Islam is the neme that Prophet Mohammad gave to the religion of the Moslems. It is an Arabic word which originally meant 'submission' and has come to mean 'submission to God'. There are about 40,00,00,000 Moslems in the world nearly all of whom live in the continents of Asia and Africa. From its home in Arabia, it has spread all along North Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic ocean, taking in Libya, Tunisia and Morocco; then to the Sudan, Zanzibar and Tanganyika; to the north aand east it covers Turkey, Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia. Far smaller numbers of Moslems are found in several other countries of Asia and Africa, and there are some in the European countries of Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and southern U.S.S.R. There is also a considerable number in Communist China.
Like Christians and Jews, Moslems believe in the existence of only oneGod, whom they call Allah. These three religions have other links as well, for they share many stories and trditions that are told in the Old Testament. Adam, Noaah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses and David are all mentioned in the Moslem's holy book,the Quran. Some of the Jewish and Christian prophets are prophets of Islam also. Moslems even have the story of Jesus Christ in their holy book, but they regard Him as a prophet, not as the Son of God.
Moslems think that the greatest and the last of the prophets was Mohammed. He was born about 570 A.D. in Mecca, which has become the holy city of the Moslems. Moslems claim that their holy book was recited to Mohammed by the archangel Gabriel, who read from the original copy which is in heaven. It is called the Quran, which comes from an Arabic word meaning 'recitation'. It governs the whole life of a Moslem's life, for it describes how a Moslem should live. It also sets out the duties of parents to their children, of masters to their servants and of the rich to the poor. One section contains the laws of marriage and divorce when the owner dies.
The Quran lays down five main duties for all followers of Islam. They must recite the creed which says,'There is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is the apostle of God'. They must pray five times a day; at dawn, just after noon, before sunset, just after sunset and during the early part of night. A Moslem washes his face, hands and feet before he prays, and faces in the direction of Mecca while he prays. He prays wherever he is and need not necessarily go their place of worship, the Mosque. Friday is the Moslem holy day, and in place of the prayer just after noon there are services in the mosques during the afternoon. The third duty of the Muslims is to give alms to help the poor. The fourth is to fast during the month called Ramadan, for this month is associated with God' s giving of the Koran. Moslems must not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan. People who are ill or making a journey are permitted to eat at the normal times, but should fast when they are better or have finished their journey.
The fifth duty is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Quran says that every Moslem shouls do this once in his life'if he is able'.; that is, if he has enough money for the journey and to keep his family while he is away, and if he is strong enough to make the journey. The pilgrimage is called hajj. When the religious ceremonies in Mecca are finished, the pilgrims often visit Medina, farther north in Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed spent part of his life and where he was buried.
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