What if Islam never came into being?

Islam: Origin and Pillars of World Religion

"Allahu Akbar - God is great!" For Muslims, these words begin the call to prayer. Well over a billion people worldwide follow him and pray to Allah as their only God. Your belief, Islam, is a religion with a long history: Its origins go back almost 1400 years

The Prophet Mohammed

"Babbler! Stargazer! Mad poet!" This is what some citizens call Mecca. Mohammed was a respected man in the Arab trading city. A merchant who has been called "the trustworthy one". And now this: Mohammed had an apparition. An angel, he says, told him he was a prophet, a messenger of God. And that is why Mohammed now wants to dissuade people from their selfish life, from their belief in idols and spirits or even holy dates.

All believers should only pray to one god: "Allah". The Meccans don't like that at all. Because they worship many different gods, and some families even have their own house god.

But Mohammed preaches tirelessly - until he leaves his homeland twelve years after his enlightenment, where hardly anyone wants to hear his teaching. The inhabitants of the Jathrib oasis, many days' walk away, are currently looking for a mediator to end the war between two warring tribes.

And indeed: he, the stranger, succeeds in ending the argument. The former opponents form a community. With the departure of Muhammad to Jathrib on July 16, 622 according to the Christian calendar, a new calendar began for the Muslims: the year "1" of Islam.

The emergence of Islam

Islam? That is the name of the faith that Muhammad preaches. "Devotion to God" is what it means in translation. And "who submit to God" is the translation for the word Muslim. Like in Christianity So even in Islam, not many gods are believed, but only one, namely Allah. But unlike the Christians in Christianity, Muslims do not worship a holy spirit in their religion and also do not worship a savior like Jesus Christ.

Mohammed is a simple, mortal person to the believers. His teaching promises a happy, peaceful life to anyone who follows the laws of Allah. And after death? Muslims believe that God will judge everyone: those who have obeyed the laws of Allah will go to paradise, while unbelievers and hypocrites will sink into hell.

Muhammad's God is the same as spoken of in the Christian Bible. Muhammad's followers believe that Allah has repeatedly sent prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus to proclaim the right faith.

The teaching of Islam

For them, Mohammed is the last and most important of these God's messengers. And Islam is more than a religion for believers. It is the set of rules for everyday life: How do you have to pay your debts? How to clean your hands after eating? How is a thief to be punished? Mohammed gives answers to all of this. He received messages from Allah for 22 years. It is said that every time before Allah reveals himself to him, he shudders.

In any case, most of the residents of Jathrib become Muslim and Mohammed becomes their leader. The oasis is now called Medina: "City of the Prophet". In 630, Mohammed invades Mecca, his hometown, with 10,000 men.

Here is the Kaaba, a cube-shaped building in the courtyard of the Holy Mosque, in which the Arab inhabitants worship their idols. The prophet had the idols destroyed and consecrated the building Allah. Since then, the Kaaba has been the most important sanctuary in religion. Mohammed shows mercy towards the vanquished, and many Meccans join Islam.

But then the prophet dies, presumably on June 8th, 632. His teaching of religion, however, remains intact: for many followers have noted on parchment, scraps of leather and bleached pieces of bones what Muhammad passed on to them as the word of God. Later all of this is summarized in one book: the Koran.

The Faiths of Islam

Mohammed has not appointed a successor. And so the Muslim community falls apart soon after his death: a group, the so-called Sunnis, succeeds Abu Bekr, who becomes their chief politician and judge, their caliph. Another group that Shiites, Muhammad's cousin wants to elect Ali as caliph. When Ali was murdered in 661, Sunnis and Shiites separated - a split that continues to this day.

With the death of the Prophet Mohammed and the disagreement about his successor, the separation of the two faith groups begins. The Shiites, followers of the Shia, make up only about a tenth of all devout Muslims today. Many Shiites live in Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan. The majority of Muslims belong to the Sunnis, a religious group that adheres to the Sunnah believes. The Sunna denotes everything that Mohammed said and decided according to the tradition of the Koran.

In 1924 the caliphate was finally abolished, as a result of which there has been no recognized religious head among the Sunnis since that year. For the Shiites, the imam plays an important role. As the spiritual leader, the imam is the religious authority. The imam also has a lot of worldly power as a result.

