Islam is an Abrahamic and Monotheistic religion that derives its teachings from the Quran (Watt, 2013). Islamic faith bases its northe mative examples in the Quran and related teachings. A Muslim is an adherent of Islamic doctrines and belief systems. The latter believes in one God by the name Allah, and his only prophet is referred to as Mohammed (Ahmed, 2013).
However, they acknowledge the existence of other prophets such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Adam (Lassner, 2012). Numerous cultural practices and religious concepts in Islam are collectively referred to as the five pillars of Islam. These include prayer, testimony, giving Alms, fasting, and Pilgrimage (Watt, 2013).
Research has shown that Muslims are spread all over the world, such as the United States, Middle East, Great Britain, Pakistan, India, and other Asian countries (Ahmed, 2013). In-depth research has been carried out for a long time to understand Islamic teachings and practices.
This paper will, therefore, discuss how Islamic teachings are interpreted and practiced as well as the effects on Muslims’ and non-Muslims’ interaction. Also, the paper also explores and contrasts n Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Interpretation of Islamic teachings and practices
The practice of Islam is largely similar in most countries in spite of a few differences. It is pertinent to note that the United States, Great Britain, Middle East, India, Pakistan and other Asian countries have a distinct way of practising Islam.
Koopmans (2015) elucidates that one God called Allah unifies Muslims across the world. Mohammad is his only prophet. Moreover, a number of religious practices bind Muslims into a formidable belief system. Examples include fasting during the month of Ramadan and assisting the needy.
Nevertheless, historical evidences have shown that the practice of Islam differs from one geographical region to another (Lassner, 2012). In other words, the aspects of faith vary from one country to another. According to a global survey conducted by Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, it is certain that other than the conviction and the belief in Allah and Mohammad, there are other core tenets of Islam.
Although Muslims share the key fundamentals of faith such as giving Alms, existence of heaven, hell, Angels and predestination, research has revealed significant differences in the level of commitment, interpretation, practice and openness to their faith (Ahmed, 2013). This implies that remarkable differences are evident at various geographical regions.
Upon a careful review of literature, Ahmed (2013) highlights that Muslims in the Middle East and Asia highly appreciate Islamic religion in their daily lives. Statistical records show that 6 out of 10 people acknowledge that Islam plays a vital role in their lives (Watt, 2013). The same is evident in Europe and in particular Great Britain. Islamic practice in the United States is also unique compared to Asian countries.
In countries that practiced communism especially in Asia, less than half of the Muslims admit that Islam is an important aspect in their lives. Koopmans (2015) posits that general differences in the belief and practice of Islam are apparent depending with the region. For instance, in Central and South Asia, research has revealed that men attend mosques more frequently than their counterpart females. In fact, Ahmed (2013) highlights that in numerous occasions; women never attend prayers in mosques.
There are also sectarian differences in Islam perceived to be important in some countries and not others. For example, Sunni and Shia are the two main factions of Islamic religion. Ahmed (2013) elaborates that Muslims in Middle East, India and Pakistan are keen and aware of the distinctions between the two factions.
Actually, the Sunni Muslims do not consider the Shia to be true Muslims (Watt, 2013). This implies that there are sharp contrasts in their Islamic faith and practices. For instance, the Shias believe that Muslims should give a lot of respect and dignity to saints and therefore visit special places where their bodies were preserved.
This practice is not common among the Sunni Muslims. Research has shown that it is only in Iraq where the Sunni and Shia live alongside each other (Watt, 2013). In Great Britain and the United States, the distinctions between Sunni and Shia do not appear to have a lot of impact. In fact, most Muslims do not associate or identify themselves with any group. Hence, their practices are quite similar.
Practices of Islam such as prayer and reciting Quran differ across countries. For instance, it is only in Europe and more specifically in Turkey where devotional dance is accepted as a form of worship since it reflects the act of whirling evil powers (Ahmed, 2013).
How Islam is contrasted with Christianity and Judaism
Islam contrasts with Judaism and Christianity in various ways. For instance, the three religions have different rituals performed as a way of worship to their respective deities. Islamic rituals (also known as the five pillars) include Shahadah (faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Alms-giving), Sawm (Fasting) and Hajj (pilgrimage) (Watt, 2013). Christianity has numerous rituals. The Sacrament refers to the Holy Communion received by the followers (Eucharist).
Others include baptism, confirmation (for Orthodox and Roman Catholicism), marriage, Penance, prayers, anointing the sick, and Holy Orders (Ahmed, 2013). Judaism rituals include circumcision of the newly born males, a coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish boys (also known as Barmitzvah), observing the Sabbath (Sabat) and prayer using Siddur (Jew’s prayer book) (Watt, 2013).
The three religions have different perspectives on sin. Christians believe in the inheritance of Original sin through their common Ancestor Adam. They also believe that Jesus Christ was atoned as a sacrificial lamb to deliver humanity from the bondage of sin through his death on the cross (Lassner, 2012).
Jews do not believe in the concept of original sin. Therefore, they believe in the atonement of sins through prayer and repentance. They have an atonement day set aside (Yom Kippur), where people pray and seek forgiveness from God (Watt, 2013). Muslims believe that human beings were born sinless. They do not have atonement rituals and therefore believe in the concept of original sin.
