| The Muslim Religion| Marlia J. Kegler| | Hum 130 Religions of the World| Professor John L. Meeks| | Religion has become one of the biggest diverse topics in today’s society. Throughout the last weeks we have taken the journey to learn about different religions and in this paper I will attempt to take you on that journey with me learning about the Muslim religion. The Muslim religion dates all the way back to 570 BC when the prophet Muhammad was said to be born.
Muhammad is considered by Muslims to be the last continuing chain of prophets who has come to restore what they consider real religion. (Fisher, 2005, Para. 1). The Muslims scared book is called the Qur’an, which according to the Muslims revealed a series of revelations to Muhammad to include that Abraham and Ishmael together built the holiest sanctuary in Islam; the Muslim refer to this place as Ka’bah. Fisher, 2005) Please do not be mistaken Allah (GOD) is the focus in Islam, the sole authority, not Muhammad. However his life is important to the Muslims because his character is considered a model of the teachings in the Qur’an. According to the Islamic tradition reciting the Qur’an is thought to have both a healing and soothing effect but can also bring protection, guidance, and knowledge. The Qur’an are to Muslims as the bible is to Christians, However they are not the same. Muslims have five basic beliefs.
The first is there is only one GOD, the second is the belief in angels who act upon the heart of each person, inspiring him/her to do good; the third is the belief that prophets and messengers of GOD are sent to all nations of the world and taught virtue by their own high moral example, the fourth is to believe in the book of GOD which they believe were revealed to all nation through their prospective prophets, containing guidance conducting how one should live and conduct him or herself; the last and fifth belief is life after death, which is believed to be when each man faces judgment for the deeds both good and bad done throughout their life. Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore Inc. U. S. A. , 2008). Each of these five beliefs relates to Muslims being able to concentrate and stay to true to the most important point that Islam teaches which that belief does not just mean believing something in one’s heart, but also acting on the belief. Mere faith counts for nothing if not carried into practice. The purpose of belief is to show us what to do in practice. No ‘belief’ by itself can bring salvation. (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore Inc. U. S. A. , 2008). Muslim believe that Allah is all knowing and created everything and that humans will only find peace by knowing and living by these laws.
They believe in order to submit to Allah there are certain things that must be done; these things include prayer (salaat), fasting (saum), and a pilgrimage to Makka (hajj). By doing these thing Muslims believe that this will bring you closer to Allah. Muslim holidays are also something of substance for them especially since they do not go by our western calendar but yet an Islamic calendar which is based on the revelation of the moon, is only 354 days long eleven day shorter than our calendar, and contains several different holidays three which are major for Muslims. Those holidays considered major are Ed-Al-Adha which celebrates the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make of his son Ishmael to show his commitment to Allah.
Another holiday is Ramadan; this holiday is more of a holy month dominated by daily fasting and devotion to faith and reflection. The last one is Eid-Al-Fitr which comes at the end of the holy month and celebrates the end of fasting. Although these are major there are many in between that are just as important to the Islamic faith. In order to help learn more about the Islamic faith I visited a Mosque, which is where Muslim goes to worship. I was also able to sit down and talk to a follower of the Islamic faith and interview her. The Mosque I visited was the Islamic Center of Tacoma; it is located at 2010 Bridgeport Way West in University Place, WA 98466.
Upon arrival to the Mosques it looks like it was covered in snow because it was all white with just a little of silver trimming on the edges. It is nothing spectacular there are no bright windows or a big cross to signify what it is like most churches I have seen. The inside was just as simple, out of respect there are no shoes worn in the Mosque praying areas and there were also separate room for prayer based on gender. There was also a common area with books for learning. Although it was simple the Mosques was very pretty and it was very refreshing to see a place where all that seems to matter was praise and worship and not who has the best what.
After having a tour of the Mosque I sat down with a young Muslim by the name of Asja Jackson, she is twenty-four year old and had converted from being a Baptist and here is a summary of the interview. Me: Good Afternoon, How are you? Asja: Good how are you? Me: I am doing just fine, first before we begin let me first thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk to me and answer my questions. Asja: You are welcome. Me: Ok, the first question I’d like to ask is; how long have you been a practicing Muslim? Asja: I have been an active practicing Muslim for 9 years. Me: That is a long time, what made choose to practice Islam over other religions? You were a Baptist at one point correct? Asja: Yes I was.
However when I was practicing Christianity while growing up I wasn’t able to feel connected or rather inner peace, but then I moved with my mother and when I saw the changes Islam was able to help her achieve and the peace it had given her I decided to open my mind and give it a try. After studying for about two years I made the decision to convert. Me: It must be great to finally find that inner peace that we all I believe are searching for. What can you say if any were the challenges to being a Muslim? Asja: For me the biggest challenge was being able to stay strong in what I believed in no matter what adversity or mistreatment you are face with because of your beliefs. Also for me staying well informed of the Qur’an so that I can have the strength to stay away from the thing I know are wrong within my faith; even though it has been 9years I still have a journey ahead.
