Muslim Religion General Overview
Islam refers to a monotheistic religious tradition, which emerged in the 7th century C.E. The word Islam is translated as “surrender” or “submission”; the religion is based on the teachings of pronounced Prophet Muhammad as an expression of absolute surrender to the will of Allah, who is the creator as well as the sustainer of the world. The Qur’an, which is the divine text of Islam, encompasses the teaching of the Prophet, which was manifested to Mohammad from Allah. Fundamental to Islam is the conviction that Allah is the one and only true God and has no equality. Islam has many branches and many varieties of those branches. The two branches in the tradition are Sunni and Shi’a each of which assertions to separate meaning of upholding religious authority. One of the unifying traits of Islam is the Five Pillars, which are the basic practices of Islam (Islamweb English).
Islam is embodiment of the code of life that God, the creator as well as the Lord of the universe, has manifested for providing guidance to mankind. In order to ensure development of mankind, two elements are required which serve as a resource for sustaining life and to satisfy material necessity of an individual and the society as well as the knowledge of the values of person’s and social behavior to assist human being to fulfill himself and uphold justice and tranquility in mankind living (islamweb english).
The Father of the universe has given both of these measures abundantly. To provide for material necessities of man, the Lord has bestowed natural resources at the disposal of man . In a bid to provide for man’s social, spiritual, and cultural necessities, the lord has raised His prophets from amongst men and has manifested to them the value of life, which could provide lines to honest path. This code of life is referred to as Islam, the faith that is proclaimed by all the prophets of God. The common traits that characterize Islam include rationality, practicality and simplicity. Islam is a religion that has no mythology. The teachings are intelligible and simple. It is devoid of superstitions and irrational belies. The concept of singleness of God, the prophet hood of Mohammad, as well as the issue of life after death are the fundamental articles of this belief founded on reason and sound logic. The entire teaching of Islam evolving from those fundamental beliefs is simple and straightforward. There are no pyramid of priests, nor farfetched abstractions, or complex rites and rituals. Therefore anyone could take a Qur’an literary and interpret its dictates into action (Masters).
Islam arouses the faculty of reasoning and exhorting man to apply his intellect. It directs him to view issues in the light of truth. The Qur’an enlightens man to pray to Allah so as Allah may give them knowledge. Additionally, Islam is practical religion which does not permit involvement in unfounded and futile theorizing. It holds that faith is not sheer profession of beliefs; instead it is the prime mainspring of life. Righteous behavior ought to follow faith in God. It holds that religion is to be put in action and not an object of simple lip-service. The Qur’an promises joy to them that believe and act righteously. Islam is also characterized with unity of spirit and matters. The distinctive element of Islam is that it does not differentiate life into waterproof compartments of spirit and matter. It does not advocate for denial of life instead for the fulfillment of life. The religion does not favor asceticism. It also does not force man to keep off from material things. It stresses that spiritual edification is to be met through living sacred in the rough and tumble life and not through renouncing the world as enlightened by the Qur’an (Islamweb English).
Therefore, the religion does not accept any separation between” moral “and “material “and “spiritual” life, and enjoins human being to dedicate his energy to building life on proper moral foundations. It gives a grounding in the fact that material and moral power ought to be welded jointly and that spiritual salvation could be realized through the use of material resources for the well- being of man in the provision of just ends and not through living a life of asceticism or through running away from life challenges. Islam looks to strike a balance between these two main issues of life – spiritual and material. It acknowledges that all resources of the universe belong to man, but man was formed to serve a greater purpose that entails development of moral as well as just order, which will satisfy the will of God. The teaching of Islam provides for both spiritual and the temporal necessities of man. Additionally, Islam charges gent to purify his soul and reform his day to day life that is both collective and individual as well as develop the supremacy of claim over great and virtue over vice. Therefore, Islam is in the middle way and the purpose of yielding a moral man in the provision of a just community (Islamweb English).
This religion expressly denounces the impression of religion and precisely indicates that its purposes are purification of the soul and rebuilding of the society. Therefore, Islam appears to be a way of life which does not miss any aspect of human existence (Pattern in Islamic Art).
