The Muslim religion is Islam that is, Muslims are the followers of that religion . Although it is a recurring misconception, Muslims and Arabs are not synonymous! Being Arab means belonging to the ethnic group that mainly inhabits the Middle East and northern Africa, while being Muslim means only having faith in Islam . It is a fact that the majority of Arabs are Muslims , but it is not a rule, after all the reverse is not true: the majority of Muslims are not Arabs , given the considerable percentage of Muslim believers in huge Asian populations like India and Indonesia.
In this post, you will understand concepts of Islam, from its origins, its laws, its relationship with the figure of women and its worldwide representation, in addition to demystifying extremist dogmas that lead some minorities to terrorism. Let’s understand how this religion works ?!
THE BEGINNINGS OF ISLAM: HISTORICAL CONTEXT
The word Islam has both nominal and verbal value, that is, it names and indicates action. It means submission, submitting; obedience or action to obey God ( Allah , in Arabic). Dating from the seventh century of the Christian era, the beginning period of the Islamic calendar (different from the Gregorian calendar, which we follow), the initial milestone of Islam is given by the figure of Muhammad ( Muhammad , in Arabic), a prophet that he would have received from the angel Gabriel the basic principles that guide the Islamic faith.
Muhammad’s prophecies were organized in the Koran (or Koran), the holy book of Islam . The prophet, who was illiterate, begins to receive the revelations at the age of 40, after almost a lifetime as a merchant. This process is said to have lasted 23 years. This is only the first of several points that make Muslims attach divine value to the dogmas that support religion and that are in the Quran.
Muslims argue that Muhammad was the final messenger of Islam , that is, not the only one, but the last of a succession of messengers who were sent by God. The Islamic faith does not disregard other names, including that of Jesus Christ, whom they regard simply as a prophet . As far as Muhammad is concerned , he was the one who brought the final prophecy, that is, through him God completed his message to humanity.
In this way, Muslims do not dispute the existence of other prophesied messages to mankind such as the Books of Abraham, the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David and the Gospel of Jesus Christ . However, many scholars, historians and scholars, including Muslims, Jews and Christians, do not guarantee the originality of these scriptures. They agree that they all come from the same source – God – but, given so many changes and translations, the original content has been lost. For this reason, Muslims argue that the Koran , revealed and maintained in its original form, in Arabic, brings the final message, predominant and immutable, correcting any gap, misunderstanding and human errors penetrated in the diffusion of other scriptures.
PILLARS OF THE MUSLIM RELIGION: THE 5 FUNDAMENTAL LAWS
1. Proclamation of faith
This is Shahada , which is the Muslim’s testimony that no one deserves to be worshiped, except Allah , and that Muhammad is his messenger. Anyone who makes that statement becomes a Muslim. There is no need for formality or celebration
Ritualistically, Muslims make prayer, Salah , 5 times a day . The Salah values the maintenance of Islamic faith and the reaffirmation of submission to God .
3. Compulsory charity
The third pillar is Zakah , a kind of charity that goes beyond the voluntary and charitable character that the word presupposes, as it is seen as an obligation of the Muslim who has the best financial condition to provide support to the needy and needy . Such obligation is equivalent to 2.5% per year of individual assets.
4. Ramadan fasting
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and should be fasted by healthy Muslims. Sawm , fasting, consists of completely abstaining from food, drink and delightful activities (such as sex, games and entertainment) from sunrise to sunset .
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca
Between the 8th and 13th of the month of Dhu al-Hijja , the last of the Islamic calendar, Muslims celebrate Hajj . It is the pilgrimage that, at least once in their life , every Muslim who enjoys physical and financial conditions must make to the holy city, Mecca, in Saudi Arabia . The tradition goes back to Abraham, considered the “father of all prophets”. Every year, millions of Muslims go to Mecca during the event. In 2018, in the starting week, the Saudi government already indicated an expectation of 2.3 million pilgrims .
SUNNIS AND SHIAS
Much is said about Sunnis and Shias , two majoritarian currents who, after the death of the prophet Muhammad, fought conflicts for years because of differences over the caliphate (succession of Muhammad), which even involved assassinations of leaders.
Muhammad’s succession is the big difference between the groups. Sunnis elected Abu Bakr, the prophet’s friend and advisor, as his successor. Shiites never agreed because they defended respect for the family line, in which Ali Bin Abu Talib, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, would be his immediate successor.
Sunnis represent the majority among Muslims and are more flexible (compared to Shiites) to updates in the interpretation of dogma of Suna (hence the name Sunita), a supplementary book to the Qur’an that reports on the actions of Muhammad, and Sharia , the Islamic Law , in line with the transformations of humanity and the evolution of civilizations. On the other hand, Shiites represent a traditional minority group , which advocates maintaining the traditional interpretation of the Qur’an and Sharia . It is not uncommon to come across world news aboutviolence and attacks involving conflicts between these two groups.
|Proportion||~ 85-90%||~ 10-15%|
|Post-Mohammed (Caliphate)||People’s choice (democracy)||Family line (birthright)|
|Eyesight||Orthodox||Ultraconservative, “true Islam”|
|Holy Books||Quran, Sharia and Suna||Quran and Sharia|
|Main country||Saudi Arabia||Will|
MUSLIM COUNTRIES: INFLUENCE OR LAW?
The Islam is majority population in the Middle East and is seen as a major factor in almost all nations in the region, as well as some of Africa, Asia and southern Europe. There are countries with a majority Muslim population, but with a secular state , and others that adopt theocracy , a government regime in which political and legal actions are subject to religious dogmas . The influence of Islam and its relevance to Islamic countries is enormous and quite complex, as it involves historical and cultural issues within a context of divergences and conflicts. Within this framework, republics and monarchies must be considered .
The Politize! has already explained what a secular state is , as well as its historical origins . Remember!
Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran) and Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan) are examples of Islamic theocratic republics , the first being more rigid, subjected to the influence of the Islamic clergy, with a Shiite majority, while Pakistan, in turn, admits some tolerance and converges more with democracy. In terms of theocratic Islamic monarchy , due to its relevance, Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) stands out , focused on Sunni Islam, marked by religious intolerance to any non-Islamic manifestation.
Turkey (Republic of Turkey) is an example of a secular state . Its constitution provides for freedom of religion, although it is a country with a Muslim majority, estimated between 96 and 99% of the population. There is no Islamic monarchy that is a secular state . The closest thing we can find is Bahrain (Kingdom of Bahrain), an Islamic monarchy that is relatively tolerant of other religious manifestations, as it has Christian, Jewish and Hindu temples, with no record of conflicts.