|Sunni · Shia|
Islam (Arabic: ) (Persian: اسلام) is a monotheistic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. It is currently the second-largest religion in the world, with an estimated 1.4 billion adherents called "Muslims". The word Islam means "submission", or the total surrender of one's self to God (Arabic: الله, Allāh), and the word Muslim means "one who submits (to God)".
Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad and that Muhammad is God's final prophet. The Qur'an and the Sunnah (the words and deeds of Muhammad) are regarded as the fundamental sources of Islam. Muslims do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. They hold that part of the messages of these prophets became distorted over time either in interpretation, in text, or both. Like Judaism, and Christianity, Islam is an Abrahamic religion.
Islam includes a wide variety of religious practices. All adherents are required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five simple duties that serve to unite Muslims into a community. Over the centuries, Islamic law (Shariah) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. In addition to the Five Pillars, this tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws to practices like jihad.
Today, Islam is the predominant religion in North Africa, West Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of the Indian subcontinent. Large communities can also be found in China, Western Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, and Russia. Only about 20 percent of Muslims originate from Arab countries.
Etymology and meaning
The word islām derives from the Arabic root, sīn-lām-mīm, and is formed from the verb aslama — meaning to accept, surrender, or submit. Islam therefore means submission to and acceptance of God. Followers of Islam are expected to submit to God by worshiping him, following his commands, and avoiding polytheism. The word islam is also related to the Arabic word for peace (salam).
The word islām takes on a number of different meanings in the Qur'an. In some verses (ayat), the quality of Islam as an internal conviction is stressed, for example: "Whomsoever God desires to guide, He expands his breast to Islam." Other verses establish the connection between islām and dīn (usually translated as "religion"): "Today, I have perfected your religion (dīn) for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion." The final category of verses describe Islam as an action of returning to God instead of just as verbal affirmation of faith.
Muslims believe that God revealed his final message to humanity through the Islamic prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel. They consider Muhammad to have been God's final prophet, the "Seal of the Prophets", and the Qur'an to be the revelations he received during his 23 years of preaching. Muslims hold that all of God's messengers since Adam preached the message of Islam — submission to the will of the one God. Islam is described in the Qur'an as "the primordial nature upon which God created mankind", and the Qur'an states that the proper name Muslim was given by Abraham.
As a historical phenomenon, however, Islam originated in Arabia in the early 7th century. Islamic texts depict Judaism and Christianity as prophetic successor traditions to the teachings of Abraham. The Qur'an calls Jews and Christians "People of the Book", and distinguishes them from polytheists. Muslims believe that parts of the previously revealed scriptures, the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospels), had become distorted over time — either in interpretation, in text, or both.
- See also: Islamic concept of God
Islam's most fundamental theological concept is tawhīd, or the unity of God. The first of the Five Pillars of Islam, tawhid is expressed in the Shahadah (testification), which declares that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is God's messenger. The Arabic term for God is Allāh; most scholars believe it to be derived from a contraction of the words al- (the) and ʾilāh (deity, masculine form), meaning "the God" (al-ilāh), but others trace its origin to the Aramaic Alāhā.
According to F. E. Peters: "The Qur'an insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews. The Quran's Allah is the same Creator God who covenanted with Abraham." However, Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, seeing it as akin to polytheism. God is described in a chapter (sura) of the Qu'ran as: "...God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him".
The Qur'an is considered by Muslims to be the literal word of God, and is the central religious text of Islam. It has also been called, in English, the Koran and, archaically, the Alcoran. The word Qur'an means "recitation". Although the Qur'an is often referred to as a "book", when Muslims speak in the abstract about "the Qur'an", they usually mean the scripture as recited in Arabic rather than the printed work or any translation of it. Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad by God through the angel Gabriel on numerous occasions between the years 610 and his death on July 6, 632. Modern Western academics generally hold that the Qur'an of today is not very different from the words Muslims believe to have been revealed to Muhammad, as the search for other variants has not yielded any differences of great significance.
The Qur'an occupies a status of primacy in Islamic jurisprudence, and Muslims consider it a definitive source of guidance. To interpret the Qu'ran, Muslims use a form of exegesis known as tafsir.
Muslims believe that the Qur'an is perfect only as revealed in the original Arabic. Translations, they maintain, are the result of human effort, and are necessarily deficient. This deficiency arises from differences in human languages, the human fallibility of translators, and not least because the inspired style found in the original would be lost. Translations are therefore regarded only as commentaries on the Qur'an, or "interpretations of its meaning", not as the Qur'an itself.
- See also: Historicity of Muhammad
Muhammad (c. 570 – July 6, 632), (also Mohammed, Mohamet, and other variants), was an Arab religious, political, and military leader who propagated the religion of Islam. Muslims consider him the greatest prophet of God, and the last recipient of divine revelation. He is viewed not as the founder of a new religion, but as the last in a series of prophets, the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and others. For the last 23 years of his life, beginning at age 40, Muhammad reported receiving revelations from God. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur'an, was memorized and recorded by his followers. Despite his exalted status in Muslim thought, Muslims believe that Muhammad was merely human.
