RELIGION

 

RELIGION_Islam  
(A handbook of religion was published by the Foundation for Pluralism in August 2004. All the groups were given the same set of questions, and some are really silly like denominations in Atheism.  Here is the production of such writings from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between; it is in two parts, essence of the faith and general information about it. We invite you to send your suggestions to suggestions@foundationforpluralism.com  for updates and new information.- Please send us the preferred websites to be linked at the bottom - THE INFORMATION IS IN TWO PARTS)

PROFILE & ESSENCE

Traditional Greetings: As-Salamu-Alaykum (Peace be upon you).

Origins: Prophet Adam was the first messenger and guide appointed by God. All Prophets who followed him continued with the same belief until the time of Prophet Abraham who was a monotheist in true sense of the word. He saw only God Almighty in all his affairs; he preached that people should turn to the All-Powerful God while denying any partner to Him. God opened Abraham’s inner eyes to see the kingdom of God, and gave him Yaqeen ‘conviction acquired through seeing the truth’. The Arabic Word for God is “Allah” which is made of two parts ‘al’ (the) and ‘Ilahi’ (One who is worshipped and obeyed).  

Originator: In the eyes of Qur’an, the essence of all Sharai’ or ‘prescribed systems of law and morality’ given to each Prophet (as) is the same, and is called Tawheed (derived from Wahdah or ‘one’), meaning ‘to believe and obey One God’). The Last Messenger Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) completed the work of all previous Prophets by explaining and enforcing the Commands of God. 

People who wrote the books: Muslims believe that Allah revealed Torah, Bible, Zaboor and Qur’an on Moses, Jesus, David and Mohammad (peace be upon them all) respectively. The revelations that came to Muhammad were written, compiled and copied numerous times during his lifetime by his companions. The punctuations, dots and symbols were however added later under the guidance of Ali, and the support of the Righteous Caliphs.

Who is worshiped? Allah – Arabic Word for God.

Holy Books (Original Language): Qur’an (Qur-Aan).

Holy Places of Worship:

  1. Ka’bah in Mecca – built originally by Abraham according to the Command of God, the Almighty,
  2. Masjid-un-Nabi in Madina – built by Prophet Muhammad and his companions; which subsequently became the place where Mohammad (s) was laid to rest, and
  3. Jerusalem - where Prophet Muhammad visited on the night of his heavenly ascension, and communion with Allah (swt). Though every inch of this universe can be designated for worship (as long as it meets the conditions of Sharia’); a Masjid (or mosque) is dedicated as an endowment for this purpose. The word Masjid is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
  4. Other holy places include the Shrines of Prophets and members of Prophet Mohammad’s family- the Ahlul Bayt.

Key Tenets: Three basic beliefs of Islam include:

1.       The belief in One God,

2.       The belief in Resurrection, and

3.       The belief in the last Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny

On the night of ascension, Allah (swt) instructed Prophet Mohammad to pray five times a day. Instruction to fast in the holy month of Ramadan, payment of Zakat (material support given to the less privileged classes), and Pilgrimage to Mecca once in a life time were revealed and expounded gradually. Since the whole universe is a manifestation of God’s Names, a true Muslim is one who respects fellow human beings, protects the environment and the creations of God.

Prayer Rituals: From dawn till the nightfall, a believer remembers Allah in five daily prayers. Rituals are composed of praise, glorification of God, supplications to Him and certain prescribed movements that represent the inner states of journeying towards God. Friday congregational prayers and the sermons are meant to inculcate the collective will to attain piety and dutifulness which is the path to attain nearness to God. Individuals can pray at any place during the prescribed times.

Current Leadership: Refer to the Denominations Below. 

Decision Makers: Individuals

Interpretations: This issue divides Muslims into many denominations. But each denomination has its scholars and centers of learning that provide guidelines for their communities.

Myths: 1) That Muslims worship Muhammad:  – they do not. They worship Allah – The God. Muhammad proclaimed himself to be simply a messenger of God and did not ever claim to be divine or has powers with God. He practiced the prayers himself. 2) Jihad means killing the infidels – Wrong.  Jihad has two meanings: 1- Struggle with one’s self and conquering malice, hate, anger, revenge and ill will, and 2- Use of force when the defense of Islam necessitates.

Denominations: Sunni and Shia.  Shia has three schools of thoughts - Bohra, Ismaili & Main stream Shia. The Sunni Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammad left his successor to be chosen by the people, and Muslims are to follow the Quran. The Shi’a Muslims on the other hand believe that both spiritual and temporal authority is by appointment of God through His Prophet and that Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad was appointed as the successor.  Three more related schools of thought with shades of Sunni tradition are: Ahmedi’s, who believe that the promised Messiah is their spiritual leader Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, which belief is not part of the other traditions.  Wahabbis follows literal words of the Qur’an.  Sufi tradition is focused on love and embraces all mankind. Maulana Rumi was the fountain head of this tradition. 

