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Here is an overview of Islam. The word Islam translates to “submission” or “surrender”. Surrender to the will of Allah – Arab for God.
Beliefs / Practices
Islam is partly based on the Judeo-Christian religions. It has a monotheistic message (belief in one God) and follows some of the same principles as Christianity and Judaism.
Followers of Islam, Muslims, believe in one God, Allah, and believe that Muhammad was his prophet. They also believe that Adam, from the Old Testament of the Bible, was the first prophet.
Other prophets include Abraham, Moses, Noah, David, and Jesus.
There are five “pillars of Islam” that Muslims follow:
– The Shahadah – A declaration of faith that all Muslims recite at least once in their life.
– The Salat or Salah – A daily ritual prayer of faith made five times a day.
– Zakat – a tax paid for the benefit of the poor or needy.
– Sawm – a fast made during the month of Ramadan.
– Hajj – a pilgrimage that every Muslim must make at least once in their life, if they can afford it, to the holy city of Mecca, in today’s Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage begins on the seventh or eighth day of the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar and ends on the 12th day of that same month.
The Kaaba is the shrine located in Mecca, which is visited during the pilgrimage (or Hajj). It is the holiest place for Muslims.
Two other main holy sites are the Prophet Muhammad Mosque in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia and the “Al-Aqsa” Mosque in Jerusalem.
Muslims believe that the Quran is the divine word or revelations on which they base their faith. Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel transmitted the ideas of the Quran to Muhammad.
There are 114 chapters in the Quran.
The Hadith is a collection of the traditions and sayings of Muhammad, also used to frame the way of life and beliefs of Muslims.
According to Islamic traditions, Jihad is the struggle exerted by following the commandments of God both at the personal level and at the community level.
Sunni – The largest branch of Islam. They accept that the first four caliphs (leaders) are the legitimate successors of Muhammad.
Wahabite – A Sunni sect made up of members of the Tameem tribe in Saudi Arabia, following the strict Orthodox teachings of Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulawahab.
Shiite – Ou Shia, the second largest branch of Islam, believes that only Caliph Ali and his descendants are the legitimate successors of Muhammad and rejects the first three caliphs.
Alaouite – Concentrated in Syria, a sect within the Shia community that maintains similar but different core beliefs about Ali’s divinity and the Seven Pillars of Faith. They also observe some Christian and Zoroastrian holidays in addition to Islamic holidays.
Kharijites – The members of the first sect of Islam who left the followers of Ali; their break with the Shiites concerned the method of selecting a new leader. They were known for their uncompromising positions on respect for the Koran and for their radical fundamentalism. Today they are known as Ibadi or Ibadities.
Nation of Islam – Mainly African-American, founded in the 1930s in Detroit, Michigan. It is a Sunni sect.
There are other sects both Sunni and Shiite in African and Arab countries.
Sharia is an Arabic word originally meaning “the path to the source of water”.
Is derived from the Koran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers.
Is a system of morals, religious observance, ethics and politics that covers both religious and non-religious aspects of life.
Many Muslim countries use Sharia law as the basis of their laws.
Differs from Western legal systems in that the scope of Sharia is much broader and the Islamic concept of law results from the expression of divine will.
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, there were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world in 2015. This number is expected to increase to 2.9 billion by 2060.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity.
Indonesia has the highest number of followers of the Islamic religion – 12.6%. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh also have large Muslim populations.
Muslims make up 1% of the American population.
570 AD – Muhammad was born in Mecca, Arabia (now Saudi Arabia).
610 AD – The angel Gabriel visits Muhammad and tells him “you are the messenger of God”.
610-632 AD – Muhammad disseminates the teachings revealed to him in Mecca and Medina, over a period of 22 years, until his death.
632 AD – Muhammad dies.
645 AD – Muslims split into two branches, Shiites and Sunnis, because of a disagreement over future leadership.
650-652 AD – The words / teachings revealed to Muhammad are collected in a book called the Quran.
657 AD – Shia Muslims are further divided when part of its supporters split up and start a third division, the Kharijites.
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