Religion has made people turn their attitude and change for the better. Many religions practiced in the world have rules and doctrines that must be followed. Religions comes with conviction of the heart, and although many people inherit what their parents or guardians teach they end up following what they feel right when they grow up. Other religions have had issues with Islam being a true religion and are criticizing it severally.
For one to be a true follower he must stop ignorance of the true nature, values and ideologies related to religion and the prejudice about its practices. Some countries and individual have equated religion to a sect and they continue ignoring the truth. Any religion is supposed to change the minds of individuals and make positive impacts in their lives. Islam as well as other religions can be said to fulfill all the objectives and teachings of religion.
Those who truly understand their religious doctrines will never listen to the hearsays and gossips that are spread by haters, but follow the true and correct doctrines that are taught by their faith. True followers must sacrifice themselves for what they believe in whether they are Christians Judaists or Muslims. Religion will never encourage evil deeds but stand for fairness, holiness, trust, and honesty.
This paper describes the true teachings of Islam and doctrines that are followed as well as explaining the pillars of Islamic faith. The perceptions of Islam in various countries are explained and the various debates going on in those countries and the contrasts between Islam and Christianity and Judaism are also addressed. Moreover, the interactions between non-Muslims and Muslims in their different religions are also explained in reference to the topic.
Diversity and foundation of Islam
The laws and rules of Islam have remained conservative and the westernized world just uses this as a reason to torment those who strongly believe in themselves and trust the Islamic God and neglect the western culture. Indeed, Islam has continued to be practiced throughout the world despite endless efforts of the western nations to block its growth (Ahmad, 1996 p.5). It has proved indispensable even in areas where persecutions are going on. Martyrs of this faith have been many in western nations and torture and tough rules have never discouraged people who are deep rooted to the Muslim faith from following its teachings.
Diversity in culture has also been observed in Islam with numerous cultures throughout the world being involved in its practice. From Africa to Australia to Europe and all the other continents, Islam has spread far and wide and its teachings have not been changed by civilizations as seen in other religions. Salvation to mankind can be seen in Islamic faith and its teachings which focus on peace, non-violence, freedom of expression, pluralism, consultative leadership, recreation of a single God-fearing Muslim nation, revival of brotherhood and freedom (as given by Allah’s Prophet Mohamed) form man-made laws.
The teachings of Islam are based on true and divine principles that are encrypted on the holy book (Quran). They major on physical, moral and spiritual state of mankind, objectives of life and what it takes to attain them, divine ordinances of law in life and after death, presence of divine knowledge and what transpires when one dies (Ahmad, 1996, p.7). Islam teaches all mankind to be obedient at all times for the glory of God. Therefore, Muslims are able to obey their Holy creator who directs them in all actions.
As Beheshti (1991 p.21) describes Muslims, they are those who are free from arrogance and prejudice and those who are interested in the truth and are humble and fearless to defend it no matter what consequences arise. Their conscience is clear and they are wise to embrace the real truth as cited in Beheshti (1991, p.34) on the Quran 39:17-18, “those who listen to the word and follow the best of it. Those are the ones whom Allah has guided and they are the wise people”.
The true teachings of Islam
The Islam foundation is all contained in the Quran and contains the teachings and laws of Allah that are practiced by Muslims. The first teaching and belief is “Tauhid” which means that there is one God. Muslims are monotheists and glorify and believe in one true God for prayer and honor. They believe that there is no other God apart from Allah and none is to be worshiped but him alone. They also believe that Mohamed is his prophet while Muslims should truly and passionately adore Allah with all their heart and spirit since he created the world.
Islamic faith has the principle of true knowledge of God. Allah is invisible and the Holy Quran confirms this in 6:103 “no vision can grasp Him but His grasp is over all vision; He is above all comprehension yet omniscient” (Beheshti, 1991 p.25). His glory and honor is above all that can be described or imagined and can also not become human and cannot be represented by any form of statue or paintings (Beheshti, 1991 p.25).
The Koran in 42:12 says “Nothing is like onto Him and He is the All Hearing, the All seeing” (Irving, n.d.). God is also almighty and possess all the powers. His nature is understandable to man and he is all guiding, the supporter, the forbearer, amiable always forgiving, and sufficient. The imperfect human nature separates the almighty from them and thus God aims to fulfill this deficiency. Allah does not have children as described by other religions, and this can be justified by the Quran (6:100) which clearly states “And they falsely, having no knowledge, attributed to Him sons and daughters” (Irving, n.d.).
