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Five things to know about Islam

By Rochelle Feil, World staff writer

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Adnan Abou-Ammo grew up Muslim.

Posted June 20, 2008

Adnan Abou-Ammo of East Wenatchee says, "We don't really have a place of worship (in the Wenatchee area). You don't have to have a place in Islam; you pray and fast, that's how the Muslim community (worships)."

Lebanon, he notes, is very diverse. The same family will often have both Christian and Muslim members. Abou-Ammo says his family raised him as Muslim, a practicer of Islam, and as with any family, it's his family that helped him build his religious foundation.

"As an adult you explore it more and go through doubts and other ideas and go back to that foundation if you're convinced of it," Abou-Ammo says.

"Islam is a way of life," he adds. "When a person is a Muslim it's from the moment you get up in the morning to when you sleep."

Muslim pilgrims gather outside the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam's holiest shrine, to bid farewell and complete their pilgrimage known as the Hajj in 2006. A pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars for Muslims. (AP file photo)



Millions of pilgrims perform Friday prayers at the Great Mosque in 2005. (AP file photo)

 

1 Unity of God

Muslims believe that there is only one God, the God of Abraham and all other prophets. "It is essential. If you don't believe in that, you're not Muslim." The concept of monotheism is one of the many commonalities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Christianity, Judaism and Islam share much of the same history, including Biblical names, language, culture, geographical area and stories. They all share the same Holy Land.

2 Worship includes physical and spiritual elements

"Islam has five pillars: belief in one God, praying five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan, helping the poor and pilgrimage to Mecca." The five pillars not only require spiritual belief but often physical practice. For example, you pray bending the forehead to the ground. "It's a combined physical and spiritual exercise." Fasting is similar. "Not eating is more of a physical hardship and teaches you a strong will, but at the same time it requires faith because you're fasting for a reason, because God asked you to even though you can't see him."

3 Peaceful coexistence and nonjudgmental

"If you take the time to study and read the true Islam, you'd see there are a lot of verses telling and showing people about peace and nonjudgmental of others. There are tons of verses (in the Muslim Holy book, the Quran) about 'People of the Book,' Christians and Jews, who go to Heaven, and it's up to God to judge humans. A Muslim can't believe that non-Muslims are not good and are not going to be good in God's eyes. ... There is no place in the Muslim faith for 'we're right and you're wrong.' You're not a God. You only have the tools and intelligence of a human being." Jews, Christians and Muslims are all equal and subject to God's mercy, justice and judgment. "But, if you listen to the distortion of the fundamentalists and radicals here (in the U.S.), and listen and watch the violence of some groups in the Middle East, which are both distorting the true message of Islam, you might believe that this is Islam."

4 Concerning women

"It's important not to mix the teaching of Islam with the current political and cultural climate of certain countries. ... When women aren't treated as equals or aren't given the same rights as men, it's not because Islam promotes it. It's because of political or cultural reasons and conditions." When Islam was introduced 1,400 years ago, women had the right to vote. They had the right to own property and have a say concerning marriages. "It was equal and fair and balanced. There was more equality between men and women according to the customs of those days."

 

5 Justice and forgiveness are balanced

 

"Islam is one of the purest forms of monotheistic religions to come to the Middle East." Islam has been influenced by Judaism and Christianity. Islam balances the love, justice, spirituality and forgiveness of Christianity and the laws, justice and traditions of Judaism. Equally important are justice, liberty and forgiveness. "Some people use the justice aspect to justify violence and create all the problems in the world. Conveniently, they forget the forgiveness, love and the peaceful side of it. It should be justice based on being fair and equal, but at the same time you have to use compassion, not violence. ... People tend to abuse that. ... It is so important to separate Islam from actions of some Muslims. It's the same as when it is important to separate Christianity from the actions of some Christians."

 

Rochelle Feil: 664-7153

 

feil@wenworld.com

 

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