What Are Some Characteristics Common to Followers of Islam?
Every religion functions as a guide for the behavior of the members of some religious community. Muslims primarily look to the Quran for instruction on how to behave and treat others. This code of conduct unites all Muslim people and creates a somewhat homogeneous community. Consequently, there are certain characteristics common to Muslims.
Since Islam teaches the importance of self-discipline, being disciplined is a common characteristic among many members of the Muslim community. In the Quran, Allah specifically instructs all Muslims to have taqwa, meaning self-discipline. Taqwa encompasses different kinds of self-discipline, such as self-control, self-restraint, self-education and patience. In addition, piety in Islam requires taqwa. Muslims are also instructed to treat enemies, non-Muslims and people displaying negativity with patience and respect.
The third pillar of Islam is zakat, or almsgiving. This is the religious and moral obligation to be charitable by giving money and resources to the poor, orphans and widows. For all Muslims, zakat is considered to be a devotion to God. The Quran includes detailed instructions regarding zakat taxes on property and income and also outlines how this money should be spent. In addition, being charitable is also seen as a way of purifying wealth and gaining salvation.
Modesty is the most visually noticeable characteristic of the Muslim community. Men and women dress modestly. For women, modest clothing might include full-length garments, a hijab and veils. However, it is a matter of personal preference and beliefs that determines the extent to which a Muslim woman covers her body. Men cover at least the area between the navel and the knees. It's also important that men and women wear modest clothing that is not extravagant, as this is seen as a sign of vanity. In addition to being a way of dressing, hijab is also the practice of acting modestly, such as lowering gazes when interacting with members of the opposite sex. However, the way hijab is practiced varies from community to community.
Another characteristic of the Muslim community is an emphasis on morality. According to Islam, morality is the whole of a Muslim's character. The Quran includes detailed descriptions of actions that are considered to be immoral. For example, lying, being envious, cheating, disobeying parents and insulting others are all mentioned explicitly in the Quran as immoral actions. Since Muslims are instructed to practice morality at all times, doing so is considered to be an act of devotion to God.
- 1 Islamic Research Foundation International: The Islamic Society and Its Characteristics; Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr
- 2 The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement: Muslim Code of Behavior
- 3 Council on American-Islamic Relations: Understanding Modesty; Aabeda Masra; April 25th, 2012
- 4 Queensborough Community College: Philosophy of Religion