Tag Archives: Jesus

Islam: living through the teachings of the one and only Allah

boston-magazine-marathon-coverIn the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings Islam is all over the news. Many question the religion as a while while the terrorist acts that are often linked to the religion are carried out by Islam extremists.

The word Islam is translated to “submission to the will of God.” Islam is the second largest world religions with one billion followers following Christianity. Muslims believe that there is only one God and that the one God is called Allah. Muslims teach that God sent prophets to humans to shows us how to live in accordance with his teachings. These prophets include Jesus, Moses, Abraham and the final prophet, Muhammad. The sacred text of the Muslims is the Qur’an.

The five Pillars of Islam are central to the Islamic faith. These Pillars of Faith are:

  • Shahadah: declaration of the faith
  • Salat: praying fives times per day
  • Zakat: paying alms/ giving money to charity to benefit the needy and poor
  • Sawm: fasting during Ramadan (Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during this month Muslims must give up food, drink, smoking, and sexual activity during the daylight hours)
  • Hajj: a pilgrimage to Mecca

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Islam has six main beliefs:

  • belief that there is one God named AllahIndian-Muslims-praying-ed
  • belief in angels
  • belief in the holy books
  • belief in the prophets (Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad)
  • belief in a Day of Judgement
  • belief in predestination (Allah has knowledge of everything, but that humans have free choice)

Allah is omniscient and omnipotent. Allah cannot be seen or heard, he is just. Muslims connect with Allah through prayer and reciting the Qur’an. The Qur’an is meant to be sung.

One Islamic term that gets thrown around in the media whenever Islam is discussed is Jihad which means holy war. The term Jihad is used in three different references:

  1. a Muslim’s inner struggle to live a proper Islamic
  2. the struggle to build a good society
  3. a “Holy War,” the struggle to defend Islam

crescent-200Islam has guidelines when it comes to war. War is only allowed in self defense, when other nations attack Islam, and if another state oppresses Muslims.

Another characteristic of the Islam faith is hijab which is the covering that is worn by women to cover everything but the hands and face.

Muslim worship takes place in a place called a mosque. Outside of the mosque Muslims must take off their shoes and carry out a ritual washing before prayer. Inside, everyone sits on the floor to create equality among everyone. One wall in the mosque called the mihrab shows the direction of Mecca which all worshipers must face while they pray. Women and men must sit separately to prevent distraction, but most women stay home to pray.

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Muslims take firm stances on many ethical issues:

  • against abortion unless it harms the mother’s life
  • capital punishment is exercised, but forgiveness is preferred
  • against euthanasia
  • no central belief in stem cells (Islam does not have a central authority)
  • all living creatures were made by Allah and should be respected
  • no sexual acts are permitted outside of marriage and contraception is allowed between husband and life
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Atheism: God is a man-made construct to guide human morality

Ricky Gervais, well-known atheist, comedian, actor, producer and director, wrote an interesting article in 2010 for The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog about what it means to be atheist.

EXTRAS: Ricky Gervais. photo: Ray Burmiston

In his article “A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m An Atheist,” Gervais discusses how Jesus was a bigger hero to him more than any pop star or foot ball player. Gervais depicts his poverty-stricken upbringing saying: “You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So being them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.” Gervais concludes his article by discussing the idea of “goodness.” He says “I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When I became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.” You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.”

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Atheists like Ricky Gervais believe God is man-made, a myth, a legend, or that it a God’s existence doesn’t matter. Atheists cite many reasons for their non-belief. According to the BBC the following are some of those reasons:Morality-and-Religion-atheism-27554447-720-540

  • they find insufficient evidence to support religion
  • they think religion is nonsensical
  • they lost faith in their religion
  • they live in a non-religious culture
  • religion isn’t interesting to them
  • religion isn’t relevant to their lives
  • religion seems to have done harm in the world
  • the world is a bad place so there can’t possibly be a God

While Atheists don’t believe in God, some believe in other spiritual movements like Buddhism and Taoism. Atheists find the answers to the university through humanity. Atheists generally believe that a faith in God are unnecessary. They argue that science explains everything that exists in the Universe.

One noted atheist Ludwig Feuebach argued in 1841 that God was a human invention that we created to help us deal with aspirations and fears. He believed that humans began to feel inferior to a perfect God which alienated them from their true selves.

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Many of the usual ceremonies are religiously laced, but atheists and spiritualist movements without Gods have made the move to God-less ceremonies. Many of these people have humanist wedding ceremonies which allow more personalization because there are no religious words shared. Many of these ceremonies include music, introduction to the importance of marriage and partnership, readings of commitment between the bride and groom, an exchange of rings, candle-lighting and sometimes a hand-fasting ritual. A humanist funeral celebrates the person’s life and their contributions to the world. The funeral is likely to conclude: music, poetry readings, a eulogy, moments of silence and reflection and a formal goodbye.

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