I will answer to the best of my knowledge - but if any Muslims on the board, or others note any mistakes, please correct them
1.)Did Muhammed (I’m sure not spelled right) take the Bible (Catholic Bible?) and change it as he saw fit? Why?
ok Muhammad (you were close ) did not rewrite the Bible, but rather according to Islam, receieved a seperate set of instructions from the Archangel Gabriel (you can see similiarties with Christianity) to write the purified instructions of Allah (or God) as they believe the Bible had become corrupted when humans began to pick and choose what belonged in the Bible
2.)Do Muslims really consider themselves the descendents of Ishmael (Abraham’s first son)?
yes they do - they believe he went to live in the area around Mecca
3.)Did Islam ever have a reformation of any sort? Either from without or within. (i.e. Schisms or a re-defining of their theology)?
yes there are two main groups, the Sunni Muslims (the majority of the Islamic population) and the Shi’ites. they divide mostly on the issue of the leaders in Islam (an Imman - sp?). Around 660 (I believe) there came into a question of the successor of leader of the Muslim people, who until then had been of the lineage of Muhammad. The Sunnis believe this leader does not HAVE to be a descendent, while the Shi’ites believe he does. Thus, this division occured rather quickly, about the the fourth successor. there are slight differences in doctrine between the two, but they essentailly believe the same thing. They both, obviously, however consider themselves correct and had created their own ‘books’ and believe only their group to be saved. This is why, although the sects are similar, there are problems in countries such as Iraq when there are different sects, and one is in the minority.
there are an interesting similarities between Islam and Christianity, when taken in the purest text, and when the Koran is not being interpreted by extremists (i.e. the Koran actually states, I don’t know the exact wording, but something along the lines of, when fighting a jihad and you come to a Christian civilization, leave it alone because they already follow Allah) maybe someone should remind Osama of this passage.
True (non extremist) Muslims are very religious people who practice a very admirable religion, including praying five times a day, fasting for a month (Raamadan), paying monthly alms, memorizing the Koran, and the hajjab is actually supposed to be worn to protect women from the unsightful, unneccessary attention of men. but, I have found my genuine peace and faith in Catholicism, but if you have any more questions feel free to ask!