After the September 11, 2001 attack on America, as a nation we became more interested as to what is Islam? In this paper, I shall attempt to define what Islam is, its teachings and how it has impacted the world, in relation to other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity.
The word Islam has a two- fold meaning; peace and submission to God. The submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to one Almighty God, consciously gives oneself to the service of Allah.
In the teachings of Islam there are five pillars 1) Declaration of faith(Shadada), 2) Prayer(Salah), 3) Obligatory Charity(Zakah), 4) Fasting(Sarom), and 5) Pilgrimage(Haji),of the five the most significant one is the pillar of faith.(Fanar,1997) The declaring of one’s belief outwardly is a true sign of belief. By stating “There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Mohammed is the final messenger of Allah” it lets others in the Islamic community know that you are truly dedicated.
Islam embraces a huge range of nationalities and cultures; the Muslim/Islamic community is made up of people from all over the world; with each culture or nationality having different interpretation of Islam with the majority of the Islamic community observing the daily ritual of prayer and other teachings. Despite the fact that Islam has been fully incorporated into the American culture and way of life, most Americans still perceive Islam as being inclined towards encouraging violence amongst its members. (Kabbini,2000) For centuries the Islamic societies have been patriarchal based, where the male member runs the household.
Biology is used to justify this as women are the only ones who can bear children and they argue that the man must provide and maintain the family so that the woman can do her job of bearing and raising the children. Women also have long been considered the culture bearers by incorporating the Islamic traditions and values within the home. Up until the 21st century, the Islamic woman had little say in divorce and even initiating one. Since the turn of the century, significant reforms for women have occurred in the majority of the Muslim countries. Reforms for including education for women, the right to work outside the home, to vote, to hold a public office, to now seek a divorce with the right to financial compensation and one major significant reform the prohibition of child marriages.(Azeem,2012)
According to Islamic teachings women should adhere to a specific way of dressing, they need to lower their gaze, guard their modesty and at no time display their beauty or ornamentation except what must appear. Veils are to be drawn over one’s bosom and their beauty is not displayed except to their husbands, fathers, father-in-law, sons, brothers or brother-in-laws. In certain areas of the world the Muslim men wear beards and don’t shave them off, they do however trim them. Most Muslims eat with their right hand even if left handed, as the left hand is relegated to bathroom usage. Some of the other practices that were introduced by cultures/societies that accepted Islam are: * Middle East-men kissing each other on each as a form of greeting * West Africa-upon greeting someone will put their hand on one’s head * Pakistan-prostrating oneself when one’s child has reach 40days (http://www.buzzle.com)
There are several similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism; all believe to be descendants of Abraham. * All are monotheistic in regards to beliefs, as they all call same God worship. * All follow basic ten commandments
* All call for same basic ritual worships; prayer, fasting, alms giving * All follow the same moral values that govern human relationships The Muslims/Islamic people call the Christians and Jews as “people of the book” as they see them as holders of God’s holy books the Torah and the Bible.(Fanar,1997) The Muslim/Islamic people believe that these books are a revelation of God to the prophets Moses and Jesus respectively. They believe not only in one God but the same God/Allah. The similarities among the three are probably greater than the differences as Muslims follow the teachings of all previous prophets of Judaism and Christianity.
The major difference is that Islam doesn’t believe that Jesus was God’s Son that he was one of the prophets, that he wasn’t crucified but that he was lifted up to heaven and will return prior to doomsday and that this was a final revelation to the Prophet Mohammed and was received as the Holy Qur’an. Another difference is that Islam teaches in comparison to Christianity and Judaism is that God is distant and uninvolved in everyday lives of its followers; Christianity holds that God is intimately involved in the lives of believers and that a believer can have a vibrant relationship with God.
Faith based conflict and religious violence threatens our world. According to Dr. David Liepert, a prominent North American Muslim candidly explores how and why Islam has gone from being a religion that sustained a vibrant multicultural and multi-religious civilization to the one we have today. In the end he does offer hope that Muslims, Jews and Christians can live together in peace and that the happy ending we all crave might be closer than one thinks. (Liepert, 2010).Since Muslims are taught to treat one another like brothers, they treat others generously. Most Christians, Jews and Muslims understand that there are differences in the way they worship; they therefore respect each other in regards to religious practices. Muslims use a greeting “Asalam Aleikum” which means peace be upon you and is used by all Muslims to greet each other. (Arnold2007 Depending on the area or region this greeting may be accompanied by a handshake or hug.
The issue of Muslims greeting non-Muslims is still a difficult issue with different groups of people with different views and opinions. There are those who will argue that Muslims should initiate greetings with people of other religions so to promote harmony among societies. Muslims cannot live alone in their communities and to ensure peace among the people that they live with (Arnold, 2007). In conclusion, Islam is the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world today. Muslims believe in the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and strictly follow these teachings. Islam teaches peace and to be preach the message of peace. Muslims reside in all countries of the world with Indonesia having the largest number, although the majority of the world believes that most Muslims reside in the Middle East.
The regions where one resides greatly influences their beliefs and cultures; Muslim/Islamic women are to dress in loose fitting clothes, do not shake hands with male members of the community. All Muslims follow the five pillars of Islamic teachings which dictate how one should behave towards God and towards others. Muslims believe in one God who is a supreme being to all others, being a Muslims means that one submits to the teachings of the Islamic faith. The differences between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam differ in various beliefs like the aspect of God: Allah for Muslims who is the Supreme Being worshipped by man. Christians in turn believe in the trinity of God: the father, son and Holy Spirit. The Jews believe in one God and the teachings of traditions, prophets and rabbis. That one day Messiah will come to reunite and return to the Garden of Eden thus unifying with God.
Fanar, Q. (1997). Understanding Islam (2nd Ed.) Houston, Tex. Darussalam Publisher Azeem, S (2012). Women in Islam. Raleigh, NC. Lulu Enterprises Inc. Mawzlawy, W. (2010). Question and Answers about Islam. EBook Kabbini, M. (2000, June). Muslim Experience in America is Unprecedented. Middle East
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Liepert, D. (2010). Muslim, Christian and Jew: Finding a Path to Peace Our Faiths Can Share. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Faith Life Publishing.
Muslim Culture and Traditions (2012). Retrieved December 13, 2012 from http://www.buzzle.com Comparison Chart. (2012). retrieved December13, 2012 from http://www.terrasus.com McMann, Carmelita. (2012) Interviewed December 12, 2012.