Exploring Religions: Focus of Islam and Mormonism Jorge Alfredo Aviles Humanities 251 Section 31 Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology Abstract The United States culture has a broad spectrum of religious affiliations and religiosity. As a result of interacting with people who share similarities, people seldom evaluate the main premises of other religions. Two religions that focused in this paper that will be explored are Islam and Mormonism. The goal is to compare and contrast these religions from an anthropological perspective. Describing the history of the religion such when and how it was first founded.
Details of initial eaders of the movement or faith and how the faith was spread in the world. Also to discuss the main tenets of each religion’s belief system, the core religious texts and the significance practices. The paper will examine the role of religious leaders have in these religions as well as the roles devotees or followers play. Describing also how the religions view some social norms or cultural issues. Finally, examine how these religions coexist in a globalized world. The world has a broad spectrum of religious affiliations and religiosity.
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As a result of interacting with people who share similarities, people seldom evaluate the main remises of other religions. The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison 0T rellglous DelleTs ana practices across cultures. Rellglon Is aeTlnea as an organlzea collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the universe.
From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people erive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. The two religions I will be exploring, which I am unfamiliar with, are Islam and Mormonism. Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God and by the teachings and normative example of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God.
An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to love and serve God. Muslims also elieve that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets. They maintain that the previous messages and revelations have been partially misinterpreted or altered over time, but consider the Arabic Qur’an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God.
Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on ultifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment. In a religious context the world Islam means voluntary submission to God. According to Nigosian, “Believers demonstrate submission to God by serving God, following his commands, and rejecting polytheism. The word sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Qur’an.
In some verses, there is stress on the quality of Islam as an internal conviction: “Whomsoever God desires to guide, He expands his breast to Islam. “(p. 243) The Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are the shahadah which is the creed, daily prayers known as salat, almsgiving known as zakah, fasting during Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca known as haj] at least once in a lifetime. The Shia and Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.
Most Muslims are of two denominations, Sunni which consists of 75-90% of the population, or Shia which makes up the other 10-20%. About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 25% in South Asia, 20% in he Middle East, and 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable minorities are also found in Europe, China, Russia, and the Americas. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. Nigosian indicates, “With about 1. 57 billion followers or 23% of earth’s population, Islam is the second-largest religion and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world”. p. 223) Mormonism is a very different religion and I will discuss the foundations and beliefs. Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. , in the 1820s. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself from tra01tlonal Protestantlsm. Mormonism today represents tne new, non-protestant Taltn taught by Smith in the 1840s. After Smith’s death, most Mormons followed Brigham Young west, calling themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; also known as LDS Church.
Other variations of Mormonism include Mormon fundamentalism, which seeks to maintain practices and doctrines such as polygamy that were abandoned by the LDS Church, and various other small independent denominations. The word Mormon is derived from the Book of Mormon, one of the faith’s religious texts. Based on the name of that book, early followers of founder Joseph Smith, Jr. were called Mormons, and their faith was called Mormonism. The term was initially considered pejorative, but is no longer considered so by Mormons; although other terms such as Latter-day Saint, or LDS, are generally preferred.
Mormonism shares a common set of beliefs with the rest of the Latter Day Saint movement, including use of, and belief in, the Bible, as well as other religious texts including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It also accepts the Pearl of Great Price as part of its scriptural canon, and has a history of teaching eternal marriage, eternal progression, and plural marriage; although the LDS Church abandoned that practice by the late 19th century. Bushman states “Cultural Mormonism includes a lifestyle promoted by the Mormon institutions, and includes cultural Mormons who identify with the culture, but not necessarily the theology’. p. 45) The religion of Mormonism originated in the 1820s in western New York during a period of religious excitement known as the Second Great Awakening. Founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. the faith drew its first converts while Smith was dictating the text of the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates he said he found buried after being directed to their location by an angel. The book described itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas, portraying them as believing Israelites, who had a belief in Christ many hundred years before his birth.
Smith dictated the book of 584 pages over a period of about three months saying that he translated it from an ancient language by the gift and power of God. During production of this work in mid-1829, Smith, his close associate Oliver Cowdery, and ther early followers began baptizing new converts into a Christian primitivism church, formally organized in 1830 as the Church of Christ. Smith was seen by his followers as a modern-day prophet. Since its origins in the 19th century, Mormonism has been compared to Islam, often by detractors of one religion or the other.
For instance, Joseph Smith was referred to as the modern Mahomet by the New York Herald, shortly after his murder in June 1844. This label repeated a comparison that had been made from Smith’s earliest career, one that was not intended at the time to be complimentary. Perciaccante indicates “Comparison of the Mormon and Muslim prophets still occurs today, sometimes for derogatory or polemical reasons but also for more scholarly; and neutral purposes”. (p. 305) While Mormonism and Islam certainly have many similarities; there are also significant, fundamental differences between the two religions.
Mormon-Muslim relations have been historically cordial; recent years have seen increasing dialogue between adherents of the two faiths, and cooperation in charitable endeavors, especially in the Middle and Far East. Islam and Mormonism both originate in the Abrahamic traditions. Each religion sees its founder; Muhammad for Islam, and Josepn smltn Tor Mormonlsm, as Delng a true propnet 0T Goo, called to re-estaDllsn the truths of these ancient theological belief systems that have been altered, corrupted, or lost.
In addition, both prophets received visits from an angel, leading to additional books of scripture. Both religions share a high emphasis on family life, charitable giving, chastity, abstention from alcohol, and a special reverence for, though not worship of, their founding prophet. Before the 1890 Manifesto against plural marriage, Mormonism and Islam also shared in the belief in and practice of lural marriage, a practice now held in common by Islam and various branches of Mormon fundamentalism. The religions differ significantly in their views on God.
Islam insists upon the complete oneness and uniqueness of God; or Allah, while Mormonism asserts that the Godhead is made up of three distinct personages. Mormonism sees Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and the literal Son of God, while Islam insists that the title Messiah means that Jesus or Isa was a prophet sent to establish the true faith, not that he was the Son of God or a divine being. Despite opposition from other Christian denominations, Mormonism identifies itself as a Christian religion, the restoration of primitive Christianity.
Islam does not refer to itself as Christian, asserting that Jesus and all true followers of Christ’s teachings were, and are Muslims; a term that means submitters to God-not Christians as the term is used today. Islam proclaims that its prophet Muhammad was the seal of the prophets, and that no further prophets would come after him. Mormons, though honoring Joseph Smith as the first prophet in modern times, see him as Just one in a long line of prophets, with Jesus Christ being the premier figure of the religion. In
Conclusion both religious and nonreligious worldviews have been present and important throughout recorded history. This paper compares the teachings of Islam to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints known as Mormons. Bibliography 1 . Bushman, Claudia A. (2006) Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-Day Saints in Modern America. United States: ABC-CLIO 2. Nigosian, S. A. (2004) Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices. United States: Indiana University Press 3. Perciaccante, Marianne (2007) The Mormon-Muslim Comparison. The Muslim World. Volume 82: 1478-1913. 1992. tb03559. x