During this time, Muhammad preached to the people of Mecca, imploring them to abandon polytheism. Although some people converted to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were subsequently persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. After 13 years of preaching in Mecca, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra ("emigration") to the city of Medina in 622. There, with the Medinan converts (Ansar) and the Meccan migrants (Muhajirun), Muhammad soon established his political and religious authority. While in Medina, Muhammad had two primary aims — to bring the surrounding pagan tribes under his control either willingly or by force, and to strengthen the Muslim community by reforming society to Qur'anic norms. By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless Conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 he ruled over the entire Arabian peninsula.
Sunnah literally means "trodden path" and it refers in common usage to the normative example of Muhammad. This example is preserved in traditions known as hadith ("reports"), which recount his words, his actions, and his personal characteristics. By the time of the classical Muslim jurist ash-Shafi'i (d. 820), the Sunnah had come to play a significant role in Islamic law, and Muslims were encouraged to emulate Muhammad's actions in their daily lives. The Sunnah also became a crucial resource for guiding interpretation of the Qur'an. The authentic hadith are considered by Muslims to be an authoritative source of revelation, second only to the Qur'an, because they represent divine guidance as implemented by Muhammad.
Belief in angels is central to the religion of Islam, because according to tradition, the Qur'an was dictated to Muhammad by the chief of all angels, Gabriel. They are seen as the ministers of God, and in some cases the agents of revelation. According to Islam, angels were created from light, and do not possess free will. They are completely devoted to the worship of God and are tasked by him with certain duties, such as maintaining aspects of the Earth's environment, placing souls in newborn children, recording every person's actions, and taking a person's soul at the time of death. Angels are described in the Qur'an as "messengers with wings — two, or three, or four (pairs): He [God] adds to Creation as He pleases..." Angels sometimes but not usually assume human form, and can intercede on man's behalf.
Resurrection and judgment
A fundamental tenet of Islam is belief in the "Day of Resurrection", yawm al-Qiyāmah (also known as yawm ad-dīn, "Day of Judgment" and as-sā`a, "the Last Hour"). Muslims believe that the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God, but unknown to man. The trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah are described in the Qur'an and the hadith, as well as in the commentaries of Islamic scholars such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, and al-Bukhari. The Qur'an emphasizes bodily resurrection, a sharp break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death (although some interpret this symbolically). Resurrection will be followed by the gathering of all mankind, Muslim and non-Muslim, culminating in their judgment by God.
The Qur'an list several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as dishonesty and the exploitation of others. Muslims view paradise as a place of joy and bliss, but despite the Qur'an's descriptions of the physical pleasures to come, there are clear references to an even greater joy — acceptance by God (ridwan). There is also a strong mystical tradition in Islam that places these heavenly delights in the context of an ecstatic awareness of God, stressing an allegorical interpretation of the Qur'anic verses describing heaven.
Another central aspect of Islam is the belief in divine preordainment (al-qadaa wa'l-qadr), which means that God has full knowledge and decree over all that occurs. This is explained by Qur'anic verses such as "Say: 'Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector'..." Muslims believe that nothing in the world can happen, good or evil, unless it has been preordained and permitted by God. Man possesses free will in the sense that he has the faculty to choose between right and wrong, and thus retains responsibility over his actions. Muslims also believe that although God has decreed all things, the evils and calamities that are decreed are done so as a trial, or because they may lead to a later benefit not yet apparent due to mankind's lack of comprehension. Therefore, divine preordainment does not suggest an absence of God's indignation against evil and disbelief. According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, the "Preserved Tablet".
Duties and practices
Five Pillars of Islam
- The shahādatān, which is the basic creed or tenet of Islam: 'ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh, or "I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." As the most important pillar, this testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.
- Salah, or ritual prayer, in the Arabic language it means du’a (Invocation) and technically means to worship Allah through certain known and prescribed sayings and actions starting with Takbeer (saying Allaahu Akbar Allaah is the Most Great), and ending with Tasleem (saying: as-salaamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatul-lahi wabarakaatuh may Allaah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you). It must be performed five times a day at fixed times. Each salah is performed facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. Salah is intended to focus the mind on God; it is seen as a personal communication with God, expressing gratitude and worship. According to the Qur'an, the benefit of prayer "restrains [one] from shameful and evil deeds". Salah is compulsory but some flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on the circumstances. In many Muslim countries, reminders called calls to prayer are broadcast publicly from local mosques at the appropriate times. The prayers themselves are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of quotes from the Qur'an.
