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
The battle with al Qaeda –for our safety, for our future, and for the hearts and minds of young Muslims like accused Boston Marathon Bombers Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jasser, accused in Canada –by other Muslims– of plotting to derail a passenger train is the defining conflict of our times, but it isn’t a battle al Qaeda is fighting with America, as al Qaeda claims. No, al Qaeda is fighting Muslims for the future of our religion, and it’s a battle we have known was coming someday since Muhammad’s Islam began. Continue reading
Cross-Posted from The Converging Zone
By Robert Ricciardelli
Blaming Muslims for the tragedy in Boston is like blaming the Newtown Massacre on single moms or home schooling because the perpetrator’s upbringing had both of those elements. Right after 9/11 Americans murdered a number of people because they “looked Muslim” even though they were actually from a completely different religion. Soon after the report that the Tsarnaev’s claimed to be Muslim, someone blaming Muslims for the Boston terrorist attacks attacked a Muslim woman with an infant.
Many are writing that the Boston bombers, Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – were devout Muslims. That is clearly not true. Continue reading
By Safi Kaskas January 20, 2010
Since 9/11Western and Muslim scholarship has characterized the political relationship between the Muslim world and the West as one full of tension and conflict. For evidence of this tension we need look no further than Barrack Obama’s recent speech at the heartland of Islamic scholarship, al-Azhar University in Cairo, in which he said ―…a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. ―Indeed Obama’s prime purpose was to open a pathway to bridging political alienation, wrote Richard Shumack in his article ―Islam and the West: facing conflict for mutual gain?
Is the tension getting any better? Unfortunately, the answer is a firm no. Continue reading
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s decision to choose the name of Francis as Pope has profound significance to Muslims regarding Muslim/Christian relations. The Christian Saint Francis of Assisi –for whom he has chosen to be named for the rest of his life– … Continue reading
Cross-Posted from The Jakarta Globe
By Sumanto Al Qurtuby
For many people, the Rev. Paulus Hartono, a Mennonite church minister in Solo, Central Java, might be seen as a “deranged Christian.” While most people in this country, especially Christians and other religious minorities, tend to avoid hard-line Muslims, this pastor approached — and then befriended — members of Hizbullah (“Party of God,” a Solo-based Islamist paramilitary group not related to Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah). Continue reading
By Sam Shropshire
Friends, while studying the subject of “forgiveness” in Christianity and Islam, I ran across this prayer attributed to Mohammad. I thought it might be of interest to you. “O God! I seek refuge with You from laziness (that comes) from geriatric old age, from being in debt, and from committing sins. O God! I seek refuge with You from the punishment of the Hell Fire, the afflictions of the grave, the punishment in the grave, and the evil of the affliction of poverty and from the evil of the affliction caused by Al Masih Ad-Dajjal. O God! Wash away my sins with the water of snow and hail, and cleanse my heart from the sins as a white garment is cleansed of filth, and let there be a far-away distance between me and my sins as You have set far away the East and the West from each other.” I immediately thought of two scripture passages from the Torah (Old Testament) that many of us read or memorized in our youth: Continue reading
Media technology and the Muslim world are interesting collaborators. Cassette tape propagation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s sermons provided important precursors for the Iranian Revolution. Likewise, Facebook and Twitter offered political leverage in the Arab Spring developments. For observers, social media, in particular, is potentially changing the dynamics of the public sphere in the Muslim world.
New media technology provides a “Third Space” where some Muslims who are using social media to contest gender assumptions, normative aspects of religious practice, and cultural experience. In this context, YouTube offers such a space as an informal meeting place to create community and to express new identities.
Muslims around the world are familiar with YouTube as a source of religious information from well-known Islamic personalities. Now, rather than YouTubing for religious instruction from Dr. Zakir Naik, for example some are uploading for creative expression, a small number of Muslims are contributing to a new aesthetic of Muslim videography to express personal creativity and observations – mostly through satire or parody — on issues they face in daily life.
One of the more interesting dynamics is the emergence of Muslim women taking to YouTube to “talk back” on issues of identity and Western assumptions concerning the female experience.
Sister Randomina. Image via Facebook.
Sister Randomina is one visible American-Muslim woman on YouTube.
Read the rest of the story at Patheos Continue reading