughly, very gradually, and it took twenty-three (23) years.
God created the universe, and created the human race, and out of his mercy he sent messengers, and books to tell us about Him. All these messengers, and all the books that God sent to us; preached one and the same religion. The first messenger was Adam himself; the father of all humanity.
After him came messengers like: Noah, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad. Muhammad was the last prophet, bringing the last scripture; the Quran. And in the Quran we find everything we need: all the duties, obligations, commandments, prohibitions in Islam. Quran is the final scripture, it is the completion of the message. Because the previous scriptures where suited for that stage of human development. The Quran came to complete the picture, and now we have the final – the complete religion; Islam (submission).
The Quran is all you need – in fact, because the Quran said that the Quran is complete, perfect and fully detailed, if you go to any other source, you will be disobeying God, and disobeying the messenger of God Muhammad, who brought this Quran out of his mouth – God brought to us the Quran out of Muhammad’s mouth. And you would be disobeying God and disobeying Muhammad if you follow any other sources besides the Quran.
And specifically I mean sources like Hadith, Sunnah, and all the other books and things that the traditions and the customs invented. If you go to any source other than the Quran you will be disobeying God, because clearly God says in sura number six (6); verse hundred and fourteen (114) for example, that the Quran is fully detailed, you don’t need anything else. God says in verse nineteen (19); of sura number six (6), that the Quran is what was given to Muhammad to deliver to the world, and it is the only source for religious guidance, and religious education.
The Quran tells us exactly what the essentials of Islam are, and they are, very quickly – I am going into details later on – number one; to believe in God alone, you have no other idols, you are devoted to God alone. And this is represented by the shahada, the first so called pillar of Islam – let us go along with that idea – the first pillar of Islam is the shahada, and the shahada is stated in the Quran in sura number three (3); verse eighty-one (81) – excuse me, it is verse eighteen (18) – sura three (3); verse eighteen (18), it says; “shahadu allahu”; means “God bears witness” – “annahu la elaha ella hu”; that “there is no God except He”. And also the angels, and those who posses knowledge will make this shahada, which is; “la elaha ella Allah” (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله), or “ash-hadu alla elaha ella allah”, this is the first pillar in Islam. Sura number three (3); verse number eighteen (18). The shahada, the first pillar of Islam is “la elaha ella Allah” (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله). If you want to make it complete, then you say; “ash-hadu alla elaha ella allah”; “I bear witness that there is no god except allah, the one God”.
Now don’t add anything else. Some people who imitate old inventions and old traditions will say: “ash-hadu alla elaha ella allah” and then they make another shahada, that Muhammad is a messenger of God – we know Muhammad is messenger of God, but if you inject this in the shahada, this ruins ruin everything, because now you don’t have God alone, you put an idol – Muhammad – next to God. And this is by the way a very strong prohibition in the Quran, that you put any other name beside the name of allah, the name of God. We find this in sura number thirty-nine (39); verse forty-five (45), you must say – you must devote yourself to God alone, you do not idolize Muhammad and put him next to God. This would be going against God and against Muhammad. So the first pillar of Islam is, shahada; “la elaha ella Allah” (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله).
So the first pillar of Islam is shahada; “la elaha ella Allah” (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلله).
The second pillar is observing five (5) Contact Prayers every day. This is the food for your soul, this is a favor that God is doing for you. You are not doing it for God. And the five Contact Prayers begin before sunrise, you must get up before sunrise in order to feed your soul, give your soul breakfast. Your body will be lazy and will wont want to get out of bed before sunrise, but for your sake, get out of bed before sunrise and do the Dawn Contact Prayer, whereby you contact your creator and feed your soul.
The second Contact Prayer – by the way, the details of the Contact Prayers are given on another video tape that we call Principles of Muslim prayers, so be sure you order that tape and see how the Contact Prayers are performed, the correct way, not the traditional innovations that we see in the Muslim world. The second Contact Prayer is the Noon Contact Prayer, and it begins as soon as the sun declines from the highest spot in the sky, that is the Noon Contact Prayer, consists of four (4) units, the Dawn Contact Prayer is two (2) units, the Noon Contact Prayer is four (4) units.
The Afternoon Contact Prayer is done about three (3) to four (4) hours after the Noon Contact Prayer – in the mid-afternoon.
And the fourth Contact Prayer is the Sunset Contact Prayer – or al-maghrib, and it is done immediately after sunset.
And the final Contact Prayer – the Night Contact Prayer – must be done about two (2) hours after sunset.
So these are the five (5) Contact Prayers, and they represent the second pillar of Islam.
