essay

1. The prophet Mohammed was born in 570 AD in what is now modern day Saudi Arabia. By early childhood both of his parents had died and Mohammed was to be raised by his grandfather a man compassionate towards the poor. After his grandfather passed he then went to live with his uncle who later in life Mohammed would join on business ventures to Syria. This would later become beneficial as he developed a reputation for honest dealings and reputable conduct. Mohammed then began to work in the trade industry in Mecca and Damascus where he would eventually meet his wife who would give birth to three children. Around 610 AD Mohammed had his first revelation and spiritual awakening during a period of prayer. From the time of this first revelation and approximately 622 AD Mohammed became a major proponent for religious change in Mecca. He had become the prophet acting as a peaceful reminder to change to heed the call. Yet these warnings fell upon deaf ears and following the death of both his uncle and wife Mohammed move beyond this peaceful prompt to change into a powerful head of an Islamic state as he moved from Mecca to what is now Medina. This change became heavily politically influenced and waged in the face of Allah’s war. The face of Mohammed was ever changed as well as the environment. 2. Sufism is a branch of Islam focused on a loyalty and knowledge of Allah. There are educational branched of Sufism focused strictly upon following rituals and practices of the Qur’an and Hadith verbatim while other groups are not as strict. Over all the major concept with sufism is that it is a spiritual educational movement really established by those who were experiencing difficulties in life and found a certain level of spirituality or resolution through their practices and rituals. In contrast to this there is Wahhabism which was established and named after Imam Ibn Abdul-Wahhab who sought reform from the changes the Sufis were making. It was felt that the interventions or changes coming from Sufism were causing a lot of disruptions and needed to be purified to regain balance amongst the community.3. The five pillars of Islam are a set of standards which every Muslim must adhere to in order to live a satisfactory life. The first pillar is Shahadah or ones declaration of faith which is virtually one’s belief in God or ones unity to God. The second pillar is Salat or the five daily prayers which are to be recited. The third pillar is Zakat or contribution and conciencouness to the needs of the impoverished/needy. The fourth pillar is Sawm is the observance of the rites and rituals of Ramadan to be observed during the entire month of Ramadan. Finally the fifth pillar is Hajj which is a Muslim’s life long duty to fulfill the pilgrimage to Mecca. As in any aspect of life structure creates form as such these pillars proved a very structured guidance for Muslims to lead their lives enriched in religious observance and faith fulfillment. These pillars also create a sense of uniformity amongst Muslims as there are these reliable pillars which are steadfast and embody both their faith but also a community. 4. There are some key difference when looking at the Sunnis and the Shiites. First off the Shiites do not feel that Mohammad’s successor should have been his son-in-law but rather be that of his actual descendants, with the preference clearly being a bloodline-lineage concept . Sunnis dispute that concept and feel it is not dependant upon a hereditary lineage to determine who is next in line as the successor. Geographically speaking there are a vast more Sunnis demographically in comparison to the Shiites. There are also some traditions or rituals that differ between the two groups such as prayer differences Sunnis observe prayer five times a day with arms crossed while Shiites pray three times a day with their arms to their sides. Shiites also observe an annual pilgrimage as an homage to Imam Ali and what is felt as his persecution as well as the persecution to his descendants. This is not recognized by the Sunnis. All in all there are a variety of differences between these two groups but it all really arose when it came time to determine a successor for the Prophet Mohammed.5. Within the five pillars of Islam there is a lifelong responsibility which all muslims must fulfill known as Hajj or the fifth pillar of Islam. This is a responsibility of multiple demands physically, mentally, financially, and of course religiously. The ultimate goal of this journey is to congregate in Mecca to and perform a spiritual ritual meant to absolve the individual of their sins as well as demonstrate their obedience and commitment to God. These individuals will make the journey to Mecca and over a five day period they perform various rituals to complete the hajj. The first day consists of circling the Holy Kaaba multiple times as well as touching the walls of it and even offering kisses. The second day consists of venturing off and praying. Then during the final three day various sacred stories are reenacted and sacrifices are made as a offering to God in their pilgrimage.