Depending on the moon’s visibility this week, 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world will be celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This celebration, “festival of breaking fast”, is called Id or Id al-Fitr.

Ramadan falls in the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year. All Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk, refrain from drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse. Those who are sick, travelers, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children are exempted.

The aim of this self-discipline is to remind and reinforce among all Muslims their commitment to the legacy and teachings of prophet Mohamed. It also helps them understand and connect with their fellow human beings, and ultimately connect with God.

Islam, the religion of all Muslims, was revealed to Prophet Mohamed in Arabia in the 7th century AD. Islam is an Arabic word which means “surrender”. A Muslim accepts to surrender to the will of Allah – Arabic for God.

The will of God (Allah) was revealed to his messenger, Mohamed, and documented in the holy book called Quran (Koran). Ramadan marks the first time the Quran was revealed to prophet Mohamed. Mohamed was the last messenger and prophet of God after Adam, Noah, Jesus and others.

Historians consider the religion of Islam as one of the outstanding phenomenon of history. But Islam has no central authority (like Vatican) to guide its followers. And there are numerous divisions and subdivisions that interpret Quran in many different ways.

All Muslims observe the five pillars of religion. These are: recital of the Creed (There is no God but God, and Mohamed is the Prophet of God), prayer, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca.

Prophet Mohamed had two sources of authority, one religious and other secular.

After the death of the prophet, two streams of thoughts split Muslims into Sunnis (the majority) and Shias (means a stream). Sunnis believe that Mohamed did not appoint a successor to take over the religious authority. So it was left to the Faithful to interpret the Quran.

The Shias believe that after the prophet’s death, Divine power was transferred to Hazrat Ali, prophet’s son-in-law, as the first Imam or spiritual chief of the devout. Shias followed the guidance of hereditary Imams. Some time they failed to agree who the rightful Imam was, resulting in further subdivisions.

In Islam, there are no priests or monks. There is no confession of sins except to God. Cleanliness and personal hygiene is important. Prayer is a daily necessity. Wars are condemned because Islam is a religion of peace.

If so, then why are Muslims constantly linked to violence and terrorism in the media and in the minds of some non-Muslims?

Is violence and terrorism a disease infecting a segment of the Islamic world or all of 1.3 billions of them? Or is it part of our culture – Muslim and non-Muslim?

If violence and terrorism is a disease then experts all over the world should listen to the symptoms, examine the signs, do investigations, come to a diagnosis and have a treatment plan. In medicine, if a cause is known then prevention and treatment is easy.

The Islamic world is in turmoil. The legacy of prophet Mohamed is being challenged by Muslims and non-Muslims. The various interpretations of the Quran are tearing the religion apart. Who is going to save Islam?

Happy Id and may peace be with you, Amen.

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