Islam More Than A Religion – Сustom Literature essay

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Islam More Than A Religion Despite its huge following around the world and the growing Muslimcommunities in the United States, Islam is foreign to most Americans who arefamiliar with Christianity or Judaism. Because most Americans know little ornothing about Islam, they have many misconceptions about Muslim beliefs andrituals. The negative image many people in the United States and Europe haveof Islam and the Muslim world has a long history. Many have judged Islamwithout making an effort to consider this religious tradition on its own terms, without bothering to become acquainted with its teaching and the ways in whichMuslims practice their faith. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam is a monotheistic religion, basedon the belief in one God. This religion was proclaimed by the Prophet Muhammadin Arabia, in the 7th century A. D. The term Islam virtually means "surrender".Within Islam the believer (called a Muslim) use the Arabic word for God, Allah, to refer to the creator of the world and of all life within it.

Allah is viewedas the sole God----creator, sustained, and restorer of the world. The will ofAllah, to which man must submit, is made known through the sacred scriptures, the Qur'an (Koran). Allah revealed the Qur'an to his messenger, Muhammad. According to Islamic beliefs, Muhammad is the last of a series of prophets(including Adam, Noah, Jesus, and others). Muhammad's message concurrentlyperfect and do away with the "revelations" attributed to earlier prophets. From the very beginning of Islam, Muhammad had indoctrinated a sense ofbrotherhood and a bond of faith among his followers

The Prophet Muhammad fledto Medina in AD 622, it was during this time that his preaching was accepted andthe community-state of Islam emerged. During this early period, Islam acquiredits characteristics as a religion uniting in itself both the spiritual andtemporal aspects of life. Islam also seeks to regulate not only theindividual's relationship to God (through his conscience) but human relationshipin a social setting as well. Thus, there is not only an Islamic religiousinstitution but also an Islamic law, state, and other institutions governingsociety. During the earliest decades after the death of the Prophet, certainbasic features of the religio-social organizations of Islam were singled out. The features are to serve as anchoring points of the community's life andfashioning as the "Pillars of Islam." There are five pillars.

To these five, the Khawarij sect added a sixth pillar, the jihad, which, however, was notaccepted by the general community. Jihad means "holy war" or "holy struggle".The first pillar is the profession of faith which states, "There is no god butGod; Muhammad is the prophet of God." The profession must be recited at leastonce in one's lifetime, aloud, correctly, and purposively, with an understandingof its meaning and with a covenant from the heart. The second pillar consistsof five daily congregational prayers, which may, however be offered individuallyif one is unable to go to the mosque. The first prayer is performed in themorning before sunrise. The second prayer is performed just after noon, thethird in the later afternoon, the fourth immediately after sunset, and the fifthbefore retiring to bed. However, only three prayers are mentioned in theQur'an: morning, evening, and middle prayer in the afternoon.

In strictdoctrine, the five daily prayers cannot be waived even for the sick, who maypray in bed and, if necessary lying down. The third pillar is the obligatory tax called zakat which means "purification." Zakat indicts that such a payment makes the rest of one's wealthreligiously and legally pure. In today's society the payment of zakat hasbecome a matter of voluntary charity dependent on individual conscience. The fourth pillar of the faith is fasting during the month of Ramadan(ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar). Fasting begins at daybreak and endsat sunset, and during the day eating, drinking, and smoking are forbidden.

TheQu'ran (2:185) states that it was during the month of Ramadan that the Qu'ranwas revealed. The fifth pillar is the annual pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca prescribed forevery Muslim once in a lifetime -- "provided one can afford it" and provided aperson has enough provisions to leave for his family in his absence. By the eighteenth century Black Muslims begin to arrive in NorthAmerica; coming by the thousands, working as slaves on plantations. As slavesthese early communities were cut off from their heritage, families, andinevitable their Islamic identity. During the nineteenth century Americaexperienced an influx of Arab Muslims arriving from Europe, settling in majorindustrial cities. The Arab Muslims were generally able to form theircommunities and to practice their religion freely.

The early Twentieth Centurywitnessed the arrival of several hundred thousand Muslims from Eastern Europe;whom opened a mosque in Maine in 1915 and other mosque soon followed. After World War II an Islamic movement emerged among blacks in the US;members called themselves the Nation of Islam, but they were popularly known asBlack Muslims. Although they adopted some Islamic social practices, the groupwas in large a black separatist and social-protest movement. Their leader, Elijah Muhammad, who claimed to be an inspired prophet, interpreted the doctrineof Resurrection in an unorthodox sense as the revival of oppressed ("dead")people. The popular leader and advocate Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz)broke with Elijah Muhammad and adopted more orthodox Islamic views.

After thedeath of Malcolm X in 1965 and the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975, many blacksturned to Sunni Islam. While most Muslim blacks identify with the traditionalSunni Islam practiced worldwide, the black community's history is entwined withthe Nation of Islam, founded about 1930. Malcom X was among the first blackMuslims to turn to Sunni Islam through the Nation of Islam. Most Muslims areknown as Sunni Muslims; and all other Muslims belong to the Shi'i sect and areknown as the Shi'ah. Today many blacks point to the Islamic faith of their slave ancestors. Scholars estimate that as many as 20 percent of slaves brought to America wereMuslims. In the early part of this century black communities started to takehold to the Islamic faith. In the Islamic faith the family is the foundation of the Muslim society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued andseen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members.

A friendly socialorder is created by the existence of external families; the children aretreasured and rarely leave home until the time they marry. Also, Muslim womenare seen as an individual in her own right, with the right too own and disposeof her property and earnings. Both men and women are expected to dress in amanner that is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found insome Muslim countries are often the expression of local custom. The code inwhich Muslims eat and drink forbids the consumption of pork meat and any kind ofintoxicating drink. The Prophet Muhammad teachings stated that one's body hasrights and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthylifestyle is seen as a religious obligation and a way of life.

In todays society many have come to believe that we live in a secularage, meaning, in effect, that religion is not an especially important issue formost people. But there is much evidence to suggest that this is not true. Inmany societies, including the United States, religion and religious values shapethe lives of millions of individuals and play a key role in culture. REFERENCESDawood, N. J. The Koran. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1974Gordon, S. Matthew., Islam World Religions, New York: Brown Publishing, 1991Hiro, Dilip., Holy Wars: The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, New York:Routledge, Chapman and Hall Inc.

1989The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago: 15th Edition: 1987Islam More Than A ReligionI. IntroductionA. Historical OriginsB. Source of Islamic DoctrineII. Fundamental Practices A. The Five Pillars B. Sacred Places and DaysIII. American ExperienceA. History of MigrationB.

Black MuslimsIV. Cultural/Racial AppreciationA. TraditionsB. General Culture - Family, Food, Music, etc...

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