PART 1: EXTENDED RESPONSE ISLAM
Islam is the last of the major monotheistic traditions to emerge in history. Today, it is the second largest religion on Earth, numbering over a billion adherents. Islam being a highly popular religion in the world; beliefs, ethics, sacred texts & writings, rituals and ceremonies and its contribution to individuals need to be discussed to comprehend and understand the religion. Like all religions, Islam is based on belief with the purpose of requiring faith and trust, which Muslims, the adherents of Islam, have in their almighty God, Allah. The term Islam, frequently translated as ‘submission’ reflects the decision of a Muslim to abide in mind and body by the spirit of God. In this sense, beliefs and practice are impossible to separate; faith and practice are intertwined as one.
The belief system of a religion is the most important characteristic it shall uphold. The base of Islamic beliefs is the revelations the prophet Muhammad received from God, these revelations collectively, are known as the Qur’an. The Islamic Aqida, the creed, contains six key articles of beliefs as revealed by Allah: the belief in Allah as the one and only God, the belief in the holy books, belief in the Prophets, belief in angels, belief in the Day of Judgement; The day when the life of every human being will be assessed to decide whether they go to heaven or hell, and lastly the belief in Predestination; that Allah has the knowledge of all that will happen. The six fundamental beliefs are often condensed into three aspects: Tawhid – this expresses the oneness of Allah, everything on earth was conceived by him. It is Allah who is therefore the sustainer of the universe and the only source of human guidance. Risalah- refers to the important role played by the prophets in Islam; to share the religion of truth and make it victorious. Akhirah – refers to the important Muslim belief in a life after death. Tawhid, Risalah and Akhirah summarise the whole of the Muslim way of life while incorporating the 6 fundamental article beliefs.
Most religions have an ethical component, often derived from revelation or guidance. The Islam ethical teachings reflect upon the beliefs of Islam. The word of God, the Qur’an presents the morals and principles that are the institution of Islamic ethics. Right action and obedience towards these laws are strongly emphasised in the Islamic religion. From the body of teachings of the ‘Islamic way’ derives the ideal Islamic legal system, ‘jurisprudence’. The most important and fundamental point of reference for Islamic jurisprudence is the Qur'an which provides the teachings that are to be followed by all Muslims. These ethical teachings cover several areas of life, such as ethics of modest clothing towards women, imposed by the religious tradition. Muslims are called upon to do what is natural, to promote unity, demonstrating justice, compassion and generosity towards family and the community.
Sacred texts and writings are regarded as important as many believe their sacred texts are divinely revealed, a revelation from God. The two universal texts of Islam, considered sacred, are the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an being the direct word of God contains all the vital fundamentals of the power of God, prophets and consequences of good and evil. It consists of 114 chapters subdivided into 6000 verses. Many memorise the Qur’an in Arabic, as it is the language of God. The second Islamic foundation text following the Qur’an is the Hadith, recording the life of a prophet as a role model. It is the source of prayers, meditation, spiritual glory, and ethical teachings. The importance of these texts is evident as they are a guidance and value of an Islam adherent.
Rituals and ceremonies are means to reinforce the central belief system of a religion, to help understand the structure. The most important Muslim practices are the Five Pillars of Islam. The Five Pillars consist of: Shahadah:...
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