There has always been a fine line separating Islamic Mysticism from numerous anti-Islamic heresies. Islamic Mysticism does not ignore the world, it merely withdraws from several of its luxuries. Most of the mujahidin who fought for Islamic reason were mystics. For example, Syed Al-Badawi, which was a device applied in bringing to an end the crusades that caused the people to fight. The Mohammad mystics of Islam refer to themselves as Ahl-Haqq, which means the true follower of real. The source of Islamic mysticism in the description of religion with “belief” in and adherence to principles of revelation and requirement to act. This religion is more than a formal religion but rather a way of life. A Muslim stays face to face with Allah within all times, and there is no inclusion of separation between his religion and life, his faith and politics with its deep emphasis on the brotherhood of men working harmoniously to live according to Allah will (alam).
The ancient Islamic art relays the spiritual and quintessential information about Islam through language and direct symbolism which is both effective and less problematic beyond most of the theoretical interpretations of Islam. A small piece of ancient calligraphy could convey more eloquently of the intelligence and nobility that characterizes Islam beyond several apologetic works of activists. Such is serine, structured, intelligible and highly spiritual trait of Islamic art that results to an accurate understanding of Islamic way of life. As opposed to resent ideas, Islam does not view beauty and art as a luxury; instead, it views beauty as a divine quality as well as suggests that God values beauty. Islamic etics desires beauty to be prevalent and, hence, the art, which makes sure that a Muslim experiences joy of beauty in all parts of his life. He feels the same sense of joy and peace while seated on a traditional carpet, looking at a piece of calligraphy or when praying in the masterpieces of Islamic architecture that extend from the Pacific to the Atlantic. More examples include the Islamic Art of Writing, sacred Architecture of the Islamic Mosque and Aesthetic theories as well as building of an Islamic society (Educating for Cultural Literacy and Respect ).
Belief in Mohammad message arose from the belief on Unitarian God. Islam regards itself as a monotheistic religion that was taught through all prophets from Adam to Mohammed. The main beliefs of Islam are the belief in God’s sacred plan and knowledge of what occurs in the world. The belief in the judgment day where everyone will give account for his actions and be rewarded or punished is another fundamental belief of Islam as well as the belief in one God – Allah. Islam acknowledges angels, especially angel Gabriel who was the messengers to various prophets. (Koshhal).
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The religion views the world as a temporal home as the saint waits to go to Paradise. Islamic religion emphasis on the need for each to fight for his faith irrespective of the costs paid even if it means death of your enemies. It holds that at restrained terms it is justifiable to take away the life of another person when he poses a threat to the Islam well-being. Islam procures that human being was created to live a life without any fault, merely to serve Allah through faithful deeds (Koshhal).
The role of women in the Muslim community has changed considerably during the centuries from the conception of Islam about 600 years ago. Their place has been altered depending on shifting social, political and economic circumstances. Despite that the Qur’an holds men and women to be equal before God, women do not have equal access to certain spheres of social life. Historically, Muslim women have not been accorded same treatment as men. Particular rulers as well as numeral legal scholars enforced a system of inequality, which is vindicated through their interpretations of the Qur’an and the ancient customs of the Prophet. However, this view was criticized by the colonial authorities and their western understanding of the rightful place of women in community was adapted by some segment of Muslim population. Subsequently, after Islamic world gained independence in the mid-1900s, women have been trapped between reformers and traditionalists as they strive for dominance within Islamic society (Nicholson).
Prior to the emergence of Islam, women were living in traditions that were dominated by men. Women were treated as property, to be married or divorced at wish. The Qur’an recognized the status of women and treated them as equal to men. It acknowledged women’s rights to select their spouses as well as established limits over the practice of polygamy. The Qur’an also recognized marriage to be a contract between a woman and a man and the claim of inheriting wealth and control over their money and property. Beside this, the Qur’an did not alter the male dominance for the Qur’an calls for women to submit to their husbands, it further defines men to be a degree above women in responsibility. Historical facts denote that women participated in the early establishment of Muslim society. It was women who began to follow early revelation of Mohammad. Eventually, women played a vital role in gathering revelations from both oral and written sources into a solitary, authoritative text. It was the nature of the Prophet Mohammad to consult women and highly value their opinion. For example, his wife Kadija was his prime advisor and supporter (Ahmad).
