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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Concept of Identity in Islamic View

Concept of Identity in Islamic View

In order to understand the Muslim Identity we need to first understand Islam as a religion. According to one Islamic scholar, Sayyid (cited in Maranchi,2009), Islam is a gift to the world and comprises all aspects of spirit and life. In addition, the writer views Islam as a way of life. Sayyid further affirms that Islam trains a man to know he is a special creation above all others and prepares him for this world and the world to come.
In Islam, Eternity dictates universal principles, unchanging and unchangeable (cited in Maranchi, 2009). Maranchi further affirms that Islam is based on various beliefs. Some of these beliefs include monotheisms or belief in one God who possess supreme powers, belief in divine justice which means God is just and does no injustice to anyone.

Jean (the social contract, 2004) wrote that, ‘Man-made institutions pursue performance of the law. But in Islam the trustee for the law’s performance is a deep-rooted faith; and a Muslim duly performs his obligations by the force of morality and faith, even in matters where he is seen by no one save by God alone.’ Jean clearly demonstrates that the Islamic identity is in carrying out the teachings and beliefs of Islam.
In the view on the importance of Islamic identity, many Muslim scholars demonstrate the importance with which such identity is regarded. The concept of identity is well demonstrated by Norton (2006:22) as being both in the cultural as well as in the social output of a society. Muslims demonstrates their Identity through various teaching and believes that they hold dearly throughout their life time. Various Islamic scholars assert that certain essential elements of identity do not change.

Muslims believe in Islam identity as a way of life and not just as a belief. For example, Muslims believe in prayers ‘salah’ as an important function and sign of worship Kamal-Ud-Din Khwaja (2009). Regardless of what one is involved in, at the stipulated time of the day for prayers, one will stop all activity and engage in prayers. This has been observed since the inception of Islam religion and is one of the elements of Islamic identity.

The Muslims also believe in the holy book according to Sale (1833:82) a Muslim scholar, the Koran and live according to its teachings. To the Muslims, culture is part of religion and only the Koran dictates the way of life according to a Muslim scholar (Juma, 1992). The use of the Koran is regarded as an Islamic identity as put forth by Juma. The scholar further emphasizes the fact that anyone not believing in the Koran as a Muslim identity as being lost and not a true follower of Islam.

According to the Islam scholars, the pillars of Islam and the articles of faith are some of the elements that do not change. The five pillars of Islam are also regarded as their Identity or the fundamental constituents of Muslim life (Kamal-Ud-Din Khwaja, 2009).

The five pillars of Islam as highlighted in the Guardian (Bates, 2002) are; shahada-profession of Muslim faith in Allah and his prophet Mohamed, Salat- formal worship, Zakat-giving f alms o the poor, Hajj-pilgrimage to Mecca, Sawm-fasting during holy month of Ramadan. For one o be identified as a Muslim, then these five pillars have to be believed and adhered to. Bates (2002) further emphasizes that these five pillars are observed throughout a Muslims life and cannot be changed, since they have been observed since the beginning of the Islamic faith. All Muslims over the world observe these five pillars. For example, at least once through a Muslims’ lifetime, they have to make the pilgrimage journey to Mecca. This is a demonstration of the Islamic Identity.

In addition, Islamic scholars further believe in the fact that certain elements of identity cannot be changed by highlighting on the Articles of faith. The articles of faith are observed by the Muslims as both social and cultural identity and are also obligatory (Esposito, 2002). The articles of faith clearly define what a Muslim believes in. If one professes to be a Muslim then that person believes in every belief within the article of faith.

For example a Muslim believes that everybody is born without sin (McDowell, 1992).
Another example attesting to the Muslim Identity is in the belief that man was created to be above all other creatures of creation. In addition, a Muslim woman can only identify herself to be Islam by the wearing of a Veil and covering her face in public. This is a fundamental teaching on social behavior as a way of constructing identity. In addition men and women do not worship together in the mosque. This is also a fundamental concept that is unchangeable in Muslim identity.

The use of Arabic language in Muslim nations is regarded as a form of Islamic identity Anees (2004). In addition, most Islamic countries such as Malaysia and Morocco view the use of English language as turning the learner into something else. This they regard as a change in identity. Muslim scholars regard this as unacceptable as it goes against the belief that certain elements of identity are unchangeable, in this regard, language.

In Malaysia, for example, English language has been viewed in terms of socio-political status. In regard to this, Le ha phan (phan, 2006) clearly states that the use of a language cannot lead to loss of previously learnt language. She further affirms that though teaching English as a second language, the identity developed in use of the first language doesn’t change. This is because it came as a colonial element and stayed till their independence.

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