However, Islam is largely misunderstood and therefore feared in the western world. I have good friends, as does everyone probably, who actually thinks a good percentage of Muslims, followers of Islamic faith, are terrorists who are intent on jihad (religious war) and instilling Sharia Law all over the world. People fear what they do not understand. I don’t think a clearer example exists than the current Islamophobia gripping the nation. This has resulted in the discrimination and hate crimes directed at Muslims. This leads me to ask the question, who are the real terrorists? Education is the key to understanding and a peaceful coexistence between different faiths and cultures. My paper will give a brief overview of Islam in an effort to help bridge the gap of understanding.
The Prophet Muhammad founded Islam in the year 622 in the city of Mecca located in what is today the nation of Saudi Arabia. Of the world’s great religions Islam is the youngest yet because it is an extension of Judaism and Christianity Muslims do not consider it newer. They think of it more as the refined version of a very old religion. All three have the same stories featuring the prophets Moses, David, Abraham and Jesus. Most people I’ve talked to had no idea Jesus is a large part of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam....
The word ‘Islam’ is taken from s-l-m, a root-word in Arabic meaning peace and submission. Islam means submitting to the will of God. A Muslim is one who submits to God. Living an Islamic life generally means adhering to the Five Pillars of Islam: “publicly bearing witness to the basic affirmation of faith; saying prescribed prayers five times a day; fasting during the month of Ramadan; giving a tithe or alms for support of the poor; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during the believer's lifetime, if this is possible.” (Wuthnow, 1998). The Qur’an is not viewed as a new revelation of God separate from its family religions but instead a more accurate and complete version therefore the final edition of those faiths. When Muhammad died in 632 A.D., Muslims were confronted with the challenge of preserving their faith so they created a hierarchal system of leaders called khalifahs (cliphs) which means successors to the Prophet Muhammad but not themselves prophets of God. The initial four caliphs were friends of Muhammad. Most Muslims believe their rule which lasted from 632 to 661 was the age of the ‘Rightly Guided Caliphate.’ A great expansion of the Islamic faith occurred during this period of time. Muslims conquered the Persian Empire known today as the Islamic Republic of Iran and took Syria and Northern Africa away from a crumbling Roman Empire. Within just a few short decades Islam expanded from a small village in the desert of Arabia to include territory that stretched from Africa to Asia. From the tenth century to the sixteenth the caliphs effective power ended but the area of the Muslim world