In a strange and mysterious way I’ve been drawn to study Islam in depth as of late, and in order to do that I purchased the majestic Study Koran, a few books on Islamic history and a guidebook on Muslim prayer and piety. What I’ve found out thus far is that in many ways my former prejudices have been shattered by what I’ve read. For years I can honestly say I had an almost irrational hatred of Islam and Muslims, not exactly based on any real sustained understanding outside reading about terrorism or the latest exploits of various fundamentalist groups. I still feel uncomfortable with some things in the Koran and some of the schools within Islam but I have a broader view and find myself softening towards the religion as a whole.
Islam is much deeper and richer than I had ever imagined, and truth be told there is a kind of beauty to it, as its an all encompassing worldview that, aside from the fact that there are three basic groups ( Shiite, Sunni and Sufi) and a handful of schools of interpretation the Muslim way of prayer and life is largely unchanged since the time of Mohammed and his Companions. It’s a profoundly, dare I say, liturgical religion that has spoken to the hearts of millions globally for the last 14 centuries.
The law of praying truly is the law of believing, and Islam is a strong proof of that, and one that liturgical Christians ought to take note of.
I marvel that outside Orthodoxy, Islam is probably the only other religion on the planet that still takes serious the necessity to keep to traditions and form the entirety of society based on the reality of Gods existence. I find it fascinating really.
In a strange way after reading all this stuff on Islam I’ve come to have a deeper appreciation for my own Orthodox Tradition. The treasure that is our prayers, rites, traditions and way of life should never be taken for granted.