Regents Prep: Global History: World Belief Systems
Islam
Background
Islam, which when translated from Arabic, means "to submit to the will of Allah," is the Mosque youngest of the world's major religions. Worshippers of this monotheistic religion are known as Muslims, which means "one who submits to the will of Allah."  Islam is currently the second most practiced religion in the world, and experts predict that it will overtake Christianity as the most popular religion in the world sometime during the 21st century.

The Basics
Founder
-Islam was founded by the prophet Mohammed.
Geographic Origin-Developed on the Arabian Peninsula in the year 622 CE, and quickly spread to other regions.
Currently Practiced- Islam is most dominant throughout the Middle East, including Southwest Asia and North Africa.
Significant Writings-The teachings of Islam are collected in the Qur'an.
Places of Worship-Muslims may gather to worship in temples called Mosques (see picture above).
Significant Religious People-The Caliph, or successor to the Prophet Mohammed; Imam, leader of prayers; and the Muezzin, or one who issues a call to prayer, causing the faithful to gather at the local Mosque.

Teachings and Beliefs
Mohammed received the word of God, or Allah, through the angel Gabriel while living in the city of Mecca. Townspeople soon became fearful of the Mohammed's preaching and he began to receive threats. As a result, he fled to the nearby city of Medina, where people began to believe in his message. The flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Median was instrumental to the founding of the religion of Islam, and is known as the Hegira. Thus, in 622 CE Islam was founded and this date became the starting point for the Islamic calendar.

Mohammed and his followers later returned to Mecca and declared a jihad, or holy war, after which he captured the city. Under Mohammed's leadership, the basic teachings of Islam were established, which are known as the Five Pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to follow these rules in order to lead an ethical life:

  1. Confession of Faith: The belief that "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet."
  2. Prayer: Muslims must pray five times per day, facing towards Mecca.
  3. Charity: Muslims must give alms to the poor, and support the local Mosque by donating a portion of their income.
  4. Fasting: During the Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, all Muslims must fast during daylight hours, except the very young or sick.
  5. Pilgrimage: If possible financially, each Muslim must make a hajj, or holy pilgrimage, to the city of Mecca.

Web Resources
The Cultural Academy of Islam (ThinkQuest Library)
The Geography of Islam
(Morehead University)
Introduction to Islam (The Middle East Institute)
Islam
(Ontario Consultants)

 

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