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What is Islam?

I have made a few muslim friends since being in the U.S.. One, who lives in Denver, grew up Christian, in our neighborhood, and decided to convert to Islam.  This made me very interested and one day, I decided to pry.  I realized, I really knew nothing about Islam. I’ve grew up Christian, I’ve studied Judaism and Paganism, know a little bit about Buddhism, but didn’t know anything about Islam except that they call God “Allah”.

What is Islam?  I decided I wanted to know more.

I asked my friend Taghreed, who is originally from Syria, to take me to Mosque one day. We decided that I would go on the first day of Ramadan.  It was such a cultural and interesting experience! With understanding comes acceptance.

I did dress very modestly when I went to the mosque. I didn’t have a scarf to wrap around my head, but Taghreed had a few to lend me. Looking back, I should have had a head band underneath so my hair didn’t show as much, however for the most part I think I look pretty good!

Hilary-to-mosque

When I got to the mosque I was quite nervous, however everyone there was extremely nice. I went to the office and learned a bit about Islam.

What Is Islam?

Islam is a type of religion, like Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism.  The term Islam means “peace through the total submission to the will of Allah.

What Is Muslim?

Muslim is anybody who chooses Islam as his or her religion.  It means “one who achieves peace and serenity by submitting to the will of his Lord and Creator.

Allah

Allah is what Muslims refer to as God. It is an interesting term because it has no gender or plural form. So you can’t convert it into gods or goddess.  Allah, therefore, has no gender and is the one creator of all things. You can read more about the concept of Allah here.

The Qu’ran

The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him*, received the last and final message from Allah.  He passed down this message for many of years, memorized by others, until it was finally written down.  The interesting thing about the Qu’ran (or Koran) is that it has not been translated.  It was written in Arabic and Muslims memorize the Arabic passages. At the mosque, the passages of the Qu’ran are spoken in Arabic. (*The “may peace be upon him” is what Muslims write after they use any prophet’s name. I’m doing it out of respect.)

Koran

The Qu’ran itself is very beautiful. When the passages are recited at mosque, it is almost like singing. It is very peaceful and beautiful when heard and it was my favorite part about Mosque.

I did happen to receive a translated version of the Qu’ran in English, along with some brochures.  You can find a lot of information on WhyIslam.org. They believe the Qu’ran is the last and final chapter after the old and new testament. In their opinion, the Qu’ran is the literal word of God. Find out more in this video below.

Do Muslims Believe in Jesus Christ?

Yes, Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet.  They do not believe Jesus is the son of God.  They feel this is splitting God into more than one, and that God cannot and wouldn’t appear in human form.

They do believe that Jesus was born from the virgin Mary. It just doesn’t make him the Son of God.

Prayer In Islam

The Qu’ran says that Muslims should pray 5 times a day.  They should always pray towards Mecca, which is a city in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was called to go to Mecca and build the first temple. At that time it was completely desert. This is why Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca.

Women In Islam

When we went to the mosque, we went into a separate entrance than the men. We took off our shoes, and headed up stairs. The inside of the mosque was a beautiful, musky white. We turned the corner and there where women sitting on the floor against the back wall, wearing beautiful muslim outfits (no idea what they are called).

We entered into the mosque and kneeled on the floor. We were sectioned off from the men, who were in front and in a much larger space.

Surprisingly, there were many more men then women. Apparently men are required to go to mosque while women are not. No wonder we get a small space in the back!

It was a very beautiful service. I enjoyed it even though half the words were in Arabic.

Dress In Islam

Men and women are told to dress modestly in the Qu’ran.  Women specifically are told to cover their hair when in the presence of men outside of their immediate family and husband. Muslim men aren’t permitted to wear silk or gold.

Taghreed told me the reason this is, is because before you are married, you want a man to fall in love with you the way you are, not with what you look like. She does not believe in “love at first sight” and considers this not a good thing. How can they love you at first sight if they don’t know you!

Tolerance In Islam

One thing that really stood out to me is the tolerance of Islam. They are not told to go out and convert people to Islam. If they disagree with somebody’s life style, they still take them in. For to banish them, they will just go more towards their evil ways instead of possibly changing.

All of the Muslims I have met have been very nice, caring, and kind. I am glad I had the chance to take a closer glimpse into Islam and find out what a few of my friends believe in.

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