UnderstandingIslamby Yahiya EmerickA Pearson Education Company

Contents at a GlancePart 1: Introducing Islam1 Why Has Islam Become So Important?Get to know who Muslims are and why there has beensuch a misperception about them.132 Food for the SoulLearn who Allah is, what Islam teaches about Him, andwhat Islam says about genies and magic.173 Looking at Life the Islamic WayDiscover how Islam views human nature and what happens to people who were good or evil in this life accordingto Islam.274 All About AllahCompare Islam’s understanding of God with Judaism andChristianity.37Part 2: The Spiritual World in Islam475 The Four Stages of Life in IslamLearn about the four stages of life in Islam and whatIslam says about the sanctity of life in the womb.496 Islam on Heaven and HellLearn what will happen on Judgment Day, why everyonemust pass over a bridge to get to Heaven, and why Hell isnot forever for everybody.637 In the Beginning An Islamic PerspectiveRead about the Qur’an’s version of “In the beginning .”758 The Measurement of LifeLearn why Muslims are not taught to be fatalistic, despitepopular stereotypes.899 From Adam to ArmageddonDiscover how Islam explains the spread of humanity allover the Earth and what Muslims believe aboutArmageddon and the return of Jesus.99Part 3: The Five Pillars of Islam11110 Declaring Faith in IslamBecome acquainted with the five pillars of Islam and whatthey mean in the daily life of a Muslim.11311 Understanding Muslim PrayersDiscover what’s actually going on in the ritualistic Muslimprayers and what Muslims are praying for.123

12 Elevating the SoulDiscover why charity and fasting are an integral part ofthe Islamic method for self-improvement.13913 Gathering in MeccaFollow Muslims on their annual pilgrimage to the desertcity of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.15114 Uncovering the Real Story About JihadLearn why jihad is so misunderstood among Muslims andnon-Muslims.165Part 4: Islam and Other Religions17715 It’s All in the ProphetsDiscover the way in which Islam promotes religious tolerance all over the world.17916 Jews in IslamLearn about the history of Jewish-Muslim relations andhow Islam protected the Jews for over a thousand years.19117 Christianity and IslamRediscover Jesus—from the viewpoint of Islam.201Part 5: Regulating Life Within the Laws of Islam21518 Exploring the Sources of IslamRead more about the Qur’an and the other sources ofIslamic teachings that Muslims consult.21719 Living IslamFind out how Islam strives to build an ordered society thatis beneficial to all people in the community.23320 Looking at Women in IslamDiscover the role of women in an Islamic society and howIslam has been one of the most progressive systems forpromoting women’s equality.249Part 6: The History of Islam26721 Muhammad in MeccaDiscover the man who would alter human history foreverwith the cry that there is no god but God.26922 The Victory of IslamLearn how (and why) Islam transformed traditional Arabculture.27923 The Rightly Guided SuccessorsFind out why Islam was able to expand so rapidly fromArabia into the Middle East. Learn about the first Muslimcivil war and why it occurred.287

24 Islamic Civilization: The Dynastic PeriodExplore the wonders of Islamic history and the greatachievements that were produced in the arts, literature,and philosophy.29725 Islam in AmericaFind out how Europe came to dominate the entire Muslimworld in only 300 years and how the legacy of Colonialism has shaped current world events for Muslims.309Part 7: The Legacy of Islam31926 Discover the Influences of IslamDiscover how Islam has touched your life in ways younever would have expected.32127 Meet the Islamic Sectarian MovementsMeet the different sects currently flourishing in theMuslim world.33128 Islam in World Affairs TodayLearn about the misuse of Islam by political factions andhow to read what’s really going on.343AppendixesA The Islamic Calendarvi355B Common Prophets in the Qur’an357C Further Reading359D Glossary365Index373

