Understanding Islam (Part One)

It is written:

“Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.” (Acts 17:17)

Today there continues to be a great deal of ignorance regarding the religion of Islam. This has resulted in many erroneous beliefs and statements from people regarding peace in the Middle East, as well as a general cultural misunderstanding of anything relating to issues between Christianity and Islam.

The religion of Islam began with a man named Muhammad, who lived from 570 to 632 A.D. He was born in the city of Mecca, in Arabia (which includes the modern countries of Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan). Muhammad was born on August 2nd, 570. His father died before he was born, and his moth died when he was six. When that happened, Muhammad was adopted by his grandfather (his father’s father). He was part of the Quraysh tribe. This grandfather, a man by the name of Abd al-Muttalib, was the caretaker of a very holy site in the land of Mecca: Kaaba, or Al-kaaba.

What exactly is this?

One former Muslim professor tells us:

“This tribe controlled the main place of worship for all of Arabia, a temple filled with idols known as Al-Ka’ha. Muhammad’s grandfather father had the honor of serving as the caretaker for Al-Ka’ba. He was in charge of repairs and cleaning. The temple was made of a walled courtyard with a large, block structure in the center. (The phrase AI-Ka’ba literally means “the cube.”) The block monument was shaped like a rectangle and draped with the richest fabrics of the day. Even before the advent of Islam the people believed Abraham built it. This monument was also called the Black Stone, in reference to a small stone, believed to have fallen from heaven, concealed inside the structure. “Once a year Muhammad’s grandfather would have removed the coverings, washed the structure, and placed new coverings back on it. All tribes believed in a supreme god, but they were not sure who this supreme god was. They looked for a mediator to help connect them to this supreme god. So they made different types of idols…Even though each tribe had their own idol to worship, everyone also walked in circles around the Black Stone as part of their worship rituals. However, they did not believe the Black Stone represented the supreme god. Each tribe had its own traditions for annual pilgrimages as well. So there were always different tribes visiting Al-Ka’ba. When tribes came they gave voluntary offerings of money, food, or animals, which the caretakers and the tribe of Quraysh kept.” (Mark Gabriel, Jesus And Muhammad: Profound Differences And Surprising Similarities, 313-319 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary, Florida; Charisma House)

Muhammad lived with his grandfather for two years, and he saw the religious devotion of the pagans to this site. Keep in mind that Muhammad’s contemporaries were very divided religiously. Some were followers of the Jewish religion, some of the Christian religion which was on its’ way to becoming Catholicism, and paganism as well.

Around 610, Muhammad claimed that he began to receive revelations from the one true God, who identified himself as “Allah.” It was said that he had received these messages from the archangel Gabriel. He wrote these revelations into a book, which is called the Quran (or the Koran). It is broken down into 114 chapters, called suras, and is about the size of the standard edition New Testament.

In the Islamic religion, the Quran is the absolute authority. The next level of authority is found in the Hadith, or the Islamic traditions which (supposedly) recount other events in the “prophet’s” life.

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