. God was calling upon Mohammed to be His
prophet, to destroy idolatry, and to bring the
Arab peoples together in one faith to worship
At age 40, Mohammed began to preach the new
faith of Islam. After Mohammeds death, Arab rulers,
or caliphs, led the Moslems to political victories and
spread the religion of Islam throughout the Moslem
Today, the most populous Islamic or Moslem areas
are found in the Middle East, North Africa, India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and parts of the Soviet
Union. Within the Islam faith, there are two major
groupsSunni and Shiite.
In the early part of the 20th century, Moslems began
to immigrate to the United States. Although most North
American Moslems were immigrants from the Middle
East, Islam also began to win converts in America. In
the 20th century, Islam found a receptive audience
among Afro-American ethnic and cultural groups. One
Sunni group in America is the American Moslem
Mission, a major religious body that grew out of Elijah
Mohammeds Nation of Islam. You will encounter
followers of Islam among Navy personnel and their
dependents. As an RP, you sould be aware of the basic
beliefs and teachings and the worship requirements of
this important religion.
TERMINOLOGY, LAWS, AND
In Islam, the people worship one God. Their name
for God is Allah. Mohammed preached that Allah
demands complete obedience and submission and
punishes those who do not obey.
NOTE: As you study the text and figures in this
section, be aware of variations in spelling in regard to
the English translation of Arabic words representing
Islamic holy days, rituals, literary works, and so forth.
The presentation of these different spellings is
intentional to allow you to become aware of the various
transliterations for these words.
The sacred book of Islam is the Quran (Koran).
The Quran contains the words of Allah as revealed to
It is written in Arabic and is the
best-known and most widely read book in Arabic
Islam also recognizes some parts of the
Hebrew Torah as sacred, as well as the Psalms of the Old
Testament and the teachings of Jesus.
Not surprisingly, most ethics taught in Islam are the
same as those taught in Judaism and Christianity.
Although Moslems consider Mohammed to be the last
and greatest prophet of Allah, they also number among
their prophets many of the Hebrew prophets told about
in the Old Testament of the Bible. Jesus and John the
Baptist are also recognized as prophets in Islam.
The holy city of Islam is Mecca. In addition to
Mecca, there are other cities Moslems consider to be
holy. One of them is Jerusalem, which is also a holy city
for both Christians and Jews. Another holy city,
Medina, is where Mohammed and his followers gained
their first great success with their religion. The
historical exodus of Mohammed to Medina is called the
Hegira. From this event, the Moslem calendar takes its
beginning as Year One.
Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of Islamic
life is the Shari ah, or Islamic law. Shariah has as its
base the following elements:
The Quran, the scripture
The Sums, Mohammeds words
The Ijma, the traditions and customs of the
The Ijtihad, the individual human endeavor to
understand and solve problems in the light of
the Quran and Sums
These principles governing morals and behavior are
the source of Islamic legislation. Figure 1-8 provides
an overview of the Shariah and a general definition of
some of its terms.
Islam dietary laws require Moslems to eat only the
meat of an animal that was slaughtered with a sharp
knife. The knife must penetrate the innermost part of
the animals neck. During this procedure, a prayer is
said to proclaim that the life of this animal is being taken
to provide life for humans. All the blood is then drained
from the carcass.