Friday, November 25, 2005

My Response to Chapter 8 on “Islam” in the Anthology “Rethinking

From: Dulce <>
Subject: My Response to Chapter 8 on “Islam” in the Anthology “Rethinking ...
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 23:39:25 +0700
... is one that is also believed by the third Muslim group, the Ahmadiyya Muslims. The Ahmadiyya Muslims are the third and final group of Muslims with roughly ... Like the Shiite Muslims the Ahmadiyya Muslims also believe in the Mahdi, ...

Post details: My Response to Chapter 8 on “Islam” in the Anthology “Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction” by Will Deming

My Response to Chapter 8 on “Islam” in the Anthology “Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction” by Will Deming
Nov 23/05 12:39:25 pm ( Death and After-death )

For my library assignment I chose to look at the anthology called “Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction” by Will Deming. In the book I decided to read chapter eight which gives a short introduction to Islam. The chapter introduces the reader to Islam a religion that first began in the seventh century with the appearance of the prophet Muhammad in Saudi Arabia, located in the Middle East. It explains how this religion spread quickly across the continent and the rest of the world and now has followers in the billions.

Although the chapter does not ever discuss the Islamic perspective and rituals associated with death and dying it does explain the fundamental beliefs and ritual practices of the religion. It is through these beliefs and practices that Muslims hope to live a faithful and rewarding life on earth and then come to prosper in the afterlife.

Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam is also a religion that orientates itself around the belief in one divine creator and God, Allah. It is a religion that holds the principle of complete submission to God’s will in all the areas of life. We see this in the translation of “Islam”, which means surrender and the word “Muslim”, what followers of Islam are called, which means “ones who surrender to God” (67).

Like Christianity and Judaism Islam has another key figure other than Allah or God. This key figure is the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad, like Jesus or Moses is a key figure in both introducing the religion and giving the teachings of the sacred scriptures, the Qur’an. Unlike Jesus, however, Muhammad is not considered divine. In Islam followers believe they must orient themselves to Allah through the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad is seen as the deliverer of “Allah’s message to humanity” (68). He is seen as having lived a life in complete and perfect surrender to Allah and thus in order to please Allah, themselves, Muslims must both intake the message he has brought to them and live their lives imitating similar deeds as his (68).

The message delivered by Muhammad in the Qur’an is not seen as the mere creation of Muhammad but to be an actual copy of the original heavenly book that has been dictated by Allah to his prophet. The Qur’an is a scared text in which Allah communicated his orders of how human life should be conducted. Through this text Muslims interpret every thing from the basic beliefs of their religion, to how law, ethics, and organization of human institutions should be run.(68).

In Islam there are five basic duties that are regarded as the minimum requirement of all Muslims. These five basic duties are called the Five Pillars of Islam. The five duties included,

The profession of one’s faith in Allah as the one true god and in Muhammad as his prophet, almsgiving as a percentage of one’s net worth, performing the Hajj once in one’s lifetime, daily prayer, and fasting during the month of Ramadan (70).

The profession of their faith in Allah and his prophet Muhammad is said in Arabic as: La iaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah (69). This means that there is only one God, Allah and his prophet Muhammad. The almsgiving is a requirement that all Muslims, who are able to, must give a percentage of their net worth every year to the poor. As for the Hajj, it is a pilgrimage that all able Muslims must perform at least once in their life to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. With regards to the daily prayer, it is a specific routine required by Muslims to be performed five times a day, before dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and just before nightfall. In this ritual in which one is first required to completely cleanse themselves then one is to face in the direction of Mecca and stand, bow, kneel, and prostrate oneself before Allah, at the same time reciting praises and blessings to him. This ritual can be done either at a Mosque with a large group of Muslims, at home, or any where it is convenient. Finally the last pillar is the Fast of Ramadan, which is when all ably bodied Muslims must abstain from all foods and liquids during the daylight hours of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. (70).

In the chapter of this book the reader is also introduced to the various types of Muslims and their varying views on how Allah communicates authoritatively with the human world. The first introduced is the Sunni Muslims with one billion followers. The Sunni Muslims believe the prophet Muhammad is the continuation of a long history of God’s prophets. These prophets ranging from Adam, the first man, to Moses, the various Hebrew prophets, to Jesus and finally to Muhammad.

The second type of Muslims introduced is the Shiite Muslims with around 170 million followers. These Muslims believed Allah had first spoken to Muhammad and since has spoken through inspired leaders who both interpret and supplement the message from the Qur’an with equal authority as the prophet Muhammad. The first of these inspired leaders they believe was Ali, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, then Ali’s sons, Hasan and Husayn. Shiites now live in expectation of the next inspired leader whom they call the Mahdi, or ‘divinely guided one’ (73). This concept of Mahdi is similar to the Jewish concept of the Messiah and is one that is also believed by the third Muslim group, the Ahmadiyya Muslims.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims are the third and final group of Muslims with roughly eight million followers. Like the Shiite Muslims the Ahmadiyya Muslims also believe in the Mahdi, except they believe he has already come. They believe he appeared in the 1860s as a man called Baha’u’llah. With their belief in their Mahdi, these Muslims believe in his vision of a unified world religion which draws together all the teachings of the sacred scriptures of the world. In their services it is common to hear readings from “the Qur’an, as well as from the Bible, the Bhagavadgita, the Hindu Laws of Manu, the Buddhist Dhammapada, and the Zoroastrain Avesta, in addition to the writings of the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha, his son” (74). Their belief stems in the notion that all these religions contain authoritative insights as to how people should follow and devote themselves to God.

Deming, Will. Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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