Author : T. Scott Ray, D.C.C.



Recent news of Middle East conflicts have brought increased awareness to the Islamic religion.  Islam originated from the Arab world but it has made inroads to every continent.  The deep connection between religious faith and political activism are forcing the people of this religion to re-evaluate their place in the global scene. 

Allah is the name for God in the monotheistic religion of Islam.  Followers who submit themselves to Allah are called Muslims.  The relationship between the religion of Islam as compared with Christianity and Judaism seem similar at first glance.  However, Islam differs drastically in that it sees the final revelation of God for true religion as being delivered to an illiterate prophet named Muhammad.  Muhammad is recognized as the founder of the Islamic religion.  It is from the revelations that he received that the sacred writings of the Qur’an were comprised.  While other religions are acknowledged in Islam, they are none the less seen as incomplete.

Vehement study of the Qur’an and the strict adherence to the Five Pillars of Islam outline the obligations for religious practice.  Muslims utilize Fridays for prayer and gather in mosques which are much like temples in other religions.  Mecca became a sacred destination of pilgrimages once Muhammad conquered the city and cleansed the Ka’ba, or temple of the rock, from the polytheistic religions that once practiced there.  There are different sects in the Islamic religion such as the Sunnis or the Shi’ites but the Islamic traditions have preserved throughout the centuries without much variance.  This is due largely because of the authority that is placed on the Qur’an.

Despite the complexity of the Middle East struggle, the solidarity of the Islamic faith remains in tact largely because of the simplicity of its conservative observance and its appeal to all nationalities without racial bias.  However, violent acts of terrorism under the name of Jihad are causing even devout followers of the Islamic faith to question core convictions.   Jihad could be translated as the struggle in the path of God.  It would seem impossible to separate religious faith from political practice in Islamic countries.  Muhammad himself was no stranger to political warfare.  He too had a sense of divine destiny in the expanse of the Islamic faith.  It is apparent that the present war in Iraq will have a profound effect on the way that the Islamic faith is perceived.


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