By Dr. Abdel Azim Elsiddig
The Arabic word “Islam” literally means submission without question, suspicion or doubt (2:04), or finding peace of mind and joy through knowing, understanding and serving the only one God, Allah. Followers of Islam are called Muslims which simply refers to anyone who chooses to freely and unconditionally accept and follow Islam as revealed in the Quran and practiced by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last messenger of God and the Quran refers to him as the “Seal of the Prophets” (33:40). Muslims pray five times every day in addition to other voluntary prayer services they do on their own in their attempts to follow the sunnah or practice of their Prophet Muhammad.
On Fridays, Muslims gather in mosques for communal prayers led by their imams or religious leaders. Every adult Muslim of sound mind is required to strictly adhere to the arkan or the Five Pillars of Islam: shahadah, or creed which is basically a firm belief and declaration that there is no deity worthy of worship or service except Allah (Arabic for God), and that Muhammad is his messenger); salat, or prayer (five times a day, at prescribed times); zakat, or charity which is the giving away of a certain percentage of one’s wealth to eight categories of people as prescribed in the Quran(9:60); sawm, or fasting (during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from food, drink and sexual relations during the day); and hajj, or pilgrimage (all Muslims who are able are required to travel to Makkah once in their lifetime).
Islam acknowledges that several prophets preceded Muhammad. Only God knows the exact number of the prophets and messengers who brought the same message of Oneness and Peace to humanity through history (14:9). The most notable ones besides Muhammad are Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus who earned the Quranic title “steadfast” (46:35). Each of those four great prophets in addition to another great one, David, received revelation from God through scriptures as mentioned and contained in part into the Old and New Testaments. These predecessors to Muhammad are considered great prophets who spoke the word of God to certain people at a very specific time. Jesus, for example, was sent only to the Children of Israel at his time (61:06). See also Matthew 15: 24 where Jesus was reported to have said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” This specificity applies also to Moses (61:05) and to every other prophet save Muhammad who was sent as mercy to all of humankind (21:107).
Islam is the eternal message of Allah to all people without any exception. The mission of calling people to God began with Noah through Abraham, Moses and Jesus to reach its final and refined form with the final prophet and messenger Muhammad. Practically speaking, Islam in its final form is based on six basic concepts of faith (belief) and five fundamental pillars (words and actions) without which one’s belief is not complete. The six beliefs are: Continue reading
I think this article provides a unique perspective that doesn’t get voiced very often in mainstream news outlets, especially in religious publications–Aaron
Cross-Posted from The Jakarta Globe
From Tuesday until Friday, Indonesia is hosting an interfaith conference of Asian Christian and Muslim leaders, jointly held by the Indonesian-based International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS), the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), and the Indonesian Church Association (PGI). The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the Christian Conference of Asia also support the gathering.
This interfaith dialogue, for sure, is not the first to be held in this country. There have been numerous interfaith initiatives and meetings across the archipelago aimed at airing tensions and establishing interreligious harmony.
Despite frequent meetings of Christian and Muslim leaders, however, the question still remains: why is religious violence, including anti-Christian campaigns in some areas of the nation, still continuing? What went wrong with previous Christian-Muslim dialogues? Continue reading
The Modern Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement
By Eddie L. Hyatt
The Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is the most dynamic and fastest growing movement within Christendom. Although proponents identify their movement with the Church of the New Testament, the modern movement traces its beginnings to a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas where the students in 1900-1901 were praying for a world-wide outpouring of the Holy Spirit such as happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4. Their prayers seemed to be answered when on New Year’s Eve, as 1901 was dawning, almost all began to sing and praise God in other tongues. The revival spread from Kansas to Texas and then to Los Angeles, California where the famous Azusa Street Revival (1906-09) spread the revival around the world. Out of this “Pentecostal” revival many new churches and denominations came into existence world-wide.
This “Pentecostal” movement was characterized by four distinguishing doctrinal emphases Continue reading
Yesterday’s New York Times had two separate but equally worrying opinion pieces on the religious bigotry in Indonesia, (“Indonesia’s Rising Religious Intolerance,” by Benedict Rogers, and “No Model for Muslim Democracy,” by Andreas Harsono). This overwhelmingly Muslim Sunni nation, both articles explained, was the stage of a number of hate crimes against minorities such as “Bahais, Christians, Shiites, Sufis and members of the Ahmadiyya faith.”
Churches in particular, both pieces noted, have been the targets of hard-line Islamists. The latter have pressured local officials “not to authorize the construction of Christian churches or to harass and intimidate those worshiping in ‘illegal’ churches.” Hence, a local mayor has declared a “zero church” policy. Worse, three Christian churches on Sumatra were burnt last year by “Muslim militants.”
As a Muslim, I find all such news simply shameful. All that violence against non-Muslims (or “heretical” Muslims) not only hurts innocent souls, but also defames Islam. Moreover, the militant Islamists who attack other faith communities violate not only the modern notions of human rights. They also, believe it or not, violate the very principles of the Quran. Continue reading