Submitting yourself to God does not bring redemption from sin in quite the Christian sense. While God is ultimately the source of all eventsâ€"and Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers alike differ with regard to the role and extent of predestination in Islamâ€"he has created man as a free-willed creature who brings evil on himself and his neighbours. Manâ€™s relationship to God is not that of a son who has rebelled, but that of a servant or slave who has failed due to weakness, forgetfulness, or lack of resolve. Godâ€™s self-disclosure through the Qurâ€™an isnâ€™t a way to understand the nature of God but of his commandments and will, with the guidelines that people obey the rules given to them. Submission is intended not only to please God but also to promote the welfare of humans as the pinnacle of creation, to assist them in gaining personal and social health in line with the natural goodness God has bestowed upon them.
Belief must issue in the 5 Pillars of Islam: confession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage. Though this may seem fairly simplistic, each of these must be performed in an exacting manner. Beyond these externals, the Muslim is told to live a perpetually God-conscious life in order to be in good standing with God above and to those around. Therefore, justice joins submission as a corner stone of Islam. Submission reflects the willingness to try to see things Godâ€™s way, while creation provides the opportunity for ethical living. This is the theory, in any case, as well as a belief that theremust be no compartmentalization of religious and secular areas of life, sacred and profane.
Hence, Islam does not have a separate Sabbath day, though Fridayâ€"the day when public prayers are held and a sermon givenâ€"has evolved into something of a set-apart day for Muslims who are able to treat it as it was meant to be. Prayers are uttered five times daily, requiring short interruptions of the personâ€™s activities, after which he or she returns to it. In areas dominated by Muslims, one can see people will pray almost anywhere: the janitor in the school, the taxi driver beside his vehicle, the chef in his kitchen.
Though salvation is considered a gift from God, an act of grace rather than a product of good works, the unrighteous need not expect it, while the righteous may reasonably hope for it.
The resemblance to Christianity is obvious, and indeed Muhammad did not think of himself as an innovator, but rather as a person appointed to recover the original Abrahamic monotheism, to dispense not only with rank paganism, but also with the overlay of Jewish and Christian corruptions which had obscured true religion. Innovation in religion is thought to be a grave sin in Islam. However much his critics may think he himself had muddied the waters, Muhammad appears to have considered himself as someone who clarified things; and although Islam has since developed its own diverse strains of thought and its own yammering, conflicting sects, an unyielding allegiance to its own clear-cut monotheism and its sense of its own archetypal authenticity remains normative within Islam. Regardless of the efforts of modernistsâ€"some sensitive, others less soâ€"and a full philosophical heritage, traditional doctrines have held up over time.
Muslim modernists argue that traditional beliefs have held up all too well, in the sense that they have hardened into something dry, lifeless, and disconnected from the realities of contemporary life. The ordinary Muslim is less likely to think along those lines than to adapt to the needs of the day as he sees fit, while seldom, if ever consciously questioning or repudiating tradition. Todayâ€™s politicized radical Islam has been conditioned by both modernists and archaists, the former with their demands for rationality and immediacy while the latter find their norms in a past based on myths, righteousness and orthodoxy. By combining futurism and archaism, political Islam identifies itself as a revolutionary movement like many others -- Nazism and Soviet Communism come to mind.
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