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Beliefs of Islam

Even though Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, most Americans know little about it.
For many Americans, we became aware of Islam when Cassius Clay, a heavyweight boxing champion,
converted to Islam and became Muhammad Ali.

Islam is one of the fastest growing religions.
Americans remember the Iranian hostage crisis near the end of the Carter administration,
and we became more familiar with the religion of Islam.
"Desert Storm," the allied military action against Iraq, caused us to examine Islam again.

But Islam still remains a mystery religion to most of us.
What is Islam?
What does it believe?
How does it compare with Christianity?

These are questions that we will examine.

What Is Islam?

Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.
Islam claims to worship the same God as Judaism and Christianity -- the God of Abraham.
but does not believe in the basic Christian doctrines.

Allah is the Arabic, tezu, for God.
The word Islam means "surrender," or "submission," to the will of Allah.
Muslim (or Moslem) is related to this word and means "one who submits."
"Islam" refers to the religion, and "Muslim" refers to the one who embraces Islam.

Islam combines elements from both Judaism and Christianity.
Muslims accept Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John, Jesus, and others as legitimate prophets of Allah.
They also claim that Muhammad is the last and greatest of the prophets, and that the Qur'an (or Koran) is
the final revelation from God.
They believe that Islam is the true continuation of the faith of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.
Muslims believe they have descended from Ishmael and that Jews and Christians
corrupted God's earlier revelations.
This led to a restoration of the true faith in Allah's revelations to the prophet Muhammad.
Therefore, in Islam Muhammad supersedes all prophets, including Jesus, and the Qur'an supersedes
all revelation, including the Old and New Testaments.

In understanding Islam, one must understand four things:

The prophet Muhammad,
The Qur'an (Koran),
The five articles of faith,
The five pillars of Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad

Muhammad was born about 570 years after Jesus in the Arabian town of Mecca,
which was a wealthy trading center linking land and sea trade routes.
Muhammad's father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was only six years old.

His grandfather then took care of him, but he soon died.
Muhammad was then reared by his uncle, Abu Tahb.
Very little else is known about his early life.

As an adult, he prospered and became a member of a highly regarded merchant's guild at Mecca.
He was known as Al-Amin, "the trustworthy one."
His business put him in contact with both Jews and Christians, and as a result, he acquired
a superficial knowledge of their religions.

A wealthy widow, Khadija, put him in charge of her caravans, and later married him, though he was probably
fifteen years younger than she.
Nevertheless, the marriage lasted for twenty-five years until Khadija's death.
They had seven children, three boys and four girls.

But only one girl, Fatima, survived into adulthood.
She was the mother of Hassan and Hussein, who became two patriarchs of Islam.

Because of his wife's wealth, Muhammad no longer had to work, and he devoted much of his time
to meditation and prayer.

Beliefs of Islam - Part Two

Beliefs of Islam - Part Three

Islam and Christianity