Accepting Cultural Muslims
Baker College - Online
Accepting Cultural Differences in Muslims
A basic knowledge of Islam is becoming essential for Americans today. Presently there are nearly five million Muslims living in America. These Muslims face persecution by Americans as a result of the country’s present state of affairs. In their own communities Muslims are forced to defend themselves against their enemies. To be a Muslim is not just an individual activity it is a community identity and responsibility. Islam is considered a total way of life for the religious community. For many in America who are raised with the idea of the separation of church and state and the sense that religion is a private affair, Islam can seem confusing, especially since Islam does not have a “church” to preserve and promote its beliefs. There is a great diversity among Muslims as there is among other religious communities in America. Because America is predominantly Judeo-Christian it is sometimes easier for Christians and Jews to practice their faith. American schools do not recognize Muslim holidays. Even such a simple task as attending Friday congregational prayer and taking a break to perform the salat during working hours are often difficult. Muslim culture has become prominent in countries other than Islam. Countries that have a large Muslim following include Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.
Since the tragedy of 9-11 a portion of American citizens are under the beliefs that all Muslims are terrorists. There are extremists in every religion but it appears that it is the Muslim faith that is categorized as the terrorist religion. Muslim stereotypes are perpetuated in every form of the media accompanied by gross misinformation about Islam and Muslims. Such misinformation often leads to discrimination and other acts of violence against Muslims. Some Americans are increasingly allowing the extremists of the Muslim faith to steer their beliefs of the culture as a whole. These Americans feel that their stereotypes are justified after the events of September, 2001 and more recently the attack on our own ground of protection at Fort Hood.
Historical foundation of Islam
At almost 1,400 years old, Islam’s Muslim religion is one of the world’s younger religious traditions. This monotheistic faith emerged in the Middle East with a distinct face and a solid historical base. Islam began in the early seventh century near the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula in Mecca. This was a land where ancient civilizations thrived and desert gods ruled the arid land. The Arabian Peninsula is mostly desert with sandy dunes, grayish camels, and white stone buildings. These features of landscape, such as stones and springs, could take on a numinous aura and gradually became the focus of a sacred place. By the late sixth century, Mecca had achieved the status of the principal cultic center, attracting large numbers of traders and pilgrims to its regular and cultural festivities.
Muhammad, who was responsible for announcing Islam to the world, was born in Mecca around 570 C.E. to a rather poor family of the clan of Hashim. Muhammad’s father died before he was born and his mother died when he was six years old. According to Arabian custom, the youngster was sent to be reared among the Bedouin. At the age of 40 Muhammad was allegedly visited by an angel who announced that God had chosen him as a messenger to all mankind. After delivering the message to Muhammad the angel Gabriel according to Islam history taught Muhammad how to worship God, pray, and conduct ablutions. Muhammad’s revelations were dictated and collected in the Koran, which Muslims believe to be the perfect words of Allah.
The Muslims have a very interesting and