- Zakat, or alms-giving. This is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It consists of spending a fixed portion of one's wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, including slaves, debtors, travelers, and others. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), in order to achieve additional divine reward. There are two main types of zakat — a zakat on "traffic", which is a fixed amount paid during the month of Ramadan, and the zakat on wealth, which covers money made in business, savings, income, and so on.
- Sawm, or fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims must abstain from food, drink,sexual intercourse and things that can nullify the sawm from dawn to dusk during this month, and are to be especially mindful of other sins together with Niah (the intention to fast). The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness to God, to express their gratitude to and dependence on him, to atone for their past sins, and to remind them of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would be excessively problematic. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missing fasts usually must be made up soon afterwards.
- The Hajj, which is the pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. When the pilgrim is around ten kilometers from Mecca, he must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white unhemmed sheets. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the Black Stone, running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina. The pilgrim, or the hajji, is honored in his or her community, although Islamic teachers say that the Hajj should be an expression of devotion to God, not a means to gain social standing.
The Sharia (literally: "the path leading to the watering place") is Islamic law, determined by traditional Islamic scholarship. In Islam, Sharia is viewed as the expression of the divine will, and "constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief".
Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from broad topics of governance and foreign relations all the way down to issues of daily living. Islamic laws that are covered expressly in the Qur'an are referred to as hudud laws, which specify the punishments for a number of common crimes. The Qur'an and Sunnah also contain laws of inheritance, marriage, and restitution for injuries and murder, as well as rules for fasting, charity, and prayer. However, the prescriptions and prohibitions may be broad, so their application in practice varies. Islamic scholars (known as "ulema"), have elaborated systems of law on the basis of these rules and their interpretation.
Fiqh, or "jurisprudence", is defined in Islamic thought as the knowledge of the practical rules of the religion. The method Islamic jurists use to derive rulings is known as usul al-fiqh ("legal theory", or "principles of jurisprudence"). According to Islamic legal theory, law has four fundamental roots, which are given precedence in this order: the Qur'an, the Sunnah (actions and sayings of Muhammad), the consensus of the Muslim jurists (ijma), and analogical reasoning (qiyas). To early Islamic jurists, theory was less important than pragmatic application of the law. In the 9th century, the jurist ash-Shafi'i provided a theoretical basis for Islamic law by codifying the basic principles of jurisprudence (including the four fundamental roots) in his book ar-Risālah.
Etiquette and diet
There are numerous practices which fall into the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with "as-salamu `alaykum" ("peace be unto you"), saying bismillah ("in the name of God") before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking, among others. Hygienic practices include many behaviors that fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health, which includes the circumcision of male offspring. Islamic burial rituals involve saying the Salat al-Janazah ("funeral prayer") over the bathed and enshrouded dead body, and burying it in a grave. Muslims, like Jews, are restricted in their diet, and prohibited foods include pig products, blood, carrion, and alcohol. Excepting hunting and fishing, all consumed meat must come from a herbivorous animal slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian. Food permissible for Muslims is known as halal food.
Jihad is literally to "struggle in the way of God" and is sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar of Islam, although it occupies no official status as such. Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants. In broader usage and interpretation, the term has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. It can imply striving to live a moral and virtuous life, to spreading and defending Islam, and to fighting injustice and oppression, among other things.
The primary aim of jihad is not the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force, but rather the expansion and defense of the Islamic state. In the classical manuals of Islamic jurisprudence, the rules associated with armed warfare are covered at great length. Such rules include not putting women, children and non-combatants in harm's way, as well as not damaging cultivated or residential areas. More recently, modern Muslims have tried to re-interpret the Islamic sources, saying that jihad is essentially defensive warfare aimed at protecting Muslims and Islam. Although some Islamic scholars disagree, there is a consensus that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against persecution and oppression. Some Muslims believe that Muhammad regarded the inner struggle for faith to be a "Greater Jihad" than even fighting by force in the way of God.
Islam's historical development has affected political, economic, and military trends both inside and outside the Islamic world. Within a century of Muhammad's first recitations of the Qur'an, an Islamic empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Central Asia in the east. This new polity soon broke into civil war, and successor states fought both against each other and against outside forces. However, Islam continued to spread deep into regions like Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Islamic dynasties such as the Ottomans and Mughals fell under the sway of European imperial powers. Recently, though, new political movements and newfound wealth have led to both rebirth and conflict in the Islamic world.
Rise of empire (632 – 750)
Islam began in Arabia in the 7th century under the leadership of Muhammad, who united the many tribes of Arabia under Islamic law. With Muhammad's death in 632, there was confusion about who would succeed to leadership of the Muslim community. Umar ibn al-Khattab, a prominent companion of Muhammad, nominated Abu Bakr, who was Muhammad's intimate friend and collaborator. Others added their support and Abu Bakr was made the first caliph. Abu Bakr's immediate task was to avenge a recent defeat by Byzantine (or Eastern Roman Empire) forces, although he first had to put down a rebellion by a number of Arab tribes in an episode known as the Ridda wars, or "Wars of Apostasy".
