"We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world- including in my own country." -Barack Obama
The Islamic faith is becoming one of the world's most practised religions. Muslims are very devout and strongly stick to what they believe.
In today's article, Superprof has the goal of educating all curious individuals about the basic doctrines, origins, and supplementary information about Islam; please enjoy!
The Origins of Islam
As the second most practised religion in the world, Islam has a significant influence in all continents of the world with a substantial following in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Due to a steady influx of immigrants to various countries in North America and Europe, Westerners have become familiar with the distinct aspects of Islam and Muslim culture.
But how did Islam begin?
Many historian and religious experts have traced back the origin of Islam and found that its beginnings originate in Medina and Mecca at the start of the 7th century CE; approximately 600 years after the start of Christianity. It is essential to state that Muslims do not view Muhammad as the originator of Islam. Instead, it was the original faith of others whom they see as prophets like Jesus, David, Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Adam.
Muhammad is an essential figure of Islam since he was the one who claims to have received angelic visitation which encouraged him to dictate the Qur'an. The Qur'an is the holy book of the Islamic faith and is believed to be the preexistent and perfect words of Allah.
Who is Allah?
Allah is the Arabic word for God. For Muslims, Allah is the supreme being of the entire universe. The term Allah has been used for centuries by Arabic people of different religions since pre-Islamic times.
After Muhammad received his divine revelations around 610 CE, he garnered much attention and a wide variety of followers. Nevertheless, after the death of his uncle and form of protection, Abu Talib, Muhammad migrated to the city of Yathrib that is now known as Medina to escape the persecution of the Meccan notables.
When Muhammad died in 632 CE, there was much disagreement about who should be the leader of Islam; this was because of Muhammad's far-reaching influence. He is still viewed by Muslims today as the final profit of God in all the main branches of Islam.
The Muslim population has continued to grow at a rapid rate and is believed to eclipse the Christian faith, most practised religion in the world, near the end of the 21st century.
What about the Hindu faith?
Fundamental Doctrines Followed by the Muslim People
Similar to other world religions, Islam is characterised and made unique by its fundamental doctrines and underlying beliefs.
Fun fact: the word Islam means "surrender, submission, committment, and peace" in the Arabic language.
Many individuals appeal to Islam since they view it as a path to attain complete peace through submission of the divine will; believed to be the only way to find true happiness.
Muslims generally believe the six following things:
- Belief in one God (Allah),
- Trust in the Angels,
- Faith in the Holy Books such as Torah that was revealed to the prophet Moses and the Qur'an that was revealed to Muhammad,
- Belief in all the prophets sent by God including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and, of course, Muhammad. It is essential to state that the Muslims do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God like those of the Christian faith,
- Belief in the Day of Judgement and life after death. Muslims firmly believe that the best reward for performing good deeds is getting closer to God,
- Understanding that God or Allah is the all-powerful and nothing can happen without His permission and His will taking place.
The Islamic faith has many strong beliefs, and the five pillars of Islam guide their lifestyle. The five components must be put into practice to enjoy a more peaceful and meaningful life. The following is a brief description of each of the five pillars:
- Shahadah: known as the declaration of faith, Shahadah is established so that Muslims may bear witness and testify that there is only one God and his prophet is Muhammad.
- Salat: ritual prayers are known as Salat, and they must be performed five times daily (dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. Prayers must be offered in the Arabic language and facing the direction of Mecca.
- Zakah: known as alms tax, devout Muslims must aid the poor and give 2.5% of their wealth to those in need.
- Sawm: Muslims fast during the daylight hours in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar known as Ramadan. It is a time of study and self-discipline that shows equality to the poor.
- Hajj: Muslims believe in making a pilgrimage to Mecca to the Kabah at least once in their life no matter where they are situated in the world. The Kabah is believed to have been built by Abraham and one of his sons; it is very sacred to all Muslims.
By becoming familiar with the primary doctrines of Islam mentioned above, individuals from all types of faith learn to become more compassionate to their fellow neighbours. Learning about world religions is a brilliant idea to increase unity in today's loveless world.
Islamic Places of Worship, Holy Books, Important Figures, and Symbols
In many countries all over the Islamic world, places of worship, holy books, fundamental symbols, and stories about essential figures can be observed. Therefore, to familiarise all readers with the necessary aspects of the Islamic faith, we will consider some of these aspects in today's article.
Christianity has the cross, Judaism has the star of David, Buddhism has the stupa, and Islam has the following symbols that are typical to its faith and are recognised internationally:
- The Star and Crescent: the most recognised symbol of Islam, it adorns the top of mosques and is often featured as the prominent design on most flags such as Turkey or Pakistan. Although believed to have been a symbol of the Ottoman Empire with no Islamic roots at all, devout Muslims defend its use by citing scriptures from the Qur'an.
Places of Worship
The most important and significant area of worship for the Muslim people is the following:
- Mosque: there are strict rules and regulations in Sunni for a place of worship to be considered a masjid or holy place of worship. After a religious building has been named and designated a mosque, it will remain so until the Last Day. Mosques are large buildings that usually feature domes, minarets, prayer halls, and striking bits of architecture. In the Muslim community, Mosques are not only places to come together for Salat but also a centre for education, social welfare, and settling disputes among those of the same faith.
- Kaaba: considered by all Muslims as the most famous mosque and most sacred site of all Islam. Wherever Muslims are situated in the world, they must face the Kaaba when performing their prayers. Part of the five pillars of Islam is the Hajj, which requires all those of the Muslim faith to travel to Mecca and complete a pilgrimage to visit the Kaaba.
Muslims boast various sacred books that were believed to have been authored by God via many prophets such as Muhammad throughout history. The following are some of the most acclaimed holy books of the Muslim faith:
- Qur'an: by far the most essential book of Islam, the Qur'an is divided into chapters and verses and is believed to have been a revelation from God delivered to the prophet Muhammad. Experts have regarded the Qur'an as the most beautiful work in classical Arabic literature.
- Tawrat or Torah: Moses revealed the Torah; therefore, it was inspired before the Qur'an. However, it is essential to state that the Qur'an argues that the Torah has suffered much corruption over the years, and is no longer as reliable as before.
- Zabur: the Zabur is often referred to by many Muslims as the book of Psalms, the holy scriptures revealed by David. The current text of Psalms is widely praised by Muslim scholars and devout practitioners of Islam.
Important Figures of Islam
Every significant religion has essential figures that have fought for specific rights, received visions from superior beings, or inspired others to do amazing things. The following are Islam's most prominent figures:
- Muhammad: without a doubt, Muhammad is the most famous prophet and person of Islam. Considered to be a messenger and prophet from God, Muhammad received revelations from God that inspired him to write the Qur'an. He is also credited for unifying various Meccan tribes.
- Muhammad Ali: claimed by many to be the most successful champion in the history of all sports, Muhammad Ali is a significant heavyweight boxer. At the age of 22, he converted to Islam and subsequently changed his name. Ali later converted to Sunni Islam and Sufism. He has stood out to many as being a symbol of religious freedom, racial justice, and standing for your principles; Ali was an essential figure in the modern Muslim world.
The history of Islam is quite fascinating and worthy of exploring. Superprof encourages all of its readers to investigate distinct religions to increase their general knowledge of other people and the beliefs that make them unique from the rest.