Like Judaism, Islam is a religion in the Abrabamic tradition; both religions arise through sons of Abraham- Judaism through Isaac and Islam through Ishrnael. Islam. whose followers are known as Muslims, is based on the teachings of its founder. Muhammad, who was born in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia) in about 570 C.E. According to Muhammad, followers must adhere to the live Pillars of Islam: (I) believing that there is no god but Allah, (2) participating in five periods of prayer each day, (3) paying taxes to help support the needy, (4) fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan, and (5) making at least one pilgrimage to the Sacred House of Allah in Mecca (Matthews. 2004).
The Islamic faith is based on the Quran -the holy book of the Muslims-as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel at the command of God. According to the Quran, it is up to God. not humans, to determine which individuals are deserving of punishment and what kinds of violence are justified under various conditions Islamic notion of jihad-meaning "struggle"-i s a core belief. The Greater Jihad is believed to be the internal struggle against sin within a person's heart. whereas the Lesser Jihad is the external struggle that takes place in the world, including violence and war (Ferguson, 1977; Kurtz, 1995). The term jihad is typically associated with religious fundamentalism, Despite the fact that fundamentalism is found in most of the world's religions, some social analysts believe that Islamic fundamentalism is uniquely linked to the armed struggles of groups such as Hamas, an alleged terrorist organization. and the militant Islamic Jihad, which is believed to engage in continual conflict (see Barber. 1996).