His death in 634 resulted in the succession of Umar as the caliph, and after him, Uthman ibn al-Affan, and then Ali ibn Abi Talib. These four are known as the "khulafa rashidūn" ("Rightly Guided Caliphs"). Under them, the territory under Muslim rule expanded greatly. The weakness of the Persian and Byzantine empires allowed the Muslims to conquer the lands of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Armenia, and Iran, among others.
When Umar was assassinated in 644, the election of Uthman as successor was met with gradually increasing opposition. Like Umar, Uthman too was then assassinated, in 656. Ali then assumed the position of caliph, although tensions soon escalated into what became the first civil war (the "First Fitna"), in which numerous companions of Muhammad sought to avenge the slaying of Uthman. Ali managed to retain his position as caliph but was unable to bring the territory of Uthman's relative Mu'awiyah under his command. When Ali was fatally stabbed in 661, Mu'awiyah was ordained as the caliph, marking the start of the hereditary Umayyad dynasty.
After Mu'awiyah's death in 680, conflict over succession broke out again in a civil war known as the "Second Fitna". Afterwards, the Umayyad dynasty prevailed for a further seventy years, and was able to conquer the Maghrib as well as Spain and the Narbonnese Gaul. The Abbasid dynasty rose to power in 750 on a wave of dissatisfaction against the Umayyads instigated by a revolutionary named Abu Muslim. Under the Abbasids, Islamic civilization began to flourish under the "Islamic Golden Age", with its capital at the cosmopolitan city of Baghdad.
Fragmentation (750 – 1280)
By the late 9th century, the Abbasid caliphate showed signs of fracture. Egypt, Persia, and other provinces broke away, and by 1055 the Seljuq Turks eliminated the Abbasids as a military power. However, they continued to respect the caliph's religious position, who became a ruler in name only.
During this time, expansion continued, sometimes by military warfare, sometimes by peaceful proselytism. The first stage in the conquest of India began just before the year 1000, and by about 1209 the area up to the Ganges river had been conquered. In sub-Saharan West Africa, it was just after the year 1000 that Islam was established.
Islamic conquest into Christian Europe spread as far as southern France. At the behest of the Pope, the Crusades were launched in response to Muslim gains in the Mediterranean and in support of the Byzantine empire against the Seljuk Turks. Successful at first, the Crusaders' advance was halted by the Muslim general Saladin, who regained Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin in 1187.
The Mongol Empire put an end to the Abbasid dynasty at the Battle of Baghdad in 1258, which saw them overrun by the superior Mongol army. In Egypt, the slave-soldier Mamluks had taken control in 1250. Matters of military prestige were at the core of Mamluk society, and this helped them challenge and defeat an invading Mongol force at the Battle of Ain Jalut in late 1260. The Mamluks soon went on to establish control of Syria and defeat the remaining Crusader states.
Ottomans to oil (1280 – present)
The Seljuk Turks fell apart rapidly in the second half of the 13th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Ottoman empire (named after Osman I) was established with a string of conquests that included the Balkans, parts of Greece, and western Anatolia. In 1453 under Mehmed II the Ottomans laid siege to Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium. The Byzantine fortress succumbed shortly afterward, having been battered by the Ottoman's superior cannon, and was renamed "Istanbul".
Islam continued to expand during this time, reaching Southeast Asia by the 13th century. However, in Spain, a series of confrontations with the Christian kingdoms ended in the fall of Granada in 1492. In the early 16th century, the Shi'ite Safavid dynasty assumed control in Persia, and despite periodic setbacks, the Safavids remained powerful for centuries. Meanwhile, Mamluk Egypt fell to the Ottomans in 1517, who then launched a European campaign which reached as far as the gates of Vienna in 1529.
During the early 16th century the Mughal empire was formed in the Indian subcontinent under the rules of Babur, Humayun, and Akbar (later known as "Akbar the Great"). Although stable under Jahangir and Shah Jahan, decline set in during the heavy-handed rule of Aurangzeb, and by the mid-18th century the British had assumed control and formally abolished Mughal rule.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Ottoman empire began to feel threatened by European economic and military advantages, despite attempts at modernization. In the 19th century, the rise of nationalism resulted in Greece declaring and winning independence in 1829; several Balkan states also won independence after the Ottomans suffered defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. In the aftermath of World War I losses, the remnants of the empire were parceled out as European protectorates or spheres of influence. Since then, however, most Muslim societies have become independent nations, and 20th century issues such as oil wealth and the state of Israel have led to both renewed ties and conflict with the West.
Civilization & community
Islam is not only a faith, but also a civilization. Throughout history, Muslims and those living in Muslim lands have contributed enormously to art, science, medicine, philosophy, and literature. Today, there are over a billion Muslims across the globe, and many different movements within contemporary Islam.
