The Quran is the fundamental spiritual text which the Islamic community regards as the literal utterance of God. It comprises a number of verses which combine to form chapters. These chapters are further categorized as either Meccan or Median. The Muslim community generally believes the angel Gabriel by order of God revealed the Quran by word of mouth to Muhammad. These revelations supposedly took place during one of Prophet’s numerous retreats in mountains. The Islamic community believes that Muhammad received his initial revelation in the Cave of Hira. This was the beginning of a number of other revelations which occurred throughout twenty-three year period (Abu Productive, 2011).
According to the Oxford Centre of Islam studies (2012), the prophet Muhammad received revelations of the Quran in two distinct places; first at Mecca, after it he went back safely to his people; this revelation is commonly acknowledged as the Meccan revelation. It is supposed that it occurred during Ramadan. Second revelation came in Medina after his resettlement in A.D 622; then he instituted the Muslim community. The angel Gabriel showed himself to the prophet, who is often considered to be illiterate, and bestowed on him the responsibility of delivering the message of God to the people. “Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write...” (Qur'an 7:157).
The message from the Quran was generally transmitted by means of recitation and memorization of it. The angel’s frequent visits to Muhammad generated the distinct form of delivering messages. Recitation and memorization of the Quran provided a unique way of teaching people. Because Muhammad could not read or write, these methods offered him an appropriate way of teaching people the word of God. This also offered an easier way of reciting; individuals could remember teachings. These methods enabled the chosen messenger to pass on teachings to others who, consequently, passed the message to others.
An Overview the way Qur'an describes Itself
The Quran identifies itself as a subsequent revelation to the chosen messenger by the angel Gabriel over a period of time. It authenticates itself in various verses it contains and in historical verification. For example, in XVII: 106 "and it is a Qur'an that we have divided that you may recite it to mankind at intervals and we have revealed it by (consecutive) revelations.” This quotation reveals subsequent occurrences in the revelations of Muhammad, which took place over a period of time. It is evident that the angel kept coming back to the messenger to review the messages from God and to ensure that people learnt as required (Mamoon, 2011).
Chapters and verses in the Quran are arranged in such a way that they relate to the happenings of the Prophet’s mission. For instance, the events that occurred prior to his migration and the formation of the Islamic community in Mecca, relates to the verses that focus on invitation of polytheist to put their belief in God and efforts to fight worship of idols. Additionally, the Quran identifies itself as the uttered word from God to His people. This is evidenced in Sura 85:22 where the Holy teachings are said to be the direct message from God.
Various statements have been made about the teachings of the Islamic community that they support rivalry between different religions. Despite the recitations made during the maltreatment that took place in Mecca, the Quran defends itself against these accusations by inciting the Islamic community to fight in defense of themselves from other religions. In Sura 67:26 and 22:49 the Quran quotes, “Say ‘... I am sent only to warn plainly in public” and “Say, ‘O men! I am (sent) to you only to give a clear warning.” Here, the Prophet provides a clear outline of the responsibility bestowed upon him by God. He was to teach and provide a right way for people and not encourage them to fight and resist other religions (Mamoon, 2011).
Implications of the importance of the Qur’an for Muslim Faith and Practice
The Quran provides a clear guideline and requirement for the Muslim community. It gives a comprehensible outline about the origins of the Muslim community and their religion. In its teachings it offers an appropriate advice how people are to live. These teachings are of vital importance for the Muslims as it is considered to be the original word of God. Therefore, the believers are obliged to abide them and to pass them on to other generations byy means of recitations and memorizing. By describing faith and religious practices, the Quran offers a distinctive way God expects them to live. In essence, the teachings should be treated with utmost respect and consideration as it is believed to be the verbal declarations of God to the Prophet.
By following these teachings, the Islamic community should continue with the original mode of teaching. For instance, older privileged members who have studied and internalized the teachings could encourage younger generations to learn by means of reciting the teachings. In addition, it is vital for Muslims to memorize the words as they are written to avoid misquotations and provide them with a strong basis of defending their beliefs when they face various accusations. The ability to recite the verses and memorize the teachings equips believers with a definite way of leading their religious lives.
Moreover, it is important for people to keep reading the Quran each day to memorize it. This enable individuals to use the traditional mode as it happened when the angel Gabriel kept coming to the Prophet in a number of revelations to help him to memorize the teachings. Considering the contact with different religions on a daily basis, it is important for the Islamic populace to have the teachings at hand due to controversial issues that tend to contradict some feasibility of Islamic beliefs. Reviewing the teachings on a daily basis enables people to remember their origins.
