Understanding Islam - a Framework for Discussion
January 5, 2007 12:17am CST
Since a few forumites have started discussing Islam and one person mentioned "Salafism", it would be appropriate to read up on it and discuss Islam from an informed point of view. I believe Islam is facing danger from within. I perceive a cancerous theological aberration in the form of Islamic fundamentalism which is corrupting Islam. It is not a contest between Christians and Judaism on one side and Islam on the other. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the three great western monotheistic religions which share a common urvater Ibraham or Abrahim (nothing to do with us Chinese, "Doubting Thomas" went only as far as India). Islam is Aramaic and means "peace in submission to Allah". Allah is the Islamic name for Jehovah. Islam is a pious religion which preaches tolerance. It spread to Europe via Spain in the eigth century and 800 years of Islamic rule ensued in Spain in the pinnacle of Islamic culture, until Prince Henry of Portugal (Henry the Navigator) successfully attacked Ceuta in 1415. That heralded in the slow decline of Islamic influence. Even so, the Muslims were still far ahead of their Judeo-Christian brethren in science and culture. Muslims are the adherents of Islam who believe there is one God who revealed herself to us through her prophets Ibrahim, Moses and Jesus. However, human beings have the tendency to misinterpret God's revelations. So the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) was sent to us to deliver the incorruptible words of Allah, which was recorded in the Quran (Koran) in 114 divisions called "surahs", Christians might liken that to psalms. For Muslims, the Prophet Mohammad is the Muslim equivalent of Jesus Christ, but neither Muslims nor Jews believe Jesus to be the second coming of Christ. Mohammad's deeds and sayings are called the "Ahadith", all good Muslims follow the Ahadith in the spirit that they were recorded, the spirit of compassion and tolerance. In time, a system of law and culture developed around Mohammad's Ahadith which makes no distinction between religious and secular affairs. The "Shariah" evolved from a synthesis of the reigious and the secular and became Islamic law, all based on the Quran. Islamic teachings is based on the "five pillars of Shahadah", which means faith in Allah and in the message from Mohammad. These pillars are Islam's most basic believes, they are: *** salat: prayers five times a day facing Mecca to attest that Muslims believe in the one God; *** zakat: welfare due, you must help the poor and the destitute because Islam is compassionate; *** sawm: fasting at Ramadan, the holiest Islamic day in which a Muslim acquit his or her duties towards Allah; *** hajj: a pilgrammage to Mecca and the "Black Rock" to seek forgiveness and absolution; *** Jihad: fight for the cause of good to resist evil. Jihad, the fifth pillar, has been hijacked and corrupted by adherents of Wahhabism and Salafism. More to that later. In time, the Muslims seperated into two main groups: *** the "Sunni" who accepted the legitimacy of Mohammad's first four "caliphs" or head of the Muslim communities as ordained by Mohammad, about 90% of Muslims are Sunni Muslims; and *** the "Shi'ites" who recognise Mohammad's son-in-law Ali as Mohammad's one and only successor. Shi'ites recognise Ali's descendents as "Imams" as the only religious authorities. The largest Shi'ite sub-sect is the socalled "Twelve Shiism", which is the official school of law and theology in Iran. Other Shiist sub-sects are: *** Ismailis; *** Cruze; and *** Alawis The last two apparently differ from the main teachings of Muslim quite considerably. The "Ibadhis" of Oman are neither Sunni nor Shi'ites, they are strict observants of another obscure sub-sect "Khariji". Islam has no organised system of priesthood like the Catholics, but there are: *** ulama are the religious scholars of Islam; *** imams are the prayer leaders and teachers (not to be confused with the "Imams" who are descendants of Ali); *** ayatollahs are the high-ranking Shi'ite religious authorities who are "worthy of imitation in religious law and the interpretation of these laws"; *** sufis, the mystics and the spiritual side of Islam. Now we know a bit more about Islam.