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. Muslims often refer to the mosque by its Arabic name, masjid. The word mosque in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated to Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, "collective" mosque (masjid jami), which has more community and social activities and amenities. The primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer. Nevertheless, mosques are also important to the Muslim community as meeting places and places of study. Modern mosques have evolved significantly from the early designs of the 7th century, and demonstrate many varied architectural elements like minarets.
The formal beginning of the Muslim era was chosen to be the Hijra in 622 CE, because it was regarded as a turning point in Muhammad's fortunes. The assignment of this year as the beginning of the Islamic calendar, 1 AH (Anno Hegira), was reportedly done by Caliph Umar. It is a lunar calendar, with nineteen ordinary years of 354 days and eleven leap years of 355 days in a thirty-year cycle. It is synchronized only with lunations and not with the solar year. Therefore, Islamic dates cannot be converted to CE/AD dates simply by adding 622 years.
Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, which means that they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. The most important festivals in the Islamic calendar are Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) on the 1st of Shawwal, marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى) on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, coinciding with the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Arts and sciences
Islamic civilization has produced many great accomplishments in art, which includes the fields of architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics. Islamic art frequently makes use of the arabesque, a design technique that involves the placement of repeated geometrical forms. Arabic calligraphy is an omnipresent decoration in Islamic art, and is usually expressed in the form of Qur'anic verses. Islamic architecture demonstrates a great number of techniques, like the use of domes in famous structures like the Dome of the Rock and the Taj Mahal.
Muslim scientists made significant advances in mathematics and astronomy. The mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, from whose name the word algorithm derives, helped develop the field of algebra (which is named after his book, kitab al-jabr). In technology, the Muslim world adopted papermaking and gunpowder from China many centuries before it was known in the West. Muslim physicians contributed much to the field of medicine, and specifically to the subjects of anatomy, physiology, and surgery.
Islamic philosophy, which greatly influenced medieval and Renaissance Europe, can be defined as "the style of philosophy produced within the framework of Islamic culture". It was developed based on the assumption that the truths obtained with human reasoning and the truths obtained from Islam, when properly understood, cannot contradict each other. Notable philosophers include Al-Kindi, Yahya Ibn Adi (a Christian) and his pupil al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd. Also, Islamic culture has produced many notable literary works over a vast geographic and linguistic area. Persian writers, especially poets, had a large impact on literary style across the Islamic world. Notable Persian poets include: Rumi (one of the greatest mystic poets of Islam), Sheikh Sa‘di and Hafiz.
Islam and other religions
The Qur'an contains injunctions to respect other religions and also to fight and subdue unbelievers during war. The Qur'an says that "it was restoring the pure monotheism of Abraham which had been corrupted in various, not clearly specified, ways by Jews and Christians". This charge against Jews and Christians may originally have been a just a claim of false interpretation, but in later Islamic thought it was read as an accusation of textual corruption against the Bible. Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands had the status of dhimmi, and were allowed to "practice their religion, subject to certain conditions, and to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy". They were guaranteed their personal safety and security of property, in return for paying tribute (jizya) and acknowledging Muslim supremacy. Dhimmis were subject to certain legal restrictions such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. The enforcement of the laws governing dhimmis was widespread in the Muslim world until the mid-19th century, when the Ottoman empire significantly relaxed the restrictions placed on its non-Muslim residents.
The Yazidi, Druze, Bábí, Bahá'í, Berghouata and Ha-Mim religions either emerged out of Islam or came to share certain beliefs with Islam. Although influenced by traditional beliefs in the regions where they emerged, they consider themselves to be distinct religions with separate laws and institutions. (Berghouata and Ha-Mim no longer have any followers.) Sikhism's holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, contains some writings by Muslim figures, as well as by Sikh and Hindu saints.
Liberal Islam is a movement that attempts to reconcile religious tradition with modern norms of secular governance and human rights. Its supporters say that there are multiple ways to read Islam's sacred texts, and stress the need to leave room for "independent thought on religious matters". Liberal Muslims see Islam as a personalized religion which remains separate from public affairs. In contrast, the term Islamism describes a movement that includes many different politically-oriented groups influenced by Islamic fundamentalism. This movement, which was driven by the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, advocates a totalistic and theocratic alternative to secular political ideologies. They promote Islam as a comprehensive solution to every question of importance, both public and private.
Islamist terrorism refers to acts of terrorism claimed by their supporters and practitioners to further the goals of Islam. It has heavily increased in prevalence in recent decades, and has become a contentious political issue in many nations. There are Muslims and non-Muslims who have spoken out against this claim.
Commonly cited estimates of the Muslim population today range between 900 million and 1.4 billion people. Some 30 to 40 countries are Muslim-majority, and Arabs account for less than one-fifth of all Muslims worldwide. South Asia and Southeast Asia contain the most populous Muslim countries, with Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India having more than 100 million adherents each. In the Middle East, Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries, while in Africa, Egypt and Nigeria lead the pack. China also holds an unknown but large Muslim population. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity in many European countries, such as France.
