Islam is the Arabic word derived from Salaam and Silm, meaning peace and submission, respectively, to the One True God. In short, Islam is internal, external, and eternal peace that is acquired by willingly submitting our will to the will of God, and by following His last prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who is not the founder of Islam, but rather, its last prophet. Indeed, all of the prophets of God are Muslims. Every one of them preached the monotheistic message of Islam, which is the name of the peaceful and beautiful way of life in this world that guarantees eternal life in Paradise. Salvation is attained through righteous deeds that are an extension of correct faith, whereby sincerity is upheld in both. The road to Paradise is temporary, and filled with thorns, while the road to Hell is temporary, and filled with flowers. The first is one in which things that appear unpleasant to us (thorns) are actually for our spiritual benefit, and the second is one in which things that appear very pleasant to us (flowers) can actually be harmful and destructive to our souls. Despite the fact that they are temporary roads, the destinations are eternal. In order to have patience with these thorns and hardships, one needs to understand the attributes of Allah. We must understand that as humans, it’s natural to have desires – some are allowed, and others are not. What differentiates us from animals is that we do not simply act upon our desires. Rather, we have the ability to control them (i.e. free will). We should not allow desires and delusions to distract us from Islam. Islam is two relationships, one that is primarily and predominately with the Creator, and the second is to the creation (yourself, your parents, your family, your neighbors, your friends, strangers, animals, and the inanimate). We must uphold both of these relationships in an Islamic manner. Simply put, everything that begins to exist has a cause – the universe began to exist, thus it has a cause, and Allah is that Causer. Allah is simply the Arabic lexicon referring to the One True God. He is the Most Merciful, All-Forgiving, All-Knowing, All-Seeing, Independent, Self-Sufficient, Most Just, Most Powerful, and Eternal. These are just a few of His Divine attributes. Furthermore, Allah is Al-Hakeem (the Most Wise). As human beings, we must understand that we are finite and limited in knowledge (i.e. we have shortsightedness). While we may have a pixel, Allah has the picture, and beyond. We simply have to trust Him and His Good Plan. We should never allow a thorn to push us away from the destination of Paradise, nor should we allow the lack of people traveling on the straight path to change our beliefs. Allah does not just love those whom are patient, He rewards them generously and infinitely. He is Al-Kareem (the Most Generous). Allah is also As-Samad, the One and Only Who needs no one or anything, yet everyone and everything needs Him to exist and to continue to exist. He is the Independent, the Self-Sufficient, the Necessary Being, the One Who all of the creation depends upon for its needs and requests, the Master Who is Perfect in His Sovereignty, the Most Noble Who is  Perfect in His Nobility, the Most Magnificent Who is Perfect in His Magnificence, the Most Forbearing Who is Perfect in His Forbearance, the All-Knowing Who is Perfect in His Knowledge, and the One Who is Perfect in all aspects of Authority, the Perfect Master Whose Control is Complete. Allah is worthy of worship by virtue of who He is. He is worthy of worship because He is our Creator. He is worthy of our worship because of the innumerable blessings He bestows upon us, for which we are not grateful enough or ungrateful altogether. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is not the founder of Islam. Rather, he is its final Prophet. All of the Prophets who preceded him preached Islam by conveying the Monotheistic Message. Their messages were meant for a particular point in time and were eventually corrupted (changed and/or [un]intentionally lost partially/fully), except for the final Divine Revelation (i.e. the Qur’an) – the only Preserved Message. With regards to whether or not Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was a liar, deluded, or telling the truth: Was he a liar? His enemies nicknamed him: Al Sadik Al Ameen (the Truthful One)! A liar normally lies to receive some worldly gain. Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was offered power, wealth and women by the chiefs of Makkah, but he refused all of them for the message he brought (i.e. Islam), and thus, suffered great hardships. Does this sound like the profile of someone who is a liar? Significantly, he was persecuted for his beliefs, boycotted and exiled from his beloved city of Makkah, starved of food, stoned by children to the point where his blood drenched his legs, and his beloved companions were severely tortured and persecuted. Without his trustworthiness, which was an integral part of his moral behaviour, he could not have achieved so much in a relatively short span of time. Was he deluded? Some could claim that he actually thought he was a prophet, but in reality, he was not. This is very problematic because a deluded person could not have produced something as miraculous as the Qur’an. This is both illogical and impossible. In addition to his accurate prophecies that are still occurring to this very day, from the likes of the Bedouin Arabs competing between each other in constructing skyscrapers in Dubai, to interest being widespread, etc., the teachings of  Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) do not represent the teachings of a deluded man. Was he was both liar and deluded? This is a self-contradiction because one cannot be lying and deluded at the same time; it is like saying that there is a square triangle – it is either this or that. