• Religion – a system of beliefs and practices
through which a group of peoples struggle
with the ultimate problems of human life
• Nearly every religion includes three things
– Rituals
– Myths
– Holy days
• Purpose/function of religion
Sense of belonging
Answers and explains
Provides values
Meaning of life
• Why can religion cause war?
– Belief in only one faith, the correct faith
– Entangles with politics
The Beginnings
• Muhammad is the founder of Islam
– Muhammad is believed to be the last prophet of
– When he was 25 he had mystical encounters
with Gabriel
– He was forced to flee Mecca and went to
Medina for safety
– By 632 A.D. he persuaded most of the Arabian
Peninsula to follow his religion
– By 1500 A.D. Islam dominates Arabia, Africa
and Asia
• The Religion
– Arabic – the sacred language of Islam
– Monotheistic
– Allah – the Muslim name for God
• Same god as Christians and Jews
– Quran (Koran) – Sacred text of Islam
– Mecca – spiritual center for Islam
– Holy cities are Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina
Five Pillars of the Muslim faith
1. Shahada – declaration of beliefs
“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet.”
2. Salat – Prayer
Pray five times a day (dawn, mid-day, late-afternoon, sunset,
and nightfall)
Pray in Arabic
3. Sawm – Fasting
Observed during the daylight hours during Ramadan
Abstention from food and drink
Five Pillars (cont’d)
4. Zakat – Purification of wealth (tithing or
5. Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca
Muslims need to go on pilgrimage at least once in
a lifetime
Go to the Kabul, or granite block covered in a
black cloth
They wear special clothing so social class can’t be
Must follow the five pillars daily
• Sects
– Shi’ites
• Follow Ali, Muhammad’s cousin
• Leaders must be political and spiritual
• Must be from Muhammad’s bloodline
– Sunnis
• Leaders can be just spiritual
• Doesn’t have to be from the bloodline of Muhammad
– These differences lead to hatred among the Muslims
• Iraq is Sunni, Iran is Shi’ite
• Iraq is Arab, Iran is Persian

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