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                        "THE RELIGION OF ISLAM"

                          The Tenets Of Islam

INTRODUCTION

1. Thus far in this brief introduction to Islam we have reviewed...
   a. The historical origins of Islam in the life of Muhammad and his
      early followers
   b. The origin and importance of the Qur'an in Islam

2. In this study, we shall summarize some of the main tenets of Islam...
   a. Its beliefs
   b. Its practices

[We begin this study by reviewing several beliefs as held by Muslims...]

I. FUNDAMENTAL ARTICLES OF FAITH

   A. GOD...
      1. Islam "is predicated on the belief that there is but one God,
         Allah, the Creator of the universe and of humankind...Mercy and
         compassion are his principal qualities."
      -- Introduction To Islam, M. Cherif Bassiouni
      2. "The first and most essential element in Islamic theology is
         the doctrine of God (Allah)."
         a. "True belief demands an uncompromising monotheism."
         b. Muhammad "accused Christians of being polytheists because of
            their belief in the Trinity"
         -- Solomon Nigosian, Islam: The Way Of Submission
      3. Thus they view Jesus as simply a prophet, not the Son of God
         - cf. Qur'an 4:171; 5:73,75

   B. ANGELS...
      1. "Angels are frequently mentioned in the Qur'an."
      2. "They are God's messengers who exercise a potent influence on
         both the life of humans and the life of the universe."
      3. "...angels are said to act as intermediaries asking God to
         forgive the offenses of believers" - Qur'an 40:7
      4. "At the time of death, the souls of humans are received by
         angels (Qur'an 6:93; 8:52; 16:30; 47:29), who have kept a
         record of their actions (Qur'an 6:61; 43:80; 82:10) and will
         witness for or against them on the Day of Judgment (Qur'an
         21:103; 13:24; 33:43)"
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   C. BOOKS (SCRIPTURES)...
      1. "One of the central doctrines of Islamic faith is belief in all
         of God's revealed messages, which now consist of four books:
         Torah, Psalms, Gospels, and Qur'an."
      2. "These four Books are to be regarded as Holy Scriptures, even
         though the three Books preceding the Qur'an include certain
         human imperfections."
      3. "With the appearance of the Qur'an, the noblest of the Books,
         these earlier Books, it is believed, were abrogated."
      4. "...it is an article of faith that the purpose of the Qur'an is
         to preserve original divine revelations by restoring the
         eternal truth of God." (Qur'an 5:44-48)
      5. "Since the Qur'an abrogates all earlier Books, its ordinances
         continue to remain in force until the Day of Judgment..."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   D. PROPHETS (MESSENGERS)...
      1. "To all peoples and in all ages, God sent prophets or
         messengers to proclaim the Oneness of God and to warn humanity
         of the future judgment (Qur'an 10:47; 16:36)."
      2. The Qur'an mentions many by name: - cf. Qur'an 6:83-90
         a. Most are Old Testament figures (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Lot,
            Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron,
            Elijah, Elisha, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah, Ezra)
         b. Three are from the New Testament (Zacharias, John, Jesus)
      3. "Just as Adam is regarded by Muslims as the first prophet sent
         by God, so Muhammad is the 'seal of the prophets' through whom
         God reveals His eternal message in its definitive form (Qur'an
         33:40)."
      4. "Muhammad's life and death marked the end of prophecy since his
         prophetic mission satisfied for all time any need or demand for
         another prophet."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   E. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT...
      1. "The Last Day, or the final Day of Judgment, occupies a very
         important place in Qur'an and in the Hadith."
      2. "The vivid description of the events leading up to the Last Day
         and the elaborate portrayal of the final judgment are very
         similar to the book of Revelation..." - cf. Qur'an 81:1-14;
         82:1-19; 69:13-37
      3. "...Islamic doctrine associates the coming of 'The Guided One'
         (Mahdi) with signs that foreshadow the Last Day."
         a. "Some Sunni Muslims believe that an individual from the
            family of the Prophet Muhammad will appear and reign for
            seven years to make the religion of Islam triumphant
            throughout the world before the end comes."
         b. "Most Sunni scholars, however, identify this Messianic
            figure with the prophet Jesus."
      4. "...Muslims believe that on the Last Day, the graves will be
         open, the dead will resurrect, and a judgment will be
         pronounced on every individual according to his or her deeds."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

[Taking a look now at some of the religious practices of those who are
Muslims, Islam is perhaps most noted for what is called...]

