History And Background
Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in AD 570 i n the city of Mecca (present day Saudi Arabia). According to Islamic tradition, Mohammed received a “revelation” from the angel Gabriel in AD 610. This was the first of many such messages that were eventually compiled into a book called the Quran, Islam’s sacred book.
Mohammed’s revelations formed the basis of a new religion, Islam. This new belief system eventually united the Arabic tribes of the region. Mohammed died on June 8, 632.
Today, there are over 1.2 billion Muslims (followers of lslam) worldwide, living primarily in the Middle East, North Africa, South-Central Asia and Indonesia. Although Islam began in Saudi Arabia, today there are more non-Arab Muslims than Arab Muslims.
Beliefs And Obligations Of Islam
The term Islam means “submission”, focused on a fatalistic view of Allah’s will – that whatever happens is Allah’s will and must be accepted. Orthodox Islam teaches that Allah has predestined both good and evil. Every thought, word and deed was supposedly foreseen and predetermined by Allah, and will take place according to Allah’s will. This position makes Allah responsible for evil and takes away human free will; thus people are not responsible for their personal choices.
The person who submits in this way to Allah is called a Muslim.
A. Beliefs Of Islam
The Muslims have five basic doctrines:
1) God. Muslims believe there is only one god, and his name is Allah. Nothing and no one can be added to him or associated with him; to do so is to commit an unforgivable sin (Sura 4:48).
2) Angels. Islam promotes a hierarchy of angels between Allah and man. Gabriel is the chief angel in their hierarchy and is believed by Muslims to have given revelations to Mohammed. There is also Shaitan (from Hebrew satan) and other spirits called djinn or jinn.
3) The Prophets. According to Islam, Allah has sent a prophet to every nation to preach the way of Islam. Mohammed is considered to be the final and most important prophet.
4) Day of Judgment. Muslims believe that there will be a day of recompense for each person’s deeds. Hell will be a place of torment and heaven a place of sensual pleasure. Those qualified for Islamic heaven (paradise) will have done enough good deeds to outweigh their bad deeds. For those destined for punishment, the opposite is true. However, the balance of a person’s deeds, good or bad, is known only to Allah until Judgment Day. The result is that a Muslim has no assurance or confidence that he will be accepted by Allah. This is a type of a “salvation by works” approach to eternal life.
5) Muslim “Holy” Books. For the Muslim, there are five “holy books” mentioned in the Qu‘ran: The Scrolls of Abraham (which Muslims say is now lost); the Tawrat (Torah) given to Moses; the Zabur (Psalms) given to David; the Injil (Gospel) given to Jesus; and the Qu‘ran given to Mohammed. Muslims believe that only the Qu‘ran has been correctly preserved; they teach that the four other books mentioned have been either “corrupted” or lost, and are not to be accepted as now presented. Therefore, for the Muslim, the Qu‘ran replaces the true Scriptures of the Bible.
B. Obligations Of Islam
1) To recite the shahadah. The word shahadah means “to bear witness”. To recite the shahadah, a Muslim says, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” To become a Muslim, a person must recite this phrase with sincerity before two witnesses.