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A Survey of Islam

June 29, 10:42 AM · Daniel Townsend - Jackson Presbyterian Examiner


The religion of Islam was founded by the prophet Muhammad in 622 AD in the city of Mecca. “Islam” means submission and “muslim” means true believer. Muslims do not view it as a new religion; they believe it is the same faith taught by the prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus. The role of Muhammad as the last prophet was to formalize and clarify the faith and purify it by removing ideas which were added in error. From the beginning, Islam has been spread via the sword. Muhammad himself used warfare to win converts. Today, some "fundamentalist" Muslims believe it is God's will to kill non-Muslims. However, more liberal Muslims are horrified by such tactics.


1. What does Islam believe about God? 


Contrary to popular misconception, Muslims do not worship Muhammad. They worship Allah, the Arabic word for God. The two sacred texts of Islam are the Qur'an, which are the words of Allah 'the One True God' as given to Muhammad, and the Hadith, which is a collection of Muhammad's sayings. Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, God's final prophet, and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam. Muslims follow a strict monotheism with one Creator who is just, omnipotent and merciful.


2. What does Islam believe about the creation of the world? 


Along with Jews and Christians, Muslims believe God spoke the world into existence. Muslims would accept the creation account of Genesis 1.


3. What does Islam believe about Jesus Christ?


Muslims respect the earlier prophets, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, but regard the concept of the divinity of Jesus as blasphemous and do not believe that he was executed on the cross or resurrected from the dead. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both. Muslims believe Jesus was taken up to heaven before the crucifixion and that Judas was crucified in his place. Muslims do believe Jesus was virgin-born and they believe he will return to the earth one day.


4. What does Islam say about sin, redemption, and punishment? 


In order to go to heaven, according to Islam, a person's good deeds must outweigh their bad deeds. Again, salvation is by works, not by grace alone. In order to be a good Muslim, one must perform the Five Pillars of Islam which are:




   A. Recite the shahadah at least once: There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.


   B. Perform the salat (prayer) 5 times a day while facing the Kaaba in Makkah.


   C. Donate regularly to charity via the zakat, a 2.5% charity tax, and through additional donations to the needy.


   D. Fast during the month of Ramadan, the month that Muhammad received the Qur'an from Allah.


   E. Make pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in life, if economically and physically possible. 


Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God will return to a state of sinlessness and go to Paradise after death. Tradtional Muslims generally believe alcohol, drugs, and gambling should be avoided. The Koran condones polygamy, saying that a good Muslim may have up to four wives, though not all Muslims would agree with this.


5. What does Islam say about the problem of evil? Muslims believe Satan drives people to sin, and that all unbelievers and sinners will spend eternity in Hell.




Copyright 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Daniel Townsend is an Examiner from Jackson. You can see Daniel's articles at: ""


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