Islam is a major world religion founded in Arabia. Based on the teachings of a man named Muhammad, one who practices Islam is called a Muslim. A practicing Muslim follows the teachings from the Koran, (sometimes written as Qu’ran). It is the written revelation from Allah to Muhammad. The Muslim population is estimated at more than 1 billion covering many different areas of the world. It is most common in Africa, the Middle East, and sections of Asia and Europe. There are 6 million Muslims in the United States alone.
Monotheism is the central theme of Islam—a belief in only one God, Allah, who is omnipotent. According to Islam, God has four fundamental functions: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgment. The overall purpose of humanity is to serve Allah, to worship him alone and to construct a moral lifestyle.
The Koran declares that making the earth a better place is every human’s job in this world. The Koran criticizes humans for their selfishness, which causes them to lose sight of their Creator. Because of this, individuals must go beyond their selfishness and develop an inner moral quality of taqwa (meaning, “to guard against danger”). Each individual goal is for the good of human kind, not themselves.
Islam teaches that, because of humanity’s moral weakness, God sent prophets to teach both individuals and nations correct moral and spiritual behaviors. Since the messages of all prophets emanate from the same divine source, religions are basically one. All prophets are human, but they are the most perfect examples of what humans should be. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the final prophet and that the Koran is the final and most perfect revelation of God. The Koran is supposed to be superior to all earlier revelations from God. Muslims also believe in a final judgment when individuals will be judged according to their deeds.
The Five Pillars of Faith
Once a Muslim, each member must carry out five essential duties, called The Five Pillars of Faith. They are listed below:
A Muslim must acknowledge that “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet”
A Muslim must pray five times daily facing Mecca: at dawn, at noon, in the midafternoon, at dusk, and after dark.
Each Muslim must pay a zagat to the government.
A Muslim must fast for the month of Ramadan. During the fasting month, one must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset.
A Muslim must make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so must make this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.