ContentsPart 1: Introducing Islam1 Why Has Islam Become So Important?13The Muslims Are Coming! .4Why Didn’t I Learn More About Islam in School? .5Muslims, Muslims Everywhere! .7Does Islam Encourage War? .9Muslim Missionary Efforts .10How Did Muslims Get There? Thank the British! .11Is There Really a Clash of Civilizations? .12Bridging the Next Gap .132 Food for the Soul17The Core Beliefs of Islam .18We All Have the Same God .18The Universe Is Muslim! .20Aladdin Rubbed the Wrong Lamp .21Touched by an Angel .22Accepting the Burden .22Was God Right to Make Us? .23Soul Soup .24Our Compass Points Inward .24Can You Stand on One Leg? .263 Looking at Life the Islamic Way27The Three-Fold Journey .28The Animal in All of Us .28Stepping Up to the Plate .29The Supreme Achievement .30Sin and Redemption .30How Does God Forgive? .31Law and Order .32Everything Counts When It Counts .32The Last Payday .33Our Report Card .34There’ll Be Hell to Pay .34

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam4 All About Allah37God and Hollywood .38There Is Only One God .39Does God Show Himself to Us? .39Islam on God .40Pagan Arab Beliefs Before the Coming of Islam .41The Qur’an Speaks .42Man and God .42Do Muslims Believe in Original Sin? .43How Close Is Close? .44Allah Has Many Names .45Part 2: The Spiritual World in Islam475 The Four Stages of Life in Islam49Four Lives for Each Life .50Life in the Womb .50Abortion and Islam .51Islam and Contraception .52When Is a Fetus a Person? .52Life in the World .54Does God Try to Fool Us? .55Careful! You’re Being Watched .55Life in the Grave .58Spirit on a Wing .58Soul Storage .596 Islam on Heaven and Hell63Why Have a Judgment Day? .64The Long Arm of the Law .64When Will It Come? .65The Judgment Cometh .67Allah Is Merciful .68The Bridge over Hell .68Use Your Time Wisely .70The Gardens of Paradise .70No Dancing with the Devil Here! .72Why Does God Punish? .74viii

Contents7 In the Beginning An Islamic Perspective75The Creation of the Universe .76Allah’s Notebook .76Creation in the Qur’an .77Six Days and Still No Rest .78Islam and Evolution .79Adam and Eve: A New Perspective .81An Implausible Theory .83The Angels Had Us Pegged .83The Education of Adam .84The First Racist .84The Great Test .86Pass It On .878 The Measurement of Life89Destiny, Fate, or Free Will—Which Is It? .90It’s Not Written in the Stars .90Watching Time Go By .91All Things Great and Small .92What You Can and Can’t Do .93Living Free of All Worry .94Peace from the Pulpit .959 From Adam to Armageddon99No Tower of Babel Here.100The Rise of the Prophets .101How Religion Becomes Lost .102The Cycle of History.103The End Is Near! .104Prophecies About the Muslim World .105The Signs of the Hour .106The False Prophets .107The Rule of Jesus .108Gog and Magog .109The Last Day .109ix

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding IslamPart 3: The Five Pillars of Islam10 Declaring Faith in Islam111113Introducing the Five Pillars of Islam .114The Shahadah .115Uncompromising Monotheism .115Are Muslims Idol-Breakers? .116And Muhammad Is His Prophet .119Expressions of Respect .120The Welcoming Tie .12111 Understanding Muslim Prayers123Supplication Versus Prayer .124Why Do We Pray? .126The Benefits of Prayer .126The Seven Preconditions .127Cleanliness Is Next To .128The Muslim Call to Prayer.128Humble Pie .131The Prayer Described .133Remembrance of God .13612 Elevating the Soul139The Burden of Wealth .140Bah! Humbug! .141Who Must Pay Zakat? .143Who Gets Zakat Assistance? .144The Sin of Denying Your Brother.144The Fast of Ramadan .145Welcoming Ramadan .146Wake Up! It’s Time for Sahoor .146The Month of Training .14813 Gathering in Mecca151Introducing the Hajj Ritual .152The Origin of a Holy Place .153Why Do Muslims Go to Mecca? .155x