Salvation is a vital aspect to consider while contrasting the three religions. Islamic teachings emphasize that good works may assist an individual to attain salvation. Personal righteousness and outweighing personal sins that are stated in chapter 23, verses 101 and 103 of the Quran are also major pathways towards salvation (Ahmed, 2013). Judaism emphasizes that salvation is attained by prayers, good work and through the grace of God.
Christianity teaches that salvation is attained through the grace of God and faith in Jesus Christ. In line with this, Islam considers hell to be a place of torment (Jahannam) and has several levels (Watt, 2013).
They believe that people will not spend eternity in hell. Christians also believe that a hell is a place of eternal punishment for the unrighteous people. Jews believe in the existence of a place called “Gehenna”. This is where sinners will be subjected to temporary punishment (Ahmed, 2013). They also insist that there are certain sins that will require eternal punishment.
Impacts of Islamic teachings
It is also crucial to develop an understanding of how Islamic teachings affect Muslims and non-Muslims when interacting and communicating with one another. First, the teachings of Islam affect Muslims and non-Muslims both positively and negatively when interacting and communicating. It is important to note that the divine obligation of Muslims as prescribed in the Quran by Allah is to convey the Islamic message to all people.
Moreover, they are commanded to ensure freedom of religious doctrines and establish justice all over the world (Watt, 2013). This command has established a good interaction and communication between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the Quran, Mohammad commands the Muslims to promote better relationship with non-Muslims (Ahmed, 2013). Life of companionship has also been witnessed for several centuries until recently when animosity and hatred began to develop between Muslims and Non-Muslims (Watt, 2013).
It is apparent some texts in the Quran that forbid Muslims from making friendships with non-Muslims. Fort instance, in Surah Ali Imran, V: 28, it is documented that Islamic believers should not make friends with non-believers because they have no relationship with Allah. This verse warns Muslims to guard themselves against such people (Ahmed, 2013).
Nevertheless, this does not imply that Muslims should not treat non-Muslims in a non-amicable and disrespectful manner. Koopmans (2015) notes that Muslims who lack a detailed understanding of the Quran often contradict their behavior towards non-Muslims. Contrastingly, there are non-Muslims who perceive Islam as a religion that teaches revulsion, hatred, and violence to its followers (Ahmed, 2013).
Most Non-Muslims accuse Islam by referring to the quote, “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as friends” in Surah al-Ma’idah, V: 51 (Lassner, 2012). From the quote, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the relationship, interaction, and communication between Muslim and Non-Muslims are not good owing to the elements of contempt and suspicion. In other words, they establish good relations when the need arises (such during business transactions).
Otherwise, when it comes to matters of worship, rituals, and faith, the two groups of believers do not relate well. To support this argument, Koopmans (2015) emphasizes that Muslims are not supposed to participate in non-believers’ rituals, or even be pleased by their beliefs. Muslims are also advised not to dress in a similar way with non-believers, give them gifts or even congratulate them for their holidays (Ahmed, 2013).
Proposal on how Islam is important in the study of cultural diversity
Islam plays an important role in the study of cultural diversity as it provides a foundation through which one can understand why and how certain cultural practices are practiced. In other words, Islam has a lot of significance in secular academia since it enables an individual to understand and appreciate human heritage in the Islamic world (Lassner, 2012). Studying Islam makes scholars understand why there is a need to safeguard some of the concrete and ethical imperatives that show respect for human dignity.
This section will entail information derived from peer-reviewed sources that comprise past research studies related to the topic of study. For instance, Koopmans (2015) highlights that one cannot understand peoples’ culture without referring to their religion.
It is also impossible to separate man from his religion and culture. Islam has largely influenced the language and literature in the Muslim world. Culturally, Muslims uses the Arabic language (the language of the Quran) in their works of art. Watt (2013) asserts that secular literature is spread in Arabic.
Islamic teachings influence the culture of Muslims in various ways, including dressing, eating style, and the rituals they perform. This explains why historians and archaeologists have regarded Islam as an aspect of influence on Muslims’ culture. For instance, some of the aspects of Muslims’ culture is Salat (reciting prayers) and Sawm (Fasting) (Lassner, 2012).
According to evidence derived from literature, it is beyond reasonable doubt hat Islam is important in the study of cultural diversity. To test this assumption, there is a need to have a well-grounded study on this subject. Important sections that will be included in the research project are described below:
This section will discuss the approaches to be used to collect data and analytical techniques.
Data collection and Analysis
In this section, the researcher will use the identified research methods to gather data from various sources. Appropriate analytical methods and skills will be used to interpret data
Conclusion and reconditions
This section will entail research findings or outcomes based on the analysis done in the previous sections. Recommendations for future research will be made based on the outcomes of the study.
Peer-reviewed sources used in the entire research study will be listed in this section.
Ahmed, A. S. (2013). Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and promise. New York: Routledge, Inc.
Koopmans, R. (2015). Religious Fundamentalism and Hostility against Out-groups: A Comparison of Muslims and Christians in Western Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(1), 33-57.
Watt, W. M. (2013). Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity (RLE Politics of Islam. New York: Routledge, Inc.
Lassner, J. (2012). Jews, Christians, and the Abode of Islam: Modern Scholarship, Medieval Realities. New York: University of Chicago Press.