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Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and, like any other, religion it involves certain values and conventions that guide people throughout their lives. Islam is a monotheistic religion that teaches people to be righteous and bring good to this world. One of the central postulates of the Islamic religion is to do the right things and be a righteous person who follows the laws created by God. When considering Islam, it is important to take a closer look at the main book of Islam (Qur’an), the main values (Five Pillars), and Ramadan. It is also necessary to identify the difference between two major denominations to understand one of the most important features of this religion.
The Qur’an and Its Significance to the Religion
Qur’an can be regarded as the most important source of knowledge within the Islamic religion. This Holy book is of paramount significance to Islam as it is the core of the religion, as well as the cultural tradition of the Muslim world (Keepin, 2016).
First, Qur’an is the book of revelations that are the basis of Muslim people’s values. It is believed that the book was written based on the teachings of Muhammad who heard the revelations from the angel Gabriel (Robinson, 2013). At that, Qur’an is used in Muslim daily life as the verses (suras) provided in the book are used during daily rituals. Besides, Qur’an is also seen as an artwork as Muslims reproduce the verses on walls and other surfaces using beautiful calligraphy.
The Five Pillars
The Five Pillars of Islam can be regarded as basic values of Muslims that include shahadah, prayer, alms tax, fasting, and the pilgrimage. The first pillar, shahadah, is the testimony of faith. Proclaiming shahadah (that involves two parts) means being a Muslim. The first part means that the person accepts that only God can be worshiped, and the second part means that the person accepts that only Muhammed’s teachings are true (Keepin, 2016).
The second pillar is concerned with the daily practice of praying. Muslims pray five times a day. The third pillar is also referred to as zakat meaning growth as well as purification through giving. Muslims give away a part of their wealth to those in need. The fourth pillar is fasting during Ramadan, which is also associated with purification. The fifth Pillar is the pilgrimage (or haji) to Mecca (Keepin, 2016). These five pillars are based on the principles of deep faith, self-growth, and purification.
The Importance of Ramadan in Islam
As has been mentioned above, Ramadan is associated with purification in many respects. Ramadan is the month when Muhammed received the revelation. This is the ninth month of the lunar year, which means that Ramadan does not have a fixed date. The importance of this month cannot be overestimated as it is the time when Muslims spend a lot of time praying and thinking of spiritual things. Muslim people fast during the daytime and can eat only after the sunset. They spend a significant part of the nights of Ramadan praying, which makes them stronger believers. The abstinence from pleasures makes people purified and enlightened.
The Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi Branches of Islam
Like many other religions, Islam is divided into several schools and denominations. Sunni Muslims represent the largest group although, in some countries, (for example, Iraq) Shiite Muslims constitute the majority of the population (Robinson, 2013). The major difference between the Sunnis and Shiites is their views on the choice of the leader. Shiite Muslims believe that the leader (caliph) should be a descendant of Ali, who was a blood relative with Muhammed as Shiites think that revelation can come to descendants of the enlightened person. However, Sunni Muslims insist that the caliph should be chosen among the most knowledgeable and just.
The different views in this area led to the development of some specific hadith although the two denominations share a lot in common. As to Sufi, this is not a plentiful denomination compared to the two mentioned above. Sufi Muslims are more concerned about the spiritual component of the religion. They believe that God can be closer to people, and people can communicate with Allah. Sufi Muslims also pay more attention to the afterlife than Sunnis and Shiites do. Thus, it is clear that Muslims, irrespective of the denomination, pay much attention to the authority as this is one of the principal sources of discord.
On balance, it is necessary to note that Islam is the foundation of the Muslim world. This religion aims at making people righteous, enlightened, and purified. Qur’an and Five Pillars of Islam unite Muslims in their focus on the righteous life. Authority is one of the most important things for Muslims, which is seen from the history of the development of this religion. The concept of authority is closely linked to being righteous. However, there is still certain discord, and people are divided into some denominations.
Keepin, W. (2016). Belonging to God: Spirituality, science & a universal path of divine love. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing.
Robinson, N. (2013). Islam: A concise introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.