The breaking of the fast and nightly prayers with families from the Islamic Society of Gladstone.
The breaking of the fast and nightly prayers with families from the Islamic Society of Gladstone. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Answered: The 8 big questions about Islam

UNIVERSITY of the Sunshine Coast Sociology lecturer DR PHILLIP ABLETT answers some of the difficult questions regarding Islam, sharia law and how the religion closely relates to other faiths.


Are Muslims people who believe in Islam or are their there different types of faiths in the religion as there are in Christianity?

A: Yes, Islam, which means peace, is the religion. Muslims are the believers, although there is difference between Sunni, Shiite and Sufi Muslims.


What is the difference?

A: It is like the division between the Protestants and the Catholics. They both read the Koran, but have different interpretations.


Are there different versions of the Koran?

A: No, there is only one Koran, but it can be interpreted differently.


Do all Muslims follow sharia law?

A: No, not all Muslims have to follow sharia law. The orthodox claim they do, but in Indonesia the proponents of sharia law are in the minority.

What is sharia law?

A: It is a law similar to Old Testament law. It came from the same part of the world (as the Old Testament). However, the criminal code is only a small part of it and only a few Muslim countries implement harsh traditional penalties. The whole jurisprudence around it is similar to Rabbinic Judaism in interpretation. It is from the commentary on the books of Moses.


Does Islam have anything to do with Abraham (from the Old Testament, the father of the Jewish nation)?

A: Yes, Abraham had two sons, Ishmael (from Hagar) and Isaac (from Abraham's wife Sarah). Ishmael is the father of the Arabs, Abraham the father of the Jews. Judaism, Christianity and Islam acknowledge Abraham.


Do Muslims believe in Jesus?

A: Yes, Muslims acknowledge five Biblical prophets - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and they have Mohammed, whom they believe is God's final prophet to humanity. They believe Jesus will come again but they don't believe he died on the cross as they have trouble believing God would have his messenger killed. Islam is more accepting of Jesus than Judaism.

If this is the case, why are Islamic State terrorists killing Christians?

A: Because they are not converting to Islam. They don't feel they have the full truth. It is a very categorical, authoritarian view of Islam that is contrary to the teachings of the prophet Mohammed, who argued people should be converted by persuasion, not force.
 

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