Q and A on Islam

Q&A on Islam and Arab-Americans

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/islam.htm

Q: What is Islam?

A: Muslims believe in one God and in the Day of Judgment and individual

accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets

beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob

Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus. God's message was 


and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad. Islam is a religion of peace, 


and forgiveness. Muslims pray in a mosque in the same way that 


pray in a church.

Q: What is the Koran?

A: The Koran, or Quran, is the Muslim holy book, like the Bible is to

Christianity. It is the record of the exact words revealed by God to 


Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his


Q: What does 'Islam' mean?

A: The Arabic word "Islam" means "submission," and it derives from a 


meaning "peace." In a religious context it means complete submission to

the will of God. "Allah" is the Arabic name for God, which is used by 


Muslims and Christians alike.

Q: What are the 'Five Pillars' of Islam?

These are the framework for Muslim life:

1. The declaration of faith: "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad 


the messenger of God."

2. Prayer: Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic

prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Islam has no

hierarchical authority or priesthood.

3. Zakat: One of the most important principles of Islam is that all 


belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, 


charitable giving, "purifies" wealth by setting aside a portion for 


in need.

4. Fasting: Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims 


from sunrise to sunset. The fast is another method of 


5. Pilgrimage: A pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, or Hajj as it is is

called in Arabic, is an obligation for those who are physically and

financially able to make the journey.

Q: Who are the Muslims?

A: People who follow the Islamic faith come from all over the world. No

more than 20% of Muslims live in the Arabic-speaking world. The country

with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.

Q: What about the American Muslim community?

A: An estimated 7 million Muslims live in the USA. They are made up of

people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins.

Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States and

around the world.

Q: What is the role of women in Islam?

A: Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property,

receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and

women are to be respected equally. The Islamic rules for modest dress

apply to women and men equally.

Q: Why do Muslim women cover their hair?

A: Islam teaches modesty for women and men. Women are required to cover

their bodies so that their figure is not revealed and only their faces 


hands are shown. The head scarf is called a hijab or chador. The long,

robelike garment is called an abayah, jilbab or chador. This 


is designed to protect women and give them respect. The dress of Muslim

women is similar to that of Christian nuns, who also cover their bodies

and hair. Muslim women are not required to cover their faces as is done 


some Middle Eastern countries.

Q: Some Arab men wear a checked garment on their heads. What is that?

A: It is called a kafiyyeh, and it is traditional, not religious. 


the kafiyyeh is similar to an African-American wearing traditional 


attire or an Indian wearing a sari. The kafiyyeh shows identity and 


in one's culture.

Q: What is Jihad?

A: Jihad does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad in Arabic means to

strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic

concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within 


struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the

battlefield for self-defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression.

Q: What does Islam say about Christianity?

A: Islam teaches that Christians and Muslims are both "people of the

book." By that it means that the two religions share the same basic

beliefs articulated through the Bible and the Koran. The main 


between Christians and Muslims is that Muslims do not believe that 


was the son of God. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet who was

granted special powers by God to show people the power of God.

Q: What does Islam say about Judaism?

A: Islam teaches that Jews and Muslims are both "people of the book." 


that it means that the two religions share the same basic beliefs

articulated through the Torah and the Koran. The main difference 


Jews and Muslims is that Jews do not believe in the prophets after the

Jewish prophets including Mohammad and his teachings. Muslims, on the

other hand, believe in all the prophets including Moses, Ibraham, 


Ishmael, Issac and Jesus.

Q: How does Islam view terrorism?

A: Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism

goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in 


he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam 


political or financial gain.

Q: Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?

A: Yes. It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged 


of minorities. Islamic law also permits non-Muslims to set up their own

courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities 


Q: What is an appropriate way to greet an Arab-American?

A: This is not difficult or tricky. Remember that most Arab-Americans 


up in the USA and do not require special greetings. Be yourself, and 


them be themselves. If they are practicing Muslims or recent 


watch for cues. A smile, a nod and a word of greeting are appropriate 


most situations. Some Muslims feel it is inappropriate for unrelated 


and women to shake hands. Wait until the other person extends his or 


hand before you extend your own.

Source: USATODAY.com research


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