TheIslamic religion and faith itself is one of the most followed in the world,with about 1.6 million followers. There are many aspects and characteristics ofthe religion that make up its foundation, including the founder, scriptures,language, and ritual.
One of the aspects of Islam that attracts its followers,and humanity in general, is its answer to their search for the ultimate meaningof life on earth. According to the Koran, the purpose of creation for all menand women has simply been to know and worship God. This is the center idea ofthe religion and basically the backbone of its rituals and scripture.
Furthermore, Islam is a monotheistic religion that was founded in the MiddleEast in the 7th century C.E. based on the experiences of the ProphetMuhammad. One of the most important manifestations depicted in the Koran iswhen the Archangel Gabriel appears to Muhammad, becoming the first of manyrevelations and myths that ultimately became the foundation of the scripturesand were passed down from generation to generation. The Koran (“recitation”) is thesacred text for Muslims that includes instructions on how to live their livesand what they must do to achieve eternal life.
They believe “the revelationswere transmitted to Mohammed through the instrumentality of the angel Gabriel,and that it is, word for word, the dictation of God” (Kritzeck 97). The Koranholds the Five Pillars to which all Muslims must adhere to: declaration offaith, ritual prayer, the zakat, fasting, and the hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca).Moreover, the language of the Islamic faith is Arabic, and it is the one usedby all Muslims all over the world to recite the Koran. Many Muslims will evenstudy Arabic to be able to read the Koran and other Islamic texts. “The Koranitself emphasizes that Arabic was specifically chosen as the language of God’sfinal revelation, and the Arabs have understandably taken great pride in thefact” (Kritzeck 99). The stories and experiences that form the base andbackbone of Islam are their irrefutable “Truth” and what ultimately guidestheir faith and devotion to the religion. In addition, there are many ritualsand practices that encompass Islam as described in the Five Pillars. The firstbeing the declaration of faith in which Muslims must recognize that there isonly one God and that Muhammad is the prophet of God.
The most well-knownpractice among Muslims is that of ritual prayer, or salat, in which they mustpray five times a day: at dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset, and evening. Also,the zakat is the careful calculation of 2.5 percent of one’s wealth given tothe poor as a way to “purify” the rest of one’s wealth (Richter 141). Thisritual is part of the “Goodness” of the religion as it is an act of solidarityand kindness towards others that ultimately connects the believer to Allah. Fastingis an important ritual of the Islamic faith during the month of Ramadan (theninth month of the Islamic year) as it honors the revelation of the Koran toits followers.
Finally, the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) is a ritual that isexpected of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime, a visit to their holycity. When speaking of morality within thereligion, Muslims are also expected to be humble and accountable of theiractions to God. Humility must be expressed not only to God but to otherindividuals as well. In addition, the religion requires followers to be incontrol of their earthly passions and desires as they are vain and only lead tohuman (and not spiritual) satisfaction. It is important for Muslims to not getattached to earthly pleasures but to place their focus on God and allow Him toguide them. Furthermore, as a society, Islam expresses the belief that allhumans are equal and make up one single community. The only difference Muslimsrecognize among each other is their relationship with God, rather than race orcolor, and those who have a strong relationship with God are the most honorable.Any person can join the Muslim religion whether they speak Arabic or not,whether they are black or white, or whether they reside in America or Africa.
The Islamic society does not discriminate against any of these characteristics aslong as the new follower accepts and commits to the concepts expressed in theFive Pillars. In Islam’s social order every believer is welcome to the faith aswell as equal within the community without taking into consideration theirwealth, ancestry or social status. Furthermore, the Islam’s religiousexperience mostly depends on three various sources, with the first and main onebeing the revelations (manifestations) present in the Koran.
The next is “theuse of human intellectual capacities to see the signs of God in nature, in theworld, from the microbiological level to the astro-physical” (Yaran 2). Thismeans Muslims have to be able to identify the signs of God in the world usingtheir own knowledge and intelligence. Lastly is “the use of human innerexperiential or spiritual capacities to see the signs of God within the selfand to be directly aware of God’s presence, providence and love” (Yaran 2). Thislargely depends on the believer’s personal experience and relationship with God.Moreover, Islamic art has a unique identity and identifying characteristics thatdiffers it from the rest. The four main elements include figural symbols, botanicaldesigns, calligraphy, and geometric designs. These characteristics can be seenin the art and architecture present in mosques and its furnishing.
Aside from being monotheistic,Muslims believe in an afterlife to which they are predestined, meaning thatpeople will go to heaven or hell once they die. This belief in salvation couldbe considered Islam’s “Beauty” as it is the ultimate achievement and award atthe end of a Muslim’s life. The purpose of a believer’s life is to please Godso that they may have eternal life rather than being classified as sinners. TheIslamic religion says that once a person reaches puberty they begin beingaccounted for their actions in the eyes of God and from that moment on theiractions will be evaluated on the Day of Judgement. Also, the Islamic beatitudesdepict the result of what specific spiritual traits will yield.
This providesspiritual support for followers in times of helplessness and allows them todepend on God rather than on human power and will.