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Religion can be defined as the belief and worship in a certain god or gods. It can also be defined as a set of belief observed by a specific group of people concerning their origin or purpose in life. There are many different types of religions in the world with different narratives, and sacred history. The word religion can also be used in place of belief or faith although it is more of a belief and is more related to the public.
Islam is a religion that pays allegiance to God and Mohammed (a prophet of God). All of Islamic teachings are found in the Koran. Mohammed is believed to have received revelation from Angel Gabriel over a span of 23 years. This paper looks at some of the teachings in Islam, compares these teachings as interpreted in many Muslim countries such as USA-Britain, the Middle East, India and Pakistan and other Asia countries
The Koran contains many teachings that form the basis of sharia law. It is in the Koran that we find the daily prayer requirements, alms giving, and fasting which should be observed during the wholly month of Ramadan. The Islamic faith is built upon five main pillars; Shahada, Salat, Zakat, Hajj, and Sawm.
The Shahada talks about the uniqueness of Allah and his prophet Mohammed, Salat is a description of how Muslims worship or pray to Allah, Zakat, refers to the practice of helping the poor members of the society (Every Muslim is expected to give 2.5% of his capital assets annually), Hajj, is also known as pilgrimage to Mecca, every Muslim is expected to observe this practice in their lifetime, and Sawm refers to fasting during Ramadan (Bates, 2007)..
Distribution of the Population of the Muslims
In the world, about 20% of the population is Islamic. Majority of the Muslims respects other religions, advocate for peace and are involved in finance or business. The Muslim population is diverse all over the world. More than fifty countries in the world are concentrated with the Muslim population.
This population is mostly concentrated in the Middle East, US, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. Less than 15% of the Muslim population is Arabs. The increase in Muslim population was due to immigration, increase in birth rate, and many people converted to Islamic from year 2004 to 2008. This increase is highest in Britain. It has been projected that by 2025 the number of Muslims will be higher than that of the Christians.
According to the projection, Muslims will be about 30% of the total population while Christian will be at most 25%. Of all the total population of Muslims in the world 90% are Sunni whereas 10% are Shia (Bates, 2007). Every Muslim is governed by a divine law known as sheria which regulates how Muslims should behave and conduct themselves. It encompasses all aspects of life such as family relations, taxation, prayer, inheritance among other practices that are common within Muslims.
From a very early age, Muslim women are taught to respect their bodies by covering it with black burqas all the way from the head to their feet. They are also forbidden from doing certain things that are done by men for instance, Muslim women are forbidden from going to the mosque and they can not even drive their own car.
For along time, Muslim women in Pakistan have been subjected to female genital mutilation although this seems to be fading in certain communities (Syed, 2003). Sex before marriage, homosexuality, and adultery are forbidden in many of the Islam countries and a person found committing such a claim is aggressively punished. Unlike Christianity, Islam regards marriages as mere contracts with certain conditions.
They are not considered as a covenant being made in heaven and can be broken if one side breaks the contract’s condition. Divorce is common in Islam and is always expected although hadith teachers that, divorce is one of the things that is mostly disliked by God. A divorce is granted if one partner behaviors against what is expected according to the Sunnah of Islam; for instance if he becomes abusive, cruel, unfaithful, neglectful, perverted to name but a few. Contrary to this, Christianity does not allow divorce under any circumstances.
Marriages are believed to be made in heaven and should therefore be respected until death. Even if one is granted divorce under Christianity, he/she can not remarry if the other partner is still alive. One is only allowed to marry if the other partner dies (Syed, 2003).
After the death of a Muslim, his shares, money, and property is protected and governed by law. In the Middle East, and parts of India, all the diseased children are allowed to inherit part of their father’s property and money although the girls get a smaller share than the boys because it is assumed that, men are the breadwinners in their family and have an obligation to provide for their families.
A woman is not obliged by any law to share part of her property or money since it is termed as hers and hers alone. Likewise, in marriages, a woman is not obliged to use part of her salary to provide for the family unless she wishes to do so. However, a Muslim woman is expected to be kind to every one and be trustworthy.
She should always strive to make her family cheerful and support her husband in all his undertakings. Irrespective of whether she has any professional skills, she is supposed to respect and accept her husband as the head of the family although she has a right to refuse anything asked of her by the husband if she feels it is contrary to God’s will. Even if the husband is the head of the family, he can never be her master because she is only expected to observe only one master; that is God.
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The Islamic sheriah does not inflict limitation on the forms of money. It only interferes with people’s attitudes in regard to wealth and money but not the form of money. Islamic sheriah upholds regulation in the use and provision of money. It forbids interest (Riba) from any form of business.
Islamic finance believes that money can only be invested in worthy business; it upholds the view of socially responsible investing (Abdullah, 1996). Islam perceives that a good person can only invest in good things with good intentions. Investing in drugs, alcohol, porno among others is termed as bad investments.
