Islam Essay Example

6Islamic Religion and History

Islamic religion and history

1.
The Opening’ is the first chapter or sura of the Qur’an. Based on these recitations, what would you identify as important as far as Islam is concerned? What impression did the recitations of these texts make on you?

Islam is a religion began by Prophet Muhammad. Islam teaches about existence of one God. It is a religion which traces its roots to Abraham and hence referred to as one of the Abrahamic religions. The teachings of Islam are to be found in the holy Quran which is the verbatim word of God. Praying five times a day is one of the pillars of Islam. The first chapter or sura of the holy Quran is known as Fatihah or the Opening. Fatihah’s seven verses are repeated by each and every Muslim when praying. A prayer by a Muslim cannot be complete without reciting Surat al-Salat which translates to chapter of prayer (Armstrong 2005, pp. 6220-6228). Prayer is taken very seriously by Muslims. The first chapter is referred to by different names which show the reverence with which Muslims treat the issue of prayers. The call for prayer is very captivating and expertly done. It leaves one wishing that they would leave whatever they are doing and go for prayers.

The call for Morning Prayer informs the faithful that prayer is actually better than sleep. Praying is equated to acquiring salvation and therefore cherished. It is very inspiring to listen to the call for prayers (adhan) and it creates an impression of the fact that the person recites is passionate about praying. It lays emphasis on the importance of God (Allah) talking about his greatest. The adhan also places emphasis on the revered position occupied by Prophet Muhammad. When a child is born the first thing recited to its ear is the adhan. The adhan is also recited as the first thing whenever people move to a new home. The origin of the adhan was a discussion between Prophet Muhammad’s companions (Armstrong 2005, pp. 6220-6228). They were having a discussion on how they would gather people for prayer. Several options were floated but the suggestion taken was by Umar who was a companion to the Prophet. Umar suggested having one person playing the role of inviting people for prayers and this was the origin of adhan.

2.
Write a brief paragraph discussing how you as a student of Islam would approach this apparent divergence between the religious approach to Muhammad and the approach of the historian. Can they be reconciled?

The approach to Prophet Muhammad by a student of Islam is different from that of the historian. As a student of Islam one has to be cognizant of the fact that Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam and the messenger of God. However, the Quran has very little information on the history of Prophet Muhammad (Sedgwick 2006, pp. 1-20). The historian therefore try to explain the life of the Prophet right from when he was young and bring out the important happenings during his life. It is possible to reconcile the approach of students of Islam with those of historians. The historian version of the history of the prophet tends to say that he made allegations but the veracity of his words is corroborated through the teachings of the Quran.

Muhammad’s date of birth is estimated to be about 570 CE.

The Prophet was born the City found in present day Saudi Arabia. As a result of being orphaned at an early age, Muhammad became a ward of Abu Talib who was his uncle. Among the activities that took Muhammad’s time were trading and shepherding. Muhammad’s first marriage took place when he was 25 years. Muhammad had a habit of going to a cave in the mountains where he would time in seclusion saying prayers. He would this for several nights at a time. The Prophet received the first revelation from God when he was aged forty years (Sedgwick 2006, pp. 1-20). Three years after God’s revelation to Muhammad he started publicly preaching of the revelations that he had had. He taught that there is only one God and total surrender to this one God was the only thing acceptable to God. He also declared that he was both a prophet and a messenger of God. As time went on, Muhammad gained a huge following but later on some tribes from Mecca became hostile towards him. This forced the Prophet to escape the harsh treatment of the members of the tribes. Muhammad later led attacks against the tribes from Mecca and destroyed the pagan’s idols that were being worshiped.

3.
Based on the readings for this topic and examples of texts from the Qur’an found in these readings, discuss in a few paragraphs the statement ‘Sacred texts such as the Qur’an derive their power and religious significance from the meaning invested in them by a religious community rather than from their historicity’.

Religious texts play a very important role in shaping the behaviour of people who subscribe to a given religion. Religious texts are revered by those who subscribe to a given faith. As far as Islam is concerned, there is the Holy Quran. Muslims believe that the holy Quran is the word of God, verbatim. The holy Quran is therefore highly respected and any attempts to desecrate it meet with stiff condemnation and penalties (Sells 1999, pp. 1-31). Prophet Muhammad preached to his followers that he received revelations from God and hence the advent of the Quran. The reason that Muslims hold the holy Quran in reverence is because they trusted the teachings of Prophet Muhammad that it is the true word of God. The holy Quran is regarded as a living document which governs the life of a Muslims and in this regard it cannot be viewed as being a representation of the past but the embodiment of the present.

Scholars on traditional Islam point to the effect that companions of Prophet Muhammad wrote down the holy Quran during the life time of the Prophet. It is stated that Prophet Muhammad dictated the contents of the holy Quran and his companions wrote his words down (Sells 1999, pp. 1-31). However, evidence shows that the whole of the Quran was compiled many years following Prophet Muhammad’s death. There are some people who have stated that they have doubts as to whether the contents of the Quran are what Muhammad taught. However, despite the many doubters about the authenticity and origin of the Quran, Muslims regard this book as the whole truth and which governs the life of a Muslims right from birth till death. It is therefore clear that people beliefs in a book get rooted based on how they perceive religious teaching and not necessarily on the history of such books which is explained by many and varied people.

References

Armstrong, K 2005, ‘Muhammad’: Encyclopedia of religion, vol. 9, Macmillan Reference, Detroit, pp. 6220-6228

Sedgwick, M 2006, ‘A cave in the desert: what is Islam’ Islam and Muslims. A Guide to

Diverse Experience in a Modern World, Intercultural Press, Boston, pp. 1-20.

Sells, M 1999, ‘Approaching the Qur’an’, Approaching the Qur’an: the early revelations,

White Cloud Press, Ashland, Oregon, pp. 1–31