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“The word Islam means “submission,” and the name tells us that the central idea of this faith is simply full and complete submission to the will of God. An adherent of the faith is called a Muslim, one who has made the submission.”
“The practice of Islam centers on what are commonly called its Five Pillars: reciting the creed that states that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet; praying 5 times daily; giving alms; keeping a fast during the month of Ramadan; & once in one’s life, if possible, making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Sunni Islam emphasizes the traditional path of Islamic life as interpreted by the consensus of scholars & the community. Shi’a Islam, while following the traditional path, also puts its faith in the authority of Imams who are Muhammad’s hereditary successors.”
This focus on the oneness of God & of all life is what allows Islam to remain fundamentally simple. It’s also the key to the Sufi’s understanding of reality. Their whole practice takes off with unity & oneness as the starting point. If we are all one with God, then the separation we experience must be an illusion.
By the last quarter of the twentieth century this situations changed dramatically. Rarely since the stunning spread of Islam in its 1st century have the fortunes of a religion changed so remarkably in so short a time.
By having a strong belief system, strict rules and laws, and a strong emphasis on community, Islam proves to be a popular source of support for many people who find the rapid changes of modern life disconcerting and troubling.
At least we can disagree with some perspective on what needs these movements serve. In doing this, we may be able to provide more acceptable alternatives that seek to meet these same needs for structure, stability, and safety.
If the issue is not spiritual but political, then many women who want to stay in their religion demand that changes be made, so that what is of spiritual value is guarded, but what is of a bygone era & harmful to the dignity of women be changed.
Much of the modern scholarship challenging the roles of women in Islam are coming from women who are doing their homework and asking the critical questions about Muhammad, the Qur’an and early Islamic history.
More importantly, after centuries of repression, Islam is on its way back as a world religion, full of new life & many changes that make it a power and spirituality to be reckoned with in no uncertain terms. “This resurgent Islam is a major force in the world today.”