Islam for Dummies
Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Some comments I read recently, coupled with stories like this one
made me want to take a quick time out to run over some of the basic tenets of Islam.
I say again, a couple of points, as a matter of record. 1) I'm an atheist. 2) I was raised a Catholic. 3) I don't hate Catholics, Jews or Arabs and don't have an "agenda" to support one particular faith.
Islam teaches respect for others beliefs, and says it is wrong to proselytize i.e. promote their faith looking for converts. In the Qur'an, Allah told Muhammad that "You certainly cannot guide whomever you please; It is Allah who guides whom He will. He best knows those who accept guidance." (28:56). Muslims can explain Islam to followers of other faiths, but it is up to Allah to guide those whom he wishes to.
Islam promotes peace.
Islam forbids suicide. Despite what you might hear (such ridiculous tales of 77 virgins and the rest) the Qur'an clearly states: "Do not kill yourselves as God has been to you very merciful" (4:29). Only Allah is to take a life. Since death must be left up to Allah, physician assisted suicide is not allowed.
Islam promotes living in harmony with other races and religions.
Islam regards Abraham as the father of their religion. They worship the God of Abraham.
Islam says there have been many prophets, such as Moses, and Muslims think Jesus was one of them. (His teachings being co-opted after his followers after he ascended to Heaven.)
Islam believes both Jews and Christians have strayed from or misinterpreted the Word of God, but that basically, they all worship the same God. The God of Abraham and Moses.
Islam believes Muhammad to be THE prophet, in much the same way the Jews see Moses as being THE prophet, as well as the last prophet.
As such, the shahada (testimony) states the central belief of Islam: "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his Prophet." So they are similar to Jews in promoting the Oneness of God, as opposed to Christian trinitarianism.
The shahada is one of 5 main pillars of faith in Islam. The others are Daily Prayer, Giving alms to the poor, Fasting, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life.
Islam also shares the Judaeo-Christian concepts of guardian angels, the Day of Judgment, general resurrection, heaven and hell, and an eternal life for the soul.
Islam believes Jesus did not die on the cross but was taken up bodily into Paradise.
Islame believes in the existence of Satan who drives people to sin.
Islam believes that Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of sinlessness.
Islam also teaches that all people are considered children of Adam. Islam officially rejects racism.
Islam also teaches that Alcohol, other drugs, eating of pork, Gambling etc. should be avoided.
Ramadan is the holiest period in the Islamic year; it is held during the entire 9th lunar month of the year. This was the month in which the Qura'n was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a time at which almost all Muslims over the age of 12 are expected to fast from dawn till dusk.
Jihad is one of the most misunderstood words in the West. It is not a religious or holy war. It refers rather, to the internal struggle the devout must face in order to achieve their goals.
There's plenty more I could add, but I think that's enough to give a taste of it.
If you would like to know more, and do not think you could read the Qu'ran for religious reasons, I would highly recommend the book "The History of God" which covers the rise and spread of Judaeism, Christianity and Islam from an historical neutral point of view. (An impressive achievement given that the author used to be a nun.)
If you would like your faith not to be represented on the world stage by those whom you consider false practitioners, then I think it behoves you to ensure you do not fall into the same trap, regarding other faiths and creeds.