From fr. Muslim, this from Persian mosolmān or moslemān, pl. of moslem, and this of the ar. clás muslim
1. adj. Who professes Islamism (‖ religion of Muhammad). U. t. c. s.
2. adj. Belonging to or relating to Muslims.
Arab, Muslim, Islamic, Islamist, Jihadist
The Islamic News Agency (AIN) has taken the trouble to elaborate a small repertoire of these terms, widely used nowadays, but not always properly interpreted. Frequently, the misuse of this lexicon adds more negative connotations even to conflicts, attacks and other violent acts that already bring their enormous burden of tragedy and suffering.
The purpose then is to clarify the meaning of these terms -which sometimes even varies according to geography- for their correct use.
It defines every person born in an Arabic-speaking country. The condition of Arabic has nothing to do with religion, political ideology or skin color. Arabic is not synonymous with Muslim. The Arab countries are 22: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Algeria, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Mauritania, Somalia, Palestine, Djibouti and Comoros Islands.
It is the person who professes the religion of the Prophet Muhammad. This is a religious adjective and totally independent of the individual’s nationality. A European can be Muslim as an Arab can be a Christian. In an Arab country like Lebanon, there are almost the same number of Muslims as there are Christians. At the same time, there are countries with a Muslim majority that are not Arab (in the case of Indonesia or Iran, for example).
Like Christianity, Islam has several branches, the main ones being Sunni and Shia.
Islamic is something pertaining to or related to the Islamic religion: Islamic architecture (of the Alhambra or the mosque of Cordoba, for example), Islamic culture, and so on.
The Islamic and Islamist terms do not have the same meaning: Islamic is that which is related to Islam: Islamic culture, Islamic architecture …, while Islamist refers to who advocates the application of Islamic law in political life.
In other words, the AIN adds that an Islamist is “a person who, based on Islam, creates a political ideology.” It is not a terrorist, but someone who belongs to a political movement that does not have to appeal to violence to impose its ideology.
At present, says the AIN, the one who uses violence to impose the Islamic religion is called a jihadist. But it is a term that, in the Arab world, has a different meaning. The word jihad in Arabic means effort, in general terms, and in the religious context it is understood as the “desire to improve as an individual or collective within the spiritual path of the Islamic faith”. That is to say that, in the Arab world, originally the term does not have a violent sense.
However, jihad is used in the West to refer to the holy war of radical Muslims. Islamic extremist organizations themselves adopted the term, giving it a more warlike than religious sense. That is why the terrorist groups that use violence to fight against the “infidels” in the name of Allah are designated with the expression “Islamic Jihad” and the tendency they conform is called jihadism.
Recapitulating, it is concluded that:
- You can be Arab without being a Muslim. An Arab person can practice any religion.
- Conversely, one can be a Muslim without being Arab.
- Islamic is an adjective that refers to everything related to Islam.
- A person or a party can be an Islamist without practicing violence. It can not be assimilated “Islamist” to “terrorist”.
- Today, a jihadist is the individual who uses violence and therefore – although the term originally meant something else – currently a jihadist is a terrorist.
- For the AIN, “properly differentiate between the different terms” is also “a way to fight against the jihadist movements”.
- “Ignorance – says the agency – only leads to more hatred, segregation and injustice, do we really want to promote just what these despicable acts promote? Do not stoop to your level, intelligence is a stronger weapon than hate
It is the second most followed religion in the world
After Christianity with 32% of the world population, there is Islam with 19%, however its number of faithful has been increasing and it is believed that in the near future this difference will be shortened.
It is an Abrahamic religion
It has a common origin with Christianity and Judaism, in fact the three have more similar things than anyone would think; they share several prophets and important figures such as Moses, Abraham and Jesus himself.