Me: Are there any restrictions that Muslims must abide by? Asja: There can be a lot of restrictions depending on how you look at it. For a newly converted Muslim it can seem very restricting but Islam is meant to be a way of life with guidelines for everyday living, therefore “restrictions” would no longer be a part of the equation because it is now everyday life. However in the beginning it is rough. Me: I bet it can be. So tell me how has Islam shaped your life? Asja: Islam has changed my life in many different ways but the one way most significant way the Islam has changes my life to me is within my family. Islam has changed us from a much separated one to now a very close and bonded family.
Islam has helped us to become a stronger unit. Me: That is great I know that with any person family is important. Now if possible let us begin on some questions about Islam. Many people religion have their take on Christ, are there differences between Allah and Christ within the Muslim religion? Asja: Allah means GOD in Arabic nothing more nothing less with no extra examples, we submit to Allah (GOD) and only Allah (GOD). Christ in Islam is a prophet who was sent to give a message from GOD to lead those who went astray back to the path of GOD. Me: So does that mean you do not believe in Christ being the Son of God like in the Christianity faith?
Asja: Correct, we believe him to be simply a prophet. For us there are no others on the level of Allah (GOD) Me: Ok, tell me what are some of the important holidays and traditions within Islam? Asja: The most significant tradition is Hajj, which a journey to Mecca. As for holidays there are a few, the first is Eid-Al-Fitr which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, this starts for a Muslim after Hajj. The next is Ramadan which is the holiest month of the year where we fast from sunrise to sunset. The third is Eid Al-Ahad which is a 3 day celebration which celebrates the end of Ramadan. Me: So is it true that all Muslims must take the pilgrimage to Mecca?
If so what is the significance of this pilgrimage? Asja: Yes, a Muslims finances can allow it the pilgrimage to Meeca is a must for all Muslims. The significance of the pilgrimage is to pray and become closer to Allah (GOD). Me: In regards to your leader how are they chosen for example the Honorable Elijah Muhammad? Asja: Leaders are chosen based on their knowledge of Islam, by being well versed in the Qur’an and Sunnah (teaching of the prophet Muhammad). This normally takes years of studying to become an Imam, which is why it is usually obtained at an old age. Me: In regards to leader Elijah Muhammad was one of the most popular. What impact did he have on the Muslim religion?
Asja: Well within the African American Muslim sector he brought them closer and helped them to build unity, which of course at the time was much needed; this lead to other good things like new Muslim schools and more masjids. However Islam is a larger Muslim community most who follow under him is known as the Nation of Islam Me: I know back in those days unity was important I bet it was nice to have someone bring both unity and religion. Well Asja I would like to thank you again for taking the time out to talk to me. Asja: You are welcome. Islam as we have learned is a very diverse religion and does have some similarities to other religions but as we know is very different.
Let’s take Christianity for an example. Unlike the Muslim religion there are not any specific months throughout the year where there is a fast. Within the Christian religion fasting can be done at any time; but just like within Islam fasting is done in order to gain enlightenment and become closer to GOD. Another difference the two religions have is like stated above the Islamic religion believe Jesus to only be a simply another prophet but for Christians Jesus is known as the Son of GOD who came to not only bring souls back to GOD but to also our salvation. Christian belief that Jesus was sent down to be judged for all of our sins and through him is the only way to GOD.
In regards to prayer both religions believe that through reluctant prayer and learning of the word of GOD will bring you closer to GOD. Another similarity between the both religions is that both Christians and Muslims believe that everyone has to stand judgment for their right and wrong doings at the end of their lives. Although the two religions are very different as we can see share some of the same values still. Religion as we have seen over the years has been the cause of some good and bad things; some great discussion and bad arguments but like all things religion to with education and tolerance of one another’s beliefs and traditions can become more of a reason to come together than be drawn apart.
The Islamic religion has taken some hard hit because of misuse of the word for example the attacks on 9/11; this tragedy came with a lot of division within itself and from other religions as well. However like all religions there are those who will take what they read and interpret it in their own way and sometime misinterpret. That’s why through education and truly opening our hearts and minds to respecting if not understanding others belief we may one day in a lot of religious conflicts. References Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore Inc. U. S. A. (2008). Islam Basic Beliefs and Practices. Retrieved from http://www. muslim. org/islam/int-is2. htm Fisher, M. P. (2005). Living Religions (6th Ed. ). New Jersey, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.