Muslim Communities the Muslim Community: Some Perspectives Essay

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Muslim Communities

The Muslim Community: Some Perspectives and Misconceptions

Henslin (1993) defines a community as the "place where people identify with an area and with one another, sensing that they belong and that others care what happens to them" (p.578). Central to this definition, I believe, is the sense of 'identity" which is intertwined with the notion of "belongingness."

'No man is an island' as the cliche goes. As such, we are all members of particular communities, we may be aware of it or not. Communities are neither distinctively geographic nor physical in nature, more so, communities exist in a rather abstract level -- something that may be intangible yet understood by us.

To better understand the sense of 'community, I believe that it is worthwhile discussing here my very own community. I belong to the Muslim community and by Muslim community we refer to the group of individuals with a shared religion, i.e. Islam. We call the followers of the Islamic religion Muslims.

Islam: Beliefs, Practices, and the Moral Community

Twenty-one percent of the world's population adheres to the Islamic religion, approximately about 1.5 billion at that (Adherents, 2005) -- statistics of which I am a part of.

'What makes a person Muslim?' As I have already mentioned above, Muslims are people who follow the Islam religion. This basic understanding leads us to the need to explain what Islam is all about.

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Allow me to begin this discussion with the beliefs of the Islam religion. Islam believes that creation of the universe is solely attributable to the power of Allah (Al-Baqarah & Aal 'Imran qtd. In El-Hadi, 2005). Islamic is also directed towards Allah, i.e., "His will Muslims submit; Him they praise and glorify; and in Him alone they hope" (the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007). This belief system is reinforced via the established rules and regulations of the religion embodied by the five pillars of Islam (Hossain, 2004). This is where the practices or ritualistic aspect of Islam comes in.

Essay on Muslim Communities the Muslim Community: Some Perspectives Assignment

The first pillar requires every Muslim to believe that Allah is the only God and we have come to know him via his messengers, last of which is Muhammad. The second pillar holds that every Muslim should pray five times a day: early morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and night. The third pillar requires Muslims to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. This is done so that Muslims will be able to experience hunger that the impoverished endure. Fasting also allows us to save food that will be donated to the poor. The fourth pillar obliges Islam followers to donate 2.5% of their wealth annually, beneficiaries of which are the poor and needy. The last pillar compels Muslims who are financially stable to become pilgrims -- praying at Ka'ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia during the religious festival of sacrifice known as Eid-ul-adha (ibid).

Apart from these five pillars, we also have other obligations such as refraining from eating pork, drinking alcohol, and engaging in gambling activities. Moving away from these activities signifies commendation upon the good and abhorrence for the evil (the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007).

Resulting form these beliefs and practices is the formation of a moral community known as the Muslim community. Moral community does not mean morality in common and familiar sense. Instead, it refers to the people united by religious practices which spring from their institutionalized belief system (Durkheim in Henslin, 1993).

Muslim Community's Present State: A Series of Misconceptions

Events such as Jimmy Carter's 1979 failure with Iran as well as the 9/11 have resulted to a negative portrayal of Islam and consequently, the Muslims. People began to ponder if Islam, indeed, is a religion of peace. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding turned into hatred towards the Muslim community (Hossain, 204). It has… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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