The Goal of Muslims

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Islam vehemently serves as both a culture and source of personal identity. Although Muslims are required to follow practices that guide every part of an individual’s life, Islam still promotes the community before the individual. Therefore, personal identity in Islam stems from one’s own achievements within the religious community, or umma. The manner in which a Muslim follows Islam is the means to personal autonomy within the community.

The large importance Islam places on the umma is unparallel. The umma: “is often used to refer to the essential unity of all Muslims, despite their diverse geographical and cultural settings” (Esposito, 2002, 16). This bond between Muslims creates a sense of community by highlighting the religious similarity of all Muslims. All “Muslims have been commanded to […] consider their identities as Muslims to be more important than any other identities they might have (Esposito, 2002, 16)”. This creates a very strong community. A follower of Islam must first choose to be a Muslim, and then he/she has the freedom to choose other relating subgroups (i.e. ethnicity, gender, nationality). It is a grand testament to the priority Islam places on umma by asking all Muslims to sacrifice in aiding other Muslims. This unifies Muslims as a collective first, after, individuality occurs on the basis of a Muslim’s choice in how he/she aids fellow Muslims. Within the umma, there is no social hierarchy. Ulama (one well-versed with Islamic scriptures) are not considered greater than the average Muslim: “All Muslims are equal except in their obedience to God’s will” (Goldshmidt & Davidson, 2005, pg. 47). It is only in devotion to god’s ways that Muslims differ.

Devotion in any religion is often characterized by prayers...

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A main goal of Islam is to improve the community, but it takes every individual’s effort to do so. Personal identity comes from a Muslim’s choice in the ways to aid the umma and his/her path to Allah. Mass amounts of literature (the Koran, haddith, and sunnah) provide specific guidance to one’s daily life, thus shaping a Muslim’s culture. It is still the role of each Muslim to create the life he/she wants by following the many options available in Islam.

Works Cited


Esposito, John L. What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Goldschmidt, Arthur Jr. and Lawrence Davidson. A Concise History of the Middle East, Eighth edition. Denver: Westview Press, 2005.

Pitz, Arthur. Lecture Notes on Islam, History 151 Online Class, 2009

“Sunnah” at, accessed January 28, 2010.
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