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by Wayne Blank
Islam became the dominant religion throughout large areas of the Middle East, Asia and Africa, where, since the Koran was written in Arabic, God is known as Allah. Muhammad regarded himself as the last of God's prophets, of which he included Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ. Muhammad apparently believed, at first, that his beliefs and leadership would be welcomed by Christians and Jews, but when that did not happen, it marked the beginning of what has become an often resentful and conflicting relationship.
Islamic religious practice includes 5 essential duties:
Islamic law also prohibits the consumption of alcohol, the eating of pork, fraud, slander, gambling, usury and the making of images. Although it has no priestly class such as in Judaism or Christianity, religious and legal officials are viewed as having a similar authority since there is generally no division between civil and religious law.
Regardless of where they live, the majority of Islamic people are good, peaceful and law-abiding (many cities in Islamic countries are far safer to walk in at night than some cities in North America or Europe) - all should not be condemned based on the actions of a relatively few violent fanatics, such as those who have committed recent terrorist attacks in Israel and the United States. Christians and Jews throughout history have had their share of violent fanatics too.
One of the greatest focal points of the struggle between Judaism and Islam is Mount Moriah, or the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. It was there that Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac, and it was there that God commanded King David (the legal owner of the Temple Mount) and Solomon to build the Temple (see Temples) - and it was there that, according to Islamic tradition, that Muhammad ascended into heaven.
The "Dome of the Rock" was constructed between about 685 to 691 A.D. by Muslims who then had control of Jerusalem (The Crusades of the Middle Ages were generally a Christian effort to retake the city from Muslims). The gold-colored Islamic dome on the Temple Mount (the dome is seen in the top-center part of the above photograph, as is part of The Mount Of Olives, in the top-right corner of the picture, where The Return Of Jesus Christ will occur) has become a world-famous part of the Jerusalem skyline. Despite the Jewish state of Israel being a reality, Muslim presence, and effective control, of the Temple Mount has been permitted and tolerated by all Israeli governments, so far.
Fact Finder: Whose descendants were the founders of Islam?