The Muslim creed consists of five articles of faith: (1) Belief in God, (2) In angles, (3) In Quran, (4) In the prophet, and (5) In the Day of Judgment. All Muslims are enjoined to practice the five pillars of Islam: 1. There is no god but God and Mohammad (SAS) is his Prophet. 2. Pray five times a day (before sunrise, early afternoon, late afternoon, immediately after sunset, and before retiring for sleep). 3. Fasting during the month of Ramdan (the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year), with no eating, drinking, smoking, or sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset, when the daily fast is broken.
4. Paying Zakaat (purification) for the support of poor’s, on the yearly savings @ 2.5 per cent. 5. Performing Haj (the annual pilgrimage to the Kabah (Mecca) at least once in one’s adult lifetime provided one can afford the journey and leave enough provisions for one’s family. The Haj is performed during the first ten days of the last month of the Islamic year. One may perform the lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) at other times of the year, but it is not substitute for the Haj. Islam is one of the most active proselytizing faiths in the history of religion.
Islam was carried across Asia and Africa in short time. It swept the southern shores of the Mediterranean, crossed the Straits of Gibraltar (jable-Tariq) into Spain and even penetrated into France after the death of Prophet Mohammad (A.D. 570-632), the founder of this faith. Almost a thousand years later, Islamic power penetrated far into Central Europe up to the Walls of Vienna, and when the tide eventually receded, it left behind, particularly in the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Mecedonia, Serbia, etc.), innumerable islands of Muslim communities There are two broad divisions within the Muslim community: (i) the Sunnis, and (ii) the Shiahs.
The theological views and the legal schools of these differ from each other. The Shiaism grew out of the claim of the Shiah a word meaning ‘partisans’ in the context of partisans of Ali) that following the prophet, rule over Muslims belongs rightfully only to Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law and to his descendants. Sunnis constitute about 90 per cent of the total population of Muslims. The total population of Muslims in 1999 was about 1,000 million (17.5% ‘of the world population).
The major concentrations of Muslims population are in Asia and Africa, having a population of about 570 million and 255 million respectively. There are over 45 million Muslims in Europe and about 3 million in North America. Latin America has 0.
6 million and Oceania 0.1 million Muslims. The largest number of Muslims was in Indonesia (181.4 million) followed by Pakistan 142 million and India 124 million. The holiest city of Muslims is Mecca, now a city of over 300,000 inhabitants, the birthplace of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). The city contains the holiest object in the Islamic landscape, the Kaaba—Al-Haram Sharif.
Embedded in the Kaaba is Sange-Aswad (a black stone) brought by Adam from the Garden of Eden. The Al-Haram mosque also contains the well of zamzam, considered to have the same water source as that used by a Hazrat Ismail, son of Hazrat Abraham and his mother Hazrat Hagra (Hajra) when they were wandering in the desert after their exile from Canaan (Palestine). The city of Mecca is a place to which every Muslim aspires to perform Haj. Each year millions of Muslims make Haj to Mecca.
Every Muslim, who is physically and economically able to do so, is expected to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca known as Haj. Regardless of nationality and economic background, all Hajis (pilgrims) are dressed alike to emphasize the common loyalty to religion and the equality of people in the eyes of God. The second most holy location in Islam is Madina, about 350 kms (220 miles) to the north of Mecca. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) received his first support from the Ansars of Madina. Islam’s first mosque was built at Madina.
Prophet Mohammad’s grave is in this mosque. In Islam a space is provided for mosque. Mosque is a location for the community together for worship. The mosque is organized around a central courtyard, traditionally open air, although enclosed in harsher climates. The pulpit is placed at the end of the courtyard facing Mecca, the direction to which all Muslims pray.
Surrounding the courtyard is a maktab or madarsa (school). A distinctive feature of the mosque is the mineret, a tower where the muazzan performs azaan. The mosque is a place to worship as well a space for people to interact with their fellow adherents. The mosque is the focal point of Islamic life and the primary imprint of the religion on cultural landscape. As stated earlier, the Muslims bury their dead. In South-West Asia, however, they sometimes used cemeteries as public parks in congested urban areas. Among the three large universalizing religions, Islam provides the most local autonomy. It has neither a religious hierarchy nor a formal territorial organization.
While mosque is a place for public prayers, with an Imam (priest) who leads the prayers, everyone has great autonomy and each one is considered as brother equal. Strong unity within the Islam is maintained by a relatively high degree of communications and migration, such as provided by the pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition, uniformity and equality are fostered by Islamic doctrine, which is relatively explicit in its commands compared to other religions. The Muslim rulers gave Muslim names to the new settlements established by them. The names of such settlements are after the ruler’s name, e.g.
, Shahjahanpur, Saharanpur (Shah-Haroonpur), Moradabad, Aurangabad, Najeebabad, Akbarpur, Adilabad, Jahangirabad, Muzzaf- farnagar, etc. The impact of Islam in India is particularly profound in places like Aligarh, Ajmer, Jaipur, Calcutta, Lucknow, Agra, Allahabad, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Delhi, Deoband, Hyderabad, Meerut, Mumbai, Patna, Saharanpur, Rampur, Moradabad, etc. The role of Islam in the organization of space is still significant in India. Although, the younger generation has adopted many of the non-religions ideas of the West, and in many parts of the world communism has harmed Islam, yet the imprints of this religion may be seen everywhere.
According to Quran teachings, divine guidance is universal, and God regards all peoples as equal. Every prophet’s message, although immediately addressed to a given people, is nevertheless of universal import and must be believed by all humanity. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) himself is made to declare, “I believe in any book God may have revealed” (Quran 42:15), and all Muslims are required to do likewise. This is so because God is one, the source of revelation is one, and human kind is also one. The office of prophet hood is, in fact, indivisible.