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Muslim
Background






How Muslims came about
  • Allah
    • "The single most important belief in Islam, and arguably the central theme of Islam, is that there is only one God. The name of God is Allah..." (5).
    • Allah is the creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world (5).
    • The Arabic term Islam, meaning surrender, illuminates the fundamental religious idea of Islam which is that the Muslim believer accepts surrender to the will of Allah (6).

  • Muhammad
    • "Muslims believe that Islam is a faith that has always existed and that it was gradually revealed to humanity by a number of prophets, but the final and complete revelation of the faith was made through the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE" (6).
    • The basic teachings of Islam that were said to have been revealed to Muhammad, Allah's messenger, were collected and recorded in the Qur'an (3).
    • Muslims also believe that Muhammad led an exemplary life that all Muslims should attempt to follow (1).

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  • Qur'an
    • The will of Allah is made known through the Qur'an (3).
    • Allah revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad (3).
    • Muslims rely on the Qur'an for the fundamental Islamic teachings and guidelines for their lives (1).
    • The Qur'an is the Muslim scripture (6).

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Information
  • "The religion taught by Muhammad, spread rapidly through the Middle East to Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, the Malay Peninsula, and China" (3).
  • "By the early 21st century there were more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide" (3).
  • Over a billion Muslims live in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America (1).
  • "Muslims vary in their particular religious practices and cultural beliefs from region to region, but the majority follow the same basic principles of Islam" (1).
  • Muslims are people who follow the religion of Islam (2).
  • After Catholics, Muslims are the second-largest religious group in the world (1).
  • "The Muslim identity has taken on racial connotations at various points in U.S. history, most recently after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. Although the racialization of a religious identity is not a new phenomenon, the impact of this transformation and increased 'otherization' of Muslims and Muslim Americans has profound implications for a group that is seen as both a religious and a cultural threat to the mostly white, Christian U.S. population" (1).


Religious Views
  • "Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. There will be a day of judgment and humanity which will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell" (5).
  • Five Pillars of Islam
    • These religious rituals of Islam are relatively few in number, but of great importance (5).
    • They are "five practices regarded by all sects as essential to the Muslim faith" (5).
      1. Confession of faith
      2. Ritual prayer
      3. Alms tax
      4. Fasting during the months of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic year)
      5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (each Muslim must visit the sacred city of Islam at least once during his lifetime)
  • Mosque
    • A place of worship for the followers of Islam (6).
    • Serves as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer, and as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement (6).
    • Many have elaborate domes and prayer halls (6).
    • "Outside every mosque, or just inside the entrance, is a place where worshipers can remove and leave their shoes. There is also a place where they can carry out the ritual washing required before prayer" (6).
    • "Women can attend the mosque and when they do they sit separately from the men. This is out of modesty and to prevent any distraction" (6).

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  • Sunni Muslim
    • Largest denomination of Islam (2).
    • 90% of Islam's (940 million) (2).
    • Derived from the word "Sunnah" which means a "well-trodden path" and in religious terminology of Islam normally signifies the example set by the prophet (3).
    • Believe in the ijma (consensus) of the community as the source of decision making and workable knowledge (3).
    • "With the rise of orthodoxy, the foremost and elemental factor that came to be emphasized was the notion of the majority of the community... Sunnism now emphasized the views and customs of the majority of the community in contradistinction to peripheral groups" (3).
    • The Hadith attributed to the prophet to the effect that Muslims must follow majority's way (3).
      • "Minority groups are all doomed to hell, and that God’s protective hand is always on (the majority of) the community" (3).
      • "Under the impact of the new Hadith the community now became transformed into a privileged one that was endowed with infallibility" (3).
    • Hadith
      • Used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed to the Qur'an (4).
      • Important tools for understanding the Qur'an (4).
      • These works are referred to in matters of Islamic law and history to this day (4).
      • The two largest denominations of Islam, Shi"ism and Sunnism, have different sets of hadith collections (4).

  • Shi'ite (Shia) Muslim
    • Second largest denomination of Islam (2).
    • 10% of Islam's (120 million) (2).
    • The only important surviving sect in Islam in terms of numbers of adherents (followers) (4).
    • "...It owes its origin to the hostility between Ali (the fourth caliph, son-in-law of the Prophet) and the Umayyad Dynasty (661-750). After Ali's death, the sh'ites... demanded the restoration of rule to Ali's family, and from that demand developed the Shi'ite legitimism (one that believes in rule by hereditary right), or the divine right of the holy family to rule" (3).
    • Believe that knowledge derived from fallible sources is useless and that sure and true knowledge can come only through a contact with the infallible imam (3).
    • Imam
      • Leader or political ruler (4).
      • "Transformed into a metaphysical being, a manifestation of god... that sustains the universe and bestows true knowledge on humanity" (3).
      • Through the imam, the hidden and true meaning of the Qur'an can be known because the imam alone is infallible (3).
    • Recognize 12 imams, the last was Muhammad, who disappeared in the 9th century (4).
  • "Shi'ites emphasize their idealism and transcendentalism (the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that is knowable through intuition) in conscious contrast with Sunni Pragmatism" (the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application) (3).
  • "A putative [supposed] tradition of the Prophet that says, 'difference of opinion among my community are a blessing.' This principle of toleration ultimately made it possible for diverse sects and schools of thought- not withstanding a wide range of differences in belief and practice- to recognize and coexist with each other" (3).

Parallels to Kite Runner
  • Quotes from Kite Runner
    • "Like Ali, she was a Shi'a Muslim and an ethnic Hazara" (pg. 8).
    • "They called him 'flat-nosed' because of Ali and Hassan's characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants... School textbooks barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing" (pg. 9).
    • "In it, I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras... The book said that part of the reason Pashtuns had oppresses the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi'a" (pg. 9).
  • Parallels
    • "Hazaras are the largest, predominantly Shia group in the country, although some Hazaras are Sunni" (4).
    • “The Shi'ite position, while certainly exaggerated over time, readily admits the seriousness of the conflicts that wrecked the early Muslim Commuity, where as Sunni Historiography had often endeavored to cover them up or explain them away” (4).

Questions
  1. Do you believe that the religions we have in our society, such as Christianity, are followed as strictly as the Islamic religion is? Does Islam has as much, if not more, of an impact on their society as Christianity does on our society?
  2. Do you think it is fair to have women pray at home while men pray in a mosque? Do you believe it is necessary to have men and women sit in separate areas in places of worship?
  3. Can anyone think of parallels of the Muslim religion compared to other religions?


References
  1. "Muslims." (2008). Retrieved from: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045301665.html
  2. "Sunni and Shiite Muslims." (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.spiritrestoration.org/Church/Sunni_and_Shiite_Muslims.html
  3. "Islam." (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/295507/Islam
  4. Stewart, D. J. (2005). "Islam: Shii." Retrieved from: http://ic.galegroup.com:80/ic/suic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=Reference&disableHighlighting=false&prodId=SUIC&action=2&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CCX3424300391&userGroupName=dove10524&jsid=02c554033ae4522830472682e1a659cc
  5. "Muslim Beliefs: Religion Facts." (2004, March 17). Retrieved from: http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs.htm
  6. "Islam." (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/