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Frequently Asked Questions

MSN has worked closely with American Muslim scholars to provide clear, accurate answers to questions we are commonly asked during presentations. We have provided many of them here, and will continue to add as content becomes available.


What is Islam?

  • The word “Islam” means “finding peace through surrender to God.”
  • Muslims believe that if they follow Islam, they will find peace in their hearts, and bring peace to the world around them.
  • Islam is commonly described as a religion but it is more accurately a way of life that addresses important aspects of our life such as clothing, diet, and family life, as well as social, economic, and political aspects.


What is the largest Muslim country?

  • The most highly populated Muslim country is Indonesia, followed by Pakistan and India.
  • There are more Muslims in the Indian subcontinent than in the entire Middle East, even though Muslims are a minority in India.
  • China has an estimated 22 million Muslims, more than in Syria.


Do Muslims believe in God?

  • Yes. The most important belief in Islam is the belief in one God.
  • Muslims believe that God, or Allah, is the same god worshipped by Jews and Christians.
  • According to Islamic belief, God is just, merciful, wise, all-powerful and all-loving.


Who are the prophets in Islam?

  • Muslims believe that God sent prophets to people throughout history to teach them that God alone should be worshiped, and to live a righteous life.
  • The Qur’an mentions twenty-five prophets by name, beginning with the Prophet Adam and including such well-known prophets as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Ismail, David, Solomon, Jesus, and finally Muhammad, peace be upon them all.

Do Muslims believe in angels?

  • Yes. Muslims believe angels are special beings who devote themselves to serving God.
  • One of the most important angels is the Angel Gabriel, who is said to have brought divine revelation to many of the Prophets.

What do Muslims believe about the Day of Judgement?

  • According to Islamic belief there will be a time when this world will end, and the only being to exist will be God. Then God will resurrect every human soul that ever lived, and God will be the sole judge of each soul for what they did in this life.
  • According to Islamic belief every person will be held accountable for their individual actions in this life.
  • Muslims believe that on the Day of Judgement, God is the sole judge.

What does Islam say about people who are not Muslim?

  • According to Islamic belief, all people are brothers and sisters in humanity, and deserve to be treated with respect and honor.
  • Every person created by God has the right to life, freedom to worship, and protection of their wealth, physical safety and intellect, among many other rights.
  • Muslims are required to honor and protect the houses of worship of other faiths.
  • He will take account of every person’s deeds; however, every person entering heaven will need to rely on God’s mercy to do so.

What happens if someone decides they don’t want to be Muslim anymore?

  • Every individual is free to decide for himself and herself. Islam does not force anyone to become Muslim or to remain Muslim.

What is the difference between Sunnis and Shias?

  • Both are considered Muslim.
  • The main difference is that Sunni Muslims believe that political and religious authority after Prophet Muhammad will be with any good and knowledgeable Muslim, whereas the Shia believe that both political and religious authority must be restricted to the direct family of the Prophet through blood relations. It is somewhat similar to the Protestants and Catholics, whereas the Catholic church believes that religious authority of the church and their representatives is divinely appointed.
  • “Sunni” refers to the “sunnah” or way, of Prophet Muhammad.
  • “Shia” means party of Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, and accepts the religious and political authority of the family of the Prophet through Ali.
  • These two major Islamic sects did not arise until roughly 50 years after the death of Muhammad due to political disputes.
  • Roughly 90 percent of Muslims are Sunni Muslims, and 10 percent are Shia.

Why is modesty important in Islam?

  • Modesty is key for Muslims, who believe they should behave, dress and live a life that is modest. Prophet Muhammad said, “Modesty is part of faith.”
  • The Islamic concept of modesty is to be proud but not arrogant, and honors the dignity of people.
  • Muslim men and women should both dress modestly. Although the headscarf is the most obvious portion for women, it actually entails the entire outfit and manner of women and men. They should wear loose-fitting clothes that cover the shape of the body, and interact with each other in a professional way that honors their dignity.


Why do Muslim women cover their hair?

  • Muslim women wear the hijab as an act of faith.
  • Muslim men and women should both dress modestly. Although the headscarf is the most obvious portion for women, it actually entails the entire outfit and manner of women and men. They should wear loose-fitting clothes that cover the shape of the body, and interact with each other in a professional way that honors their dignity.
  • When you see a Muslim woman in hijab, what she is saying to you is, please respect me for my mind, my intellect, my personality, my sense of humor; please respect me as a person, and not for my physical or sexual characteristics. She has, literally, taken control of her sexuality and how it is defined.

Why can’t Muslim girls go to school?

  • Actually, millions of Muslim girls attend school throughout the world. Sometimes we hear about young girls not being allowed to attend school, but this is an extremely small number.
  • Islam actually requires all Muslims to seek knowledge.  Anyone who tries to stop women from studying or attending school, generally speaking, is doing so in spite of Islam.
  • There is a very famous authenticated saying, or hadith, of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) where he said, “Seeking knowledge is a must for every Muslim male and female.” In that saying, he actually specified females.
  • You might have heard of Malala Yousefzai, a young Muslim woman from Pakistan, and the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was stopped from attending school and advocating for the rights of schoolgirls in spite of Islam, not because of Islam.
  • In fact, the oldest university in the world was founded by a Muslim woman named Fatima al-Fihri in Morocco. (Guinness Book of World Records)

What does Islam say about Jesus?

  • According to Islamic belief, Jesus (peace be upon him) is one of the most revered messengers of God.
  • Muslims believe he was born to the Virgin Mary, performed many miracles in his prophethood, ascended to heaven before people attempted to crucify him, and will return to Earth as a sign of the Day of Judgment.
  • Jesus is also called “al-Masih” (the Christ) or The Messiah, which means the one who is blessed by God and will return before the Day of Judgment.
  • Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran, and by many names, including the Word of God (“kalimatuhu,” Surah an-Nisa:171)

Why are there so many Muslim terrorists?

  • There aren’t. This is a false misconception portrayed by the media when in fact extremely few of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are radicalized.
  • The number of terrorists who claim to be Muslim is actually extremely small, and the vast majority of their victims are Muslim
  • According to a CATO study from 2016, an American’s chances of being killed in a terrorist attack by a foreigner were extremely rare.
    • “Including those murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), the chance of an American perishing in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil that was committed by a foreigner over the 41-year period studied here is 1 in 3.6 million per year. The hazard posed by foreigners who entered on different visa categories varies considerably. For instance, the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year while the chance of being murdered in an attack committed by an illegal immigrant is an astronomical 1 in 10.9 billion per year.”
    • https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis
  • The perception is due in large part to how such stories are covered in the news. In a scientific study, researchers at Georgia State University found that terror attacks perpetrated by a Muslim received five times more media coverage. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world-0/terror-attacks-media-coverage-muslim-islamist-white-racism-islamophobia-study-georgia-state-a7820726.html