There are a number of Islamic religious denominations that are essentially similar in belief, but which nonetheless have significant theological and legal differences. The major division is between the Sunni and the Shi'a; Sufism is generally considered to be a mystical inflection of Islam rather than a distinct school. According to most sources, approximately 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and approximately 15% are Shi'a. There are a number of other Islamic sects which represent a minority of Muslims today.
Sunni Muslims are the largest group in Islam. In Arabic, as-Sunnah literally means "principle" or "path". The Sunnah (the example of Muhammad's life) is the main pillar of Sunni doctrine, as recorded in the Qur'an and the hadith. Sunnis believe that the first four caliphs of the Muslim community were the rightful successors to Muhammad. They hold that since God did not specify the leaders of the Muslim community after Muhammad, they had to be elected. Sunnis recognize four major legal traditions, or madhhabs: Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanafi, and Hanbali. All four accept the validity of the others and a Muslim might choose any one that he or she finds agreeable, but other Islamic sects are believed to have departed from the majority by introducing innovations (bidah). There are also several orthodox theological or philosophical traditions. The more recent Salafi movement, sees itself as restorationist and claims to derive its teachings from the original sources of Islam.
The Shi'a, who constitute the second-largest branch of Islam, reject the authority of the first three caliphs. They believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, was his rightful successor, and they call him the first Imam. In Shi'a doctrine, the Imam is the leader of the Muslim community, not the caliph (a term preferred by the Sunni). According to the Shi'a, Ali and his successors ruled by right of divine appointment, and not by the choice of the Muslim community. An Imam held "absolute spiritual authority" among Muslims, and had final say in matters of doctrine and revelation. Shi'a Muslims accept the Five Pillars of Islam, although their practices differ from the majority Sunni in significant ways. The two branches disagree over the proper importance and validity of specific collections of hadith, and the Shi'a have their own legal tradition which is called Ja'fari jurisprudence.
Sufism is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam followed by some Muslims within both the Sunni and Shi'a denominations. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of Islam, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. Sufism and Islamic law are generally considered to be complementary, though Sufism has been criticized by some Muslims for unjustified religious innovation. Most Sufi orders, or tariqas, can be classified as either Sunni or Shi'a.
Another sect which dates back to the early days of Islam is that of the Kharijites. The only surviving branch of the Kharijites, which was itself divided into numerous sub-sects, is the Ibadi sect. Ibadism is distinguished from Shi'ism by its belief that the leader should be chosen on the basis of his faith instead of ancestry, and from the Sunni in its rejection of Uthman and Ali. Ibadi Islam is noted for its strictness, but, unlike the Kharijites proper, Ibadis do not regard major sins as automatically rendering a Muslim an unbeliever. Most Ibadi Muslims live in Oman.
Criticism of Islam
The earliest surviving written criticisms of Islam are to be found in the writings of Christians like John of Damascus (born c. 676). In the medieval period, some Arab philosophers like the poet Al-Ma'arri adopted a critical approach to Islam. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides contrasted Islamic views of morality to the Jewish approach that he himself elaborated. Medieval Christian ecclesiastical writers emphatically denied the validity of Islamic beliefs, portraying Muhammad as possessed by Satan. In the 19th century, the Orientalist scholar William Muir wrote harshly about the Qu'ran.
Modern critique of Islam includes accusations that Islam is intolerant of criticism and that Islamic law is too hard on apostates. Other criticism takes a negative view of Muhammad's personal life, questions the authenticity and morality of the Qu'ran, and claims that women are treated badly in Islamic law and practice. Responses to the critics have come from many corners. Montgomery Watt and Norman Daniel dismiss some of the criticisms as the product of old myths and polemics, while Carl Ernst writes that Islamophobia has played a part. Muslim scholars like Muhammad Mohar Ali argue against claims of discrepancies in the Qur'an and allegations that Muhammad was unduly influenced by Judeo-Christian tradition.