Major Festivals: Eid-ul-Fitr (at the end of Ramadan), Eid-uz-Dhuha (at the time of Hajj) and Muharram (not a festival but a commemoration of the sacrifice of Imam Hussain). There are many other religious and cultural festivals including the Eid-e-Milaad (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebrations –observed by all Muslims), Eid-e-Ghadir (Caliph Ali’s appointment as the Imam -observed by the Shias).

Dietary Laws: Halal (kosher). The animal must be sacrificed in a certain way to be Halal. Alcohol and Pork are forbidden. There are certain other restrictions that apply only among some of the denominations.

Sensitivities: Physical contact between opposite sexes is not allowed except when there is a relationship. 

What is not polite? To pronounce “Mozlem”, “Izlam”.  The right pronunciation is Mus-Lim, Is-Lam (as in Is- of Isfahan, Is of Istanbul)

Customs from birth to death: Ritual circumcision of male babies, saying Azan in the ear of the baby upon birth, Ameen (graduation form reading Qur’an), marriage ceremony (includes a legal contract and dower for the bride), funeral rites include the shrouding, washing of the body and burial prayers. Islam is a complete code of life for all Muslims.

Textual support for Pluralism: If pluralism means acceptance of each others differences, and doing good to each other then Islam says there is ‘No compulsion in religion’ which means religion is not something that can be thrust upon anyone.  Muslims believe that God has sent 124,000 prophets to every community and every region. Qur’an says  that God created human beings from a man and a woman, constituted them in the form of several tribes and nations, and ordained them to live with each other amicably; ‘the most respectful in the eyes of God is one who is the most dutiful’.

World Population: 1.3 Billion

US population: 6-7 million

North Texas Population: 150,000.

ESSENCE

The foundation on which Islam was laid is simple and very American.

Islam is a deed based religion and salvation is earned thru the right conduct.  In his last sermon, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised his daughter Fatima that on the Day of Judgment, God will judge her and every soul on the merits of their deeds, and that she will have to earn her right. He further stated that the fact she is the daughter of the Prophet has no bearing. A powerful statement for a man of his stature that was on top of the world at that time.  Thus Islam set individual responsibilities and offered liberties and freedom to the people who follow the righteous path. The prophet set the example that no matter whom you are; you are responsible for your deeds.

The very first chapter sets the tone for Islam: In the name of the God who is kind and merciful "Praise be to God, who is the lord of the entire universe | God is most gracious and most merciful | Master of the day of judgment | To you we worship and seek help from | Show us the right path | The path of those whom you directed and not of those who went astray.

What is the right path? The path which leads to salvation, the path which bring inner peace, the path which brings order in the societies where every one feels secure, safe and at peace. God asks one to submit to his will, and his will encompasses a world of Justice and Mercy.

All the practices and rituals are embedded with the principles of individual responsibility, equality before God, justice and Mercy. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) set the example of good citizenship early on in his life. He was respected immensely by the people of Mecca (Non-Muslims) at that time. The Meccans placed their trust in him and believed him to say nothing but the truth and honored him with the title “Amin”. Every Muslim’s conscience ought to be set up to be the Amin, the truthful, the trustworthy. And when we resolve to become “Amin” to every one in America, we would have accomplished spiritual success and have earned our place in this society. An overwhelming majority of us are Amin’s, we need to up-this to 100%. It will give us the deserved peace, security and prosperity

God called humans the "Honored Creatures," meaning the ones who have conquered the "animal instincts" of their being. To be honored beings, Muslims are to be modest, humble, respectful, and good to fellow citizen, animals, plants and the environment.

The assertion is made that God belongs to all, and all of us belong to that divinity. By corollary, all men are created equal and in effect all his creation is to be respected, for he is the master of the Day of Judgment. No one has a right to judge and impose; only God reserves that right.


The prophet put in place that God is above all, it is he whom we seek help from and that no individual is divine, as all of us are mortal beings.  He was the king, he had all the powers of the world at that time, yet he displayed some thing extraordinary – He prevented his admirers from painting his portraits, in fact he forbid his pictures to be drawn. He did not want people to make him the object of worship over a period of time and lose out the real connection between God and the man. He was simply the God's man and wanted people to be in tune with God and nature and not any one else.

PREFERRED WEBSITE LINKS

Warning: Please be aware, that there are just a few authentic websites - a lot of the them are produced to create a mis-understanding of the faith.... we will be listing the generally accepted websites.

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