Analysis Of Islam
Religiological Analysis of the Islam Through the Koran and Hadith Islam may be considered as an exotic religion to many in the western part of the globe. The impression that Westerners have is usually obtained through the media representing Islamic countries or groups in the middle of a Holy War. The wars, called Jihad, are usually waged by Islamic Fundamentalist who use terrorism to get their messages across giving Islam a negative reputation. Because of the lack of understanding of this highly publicized religion, many conflicts arise between the people who live in eastern and western worlds. In turn, this causes problems amongst different cultures through various political and religious battles that result from these misconceptions. In order to prevent future strife, it is important for people all over the world to have a better understanding of other religions. To interpret Islam from a objective point of view it is easier to use Religiological Analysis, a system that that breaks the religion down into specific terms: Epistemology, Ontology, Anthropology, Psychology, Teleology, and Methodology. The Epistemology of Islam is contained in the sacred book called the Koran that was revealed in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad in exact words of God through the Angel Gabriel. The Koran means Recollect, Clarify, Recital, Reading, and Criterion. It contains truths about everything and functions as a recollection of all previously revealed books. When Muhammad was forty years old, he had his first revelation and continued to do so for the next twenty-two years, remembering each revelation and then having them written down by scholars. The whole book consists of chapters that were believed to be put in order by Muhammad himself and are word for word from God. This book is the most widely read and memorized book in the world and because of the number of people memorizing the book it helped it remain unchanged for the past fourteenth centuries. Containing truths about the world and our existence till the end (Judgement Day), it is also a guide for us on a way to live and worship God. Besides the Koran, Sunnah, known as the customs or practices of the Prophet Muhammad are also considered sources of knowledge by Muslims who hold him as an exemplary human and try to emulate his actions and lifestyle. His actions, and sayings were recorded and reported in what is know as the Hadith, a collection of his doings in his whole life. Together, the Koran, Sunnah and Hadith are held to be the primary sources of knowledge for Muslims teaching them how to live their life, worship, and tells them about the truths of existence and Unique Divinity, God. Another source of knowledge can be derived from what pious scholars agree upon to be accurate about Islam and the practices of Muhammad. Also, Reason and Intuition are sources that are not in contradiction to faith according to Muslims, but rather reinforce Islam’s claims on truth. Intuition is said to be knowledge that comes directly from God and comes through meditation, contemplation, prayer, and fasting. However, for Muslims, the most realistic knowledge and important type of truths are of God. Islams Ontology or Ultimate Reality, is Allah (Arabic for One God). This simply states that there is nothing more real and certain than God. God is the Ultimate Truth and Creator of all things, the reason for existence. Another interesting quality of God is that there are an infinite number of qualities and names of Allah. Mentioned to us in the Koran are ninety-nine names of God, and this type of Ontology would be under the study of Theology. The study of the degree of reality, Cosmology, is between what is real, and less real, which are the two levels of reality represented in the Koran. Unseen versus the seen, and the like. The Koran tells us of truths where it may appear to be evident and we could understand, but there are other truths that we are incapable of understanding or knowing of. These would be the reality of the unseen. Eschatology is the study of what is real concerning the end of time and is mentioned in the Koran as the Day of judgement, or the Day of Resurrection where all that is living or dead will rise again to be judged by God. Theology, Cosmology, and Eschatology are three types of Ontological studies of Religiology that are used in order to better understand Islam or the reality of Islam, the levels of reality according to our understanding, and God. Analyzing Islam Anthropologically reveals who we are as Human Beings and our purpose in life, the Islamic Teleology, is to worship Allah. Muslims, are those who surrender to the Will of Allah (Muslim in Arabic means surrenderer). But what makes us unique compared to the rest of Gods creations, is that He has given us Free Will, the ability to do what we choose. We are Gods most favorite creations more so even than angels and jinn, beings that also exist besides humans. Humans can choose to worship God and follow His path, or chose not to. Since we have the ability to make decisions in life we should choose Goodness for we will be judged accordingly. Muslims choose to follow the path of Allah and be righteous and concentrate much of their lives in worship within their daily lifestyles. It is hard to live a life in modern societies where others may not agree with your beliefs and still work to self improve ones self. According to Islamic Teleology, we should live a life that will bring us to Paradise, not Hell, and strive to know God. This does not mean that we are to spend every minute of our life in prayer like some Muslim Sufis might, but to live a good life according to Shariah, Islamic Law, and according to the Koran. The goal is to be able to live life in Modernization and to follow the path to God through worship and good character. Psychologically analyzing Islam involves answering what the state, the faculties and the nature of human consciousness are. The nature of consciousness is usually always changing, never really the same, or at the same state. The different states of consciousness can be explained in four levels, the highest and closest to God is the Self (nafs), at peace and harmony. It is a level of total spirituality where the soul is most pure of human needs and wants. The next level is the Intuitive Self which is the second highest state where it is close to the soul, but not fully pure. It is like a higher sense of awareness that doesnt come from any other senses, but from our soul. The next is the Blaming Self and then the Compelling Self which are both like the good versus bad that are constantly at battle with each other. We usually