The Quran calls upon all men to discover the world and understand the universe since in knowing oneself and the world, then one will appreciate God and know and reference Him more. The Quran warns against any worshiping of idols or exultation of anything or anyone above Him. Allah also commands man to use the knowledge given to him wisely and for His glory. The Quran warns Muslims about exalting themselves and advices man to be humble when he discovers the world through art and science (James, 2006, p.25).
Muslims talk to God through prayer which has to be practiced daily. When one seeks Allah then he seeks perfection of soul. In addition, when one worships Allah, then he is drawn towards perfection in his soul and this continues as he worships. God is omnipresent and prayers should be said at any place anytime so that Allah may hear the cry of His people and it should be done with sincerity. Moreover, the Quran 186:2 says “And when My servants ask thee concerning Me: I am indeed close (to them). I respond to the prayer of every petitioner, when he calls on Me.”
God’s mercy to forgive sinners is immense as Allah accepts repentant individuals and the repentance should not be aided by other people. It only requires a prayer from the sinner from anyplace which Allah hears and forgives. Severe punishment is given to all sinners and Allah assures forgiveness to all those who repent in his holy book. All these teachings have very beneficial effects on the society and never aim to change the culture of the faithful.
The pillars of Islam
The Islamic religion has five pillars which include Shahadah (declaration of faith), Salat (five daily prayers that are compulsory), Zakah (contribution for welfare), Sawn (a period of fasting known as Ramadan), and Hajj (the pilgrimage to Holy grounds of Makkah) (Annemarie, 1992, p.25).
Shahadah ensures that all Muslims have reference to only one God and worship no other. It brings the oneness of God and the prophet-hood of Muhammad. Salat gives an obligation to all Muslims to offer five prayers daily (James, 2006, p.25). For those who are staunch, prayers are compulsory which may be said individually or in a group. They help all Muslims to fulfill the Koran teachings of offering Salah to remember Allah. These prayers are fixed five times a day to proof ones faith and include Fajir (dawn till before sunrise), Zuhr (midday till afternoon), Asr (late afternoon till before sunset), Maghrib (sunset till end of daylight), and Isha (during the night till midnight or extended till dawn).
Zakah in Arabic means purify and represents the contributions that are done once a year on the amount of saving Muslims get. The rates of calculating zakah are different and vary from savings to animals and agricultural products. This is compulsory and does not represent charity or tax. Zakah goes to various uses in the mosques like; helping the needy, paying salaries and bills and any course that is proved to please Allah. It is an act of worship and obedience (ibadah) and must be done to please Allah. Zakah helps all Muslim faithful to share what they have in excess and the Quran also encourages Muslims to contribute towards charity (sadaqah) and other social welfare funds.
The fourth pillar which is fasting has been mistakenly used by other religions for personal gains. The Muslims have their days of fasting set for them every year. They must fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting helps the Muslims in developing self control in their lives and eliminate unwanted virtues such as greed, selfishness, and laziness.
There is also a feeling of togetherness of all Muslims since it is practiced all over the world. It helps keep aside a life of comfort and leave eating, drinking, smoking, or sex and control their bodies during this month. Muslims also hold thanksgiving gatherings at the end of fasting known as Eid-ul-Fitr (James, 2006, p.25).
Once in a lifetime, Muslims have to take a journey to Al-Ka’bah in Makkah during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. This house is the only of the kind to be built for the worship of God and was blessed by Allah. This brings Muslims form all corners of the world regardless of their tribes, race, background, language, color, or country to celebrate in their faith.
Islam in different countries
In their book ‘Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany’ Fetzer & Soper (2005, p.1) indicate that over ten million Muslims are living in Western Europe. The right to religion has been widely seen to be violated by many western nations since the bombings of 11 September 2001. Many have been molested and undergone numerous huddles while in these nations while others are branded as terrorists and extremists. Many policies have been enacted that do not favor the Muslims or the faith in these countries.
France, for instance, has had long debates of female Muslim students wearing the religious hijab in public school where the laws have been passed to ban such dressing in schools – this is a violation of religious rights. The Muslim hijab has been viewed by many western nations as oppression of women yet most wear it for the sake of their faith and belief. They want Muslims to adopt a culture of dressing that is viewed by Muslims as immoral and against the Islamic faith.
