The literal meaning of Islam is peace. Because of many current world events, Islam is a highly controversial and sensitive issue that has many misconceptions that need to be more fully addressed and understood. It is true that the events of 9/11 have separated the history of American relations with the Muslim world into before and after phases, negatively affecting the patterns of assimilation of immigrant Muslims into American culture and society (Simmons, 2008). This essay will begin to give factual details regarding the Islam faith, compare Islam with other Abrahamic religions and discuss common misconceptions and current events that have changed the way the world looks at Muslims and the Islam faith. Body
It will be useful to begin with attempting to scratch the surface and try to understand the teachings of Islam. Islam is a monotheistic religion based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. These revelations were recorded in the faith’s text, the Qur’an. The Islam faith has “Six Articles of Beliefs”. People of the Muslim faith must have great conviction in these most important six areas. They are: 1. Belief in God. 2. Belief in the Angels. 3. Belief in the Prophets and Messengers. 4. Belief in the Sacred Texts. 5. Belief in Life After Death. 6. Belief in the Divine Decree (Abdulsalam, 2006). The believers worship God directly without the intercession of priests or clergy. They also have five duties that are given as rules to follow. Those are the Five Pillars of Islam; Belief, Worship, Fasting, Almsgiving and Pilgrimage (Grupper, Prentice, & Roughton, 2000).
The country with the most Muslims is Indonesia, with 120 million. In addition there are millions more in parts of Eastern and Western Europe and in the Americas. The Islam religion claims nearly 1 billion followers in countries throughout the world. Islam is also the youngest among major world religions but is still one of the largest (Ridenour, 2001).
Islam belongs in a group of three religions called the “Abrahamic” religions. Those three religions are Christianity, Judaism and Islam. They are three sister religions that are monotheistic and that claim the prophet Abraham as their common forefather. To compare Islam and Christianity, in relation to God, Muslims believe there is no God but Allah; Christians believe that God is revealed in scripture as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons who are coeternally God (Ridenour, 2001). This sometimes causes Jews and Muslims to criticize the Christians as polytheistic. In all three religions, there is an ethical orientation. All three religions speak of a choice between good and evil, which is depended upon obedience or disobedience to God (Unkown, 2007). The three also have a linear concept of history with creation as the beginning and that God works through history.
The believers of Islam are called Muslims which means “one who lives his life according to God’s will” (Langley, 1993). It would seem that this particular people and religion would be a people of peace, sincerity and love. Since 9/11, the world of the faithful in Muslim societies has been in turmoil because the living Islam, dominated by its traditional interpreters, the learned ulema, has not been able to guide the community at the most critical period of its existence (Sachedina, 2010). This current critical period of Islam existence has created many misconceptions.
Only if it is assumed that the goal of Islam is to establish peace without resorting to aggression can one claim that that militant Islamists have hijacked their religion (van der Krogt, 2010).Islam is practiced all over the world and the way it is practiced is different in different locations. Islam does claim to be brotherhoods of “one religion”, but the Islam practiced in Indonesia is very different than the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, which is also different from that in...