The prophet Muhammad introduced the Muslim religion in 610 A.D. after experiencing an angelic visitation. Muhammad was visited by the Angel Gabriel to preach the word of Allah. Muhammad preached to his countrymen to convert from pagan polytheism, immortality and materialism, repent from evil, and to follow in the same worship under Allah (Muhammad).
Islam became a monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God and that Muhammad was His messenger who expressed the importance of the Quran, the sacredness of the Mosque, and the priority Muslims must have towards rituals and the 5 pillars which differs from religions such as Christianity. Interestingly, the hadith says that the world is a mosque as long as Muslim rules are applied such as the following: having an object barrier to cut off distracting passerby, facing the direction of the sacred building in Mecca, insuring ritual purity, and using a cloth or prayer rug (Khoury). The muslim religion believes a mosque is not just a sacred building for worship, but the world around you. The hadith, sayings made by the prophet Muhammad, is another form of guidance for Muslims apart from the Quran.
Khoury also explain that “in many Muslim countries, mosques are connected to tombs and shrines for important rulers and holy people. Muhammad’s mosque in Medina is an exemplary representation of this, for it also contains his tomb, as well as that of other important members of the early Muslim community.” In other words, mosques also serve as a communal meeting place for prayer and place to discuss religious and social matters as early Muslims did. The leader of a mosque is often called an Imam. Often there is a board of directors or another group that supervises the activities and funds of the mosque.
Another position in the mosque is that of a muezzin, who makes the call to prayer five times daily (Huda). Similarly, the leader of the Mosque and board of directors act like the roles of the Catholic Church. In addition to worship in the Mosque, Muslims also follow the sacred texts of the Quran. The Quran is the Islamic sacred scripture believed to contain the word of God revealed to Muhammad the Prophet in Arabic.
It is also believed the Quran is the last of the revealed books delivered to humankind. Muslims believe that the Torah and Gospel are corrupted leaving the Quran to be most perfect of all revelations (Campo). The Quran has 114 suras, chapters, organized by length from shortest to longest. The opening chapter, fatiha, is a short prayer asking for God’s guidance and blessing. It ends with two chapters asking for God’s protection from evil (Campo). The Quran has no narrative connection between chapters which contrasts to the narrative sequence of the Bible.
“Through recitation, worship, exegesis, and the art of calligraphy, Muslims have made it part of daily life wherever they are” (Campo). “The Quran also has several passages that express concern for the Christian practice of worshipping Jesus as God. It is the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity that most disturbs Muslims. To Muslims, the worship of any historical figure as God himself is a sacrilege and heresy (Huda).” In other words, Muslims disapprove of the Holy Trinity arguing that Christians praise 3 superior beings rather than God alone. Uniquely, Muslims also follow five pillars.
The five pillars include the following: There is only one universal God (Allah), Muslims must pray five times a day facing Mecca, Muslims must pay yearly tax to help the poor, Muslims must not eat, smoke, drink, or have sexual relations for the entire month of Ramadan, and Muslims must make pilgrimage, Hajj, to Mecca once in their lifetimes (“Muhammad and the Faith of Islam”). The Five Pillars of Faith are central to Islamic belief as well as the rituals performed during Hajj. Over five or six days, pilgrims follow several rites in which emulate the Prophet Muhammad, who was the first person to perform Hajj. The rites include circling the Ka’abah 7 times on the first and last day, and “Stoning of the Devil”- throwing pebbles at pillars representing Satan(Wehbe). The rituals honor Abraham who was ordered by Allah to leave his wife Hagar and son Ishmael in the desert. They struggled to find water until God made the ZamZam, a well in Mecca, appear after hearing Ishmael cry.
Abraham was then ordered to build the Ka’abah on the site and later Muhammad made Hajj a rite (Wehbe). Those that follow the five pillars and complete the rituals are guaranteed into paradise. Furthermore, Muslims believe that “the resurrection will take place on the Last Day is physical, and is explained by suggesting that Allah will recreate the decayed body” (Islamic Beliefs About the Afterlife). Those that follow Muslim codes will reach the resurrection to continue the works of the Muslim religion. To better visualize, “The day of judgment is described as passing over Hell on a narrow bridge in order to enter Paradise.
Those who fall, weighted by their bad deeds, will remain in Hell forever”(Islamic Beliefs About the Afterlife). In addition to the religious perspectives on the Muslim religion, there are two seperate sects that have different viewpoints on the politics that play a role in the faith. “Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet’s companions at the time of his death. This is that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job” (Huda). “Shia Muslims have not recognized the authority of elected Muslim leaders, choosing instead to follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God himself”(Huda).
In reiteration, Sunni Muslims want an elected leader while Shia Muslims want an appointed leader. In summary, Angel Gabriel was sent by Allah to deliver a message to Muhammad to preach and dictate the Quran. Islam became a monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one, perfect God. Muhammad acted as His messenger who expressed the importance of the Quran, the sacredness of the Mosque, and the priority Muslims must have towards rituals and the 5 pillars which differs from religions such as Christianity.
By following Muslim codes, salvation may be reached and reincarnation may be achieved.