Guide What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims

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As so many of us will attest, the challenge is mental rather than physical. Feeling weak or lethargic by the end of the day is common, but the body adjusts and willpower is extraordinary — as with any sort of training, fasting gets easier as you go on. Exemptions are made for the elderly, the young, anyone who is ill, for women who are pregnant or menstruating, and for those travelling. In these cases, fasts are made by fidyah — donating money or food to those in need. Instead, love, charity, kindness and prayer are prioritised. Consider it a spiritual detox. You put yourself in the shoes of people who live this reality every day and it reminds you to be grateful and patient.

How Much You Know About Islam & Muslims

I have been fasting since I was 11, and it has always been in the summer months [Ramadan moves back two weeks each year, in line with the lunar calendar] and during exam season. That was hard! Not the food, but keeping your concentration and focus. The last hour is the one everyone finds difficult but I cope by going to the gym.

I find it a really good way to be distracted and make the time pass more quickly. Ramadan was always a month of joy when I was growing up: it was something we looked forward to. Regardless of where we are, Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam that Muslims try and observe. The horrific terrorism in San Bernardino has revived fears of extremist jihadists operating on American soil.

In a poll I conducted between November 4 and 10, —after a reported ISIS bomb brought down a Russian civilian airplane over Egypt but before the Paris and San Bernardino attacks—several trends are clear. Many of the attitudes expressed are outgrowths of the American experience over the past decade and a half.

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This may have many reasons, but at the core, it is probably easier for many Americans—with strong anti-discrimination norms—to express dislike of an abstract idea rather than to appear prejudiced toward people. They never recovered, even during the early days of the Arab uprisings, which generated much sympathy among Americans.

But a decade later, the picture changed dramatically. A poll I conducted in April showed that 61 percent of Americans expressed unfavorable views of Islam, while only 33 percent expressed favorable views.

Looking in the mirror

This was in the middle of expressed optimism about the Arab uprisings, when 70 percent of Americans, for example, expressed favorable views of Egyptians. At the time, Americans still seemed to differentiate between Islam and Muslims, with half saying they have positive views of Muslims. My recent poll indicates nearly identical views of Islam in as in the optimistic days of , with 61 percent of Americans also expressing unfavorable views.

But views of the Muslim people slightly improved, with 53 percent expressing favorable views. This comes despite the pessimism about the region, the rise of ISIS, and the bombing that dominated the news even before the Paris and the San Bernardino attacks; After all, 70 percent of Americans identified ISIS as the biggest threat facing the United States a year ago, which is about the same percentage expressing this view in my most recent poll.

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Green and Alan S. Kamarck Second, views of both the Muslim people and the Muslim religion are divided across party lines. A large majority of Democrats, 67 percent, have favorable views of Muslims, compared to 41 percent and 43percent for Republicans and Independents respectively.

How Much You Know About Islam & Muslims - IslamiCity

And while a slight majority of Democrats, 51 percent, have a favorable view of the Muslim religion, in contrast, 73 percent of Republicans express unfavorable views of Islam. Third, Republicans who express very unfavorable views of Muslims prefer Donald Trump for president 43 percent in comparison to only 12 percent of Republicans who hold very favorable views of Muslims. In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, for belief in Allah makes obedience to Him a duty. The Muslim concept of worship is very broad.

Muslims consider everything they do in life to be an act of worship, as long as it is done according to Allah's guidance. There are also five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience. They are often called the " Five Pillars of Islam. While often seen as a radical or extreme religion, Muslims consider Islam to be the middle road. Muslims do not live life with complete disregard for God or religious matters, but nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship and prayer.

Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, while always mindful of their duties to Allah and to others.