The third pillar of Islam is fasting, in Arabic; “siyām” (صِيَام). God commands us to fast during one month of the year. And it is the ninth (9th) month of the lunar calendar. Now I am smiling because there is a tremendous test in this system, where the lunar year is shorter than the solar year, and this makes the month of Ramadan move about ten (10) to fifteen (15) days every year, so it comes in the winter sometimes when the days are nice and short and fasting very easy. And moves to the summer where the days are very long, sixteen (16) hours or more sometimes, and the day is hot, and you can’t eat or drink during this long period, and a lot of people will drop out, they will not fast, even though nobody dies by not eating or drinking for twenty-four (24) hours. But some people will drop out, and you can see that the system is designed to show who will fast, and will obey God’s commandment no matter how long the day is. This changing of the day – from short and cold, to long and hot days – will show us who are the dropouts, who will fast only if the day is short, and nice and cold.
As you see, the fasting of Ramadan is also designed to tame the wild horse, your body. See – your body wants to eat and drink, and you the real person or the soul dictates on the body saying; “no you are not going to eat or drink until sunset”. Because the fasting consists of not eating, or drinking, or engaging in intercourse – sexual intercourse, from dawn to sunset. Dawn means about two hours before sunrise, to sunset. No eating, no drinking, no sex. And this is control of your wild horse, you are taming the wild horse, your body. And you can see that God is training you, is teaching you to be a person of strong will. And preparing you for the eternal life of the hereafter; the real life. Of course in the real life that comes after this life – God wants the people who are strong, who practice and exercise, and know how to control themselves – I mean their bodies. This also cause your soul to feed, grow, and develop.
The fourth pillar of Islam is charity, in Arabic; “Zakat”. There is a Obligatory Charity, where you sit down and you calculate exactly what you possess – what your possessions are, and you give away a portion, a fixed portion of your net worth. You do this once a year, you pick out a specific day in the year: the last day of Ramadan, the first day of Ramadan, or the first day of January, one day – one fixed day of the year. And you sit down on that day and you calculate how much you are worth, this means you add up the market value of your house, your car, your clothes, anything that you posses. If you sell it all today; how much will it be worth, the fair market value, not the new – the price of the new thing, no, the present market value of everything you possess. And then you give away two and half percent (2.5%) of that. See it is a small percentage, and you do it once a year.
(You do this on the net worth of every source of income. For example, if you receive a royalty check for $100 on Monday, you give 2.5% off of that, which is $2,5. Or if you know you will be getting a paycheck next week, then you can wait. Then you calculate the total net income of this period and give 2.5% off of that. Let’s say you decided to wait until your paycheck comes in, and it is $1000. Take the $100 royalty from Monday and add it to your $1000 paycheck, then you calculate the net of those (before taxes), and you pay 2.5% off of that. So let’s say the $100 and the $1000 are the net values, we add them and get a total net value of $1100. We then take 2.5% off of that, which gives us $27.5. You then pay $27.5 as the Obligatory Charity. – Ahmad Wehbe).
And it goes to specific people – the Quran lists them in this priority, first (1st) your parents, if your parents are rich – and these are the recipients of your charity – if your parents are rich, the second (2nd) in the list are your relatives, you give this two and a half percent (2.5%) you give it to your relatives, if they are all rich, then you find some orphans, people who do not have support – parental support; a father support or something, and you give this charity to them. After the orphans, you give to the alien; somebody who is travelling and is stranded and doesn’t have the money for the bus fare to go to his home town. So the order of the Quran is: the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the travelling alien, the poor, the beggars and so on. So there is as a specific order for giving these charities.
However, there is also a general charity called “sadaqah” (صدقة), and this is a on the spot charity – you are walking in the street and you see a poor person and you want to help, then you help that person, and this is called “sadaqah”, or charity. You are supposed to be charitable the whole year, all the time, you must be charitable, but the Zakat is the Obligatory Charity, where you give it to someone you personally know, you personally know that this fellow is poor and needs help, and you give your two and a half percent (2.5%) to these people that you personally know. You cannot consider the taxes for example as Zakat charity. Because you do not know where the taxes will go, they can go to fix the street or something, or to the army or something.
But the idea behind Zakat is that you give it to the people that you personally know are in need. And the Quran as I said, lists the parents first, the relatives, your own relatives – your own, you start with your own people, then you go to other strangers, in that order.
The fifth pillar of Islam is Hajj pilgrimage to the holy land in Mecca. And this is only of course for the people who can afford it. When you can afford it, you go to Mecca and you observe Hajj.
And this is commemoration of the prophet Abraham – not the man. not the man Abraham, but his exemplary submission to God. He thought, he saw a dream one time and he thought that God was commanding him to sacrifice his only son Ishmael, and he proceeded to carry out this command even though God did not order him to do it – he just thought in a dream that God was ordering him to do it. But he was willing to sacrifice his own son in submission to God, and of course God intervened to save Ishmael and Abraham from this tragedy. And God substituted a sheep to be scarified instead of Ishmael, and this is what you do when you go to Hajj.
