21 May 2012
The Spread of Islam
The religion of Islam has spread all throughout the world. Over twenty-two percent of the people on earth follow the teachings of Islam and are Islamic, or Muslim. This fast spreading religion has been, and is still being shared with others around the world. There were many factors that influenced the rapid spread of Islam, including trade, its appeal, and Islamic conquest.
There are five main rules, or fundamentals that help to make up the religion of Islam. These rules are called the Five Pillars. The first of the five is Iman or faith. "There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." is the declaration of faith to Islam, and its importance is to show that the main purpose in life is to serve and obey Allah, or God. (Islam 101) The second Pillar is Salah or Prayer. A faithful Muslim must pray five times a day. Prayers are said at dawn, mid-day, late-afternoon, sunset and nightfall. Praying is seen as a direct link between the worshipper and Allah. (Islam 101) Zakah, or charity giving, is the third pillar of Islam. The giving of alms is seen as a necessity for every Muslim, and has a much deeper meaning:
The Prophet said, "Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity." The Prophet also said: "Charity is a necessity for every Muslim." He was asked: "What if a person has nothing?" The Prophet replied: "He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity." The Companions of the Prophet asked: "What if he is not able to work?" The Prophet said: "He should help the poor and needy." The Companions further asked: "What if he cannot do even that?" The Prophet said: "He should urge others to do good." The Companions said: "What if he lacks that also?" The Prophet said: "He should check himself from doing evil. That is also an act of charity." (Islam 101)
This expounds upon Muhammad’s belief that advised the giving of Alms to help Muslims become more caring people, and to help one another. This giving helps one to become a better person, and keeps them self from doing bad. The fourth Pillar of Islam is Sawm. Sawm is the fasting from dawn until sundown, throughout the holy month of Ramadan. This fasting is a way for the Muslim people to purify themselves, and learn self-restraint. Not all are able to fast, those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast. (Islam 101)
The final, fifth pillar of Islam is the Hajj, or the pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca. At least once in any Muslim’s life, they must make a voyage to Mecca. The only acceptation for not making the pilgrimage is if one is not physically or financially able to. (Islam 101)
The Qur’an is the religious text of Islam. It is said to be the sacred writing of Islam revealed by Allah to the prophet Muhammad. It encodes the way of Islam and how to live one’s life in harmony with Allah. As well as the Qur’an, the Muslim people also live by Sharia Law. This is law code is made up of morals, and deals with many secular laws. (Discover the Networks) Islam is most popularly practiced in the northern art of North Africa, Indonesia, The Middle East, and other regions of Asia. Islam was first most popular in parts of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Syria, but through trade routes such as the Silk Road, is has been spread as far as Cambodia. (Lupien) One of the long held propositions in the world is that Islam was spread by the sword. There can be no doubt that this idea continues to underly the conclusions of some, such as Pastor Terry Jones, who burned a Qur’an, and Franklin Graham, the son of the beloved Reverend Billy Graham, that Islam itself actually is at the root of terror and violence practiced some in the name of Islam. (Caldwell) Well renowned American historian Ira Lapidus writes that: