Major World Religions Islam and Muslim Belief Part 2

About the major world religion Islam, some of the history, varieties, beliefs and meanings behind the Muslim religious tradition.


To be a Muslim in good standing, one must obey "the Five Pillars of Islam": 1. Repeat the confession of faith every day. 2. Pray 5 times a day--at dawn, noon, in the middle of the afternoon, at dusk, and after dark. The faithful must pray facing the Sacred Mosque at Mecca. Bowing the head to the ground acknowledges the greatness of Allah. 3. Give alms. The believer is obliged to contribute a prescribed amount, traditionally a 40th part of his income. 4. Fast. This is compulsory all through the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Muslim calendar, which commemorates the 1st revelation of the Koran. (Abstinence from sex is part of the fast.) 5. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if health and finances permit. While there, the believer must walk around the Sacred Mosque 7 times and kiss the Kaaba Stone.

Of the 530 million people who are presently believers in Islam, only one out of 4 is Arabic.

A completely American offshoot of Islam is the black nationalist movement known as the Black Muslims which was founded in Detroit in 1930 by Wali Farad, who was known to his followers as "the Savior" or "the Great Mahdi." An anti-integrationist movement, the Black Muslims identify themselves with an ancient lost tribe of Muslims, the Shabazz. Members take Mohammedan names in place of Western ones and are required to give up vices such as overeating, drinking, using narcotics, and fornication, which their leaders say were foisted on blacks by their white masters. Women are taught homemaking and are expected to obey their husbands.

After Farad disappeared in 1934, he was succeeded by his disciple Elijah Muhammad. With the help of an outstanding preacher named Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965 (See: Assassinations, Chap. 9), membership swelled to 100,000.

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