Riba refers to excess money which according to sheriah principles implies to reward earned without appropriate consideration in terms of time worth for money. We two types of Riba; the increase in capital without the provision of services and the product exchanges in disproportionate quantities As we have seen earlier, Islam prohibits earning of interest fees.
This does not mean that the Islamic financial institutions do not aim at making profit as people tend to believe. Contrary to that, most of the Islamic financial institutions or banks operate on the basis of profit making. In Iran, banks can only offer products that have been clear in accordance with the regulations given by the council of ministers.
There is no sheriah board to offer guidance or supervision on the commercial banks. In Bahrain, all banks are required to set up “an independent sharia supervision committee” that complies with the supreme principles of Islamic financial institutions. Different approaches have been followed on cases regarding regulatory issues on the sheriah principles in different countries (Abdullah, 1996).
Islamic, Christianity, and Judaism
The word Islam means entering into peace. This portrays the religion as a religion that has its strong holds in peace development. Just like the religion of Christianity and Judaism that put more emphasis on love; Prophet Muhammad, who is the main character in the Islamic religion, puts more emphasis on mercy.
He was the last and greatest of God’s messengers, who were mandated to continue the works of Abraham, Jesus and Mosses. He preached to people to have mercy on each other. He did emphasize on the need of mercy to the less fortunate in the society. This goes in line with the strong holds of the religion which is peace.
The religion call their God Allah, this means God, the true God. The character of the lord is that of peace and mercy (Robinson, 2010). The name of God either in the Muslim or other religion is respected. The ideology that either Christianity or Muslim derived the name was the same or similar. This is in that the Biblical Elohîm (God) and h¥-Elôh (the true God) of Moses and the Hebrew prophets or the Aramaic Al¥h¥ (God, the true God) of Jesus and John the Baptist the recognition of the supremacy of the lord is recognized.
Both religions recognize the works of early prophets in their works of developing the religion. They specifically recognize the work of Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Jesus (Robinson, 2010). In many Muslim and Christian countries, homo- sexual is jailed on long term while other countries do not have any laws that prohibits against such behaviors.
Madrasas literally means a school that offers instruction in the Islamic subjects including the Koran and hadith and sheria law. These schools were established for the purpose of promoting Islamic based curriculum. In Egypt and Lebanon, madrasas refers to educational institutions whereas in Bangladesh and Pakistan, madrasas refers to Islamic religious schools.
The oldest madrasas to be established is known as Nizamiyah and is located in Baghdad. The main idea behind the establishment of this school was to provide lodging faculties, food, and free education to the Muslim population. Afterwards, madrasas spread rapidly to other Muslim countries. Madrasas, in most Muslim countries today, form part of the educational infrastructure. They offer religious-based curriculum, focusing on the Koran and Islamic texts.
Beyond instruction in basic religious tenets, some argue that a small group of radicalized madrasas, specifically located on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are spawning a militant form of Islam and calling on Muslim to fight nonbelievers and stand against what they perceive as the moral immorality of the West. Pakistan has more than ten thousand madrasas that have turned out to be of help now that the country is going through periods of extreme poverty and underdevelopment (Armanios, 2003).
Since the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, madrasas in many parts of the world for instance, Asia, Middle East, and central have shifted their focus to the U.S foreign policy makers. Many of these policy makers hold that, there is a close tie between the terrorist organizations (such as AL Qaeda) and madrasas, and hold that these schools encourage Islamic extremism and militancy.
On the other hand, other policy makers strongly believe that, most of these religious schools have been blamed for something they have no connection with (that is for fostering anti- U.S.) madrasas attracted more attention when it became evident that, a number of Taliban leaders and members of the AL Qaeda terrorist organization had developed essential political views at madrasas in Pakistan, some of which were believed to have been built and financed by Saudi Arabian (Armanios, 2003).
The main principle behind Islam is that there is only one God called Allah who is the creator of the universe and Mohammed is the only messenger of Allah. There has been recorded a significance increase in the number of Muslims for the last four years. The Muslim population has grown by almost 10 times while that of the Christian by 2 times.
The power of God is seen in both Christianity and Islamic; he is seen as one who the early prophets served and the today’s people have no alternative than to follow his teaching, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not allow same sex marriages adultery or sex before marriage.
Many policy makers in the United States hold many accusations that madrasas are used to promote Islamic fanaticism and militancy, and are a recruiting ground for terrorism. They are others who maintain that, the madrasas play a very crucial role in eradicating poverty and promoting education in countries where the population of Muslims is high
Abdullah, S. (1996). Islamic banking: a study of the prohibition of riba and its contemporary interpolation. New York: Prentice Hall.
Armanios, F. (2003). Islamic religious schools, madrasas: Background. Web.
Bates, S. (2007). The beliefs and laws of Islam. Web.
Robinson, B. A. (2010). Comparing Christianity and Islam: the world’s two largest religions. Web.
Syed, B. (2003). Women in Islam: Hijab. Web.