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  • Radical monotheism, that is, the belief that a single,

transcendent God created the universe and continues providentially to govern it.

  • Undergirding this monotheism is the conviction that the world is

both intelligible and purposive, because a single divine intelligence stands behind it.

  • Nothing that humanity experiences is capricious; everything

ultimately has meaning. The mind of God is manifest to the traditional Jew in both the natural order, through creation, and the social-historical order, through revelation.

  • The same God who created the world revealed himself to the

Israelites at Mount Sinai. The content of that revelation is the Torah (“revealed instruction”), God’s will for humankind expressed in commandments (mizvoth) by which individuals are to regulate their lives in interacting with one another and with God.

  • By living in accordance with God’s laws and submitting to the

divine will, humanity can become a harmonious part of the cosmos.

"Judaism."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001.


Five Pillars of Islam

called arkan in Arabic, ritual duties that mainstream Muslims view as central to their faith. These are : (1) pronouncing the confession of faith

(shahada or kalima);

Minaret of the Great Mosque at Samarra’

  • (2)

    performing the five daily prayers (salat);

  • (3)

    fasting during the month of Ramadan (saum);

  • (4)

    paying the alms tax (zakat);

  • (5)

    and performing, at least once in life, the major pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). In some places where Islam is the official religion, public denial by a Muslim of the validity, importance, or centrality of the five pillars is generally considered an act of heresy and is punishable by death.

"Five Pillars of Islam."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001.

Page 13

Christianity is the most widely distributed of the

world religions, having substantial representation in all the populated continents of the globe. Its total membership may exceed 1.7 billion people. Like any system of belief and values—be it Platonism, Marxism, Freudianism, or democracy—Christianity is in many ways comprehensible only “from the inside,” to those who share the beliefs and strive to live by the values. The centrality of the person of Jesus Christ, is in one way or another, a feature of all the historical varieties of Christian belief and practice. The ultimate mystery of the universe, called by many different names in various religions, was called “Father” in the sayings of Jesus, and Christians therefore call Jesus himself “Son of God.” At the very least, there was the promise that, through all that Christ was and did, his followers might share in the life of the Father in heaven and might themselves become children of God.

"Christianity."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001.

Islam means, in the Arabic language, “surrender” or

“submission”—submission to the will of God. A follower of Islam is called a Muslim, which in Arabic means “one who surrenders to God.” The Arabic name for God, Allah, refers to the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians. Islam’s central teaching is that there is only one all-powerful, all-knowing God, and this God created the universe. This rigorous monotheism, as well as the Islamic teaching that all Muslims are equal before God, provides the basis for a collective sense of loyalty to God that transcends class, race, nationality, and even differences in religious practice. Thus, all Muslims belong to one community, the umma, irrespective of their ethnic or national background. Around the year AD 570 Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca. Some 40 years later Muhammad started preaching a new religion, Islam, which constituted a marked break from existing moral and social codes in Arabia. The new religion of Islam taught that there was one God, and that Muhammad was the last and most important in a series of prophets and messengers. Through his messengers God had sent various codes, or systems of laws for living, culminating in the Qur’an (Koran).

"Islam."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001.


Afghanistan – infant and maternal mortality rates are high. Breastfeeding continues until the next pregnancy. Children are an economic asset. Egypt – female circumcision is viewed as the ultimate proof of virginity and takes place at the age of seven or eight. A declining is to remove the female clitoris at puberty, and the vagina may be sewn together to prevent premarital sex. Iran – a woman’s making direct eye contact with a man implies promiscuity and an interest in dating. Boys and girls no longer play together after age five. Iraq – a government-sponsored fertility campaign encourages families to have at least five children. Saudi Arabia – if a wife does not produce a son, her husband may divorce her. Women may have fifteen or more children. Religious police enforce the cultural laws governing segregation of sexes.

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