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The Law and Islam – Part 3

Note:  Here’s still more on Islam, this time emphasizing its belief system.

In Islam, all worship must be directed to God alone.   The Koran emphasizes
that Mohammed was a human being, not someone to be worshiped as a deity.
Though seen as a mortal, believers view Mohammad as the living expression
of God’s will, one whose life exemplified what it is to be a true follower.
Whenever his name is said, an observant Muslim will add “may the peace of
God be upon him.”

Upon his death, Mohammed was buried in Medina.  A beautiful mosque was built
around his grave; the area is the second most important pilgrimage site in
Islam, after Mecca.

The Koran

Although Mohammad’s message met with much initial resistance, more and more
people joined him.  One major reason was the beauty of the Koran itself.
Well-crafted poetry and powerful written word have long held a place of
honor in that part of the world.  The Koran’s sophisticated structure and
rhyme scheme made it a masterpiece.  Believers insist this could not be the
work of an illiterate man. For many Muslims, it would be as if  the words of
Shakespeare emerged from the mouth of an untutored man.

For believers, the Koran is not mere poetry; it is a revelation from God.
As one commentator explains, “Most Muslims believe that God’s words were
being spoken through Mohammed  and that Mohammed was merely a vessel  for
those words. They believe that the Koran is the only spiritual book to have
never been edited form its original words.”

The last sentence points to an interesting dilemma with translation.
Christians often produce translations of the Bible in the vernacular for as
many people as possible.  For Muslims, it is preferable for followers to
learn Arabic and appreciate the Koran in its original language.  In short,
God’s words were in Arabic and thus can only be fully experienced in that
language.  Because of this, even non-Arabic speakers learn to pray in
Arabic.

The  Koran consists of 114 chapters, just about the size of the New
Testament.   The various verses are arranged in decreasing length — the
longest chapter has 6100 words; the shortest has 10.  The Koran contains
many different literary styles and topics – narratives, laws on food ,
commerce, and conducting a family life, the history of time from Adam to
Abraham to Mohammed, as well as beautiful poetic imagery.

Throughout, there is a common theme – the Oneness of God.

Muslims are profoundly monotheistic.  Through this ‘oneness,’  everyone is
related – not through old tribal loyalty but rather through submission to
the one God and his will.  God’s  domain extends to all areas — life cannot
be divided into the sacred versus the secular.  Neither can one day be
uniquely set aside as the Sabbath.  instead, God should be present
throughout  every aspect of life, family, economics,  and  politics.

The  Life of a Believer

Should the state enforce any particular view of Islam?   Muslims differ
strongly on this.

The life of an observant Muslim centers on God;  conversations may well
begin “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful…”

In Islam, God must NOT be represented by human figures – even the prophets
should not be so represented .  A believer’s attention should be on the
infinite God, not upon representations or images.   As a result, the highest
form of Islamic art is calligraphy – the beautification of the word,
particularly passages from the Koran.

The greatest sin is making anything equal  to God.   It is considered the
single unforgivable sin.  The Koran emphasizes God’s mercy, saying that God
can forgive any truly repentant sinner – except for putting something on par
with God.

In Islam, there is a strong emphasis on Judgment Day:  Each person will
stand before God to answer for his/her life.   Muslims believe in bodily
resurrection,  and  the Koran contains vivid descriptions of heaven and
hell.

NEXT TIME, MORE ISLAMIC TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS.


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