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Islam is the name given to the religion preached by the
Prophet Mohammed in the A.D. 600's. Mohammed was an Arab
who was born in Mecca about 570. He believed he had been
sent to warn and guide his people and to call them to
worship God (Allah). Mohammed preached that there is only
one God and that he, Mohammed, was God's messenger. Those
who believe in the one God and accept Mohammed as His
messenger are called Moslems. Moslem comes from the Arabic
word Muslim, meaning one who submits (to God). 

After Mohammed died in A.D. 632, his revelations were
compiled to form the holy book of the Moslems, called the
Koran. Parts of the Koran resemble the Bible, the
Apocrypha, and the Talmud. It teaches the absolute unity
and power of God and forbids the representation of human
and animal figures. It forbids lying, stealing, adultery,
and murder and teaches the virtues of faith in God,
patience, kindness, honesty, industry, honor, courage, and
generosity. Islam teaches that life on earth is a period of
testing and preparation for the life to come. A person
should therefore try his best to be good and help others,
and then trust in God's justice and mercy for his reward. 

The devout Muslim practices and lives by his beliefs. He
does this by carrying out what is called acts of worship.
These acts of worship are various religious duties and
obligations that the religion specifies. In Islam there is
what is known as the five pillars of Islam. They are
examples of acts of worship. Every Muslim has to observe
these prescriptions of worship, because by observing them
they show that they are obeying and submitting to the will
of God. The first pillar is the profession of faith. The
Muslims statement of faith which he profession is "There is
no other God but God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God."
The Muslim confesses this everyday. Second, is the pillar
of prayer. Tradition requires the Islamic believer to pray
five times a day. There is a fixed routine to prayer that
cannot change or be rearranged. This order is first the
praise of God, recitation of qur'an and verses, obeisance,
and prostration. The believer must face the direction of
Mecca while they are carrying out their prayer. The third
pillar is fasting. Every Muslim believer is expected to
fast during the holy month of Ramadan. For an entire thirty
days the Muslim is not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, or
have sexual intercourse. This is done during the day, but
at nighttime the fast is broken. Faith is almsgiving. This
is giving to the poor. There are two types of giving;
voluntarily out of love which shows true piety, and the
other type, obligation, which is in the form of taxes. The
final pillar is the pilgrimage. This pilgrimage as every
one knows is to the holy city of Mecca. Every Muslim that
is able to must visit the holy city once in their lifetime.
The pilgrimage lasts for several days and has along with it
many rites, which must be carried out.
 It is the qur'an, sharica, and religious duties that
govern the life of the Muslim. The qur'an is the holy book
of Islam and contains within it the revelations that
Mohammed received from God. It is at the center of the
Muslim religion. The revelations contained with the qur'an
governs and has specifications for every area of the
believers life, especially the religious and the social
life of the believer. The Sharica is the holy law of the
Muslims. The very word means the path or the way. It is
this law that shows the Muslim how he should live. It
governs and regulates the life of the Muslim. The laws
contained within the Sharica are the ideal lifestyle in
which every Muslim strives daily to live. It has the laws,
which regulate the political and social aspects, as well as
religious, criminal, private, civil, public,
constitutional, and international law. The Sharica is God's
law to the Muslim.
 The Muslim reaches salvation by keeping all that is
prescribed within the qur'an and the Sharica. He also must
complete all of the five pillars of faith. Unlike
Christianity and Judaism there is no salvation. There is no
reliance on the death of a savior. Islam requires not only
faith, but also daily practice. There are two things
required for a Muslim to receive salvation. First, the
Muslim must believe in God's message which He told the
prophet Mohammed and secondly, the Muslim has to live daily
and practice daily his beliefs by carrying out the acts of
worship in the five pillars. According to the qur'an, the
Muslim who has done these two things will stand on the
right side and enter paradise, also called the garden of
delights. Here in paradise they will enjoy immortal youth,
pure water, and fresh fruit, and meat. This is a salvation
to the Muslim.

Islam, one of the world's largest religions, has more than
460 million followers. The once great Moslem empires no
longer exist, but Moslems are still united by the faith of
Islam, which forms a common bond of culture among them.


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