- Further information: List of Islamic and Muslim-related topics
- ^ Teece (2003), p.10
- ^ a b c d e f g h "Islam", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Ghamidi (2001): Sources of Islam
- ^ Esposito (1996), p.41
- ^ "If…they [Christians] mean that the Qur'an confirms the textual veracity of the scriptural books which they now possess—that is, the Torah and the Gospels—this is something which some Muslims will grant them and which many Muslims will dispute. However, most Muslims will grant them most of that." Ibn Taymiyya cited in Accad (2003)
- ^ Esposito (1998), pp.6,12; Esposito (2002b), pp.4-5; F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
- ^ a b c d "Muhammad", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Gregorian (2003), p.ix
- ^ Esposito (2002b), p.17
- ^ "Shari'ah", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ Esposito (2002b), pp.111,112,118
- ^ Esposito (2002b), p.21
- ^ Sells (2003), p.30
- ^ Qur'an 6:125, Qur'an 61:7, Qur'an 39:22
- ^ Qur'an 5:3, Qur'an 3:19, Qur'an 3:83
- ^ Qur'an 9:74, Qur'an 49:14
- ^ Watton (1993), "Introduction"
- ^ "Qur'an", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001)
- ^ Qur'an 30:30
- ^ a b c "Islam", Encyclopedia of Religion
- ^ Qur'an 22:78
- ^ "Tahrif", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Sahih Muslim 1:1
- ^ "Imam", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Tawhid", Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
- ^ Griffith (2006), p.248
- ^ "Allah", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh ("Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity 2001)
- ^ F. E. Peters (2003), p.4
- ^ Qur'an 29:46
- ^ Qur'an 112:1-4
- ^ a b c Teece (2003), pp.12,13
- ^ C. Turner (2006), p.42
- ^ F. E. Peters (1991), p.3 - On p.4 Peters says:"Few have failed to be convinced that what is in our copy of the Quran is, in fact, what Muhammad taught, and is expressed in his own words... [p.5] To sum this up: the Quran is convincingly the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation."
- ^ a b "Qur'an", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Tafsir", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Esposito (1998), p.12; Esposito (2002b), pp.4-5; F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
- ^ The word Qur'an was invented and first used in the Qur'an itself. There are two different theories about this term and its formation, cf. "Qu'ran", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- ^ Qur'an 18:110
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.26-28
- ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World (2003), p.666
- ^ "Sunnah", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Hadith", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Qur'an 21:19-20
- ^ Qur'an 35:1
- ^ "Djinn", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Qur'an 45:5
- ^ Sell (2004), p.228
- ^ "Malā'ika", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Qiyama", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Ibn Sīnā, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Sīnā, known in the West as "Avicenna", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Resurrection", The New Encyclopedia of Islam (2003)
- ^ "Qiyama", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, p.565
- ^ "Paradise", "Heaven", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
- ^ Qur'an 9:72
- ^ Smith (2006), p.89
- ^ "Heaven", The Columbia Encyclopedia (2000)
- ^ "Garden", Encyclopedia of the Qur'an (2005)
- ^ Qur'an 9:51
- ^ D. Cohen-Mor (2001), p.4: "The idea of predestination is reinforced by the frequent mention of events 'being written' or 'being in a book' before they happen: 'Say: "Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us..." ' "
- ^ a b Farah (2003), pp.119-122
- ^ Patton (1900), p.130
- ^ "Pillars of Islam", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online (2007)
- ^ "Islam", Encyclopedia of Religious Rites, Rituals, and Festivals
- ^ Farah (1994), p.135
- ^ a b Kobeisy (2004), pp.22-34
- ^ Qur'an 29:40
- ^ Hedáyetullah (2006), pp.53-55
- ^ Esposito (2002b), pp.18,19
- ^ Ridgeon (2003), p.258
- ^ "Zakat", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Brockopp (2000), p.140; Levy (1957) p.150; Jonsson (2006), p.244
- ^ a b Farah (1994), pp.144-145
- ^ Esposito (1998), p.90,91
- ^ For whom fasting is mandatory. USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. Retrieved on 2007-04-18.
- ^ Qur'an 2:184
- ^ Khan (2006), p.54
- ^ "Islam", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
- ^ Farah (1994), pp.145-147
- ^ a b Hoiberg (2000), pp.237-238
- ^ Goldschmidt (2005), p.48
- ^ a b "Shari'ah", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ Menski (2006), p.290
- ^ "Hadd", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Sharia", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Weiss (2002), p. xvii
- ^ Weiss (2002), p.162
- ^ a b c d Ghamidi (2001):Customs and Behavioral Laws
- ^ Ghamidi (2001):Various types of the prayer
- ^ Esposito (2002b), p.111
- ^ Ghamidi (2001): The Dietary Laws
- ^ The Qur'an touches the issue of food prepared by Christians and Jews in verse 5:5. According to Ersilia Francesca in the Encyclopedia of the Qur'an ("Slaughter"): "The majority of jurists suggest that animals slaughtered by Christians are lawful for Muslims only if they have been slain according to Islamic procedures. On the other hand, a number of jurists admit that what the Christians consider religiously lawful to eat is allowed for Muslims, regardless of the manner in which the animal's life was taken."
- ^ Curtis (2005), p.164
- ^ Esposito (2003), p.93
- ^ "Djihād", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ a b c d R. Peters (1977), pp.3-5
- ^ Esposito (2002a), p.26
- ^ "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2005)
- ^ Maududi. Human Rights in Islam, Chapter Four. Retrieved on 2006-01-09.
