Islamic religion being among the major religions that most people believe in, it is necessary to have clarity on its history and what it really entails. To accomplish the task of having knowledge about this religion, I was able to interview two Muslim clerics. One of the interviewees was Sheikh Abdulkarim Musa from a mosque known as Masjid Mohammed, who had served previously as an imam for more than a decade and, therefore, had a lot of experience in the religion. The other interviewee was Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed also a cleric at one of the mosques and had a lot of experience as an imam and as a strong believer in the Islam faith. The interviewees were separately questioned and their responses recorded. These responses were used in the analysis of each question.
All people have freedom of worship and no one is restricted to have knowledge about any religion, said Sheikh Ahmed when enquired why people should know about the Islamic religion. There is a need to know the history of all religions and learn more about them so as to avoid any confusion if faced with a decision in which religion you have to believe in. Islamic religion is the true religion, said, Sheikh Musa, when enquired about the same question. Religion as a matter of fact should not be forced on someone, but at least all people should appreciate every religion and learn about their beliefs before condemning them.
The Islamic religion has different sects that people have belief in just like Christianity where we have Protestants and Catholic. The major divisions of the Islamic religion are the Sunnis and Shiites both clerics declared. The Sunni Islam has a religious movement known as the Wahhabi. Both divisions are known to believe in the oneness of Allah and Mohammad his messenger, and also they both use the same Quran. The difference between the two sects is that they have different beliefs about the teachings of Mohammad and other philosophers outside the Quran. They also split on how Islam leadership should be determined. So to a greater extent the two are similar since they have the same sensibilities. One of the clerics also admitted that Islamic can also be differentiated in terms of the peaceful and non-peaceful Muslims. The non-peaceful can be any radical people within any denomination. Most Muslims are found in the Middle East, and the different sects are killing each other in these areas. So some Muslims refuse to be identified with any sect so as to promote unity in Islam. There is a mistake that the non-Muslims make when they identify Sufism as an Islamic sect; Sufism is just a dimension of Islam.
Muslims believe in monotheism as Allah is their only God. One of the clerics quoted a sacred text (2:177) from the Holy Quran which states that Righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Scriptures and the Prophets and the Angels. All the Mohammads followers are required to believe these doctrines and many others. Mohammad is believed to be the founder of Islam, and he is revered to as the seal of the prophets one of the clerics revealed. They also believe in the revelations of Allah, predestination and the last Day of Judgment. When enquired on their belief in Abraham as their descendant, Sheikh Ahmed said that Abraham was the father to Ishmael and according to the Islamic traditions Ishmael is believed to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites who are the origin of Islam. Ishmael and his mother Hagar who was a handmaiden of Sarah are believed to be laid to rest next to the Kaaba in Mecca.
Muslims believe Islamic religion began long even before Mohammad had the angelic visitation. Mohammad is known to have dictated the Quran in which the Muslims believe in as the perfect words of Allah. One of the clerics quoted a text (Sura 26:192-195) which reveals that the Quran was given by God through Angel Gabriel to Prophet Mohammad. The other cleric accredited Islamic to have been introduced by Prophet Mohammad in 610 A.D. after the angelic visitation. Islamic religion origin can also be traced back to the 7th century in Saudi Arabia, and if this is true, then it might be the youngest religion among the greatest.
Both of the interviewees acknowledged the Quran as the sacred scripture of the Islamic religion. They believe that the Quran was the Gods final revelation to humankind. Arabic is important to them as it is the language they believe the Quran was revealed to Mohammed by Angel Gabriel for over a period of almost 22years starting from 610 CE to 632 CE. The clerics believed that the Quran is of undisputed origin since it was revealed by God through verbatim (word for word) to Prophet Mohammad. And it has survived history since there is no alternation done to the Quran through its transmission.
