"God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches you by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly -- not one."

Spiritual Wellness

Our newspapers are full of news about Islam in this era. We hear about the beliefs and actions of some radical Muslims, and we hear about a growth in Islamic consciousness in countries like Iran and Afghanistan. Yet many non-Muslims know very little about the second most populous faith on earth (Christianity being the first), and not many blogs for Christian women ever provide their readers with much information about it.


Islam continues to grow, both in the geographical areas with which it is traditionally associated, and in Europe and North America. While some Muslims have been connected with terrorism and radical politics, Islam's manifestations around the world are as varied as the cultures in which it is located. For example, have you ever read any of the beautiful motivational spiritual quotes from the Sufi mystic Rumi? Perhaps one of his most popular saying is:


"God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches you by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly -- not one."


As you can see, it's worthwhile for non-Muslims to take some time to learn about Islam. Here are seven facts about Islam that everyone should know:


1) The History of Islam


The recorded history of Islam began relatively late in religious history, in about 610 A.D. According to Muslims, that is when an angel appeared to Muhammad and told him he was the messenger of God. However, Muslims also believe that their religion is the original monotheistic religion that includes all other legitimate revelations of God.


2) The Prohibition against Images


It is forbidden to create images representing Muhammad, who is considered by Muslims to be the last prophet of God. This is connected with a general prohibition against idolatry and is supported by a specific statement attributed to Muhammad.


3) Islam and Important Christian Figures


Abraham, Moses and Jesus are important prophets within Islam. However, Muslims do not consider Jesus to have been divine. In fact, there are no divine persons in Islam, though Muhammad is considered to have been sinless.


4) The Arabic Qur'an


The Qur'an, the sacred book of Islam, is considered authentic only in its original language, Arabic. While translations exist, these are not considered to be the equivalent of the Arabic original. Accordingly, all Muslims are expected to be able to read the Qur'an in Arabic, even if that is not their mother tongue.


5) Ramadan


During the Islamic month known as Ramadan, Muslims practice a strict fast: no eating or drinking from dawn to dusk. If a person breaks the fast for one day, an extra day of fasting must be added to the end of the month. Certain groups, such as pregnant and nursing women, are exempted.


6) The Pilgrimage to Mecca


All Muslims who are able to do so are expected to travel to Mecca, the holy city of Islam, once during their lives. As a result, over two million people make this pilgrimage every year. Specific ritual actions are prescribed for those who make the pilgrimage, corresponding to key events in the faith tradition (such as repeating certain actions attributed to Abraham).


7) Islam and Indonesia


The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia. The approximately 170 million Muslims there represent about 13 percent of the worldwide total.