II. THE FIVE PILLARS (RELIGIOUS DUTIES)

   A. THE CREED OF ISLAM (SHEHADA)...
      1. This is the profession of faith in Islam:  "There is no other
         god but God; and Muhammad is the Prophet of God" (la ilaha
         ill'Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah)
      2. Professing this creed is sufficient to make one a convert to
         Islam, provided the following conditions are met:
         a. To repeat it aloud
         b. To understand it perfectly
         c. To believe it in the heart
         d. To profess it till death
         e. To recite it correctly
         f. To declare it without hesitation
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   B. PRAYERS (SALAT)...
      1. "The next most important religious duty after the profession of
         faith is prayer."
      2. "Qur'anic texts prescribe only three prayers a day, but Islamic
         tradition requires five:  at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon,
         evening, and night."
      3. "Muslims may not waive the obligation to pray five times daily
         even if they are sick or on a journey."
         a. "The sick are to pray in bed and, if necessary, lying down."
         b. "Travelers are enjoined to pray at dawn, to combine noon
            with mid-afternoon prayer, and evening prayer with prayers
            that follow nightfall, thus praying three times daily."
      4. "Prayers may be said either in private or in public worship."
      5. "All public or ritual prayers must be preceded by ritual
         purification both of the individual and the place. Ablutions
         (wudu' or ghusl) secure bodily purity."
         a. "...Muslims was their foreheads, hands, and feet before they
            pray..."
         b. "If no water is available, then hands and feet may be wiped
            with fine, clean sand."
         c. "Muslims pray on a mat or rug in token of purity secured for
            the spot or place."
         d. "Shoes or sandals are removed before devotees step on their
            prayer rugs."
      6. "...a worshipper prays facing in the direction of Mecca (qibla)
         a direction which is indicated in mosques by a niche in the
         wall (mihrab)."
      7. "One day a week is set aside as a day of public prayer (Friday)
         ...Muslim women do not attend public prayers, although some
         mosques have a room or section set aside for them."
      8. "Prayer is the heart and essence of Islam.  Any Muslim who
         willfully avoids prayer is considered to have forsaken Islam."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   C. RELIGIOUS TAX (ZAKAT)...
      1. "The third duties of a Muslim is to give alms to the poor as an
         outward sign of true piety."
      2. "There are two kinds of almsgiving: legal (zakat) and voluntary
         (sadaqa)."
      3. "In Muslim canon law legal alms are assessed at one-fortieth
         (2.5%) of an individual's income in kind or money."
      4. "Legal almsgiving is now more or less defunct, because many
         Muslim states follow western systems of taxation."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   D. FASTING (SIYAM)...
      1. "The fourth duty of a Muslim is to fast during the twenty-nine
         days of the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar (the
         month of Ramadan)."
      2. "...during the day Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual
         intercourse; but these proscriptions are lifted between sunset
         and sunrise."
         a. "All adult male and female Muslims fast from sunrise to
            sunset."
         b. "Only children, the sick, nursing or pregnant mothers, the
            aged and travelers are exempt, though anyone exempted by
            reason of temporary disability or circumstances is expected
            to make up an equivalent period of fasting."
         c. "The end of each daytime abstention is celebrated joyfully
            after sunset."
      3. "Those who observe the fast faithfully and in a spirit of
         sincere repentance are assured of a remission of sins."
         a. "Voluntary fasts at various times during the year other than
            the month of Ramadan are also considered as meritorious
            acts..."
         b. "None, however, other than Ramadan, may last any more than
            three consecutive days."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

   E. PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)...
      1. "The fifth prescribed religious duty of every Muslim is to make
         a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Ka'ba in Mecca."
      2. "It is an obligation to be fulfilled at least once in a
         lifetime by every adult who is sane, healthy, financially
         capable of supporting his family during his absence, and able
         to underwrite the expenses of the journey."
      3. "The pilgrimage...can be performed only on specified days (the
         seventh to the tenth) in the last month (Dhu'l Hijja, the
         twelfth month) of the Islamic calendar."
      4. "A cross-section of Muslims from all walks of life and of
         varying color, race and nationality realize their equality
         before God as they meet on common ground at least once a year."
      -- Nigosian, ibid.

CONCLUSION

1. This brief survey certainly does not address all the tenets of
   Islam...
   a. We have not covered many other observances and festivals held by
      Muslims
   b. There are many other aspects of their moral and social behavior
      (e.g., their abstinence from gambling, drinking, and pork, etc.)
   -- Our purpose has been to introduce the more noticeable features of
      Islam

2. There are two aspects of Islam that I would like for us to look at
   more closely...
   a. The meaning and implementation of jihad (holy war)
   b. The concept and political ramifications of ummah (Islamic
      community)

These I hope to examine more closely in the context of a question that
people often ask:  "Is Islam A Religion Of Peace?", which we shall do in
our next study...
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