Are bugs our relatives? How many wives can I marry? In the western society these questions may seem a little odd. Living in the western culture, our lives, beliefs, and religious laws are different than those of other regions. In all reality, there are many religions that one may or may not be knowledgeable about. Two major religions in the world are Hinduism and Islam. Through different avenues, Hindus and Islam followers can be compared and contrasted in three different ways: life-styles, beliefs, and customs.
The history of Hinduism consists of how it began, its population, and its establishments over the years. First, its history can be revealed by how Hinduism began. Dean C. Halverson, World Religions Specialist for International Students, in his book, World Religions, talks about how Hinduism can be traced back to 1500 B.C. in what is now India. It began as just a religion that worshipped lots of gods and that was very ritualistic. At first, the simple head of the household could perform the rituals; however, they became increasingly complex as the centuries passed. Consequently, it became necessary to create a priestly class and to train those priests to perform the rituals correctly. During this time, the Vedas were written to give the priests instructions as how to perform the rituals (Halverson 87-88). Dean C. Halverson quotes:
According to Hindu tradition, Ishvarn became known to humanity
through Trimurti (literally, 'three manifestations') of Brohman.
Those manifestations include Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the
Preserver), and Siva (the Destroyer). Each of the three deities
has at least one devi, or divine spouse... Ishvara became
personified even further through the ten mythical incarnations
of Vishnu, called avatars. The forms of these incarnations
include that of animals (for example, a fish, tortoise, and
boar) and of persons (for example, Rama, Krishna, Buddha)...
Beyond the principle deities of the Trimrti and the avatars,
it is estimated that there are 330 million other gods in
Hinduism...Even after the Upanisheds were written, the Hindu
concept of God continued to develop. It developed in the
direction of God being personal. (87-88)
Nirguna Brahman became sagura Brahman, which is Brahman 'with attributes.' This personified form of Brahman is also called Ishvara (88). Rituals were emphasized so much that the priests became the sole connection by which the Hindus could approach and please the gods. The priests were gaining an increasing amount of power and control over the lives of the people because of their position as mediators with the gods. Finally the people revolted in 600 B.C. The Hindu religion changed to a form that put more emphasis on the importance of internal meditation, instead of external rituals (88). Second, its history is revealed by its population. Halverson quotes, 'It is estimated that adherents to Hindus make up around 13% of the world's population...The vast majority of Hindus-some 700 million-live in India, where they account for 82% of the population' (87). Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World quotes, 'Hindus also comprise a significant portion of the population in seven other countries: Bangladesh (11%), Bhutan (25%), Fiji (41%), Mauritius (50%), Nepal (89%), Sri Lanka (15%), Surinam (27%), and Trinidad (25%)' (qtd. in Halverson 87) . Halverson states that Hinduism is the state religion only in Nepal and that North America contains over one million Hindus (87). Lastly, in a recent article called 'How to Become a Hindu: Historical Background', written by the Himalayan Academy, one sees the history of Hinduism by its establishments. The first Hindu Church of America was established in the West by Saiva Siddhanta Church. It's been around for forty years (1). 'How to Become a Hindu: Historical Background' also states:
Having received his own namakarana samskara from his Sat Guru,
Siva Yogaswami, in Sri Lanka in 1947, and having taught the
principles of saivite Hinduism in America for some thirty
years, Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (church founder)
realized that the time was ripe in 1977 to bring his sincere,
self-declared Hindu devotees formally into the religion. (1)
The book called The Compact Guide to World Religions, written by a World Religions Specialist for International Students, mentions, 'In the course of history, Hinduism has spawned three other religious movements that have since become World religions: Jaiinism, Buddhism, and Sikhism' (Halverson 88). That is the summation of the Hindu's history.
The Islamic history consists of Muhammad, the Muslim sects, and its population. First, the Islamic history is revealed by the life of Muhammad. Encyclopedia Americana, referring to Muslims, who are the Islam followers, conveys that Muhammad began preaching around 610 A.D. Progress was slow at first because rich powerful citizens didn't like his preaching. Meccans even plotted to kill him. A group of people helped Muhammad after he fled to Medina (then called Yathrib) in 622. This emigration is known to the Muslims as Hegira. Muslim calendars are dated from this year. In 630, Muhammad and his followers returned to Mecca and occupied the city. Muhammad and his followers destroyed all the idols in the shrine, the Kaaba, and turned the area around into a mosque or Muslim house of worship. Meccans then accepted Islam and acknowledged Muhammad as a prophet, leading to Meccacnd Medina becoming the sacred cities of Islam (1). Halverson, in his World Religions book, states:
Muhammad is said to have doubted initially the origin of these
new revelations. He thought perhaps he had been possessed
by jinn, or demons. His wife Khadigah, however, reassured
him that his visions were of divine origin, and she encouraged
him to teach that which had been revealed to him. (104)
That is not a widely known fact. Encyclopedia Americana, talking about Islam, gives us this factual:
The spread of Islam throughout the Middle East and North Africa
began with conquests launched from Mecca and Medina. After
Muhammad died in A.D.622, Abu Bakr was elected caliph, the
Muslim leader. He and his successors encouraged the jihad
(holy war). Within a hundred years, they built an empire
that stretched from northern Spain to India. The rapid spread
of Islam engulfed the Persian Sassanid Empire and much of the
Christian Byzantine Empire. The Muslims threat ended in Western
Europe until Charles Martel defeated them at the Battle of
Poiters, also called the Battle of Tours, in 732. In
subsequent waves of expansion, Islam spread into central Asia,
India, and Indonesia. (1)
Next, the Muslim sects reveal the Islamic history. Ahamd H. Sakr, Ph. D., in his recent article called 'Intro to Islam', talks about how the Muslim religion is called Islam and that the root of Islam is Silm and Salam which means peace (1). In the 600's, the Muslim world split into the Sunni and the Shiah. Most Muslims believe that Muslim leadership after the death of Muhammad passed to caliphs elected from Muhammad's tribe. These Muslims are called Sunnites. The Shiites believe that leadership was restricted to descendants of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law. Shiites live scattered throughout Asia and Africa and, more recently, in Europe and America ('Islam' 3). Lastly, the Muslim population reveals its history. The book World Religions gives us this factual, 'Islam makes up around 20% of the world's population. It is the second largest religion in the world, trailing only Christianity' (Halverson 103). Muslims are spread in North Africa, the Middle East, South-Central Asia, and Indonesia. Islam began in Saudi Arabia, but non-Arab Muslims now outnumber Arab Muslims by almost 3 to 1. Indonesia has 166 million (88%), Pakistan-111 million (97%), Bangladesh-97 million (85%), and India-93 million (11%) Muslims in their countries' (Halverson 103). Both the Hindus and Muslims have a history that dates back considerably far, and that also reveals a great deal about their culture.
