Basic Facts about Islam

Part of the problem is that many teachers approach Islam as if it were some distant, ancient religion. Terrorists say they hate the US, yet there are six million Muslims and Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in that country.

Islam is the name of the religion; Muslim refers to its followers. Worldwide, there are 1.2 billion Muslims. Islam is the dominant religion throughout large portions of Asia and Africa, with the largest Muslim populations living in Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Islam is the third of the three largest monotheistic religions, in addition to Judaism and Christianity. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran is God’s word as revealed to Prophet Mohammed (570-632) through the angel Gabriel.

There are five basic beliefs of Islam. 1. Belief in one God. (Allah is the Arabic word for God) 2. Belief in the Prophet 3. Belief in the justice of God 4. Belief in the Imams and 5. Belief in the Day of Judgment.

Muslims are obliged to perform five major duties. 1. Pray five times a day-morning, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening. 2. Performing Haj-a Pilgrimage to Mecca once in lifetime if physically/financially able 3. Fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan 4. Give to the Poor (Zakat) and 5. Strive in the way of God (Jihad).

Arranged marriages have changed over time. It is rarely the case where the two people involved have absolutely no input in the decision to marry. Muslim women are rarely forced into marriage, even in the most religious of families.

Muslims follow the lunar calendar and thus their holidays move approximately 11 days on the Christian calendar. There are two major holidays in Islam: Eid al Adha is celebrated at the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca and Eid Al Fitr is observed at the end of Ramadan.

Islam is family-oriented. The primary means of transmitting the religion are through the family. Therefore, parents, both mothers and fathers, take on the responsibility when raising children. This family orientation also translates into a community-oriented way of life that can greatly conflict with Western notions of individuality.

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