The Sunni Muslim in America: Truths, Myths, and Cultural Impact

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Although this nation has long been called a “melting pot”, one would not have to look too deep into that analogy to see that it may not be the best way to describe the combination of people from various parts of the world that have chosen to live here in the United States. If various components were to be added and melted down into a pot of sorts, it would be reasonable to deduce that the result would leave an amalgamated form of matter of which the various components that construct it would now be indistinguishable. In the United States, although many components have come together, the variations are quite distinguishable in some ways. At times, it is the observance of the difference in distinguishing features that causes friction between the various people. What are some of these differences, and why do they cause friction. Outside of the obvious visual difference such as physical features that could associate one with a group of people, how are people distinguished one from another? Differing worldviews is a way that has distinguished one group from another. It can separate the way one group of people view their life and association with others; should the beliefs be different. Differences in doctrine and ethics are two markers that separate one belief system from another. But how is it that these two characteristics have such an impact?

According to John K. Simmons (2007), the question of “What is your religion” is actually asking the listener of the question “What do you believe are the answers to life’s deep philosophical questions?” This defines the doctrinal dimension of religion. This aspect is important in the study of any religion because the doctrines taught by a religion affect the behaviors of its followers. This means that a doctrine can help people reconcile their religious beliefs with that the experience in their everyday life in order to help their fellow man. On the other hand they can also convince people to do harm in the name of religion. This ties into Simmons’ discussion of “ethics”. The difference between and ethics can be summed up as: doctrine is what people believe, ethics is how they behave. Ethics (whether stemming from a person’s religious or philosophical beliefs) provide a measuring stick to gauge whether one’s behavior is appropriate or not. These ethical guidelines can be in the form of laws, customs, or morals; regardless of the form they take or whatever name they are referred to, they still accomplish the same purpose: to guide a person toward a standard of acceptable behavior. This proper behavior, in turn, helps a person achieve a harmony with “God”, nature, and society. Of course one groups ethics can vary based upon its religious (or philosophical) doctrines and can (often) conflict with another religion’s (or philosophy’s) doctrines. Remaining mindful of this can be helpful in discussing any religion, but especially the experience of Sunni Muslims in America. Taking a further look would require a basic understanding of the principal doctrines of the Sunni Muslim. Islam is a belief that falls squarely in the tradition of Abrahamic monotheism and shares certain parallels with both Judaism and Christianity. At the heart of Islamic doctrine exists an uncompromising and absolute in one God, whom Muslim and Christian speakers of Arabic alike refer to as Allah. The Islamic doctrine of belief in the Oneness of Allah serves as the backbone to what is known as the “Six Articles of Faith”: 1.God: Islam preaches that there is only one Supreme, Eternal, Infinite and Unparallel entity, Allah (God). He alone is the creator of all the universe

2.Angels: Muslims believe in angels. They are comprised of light, and each have different purposes. Angel Gabriel brought the divine message to Mohammad. Two angels (Kiraaman and Katibeen) are assigned to record the actions of the human beings; one records good deeds, the other bad deeds. The angel of death (Azrael) takes the soul out of the body....
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