Islam is a religion shrouded to the Western world by mystery, vengeance, cruelty, and the subordination of women. While this may be the general view, things are not always as they seem. Remember; don't judge a book by its cover. You have to read it to find out what it's really about. Personally, I've always considered Islam to be a hateful, demeaning to women, vendetta-filled religion. But, after reading Understanding Islam, I have a slightly different view.
Islam is based upon the statement, 'There is no god but God, and Muhammad was his messenger.' Muhammad was the man to whom God revealed the Koran, the holy book of Islam. The Koran is meant to be read literally, which has made for some hardships through the centuries. There is not supposed to be any type of clergy or leadership, but due to the changing times and newly occurring things that the Koran does not address, and the belief of Islam that there should be no separation of religion and state, that the state is religion and vice versa, some leadership has arisen, in the form of Caliphs, qadis, ulamas, and others.
Sharia, the code of law based on the principles of the Koran, is what most Muslims live by. It is a code of ethics based on what is in the Koran, and Muhammad's example, used to deal with things that neither the Koran nor Muhammad addressed.
The five pillars of faith, or the five duties of a Muslim govern Islam. First, to be a Muslim, all one has to do is perform the first pillar, the profession of faith. 'There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.' To say that in from of several male Muslim witnesses makes one a Muslim. The...