This Religions of the World class has taught me that religion varies depending on what part of the world you are in or from. Views on religion vary as well as acceptance of religion. Religions adapt to the culture around them, trying to survive. These variations and adaptations can be difficult to understand , sometimes are skewed by society. For this project I decided I wanted to learn about Islam, a religion that I knew little about with the hopes of taking away an open- minded concept of Islam that was not skewed by others opinions.
In order to complete the project, I interviewed a fellow coworker who is a Muslim, visited a Mosque to review the architecture and compared it to a religion I am familiar with Christianity. Islam Islam is a monotheistic religion that means submission to God. The religion is based on the beliefs of the Qur’an, that is the Holy text that was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (Fisher, 2005). A Muslim is a follower of the Islamic faith that believes in the central beliefs of Islam also known as the Five Pillars.
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The Five Pillars consist of the unselfish surrender to God’s commandment through fasting, giving of alms to the poor, believing in one God, Daily Pray, and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Fisher, 2005). Muslims, testify that there is none worthy of worship but God, and that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. To become a Muslim one must declare in sincerity in the presences of a practicing Muslim that he/she whole heartily believes there is only one God (Islam & Christianity, 2010). Islam is the second largest religion in the world, becoming the fastest growing religion to date (Islam, 2010).
Place of Worship Visiting a Mosque, as a female has proved to be difficult because of the beliefs of Islam in reference to females. Due to this fact I could not physical attend service, instead I researched the architecture of the mosque. I live down the street from the local Dar ALNoor Islamic Community Center and driving by it every day. The Community Center is run by the Muslim Association of Virginia according to their website the mission of the MAV is to establish and maintain a vibrant community based on the Qur’an and Sunnah while minding Allah.
The community center is not only used as a prayer hall but as a center for local Muslims to gather for events and to attend Qur’an school (MAV: Muslim Association of Virginia, 2010). A Mosque is a place of worship in Islam that varies in architecture depending on their location in the world. Despite the location, there are common features that serve a practical purpose and represent tradition (Parts of a Mosque, 2010). A Minaret is a slim tower normally rising up from the mosque that was originally used as the highest point to call followers to prayer.
Not as common today but they remain a traditional decoration on most mosques (Parts of a Mosque, 2010). The gold dome on the rooftop is another common feature to the architecture of a mosque and signifies the vaults of heaven and the sky (Mosque, 2010). The domes interior is normally decorated with floral, geometric shapes and other patterns (Parts of a Mosque, 2010). The Prayer hall also known as the Musalla is bare and absent of furniture allowing followers room to pray (Mosque, 2010). The pray hall may have verses from the Qur’an on the wall to assist worshippers to focus on Islam and the Qur’an (Mosque, 2010).
Some Mosques have separate pray halls or areas for females. It is Islamic law that men and women worship separated. Muhammad preferred women to pray at home rather than at a mosque, but today they pray in Mosques just segregated to limit distractions to the men (Mosque, 2010). Mosques differ from country to country but they all hold the same common purpose to serve as a place that Muslims can come together for prayer, education and fellowship with other their brothers and sisters of Islam. Interview For this project, I interviewed Mr. H. Housseini a fellow coworker.
Mr. H. is a well-educated individual who speaks nine languages. He was born and raised a Muslim and has exposure to other religions during his travels and career moves. He married an America woman who does not practice Islam because of this relationship he has a different perceptive on religion then another Muslim who would not marry outside of his or her faith. He has a very open mind about religion. While attending high school, he was exposed to Christianity and practiced it alongside his girlfriend, so he has a vast knowledge of both Islam and Christianity.
This helped me during our interview because we could discuss both and compare them. I started my interview off with asking Mr. H. what the important holidays and traditions that are celebrated in Islam. Mr. H. told me about Ramond, which he compared to Lent; this is the fasting month in the Islamic religion and is a symbol a Muslims’ commitment to Allah. During Ramond they fast for 30 days from sun up to sun down, are not allowed to eat, drink, or take part in worldly pleasures. Eid ul Fitr is the end of Ramond which is the celebration of the complexion of the 30 day fast with a large fest.
