What Do You Know About Islam?

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Waterfall

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I consider myself a Christian, but there are many times that I have encountered some false assumptions about Christianity. Not only that, there are some representatives of the Christian faith that put Christianity in a bad light that often give a false impression as to what Jesus actually taught. We are constantly battling an image that is often created about our faith through many sources including media, atheism, sensationalistic preachers, etc.... How often have we said, "but that's not REALLY Christianity"?

It occurs to me that many Christians, including myself, may not know too much about the Islamic faith. Perhaps we could learn a little bit more about another faith together?

Maybe we could start by setting right any misconceptions about Islam in order to educate ourselves? I realize that we are mostly NOT muslims on this site, and even though I wish that wasn't so, I only ask that we keep this post informative rather than political. If we do have any muslim members, I/we would be greatly appreciative for your participation.

What do you know about Islam that has surprised you? Have you ever assumed something about Islam that you found out later wasn't true?
 

Waterfall

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First off did you know that all Muslims are not Arabs?
Arabs make up only 15% of the worlds Muslim population.
East Asia comes in first with 69%.
Africa is 27%.
 

Waterfall

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Do Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus?

Yes, they do. They believe He is the son of Mary and was conceived without the intervention of a human father. There is no mention of Joseph in the Quran, nor the inn or the manger scene. The Quran reminds Muslims that Adam also had no human mother or human father, this is why Jesus has no higher standing, He was created from dust the same as the first Adam. Jesus is regarded as a prophet of God and not part of God Himself.

Read Chapter 19 of the Quran, also referred to as the chapter of Mary.

http://www.aaiil.org/text/hq/trans/ch19.shtml
 

Mendalla

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I took a full credit course on the religion in university including a paper on the influence of Neo-Platonism on Islamic philosophy. That said, even that just scratches the service. It's as rich and diverse as Christianity in my experience.

I knew Arabs had shrunk as a percentage of Muslims but didn't know it was that low. The Muslim family I know are, I guess, more typical than I thought. The mother grew up Muslim (she's ethnically South Asian but her family has lived all over the world) and the father is a Dutch convert. They are Ismailis, a Shiite sect led by the famed Aga Khan (actually, the Aga Khan leads a subsect called the Nizaris but this subsect has tended to be the one we refer to as "Ismaili" in common use). In Western terms, they are fairly liberal. No head coverings for the women, even in the Ismaili Centre where I attended a funeral service (the mother's mother) and the mother is an educated feminist. They do observe Ramadan, the pillars of Islam, and men and women do sit apart during services.

The official Ismaili website: http://www.theismaili.org/

Wiki article on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isma'ilism

They have a strong presence in Canada and last year Toronto saw the opening of the Aga Khan Museum, a museum of Islamic history and art built around the Aga Khan's personal collection.
 

Waterfall

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Hopefully, Mandella, you can contribute some more of your insights from your education and experience. The pillars of Islam? Ramadan?
 

Waterfall

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Carolla, would you explain to us who the Aga Khan is? I see the site you provided explains Ramadan. Interesting, the rules for entering their place of worship, and to think we as Christians just walk in and plunk ourselves down and come as we are, LOL!
 

Jae

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While I was in university doing my BRE I took a course in World Religions - which included a lecture on the basics of the Islamic faith.
 

Waterfall

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While I was in university doing my BRE I took a course in World Religions - which included a lecture on the basics of the Islamic faith.
Was there something you learned that is worth sharing?
 

Carolla

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Carolla, would you explain to us who the Aga Khan is? I see the site you provided explains Ramadan. Interesting, the rules for entering their place of worship, and to think we as Christians just walk in and plunk ourselves down and come as we are, LOL!
As far as I know Waterfall - he is the spiritual leader of the Nazari sect of the Shia branch of the Islamic faith - believed to be directly descended from the prophet Mohammed. He's also extraordinarily wealthy & was therefore able to build the museum in Toronto. I think Mendalla posted a wikipedia link in his post above for much more detailed information.
 

