Islam in Under 500 Words
- Islam comes from an Arabic root word meaning "submission"
Islam acknowledges both the Jewish and Christian traditions but considers that they have gone astray. The Prophet Muhammad is said to put a seal of divine approval on earlier prophets including Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.
- A person who follows Islam is a Muslim
- The Qur’an, comprising 114 sura, is the holy scripture revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is both poetry and a guide to living – including regulations for marriage, inheritance and food laws and prohibitions against usury, gambling and alcohol.
- In Islam the emphasis is on practice rather than belief. The minimum practice is the five pillars of Islam revealed in the Qur’an:
About 1 billion people are Muslims. Only about a quarter of these live in the Middle East – and a still smaller proportion are Arab.
The division between Sunni and Shi`a traditions relates to the succession of authority very early in Islam’s history. Shi`ites are about 10% of the total Muslim population and are found mostly in Iran and Iraq.
Sufis are the mystics of Islam. There are many orders including the Turkish Mevlevi ("whirling dervishes")
As with other religions the degree and nature of observance varies between societies and individuals.
As formal Arabic is a multi-layered language translations into other languages tend to only give a gist of the meaning. However, the MSA-USC Qur'an Database gives multiple English translations for sura, in context, for a given word or phrase.
While An Index To The Qur'an provides individual sura by keyword.
- expression of the belief that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger(shahada)
- giving alms to the poor (zakat)
- prayer five times a day (salat)
- observance of fast during Ramadan (saum)
- pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)
The exact manner of observance varies between Sunni and Shi`ite practice and among the four Sunni legal schools.
The Islamic year is based on the lunar year which is shorter than the solar year. Meaning the month of Ramadan is earlier every year. Here is a Current Calendar
Islam dates from the last 10 years of the life of the Prophet Muhammad (1 AH = 622 CE).
Huda, "Introduction to Islam"
[Online] http://islam.about.com/blintroa.htm [Accessed 14/3/05]
Shay, Anthony, (2002) "Dance and Jurisprudence in the Islamic Middle East", Habibi, vol.19, no 2 pp26-39
Welch, Alford, (1988) "Islam" in A Handbook of Living Religions pp 123-170, London: Penguin
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