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not have the psychological profile of someone who was either a liar or deluded – thus, he was telling the truth. Furthermore, he is, in fact, like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, a Messenger of God, but more importantly, he is the final messenger who brought the final Divine Revelation: the Qur’an. A very short story worth mentioning is that when one of the Prophet’s sons passed away, coincidentally, right after that, there was an eclipse. People pointed and said, “Surely, he is a prophet of God that the sun would be so sad to an extent that it would go dark (i.e. an eclipse).” To gain more followers, a liar would obviously reply in the affirmative. However, the Prophet immediately said, “The sun does not eclipse for the death of anyone, not even a prophet.” Furthermore, a deluded person would believe what is said about him. This indicates the truthfulness and sincerity of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Qur’an (the Last Testament) is unequivocal proof that God exists. It has been passed down through an authentic and uninterrupted chain of credible narrators through oral (i.e. mass transmission from the time of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) until today) and written transmission (i.e. the Topkapi Manuscript –  carbon-dated until the time of the Companions). The Qur’an has a unique, unprecedented, and inimitable eloquence that not only sounds good, but has profound, timeless meanings and teachings that contain scientific precision, historical accuracy, prophecies, and challenges to prove it wrong. It gives comfort and clarity to the heart and mind, and guarantees internal, external, and eternal peace and protection to those who willingly submit to the Speaker: Allah. The Qur’an is more than sufficient proof that the Creator of the Universe exists and that He sent prophets, of which Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last after the uncrucified Christ, son of Mary, and that Islam is the truth. Among its literary challenges, the Qur’an makes the claims that it is both error and contradiction-free, and inimitable. Regarding the latter, the Qur’an represents a literary and linguistic challenge for humanity. The learned Arabs of the 7th century were the best candidates to challenge the Qur’an. Nevertheless, they were unable to do so. Scholars testify to the inimitability of the Qur’an, and this inimitability is either by Arab or non- Arab authorship, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), or God. The learned Arabs failed to produce it, let alone an unlettered one, or even a non-Arab. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that Qur’an is from the Creator of the Universe – Allah. Islam is built upon 5 pillars which are the Shahada (the sincere enunciation of the declaration of faith), the salah (the 5 daily obligatory prayers), sawm (fasting the month of Ramadan for those who are eligible), zakah (alms-giving paid from yearly savings, if eligible), and Hajj (a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Makkah, if eligible). Shahada: Ash hadu alla ilaha illa Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluhu wa anna eesa ibn Maryam abduhu wa rasuluhu. Interpretation: I bear witness that there is no deity [worthy of worship] except Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, and that Jesus Christ, son of Mary, is His servant and messenger. Salah: Allah has enjoined upon every sane Muslim (who has passed the age of puberty) 5 daily prayers, which are done for the sake of Allah, according to the Messenger of Allah, in a state of physical and spiritual purity. For a further explanation of salah (i.e. its prerequisites and how to perform it), kindly refer to the end of this guide. Sawm: During the month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from worldly desires (i.e. food, drink, and sexual activity) from dawn to dusk, thus spiritually acknowledging that we only need Allah. Zakah: While current political systems tax the individual on his or her income, zakah is a charity – 2.5% on a year’s worth of savings, and only if the savings pass the nisab (the minimum required amount of eligibility). Hajj: Allah has enjoined upon every physically and financially capable Muslim a set of obligated rituals that symbolize sincere devotion. Faith in Islam is not blind – it is based upon evidence and logic. Not seeing something