Islam is the second largest religion of the world, very close behind Christianity. With a global population of 1.5 billion, Muslims are living in almost every country. They speak many languages, and come from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, it would be naive to believe that they all think alike. Like any other people of the world, Muslims range between fundamentalist and ultraconservative to progressive and reformist in their religious and socio-cultural outlook. People in the West are surprised to ...
Islam is the second largest religion of the world, very close behind Christianity. With a global population of 1.5 billion, Muslims are living in almost every country. They speak many languages, and come from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, it would be naive to believe that they all think alike. Like any other people of the world, Muslims range between fundamentalist and ultraconservative to progressive and reformist in their religious and socio-cultural outlook. People in the West are surprised to learn that, like Jews and Christians, Muslims are monotheists and trace their lineage to Abraham through his son Ishmael. They believe in the same One God that Christians and Jews believe in. They also believe in all of the Biblical prophets and scriptures, albeit, in their original forms and languages. Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace and loving submission to the Will of God Almighty, teaching Muslims to live with their fellow humans in peace and tranquility. However, there is a great deal of diversity within Islam. Not all Muslims think and act alike. It is incorrect to believe that all Muslims hate Western people for their beliefs and who they are. Muslims are not anti-West. Many of the teachings of Islam are compatible with modern concepts and ideas that are commonly identified with the Western culture. For example: love of God and the neighbor, respect for life and liberty, human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, democracy, social justice, and environmental stewardship are all found in teachings of Islam. Islam teaches tolerance and understanding towards people of other religions, especially towards Jews and Christians, the fellow "people of the book." A study of history shows that Muslims, Jews, and Christians have lived and worked together, and Muslims have saved the lives of many Christians and Jews. In the 15th century Spain, Reconquesta forces told Jews that they had to convert to Christianity and undergo baptism, or be forcibly expelled from the country. Thousands of Jews refused to convert, and were expelled. Many were tortured and killed by execution or were publicly burned at the stake. Muslims, on the other hand, came to rescue many Jews. The Muslim ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Bayazed II, dispatched his navy to evacuate the Jews of Spain and settle them in Turkish towns. Similarly, thousands of Christians were saved in Syria by forces of Sufi Shaikh Amir Abdel Kader (from whom the town of Elkader, Iowa was later named). Muslims also saved many Jews in North Africa and allied soldiers from Nazi forces in Europe during World War II, in many cases at the risk of their own lives. Muslims have contributed very significantly to the advancement of human civilization. Many modern day scientific and technological inventions are based on the ideas of the Muslim science and technology of the Middle Ages. There are 6 to 8 million Muslims in America, and they are productive and loyal American citizens. Many are contributing to the American dream as doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, athletes, social scientists, business people and in other professions. many serve in the Armed forces of the United States. However, the American public has remained largely uneducated about the faith of Islam and its followers. Many people who wish to learn about Islam rely on stereotypes projected by the media, which focus on dramatic events such as terrorism, oppression, and extremism. Negative, misleading stereotypes of Islam have created a deep misunderstanding of this religion in people's minds in the Western world. This book is an attempt to educate the American public about Islam and its 1.5 billion followers, to strengthen the connection between the three Abrahamic faiths. An attempts has also been made to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, with the hope of dispelling ignorance and cultivating a better understanding of Islam and of Muslims in the West.
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