By Penny Hoffmann
Islam, the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing religion, means “submission” to the will of Allah. “Muslim” means “one who submits” to Allah where “Allah” translates to “God” in Arabic. The literal meaning of Sharia – or Al-Shari’ah – is “the revealed law”. ‘Adherents of Islam are admonished by Allah to follow the clear and right way, the path of Shari’ah. Sharia law is based upon the word of Allah as expressed in the Qur’an, and the Sunnah, the traditions of Muhammad.
Sharia courts are essentially religious courts and there is no separation between church and state. It reaches into all aspects of one’s life. Sharia is not just the source of law, but is the source of all principles of Islamic life. Examples of this are: the requirement that women must wear a hijab in public, the prohibition on dating and marriage between a Muslim and non-Muslim, and abandonment of the Muslim faith being considered a crime.
The fact that Sharia law is taken directly from the Qur’an means that it is, in theory, unchanging and invariable. This is in direct contrast to secular law in locations such as Australia as secular law constantly evolves, both through the development of precedent and the passing of and amendments to legislation.
Muslims suggest that Islam was not founded by Muhammad, but rather it is rooted in the Abrahamic bloodline and thus much of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is Islamic, but Judaism and Christianity have corrupted them over time. Islam teaches that the Quran is the final and unaltered word of God, revealed to the last prophet, Muhammad, sent to mankind. Muhammad was born in 570AD and is, according to Muslims, God’s final prophet.
The Five Pillars of Islam
Islam has five pillars (basic acts). These are:
- Shahadah – there is one God and that is Allah. This means that Muslims are Unitarians, thus they reject the trinity.
- Salah – Salah means prayer, which Muslims do five times a day.
- Sakat – giving alms or charity.
- Hajj – an annual (if an adult Muslim is physically and financially capable of it while supporting their family) Islamic pilgrimage to the House of Allah (Kaaba) at Makkah (Mecca) at least once in their lifetime.
- Fasting – fasting occurs in the month of the Ramadan.
Muslims rely on sacred texts, where the Quran is the main sacred text, and authority within religious structures of Islam, known as doctors of the law. The basis for Islamic ethics is the relationship one has with Allah, oneself, and the community.