does not imply its nonexistence. For instance, no one has ever seen their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother since any observable evidence of her existence cannot be found – this includes her grave, her DNA, etc. Yet, no logical person descended from her could deny that she had existed. In Islam, faith has six articles which are: believing in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree [the good, and what we erroneously perceive as bad]. If salah were limited only to the action of limbs, then working out at the gym would be more productive. However, salah is not about praying hard, but rather, it is about praying with heart. We tend to elongate our stay in what gives us comfort, so if the salah does not give you [enough] comfort, then you are doing it wrong.  We do not simply pray out of the desire to reach Paradise or the fear of entering Hell, but rather, we pray because Allah is worthy of being prayed to. In return, we gain internal, external, and eternal peace. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to tell his Companions to give the call to prayer, in order for the Muslims to attain the comfort that comes with performing the prayer, not from having finished it.  Sometimes, you may see a physically fit person who is unable to stand for long in salah, while an elderly person may be standing in salah for a longer period of time because he is more spiritually fit (i.e. he knows who Allah is, and acts upon this knowledge). For prayers to be accepted, we must pray to Allah in the manner He has prescribed it. 1 – Prayer Times The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib,and Isha. A good website that will give you the prayer times based on where you are is: The general timings for each of the daily prayers are as follows:
  1. Fajr : begins at the time of the true dawn, and ends when the sun starts to rise.
  2. Dhuhr : begins when the sun has passed its zenith, and ends when the length of an object’s shadow becomes equal to the length of the object itself.
  3. Asr : begins immediately when Dhuhr ends, and ends when the sun starts to set.
  4. Maghrib : begins immediately when Asr ends, and ends when the red afterglow disappears from the sky.
  5. ‘Isha : begins immediately when Maghrib ends, and ends at midnight (i.e. the time halfway between sunset and when Fajr begins).
2 – Which direction do you pray in? A Muslim is required to face the direction of the Ka’bah (the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah) for each salah. This direction is called the qiblah. The same website mentioned above will give you the qiblah direction based on where you are. 3 – Other requirements
  1. The prayer is obligatory upon every sane Muslim (who has reached the age of puberty) once the prayer time has started.
  2. A Muslim man must wear clothing that covers him at the very least from navel to knee, and he should see to it that his shoulders are also covered. A Muslim woman must wear loose clothing that covers her entire body, except for her hands and face.
  3. One must make sure there is no impurity on his/her clothes, body, or the spot he/she will pray.
  4. A Muslim must be in the state of purity. If he/she has passed wind, urinated, defecated or woken up from sleep, he/she must perform wudu (i.e. ritual ablution). Additionally, he/she must perform the ghusl (ritual bath) if he/she woke up from a wet-dream, ejaculated semen, had intercourse and/or, in the case of a woman, she ended her menstrual cycle or her post-childbirth bleeding.
  5. He/she should face the direction of prayer (qiblah).
  6. He/she should make the intention (in the heart) to perform the current prayer.
The Steps of Wudu
  1. Make the intention in your heart that you’re about to perform wudu.
  2. Begin by saying Bismillah (this means: in the name of Allah).
  3. Wash your hands up to the wrists three times.
  4. Rinse your mouth and nose, three times each.
  5. Wash your face three times, from the hairline to the chin and from ear to ear. If a man has a thin beard in which the skin can clearly be seen beneath it, then water must reach the bottom of it. If the beard is thick, it is sufficient to take a handful of water and to run it through the beard.
  6. Wash your hands and arms from your fingertips up to your elbows. Do this three times, and preferably begin with your right side.
  7. Beginning at the front of your head, run wet hands to the back of your head and then back to the front again. With the remaining water on your hands, wipe the inside of your ears with your index fingers, and wipe the back of your ears with your thumbs. Do all of this one time.
  8. Wash your feet up to and including the ankles. Do this three times, and preferably begin with your right side.
  9. All the aforementioned steps must be performed in their proper order, and there must be no lengthy lapse of time in between them.
The Steps of Ghusl
  1. Form the intention to purify oneself from the state of major ritual impurity.
  2. Wash the entire body with water once, as well as rinsing the mouth and nose.

For a more detailed guide on how to pray salah, please refer to the following video: