WHAT IS ISLAM AND WHAT DOES A PRAGMATIC AMERICAN MUSLIM BELIEVE?
Updated: Feb 18
I’m willing to bet that 90% of non-Muslims reading this article would be hard pressed to come up with at least one of the five pillars of faith a Pragmatic American Muslim believes in. I’m also willing to add another wager which is a very large percentage of Pragmatic American Muslims would have difficulty in coming up with an answer as well. So what is a Pragmatic American Muslim? Who are they? What do they believe in? What are the areas of commonality between Pragmatic American Muslims, Christians and Jews?
Allow me to give you the unadulterated facts to the above questions. The straight and simple truth. By the time you have finished this article you will have a more working knowledge of who and what Pragmatic American Muslims are and believe in than 99% of the general public.
Let me begin by stating that I am a second generation American first and foremost, (no hyphenation needed) born, bred and raised in the United States of America. I am also a Pragmatic American Muslim so I have some working knowledge of what I am speaking about.
Simply put, a Pragmatic American Muslim is a person who follows the religion of Islam. Islam means submission to God. So a Pragmatic American Muslim is a person who submits and prays to God. According to Pew Research poll in 2015 Islam is the second largest religion in world with over 1.8 billion adherents representing about 24% of the worlds 7.3 billion people. Islam was a faith revealed not for the classes but rather for the masses. Islams’ roots began in the city of Mecca and Medina in Arabia at the beginning of the 7th century approximately 600 years after the advent of Christianity. The Qur’an, which is the Holy Book of Muslims and they believe It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad [(pbuh)-peace be upon him] through the ArchAngel Gabriel(pbuh) over a period of 23 years.
Next I want to get into the the Acts of Faith a Pragmatic American Muslim practices on either a daily or monthly basis or over the course of their lives. These are called the Five Pillars or Principles of Faith. They are:
1. A Pragmatic American Muslim recites this Pledge which is “ I believe and bear witness in One and only One God and I believe and bear witness Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was His last Prophet”.
2. Pray five times a day
3. Fast during daytime in the Muslim month of Ramadan
4. If you are financially able, give an annual charity of at least 2.5% of your yearly assets to the poor and needy
5. If you are financially able, perform the annual Haj Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your lifetime.
That's pretty much all you have to do to be a practicing Pragmatic American Muslim. The above 5 pillars make up about 95% of the religion of Islam.
A Pragmatic American Muslim believes in the following Articles of Faith and recites the following: “I affirm my belief in God and His Angels and His Books and His Messengers and all good things that come from God being destined to me and all evil things that come from God being destined to me and in the Resurrection that is coming to life again after death”.
Pragmatic American Muslim beliefs are:
1. Belief in the concept of the “Oneness of God”
2. Belief in Angels
3. Belief in all of the Holy Books given to the Prophets of God
4. Belief in all of God’s Prophets
5. Belief in the concept of “Divine Destiny”
6. Belief in the Last Day
7. Belief in the day of Resurrection, Judgement and Atonement
8. Belief in the concept of Heaven and Hell
Let’s take a few of these and elaborate: The concept of the “Oneness of God”. Muslims believe there is only One God. God has no father, no mother and no sons or daughters. In other words “God begets not, nor is God begotten”. God is Eternal, has no Beginning nor End. God is Absolute. God is monotheistic is the truest sense of the word in Islam. You will quite often see Muslims using the word “Allah” for the word God. God is a close English translation for Arabic word “Allah” but does not quite capture the Arabic meaning. In the Arabic language “Allah” has no gender; therefore, no masculine or feminine connotation. “Allah” can only be used to describe “Allah”. Compare that to the English word God, which can be written as Gods implying more than one God, written as (g)od with a little “g” to denote a smaller god, smaller gods, or goddess to denote a female god. That is the reason you will see “Allah” being used instead of the word God, because “Allah” conveys the purest monotheistic meaning.