And Hajj consists of arriving in Mecca dressed only in a untailored clothes, just a sheet or something, and seamless shoes or sandals – seamless clothes and seamless sandals. Women dress in a regular dress that is simple, so you cannot tell the rich from the poor.
To observe Hajj, you go to Mecca (مكة) dressed in seamless clothes and seamless sandals – this is for the men. The women dress modestly in regular modest dress; all white dress for example, so you cannot tell the rich from the poor.
You get to Mecca, and you go around the Ka’bah (ٱلْـكَـعْـبَـة) in Mecca seven (7) times.
Then you go to Arafat – mount Arafat (جبل عرفات), and you stand there the whole day, which is the tenth (10th) day of the twelfth (12th); the last month in the Islamic calendar – the tenth day of the Hijr. You spend that whole day on mount Arafat commemorating God, worshiping and praying.
And then you go to Mina – it is a little town near Mecca – you go to Mina for two (2) or three (3) days. Then you go back to the Ka’bah, and go around it seven times, which is called the farewell circumvention around the Ka’bah. And this is it.
Now, my advice to you is never to go to Medina (المدينة), because people go to Medina and they ruin their Hajj, they go to the prophet Muhammad’s tomb – mausoleum – and they idolize the prophet, and this ruins everything. It ruins the whole religion not just Hajj.
So Hajj must be only in Mecca where you go around the Ka’bah seven (7) times – between Safā and Marwah seven (7) times – you go to Arafat for one (1) day – and to Mina for two (2) or three (3) days, and this is it. These are specific steps that are mentioned in the Quran, And by the way all these duties in Islam came to us through the prophet Abraham. If you look at Abraham – sura number twenty-two (22), the last verse number seventy-eight (78), you will see that Abraham is the source – the father of Islam, and the father of Muslims. And if you look at sura number sixteen (16) verse hundred and twenty-three (123), you see that the prophet Muhammad followed the religion of Abraham. Islam is the religion of Abraham, he is the founder of Islam, and all the duties of Islam came from Ibrahim, not the prophet Muhammad.
Muhammad brought the Quran, God brought the Quran through Muhammad. So, this is why some people become confused when you tell them that God says that the Quran is complete, perfect and fully detailed. Because some of the old traditionalists will say: “okay, where is number of raka’at for the noon prayer in the Quran?”, see they forget that the contact prayers, the fasting of Ramadan, the Zakat charity, and the Hajj pilgrimage – all these duties came to us from Abraham, and the Quran says so. If you look at sura twenty-one (21), verse twenty-three (73); it tells you that Abraham started the Salat and the Zakat. And in sura twenty-two (22) – entitled Hajj – you will see that Abraham is the source of Hajj and so on.
The Quran says clearly that all duties and obligations came to us through the prophet Abraham. And tells us in sura twenty-two (22), verse seventy-eight (78); that this is the religion of Abraham. The prophet Muhammad simply contributed the Quran. And the Quran is God’s words that came through Muhammad. So watch for this point and don’t let any one trick you into thinking that the Quran is not complete. The most important principle in Islam is; God alone. You must be devoted to God alone, you do not idolize the prophet Muhammad like the Christians did with the prophet Jesus. You devote yourself completely to God alone, and you follow the word of God alone; the Quran alone. No other sources, if you do, you nullify all your work as we see in sura thirty-nine (39), where God says; “if you fall in idol worship, all your works are nullified”, you might do the Salat, the Zakat charity , the Hajj, the fasting and it will be all in vain, unless you are devoted to God alone. And you declare your shahada; “ash-hadu alla elaha ella allah”. This is it. So these are the basic essentials of Islam.
The prohibitions are also important, there are four (4) meats that you cannot eat, for example – and these are:
Number one (1): animals that die of themselves, without human interference.
Number two (2): pork, the meat of pigs.
Number three (3): running blood – running blood that you can put in a glass and cook or drink.
Number four (4): animals dedicated to other than God – that are specifically dedicated to Muhammad, or Jesus, or Ali, or somebody.
These are forbidden. So if you to the market – you go to the Safeway market for example (Safeway is an American supermarket chain), and you look at the meat. If you want to know if it is halal; permitted, or haram; prohibited – you ask yourself these four (4) questions:
1: Is this meat pork? – the answer is no,
2: Did these animals die of themselves without human interference? – the answer is no,
3: Is this running blood? – the answer is no,
4: Was this meat dedicated to Jesus, or to anyone else, or Saint Francis? – the answer is no,
Therefore this is meat is halal, it is okay, you can eat it. If you make it haram (forbidden) – if you prohibit it then you are following some other religion, you are not a Muslim when you do that. So it is very important to follow specifically what the Quran prohibits, if you prohibit anything else – some people go to funny lengths, like prohibiting soaps, and brushes, and shoes, and things like that – and of course this is a religion that is not Islam; that has nothing to do with Islam.