An overview of the so-called “Five Pillars”
The five pillars of the Islamic community constitute the basic acts of their religious obligation. These frameworks portray a symbol of obedience to the religion. Testimony is the acknowledgement from the community of the prophet hood of Muhammad and the message from God. This is a vital aspect of the Islam religion, in fact, for one to be converted, he or she has to recite the acknowledgement of the existence of Allah and Muhammad as His messenger, "I testify that there is no god except Allah and (I testify that) Muhammad is the messenger of God." Worship is another vital pillar for the religion. It comprises special prayers that need to be performed at different times of the day. First is the Fajr, which is usually executed in the morning. The Zhur is mostly performed in the middle of the day and Isha’a later in the evening. Before praying individuals need to cleanse themselves (Sachiko & Chittick, 1994).
Fasting is majorly considered a form of repentance. This pillar mostly comprises a ritual of fasting during the month of Ramadan. This is an obligatory condition for adults; however, exceptions are usually made for those who have medical complications. During these occasions individuals get in touch with their inner selves and repent for the sins they have committed. Almsgiving and pilgrimage are the other two the most important aspects of Islam. In almsgiving individuals are required to engage themselves in altruistic activities, it normally concerns those who have the possibility; for example, the privileged help to boost the economic condition of the less privileged.
Pilgrimage among Muslims is considered to be a vital practice in the life of any individual. This is a mandatory exercise conducted during the Dhu al-Hijjah month to Mecca. Individuals have a unique mode of dressing during this journey. After a successful trip one obtains the title Hajj, which is often honorary as it portrays an individual’s commitment to the belief and religion on the whole. However, there are other instances when believers make a pilgrimage to the Holy city not during the required season. These trips are considered requisite and often referred to as Umrah (Sachiko & Chittick, 1994).
The most Important Pillars for Observance in the Islam Religion and their Importance in maintaining Faith in God
Giving of alms signifies a social responsibility of individuals. This is because the Islamic community usually considers this practice as an act of charity; the privileged commit themselves to support and help those who are less privileged in the society. This exercise helps to build relationships and improve living standards of those who seem to be in need of something. By giving alms people acknowledge the need to help others and their declaration to live by the Quran. Acts of kindness are also obligatory, especially when one is not financially challenged.
The pillar of fasting is also more important than the other pillars as it reveals dedication of an individual to abide the set laws of the Islam. During this period individuals review their actions and seek repentance from God. This is regarded as an act of faith which shows that an individual is ready to advance in his or her spiritual life. Moreover, this pillar defines a period when people try to keep from going against the religious laws by avoiding actions and circumstances that could lead them to a sin. Abstinence from obscene things is mandatory. This is a vital pillar as it gives individuals an opportunity to retrace their steps in faith and make amendments to their creator (Abu Productive, 2011).
The two pillars of fasting and giving of alms are essential for an individual and help them to strengthen their faith because they provide occasions when individuals are given an opportunity to reflect on their actions and faith. Additionally, it gives them a chance to make amendments and be able to appreciate the blessings they have obtained from God. For instance, in fasting focus is made on the needy in the society. Similarly to the pillar of giving alms, people come together to help others by performing acts of kindness. These pillars enable people to give back to God indirectly, through helping the needy and re-evaluating their faith and belief.
Reasons why the practice of these activities is so Important
The religion of Islam is majorly defined by the beliefs and practices of people who belong to this religion. For example, the ability to acknowledge the presence of God and His chosen messenger Muhammad is the first step in conceding that one is a Muslim. If one fails to do this, he or she cannot be accepted as a true Muslim. The pillars of the religion are a paramount necessity which describes what entails Islamism. In addition, the pillars provide a guidance which the believers follow. This helps them in their spiritual walk and defines the appropriate way for them to conduct (Abu Productive, 2011).
Exercising the pillars is fundamental, but without a belief in something, there is no religion. For example, if a Muslim does not follow the pillars that define the religion, he or she is likely to be considered rebellious and may not be acknowledged as the one of the believers. That is why the pillar of pilgrimage can be considered as the reminder to individuals of their faith and beliefs. Moreover, it gives one an opportunity to appreciate the founders of the community and follow the teachings of the Prophet.
Overly, it is important and essential for all self proclaimed Muslims to do the practice of the pillars that define their faith because it symbolizes their obedience to the word of God, which was delivered to them by the Prophet and the angel Gabriel. The five pillars of Islam are the major foundations of the religion. Besides, it helps in building a sense of belonging for the believers as they have a common practice, which identifies them as a whole. It can be said that these pillars help in holding the religion together by means of involving its believers in universal practices.