Muslims believe in all of God’s Angels. They believe God enjoins an infinite number of Angels to do His bidding. Each Angel is tasked with instructions on continuing God’s eternal work within the universe. All Angels have names and have their own hierarchy within God’s creation. ArchAngels are the highest in creation. Angel Gabriel ( pbuh) is among the Archangels and is considered the highest ranking among Angels and known as the Angel of Revelation. Muslims believe God sent revelations to His Prophets via Angel Gabriel (pbuh). Other archangels are Michael (pbuh), the Angel of Mercy, archangel Raphael (pbuh) who is tasked with blowing the horn announcing the commencement of the Day of Judgement and archangel Israel known as the Angel of Death. Muslims believe God has appointed two Angels to every person to record all their actions from birth until death. They are named “Kiriban & Kitabin”, and are over looking every person’s right and left shoulders. The Angel on the right is tasked with recording a person’s good deeds while the Angel on the left is recording their bad deeds. Muslims believe on the Day of Judgement, these recordings will be presented before God and each person will be judged accordingly.
Muslims believe in all of the Holy Books God has revealed to His Prophets. They are the Ten Commandments and Torah (Old Testament) given to Prophet Moses (pbuh). The Zaboor or Psalms of David given to Prophet David (pbuh), The Holy Bible given to Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and the Holy Qur’an given to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Muslims believe in all of God’s Prophets. From Prophet Adam (pbuh), who God created first all the way to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the last of the Prophets. Other Prophets Muslims believe in are Enoch, Noah, Hood, Saleh, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, Lot, Jonah, Zulkiff, David, Solomon, Elias, Zachariah, John the Baptist and Jesus. There are 25 major prophets of God mentioned in scriptures of the Holy Qur’an (may peace and blessings be upon them all)
There are quite a number of beliefs that are common between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Belief in the sanctity of life, in Creationism, Heaven and Hell, in Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and their Fall from Grace due to Satan’s deception. However, Muslims differ in their belief that both Adam and Eve were equally to blame for their transgression in approaching the Forbidden Tree of Knowledge. God cast both of them out of Paradise, yet when they asked God for repentance, He forgave them and placed them on earth and thus the beginning of mankind began. God forgave Adam And Eve because of their sincere repentance to Him. Because God accepted their repentance, there is no concept of Original Sin in Islam. All souls born into the world are innocent and free from sin.
Muslims believe in the story of Prophet Noah (pbuh), the flood and the “Ark of the Covenant”. Muslims believe in the story of Prophet Moses (pbuh) being raised in Pharaoh’s family, Moses (pbuh), his liberation of Israelites from Pharaoh’s bondage and God’s miracle of the parting of the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to escape Pharaoh’s army. Muslims believe Prophet Moses (pbuh) spoke to God and received the Sacred Scrolls of the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai.
Muslims believe Mary, Peace Be Upon Her, (pbuh) is the mother of Jesus (pbuh), his miraculous virgin birth and his speaking as an infant. Mary (pbuh) is absolutely revered and loved by Muslims. God explicitly identifies Mary (pbuh) as the “greatest of all women” in scriptures in the Holy Qur’an. Mary (pbuh) is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an scriptures by name 70 times and is the only woman mentioned in the Holy Qur’an by name. In fact, Mary (pbuh) is mentioned more times in the Holy Qur’an scriptures then in the Bible. Another fact that many Christians may not know of is there is an entire chapter in the Holy Qur’an, chapter 19, titled “Mary” (peace be upon her, (pbuh)) which is named after her. To give some religious perspective my studies of the New Testament showed Mary (pbuh), mother of Prophet Jesus (pbuh), was mentioned 12 times in the Gospel of Luke, 5 times in the Gospel of Matthew, once in the Gospel of Mark and once in the Book of Acts.
Muslims believe in the miracles God allowed Jesus (pbuh) to perform, giving sight to the blind, healing of lepers, breathing life into clay birds and the raising of the dead. Muslims do not believe that Jesus (pbuh) was crucified. They believe God raised Jesus to the Heavens and Jesus is alive to this very day. Muslims believe God changed the appearance of Judas who had betrayed Jesus and it was Judas whom the Romans crucified. The prophecy of Jesus according to Islam is that Jesus will be descend back to earth, battle the Anti-Christ and bring peace to the world.
I could continue to list more examples of commonality between Islam, Christianity and Judaism but these should suffice for now.