by Tim S. and Devon M.
The word Islam, one of the fastest growing religions in the world, means “surrender”, “submission” or “commitment” to Allah, their supreme being. Mohammed was the founding prophet of Islam and his teachings are found in their biblical scriptures called the Koran. Islam and its Koran is a religion that has its roots in both Christianity and Judaism, both monotheistic religions. Both of these religions greatly influenced Islam, however, Muslims believe that Jews and Christians have a different view of the world even though they share many similar traits and beliefs.
Mohammed had a deeply religious experience that changed his life and compelled him to follow his calling. He heard the voice of an angel, Gabriel, tell him that Allah was the only god. After heeding Gabriel’s words, he began compiling them into what is now the Koran. Originally the revelations were an oral telling but eventually became the written words now found their biblical scriptures.
By 622 C.E., Mohammed, who had taken the title “Prophet”, moved to
a town called Yathrib in Northern Saudi Arabia and spread his message
there. The people were open to his words and the town was renamed Medina or City of the Prophet. Mecca and Medina are now the tow holiest cities in the Islamic religion.
From 630 C.E. to the present day, Islam has grown from its small following
in Saudi Arabia to an international religion that includes more than one
There are several different sects within Islam including the Shiites and
the Sunnites. The Shiites are descendents of Mohammed’s family, whereas
the Sunnites are followers of the “spiritual authority” that governs them.
Muslims believe in one god, Allah, and pray to Allah many times during
the day. All Muslims should know the “shahadah” or confession of
faith. It is “La ilah illa Allah; Mohammed rasul Allah” which means “No god but Allah; Mohammed is the messenger of Allah”.
Muslims also believe that one’s soul goes to a hereafter, being either very good or very bad. Good means your soul goes to paradise, bad means your soul goes to a burning hell. Once dead, the soul goes before Judgment and then the fate of that soul is decided.
The heart of the Muslim world is the mosque. Its purpose is education,
prayer, study, and other aspects of Islamic life. Moslems will face
Mecca and pray five times a day in a mosque, which are found all over the world. One of the oldest mosques is found in Spain, called Mezquita, in Cordoba.
Islam has several holidays. The Islamic New Year that is celebrated is called Hijrah. Although it is not one of the more important holidays, it does mark a special moment in time marked when Mohammed moved from Mecca to Medina. Another important holiday is Ramadan. Ramadan is a celebration during the ninth month of their calendar year, in which Muslims all over the world devote themselves to inner reflection, meditation, and fasting, all of which lead to deeper spirituality and fulfillness.
Fasting does two things. First, it creates self control within a person. When one cannot eat, one must focus on other important things in life, therefore self control must be sustained. Second, it creates a feeling of hunger which in turn creates a feeling of compassion and understanding for those less fortunate then themselves.
At the end of Ramadan a holiday called Eid ul Fitr is celebrated. The celebration lasts three days; it is a very happy time, similar to Christmas, where followers share special times with family and friends and give to charity.
Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca, once in their
lives. This takes place about two months after Ramadan. At
end of the haj, there is a week long celebration called Eid ul Adha, which means Festival of Sacrifice. Again this holiday is celebrated with family and friends, and often charity is given, especially lamb, because it is symbolic of Abraham’s sacrifice.
Islamic clothing is fundamentally
modest and dress is usually in earth tones such as green, blue, brown,
gray, black and white. Here is a list
and description of typical clothing worn by many Moslems:
• Hijab – clothing that follows the laws of Allah
• Khimar – triangular or circular headscarf
• Niqab – facial veil
• Abaya – cloak over garment which covers body
• Jilbab – robe or coat that cover the whole body except head and hands
• Burqa – a garment that covers body from head to toes
• Shalwar khamis – roomy pants with a dress
• Chador – similar to a burqa
• Dupalta – a large shawl
Islam is a religion devoted to one god, Allah. What makes this unique is that there is no other name for Allah. While other religions may
have several terms for their gods, Islam has only one, which makes Allah the most important part of the religion. Nothing else can take the place of importance. Allah is considered merciful, compassionate and just, and since the word Islam means “submission”, Muslims are compelled
to submit fully to Allah the merciful and compassionate.