Following his death, honorable women were consulted of who his successor would be. It is from this time that the Muslim started to adapt to the colonist way and ended up secluding the women. Men together with women had different, complementary roles within the Muslim communities. The husband was charged with protection and provision while the wife was responsible for maintaining the home and bringing up children. Notably, beside the Qur’an teaching that husband and wife were equal before God, women still remained subordinate to men. During the early 1900s, the state of freshly autonomous Muslim country like Turkey took the challenge of modernizing the woman’s role. Additionally, poor performing economy has compelled women to be engaged in other activities beyond their traditional roles. Moreover, factors like labor and war have caused the number of households run by females. A number of Muslim women have been running grassroots firms, involved indevelopment projects, social activities and charitable associations (lPipes).
According to the Qur’an, the same duties and responsibilities are bestowed upon men and women which render them equal rights to pledge for rewards. Notwithstanding, particular factors have contributed to limiting women’s participation in Islamic religious life. These consist of lack of education, social customs, and idea of ritual purity. The particular restriction on the involvement of women in Muslim religious issues and the manners that the women have responded to such restriction varies across the Islamic world. Moreover, in 1900s the emerging roles of women within the society formed fresh opportunities for women in the religious domain as well (the Natural Bases for Natural Light).
The Qur’an is not a merely series of strict orders which does not contain comments but rather comprises of laws and history, interpretation and exhortation of creation. In the same way that the Qur’an stipulates rules of conduct in the nature of law on several instances, so it also remarks about the existing and being. The Qur’an talks about the creation of men and women and from this accusations are then leveled against Islam as containing disparaging attitude to women on the strength of its theories (islamway).
Islam depicts a woman as sexually desirous and more passionate than the man. In fact, such understanding determines the position of a woman in the ancient period of Islam. According to Islamic perception, both the man and the woman yearning for intercourse, when their bodies experiences same processes, yielding same pleasure as well as physical climaxes. Contrary to the ancient western perception of sexual art as a battlefield in which men expresses their supremacy onto women, Islam views it as a caring, shared pleasure. Therefore, it could be noted that sexual gratification results into a harmonized social order, hence, flourishing the society. Islam holds that female’s desire for sex is greater than that of man. It views “the woman as the hunter and the man as the passive victim” of the woman ardor, in fact, sexual desire makes her the “symbol of unreason, disorder, the anti-divine force of nature and discipline of the devil”. Such view could spring from woman’s higher physical capability for sex or it could be traced back to Muhammad encounters. Regardless of the source, women’s sexuality is taken as being more powerful, hence posing a threat to the society. On the same note, Islam advocates for sexual satisfaction, it again reflects unrestrained women to be the more dangerous as compared to male’s endeavoring to fulfill God’s commands. Coupled with such rampant desire and irresistible attractiveness bestows women power over men and this rivals God. When this would be left an attended it could lead to men becoming victims and thus abandon them from God. This would lead to “fitna” a term which implies civil problems amongst believers. Islam perceives “fitna” as negative and anti-social power of women In Arabic world in case a man is faced by a woman, the “fitna” will emerge, since women’s lusts would lead to anarchy.
Therefore, a conclusion can be made from the above: Islam restricts on sexuality driven by a concern to sustain the social pattern rather than the moral consideration. Additionally, Islam establishes a range of institutional contrivances aimed at repressing female sexuality. Thus, the prime aim is to keep off men, obstructing romantic love, as well as rendering female powerless. Realization that women were capable of seducing men, set the society to prevent such from happening through creating separate rooms and limiting contacts between the sexes. According to the Shari’a when a man and a woman are left on their own they are to have indulged in sexual intercourses, thus, all ought to be done to avoid these situations from happening. Notably, physical separation of sexes attributes to daily life in Islam. Thus, any man or woman regarded as prospectively sexually appealing to the other and is kept away from each other (Islamweb English).
Islamic civilization promotes women to remain indoors as well as perceives women as servants. Men are given the ability and rights to hold their women at home. Typical house, in this case, is designed with walls on the outside and windows facing the inner country yards, hence increasing privacy. Inside the house, the construction also splits the male from female places. (Koshhal).