Islam: A Religion of Peace
Islam: A Religion of Peace What is a Muslim? In what do the followers of Islam believe? In today’s world, people should be asking these questions, if only to learn more about the world around them. In this paper, I will discuss how the basic ideas of Islam compare to the six bases of religion listed in our textbook.
The six bases are: (1) deal in some way with peoples’ relationship to the unseen world of spirits, ancestors, gods and demons; (2) developed a system of myths about the unseen world and rituals designed for communing with or propitiating the spirits; (3) developed a system of organized rituals, temples, priests and scriptures at some point in their history; (4) usually have some statement about life beyond death, either survival in some shadowy hades, in some version of heaven and hell, or through reincarnation; (5) usually have developed a code of conduct or moral order; and (6) generally have attracted a large following, either currently or at some time in the past. Also, I will discuss the influence Islam has over the people who follow it, and we will see how the basic teachings of Islam could improve our situation on earth.
The first of the six bases is that the religion deals in some way with peoples’ relationship to the unseen world of spirits, ancestors, gods and demons. Allah, Angels and the Jinn Islam is not just a religion to the people of Islam, also known as “Muslims”. It is a way of living according to one’s faith. (Dodge-7). Muslims believe there is only one God, Allah. They worship only Him and reject any notion that He shares divinity with any other thing. (Dodge-4). Allah is not alone in Paradise; He is surrounded by angels and the Jinn. Angels are servants of God. It is through angels that humans are aware of God. Angels do not have free will; they do what God asks of them.
The Jinn are either good or bad, because they have free will and can use it to decide to be either good or bad. Iblis is the leader of the Jinn. He refused God’s command to honor humans, because he thought he knew better than God. He became the enemy of humans and tries to leads peoples’ hearts and minds away from God. (Maqsood-40). Having established that Allah is, to Muslim’s the one God, let us look at some of the myths and stories surrounding Him. The second of the six bases is that the religion developed a system of myths about the unseen world and rituals designed for communing with or propitiating the spirits. The Black Stone One of the myths about the unseen world is surrounding the Black Stone. Muslims believe it was sent down from heaven.
They say it was originally white in color, but turned black in sorrow at the world’s sin (Maqsood-86). During their pilgrimage to Mecca they must kiss or touch the Black Stone as part of the ritual around the Kab’ah. The Five Pillars of Islam Muslims observe five formal acts of worship, which they refer to as the pillars of Islam. These pillars help build and structure a Muslim’s daily life. The five pillars of Islam are the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca. (Dodge-74). The declaration of faith (Sha-haada) occurs when a Muslim first opens themselves to God’s service. They must say “There is no God worthy to be worshipped except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. They must truly believe in the declaration in their heart and mind and once they have given themselves over to God they must show their faith in acts as well. Examples of this are: not eating pork or any other food products that are not hatal (permitted), no drinking of alcohol, entertainment based on the social giving of alcohol, and immodest dress. They also must never show arrogance, selfishness, deceitfulness, lust and indecency and many other weaknesses in character. (Maqsood-53). The Sha-haada is also used for the call to prayer and is repeated throughout the day during formal and informal prayer. The mu’adhin (the person who announces the call to prayer, will repeat the Sha-haada. Prayer (salaat) is the second pillar of Islam.
Prayer is the method by which human beings can connect to Allah, and gather strength, guidance, and peace of mind. (Dodge-75). Muslims pray five times a day. That is the number that was revealed to the Prophet on the Night of Ascent (Maqsood-56). Along with the prayer five times a day, Muslims have a congregational prayer at midday on Friday. They must go to their mosque and pray with the people of their community. Islam does not have priests. One of the foundations of this religion is that your relationship with God is your own. The Imam (person who leads prayer) is not a priest; they are usually someone who volunteered, or someone who is knowledgeable enough to be able to recite from the Qur’an. (Maqsood-59).
Prayer is not only way to worship Allah, fasting is another way that Muslims can show their devotion to God. The third pillar is fasting. Once a year, during Ramadan all Muslims (with a few exceptions) must fast between sunrise and sunset. Muslims believe that there are many benefits from fasting. Some maintain that it is a healthy time, as the stomach is rested and Muslims eat more fruit and less spice than they might do normally. The main benefits however are spiritual and mental. It takes excellent disciple and self control. The feeling of community and togetherness that develops from sharing the same experience as well as sharing food in the evenings.
It helps them to appreciate what they have. The wealthier people can learn a lot about what it is like to do without. (Maqsood 76-77) Food and drink are not the only things they must abstain from. They must also keep themselves from lying and immoral actions. This month long ritual is for intense spiritual devotion; all Muslims around the world observe it. The fourth pillar is almsgiving. Allah is responsible for all that is given, therefore it is proper to share wealth with the less fortunate. Only wealth that a family or person has after taking care of their family needs are actually considered when calculating zakat (the amount to be paid) anywhere from 2. 5 to 10%.
Not just money has value, even planting a tree so that other peoples animals may someday eat from it are considered charity (Dodge-79). The fifth and final pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca, called the Hajj. Mecca is the center of all worship and pilgrimage, in honor of the Prophet Abraham. (Dodge-33). This journey is required of all adult Muslims, if physically and financially able, once in a lifetime. (Dodge-80). Muslims must follow the ritual of the pilgrimage. During their time in Mecca, they must abstain from anything that is against the rules of ihram: sex, cutting of hair or fingernail, flirtation, no use of perfume or scented soap, men must leave their heads uncovered and women must cover theirs.
The third of the six bases is the development of a system of organized rituals, temples, priests and scriptures at some point in their history. The Qur’an The Qur’an is the primary scripture of Islam. It provides guidance and “the word of God” to Muslims. The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad, by the angel Jibril over a period of twenty-three years. This scripture is different from other religious works in that it was dictated directly to the Prophet from God and is written exactly as the prophet received it. Other religions scriptures have been written by human authors who wrote many of them after the prophet had died. It is considered a sacred text, and is treated as such.
It is usually kept in a special room (if they have the space). When not being used it is usually covered in a cloth to prevent dust from falling on it, and when a Muslim is going to touch the Qur’an, they must go through a special cleansing ritual called wudu. Mosques The primary place of worship in Islam is the Mosque. It can be located anywhere, including in the home, or even on the side of the road. If possible, there should be a source of water nearby for washing prior to worship. To quote Hadith Bukari, “Wherever the hour of prayer overtakes you, you shall perform it. That place is a mosque. ” (Maqsood-113). The traditional mosque building is a very important part of the life of Muslims.