Islam is the youngest child of a religious family that includes Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity. Just like the others, Islam was born from a religious movement in the Middle East. The holy book of Islam is the Quran and Muslim people worships in mosques. Muslim people believe in most of the same prophets that Christians and Jews do, including Jesus. However, they believe that Muhammad was the last prophet and that he gave the truest view of God, who they call Allah. Islam is currently the fastest growing religion in the world.
There are several different sects of Islam, just as there are with any other religion. However, all of them share a belief in the Five Pillars of Islam. Each sect has slightly different pillars, but most have similar ideals at heart. The following are the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam.
Shahada (Faith): This is a declaration of faith that states, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”. This phrase, repeated in Arabic three times, is how one converts to Islam.
Salat (Prayer): This pillar states that Muslims must pray five times a day, facing the Kaaba in Mecca. They must pray before the sun rises, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. Muslims must wash before praying, and this washing is called wudu (purification).
Zakāt (Charity): According to Muslim belief, Zakāt is vital. It states that if a Muslim is wealthy, then they must donate a percentage of their income to charities in their community. If a Muslim does not have enough wealth to do this, then they are supposed to do acts of charity rather than donate money. In other words, they’re supposed to perform good deeds. This pillar is supposed to help reduce inequality.
Sawm (Fasting): Fasting is an important part of Muslim faith. They fast ritually, to repent, and to achieve the self-discipline that their religion holds in high esteem. Ramadan is a sacred month, and during it all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk. However, those who are medically unable to fast for long periods of time are exempt. The people who are exempt include, but are not limited to: prepubescent children, elderly people, diabetics, pregnant women, nursing women, and menstruating women.
Hajj (Pilgrimage): The Hajj is a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca which every able Muslim is supposed to make in their lifetime. After making this pilgrimage, Muslims are known within their communities as Hajj or Hajja, depending on their gender.
Islam first appeared around 610 AD. It was born from the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, who received his knowledge and prophecies from an angel of Allah (God) named Jibril (Gabriel). Muhammad preached his teachings first in Mecca, but he and his followers were persecuted by the local authorities. Muhammad preached about racial equality and religious tolerance, which threatened the power of the city’s leaders. After a long struggle, Muhammad and his followers traveled to Medina and formed a Constitution for the settlement. The Constitution of Medina included, but is not limited to, the following rules: that the city was a sacred place where weapons and violence were not permitted, that the city had freedom of religion, that the tribes maintained stable relationships with each other within the city, that there was a tax system to support the city if conflicts arose, and that women had secure positions in society. In addition, the Constitution also created a judicial system for resolving disputes. This judicial system even allowed non-Muslims to bring their own laws and judges to court.
Islam began to spread quickly, much to the dismay of leaders in various parts of the world. It even was quite popular in Spain. However, as Catholicism grew in religious power, many of the Muslims (often called Moors) were persecuted and even killed for their beliefs.
Unfortunately, this discrimination, persecution, and Islamophobic behavior have continued to this day. In fact, many Muslim women are currently afraid to wear their hijabs. And hijabs, or other headscarves, are simply worn as an expression of modesty in their religion. They aren’t using them to hide diabolical secrets or wearing them because they’re oppressed. Many of them enjoy wearing their hijabs and take a great deal of time to coordinate them with outfits and to make sure they’re sitting correctly. The mods of this blog really don’t understand why some Islamophobic people find it fun to rip off these women’s religious headwear. You aren’t going to find your long lost morals hidden underneath.