Written by Theresa Corbin
It amazes me how little the average American/Westerner knows about Islam. But, then again, I have to remind myself how little I knew about Islam 15 years ago.
In fact, I had never heard of such a thing. Nowhere in any of my high school history classes had I even heard of a religion called Islam, nor had I been introduced to this knowledge prior to high school in the 9 years I spent receiving knowledge from nuns at the local Catholic school.
Sure, I slept through several lectures on the Ottoman Empire in my teenage years, but I am pretty sure what I was napping through did not include an introductory discussion on a major world religion. How do I know that? Well, let’s just say that of all the tests I failed, never once was there a question about Islam.
If I had been quizzed during my youth about what a Muslim was or what Islam was, I would have responded that it was something like an Indian or an Arab, not that I knew there was any difference between Indians and Arabs. I was shamelessly sheltered. But at the risk of dating myself, this was well before 9/11.
Now that the U.S. and many Western countries are all up in Iraq (pronounced ee-ROCK not i-RACK) and Afghanistan (I won’t even go into the pronunciation of the “gh” sound in this word), both Muslim countries.
Now that Islam is the fastest growing religion.
And now that 1/4th of the world’s population is Muslim, most of the Western world continues to be in the dark about what Islam really is. What’s up with that?
Here is a quick rundown of this “strange” thing known as Islam broken down into four basic categories: Religion, God, Book, Prophet. So we can be informed, so we can dispel ignorance that leads to fear, so we can be reminded, and/or so we can be guided.
It is very simple. Islam is a major monotheistic religion. Islam is not a cult formed in the 18th century, as I have heard people prosthelytize—YIKES!
Islam is a way of life. Islam is not an Eastern culture as some have “politely” informed me. Some even think that you have to be “black” to be Muslim, as my husband (another white convert) was informed in high school. This was probably because of the religion known as the Nation of Islam, which has VERY little to do with Islam.
Anyone can become a Muslim and enter the religion of Islam, regardless of culture or race. Islam only requires belief.
Muslims worship one God. Muslims are not moon worshipers, nor do they worship the prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be upon him- PBUH), as some Baptist congregations claim.
The God of Islam is the creator of everything. He* is not the creation. He is the Master of the Day of Judgement. God is in no need of help and has no partners. He is one. Period. The only one worthy of worship. Period.
He is the same God as the Christians believe to be God the father.
In Judaism, He is known as Jahweh.
The holy book in Islam is the Quran (pronounced core-ON not coooo-RAaaN).
The Quran features the same traditions as the original Bible and the Torah. Not because it is infringing on these traditions’ copyrights, but because they are true and valuable lessons for all mankind. Because God is bringing people back to His original message.
Muslims believe that the original Torah and Bible were true texts, until man meddled with them.
The Quran remains in its original edition, unchanged.
The Quran was first revealed to the last prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), in a long line of honorable men in 610 CE. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was known, even to those who hated him, as an honest and trustworthy man. How many people can say that about their enemies?
Muslims do not worship Muhammad (PBUH). He was a man. Muslims don’t worship men. Men are flawed. Muslims believe in Jesus as they believe in Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Muhammad (Peace be upon all of them). Muslims believe in these men as prophets sent by God, and not gods themselves or partners with God.
God sent prophets to men over and over with the same message of His oneness.
We kept getting it wrong and going astray. We kept worshiping the creation and not the creator. God kept sending us prophets to get us back on track until Muhammad (PBUH), who was the last prophet sent to all mankind.
This is the foundation of Islam:
- Islam is a monotheistic religion. God is one and only one.
- There are holy books sent by God – Torah, Bible, Quran. The Quran being the most reliable.
- Muhammad is the prophet.
- There are angles. Angel Gabriel delivered the message from God to the prophets.
- God has a divine decree that does not know the limits of time.
- We will all be held to account for our deeds on the Day of Judgement.
*The pronoun “He” is not meant to suggest that God has a male gender. As gender implies a lack or need of another. God is not to be associated with being either male or female because God is not in need of anyone or anything. “He” is only used because of a lack of a non-gendered pronoun in the English language. And “She” would be equally inaccurate.
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