what the pilgrims do while in Mecca
What the pilgrims do while in Mecca
Write an Essay:
Instructions: Muslims (“those who submit”) practice the Five Pillars as acts of faith. These Five Pillars are principles that serve as the guidance for the Islamic community as well as actions that define the identity of the Muslim community. One of the most important “pillars” of Islam is the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Discuss the meaning of the Hajj, and what the pilgrims do while in Mecca. More broadly, though, reflect personally on the importance of journeys when it comes to spiritual insight and personal transformation.
References: I do not want you to do any research outside of the course materials: namely, the Religion of the World, Revel textbook, as well as any articles or resources I have posted on Slate. So this means for this assignment you are not to do any extra Internet research (other than things I have posted for you). The information you need is all available in Revel, as well as in your own understanding and experiences.
See attached files:
===================== Reading materials discuss on Slate by the Prof——————–
“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” This is the shahada, the most important prayer of Islam. Summed up in this statement is the core affirmation of Islamic belief: there is only one God (Allah), not a multiplicity of deities, the creator of the world and its Judge and merciful Lord. And Allah has spoken to the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 CE), giving him a message which confirms the monotheistic beliefs of past prophets such as Moses and Jesus and calling humanity to worship the one true God.
Muhammad is, to be clear, seen in Islam not a divine figure himself but rather as the “Seal of the Prophets,” meaning the final prophet bringing God’s message to humanity. The message revealed to Muhammad is recorded in the Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam. An online version of the Qu’ran I have found helpful is this one: http://al-quran.info/#home
What is the Qur’an all about? Firstly, it should be noted that it is written in a unique, poetic style, particularly in the original Arabic. Unlike other texts such as the Bible, the Vedas, or the Adi Granth which are collections of writings by multiple authors written over several centuries, the Qur’an is thought to have been dictated to Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel) over a period of 23 years. The central message of the Qur’an reveals who Allah is, how humans are to live, and the final destiny of humanity. It is full of allusions to the prophets of the Jewish and Christian Bible, and presents Islam as a restoration of monotheism, the original religion of humanity:
And they say, ‘Be either Jews or Christians, that you may be [rightly] guided.’ Say, ‘Rather [we will follow] the creed of Abraham, a ḥanīf, and he was not one of the polytheists.’
Say, ‘We have faith in Allah, and that which has been sent down to us, and that which was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus were given, and that which the prophets were given from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.’ (Qur’an 2:135-136)
As you can probably tell, Islam thus strongly rejects the Christian idea of the Trinity – that God could be both one and three, or the related idea that Jesus is the Son of God. In Islam, God’s oneness is supreme, and anything which strays from this belief is shirk. Polytheism, and even the possibility of representing Allah in visual forms like images or statues, is also forbidden; there are no images inside the mosque or masjid. Even Muhammad himself, though not a divine being, is not customarily depicted in art.
Your textbook reading will lead you through the history and expansion of Islam, growing from a small sect in the Arabian peninsula all the way to a world religion of some 1.8 billion today. One important thing to note is that although we sometimes think of Islam as monolithic, there is considerable difference between the forms Islam has taken around the world everywhere from Nigeria to Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to Canada. Although the prayers and sacred texts are the same, Islam is truly a global religion, practiced by people from many different cultures and speaking many different languages. This global “family” of Muslims is called the Ummah.
Some of the most important differences within Islam include the division between the Sunnis, who make up the majority of the world’s Muslims, and the minority Shi’ites. Shi’a Islam looks especially to the legacy of Muhammad’s cousin, Ali, as spiritual leader as well as his son Husayn who was martyred in the city of Karbala. But there are many other sub-traditions and sub-groups as well: the mystical Sufi tradition; the ultraconservative Wahhabist sect in Saudi Arabia; the Ismailis; fundamentalist groups; and many groups with different understandings of how to understand and apply the Qur’an and hadith (tradition) in new contexts. One of the fastest-growing groups are the Ahmadiyya Muslims, who because they see a teacher named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a messianic figure are rejected by mainstream Muslims; they are heavily persecuted in places like Pakistan.
Many of you will be doing your essays on the “Five Pillars” of Islam: the shahada, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. So I won’t go into detail about them here. Suffice it to say, though, that Islam is not just about beliefs, but about practices which help Muslims learn the way to pray, to conduct their lives, and to relate to those outside of the faith. As the video I have posted shows, it is a religion of prayer, and of faithfulness to God; for the Muslim, “submission” (the root of the term “Islam”) is something which must encompass all of life.
The three major monotheistic or “Abrahamic” faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) share many features in common – a belief in one God (and at the same time, a strong rejection of polytheism); similar stories (about the creation of the world, the purpose of life, the afterlife, and the future resurrection of the dead); and even the same prophets and holy figures. Islam reveres Jewish prophets like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Solomon [Ibrahim, Musa, Ilyas, Suleyman] as well as Christian figures like Jesus (Isa) and Mary (Maryam). Many people do not realize just how similar Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are, despite their obvious differences.
In many times and places over the past 1500 years, the three groups have been able to co-exist peacefully, exchanging ideas about the finer points of theology and philosophy. Often when there are conflicts between these faiths, they are driven by political and economic interests rather than purely religious disagreements. (Just start reading about the extreme complexity of recent debates about the Dome of the Rock, the Hagia Sophia mosque in Turkey, or Palestine to see what I mean!) I hope that through your study of Islam in particular you will come to realize that the phrase “Islam is a religion of peace” is very true. Having a better understanding of Islam helps us counter the Islamophobia which has unfortunately manifested itself in acts of hatred towards Muslims, such as the mosque shootings in Quebec City and New Zealand in the past few years.