Islam refers to a religious conviction founded upon concepts of peace and total obedience. The people who abide by the Islamic faith are regarded as Muslims. Muslims practice the concepts of peace and obedience in the context of the voluntary and wholly submission to one God, rejecting polytheism, and following God’s commands (Religions, 2008). This religion recognizes that there is a close connection between body and soul in the sense that the body has a definitive period on earth while the soul never dies. As such, Islam encourages people to maintain the health of their soul and to avoid over-indulging with the desires of their body. Islam therefore focuses on the relationship between mankind on one hand and God and his creation on the other. Consequently, Islam teaches that one can only realize God’s favor and experience true joy and peace by doing good deeds.
According to Islamic beliefs, God directed prophets to communicate and teach humankind how the worship him beginning with Adam. Other prophets that were sent by God included Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and the last prophet was Mohammed. It is believed that all the prophets were sent with the same message (Rood, 1994). The massage was to the effect that there was no other god worthy of worship apart from the one true God known by the name Allah by Muslims.
It is therefore believed that the Islam was founded long before Mohammed revealed it to humanity in the course of the 7th century. At that time Mohammed is believed to have been forty years of age. He claimed to have received messages from God. Those messages were subsequently compiled and documented in the Islam holy book, the Quran. Around the time of his establishing the Islamic religion, Mohammed had begun to preach against economic oppression and greed within the Arab nations. He called upon the populations to unify under the worship of God the Allah. His message was initially ignored, a few years later he had successfully managed to convince majority of people in his birthplace Mecca, which at the time was the economic and religious hub of the Arabian Cape (All About Religion, 2013). Mohammed passed on two years later but the religious movement that he established continued to spread throughout the Arab nations and beyond to places such as Spain and parts of India. In the following decades, Islam spread extensively in Asia, Africa, and further to Philippines.
Some of the notable messages from the Quran include the message that God created mankind for only one purpose which is to worship Him. Islam believes that God gifted mankind with intelligence to enable them to know the right from wrong. Islam also provides mankind with a free choice to accept or reject the commands of Allah. Accordingly, Islam believes in life after death and if people choose not to obey the commands then they are answerable to God in the next life. On the other hand, for those Muslims who follow God’s commands, death opens releases their soul to eternal life.
In order to better understand Islam, it is important to consider some key information regarding the Islamic faith which is usually misunderstood. Some of the information is with regard to war, life, and the status of women.
On the issue of war, the term jihad which is often misinterpreted to mean ‘holy war’ in the literal sense means to strive. The Islamic context of the term jihad represents the strength of character to be able to strive in the path of Allah as typified by Prophet Mohammed (Abu-Harb, 2002). It is therefore the struggle of a Muslim in a bid to realize the promise of a good life. It is therefore apparent that some violent characters within Islam have advanced a partisan perspective from the true meaning of the word. Warfare is however acceptable only in cases of self-preservation.
Islam provides that life is sacred and violation of life goes against core Islamic doctrines. The holy Quran provides that murdering a person is the tantamount to killing the entire humanity. Consequently, it provides that a person who saves an innocent person would be like saving the entire humanity. Muslims are urged to live as if they were travellers in the world. In Islam life is therefore compared to a journey beginning from one point and terminating in another. As such, life should be used in accordance with the teachings of Allah. Islam teachings also provide that every person is born without sin hence no person can be accountable for the sins of another. However sinners can be forgiven as long as they sincerely repent their transgressions (what is Islam about? 2013).
With regard to the status of women in Islam, Quran provides that they were created as like parts of a pair and their bond is one of love and kindness. This revelation about women by the Quran elevates the status of women from traditional stereotypes that portray women as property. Duties between husband and wife are therefore shared between both. However, some verses in the Quran may have connotations of gender discrimination but there are clear distinctions between the cultural and social circumstances. A demonstration of such discrimination is with regard to the polygamy issue where the holy book allows men to marry more than one wife if one is able to deal justly with them.
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