ContentsThe Rituals of Hajj .157On to Mecca! .158Nothing Like Being There .159Crew Cut, Anyone? .161Continuing the Journey.16214 Uncovering the Real Story About Jihad165What Is Jihad? .166Social Activism in Islam .167The Myth of the Holy War .169A Historical Misunderstanding .169A False Alarm .171Islam on War .171What Makes a Terrorist? .172Islam and Terrorism .174The Rules of War .174Part 4: Islam and Other Religions15 It’s All in the Prophets177179All Prophets Are Brothers .180Will the Real Prophet Please Stand Up .181Introducing the Prophets in Islam .183Looking at the Characteristics of the Prophets .185Abraham and Muhammad .186Moses Learns a Lesson .187Prophethood Is a Men’s Club, but Revelation Is Equal .187Prophets on Judgment Day .188The Books of God .18816 Jews in Islam191The People of the Book .192Judaism and Islam .192The Qur’an on Judaism .196The Only Muslim-Jewish War .197Jews in the Muslim Empire .199xi

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam17 Christianity and Islam201Setting the Stage .202Muhammad and the Monk .202An Interesting Proposal .203Christianity and Jesus in the Qur’an .205Original Sin and All That .207Interfaith Dialogue .209The Activist Popes .210Build More Churches!.212Part 5: Regulating Life Within the Laws of Islam 21518 Exploring the Sources of Islam217A Closer Look at the Qur’an .218Style and Content .219Meccan and Medinan Revelations .222The Compilation .223Major Themes of the Qur’an .225The Teachings of the Prophet .225How Are Hadiths Different from the Qur’an? .226Who Recorded the Hadiths? .226Hadith Literature: A Snapshot .227The Companions of the Prophet.228Early Meccan Converts .228Prominent Women .229The ‘Ulema: Scholars of the Faith .229Early Theologians .230The Five Imams .231Activist Scholars .23119 Living Islam233Islam and the Family .234The Ties That Bind .234The Ideal Muslim Home.235Spare the Rod .236Welcome to My Mosque .236What Happens in a Mosque? .237No Shoes Allowed! .237Friday, the Day of Gathering .238xii

ContentsThe Features of a Masjid .238What Is an Imam? .239Ceremonies for Life .240Nikah: Marriage in Islam .240Aqiqah: Welcoming Baby .241Janazah: Muslim Funerary Rites .242Completing the Qur’an.243Islamic Holidays .243Ramadan and ’Eid ul Fitr .243After the Hajj: ’Eid ul Adha.243Other Holidays of Note .244Halal and Haram: What Can a Muslim Do? .244The Muslim Kosher Standard .244Islam Forbids Intoxicants .245Gambling.245Music and Islam .246Animal Rights and Islam .246Monetary Restrictions .24720 Looking at Women in Islam249Does Islam Teach Inequality? .250Beyond Stereotypes .250The Struggle for Equal Rights .252Myths About Muslim Women .254Arranged Marriages .255The Taliban and Women .256Anomalies in the Muslim World .258Women’s Rights in Islam .258Are Women “Half” of Men? .258Why Only Half an Inheritance? .259Does Islam Allow Wife Abuse? .259Polygamy in Islam .260Divorce in Islam .261Talaq: Male-Initiated Divorce .262Khul’: Female-Initiated Divorce .262Alimony and Palimony in Islam.262Islam and the Dress Code .263On Veils and Turbans .263Purdah and Islam .264xiii

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding IslamPart 6: The History of Islam21 Muhammad in Mecca267269Arabia: The Birthplace of Islam .269Meet Muhammad’s Parents .270Thank God I’m a Country Boy! .270War and Trade in Mecca .271Muhammad: Citizen of Mecca .271A Prophet Is Chosen .272What Was Islam Asking of the Meccans? .272How Was Islam Received in Mecca? .273The African Migrations .274Muhammad’s Night Journey and Ascension .274The Great Escape! .27622 The Victory of Islam279The First Islamic State .280The Desperate Times .280The Battle of Badr .281The Battle of Uhud.282The Battle of the Ditch.283The Conquest of Mecca .283Confronting the Superpowers .284Taking Another Look at Muhammad’s Marriages .285The Passing of a Prophet .28623 The Rightly Guided Successors287Islam on Government .288The Caliphate of Abu Bakr As-Sadeeq .289Umar ibn al Khattab and Persia’s Defeat.290Uthman ibn Affan and the Great Conspiracy .291Ali ibn Abi Talib.292The Battle of the Camel .293The Struggle for Power .294A Compromise with Syria.294xiv