Other major holidays Mr. H. told me about were Eid al Adha that he compared to Passover; the celebration of the spiritual commitment of Abraham to God and Maouloud; the celebration of the birth of the prophet Mohammad (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). With the discussion of fasting during the holidays, I asked Mr. H. , what he believed was a challenge of practicing his religion? He stated 30 days of fasting required that he have faith and discipline in order to be able to fast for 30 days with no food or water.
It is only a challenge if one does not have good faith in your religion and you let the western world’s devices derail you (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). I have witness Mr. H. fasting and have seen his discipline at work during his month of fasting, it is not an easy task and I respect his discipline. I have worked with Mr. H. , for 10 years during that time I have never seen him pray or take time away from his work to do so. I have seen him in his tradition garments and he does attend service on Fridays. I asked Mr. H. , how often he prays and to tell me a little more about the five daily prayers.
Due to his work schedule he choices to pray all five prayers at home during private. He stated that this is not the correct way to do it but he has no choice (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). The five prays per Mr. H. , are Duhr, Azahar, Asar, Magarib, and Isha’a and are prayed five times a day at 5:30 a. m. , 2:30 p. m. , 4:00 p. m. , 6:30 p. m. , 8:30 p. m. I noticed a gap in the morning pray time in comparison to the rest of the daily prayers so, I asked him to explain the gap in the times, and why they are not spread out throughout the day?
Adboul, stated it was due to a need to recharge during the day and to practice good deeds because of your faith in God (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). This was a good lead into my next question about what he feels is beautiful about his religion? Mr. H. , believes many things are beautiful about Islam but only focused on one. The love they have for each or what they call the Brotherhood and Sister Hood of Islam. They are a community that cares about each other no matter if they know them or not. Everyone is willing to help each other out (Mr. H. Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). I closed out the interview with a question to Mr. H. , on how religion had shaped his life. Religion per Mr. H. has given him energy, and a sense of direction in life. He has learned patience, control and discipline because of his faith. He believes he is not the driver of his own life that he leaves the driving to Allah. Mr. H. told me there is nothing magically in Islam. You must practice and pray, you are either Muslim or you are not (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). Compare and Contrast between Islam and Christianity
Islam and Christianity are similar that they parallel each other and could be considered the same version of monotheism, yet they have significant differences. Monotheism is the belief in one singular being as scared. Christianity and Islam are considered Abrahamic religions because they can trace their history to the convent that God made with Abraham (Comparison of Islam, Judaism & Christianity, 2010). Simply meaning they come from the same spiritual source: God creates, rules, forgives, loves, and judges. He is the only scared being (Abrahamic Religions, 2010, July 10).
Both religions share similarities within their main religious prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and the Surah Fateha making them almost universal. Of course they are not similar in language but they are in meaning. These two religions share similar concepts on creation and the Ten Commandments (Islam & Christianity, 2010). In reference to holidays, Ramond could be compared to Lent and Eid Al Adha to Passovers. Both Religions practice a Sabbath celebration in sense, Christians attend church on Sunday their Sabbath and Muslims attend mosque on Friday for prayer calling it Jumu’ah.
Despite their noticeable similarities these two religions have distinct differences and have rarely been harmonious in the past (Christianity vs. Islam, 2010). Christianity is a religion based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Fisher, 2005). Where Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross that he ascended into heaven alive. Jesus in the Islamic religion is a prophet and a servant of God alongside Muhammad. Whereas Christians believe that Jesus is a member of the trinity and is viewed as God himself (Islam & Christianity, 2010).
Another noticeable difference is Christians believe in original sin, where mankind is held responsible for the sins of Adam and Eve and only the sacrament of baptism can take your sins away. Muslims on the other hand, believe that all mankind is born pure and that he/she is responsible for his or her own sins and not someone else’s (Islam & Christianity, 2010). With their differences they still share a common bond, their faith in one God. Conclusion To conclude, I leave you with a description of a diagram that Mr. H. , drew during our interview. The diagram had a tree with one trunk and three branches that branched off the tree.
The trunk is God and each branch of tree represented Christianity, Islam and Judaism: the three Abrahamic religions. Mr. H. ‘s reasoning for drawing this diagram was to illustrate that humans divide (the branches) organized religion; it is not religion that creates the segregation (the branches). As long as you pray you will arrive at the trunk: God (Mr. H. , Personal Communication, June 22, 2010). Despite our differences or even their similarities, religions and their followers all want to arrive at the same place. We all stem from the same tree we just branched off in our own direction.