In Germany, public-corporation status for Muslims is still being debated. There are efforts to have Muslims incorporated in to the liberal democratic society. In the Middle East Muslims are numerous and they have their rights to worship without discriminations. The area is predominantly inhabited by Muslims while other religions are minority. In India, Islam is second to Hinduism and comprises of approximately 12% of the total population. Asia boasts of a rich Muslim background with most Muslim leaders coming from this region. Moreover, high population of Muslim faithful is found in countries such as; Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, and Russia (Isaacson & Rubenstein, 2002, p.161).
Islam’s contrast with Christianity and Judaism
The main difference in the three religions is that fact that their belief, focus, and doctrines are different. This causes the main differences since they are supposed to transform the followers and shape their character, values, and functions which must be in line with their teachings for one to qualify to be a follower. They all also believe in monotheism. Between Judaism and Christianity the Jews are faithful to their ancestors while the Christians are faithful to their belief and faith (James, 2006 p.39).
Christians believe in salvation which comes through knowing Christ. Christians have a formal creed same as Muslims but the Jews don’t have one. The Jews affirm their belief in the Mitzvah system which has given life purposes divided in to four including; the life cycle events, Sabbaths festivals and holydays, dietary restrictions and inventory. The last two also apply to the Islam. When it comes to commandments the Jews have no set commandments unlike the Christians do.
Christians also believe that the messianic age has already passed while the Jews believe that it is yet to come. Jews believe that no one atones to sin but the sinner himself while Christians believe that Christ died for their sins. Unlike Muslims, Christians believe that salvation is granted to anyone who confesses and believes while Jews believe it to be like a contract of good deeds. Christians believe in grace, mercy, sacrifice, and salvation, while Jews believe in covenant, culture, conduct, and continuity. Islam does not have sacraments as opposed to Christianity and Judaism. However, Islam has dietary restrictions and has set prayers that are mandatory for everyone (James, 2006, p.48).
The three religions believe in monotheism though Christians have a Trinitarian monotheism although they all believe in one God. All of them believe in spiritual beings that are angels and demons. In respect to revered beings the Muslims believe in prophets and Ulama’a, the Jews believe in prophets, while Christians believe in saints and church fathers.
In divine revelation, the Jews believe that it was done through Moses as is in Tawrah; Muslims believe that it was done through Gibril to the holy prophet Muhammad as is in the Koran; and the Christians believe that it was done through the prophets and Jesus as is in the Bible. According to Christians, there is eternal heaven after a good life of belief and eternal hell after a bad life; Muslims believe in eternal paradise and eternal hell; while the Judaists have varied believes with some believing in heaven or Gahanna and some opting for no afterlife or reincarnation.
Interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims
Many misunderstandings between religions can be the source of conflicts between individuals, however, those who practice true teachings have accepted to cohabit in areas of numerous religions and still keep the faith. Peace between all religions is preached by all Muslims who aim at changing the beliefs from falsehood to ways of truth. Muslims throughout the world have continued to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, although their protest to get equal rights and opportunities just like their counter religions (like Christians) is seen as extremism and chaos (James, 2006, p.56).
The Muslim fraternity throughout the world remains committed to change the lost brothers of other religions who must believe the truth and remain loyal to it no matter what the circumstances. The communication between the Muslims and non-muslims remains unclear and tense since most are staunch on their faith, making everyone uncertain of the next cause of action. Other religions judge the Muslims as being terrorists, fearing to be associated with them just because of a few individuals who commit terror in the name of Islam; this should not be the case since not everyone who confesses in any faith follows its doctrines. These individuals do so to further personal goals just like those who use religion to extort money from innocent believers.
The teachings of Islam are true and right and those that follow it will certainly have a place in eternity. The right to religion should be upheld and each individual should be free to practice what he/she believes in. The western world has for a long time molested and violated Muslims’ rights, but one thing is for sure, the teachings of Islam and its pillars never allow violence but advocate peace and diversity of cultures and traditions for the glory of Allah.
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Annemarie, S. (1992). Islam: An Introduction. Albany State University of New York Press. Web.
Beheshti, S.A. (1991). Basic Teachings of Islam. Hamburg, International relation dept. Web.
Fetzer, J.S. & Soper, C. (2005). Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany: Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politic. New York, N.Y Cambridge University Press. Web.
Irving, T.B. (n.d.). Koran: English Translation. Arthur’s Classic Novels. Web.
Isaacson, J.F., & Rubenstein, C.L. (2002). Islam in Asia: changing political realities. New Jersey, Transaction Publishers. Web.
James, H. (2006). Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Abrahamic Dialogues Series; No. 6; 1st Ed. New York, Fordham University Press. Web.