Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Investigation into Islam

Some of you may know that I sometimes frequent the hallowed halls of Interpals, and amoung the forums is a section entitled 'Religions & Philosophy'.

Where I sometimes reside
Due to the nature of the subject, it can get a bit fraught in there but the forum moderators do an excellent job n keeping things under control.

However, there are times where it seems that there is a strong negative feeling towards muslims (mainly from those in the western parts of civilisation), especially against those who express their religious opinion to a point where is could be viewed as overtly preaching, even to the extent where consideration for other people's religion is ignored.

Now I’m an open-minded person, and I fully admit that I know very little about Islam so I do not contribute to any of those threads.  But this curiosity of mine would very much like to know why such feelings against muslims exist so I'd thought that I would investigate to find out more.
Now, I’ve never really gone about ‘an investigation’ as such, let alone documenting this as I have gone along, so this will be new to me, as no doubt to some of you as well.  I do accept that it may appear jumbled (probably because it will be) but I will welcome any thoughts and comments on the subject as we go, and feel free if you wish to contribute.

Where to start then?  That’s the question.  

Well, for me, it seems the best place is to glean a little background knowledge about Islam and go from there.  And for those of you who are muslim, I do apologise in advance for telling you what you already know, please do tell me if I have posted any inaccurate information

In the Beginning

Islam is the religion of allegiance to God and to his prophet, Mohammed, who lived aound 570-632 and came from a family of traders at Mecca.

The word Islam derives from the semitic root as the Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace.  Islam means "entering into a condition of peace and security with God, through allegiance or surrender to him".

The religion's book of revelation, as mediated by the prophet, is the Koran, and it is said that Mohammed received these revelations over a period of 23 years from the Angel Jibreel (or Gabriel), who was relaying the word of God.  In the eyes of muslims, Mohammed completes a succession of prophets, which includes Abraham, Moses and Jesus, each of whom refined and restated the message of God.

Islam is not a new faith, but is the third great monotheistic religion (the belief in the existence of one god, or in the oneness of god). 

The Koran
The Koran therefore corroborates, updates and expands the Old and New Testaments.  It contains 114 chapters, written in vivid, rhyming prose, and was settled in its current form within 30 years of Mohammed's death.
Main opinions central to Islam is the absolute sense that there can only be one God (Allah) and that he is the source of all creation and disposer of all lives and events. Hence, there is no God but God, and Mohammed is his messenger.  And that all people should become a single Umma (community) witnessing to that fact, and on the day of judgment, all will rise from the dead and be sent to heaven or hell.
The Koran itself, contains many moral exhortations, forming the basis of Islamic (sharia) law. It lays down generosity, fairness and the requirements for daily prayer, alms giving, abstinence during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca.

The five pillars of the Islamic faith (which forms the fundamental constituents of Muslim life) are: · 

Shahada - the profession of faith in the uniqueness of Allah and the centrality of Mohammed as his prophet.
Salat - formal worship or prayer.
Zakat - the giving of alms for the poor, assessed on all adult Muslims as 2.5% of capital assets once a year
Hajj - pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim should undertake at least once in their lifetime; the annual hajj takes place during the last 10 days of the 12th lunar month every year
Sawm - fasting during Ramadan, the holy ninth month of the lunar year.

Early history 

A depiction of Mohammed
It was in 622, when Mohammed travelled from Mecca to Medina in the hijrah (emigration), which is the focus point that determines the start of the Muslim dating system.

After the prophet's death, his community split into followers of the caliph Abu Bakr and those who supported Mohammed's closest relative, his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib.

This division between Shia (followers of Ali) and Sunni (followers of the custom of the caliphate) persists to this day. Although both share most of the customs of the religion, Shiites place more emphasis on the guiding role of the imam.

It it believed that around 90% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and the remaining 10% Shia.
Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam. It deals with many topics addressed by secular law such as crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer and fasting.

How far modern Islamic states follow this principle depends on the degree of secularisation they permit. It is essentially laid down by the Koran but has been updated and extended by fatwa (legal opinion), consensus and custom.

Own Comments

The above is what I have discovered so far, and to some degree, has opened my eyes up a little, as whilst I hadn't given any serious thought about Islam (or any other religion), the back of my mind had believed this to be a religion about a different god to that which I am more familiar with, having been brought under the christian Church of England.

So I am surprised that it is about the same god, albeit under a different name, with some of the same names appearing in both christian and Islamic religions.  This has made me even more puzzled why there is this difference between our religions and even more so as to the more violent aspects of the Extremist branch of Islam, which I hope to begin to comprehend the reasons why such extremists exist, and why the West are so concerned with labelling them as terrorists.

The other fact that I have uncovered so far is that, according to the Guiness Books of Records, Islam is the fastest growing religion by conversions each year.

Next Time:  Well, to be honest, I've no idea what I will discover about Islam or the path that I will take, but the ultimate goal, as mentioned before, is simply to find out why the West seem so anti-Islamic.  

Thought of the Day

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

1 comment:

  1. This was interesting for me. Look forward to following it