Unlike many other religions Islam makes very little distinction between the spiritual and the secular parts of life. Islam means submission to the way of God and this can be seen in the way in which the vast majority of Muslims lead their daily lives through close adherence to the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet.
Muslim society is ideological in that the followers of the faith are making a commitment to follow God and to accept the word of God as the truth, basing their concept of good and evil on these teachings. In this way the Qur'an becomes the source of law within Muslim society rather than the laws which are developed by man.
Muhammad was seen as a messenger of God who passed down the words of God which formed the Qur'an. The Qur'an differs in this respect from other religious texts in that it has not been authored or edited by others but presents the words that, it is claimed, are the actual words of God.
In this way Muhammad is seen by Muslims as a vehicle for Gods word and, whilst perhaps not seen as a divine being in his own right, to Muslim society Muhammad is an example of how the followers of the faith should live correctly. The physical details of his life that have been written down in Hadith works were often seen as exemplar behaviour to the extent that many would not eat foodstuffs that Muhammad had not been seen to eat,
This is perhaps an early example of the way in which the life of the Prophet had a direct effect on the lives of ordinary Muslims through a process of conditioning them to accept that to live correctly and in accordance with Gods will they would need to follow the example of Muhammad. This is one example of the controlling influence of Islam (Taw hid) and an indicator of how a follower of Islam has to live his or her life in conformance to many requirements that have been laid down for them.
It could, perhaps, be argued that the lives of Muslims have not so much been shaped by the Qur'an and the example of the Prophet but that their lifestyle and existence on earth has been planned for them through their need to show compliance with their faith, a faith which is more than just a religion and could virtually be seen as a way of life.
In an Islamic society then religion, is often more than just an individual belief as it can become the basis on which the countries laws are written and thus must exert an overall controlling influence on everyday life.
In many countries within the Muslim world conformity to the Muslim way of life is not just cultural but is, in fact, required by law with restrictions being placed on the sale of certain items such as alcohol, punishments being used which may, in the Western world seem archaic, and cultural differences in the roles and freedoms of women.
The ritualistic aspect of Islam which places an obligation on its followers to practice the five pillars of Islam can overshadow everyday life and requires a consistent, on-going, commitment. The practice of prayer (Salat) highlights not just the requirement to pray but the way in which those about to pray have to prepare for it through a process of cleansing which not only adds further to the ritualistic aspect of observance, but which also means that individual prayer is controlled by a universal practice which can virtually dictate when, where and even the words to be used.
The requirement to fast (Sawn) during daylight for Ramadan, the observance of other religious events such as EiD, and the need to go on a pilgrimage (Haji) once during their lives, if possible, could also be seen as part of the controlling aspects of the Qur'an
The Qur'an highlights the social dimension of Muslim culture and tells its followers to develop its social order on earth: "You are the best community evolved for mankind, enjoying what is right and forbidding what is wrong" (3:110). This particular verse is seen as directly...