The spread of Islam

Despite the dispute within the community - the influence of Muslims is growing worldwide. They conquer Damascus, Jerusalem, Egypt, southern Spain and parts of Afghanistan. When they occupied Byzantium, today's Istanbul in Turkey, they choose its city coat of arms as their symbol: the crescent moon, called Hilal.

The conquerors take an example from the Prophet Mohammed and show tolerance towards those of different faiths: Jews and Christians are allowed to keep their faith - against payment of a sum of money - because their religious writings (the Torah and the Bible) are sacred works for the Muslims too.

Muslim books, knowledge of the earth and the universe - they help, according to the followers of Allah, to better understand God and the world he created. Islamic researchers therefore build observatories, draw maps of the world, discover medicines and mathematical formulas.

Words like algebra, numeral or alcohol are creations of Muslim scientists. "The ink of Muslim scholars is more precious than the blood of a martyr (someone who dies for his convictions)," Mohammed is said to have said.

Islam in the world today

The religion spreads over the centuries: Today around 1.3 billion people live according to the rules of Allah - that is about a fifth of the world's population - most of them in North Africa and Asia. But also in countries like the USA, Germany, Russia or France.

For most Muslims, Islam is simply their peaceful private belief. Others, however, want to align their whole life, even all laws, with religion and forbid other opinions and beliefs. Until recently, this happened in Afghanistan, for example: there, the laws of Islam were cruelly abused to suppress women, persecute people with different views, and forbid music and dance, cinema and photography.

But one cannot generalize: In Oman, for example, a small state in the east of the Arabian Peninsula, Islam is the state religion and a sultan rules. Women and girls wear headscarves but are not disadvantaged and strict Muslim laws are only applied in a few cases. Yes, the Christians and Hindus living there are even allowed to build churches and temples. Everyone can pray to their god and live out their religion.

Islam in Germany

The socio-political question of whether Islam belongs to Germany is always controversial. Because these questions are accompanied by questions about social identity and the actual integration of Muslims and religion.

Since the 1960s, when so-called guest workers from Muslim countries immigrated to Germany through the recruitment agreement (1961) and settled in this country, Islam has been part of German reality.

Incidentally, more than twenty percent of the workers recruited at the time were women from Turkey: Many single women, but also married women, traveled to Germany in order to be able to support their families financially. A few years later, Muslim workers from North Africa joined them.

For many of the guest workers, Germany became a new home and so many brought their families to join them. For a long time, religious life was practiced in so-called "backyard mosques" - the simplest rooms in which devout Muslims met for prayer.

The five pillars of Islam

The five most important duties in a Muslim's life will be "Pillars of Islam" called.

The first pillar is the confession of Allah and his prophet, Shahada: "There is no deity but God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God." To accept Islam as a belief, it is enough to say this sentence with sincere intent.

Prayer, five times a day, is the second pillar - called Salat. For this, the Muslims do not need to go to a mosque, the Islamic house of worship. They can pray and bow toward Mecca wherever they are.

The poor tax, Sakat, is the third pillar: once a year Muslims - if they are not poor themselves - should give 2.5 percent of their income to people in need.

The fourth column is called Saum, the fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During this time, as long as the sun is in the sky, Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or have sexual intercourse. The elderly, the sick, children, pregnant women and travelers are exempt from fasting.

The fifth pillar, the Hajj, is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Every Muslim should travel to this holy city in Saudi Arabia at least once in their life and circumnavigate the Kaaba in the mosque seven times. The Kaaba stands in the middle of the "Al-Haram Mosque". In this mosque, pilgrims say prayers and touch a sacred stone that is embedded in the Kaaba.

The Koran - the holy book

For Muslims it is clear: It was not Mohammed who wrote the Koran, but the holy book comes directly from God. The angel Gabriel is said to have appeared to the prophet for the first time in a cave. Muslims believe that he showed Mohammed a section of the Koran and ordered him to read the text aloud.

These were the first of a total of 6,236 verses in the Koran. Even today the texts of the holy book are read aloud in the mosque. The Prophet spoke it in Arabic: So it is that for Muslims only the Arabic Koran reproduces the true words of Allah.

The Koran is divided into 114 chapters, the suras. They are arranged according to length: the long ones are in front, the short ones in the back. Only the first and particularly short sura with the title "The Opening" is an exception. And what does the Koran say? Allah's uniqueness is praised in many suras. In others the Last Judgment is described: the day on which a decision is made about every person whether he will go to paradise or hell.