Muslims acknowledge Mohammad as the last Prophet that was sent by God, and he is the center of their religion since he dictated the Quran, which is the central religious text of Islam and was revealed to him by Allah through Angel Gabriel. The clerics clarified that all Muslims believe Mohammad was sent by God to restore the Islamic religion that was the unaltered original monotheistic faith of Ibrahim, Musa, Isa, Adam and other prophets. He is believed not to be like other Prophets since he played a great role in the Islamic tradition. Much of his life is known since it is believed the Quran he dictated took a span of years to be completed, so his life also had to come to the beam light. Despite the diversity in the Islamic religion, the clerics interviewed both believed the pillars of Islam are the center of unity among all Muslims. These pillars require the dedication of the mind, energy, feelings, possessions, time and body. Monotheism is emphasized in Islam as it is the first pillar and for one to be a Muslim then first you have to declare that there is no other god other than Allah and his messenger Prophet Mohammed and this declaration is known as Shahada.
Muslims believe that Kaaba is the holiest shrine in Islam and is located in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslims should proceed to Mecca at least once their lifetime so as to promote the bonds of the Islamic sisterhood and brotherhood, one cleric said. This is the last pillar of Islam known as Hajj. Pilgrims go to Mecca to worship and renew their sense of purpose in the world thereby fulfilling the fifth pillar of Islam another cleric added.
As believers, Muslims have five obligatory prayers in a day that they should attend to after hearing the calling. They face the Holy Mosque in the city of Mecca during their prayers as a sign of uniformity. The prayer starts by saying Allah Akbar Sheik Ahmed said. They stand and recite some part of the Quran, followed by bowing as they glorify Allah, they prostrate and place their head on the ground and finally they sit as they testify there is none other than Allah. Muslims believe in Angels existence as honored creatures since they act only when commanded by God. They also do believe in prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, Isaac and Isa. But Gods final message to humans was sent through Prophet Mohammad (33:40). We Muslims believe in the Quran as the Holy book but within it are other books such as Torah (Tawrat), Zabur (Psalms) and the injil (Gospel) among others one of the clerics explained. Among the Muslims beliefs, they believe in heaven, hell and the judgment day where everyone will be accountable for the earthly actions.
Both interviewees clarified that Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar where strict fasting is practiced from sunrise to sunset. It is usually 30 days of self-reflection. We usually feel forgiven, and a lot of burdens are relieved one cleric added. A chapter in the Quran called, Maryam confirms the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary but do not believe in his crucifixion rather they believe he was raised to heavens by God. Unlike Christians and Jews who observe the Sabbath, the Islamic religion has set a day aside for worship which is Friday. There are only two official holidays that we as Muslims celebrate and they are Eid Al-Fitr and Eid-Al-Adha, Sheikh Musa said.
The Islam community has no ordained clergy like the Christians and a mosque to them is a holy place of worship. They also have Islamic centers which are non-profit organizations that are installed to propagate the Islamic religion in regions with less influence of the religion. The African-American Islam started in the early 20th century where several black Americans converted to Islam from Christianity which they thought was a religion of the white supremacy and oppression, but not much difference is known. Due to the drastic modernization of the world many people think that Islamic is medieval to change but in the real sense Muslims exhibit different approaches to the religion just like the Abrahamic brothers and sisters. We believe to possess the fullness of Gods message and truth thus the Islamic religion is the true religion and it does not mean we despise the other religions Sheikh Musa explained when asked about the Islamic tolerance of other religions. The common similarity between Islam, Judaism and Christianity is that they believe in only one God of Adam, Moses and Abraham. Muslims have a special respect for the Jews and Christians since the prophets who revealed the Muslim belief are in these religions.
The Islamic religion separates the two genders from each other during prayers since the Islam prayers involve the movement of the body and requires the concentration of the mind, there would be distraction thus losing the true meaning of prayer. Many non-Muslims think that women are second class citizens but in real sense when you read the Quran, you will find out that this is not the case one of the cleric answered when asked if women are second class citizens.
It was of great pleasure knowing some of the facts of the Islamic religion since a lot of non-Muslims always contradict some facts about the Islamic religion; in how they pray, why women are separated from men during prayers, their belief in Angels, God, and prophet Isa among other facts.
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