The monolithic nature of Islam has led to its spread and fear in many parts of the world, considering the negative perceptions that non-Muslims in the West have concerning the religion. The beliefs, history, and practices of Islam are universal yet diverse in that all Islamic sects observe the religion similarly. According to the Qur’an, the Holy Book that Muslims believe to have been inspired by Prophet Muhammad, Allah is the only God, who deserved to be worshiped. The diversity of global Islam has led to the infiltration of radicals, who profess extreme doctrines, into the religion. Subsequently, Islamophobia has emerged and spread among the Western countries, particularly after the September 11 terrorist attack. The relationship between terrorism and modernity is contentious because most of the modern aspects of life contradict Islamic teaching and doctrines. Although Islam is a global religion with distinctive practices, beliefs, and history, the recent terrorist attacks have increased Islamophobia, especially in the Western countries where the teachings and doctrines of Qur’an are highly censured.
History, Beliefs, and Practices
According to Morgan, the History of Islam dates back 1400 years when Prophet Muhammad made an epic voyage to Medina from Mecca. Muslims consider this time as the period of the commencement of the Islamic calendar. In essence, Islam is a religion based on monotheism, and it originated in the Middle East during the migration of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad based his religious teachings on the belief in the existence of one God named Allah, Who Muslims consider to be the Most High. Currently, Islam is one of the largest religions globally in terms of followers. Muslims believe in the teachings of the Holy Qur’an in addition to the fact that Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet of Allah’s chosen ones. Accordingly, it is worth exploring the beliefs and practices of Islam specifically to gain an in-depth understanding of the religion.
On the practices and beliefs of Islam, Muslims practice their rituals with utmost faith, particularly because of the significant role that beliefs play in their faith. Some of the Islam belief tenets include humanity, the universe, and Allah. The Holy Qur’an notes, "Righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Scriptures and the Prophets". The Muslim faithful has held these beliefs steadfastly since the origin of their religion, passing the Islamic teachings and doctrines down the generations. The belief of Tawheed, which implies Oneness of God, signifies the supremacy of Allah in the context of His commands, worship, and attributions.
The Islamic religion rests its beliefs on the pillars of faith and the pillars of Islam that are fundamental to all Muslims across the globe. The pillars of Islam include pilgrimage, charity, testimony, fasting, and prayer. The testimony of faith should be said with conviction that there no other God but Allah whereas prayers should be performed five times a day. Zakat or support of the needy means offering a certain percentage of properties to disadvantaged people. Fasting in the holy month of Ramadahan should be from dawn until dusk without drinking, sexual relations and food. The pilgrimage to Makah is an obligation of all physically as well as financially stable Muslims to perform once in lifetime. The pillars of faith include belief in Allah and his prophets, belief in the Day of Judgment, belief in Allah’s Holy Books, including Qur’an, believe in the Angels, and belief in Divine Decree. Besides the Muslim articles of faith, Muslims harbor unique perceptions of other religions. For instance, Muslims, just like Christians, invite believers of other faith to convert to Islam. Although the Quran is categorical that no one should be compelled in religious matters, some Muslim radicals propagate radical views, some of which have led to the proliferation of global terrorism.
Concerning the doctrines and rituals of the Islam religion, Ernst states emphasizes the significance of the pillars of faith and Islam. Muslims all over the world observe their doctrines and practice their rituals harmoniously as a way of expressing their belief in Islam. The rituals and practices enable the Muslims to grow in devotion and promote the spirit of unity, which is an essential aspect of the humanity pillar. Some Islamic rituals come once in a year, like the Holy Month of Ramadan while others, such as prayers, require daily devotion. The five pillars of Islam form the foundation of Islam as honored by all Muslims.
Morgan states that Muslims from all over the world observe the five pillars of Islam as a way of committing to the essential requirements of their faith. Muslims practice charity by giving to the poor and the disadvantaged and the end of the Holy Month is the epitome of charity as all Muslims share meals regardless of background. When it comes to pilgrimage, it is worth noting that Muslims endear to travel to Mecca at least once in their lifetime as a way of paying tribute to Prophet Muhammad in addition to seeking sanctity. Fasting and prayer are integral components of the Islamic religion because they facilitate growth in faith in devoted Muslims. Combined with testimonies, these pillars enhance the supremacy of Islam, according to Muslim believers. However, modernity has had a significant impact on Islam and Muslims at large.
Modernity and Islamophobia
Kumar notes that the relation between modernity and Islam is sour in the sense that the modern society, which is highly secularized, has developed a different perception about the Muslims and Islam as a religion. Although Islam is widely regarded as a peaceful religion, some extremists have taken advantage of the fundamental doctrines of Islam to further political agendas. Terrorism continues to be a significant tool used by the Islamic radicals to divide the world along religious lines. The western world, particularly, America, Britain, and France, have suffered the wrath of terrorism by Islamic radicals. Presently, a vast majority of the non-Muslims in the western countries have a negative perception of Muslims and their Islamic religion. This perception is known as Islamophobia, and it has adversely affected many honest Muslim believers.
Allen claims that Islamophobia is a product of modernity, and it entails the unsubstantiated aggression towards Muslims, which creates a feeling of dislike and fear for the Islamic religion and its believers. Islamophobia has caused Islam as a religion in the west to be seen as inferior, archaic as well as irrational. Modernism has led to globalization whereby Muslim believers travel to Christian dominated countries like the United States to pursue education, work, or for personal fulfillment. The people who harbor negative perceptions towards Muslim attribute the monumental nature of Islam to its inability to change according to modern realities. The West is particularly noticeable when it comes to Islamophobia.
According to Taras, the West has had serious concerns about Muslims and their faith since the barbaric September 11 attack on the U.S. World Trade Center. These were series of well coordinated attacks by isalmic terrorists that claimed thousands of life. The attacks brought islamophobia in United States since vast majority of the West is dominated by non-Muslims, specifically by Christians who share few aspects of religion with their Muslim counterparts. Accordingly, Muslim immigrants face a huge challenge in the United States and some European countries when working, studying, or undertaking their Islamic rituals and practices. In essence, some Western countries regulate the number of mosques in certain areas within their jurisdictions and America is notable for this practice. The Islamophobia that is rife in the West is fueled by the perception that Islam is supports terrorism through violent political ideologies. However, Islamophobia is counterproductive because it promotes the emergence and expansion of terror cells across the world. Moreover, it also reaffirms and reintroduces a racial structure globally through which there is maintenance and extension of resource distribution
In conclusion, the spread of Islam has faced significant challenges in the Western countries where the vast majority, who are non-Muslims, perceive Islam and Muslims adversely. Islam has expanded for the past fourteen centuries when Prophet Muhammad founded the religion. Muslims believe in the Qur’an, the Holy Book that contains the pillars of Islam and faith that all Muslims ought to abide by in all countries. Modernity contravenes Islam to a considerable extent, and this contradiction has resulted into Islamophobia, especially in the West that tolerates secular cultures.