are within one of these two zones, but are always going between one and the other. This is also where we battle with our actions, wants and desires and where we usually make most of our decisions. A person who is pious and close to God would usually be above these last two states and in a more intuitive state where the person is close to their soul. We use our faculties of consciousness, which are the body and its senses, the Self (nafs), the mind, the heart (qalb), and the Spirit (ruh). The compelling faculties are the body and senses, and they compel us to fulfill our desires. We might crave things that are forbidden according to Islam, or want material things because of our human wants and needs and it is the compelling and blaming self that pull our decisions to one or another. Our mind and intellect is our rational and reason that we use for thought. Our heart is not a mere physical muscle, but an organ of consciousness that lies in the middle between the bodies senses and the spirit, the next faculty of consciousness and the highest. Our heart is pulled down by our desires that are created because of our bodies and senses, and pulled upwards towards our spirit and true Self. This explains the nature of human consciousness, like a struggle between truth and purity of reality to the desires and wants of our compelling self. Each thing we do or each thought usually puts our heart at a different position within the line of battle between the spirit and the body. In order to elevate our positioning of the heart, it is best to want to know God, and strive to be good and moral. For Muslims it would be to follow the Koran as well as looking at the Sunnah and Hadith for reference and use it all as a guide in worshipping Allah. To see how Muslims attain their ultimate goal in life, go to heaven and have knowledge of God, we observe Islam Methodologically. In the Koran it tells Muslims how to achieve this through ritual practices, called the Five Pillars. The five pillars in Islam are Shahada, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj. Along with these five pillars, Muslims are to follow the command of God according to the Koran and follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad as well as to follow the Islamic code of law, the Shariah. The Shariah gives guidelines and creates laws that use reason to create order within society (an Islamic society is called Ummah). It reaches all aspects of life economically, socially, politically, and even legally. Many Islamic countries use the code of Shariah and include it within their own government policies. Muslims methodology starts with the belief (in God), Shahada the basis of Islam and the admittance of Faith. For new converts to Islam, the process of Shahada represents their acceptance of Islam and all of its aspects. Shahada in Arabic is, La ilaha illa Allah, wa Muhammad rasul Allah and means There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messengers. This statement relates Allah, the Prophet Muhammad and the believers of Allah together and is the fundamental belief in Islam. Salat is the ritual prayer done five times a day with patterns and prearranged times. Before the ritual prayer can be done, one must go through a cleansing of certain parts of the body using water if available, sand or something symbolic of the purification. This cleansing involving the hands and arms, feet and ankles, mouth and nostrils. Zakat means purification and is the purification that is done through sharing with others, the needy, the poor, those in heavy debt, or those less fortunate in general. Giving in the name of education health and for strangers or travelers is also considered a type of charity. Through giving to others, ones own wealth and fortune becomes pure. Sawm is Ramadan, the Month of Fasting for all who are able are to participate. It requires discipline in physical desires such as mentioned by the compelling self and also helps gives participants a better understanding of those who are less fortunate because of the self denial and examination that is supposed to occur through this process. One month out of the year, the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar is the month of Ramadhan and people are to abstain from food, drink, and sexual activities. The fasting is done from daybreak to sunset and after these hours regular consumption of food is allowed, but it is good to eat in moderation in remembrance of those who cannot fill their stomachs. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca (Mekkah), Saudi Arabia at least once in a Muslims life. This must be done during the last month of the Muslim calendar where Muslims go for the ritual of the reenactment of the foundation of Islam. The first part of the ritual is a visit to the Kaba a cube shaped structure that represents the existence of Islam, where all Muslims are to pray towards for Salat. This pilgrimage cleanses all previous sins committed in ones life. With a better understanding of what true Islam is, people can see how closely related many of the beliefs are to Christianity and Judaism. Many of the other religions of the world have similar codes of conduct for everyday living, and a common theme is usually acting as a moral and good person. But a major theme for Islam is the belief in the Oneness of Allah, and that there is nothing alike. Another common misconception is that Islam is a religion of revenge and punishment, but in actuality, peace and forgiveness are stressed. God is both the Merciful and the Punisher, but in much of the Koran Allah is mentioned as the Most Merciful. The starting of each prayer is done with Bismallah, In the name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful, not Allah The Punisher. Even though both are true, God is not seen as an angry old man looking down upon humanity but as the Sustainer. Through observing the qualities of Islam, one can see that it is a reasonable and rational religion that benefits the followers as well as non-followers. With the sharing, giving, self examination and discipline as well as the many other qualities of Islam involved with ones self, one can try to purify their self and soul and then later on be rewarded for their good deeds. In a nutshell, Religiological Analysis of Islam shows that it is a simple religion whose followers believe in the Oneness and True Reality of Allah (God), follow the sacred book of the Koran and try to follow the Prophet Muhammads exemplary life. Existence is possible and sustained through His Will. A peaceful religion that encourages justice and rational in life such as in the modern world, and to bring people to a path of Purity.