The Religion of Islam

Islam is an Arabic word which means submission and obedience to Allah, the Supreme Being. The religion of Islam is based on the belief in and teaching of the Qur’an. The founder of Islam is Muhammad (570-632). According to traditional Islam, Muhammad is the last of all prophets and Allah revealed the Qur’an to him. Islam claims to be a continuation of worshiping the God of Abraham and practice of the ancient Israelites (People of Israel) like Judaism and Christianity. In Islam is an organized system of beliefs, practices, ceremonies and worship activities to Allah according to the guidelines revealed to Muhammad. This religion affects the life of the adherents of Islam, called Muslims. This can be seen on the way they dress, the food the eat, how they speak and the way they relate to each other.

Qur’an

The Qur’an contains the messages that have been given to Muhammad when he was 40 years old in Western Arabia. Muslims believe that the Qur’an was repeatedly revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years. He memorized these revelations and dictated the scribes to write down. The scribes who were Muhammad’s companions learned the Qur’an and repeatedly recited in-front of Muhammad for his approval or disapproval of other scribes. This is registred in the Hadith, a set of records of what most Muslims believe are words and actions of Muhammad with his acceptance. The Qur’an became one book with about 114 chapters, called Sura, after the death of Muhammad in the year 632. Content of the Qur’an contains doctrines about Allah, stories of the early prophets, history of Muhammad, ethics, law and life after death.

Islamic beliefs, practices and teachings

Some of the main beliefs and teaching in Islamic religion are as follows.

1. Belief in Allah

Muslims believe in the existence of only one God called Allah who has no partner. Allah is not definable but reveals himself through visions, divine inspiration, angels and his word.

2. Belief in the Qur’an

Muslims believe in the Qur’an as holy book from Allah and revealed to Muhammad. They also believe in the Previous Scriptures like the Scroll (revealed to Abraham), Torah (revealed to Moses), Zabur – also called Psalms (revealed to David) and Injil – also called Gospel or Bible (revealed to Jesus Christ).

3. Belief in Angels

Muslims believe in angels as supernatual beings who act on Allah’s command. They are believed to carry Allah’s messages, orders and revelations to the his prophets.

4. Belief in Allah’s prophets and messengers

Muslims believe that God choose prophets and messengers to mediate between him and his people. They believe in six great prophets: Adam, Noah (Nuhu), Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa), Jesus (Isa) and Muhammad. They believe that Muhammad was the last and greatest prophet to come after Jesus.

5. Belief in destiny

Muslims believe that all life is predetermined by Allah. But Allah has given man his free will to choose between right and wrong, good and evil with the corresponding rewards and punishments. Muslims believe that destiny does not mean that everything will happen by itself, whether one likes it or not.

6. Belief in Judgment Day

Muslims believe that in the last day everyone shall be judged by Allah. They believe that the righteous will go to Paradise, called Jannah. Sinners will go to hell, called Jahannam.

7. Belief in prayers, fasting, alms-giving and pilgrimage

Muslims believe in praying five times at specified times in the day. They believe that those who have money must give alms to help those who are poor(zakat). They also believe that Muslims should fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a Muslim must go on Hajj, at least once in a life time if it is affordable.

8. Belief in oneness of the message

Muslims believe that Allah sent messengers to each nation throughout the history of mankind and they all came with the same message in relation to the worship of the supreme God and to obey his commandments. They believe that both Adam and Eve were tempted, sinned and were responsible for disobeying Allah. Both repented and received Allah’s forgiveness. Muslims also believe that no soul bears responsible for the sins of others and forgiveness is always available through repentance.

9. Belief in oneness of mankind

Muslims believe that people are created equal in the sight of Allah. Muslims are required to respect human dignity regardless of religion, race or nationality. Islam has guidelines for equal treatment of men and women and colour size.

10. Belief in destiny and divine decree

Muslims believe in the pre-determined happenings of Allah. Everything is directed by Allah.

Branches in Islam

Most Muslims, about 90%, are the Sunnis, who follow the original teachings of Muhammad. Sunni’s may interpret the Qur’an in many ways, there is no central authority for it. The Shi’a (also called Shi’ites) believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law was the true successor of the leadership in Islam. They have more central figures and community leaders, the highest one is the ayatollah. A mystical branch of Islam is Sufism. Their members are Sufis, who have a greater focus on the inward experience of God and on spiritual doctrines. The Ahmadiyya is an Islam sect that doesn’t recognize Muhammad as last prophet, but believes that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the last prophet.

Spread of Islam

Islam is a religion with a promotor-mind. The expansion of this religion was made possible through military conquering, trade and mission activities. Muhammad started a war with Mecca (Quran 9:5), which was conquered in 630. When Muhammad died in 632, almost all Arabian pensinuala was already unified under Islam. A political-religious state had been created for the Muslims, called caliphate with as leader a caliph. Under Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs in seventh and eight century, the empire of the Islam had been expanded to borders with France, India and Russia. The speed of conversion of the local population through merchants and Islam promotors was slow and could take many centuries. The result was that in the middle ages Islam reached Southeast Europe, areas south of Sahara in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia. The spread of Islam had a tremendous contribution to establish monotheism in many parts of the world. Today, Islam is the religion with the most adherents after Christianity. Because of migration of Muslims for economical reasons, Islam is spread over almost all countries. Most Muslims are proud when they hear that “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world”. In some countries there is a growth of Muslims because of immigration and higher fertility, but there is no growth with new converts [1].

Weakening of Islam

It was not a strong point for Islam that already in the time of Muhammad a Muslim converted to Christianity. His name was Ubayd-Allah ibn Jahsh and he could not find a Savior in Islam, but praised Jesus and glorified him who lives forever. He refuted the Muslims by saying that he can see, but they not [2]. For many years the military forces of Islam were victorious to expand its territory. But in 732 a strong Muslim army of the Umayyads was defeated in France. It was a turning point. Since then, Islam lost more and more territory till they lost its last West European area at the end of the middle ages. After 12th century, the Muslims lost their superiority in science, because by law the Qur’an was made the authority of the truth [3]. Science became dominated by Jews and Christians, with the result that the French leader Napoleon conquered the Muslim mainland Egypt in 1798. Another weakness of Islam is that there is no respect for secular labor as service to God [4], or economic success as evidence of God’s grace [5]. Except some Arab countries with oil resources, most Muslim countries are underdeveloped and appreciate support from non-Muslim countries. Muslims are looking at economic stronger countries with many Christians and millions of Muslims have migrated since last century. Modernization of society made Islam a religion with many issues. Thanks to optimal human reproduction practices, Islam had many centuries a much higher fertility than the rest of mankind, however this came to an end this century. Birth rate of most Muslim countries is declining faster than worldwide average [6]. Today, the decline of Islam can be observed in Indonesia and Africa. In Islam’s biggest country Indonesia, Muslim population decline went from 96% in 1947 to 87% in 2018. Christian population tripled in the same period [7]. Even faster is the weakening of Islam in Africa: “Islam used to represent ... Africa’s main religion … The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa … When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century … Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” [8]. Because of the modernization, communication of Muslims with non-Muslims have been increased in a short period of time. It had the result that more and more adapt to other lifestyles than Islam, including Christianity. A significant number of Muslims in Europe and North America have converted to Christianity [9].

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