Indonesia is the country with the largest number of Muslims
To surprise, it is not an Arab or African country that has the largest number of Islamists in its population; is the archipelago located in Southeast Asia called Indonesia the nation that with a population of 259 million people 86.1% is Muslim and the most Islamic has
The origin of polygamy
Islam expanded through military campaigns throughout the Arabian Peninsula, and was born in a barbarous era where tribal conflicts were common; With this scenario, thousands of men left their families (women and children) to go to war. Many women were widowed and orphaned, for this reason the plan was devised that men could marry more than one woman and thus take care of her and her offspring.
The use of the veil is optional
According to the Koran women can use the veil according to themselves, it is a personal decision, but unfortunately many extremist governments like the Taliban have taken control of different countries, forcing women to use it at all times and endless laws macho
Not all Islamists are Arabs
Although the majority are from Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria or Egypt, the truth is that not all of them come from this region; there are the Persians (inhabitants of Iran) and large communities from other parts of Asia and Africa, where there is more than a quarter of the faithful and there are also large Muslim communities in Europe.
Beliefs and practices
A recent religion
Islam is the newest of religions. Follow the principles revealed by Allah to the Prophet Muhammad, who was born in the year 570 of our era.
Islam has several sacred books. The most important is the Koran, whose message was written for the most part by the Prophet Muhammad. Hence, to declare that one is Muslim, it is said “Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his prophet”.
Another holy book of Islam is the Bible. In fact there is a great devotion in many Muslim groups for the Virgin Mary.
Islam preaches nonviolence, respect, solidarity, however it has been used, like the Bible by Christians, to justify violent acts throughout history
Muhammad was born in Mecca in the year 570 and died in the year 632. He lived in a time of religious and political crisis, immersed in a chaotic society, full of poverty and violence.
At the age of 43 the archangel Gabriel appears to him, who reveals to him that he has been chosen by Allah to preach his beliefs all over the world. From that moment, he began to preach in Mecca and, being persecuted, he emigrated to the city of Medina in the year 622. That exodus is known as ‘Hegira’ and is the date that marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After Muhammad’s death, people close to him who had heard his messages began to write about all these events; it is said that the secretary of the prophet wrote 114 chapters, called Suras, which make up the Koran. In addition to the Koran, Muslims are governed by another sacred text, the Sunna.
Five columns of faith
The main characteristic of Islam is total submission to Allah.
Faith is expressed through five pillars:
- Shahadah: Believe and confess that Allah is God and Muhammad your prophet.
- Salah: Pray five times a day, in the direction of Mecca.
- Zakat: Give legal alms, a form of solidarity with the poorest
- Sawn: Fulfill the month of Ramadan.
- Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in life.
The Muslims must fulfill, at least once in their lives, the pilgrimage to Mecca, where, dressed in white, perform a series of rites and prayers.
Since there are no sacraments in Islam, children are Muslims from birth, as long as their parents are Muslims.
For those who are not born and want to convert, it is enough that they proclaim the confession of faith in the presence of two Muslim men.
In the Islamic religion there are no priests, because the relationship with Allah is personal, without intermediaries.
Muslims have a set of rules that affect eating habits, among other things:
- Pork is banned, as are those animals that have not been bled.
- It is forbidden to drink wine and alcoholic beverages.
- Do not drink in gold or silver vessels.
- You have to use your right hand to eat and your left hand for personal hygiene.
The site of Muslim pilgrimage is the Dome of the Rock, which marks the place where Muhammad ascended to Paradise.
Originally the Muslims performed their prayers with orientation to Jerusalem. Then the Prophet Muhammad said that he should be oriented to Mecca, which is where the Ka’aba is.
Here is the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad, where his grave also lies.
The most sacred place in Mecca is the Ka’aba, where is the ‘Black Rock’ that every pilgrim should touch and kiss.
It is the prayer room for Muslims. In addition, Muslims usually deal with all the organizational issues of society around the mosque assuming the divine protection of God to guide them in their daily actions.
Most of them are huge buildings, although modestly decorated only with lattices or mosaics of inscriptions from the Koran.