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S1 Classes will shortly be completing an assessment on the Islam unit they have been working through. You should have been given a copy of the following mind map of the main topics you need to study. This is a guide to give further information on the different topics you have studied to help you do the best you can for your assessment.
The Life of Mohammed
You will need to know about the Life of Mohammed – Here is a basic guide to his Life.
Mohammed, was the founder of the religion of Islam, and is considered by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God. Muslims believe he was the last of the Islamic prophets, which included Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
Born in 570 in the Arabian city of Mecca, he was orphaned at an early age and brought up by his uncle, Abu Talib. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was married by age 25. He also worked to help the people in his community, was a public speaker and military leader.
He was not happy with his life in Mecca, but could not understand why. ‘My business is going well. My family are fine. People like me. So why am I so sad?’ Muhammad thought again about Mecca, the city where he lived. It was a very busy city, full of people who were greedy and dishonest. No one cared about the poor and the needy. People believed in evil spirits and magic and worshipped many different gods. Muhammad wondered if there was anything that would show these people how to live better lives and to give up their bad ways.
He decided to leave Mecca and spend time in a cave outside the city, thinking about these things. It was a quiet, cool place where he could think and pray all by himself. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, that he received his first message from God.
One day, Muhammad had a strange feeling that he was no longer alone. “Do not be afraid,” said a voice. Muhammad rubbed his eyes and stared – it was an angel. It was the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel showed Muhammad some words. ‘Read!’ the angel commanded. But Muhammad had never gone to school. He had never learned to read or write. The angel repeated his command, before squeezing Muhammad so hard that he thought that he would faint.The angel released Muhammad and began to read out the beautiful words. Muhammad immediately knew that these words came from God. He listened carefully and was able to remember everything the angel said.
Muhammad knew that the people needed to hear this message, so he started preaching what God had told him, that Allah is the one true God, and giving yourself to him is the only way to worship him. He said that he himself was only a prophet and messenger of God. Muhammad did not win many followers to begin with, and some tribes around Mecca did not like his message, so he and his followers were treated harshly.
To escape from this danger, Muhammad and his followers in Mecca went to Medina in the year 622. In Medina, Muhammad united the local tribes who had been fighting each other, and after eight years of fighting with the tribes from the area around Mecca, his followers, who by then had grown to 10,000, conquered Mecca He did not punish the people who had driven him out of the city. Instead, he made new rules and laws which meant that poor people and children were looked after properly.
In 632, Muhammad fell ill and died. Mohammad continued to receive messages from God for the rest of his life, and these messages became the Quran, which is the Holy Book of Islam. To Muslims, Muhammad and the other prophets are so holy, that the phrase ‘Peace Be Upon Him’ is always said when their names are mentioned.
This guide here provides a more detailed timeline of The Life of Mohammed and if you want to know more about Mohammed’s life I highly recommend you watch Part 1 and 2 of The Life of Mohammed documentaries.
You Will Need to Know
- Major events in Mohammed’s Life
- How he received the Qur’an
- Why is he the Seal of the Prophets
The Qur’an is the Islamic Holy Book. It is the message of Allah that was given to Mohammed. The Qur’an is treated with immense respect by Muslims because it is the sacred word of God. While the Qur’an is recited aloud, Muslims should behave with reverence and refrain from speaking, eating or drinking, or making distracting noise. Should a Qur’an be damaged it cannot be put in the bin – instead it is buried.
The Qur’an is written in Arabic and all Muslims should learn it in this language. It should not be translated into other languages as this may corrupt the true meaning. Muslims believe it is the actual word of Allah pbuh and is revealed exactly as He spoke it. It is therefore considered as the living word of Allah. This Arabic writing says ‘Allah’.
If a Muslim needs guidance they can turn to the Qur’an for advice. It contains rules for Muslims to follow and duties they should perform and helps a Muslim lead the life Allah wants from His followers.
The Qur’an also answers Ultimate Questions for Muslims. It explains that Allah is the creator of the world and all that is in it. It reveals what will happen on the Last Day and where souls go after death.
You Will Need to Know
- Basic facts about the Qur’an
- Information or Guidance that can be found in the Qur’an
Nature of Allah
Muslims believe in Tawhid – this is the belief that there is one supreme god. Muslims are Monotheistic, this means they only have one god. They believe that God is eternal, he has always existed and always will. Allah has no gender, no partners and no equals. His nature is beyond our human understanding. You can read more about this here.
Tawhid is very important to Muslims. Allah should always be the forefront of Muslims minds. It is the first part of the Shahadah. This is the first thing whispered into a baby’s ear and should be the last thing a dying Muslim says. It should also be the first and last thing Muslim says each and everyday. This highlights that Allah is the only one god. He has complete creative power.
Allah is said to have 99 names. Each name reveals something different about the Nature of Allah. Some of these names are seen below.
You Will Need to Know
- At least 3 of the 99 Names given to Allah and their meanings.
Shahadah – The First Pillar of Islam
Shahadah is the first pillar of Islam and is the Muslim declaration of faith.
“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”
This is the first thing whispered into a baby’s ear and should be the last thing a dying Muslim says. It should also be the first and last thing Muslim says each and everyday. This highlights that Allah is the only one god. He has complete creative power.
This BBC Guide details more information about the Shahadah.
You Will Need to Know
- What the Shahadah is
- Why it is so important
- When the Shahadah is said
Salah – The Second Pillar of Islam
Salat is the second pillar of Islam. It is the five daily prayers that a Muslim should perform. The ritual is over 1400 years old. There are set times during the day when a Muslim should pray. Muslims all over the world observe their daily times and perform the same rituals in the same language, uniting all Muslims. Some Muslims go to the mosque to pray but prayers can be performed anywhere.
