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Islam

The life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad and central to the practices, ethics and ways of life for Muslims. This is due to the divine revelations of Allah through Muhammad, revelations that formed the Quran which became the most important text for Muslims. All Islamic adherents follow closely the revelations in the Quran, shaping their daily lives and actions. However, the Quran is not the sole provider of guidance. Muhammads actions were recorded and put into a text called the Hadith, so that the prophets examples could be followed at a later time. Ultimately, the revelations of Muhammad are immensely important (although they do not provide the only guidance) in the lives of Muslims, as the Quran is the basis for belief, worship and conduct for Muslims. When Muslims read or hear the Quran, they believe that it is Allah himself speaking to them, giving the help, support or guidance. Divine revelation is important in any religion, but Muslims regard the Quran as unique as its passages were composed by Allah and not human authors.1 A beacon has come to you from GOD, and a profound scripture. (Quran 5:15). This being the case, Muslims take great care in following whatever interpretation they take of it as closely as possible. Muslim adherents thus centre their lives on the Quran and therefore their lives and the revelations of Muhammad are intrinsically intertwined. The Five Pillars of faith give structure and meaning to Islamic life, particularly since religion is the essence of Muslim identity. Following these pillars is an expression of this identity in a rigid structure. The most influential pillar on day to day life is that of Salat, or daily prayer, which occurs five times every day. 2The necessity to pray five times a day is an extremely important part of Muslim life, and it often means that Islamic adherents need to organise the rest of their daily lives around these times each day. The revelations of Muhammad suggest that the pillar of almsgiving requires each Muslim person to give up a some of their wealth and possessions to worthy causes; however, this is too great a burden for some in a modern day context and thus those who cannot afford it are not forced to comply with Zakat.3 This slight juxtaposition of the pillars of faith importance show how some of the revelations of Muhammad have become obsolete but the net effect of his revelations are still incredibly important to the lives of all Muslim adherents. The first pillar of faith, or the proclamation of Allah as the one God, is a motif in many aspects of the Islamic faith. There is no God but Allah and his prophet is Muhammad. It is not only used ceremonially, but the creed is also used as a part of prayer and has its place as a verbal symbol, somewhat similar to the crucifixion in Christianity. 4This proclamation is the first revelation that Muhammad preached and is thus reinforced in Islamic communities by whispering it into the ears of newborn children, using it at funerals, weddings
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Ganeri, Sacred Texts: The Quran and Islam (London: Evans Brothers ltd.) p.14 Hassan, Inside Muslim Minds (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press) p.62 3A. Ganeri, Sacred Texts: The Quran and Islam (London: Evans Brothers ltd.) p.16 4 W.C. Smith, Patterns of Faith Around the World (Oxford: Oneworld Publications) p.62-69
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and many other aspects of life. In saying that Muhammad is his (Allahs) prophet, Muslims comment on his function as the instrument of God in delivering the revelations that Islam was begun on. The Hajj, or pilgrimage is a large part of Islamic identity, it is the fifth pillar. All Muslims strive to make the Hajj at least once in their lives but some are unable to. This part of Muhammads revelations would seem to suggest that the Quran is exclusively important in the lives of Muslims, however, Muhammads actions and ways in which he demonstrated the revelations are supplementary to the Quran.5 The Quran is an essential part of a Muslims everyday life, but it is only when combined with the Hadith that Muslims can follow the path of Muhammad. The Quran tells Muslims to dress modestly and Muhammad had his wives wear veils, this demonstrates how the importance of the Quran is supplemented by Muhammads actions in the Hadith. In the event that a new law is required, however, the Quran has priority over all other sources of Islamic teachings, thus the revelations of Muhammad continue to influence modern Islam. The overarching concept of Shariah law is made up of the teachings in the Quran and the Hadith. It is a code of conduct which provides Muslims with all the basic rules of how people should live. It sets out five categories of behaviour ranging from things that are compulsory to do as part of the faith, to that which is totally forbidden. According to Islamic belief, it is the following of Shariah law that becomes the determining factor in ones judgment by Allah. All sources of ethics are therefore important to follow, and although the Quran is the most important of these, the others cannot be overlooked.6 Ultimately, the beacon from God is extremely important in the lives of all Muslims as it dictates heavily how they conduct themselves, their daily practices and also the behavioural inclinations. Being the direct word of Allah, the Quran is of utmost importance and it is, in some cases, even sinful to not follow exactly as the Quran states. The Hadith is also a significant part of Muslims lives. This does not detract from the Quran, but rather supplements it and Muhammad as an instrument of God thus has great importance in the lives of Muslims outside of his revelations.

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J. Bowker, Beliefs that changed the world (London: Quercus) p.74 J. Bowker, Beliefs that changed the world (London: Quercus) p.74

Bibliography Armstrong, K. Islam, A Short History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000 Bowker, J. Beliefs That Changed The World. London: Quercus, 2007 Ganeri, A. Sacred Texts: The Quran and Islam. London: Evans Brothers Limited, 2003 Hassan, R. Inside Muslim Minds. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008 Smith, W.C. Patterns of Faith Around the World. Oxford: Oneworld, 1998.