Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

After eleven years outside Mecca, Muhammad, Islam’s founder, experienced an Ascension, in which he journeyed to heaven.

After praying, Muhammad was approached by the angel Gabriel. They mounted a winged steed called the buraq and traveled to Jerusalem, where the spirits of many prophets appeared. Muhammad led them in prayer. Then he remounted the buraq and ascended with Gabriel to heaven.

Muhammad said that heaven was difficult to describe. He said it was a combination of lights and sounds and flowing energy.


What does the word heaven mean to you? What do you imagine heaven looks like?

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During Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven, he was led into the presence of Allah. Allah said that Muslims were to pray fifty times each day.

On Muhammad’s way back to Earth, he met with Moses, who asked, “What has Allah told your followers to do?”

Muhammad answered that Allah wanted the faithful to pray fifty times a day. Moses urged Muhammad to return to Allah and ask Him to reduce the number of prayers, as Muhammad’s followers would not be able to pray that many times.

So Muhammad went back to Allah, and Allah reduced the number of prayers to forty each day. Moses insisted that this was still too much, and sent Muhammad back to Allah.

This happened several times; each time, Allah reduced the number of prayers, until the requirement stood at five prayers a day. Moses insisted that this was still too much, as he had tried to get people to pray in the past, and they could not accomplish this.

Muhammad replied, “I have already returned to my Lord till I am ashamed. I am satisfied, and I submit.”


What do these events tell you about the prophets and their followers?

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The word Islam means “surrender to the will of God.”

The word Muslim means “one who has surrendered.”


How do you think a deep sense of religious conviction can be seen as surrender?

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The Islamic holy book is known as the Qur’an, or Koran. The word Qur’an means “recitation.” It records Muhammad’s revelations from Allah.

Until about 650 C.E., the Qur’an existed only in oral form. Muhammad shared his revelations with his followers, who memorized his words. Then about twenty years after Muhammad’s death, all the revelations ere gathered together in written form.

Some Muslims objected to writing down Muhammad’s revelations. They said that if Muhammad had wanted these revelations committed to writing, he would have asked his followers to do this during his lifetime. Other leaders felt that it was essential. Their view prevailed, and the written Qur’an was prepared.


What reasons can you think of for writing down the revelations of Muhammad? List as many reasons as you can.

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Devout Muslims dedicate themselves to cultivating certain virtues and avoiding vices. Muslims are prohibited from doing many things.

They include spiritual prohibitions: Muslims should not deny the revelation of God to his prophets, swear falsely in the name of God, or lose hope in the mercy of God.

They also include behavioural prohibitions: Muslims should not deliberately kill another human being, lie, steal, cheat, betray their country, commit adultery, gamble, drink alcohol, oppress the people or aid an oppressor, or deliberately hinder a good cause.


Choose one of these prohibitions. Explain why you think it is important.

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In Islam, life is considered a gift from Allah. Accepting this gift leaves us with two obligations.

First, we must show our gratitude for this gift.

Second, in return for this gift, we must give ourselves to Allah by surrendering ourselves to his wishes.


Do you believe that life is a “gift?’ Explain why or why not.

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Islam includes five major principles known as the Five Pillars of Islam. These pillars are Shahadah, declaring one’s faith in Allah; salat, daily prayer; zakat, giving to charity; saum, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan; and Hajj, making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca


Many different cultures and religions have pillars or underlying principles that set them apart. Think of a group, religion, or other organization that has specific pillars. Explain these pillars and show how they make the group unique.

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The first Pillar of Islam, the Shahadah, is to say, “There is no god except Allah, and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

This declaration of faith asserts that Allah is all, and Allah alone is worthy of our total attention.


What are the benefits of declaring a belief aloud?

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The second Pillar of Islam, salat, is the ritual of praying five times a day.

There are two focuses one can have in prayer. The first, salat, consists of praising Allah. The second, known as du’a, or “calling on Allah,” means asking Allah for something.


What is the difference between praising Allah and asking Allah for help?

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The third Pillar of Islam is called zakat. It means charity or dues-to-the-poor.

There are certain requirements to be met before one can give the zakat. One must be an adult, have savings, and have paid all of one’s regular expenses. If these things are in order, Muslims pay 2.5% of their wealth to charity or government programs.

The purpose of this Pillar is to remind Muslims that those who are in need are entitled to assistance. The zakat purifies people of attachment to wealth and reminds them of Allah’s generosity.


The material world is said to distract people from leading a good life. Does a desire for money keep people from making the right decisions in life? Explain your opinion.

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