Carolla

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Did you know the famous Whirling Dervishes are from the Sufi Islamic branch? As was Rumi, the poet whose quotes we often see in public places like facebook.
 

Mendalla

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Hopefully, Mandella, you can contribute some more of your insights from your education and experience. The pillars of Islam? Ramadan?
The pillars (from memory, so I may mess this up):

Giving alms
Praying daily (conventionally five times)
Making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once
Fasting during Ramadan
Belief in One God with Muhammad as His final prophet.

It is very much a faith and works religion. Given the nature of the pillars it would be hard to see something like unmerited Grace having a place, though I believe (no cites handy) there is a form of Grace in some sects.

I do admire Islam in some regards. It is resolutely monotheist with a fairly simple core (those five pillars). The devil, as always, is in the details. Like Christianity, which also has a fairly simple core, they have spent centuries spinning, riffing, and debating around that core leading to a raft of sects and sub-sects. You would probably need to take a full four year degree to really cover it all properly.

They are, or were in the Middle Ages, a very scholarly religion and we owe them many debts from preserving a lot of classical learning that was lost in the Christian world to early developments in fields like optics and mathematics that still influence us today.
 
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Waterfall

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Mendalla, I realize we can't cover everything, but it would be great if we all learned something. I'm especially interested if anyone knows more about what Islam says about peace and tolerance. We in the west, seem to only hear, "kill the infidels", when I believe at it's core, we may be missing the heart of this religion much the same with Christianity. And let's not forget that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are branches of a common ancestor, Abraham.
 

Waterfall

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They are, or were in the Middle Ages, a very scholarly religion and we owe them many debts from preserving a lot of classical learning that was lost in the Christian world to early developments in fields like optics and mathematics that still influence us today.
Many many discoveries during the "Golden Age", suggesting a tolerance and cooperation?

http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/10/1581.full
 

Mendalla

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Many many discoveries during the "Golden Age", suggesting a tolerance and cooperation?

http://www.fasebj.org/content/20/10/1581.full
Much more so than there was in the Christian world of the same time period. Just look at what happened when the Christians took Spain in 1492. Ejections, force conversions, and the beginnings of the Inquisition.

Things have kind of reversed since the Enlightenment, though there are still strong scholarly traditions in parts of the Islamic world that are in rather stark contrast to the anti-intellectual ravings of ISIS and its ilk. Rather like the contrast in Christianity between a Borg or Wright and the anti-intellectualism of much of fundamentalist Christianity.
 

Carolla

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Mendalla, I realize we can't cover everything, but it would be great if we all learned something. I'm especially interested if anyone knows more about what Islam says about peace and tolerance. We in the west, seem to only hear, "kill the infidels", when I believe at it's core, we may be missing the heart of this religion much the same with Christianity. And let's not forget that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are branches of a common ancestor, Abraham.
Hi Waterfall -- in reply to your question about peace and tolerance - I do like these quotes (from that handout I posted)

Quotation: “Why do you dispute with us about God when God is equally your Lord and our Lord? We believe what has been sent
down to us, and we believe what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God is one, and to the One God we submit.”
Qur’an 2.140, 29.47

Golden Rule: “You are not a believer until you desire for others that which you desire for yourself.” Hadith.

I have heard Muslims, and others, comment that the hatred preached by extremists is not a belief held within the religious tradition, rather it is a misinterpretation. We have that challenge in Christianity too, IMO. Muslim people I have the pleasure to know are very accepting and gracious - and they are definitely not extremists.
 

chansen

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I agree. I have known quite a few Muslims, and I find them to be a lot like non-Muslims. Their challenge, like the challenge of Christians, is what to do with people who take their book at face value and do not filter out some of its more hateful messages. The religion, as a whole, is peaceful. Like Christianity, the texts are a mixed bag, waiting to be interpreted in a violent or hateful way. It's a bloody big problem for both religions, but there are more disillusioned, disenfranchised Muslims who are easy pickings for extremist groups. Give these kids educations and jobs, and their parents back, and half of them probably wouldn't even be practicing their religion in their 20s, never mind being jihadists.
 
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