Islam: a Controversial and Sensitive Issue

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Islam:
A Controversial and Sensitive Issue
Linda K. Weller
Soc350: Cultural Diversity in the Professions
DeVry University
December 16, 2012

After the September 11, 2001 attack on America, as a nation we became more interested as to what is Islam? In this paper, I shall attempt to define what Islam is, its teachings and how it has impacted the world, in relation to other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity.

The word Islam has a two- fold meaning; peace and submission to God. The submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to one Almighty God, consciously gives oneself to the service of Allah. In the teachings of Islam there are five pillars 1) Declaration of faith(Shadada), 2) Prayer(Salah), 3) Obligatory Charity(Zakah), 4) Fasting(Sarom), and 5) Pilgrimage(Haji),of the five the most significant one is the pillar of faith.(Fanar,1997) The declaring of one’s belief outwardly is a true sign of belief. By stating “There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Mohammed is the final messenger of Allah” it lets others in the Islamic community know that you are truly dedicated. (Manzlawy, 2010)

Islam embraces a huge range of nationalities and cultures; the Muslim/Islamic community is made up of people from all over the world; with each culture or nationality having different interpretation of Islam with the majority of the Islamic community observing the daily ritual of prayer and other teachings. Despite the fact that Islam has been fully incorporated into the American culture and way of life, most Americans still perceive Islam as being inclined towards encouraging violence amongst its members. (Kabbini,2000) For centuries the Islamic societies have been patriarchal based, where the male member runs the household. Biology is used to justify this as women are the only ones who can bear children and they argue that the man must provide and maintain the family so that the woman can do her job of bearing and raising the children. Women also have long been considered the culture bearers by incorporating the Islamic traditions and values within the home. Up until the 21st century, the Islamic woman had little say in divorce and even initiating one. Since the turn of the century, significant reforms for women have occurred in the majority of the Muslim countries. Reforms for including education for women, the right to work outside the home, to vote, to hold a public office, to now seek a divorce with the right to financial compensation and one major significant reform the prohibition of child marriages.(Azeem,2012)

According to Islamic teachings women should adhere to a specific way of dressing, they need to lower their gaze, guard their modesty and at no time display their beauty or ornamentation except what must appear. Veils are to be drawn over one’s bosom and their beauty is not displayed except to their husbands, fathers, father-in-law, sons, brothers or brother-in-laws. In certain areas of the world the Muslim men wear beards and don’t shave them off, they do however trim them. Most Muslims eat with their right hand even if left handed, as the left hand is relegated to bathroom usage. Some of the other practices that were introduced by cultures/societies that accepted Islam are: * Middle East-men kissing each other on each as a form of greeting * West Africa-upon greeting someone will put their hand on one’s head * Pakistan-prostrating oneself when one’s child has reach 40days (http://www.buzzle.com)

There are several similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism; all believe to be descendants of Abraham. * All are monotheistic in regards to beliefs, as they all call same God worship. * All follow basic ten commandments

* All call for same basic ritual worships; prayer, fasting, alms giving * All follow the same moral values that govern human relationships The Muslims/Islamic people call the Christians and Jews as “people of the book” as...
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