Contents24 Islamic Civilization: The Dynastic Period297The Umayyads .298How the Caliphate Became Hereditary .298The Abbasids and the Mongol Invasions .300The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization .300Islamic Art Forms .301Architecture .302Literature .302The Beginnings of Rival Muslim States .303Islam and Spain: A Unique Blend .304The Mughals .305The Crusades .306Europe’s First Colonies .306The End of a Dream .30725 Islam in America309The Forgotten Religion of African Americans .310The Rise of African American Islam .312Malcolm X: Martyr of Islam.313Islam Among African Americans Today .314Muslim Immigrants and the American Dream.315Caucasian Converts to Islam .316Hispanic Muslims .316Muslim Organizations in North America .317Part 7: The Legacy of Islam26 Discover the Influences of Islam319321Charting the Muslim Influence on Europe .322Illuminating the Science Hall of Fame .324Speaking in a Familiar Tongue .326Uncovering the Unique Features ofIslamic Civilization .32727 Meet the Islamic Sectarian Movements331Sectarianism and Islam .332A Quick Look at Early Sects .332Beliefs of the Kharajites .333The Greek Rationalists .333xv

The Sunnis and Shi’as .334The Sufi Path .33728 Islam in World Affairs Today343The Death and Rebirth of Islam .344Why Has God Let Muslims Fail in War? .345The Rebirth of an Ideal .345What Do Muslims Want? .346The Establishment of Israel .348The Iranian Revolution .350The Satanic Verses .351Islam, the Next Chapter .352AppendixesxviA The Islamic Calendar355B Common Prophets in the Qur’an357C Further Reading359D Glossary365Index373

ForewordIslam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. At present, the United Statesis home to 3 million to 4 million Muslims. Islam has attracted and transformed thelives of activists, rappers, politicians, artists, athletes, academics, and even scores ofstudents in the Midwest. However, even with the number of Americans converting toIslam increasing exponentially each year, Islam still remains shrouded in mystery.With all of the misunderstanding that revolves around this belief, why are so manypeople accepting its way of life? What answers does Islam hold for the many culturesand ethnicities that kneel for prayer five times a day saying: “God is Great; God isOne”? The answer may lie in its ability to bring about balance.When I first met Yahiya Emerick I saw a man in balance: a true son of the heartyAmerican Midwest—canoe, corndogs, and all—who could recite prayers in flawlessArabic. Inspired by the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, he could also cite the chapterand verse of various laws and edicts of the Qur’an. Yahiya could give heart-thumpingFriday sermons at the mosque and then easily pull a pack of teens together to gocamping in the “sticks.” I witnessed a man juggling his American identity and hisIslamic soul and gracefully striking a balance. Since converting to Islam in his freshmen year at Michigan State University, Yahiya Emerick has been writing, researching,and publishing texts about Islam for the last decade. Specifically, his goal is to examine what is truly advocated within the essence of Islam, rather than what is done (incorrectly) in the name of Islam. In this book, he clarifies the incongruent actions ofsome Muslims and holds them up against the light of the Holy Qur’an to illustratewhat Islam advocates and prohibits.Yahiya Emerick presents a birds-eye view of the Islamic tapestry in a logical and easyto-understand format. The thread: knowledge that spans three continents. The pattern: events of the past and the present. The finished product: a garment to be wornby you as a reminder of the journey you have taken. He places each design, eachpoint in history, at close range so as to elucidate the true impact of Islam’s place inhistory. Be it medicine or mathematics, the role of Islam is presented as more thanjust a month of fasting and women wearing dark veils.Yahiya Emerick has definitely paid his dues. Whether it’s working as an assistant principal and teacher in a Muslim school or leading the Friday prayer he manages to present an image of tangibility. His example is seen as a reminder for the youth heteaches: Islam is not an unapproachable belief. It is a system that balances economics,politics, morality, and social structure as a simple way of life—from God we came; toHim shall we return.This book has its own balance. It pulls no punches on any of its topics. It examinesIslam on a level plain—no smoke and mirrors—just a clear investigation

12 Elevating the Soul 139 Discover why charity and fasting are an integral part of the Islamic method for self-improvement. 13 Gathering in Mecca 151