What is the Islam religion based on

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Islam, the youngest of the three monotheistic religions, is based on the Koran. The founder of religion is Mohammed, for Muslims the highest prophet. Today around 1.5 billion people profess Islam around the world.

The term Islam literally means “turning” and “submission”. What is meant is devotion to God ("Allah"), whose unity and uniqueness is the central belief in Islam. The participle Muslim, "the surrender", denotes the followers of Islam.

Allah's revelation in the Quran

After Judaism and Christianity, Muslims see Islam as the third and final revelation, which, however, is in many ways linked to the other two major monotheistic religions. Many biblical stories and prophets are also recognized in Islam. The most important prophet in Islam is Mohammed (570 to 632 AD). He is considered the "seal of the prophets" who received the final and perfect revelation from God.

This revelation is written in the Koran, the holy book of Muslims. Another set of rules in addition to the Koran are reports ("Hadith") about the behavior of the Prophet. The life of Muslims is regulated by religious law (“Sharia”), which is based on the Koran and Hadith. The Muslim community (“Umma”) is very heterogeneous and knows many different currents.

According to Islamic belief, all people are equal before God, hierarchical structures such as the church or spiritual mediators between believers and God do not exist in Islam. Islamic religious scholars are also not considered closer to God or even infallible.

Who is muslim

Islam has no rituals of acceptance into the religious community. According to Islamic belief, every person is basically born as a Muslim, so Islam is a "natural religion". Belonging to Islam is confirmed in the course of life by following the religious rules and speaking the creed ("Shahada").

In practice, however, the principle of descent has prevailed. This means that anyone who has a Muslim father is considered a Muslim. A conversion to Islam is also possible and only requires the voluntary and convinced recitation of the Shahada in front of two Muslim witnesses. Turning away from Islam, the aposty (Ridda), is forbidden from the perspective of Islamic law.

However, other monotheistic religions, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, are recognized in Islam and have enjoyed a special status under Islamic law since the beginning of Islam, which guarantees members the freedom to practice their religion.

Rapid spread of Islam

Islam is a religion and culture of cities and developed primarily in an urban environment. Islam spread across the Arabian Peninsula as early as Muhammad's lifetime. Even after his death in AD 632, Islam spread relatively quickly: from the Arabian Peninsula across the Middle East and Central Asia to Southeast Asia, where Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population today. In the west, Islam was able to spread across the Maghreb into the sub-Saharan region.

Partly controversial directions

The Muslim community (ummah) thus comprises very different ethnic and linguistic groups. The two largest religious communities in Islam are Sunnis and Shiites, who in turn split into different groups. Some faith groups have developed such individual traditions over time that their recognition as Muslim is controversial, for example the Druze in Lebanon and Israel, the Ahmadijja in India and Pakistan, and the Alevis in Turkey.

Great differences in the practice of belief

The religious practice of Muslims differs depending on which group or school of law they belong to. Regional traditions have also shaped the religious practice of Muslims in different ways. Nevertheless, there are basic religious obligations that are binding on all Muslims, regardless of their creed. In addition to the “five pillars of Islam”, this includes, for example, the ban on eating pork and drinking alcohol.

The five pillars of Islam

  • Shahada - the creed
  • Salat - the five times daily prayer
  • Zakat - the compulsory tax for the poor
  • Hem - fasting in Ramadan
  • Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca

Celebrations in the Islamic calendar

There are some religious festivals in the Islamic annual cycle. Particularly important are the Id al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) during the Hajj period and the Id al-Fitr (festival of breaking the fast) at the end of Ramadan. For the Shiites, Ashura also has a special meaning as a funeral festival for the third Imam Al-Hussein. These festivals move through the year because the Islamic calendar is based on lunar months and does not have leap years. Celebrations and rites on private occasions such as engagements, weddings, births and deaths are also strongly influenced by religion.

Today's spread of Islam

Islam arose hand in hand with a state system, so that religious and secular leadership were initially one. Such an Islamic state has not existed since the 9th century, but there are still countries in which religious law is the basis of state legislation and the exercise of religious duties is anchored in law.

Today around one and a half billion people worldwide belong to Islam. This makes Islam the second largest religion in the world after Christianity. Islam is the majority religion in around 50 countries around the world. The countries with the highest Muslim populations are currently Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, as well as Turkey, Iran, Algeria and Morocco.

There are also countries with a Muslim majority in Europe, including Turkey, Albania, Kosovo and parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Northern and Central Europe, the Muslim communities have grown primarily through immigration of political refugees and labor migration. Around half a million Muslims live in Austria today, most of them from Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Officially recognized in Austria since 1912

In Austria, Islam has been an officially recognized religious community since 1912. Hardly represented in the heartland of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, around 600,000 Muslims lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1912, the Islamic Law guaranteed them religious self-determination. After the First World War and the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, very few Muslims lived in Austria. It was not until the 1970s that Muslims first came to the country as migrants. When Statistics Austria last recorded religious affiliation in 2001, almost 340,000 people in Austria committed themselves to Islam - more information in the article “Islam in Austria”.

Book Notes:

  • Peter Heine: Islam as an introduction. Junius Verlag, 176 pages.
    inz Halm: Islam - past and present. C.H. Beck, 112 pages.
  • Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, 101 questions - Islam. C.H. Beck, 149 pages.

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