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When studying Islam, it is important to understand the essential elements of the faith, how they are practiced, and the distinctions among the three branches: Shiite Islam, Sunni Islam, and Sufism.
Write a 1- to 2-paragraph response for each of the following directives and note where there are differences among the three branches of Islam.
1. Explain the meaning of the name, Islam.
The literal translation of the word Islam is surrender or submission. The name Islam implies a complete surrender to Allah, and those who practice Islam are referred to as Muslims. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word salam, which means peace or safety. Muslims believe that the reason for human existence is to surrender to the One True God, Allah (Molloy, 2010).
2. Explain the basic concepts of Islam.
Islam teaches it followers (Muslims) that the Holy Quran is the literal word of God is an all-encompassing book and includes everything about Islam. One of the most fundamental concepts of Islam is the belief that only one God exists. Islam teaches many aspects about God that are similar to the teachings of Judaism and Christianity. Islam teaches that God has always existed, cannot be destroyed, knows everything, created the universe. Another basic concept of Islam is that God never had a son (Jesus); however, Islam does teach that Jesus was a prophet as was Muhammad, but Muhammad is believed to be the last of a number of profits, and he was sent to Earth by God to confirm the word of God to the world. The most fundamental beliefs or concepts of Islam are:
• There is only one True God
• No other being or thing is worth of worship, only the True God • Muhammad is God’s messenger and the last prophet • Every human who has ever existed will face God on Judgment day to account for his or her deeds and at this time, God will grant or deny admittance into Heaven.
3. Describe the practices of Islam.
The main practices of Islam are concentrated in what are known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The Five Pillars of Islam, as outlined in the Quran are thought to be mandatory practices that each Muslim must practice. The Five Pillars of Islam are:
1) Shahada (Profession of Faith) – Muslims must verbally acknowledge the existence of only one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger. The creed, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger,” is spoken daily in prayer, and inscribed on and in Mosques (Molloy, 2010).
2) Prayer – Muslims are required to pray five times every day of the week; the prayers are required every day before dawn, at midday, at midafternoon, at sunset, and at nighttime. Muslims typically undergo a ritualistic cleansing of the hands, arms, face, and neck before prayer, and face toward Mecca when praying (Molloy, 2010).
3) Zakat (Charity to the Poor) – Muslims are required to give a percentage of the total of everything they own to the poor each year. In addition to giving to the poor, Muslims are expected to be generous and charitable toward the poor when they encounter an opportunity in their daily lives (Molloy, 2010).
4) Sawm (Fasting during Ramadan) – Ramadan is the ninth month of the year according to the Muslim calendar and the month during which it is believed that Muhammad began receiving revelations from God. As with various other religions, fasting is thought to bring spiritual growth; for Muslims the month-long fast help to form a bond and unite Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, liquids, tobacco, and sexual activity from dawn until dusk. Ramadan ends with a feast to celebrate the Revelations given to Muhammad (Molloy, 2010).
5) Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) – Every Muslim is required to visit Mecca (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime. A pilgrimage, as with other religions, is believed to bring about new...
References: Flesher, P. (n.d.). Exploring Religions. Islam Religious and Political Organization. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/islam/iorg.htm
Molloy, M. (2010). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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