All About Turkey

Islam in Turkey

What does "Islam" mean?

The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission", and is derived 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 Muhammed 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-eight percent of the citizens are Muslims.

Muhammed was born in Mecca in about 570 AD. He preached that there is only one God and that he, Muhammed, was God's messenger. Those that accept him as such are called Muslims, which means "one who submits to God.". The Koran (Kuran, Qur'an) is the Islamic Bible, believed to be an exact record of the words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammed. 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.

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 Muhammed 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.

Turkey adopted a secular government when it became a republic under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk.

The Call to Prayer

Five times a day the call to prayer drifts over each Muslim village, town, and city. Even though the Republic of Turkey is a secular country, ninety-eight 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 "Muslim 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 Muslims to stop their worldly tasks, face toward Mecca, and pray. The prayer, in essence, declares that there is "no God but Allah and Muhammed is his Prophet."

Muslims 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 wrong - doings 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 Muslims. Thus the call to prayer plays an important role in the day and the life of every pious Muslim.

Islam is very simple. As a Muslim 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 Muhammed Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) 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 believe in the judgment day.

Muslims 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 meaning of Islam in English is Peace or Submission). The most valuable thing in a Moslems life after Islam is the soul which Allah have pleased a human with it till he/she dies. A Muslim 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 hell fire.

Click here to listen Listen to Ezan, call to prayer (.wav format, 1Mb)
Click here to listen Listen to Bismillah (.wav format, 198Kb)

Muslims

Islam, a major world religion, is customarily defined in non-Islamic sources as the religion of those who follow the Prophet Muhammed. The prophet, who lived in Arabia in the early 7th century, initiated a religious movement that was carried by the Arabs throughout the Middle East, then by the Turks to the Balkans. Today, Islam has adherents not only in the Middle East, where it is the dominant religion in all countries (Arab and non-Arab), but also in other parts of Asia, Africa and, to a certain extent, in Europe and in the United States and Canada.

The Name and Its Meaning The Arabic word al-Islam means the act of committing oneself unreservedly to God, and a Muslim is a person who makes this commitment. Widely used translations such as "resignation," "surrender" and "submission" fail to do justice to the positive aspects of the total commitment for which al-Islam stands, a commitment in faith, obedience, and trust to the one and only God. All of these elements are implied in the name of this religion, which is characteristically described in the Koran (Arabic, Qur'an; the sacred book of Islam) as "the religion of Abraham." In the Koran, Abraham is the patriarch who turned away from idolatry, who "came to his Lord with an undivided heart" (37:84), who responded to God in total obedience when challenged to sacrifice his son, and who served God uncompromisingly. For Muslims, therefore, the proper name of their religion expresses the Koranic insistence that no one but God is to be worshiped. Hence, many Muslims, while recognizing the significance of the Prophet Muhammad, have objected to the terms Mohammedanism and Mohammedans designations used widely in the West until recently, since they detect in them the suggestion of a worship of Muhammad parallel to the worship of Jesus Christ by Christians.

Numbers

Estimates of the world population of Muslims range from a low of 750 million to a high of 1.2 billion; 950 million is a widely used medium. Notwithstanding the significant variations in these estimates, many observers agree that the world population of Muslims is increasing by approximately 25 million per year. Thus, a 250-million increase is anticipated for the decade 2000-2100. This significant expansion, due primarily but not entirely to the general population growth in Asia and Africa, is gradually reducing the numerical difference between Christians (the largest religious community) and Muslims, whose combined totals make up almost 50 percent of the world's population. In the United States and Canada population of Muslims estimates as 9,000,000 peoples.

The dietary laws of Islam, a Summary

The dietary laws of Islam are based in the Koran. They forbid eating animals found blood, pork, and food sacrificed or offered to idols. Islamic practice departs from Jewish practice in that alcohol is forbidden.

Halal (or Helal) is a Quranic term which means allowed or lawful. Halal food and drinks are permitted for consumption. Eating Halal is obligatory for every Muslim.

Haram is Quranic term which means absolutely prohibited or unlawful. Haram foods and drinks are prohibited. Eating Haram is forbidden for every Muslim.

Mushbooh is a term which mean suspected. If one does not know the status of particular food or drink, such a food or drink is forbidden.

For more Islamic terms visit the Glossary: A - M, N - Z

All About Turkey © Burak Sansal 1996–2014, a certified professional tour guide in Turkey. Contact Burak at buraksan@superonline.com for all kinds of regular and/or private travel services throughout the country.