Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The basics of Islam

Holy Mosque Mecca at night
Originally uploaded by chrisuk.
Islam: "submission to the will of God."
Muslim: "one who submits to the will of God."

* Spelling variation in Arabic vocabulary (Muslim, Moslem, etc): because it is difficult to translate Arabic vowels, the western world is undecided about which vowels to insert.

* fastest growing religion
* 1 billion adherents (global pop. 5 to 6 billion)
* 2nd largest religion, after Christianity.
* ex: US Army accomodates US soldiers who are Muslim; that group may be as large as 10,000 soldiers, according to The Nation.

While many Muslims in Persian Gulf nations and SE Asia are poor and poorly educated, American Muslims are often people of high educational achievement.

Abraham, 2000 BC Father of the Jews. Also Father of the Muslims.
Jesus of Nazareth: 1 AD
Muhammad: 600 AD, prophet of Islam.

Jerusalem, a city of 3 holy days each week. Friday the Muslims go to mosque for prayers. Saturday the Jews have shabbat (rest). Sunday, of course, is the Christian sabbath.

5 Pillars of Islam

* State your belief in God.
* Prayer: 5 times a day. Facing Mecca.
* Alms for the poor. Given through the mosque, which is a community center as well as worship center.
* Fasting during the month of Ramadan, from dawn to dusk. Muslims use a lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which is essentially solar.
* Pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, at least once in your life.

Life of Muhammad
* 570 AD; born in Mecca and soon orphaned. raised by his uncle.
* A holy fellow.
* Works in caravans, traveling to Jerusalem and other trading centers.
* Marries Khadijah, a widow who is older than himself. Khadijah owns the caravan company.
* At age 40 he is on a retreat in a desert cave. The archangel Gabriel appears to him and begins reciting teachings that become the text of the Koran (Qu'ran).
* The Meccans resist Muhammad's preaching. His theme is monotheism, belief in one god. Monotheism is not welcomed by Meccans because their city makes money from the pilgrims who visit to venerate the many ancient gods of the Arabian peninsula.
* Eventually Muhammad is forced out of Mecca. His escape, the hejira, is used as the start of the Islamic calendar.
* His exile is spent in Medina. When he returns to Mecca, it is with the aid of an army raised among the Medinans.
* Meccans are forced to accept Islam.
* The prophet dies at an old age in Medina.

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