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Islam in Turkey... 

What does "Islam" mean?


The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission" and drives from a word meaning "peace" and a life focused on peace, mercy, and forgiveness. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. "Mohammedanism" is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad, peace be upon him, rather than God. "Allah" is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians evangelized by the Prophet Mohammed in the 600's AD. Islam is a religion celebrated by an estimated one billion people. One fifth of the world's population from a vast range of cultures, nationalities, and races embrace Islam as both a religion and a way of life. In Turkey, approximately ninety-nine percent of the citizens are Muslims.

The Prophet Mohammed and Koran

Mohammed was born in Mecca around 570 AD. He preached that there is only one God and that he, Mohammed, was God's messenger. Those that accept him as such are called Muslims, which means "one who submits to God." The Koran (Koran, Koran) is the Islamic Bible, believed to be an exact record of the words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed. Its basic theme is the relationship between God and his creations, yet at the same time, it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct, and an equitable economic system. UP

   The Five Pillars of Islam

The following are the "Five Pillars" of Islam and are considered the framework of the Muslim life. The first pillar is faith in God and Mohammed as his messenger. The second pillar is prayer, performed five times a day. The third is concern for the needy, given as a tithe estimated at two and a half percent per annum. Next is self-purification. Every year in the month of Ramadan, all able Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Finally, physically and financially able followers are expected to make a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. About two million Muslims accomplish this trip each year. UP

Call to Prayer

Five times a day the call to prayer drifts over each Moslem village, town, and city. Even though the Republic of Turkey is a secular country, ninety nine percent of the population profess to be devout followers of the Islamic faith. Thus it is no surprise that the evocative sound of what has been called "Moslem music," the call to the faithful, is ubiquitous in the Middle East. Every mosque, or prayer hall, has at least one minaret and a balcony where the muezzin, or crier, can fulfill his duty. He cries out to Moslems to stop their worldly tasks, face toward Mecca, and pray. The prayer, in essence, declares that there is "no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet."

Moslems believe that by offering prayers five times a day they are strengthened and enlivened in their beliefs in Allah, and that they are inspired to a higher morality. This constant reminder of the devout's place in the greater universe is believed to purify the heart and prevent temptation towards wrongdoings and evil.

As far as Islam is concerned, faith without action and practice is a dead end. The act of prayer is one of the fundamental five practices, or Pillars of Islam, and is required of all devout Moslems. Thus the call to prayer plays an important role in the day and the life of every pious Moslem.

Islam is very simple. As a Moslem one should believe that "There Is No God but One [Allah]." Allah is the only one whom a human should worship and thank, nothing else but Allah is worth glorifying. A companion statement to the first one is that Mohammed, peace be upon him is the final messenger of Allah and he is that last prophet, no one else after him can claim prophecy. The second shell in Islam after this is the Faith (Eman, Iman), that is to believe (undoubtedly) in Allah, his angels, his holy books, his prophets and messengers, his fate whether it is bad or good and finally the belief in the judgment day.

Moslems must respect other religions and in no way harm any one who is practicing his/her religion peacefully, especially when it comes to Christianity and Judaism since these religions are from Allah too. In fact Islam always stresses the fact that Islam is nothing but the final reform of the previous messages. The last thing Islam asks for is violence. The most valuable thing in a Moslem's life after Islam is the soul which Allah have blessed a human with until he/she dies. A Moslem should work in this life for his/her optimum goal which is being pleased with entering Heaven and stay as far as one can from the acts which could lead to hellfire.
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   Numbers

There are 935 million Moslems in 172 countries of the world today. This is nearly 18% of the world's population. 6% of Moslems live in Turkey. More than 33% of the world population are Christian.

Among the Islamic countries there are two different models: The first is fundamentalist, like Iran or other Arab countries and the second is modern like Turkey. Although 99% of the Turkish population are Moslem, Turkey is a secular state and people have freedom to choose their religion and beliefs. No one is forced to participate in any religious ceremonies or rites against his will and no one is viewed as being at fault because of his beliefs.

In secular Turkey all religious affairs are carried out by a central government organization affiliated to the Prime Ministry, namely the Department of Religious Affairs. The function of this organization is to carry out tasks related to the beliefs, divine services and moral principles of Islam and to enlighten citizens on religious matters. UP



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