Summary: In this sermon you will learn about the beginning of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, what Muslims believe and how it compares to the BIble.
Taking The Mystery Out Of Muslims
Since September 11, 2001 all of us have become very aware of the world religion called Islam. Words like jihad, ayatollah, martyr, and Allah are commonly heard on TV, radio and talked about in American households. The question is, “Who are the Muslims?”
The term “Islam” means “submission” to the will of God. The person who submits is called a “Muslim,” or a submitted one. Today, Islam is the second largest and fastest-growing religion in the world. It claims to have 1.2 billion followers, (one out of every five people) or about 20% of the world’s population. In comparison, all of Christianity, with all its denominations, has about 1.8 billion followers. A United Nations demographic report forecasts Muslims will represent at least half of the global birthrate after the year 2055.
Although Islam was born in Arabia, today most Muslims are not of Arab descent. Indonesia has 172 million Muslims, 83% of its population; Pakistan has 137 million Muslims, 97% of its population; Bangladesh has 107 million Muslims, 87% of its population; India has 138 million Muslims, 14% of its population. Islam is the second largest religion in Europe (over 12 million) and if it had not been for Charles Martel, who defeated the Muslim armies at the Battle of Tours (France) in 732, possibly all of Europe would have fallen to Islam. According to Muslim leaders, there are more than 6 million Muslims in the United States, a little less than half the size of our nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, which has 15 million followers. An October 8, 1990 article in the U.S. News And World Report stated that Islam is growing at a rate of 400% per year in the U.S.A. Muslims are found in all 50 states with the greatest concentrations in California, the Northeast and Midwest. The oldest mosque in the U.S. was built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1934 and is still in use. Today there are over 3,000 mosques in the U.S. with new ones being built every week. In all, over 65 nations in the world today are Islamic.
Islam is the world’s youngest major world religion that came into existence 1400 years ago. It claims, however, to be the restoration of original monotheism and truth and thus claims to supersede both Judaism and Christianity.
The PROPHET of Islam
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is believed by Muslims to be the last and greatest prophet of God. He was a native of Mecca the site of a sacred shrine “the Kabah” which was the center of idol worship in his day and time. They had 360 gods and the Moon-god was their chief deity. The Kabah contained a black stone (probably a meteorite) which is still regarded as a holy object by Muslims today. At the age of 25, Muhammad married his 40 year old, wealthy, widowed employer. His newfound wealth allowed him the leisure pursue his interest in religion. Each year he spent the month of Ramadan in a cave meditating. Eventually, he became disgusted with the idolatry that had permeated his society and attempted to rid Arabia of all idol worship. The Arabian tribes disliked this and, as a result, forced him to leave Mecca after preaching against idolatry in that city. He then fled to Medina on July 16, 622 to establish his Muslim community. This date also marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. At first the people there welcomed him, but eventually they too turned against him. As a result, Mohammed gathered an army and conquered the surrounding tribes and forced them to accept his religion at sword point. From its inception, Islam was an aggressive religion. This spirit of conquering and converting eventually led to the idea of jihad or “holy war” which was the primary means of the spread of Islam in its early years.
At the time of his death in 632 A.D., all of Arabia was under Mohammad’s control and ruled by the teaching of Islam. In only 100 years after his death, Islam had spread throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East; eventually it conquered Spain, Turkey, India and also part of China.
The PILLARS of Islam
Islam is primarily a religion built upon human effort or works. The most important works or duties that are acknowledged by Muslims can be summed up in what are commonly referred to as the “Five Pillars of Islam.”
1. The duty of the CREED - The first duty of every Muslim is to “bear witness” which is done by sincerely reciting their creed before at least two witnesses in order to become a Muslim. A faithful Muslim will repeat this creed constantly thereafter. The Muslim creed consists of these words: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.”