The live-styles of Hindus and Muslims are unique and can be diverse. First, lets look at the Hindu life. Concerning the issue of the Hindu life, Halverson quotes:
...family is very close. The actions of one member of the family
affect the rest of the family. Mahendra Singhal, a Hindu who came
to Christ, wrote, 'My dilemma [with respect to his conversion]
had another dimension. My acceptance of Jesus Christ would make
my parents lose respect and position in the community. My
brothers and sisters would suffer disgrace. Even though I was
working away from home in a different environment, I was not
really free to make my own decisions.'. (95)
As one can see, the Hindus have very strong family ties. Encyclopedia America, also states about Hindus:
Although Hindus believe and do many apparently contradictory
things-contradictory not merely from one Hindu to the next,
but also within the daily religious life of a single Hindu-each
individual perceives an orderly pattern that gives form and
meaning to his or her own life. (109)
Peter Brierley, author of World Atlas of Christians, through his research and studies reveals that in 1995 the life expectancy at birth was averaged to be 60-69 years in Asia and USSR which contains around 800,000 Hindus (Brierley, Wraight 56, 57).
Next, lets examine the Muslim life through prayer, fasting, and other lifestyles they have. The Shahoda is a creed in which Muslims make a verbal commitment and pledge that there is only One God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God ('How to. . . A Summary' 2). This is similar to Hindus in the way that they believe in a one, all pervasive Supreme Being. Muslims are required to pray five times daily, which is called Salat. They fast, abstinence from food, liquids and intercourse between married couples, from dawn to sunset the whole months of Ramadan. Zakat, a purifying tax, is an annual payment that Muslims use to distribute to the poor or other beneficiaries. Muslims are required to take a pilgrimage to Makka at least once in their life time if means are available. Hindus, also believe in the value of pilgrimages and they take a pilgrimage at least once a year for karma of holy persons, temples, and places, near or far ('How to. . . A Summary' 2). Muslims pray daily at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at nightfall. A crier or muezzin announces prayer time from the minaret or mosque tower. Muslims ceremonially wash their faces, hands, and feet just before prayer. During their Friday noon prayer mosque, the prayer leader faces Mecca. The men stand behind him, and the women stand behind the men ('Islam' 2). According to Encyclopedia Americana concerning Muslims, it quotes, 'Prayers consist of reciting passages from the Koran and other phrases of God. They include such movements as bowing from the hips and kneeling with the face to the ground. Friday prayers are preceded by a sermon' (2). A Mosque or Masjid is an Muslim place of worship. The world contains three holy places of worship such as the Mosque of Kaaka in Makkah, the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Madinah, and the Masjid Aqsa, adjacent to the Done of the Rock in Jerusalem. Muslims can pray anywhere, but preferably in a congregation (Sakr 3). Ahmad H. Sakr, Ph.D., gives us more insight to the Muslims holy day:
The holy day of Muslims is Friday. It is considered to be
sacred and the Day of Judgment will take place on Friday.
Muslims join together shortly after noon on Friday for the
Friday congregational prayer in a Mosque. A leader (Iman)
give a sermon (Khutba) and leads the congregational prayer. (3)
Next, lets find out what Ramadan is all about. Ramadan is the ninth month of the year. Travelers, the sick, nursing mothers, and soldiers on the march are the excused, but they make up missed days. A three day festival called the Breaking of the Fast (Little Bairam) is celebrated afterward ('Islam' 2). In 'Fasting leads to feasting during Ramadan', a recent article in the Tulsa World, it talks about how, following Muhammad's example, Muslims eat many dates when they break their fast after sunset to help the digestive system and provide fiber. For their drink, they make a syrup out of apricot paste and mix it with water (D10). So, one can see that Ramadan is one of the Islam traditions of fasting, feasting, and celebrating. According to Mahmoud M. Ayoub, author of the article 'The Islamic Tradition', Muslim men can marry two, three, or four orphan girls after they are old enough to provide a home and family for them (Koran 4:3). Marriage to more than one wife is acceptable by the Koran (484). Also, similar to the Hindus, in 1995 the life expectancy at birth was averaged to be 60-69 years in Asia and USSR which contains around 900,000 Muslims (Brierley and Wraight 57, 67). It is evident to see that Muslims have a greater deal of everyday-life practices than the Hindu religion and that both religions have unique and diverse life-styles.
Hindus and Muslims have many beliefs and some that can be compared and contrasted. First, Hindus believe that society's problem ...