An Introduction to Islam Essay

2553 Words Nov 2nd, 2012 11 Pages
AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM
To observant Muslims, ritual prayer is as natural as sleeping or eating. Islam is not just one component of its believers' lives, a set of beliefs remembered on special occasions. Rather, for the devout, it is a way of life. Its tenets and rules permeate almost everything, often including politics and government.
In a world swayed by misunderstanding of cultural differences, Islam and its adherents often are stereotyped and caricatured, branded with the violent or sexist image of a small minority of zealots. In reality, Islam is no better characterized by acts of Middle Eastern terrorists, for example, than is Christianity by acts of Northern Ireland's terrorists.
Islam is an ancient religion with profound
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South Asia has the largest Muslim population, with 275 million believers. Africa is second largest, with 200 million. And, according to the American Muslim Council, China has about as many Muslims as better-known Islamic strongholds such as Iran, Egypt or Turkey. According to The Muslim Almanac, an estimated 2 percent of Americans, or about 7 million people, are Muslims.
It is difficult to determine the exact number of Muslims anywhere because they do not belong to congregations and because mosques are open to all and do not maintain membership rolls.
PEACE AND SUBMISSION
Islam is an Arabic word derived from the same Semitic three-letter root -- s-l-m -- as the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, often used as a greeting. The meaning of "Islam" encompasses the concepts of peace, greeting and submission. Thus, a Muslim -- the word is derived from the same root -- is one who submits to God, a stance enunciated in the traditional profession of faith: "There is no deity but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."
"Allah" is simply Arabic for "God," the same supreme, supernatural figure worshipped by Christians and Jews. Unlike most other religions, however, Islam has no baptism or other initiation ceremony.
Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has undergone splits into separate denominations. The biggest occurred shortly after Muhammad died when his followers disagreed about who should

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