The Muslim state was born out of and spread through military conquest. While the desire to obtain land was led by a responsibility to the faith, greed and politics had everything to do with it. The promise of respect and financial gain through the means of conquest motivated men to join the movement, but more importantly, it catapulted the formation of Islamic ideals/values and communities into rapidly growing appendages of society.
Muslims on a grand scale believe that Islam has always been a religious faith. However, its existence has come to light gradually through a series of prophets. Of all those who have worked to spread the word of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is the most recognizable and the most acknowledged individual. He is credited with bringing the faith of Islam to the complete forefront. Muhammad is believed to be have been born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570. The Qur’an tells its readers that the prophet was meditating one night when he was visited by the angel Jibreel who told him to recite the words of Allah; Muhammad believed these words to be the words of God. The Qur’an, by definition, is the holy book written in stages of how they were presented to the Prophet Muhammad over the course of twenty-three years. Muhammad preached the message of Islam, which says there is no other God, but Allah himself and one should spend their life devoted to him. In 622 the prophet took his followers on a pilgrimage, known as Hijrah, from Mecca, Saudi Arabia to Medina. This pilgrimage is so important to the faith of Islam that it begins the Islamic calendar. Hijrah was prompted by the fact that leaders in 622 felt threatened by Muhammad’s presence. In ten years of the pilgrimage, he had gained such an immense number of followers that he returned to Mecca and was able to conquer it.
With the prophet’s guidance, the Muslim state was able to continue its growth as a faith even after his death. Keeping in line with the ideals of Islam comes with guidelines as do most religions. There are six main beliefs held in Islam: The belief Allah is the one and only God, the belief in angels, the belief in the holy books, the belief in the prophets Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Dawud, Isa aka Jesus, and Muhammad, the belief in the Day of Judgement, and the belief in Predestination. The beliefs regarding Allah’s existence are very specific. Every Muslim believes that Allah is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent, but that he is also fair, merciful, and gives rewards. To them, Allah takes no shape or form, and cannot be seen nor heard. Furthermore, Allah cannot be identified with a gender and so he has no children, parents, or partners.
Every Muslim must follow the five pillars of Islam because they are said to equate to a good and responsible life. The five pillars are shahadah, salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj. Shahadah requires all Muslims sincerely recite the pillars of Islam. Salat asks that one performs ritual prayers five times a day in the proper manner. Zakat says that Muslims must pay a charity that benefits the poor and/or needy. It is because of the Sawm pillar that all Muslims must fast during the month of Ramadan. Hajj, the last pillar, is the required pilgrimage to Mecca. The purpose of the five pillars is to allow every follower of the faith to weave their life into their religion so that it becomes a way of life. It is a demonstration of putting faith before all else.
Islam is the second most practiced religion on earth. However, there is a widespread fear attached to the faith belonging to those who know very little about it. Islamophobia can be credited to fear correlated with terrorist attacks. It is important for those who are not followers of the faith to remember that the percentage of individuals who partake in those inhumane actions do not represent all Muslims. In fact, those individuals practice a form of Islam that has contradicts the one that asks all its followers to devote their lives to Allah, because he is merciful and fair.