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Islam - Essay Example

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The True Face of Islam Your name Institution The True Face of Islam Introduction Being one of the most influential monotheistic religions nowadays, along with Christianity and Judaism, Islam has originated in the Abrahamic spiritual tradition (Peters, 2004)…
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Download file to see previous pages Thus, although there is no sign at all that Mohammed and his followers were blood descendants of Abraham, Islam is clearly associated with the biblical times, characters and traditions; even if the Bible has not had that profound effect on Islam as upon Christianity (Peters, 2004). Having developed from events that took place some 1400 years ago in the Arabian Peninsula, Islam is currently a world faith with over one billion followers worldwide (Gordon, 2003). On the other hand, although the Islamic religious doctrine, practices, and institutions have been the subject of numerous, if not countless, writings and discussions (Gordon, 2003), Islam remains the most misinterpreted, hence misunderstood religion, especially in the light of recent events such as the 9/11 attacks and the consequent ‘war on terror’. Therefore, this paper attempts to get an insight into the Islamic religion, highlighting some of the most contentious points of the doctrine. Historical Background In order to understand the essence of Islam as fully as possible, one would need to take into consideration first and foremost its historical context in which this religious cult has originated and matured; by the way, this is equally valid as far as any other religious tradition is concerned. Mohammed was born in Mecca about 570 AD, in the Hashim clan of the Quraish tribe which possessed a distinguished status in the town (Schimmel, 1992, p. 11). By that time, the wealth and ancient glory of the Arabian Peninsula, most notably the powerful trading kingdom of Saba (“The Kingdoms of Ancient South Arabia,” n.d.), was already too far gone (Schimmel, 1992). The religious life of the Arab tribes, particularly in Central Arabia, was still dominated by a rather primitive religion, whose rituals were performed in numerous tribal sanctuaries, including the shrine in Kaaba which appeared the center of the pagan cult; additionally, there were certain Jewish and Christian influences (Schimmel, 1992, p. 7). Arabia was situated in the sphere of influence of its trade partners by then – Persia and Constantinople (Schimmel, 1992). There were also a number of Jewish settlements not far from Medina, and even – according to some authors – the kings of Saba had reportedly converted to Judaism; the latter inter alia indicates a quest of a higher faith (Schimmel, 1992). Somewhere in his forties, Mohammed was overcome by visions and voices, realizing that he was entrusted with a divine mandate – to proclaim, like some Hebrew prophets of earlier times, most notably Amos, the forthcoming Day of Judgment when the human beings will face the one omnipotent God, their Lord, to answer for their actions (Schimmel, 1992, p. 12). The obvious parallel between Mohammed – the last prophet – and the first Hebrew prophet of judgment, Amos, is not only in theological terms, but also in terms of historical necessity. Thus, having seen the decline in Arabia’s power and wealth, likely brought about by the Arab tribes’ disunity and internal feuds, Mohammed found the ultimate means of unification – the belief in one omnipotent God – and saw himself at first as a God’s messenger to the Arabs, a prophet being sent to warn them (Schimmel, 1992, p. 15); later on, however, he put his visions into practice, embarking on a decisive move towards uniting the ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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