A Muslim may carry a prayer mat with them. These sometimes have compasses on them so the Muslim can face in the direction of Makkah/ Mecca.
A Muslim should be in the right frame of mind when praying. They should put aside any thoughts they have and forget about everyday cares. To show proper respect to Allah they should be totally focused on him. Some Muslims use a prayer bead with 33 beads on it. They focus on the 99 names of Allah.
Muslims pray directly to Allah and act as if they are in His presence. They should not ask Allah for things because Allah has already decided what is best for each individual. They should not pray for Allah’s benefit as He already has everything He needs.
Muslims pray because Allah told them to pray and by following His commands it shows respect to Allah. Prayer has a great benefit for Muslims and reminds them of the Greatness of Allah and the importance of putting Allah before everything else. You can read more about Muslim Prayer here.
A Muslim should perform wudu before prayers. This is a special ritual washing which makes the Muslim spiritually and physically clean before praying to Allah. When praying there are set words and set positions.
You will need to know
- Basic facts about Muslim Prayer
Zakat – The Third Pillar of Islam
Zakat is the third pillar of Islam. It is commonly referred to as charity but it actually means ‘purification’. It is called ‘purification’ because by giving up money each year Muslims remember those in need and ensure they are not greedy, it therefore helps to purify their souls.
Every year Muslims are encouraged to give 2.5% of their wealth to those who are most in need and to promote Islam.
Zakat helps to promote an equal society because it encourages wealthy people to share with those less fortunate. Muslims should remember that Allah owns everything and only lends people things while they are on this earth. If a Muslim misuses this wealth and their possessions they will be punished in hell. By sharing their money with others the poor do not envy the rich and the rich can escape feelings of greed.
Zakat also promotes compassion towards others. It reminds a Muslim that there are people less fortunate than them. The money from Zakat should go to the needy, those promoting Islam, those imprisoned for their beliefs and those in debt. Muslims should think of others and their struggles and help them.
The final important role of Zakat is trying to create a more just society. It is quite clear that we do not live in a society where everyone is treated fairly. Some people have more than others; some have access to the best wines whilst others struggle to access clean water. Some are paid richly for their work whilst others get by on £1 a day. Zakat tries to rebalance this unfairness by redistributing wealth and getting Muslims to think about how they treat others and recognise the unfairness that exists in the world so they can work towards creating a better society.
You will need to know
- Basic facts about Zakat
Sawm – The Fourth Pillar of Islam
Sawm means fasting and is the fourth pillar of Islam. It is performed once a year usually during Ramadan and lasts one lunar month. Ramadan changes each year because it is based on a lunar calendar. In 2018 it will be 15th May – 14th June. During summer months the days of sunlight are longer so it is more difficult to follow Ramadan.
During the day light hours Muslims should not eat, drink, smoke or have sexual relations. They are also supposed to spend the full month being the best Muslim they can, abstaining from bad deeds or evil thoughts. They are to focus on Allah and think about how blessed they are.
Fasting reminds Muslims of those less fortunate than them who don’t have enough food or clean water. During the fasting period Muslims usually go to their local mosque for additional prayers and to honour the month of Ramadan when Muhammad received the
All Muslim adults are expected to observe the fast. If you are pregnant, very old or ill during the month of fasting you are not expected to join in. However, some Muslims will make up the days missed at another time of the year.
Why do Muslims fast?
- It reminds them of the needy and of those without food and water
- It helps them to experience the same things as others in poverty and develops empathy.
- It encourages them to be charitable and exercise generosity
- Practice self-discipline
- Unite with other Muslims who are going through the same difficulties.
What You Should Know
- What Muslims should give up during Sawm
- Why Muslims Fast
- Who doesn’t need to fast
- Difficulties that Muslims may face during Sawm
Hajj – The Fourth Pillar of Islam
The Hajj is a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Every year during the 12th month of the Muslim calendar Muslims from all over the world go to Mecca to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad and to show their devotion to Allah. Muslims save up all their lives to go. To go you must not have any debts and must financially provide for your family in your absence. You need to be physically fit to do the Hajj as it involves a lot of walking and praying and very little sleep.
There are certain rituals that must be performed on the Hajj. When Muslims get to Mecca they head straight for the Great Mosque. This building is called the Ka’aba and it is covered in a black cloth with gold Arabic writing on it. At the end of the Hajj the cloth is cut into pieces and sent to Muslims and mosques all over the world.
The Ka’aba is circled seven times, this is called the Tawaf. Every year the Hajj gets bigger, with over 2 million Muslims attending. Only Muslims are allowed to go and checkpoints ensure that passports clearly state that the person is a Muslim.
See the live stream of Mecca here.
After this the Muslims perform Sa’i. This is a ritual run between two mountains and remembers the time Hagar searched for water in the desert. Muslims continue to follow the five daily prayers but also have special Hajj prayers.
They wear the Ihraim which is a special white robe to remind them of their equality with others and the purity of themselves whilst performing the pilgrimage.
They then make a special journey to Arafat where they perform the Standing. This means they stand before Allah and pray all day asking for forgiveness for all their sins. Muslims believe Allah is a Merciful God and will forgive them if they really mean it.
From Arafat they take a trip to Mina. It is here that they throw pebbles at three stone pillars which represent the devil. They think about casting away their own demons to become a better person. Some Muslims make an animal sacrifice at this time and share the meat with the poor. Others give a donation to the poor.
Muslims meet up again to perform Tawaf (circling the Ka’aba) seven times.
You will need to know
- The steps of Hajj and what they symbolise.
You will be asked to join all your information together and think about the benefits and challenges of being a muslim. Things you may want to consider are
- Belief in Paradise
- Community (ummah)
- Islam in the Media
- Stereotypes of Islam
- Difficulties in following the Five Pillars
Here are some other sites that may be helpful in your revision.