Also prohibited are all intoxicants; alcohol, marijuana, anything that affects your mind – all intoxicants. Anything that affects your capacity to think and to have a healthy brain. So all intoxicating drugs, weeds and alcohol, all these are prohibited.
Also gambling is prohibited. Don’t play the lottery, believe me it will cost you more – even if you win the jackpot you will end up a loser, believe me. Because God is in control, and he prohibited gambling – game of change of any kind.
Of course the major prohibitions are listed in the Quran; adultery is prohibited, murder, stealing, cheating, lying, God wants you to be a perfect person, a nice person. Even breaking the promise is prohibited. You must be a person of your word, a man of your word, or a woman of your word. When you say something – you do it. And people must know you as such. This is what a Muslim is all about.
Now some people are fascinated by Hajj pilgrimage, and they just want to do it right away. You know – they are fascinated by the exotic country you know; Saudi Arabia, the trip and all that. But my advice to you is to perfect your religion first. Believe me, it is not a very pleasant trip, the million and a half (1.5) or two (2) million people making pilgrimage, and it is an exacting trial – instead of an enjoyment – you’re not going as a tourist. It is a difficult process, and some people may become disillusioned when they go too early, before the faith is strong enough. So be sure to perfect your religion first and then make the Hajj pilgrimage.
Another thing to guard against with regard to Hajj, is that some people go and do the Hajj pilgrimage – like I said before their faith is strong enough, and they come back buffed up and thinking – “you know; I’m perfect now”, “you know; I’m cool”, “and nobody is like me, I did Hajj you know” – and they – it goes to their head, and they become – it brings the reverse result, they become worse Muslims than better Muslims. So you want to do Hajj pilgrimage after you perfect your religion, and this must make you humble, more humble. And I remember proverb that says; “don’t be humble; you are not that great”.
Observing the Hajj pilgrimage is very easy, all you do is get ready financially, and with your vacations, and everything. Then you travel to Saudi Arabia; Jeddah (جدة). As soon as you land there, they will assign a guide called; “Mutawwif” (مطوف), to you. And the Mutawwif gives assistance – will tell you exactly what to do. But the main thing is that you memorize the statement; “Labbayka Allāhumma Labbyak”, means; “my Lord I respond to Your call” – “Labbayka Lā Shareeka Laka Labbayk”; “I respond to You, there is no partner with You”. And the whole statement will be taught to you by the Mutawwif.
The main statement that you need to know throughout Hajj goes like this; “Labbayka Allāhumma Labbyak”, which means; “my Lord I respond to Your call”, “Labbayka Lā Shareeka Laka Labbayk”; “I respond to You, You have no partners, there is no partner with You, I responds to Your call”. And this is what it looks like. Here is the first word: “Labbayka”, which means “I respond to You”, “I respond to Your call”; “Labbayka”.
“Allāhumma”, which means “my God”, or “our God”, “Allāhumma”.
“Labbayka Allāhumma Labbyak”.
“Labbyaka”, “I respond to Your call”.
“Lā”, means “no”.
“Shareeka”, means “partner” or “idol”.
“Lā Shareeka” – “Laka”; with You”.
“Labbayk”; I respond to Your call.”
Labbayka Allāhumma Labbyak (my Lord I respond to Your call).
Labbayka Lā Shareeka Laka Labbayk (I respond to You, there is no partner with You).
This is all you need.
And you utter this statement – you memorize it and utter it all the time during Hajj, throughout Hajj, anytime you change direction, you climb a hill, down a hill, you meet friends, you say that; “Labbayka Allāhumma Labbyak, Labbayka Lā Shareeka Laka Labbayk”.
The details of the Hajj will be given to you by the guide, that will be assigned to you, as soon as you arrive in Saudi Arabia.
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For all other videos – Islamic Productions – 739 E 6th Street – Tuscon, AZ 85719 – 602-791-3989
End of Video
(Message from Ahmad Wehbe):
I hope this has been useful for you and that you have learned the basics of the true Islam (Submission). I decided to write the whole video into a text format for those of us who prefer to read instead of watching hour long videos. It makes it easier to understand what is being said without having to go back and forth whenever the video goes too fast. This is especially true if English isn’t your first language, or if your English skill is low. So I really do hope this has been useful to you.
Another benefit is that I can include links to other material for further research, so that the reader doesn’t have to spend a lot of time searching the Internet and all kinds of websites just to find specific information. Instead it will be available at the click of a button.
None of the images, videos or audio is owned by me unless stated otherwise, such as being signed with my name. All copyrighted materials are being used under fair use for educational purposes.
Please contact me if you find any errors, or if you have ideas for how this presentation can be improved.
Thank you and GOD bless.