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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Five Pillars of Islam

The Good Confession: for Disciples the two parts are (1) Jesus is the Son of God and (2) Jesus is my personal Savior; for Muslims (1) there is no God but God and (2) Mohammed is God's prophet.

Prayer: Muslims are to live in prayer. (Compare 1 Thes. 5:16-18) They are to at least 5 times a day face Mecca and pray.

Charity: Christians 10% of income; Muslims 2 1/2% of income AND holdings. Also, Muslims are supposed to give directly to those in need.

Fasting: Christians still fast sometimes. Muslims fast from sun up to sun down during Ramadan, one month.

Pilgrimage: Once in their lives Muslims are to make the trip from Medina to Mecca. I don't know that Jews(Jerusalem) or Christians(Rome) have anything similar. I'm a Disciple, so I guess my Pilgrimage should be to Indianapolos, Indiana--or perhaps Cane Ridge in Kentucky.

Of course, the devil is in the details. Islam, according to Huston, recognizes four great revelations, first the oneness of God to Abraham, second the Ten Commandments to Moses, third the Greatest Commandment to Jesus (Love your God and, likewise, love your neighbor as yourself), and finally the means to carrying out love of your God and your neighbor. This results in classifying every action as some where on the continuum between required and forbidden.

These systems, for me, always fail. They are too limiting stealing joy away from their adherrents. They are too easily worked around, allowing their adherents to legally commit acts of injustice. I'm a Christian in part because I believe there are times when the right thing to do can require even breaking one of the ten commandments. I also can't help but notice that violent extremists--and I think anyone reading this can think of Christian, Muslim and Jewish examples pretty easily--often seem to be among the devotees putting the law ahead of humans.

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