- ^ Ghamidi (2001): The Islamic Law of Jihad
- ^ BBC - Religion & Ethics - Jihad: The internal Jihad. Retrieved on 2007-01-09.
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.50
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.112
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.197
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.380,489
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.578,817
- ^ a b Holt (1977a), p.57
- ^ Hourani (2003), p.22
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.32
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.74
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.67
- ^ Holt (1977a), pp.68-72
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.72
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.80
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.92
- ^ Lewis (1993), p.84
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.105
- ^ Holt (1977b), pp.661-663
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.56
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.107
- ^ a b "Abbasid Dynasty", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.310
- ^ a b Lapidus (2002), pp.288-290
- ^ "Islamic World", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online (2007)
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.292
- ^ Holt (1977a), p.263
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.250
- ^ "Istanbul", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online (2007)
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.198
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.234,244,245
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.254
- ^ Lapidus (2002), p.358
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.378-380,624
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.281-282
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.380,489-493
- ^ Lapidus (2002), pp.556,578,823,835
- ^ "Islam", Encyclopedia of the Future
- ^ a b c Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents. Adherents.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-09.
- ^ "Masdjid", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ "Mosque", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ a b F.E.Peters(2003), p.67
- ^ Adil (2002), p.288
- ^ "Taʾrīk̲h̲", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
- ^ Ettinghausen (2003), p.3
- ^ "Islamic Art and Architecture", The Columbia Encyclopedia (2000)
- ^ a b Madden (1975), pp.423-430
- ^ O. Grabar (2006), p.87
- ^ Ettinghausen (2003), p.87
- ^ Esposito (2000b), p.157
- ^ Huff (2003), p.74
- ^ H. R. Turner (1997), pp.136-138
- ^ a b "Islamic Philosophy", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998)
- ^ "Islam", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ a b "Islamic Art", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ Sayyid Fayyaz Mahmud (1960), p.182
- ^ Holt (1977a), pp.43-44
- ^ Watt (1974), p.116
- ^ Lewis (1984), p.21
- ^ Lewis (1984), pp.9,27
- ^ "1839–61", The Encyclopedia of World History Online
- ^ Parrinder (1971), p.259
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- ^ Lewis (2003), p.23
- ^ Lewis (2003), p.137
- ^ Muslims Against Terrorism. Muslims Against Terrorism. Retrieved on 2007-01-09.
- ^ Lewis (2003), p.39
- ^ Lewis (2003), pp.137,138 — "Usama Bin Ladin and his followers may not represent Islam, and many of their statements and their actions directly contradict basic Islamic principles and teachings, but they do arise from within Muslim civilization, just as Hitler and the Nazis arose from within Christendom, and they too must be seen in their own cultural, religious, and historical context."
- ^ "Islamic World", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
- ^ Muslims in Europe: Country guide. BBC News (2005-12-23). Retrieved on 2006-09-28.
- ^ Religion In Britain. Office for National Statistics (2003-02-13). Retrieved on 2006-08-27.
- ^ Esposito (2002b), p.2
- ^ Sunni and Shia Islam. Country Studies. U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2007-01-09.
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- ^ "Shariah", The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
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- ^ "Shi'ite", "Imam", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
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Books and journals
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- Kramer (ed.), Martin (1999). The Jewish Discovery of Islam: Studies in Honor of Bernard Lewis. Syracuse University. ISBN 978-9652240408.
- Kuban, Dogan (1974). Muslim Religious Architecture. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9004038132.
- Lewis, Bernard (1993). Islam in History: Ideas, People, and Events in the Middle East. Open Court. ISBN 978-0812692174.
- Lewis, Bernard (1994). Islam and the West. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195090611.
- Lewis, Bernard (1996). Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195102833.
- Mubarkpuri, Saifur-Rahman (2002). The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Prophet. Dar-us-Salam Publications. ISBN 978-1591440710.
- Najeebabadi, Akbar Shah (2001). History of Islam. Dar-us-Salam Publications. ISBN 978-1591440345.
- Nigosian, S. A. (2004). Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices, New Edition, Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253216274.
- Rahman, Fazlur (1979). Islam, 2nd, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-70281-2.
- Walker, Benjamin (1998). Foundations of Islam: The Making of a World Faith. Peter Owen Publishers. ISBN 978-0720610383.
Find more information on Islam by searching Wikipedia's sister projects Dictionary definitions from Wiktionary Textbooks from Wikibooks Quotations from Wikiquote Source texts from Wikisource Images and media from Commons News stories from Wikinews Learning resources from Wikiversity
- University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts
- Encyclopedia of Islam (Overview of World Religions)
- Unit on Islam from the NITLE Arab Culture and Civilization Online Resource
Islam and the arts, and other media
- BBC Islam Focus
- Islamic Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Muslim Heritage (Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation, UK)
- Islamic Architecture (IAORG) illustrated descriptions and reviews of a large number of mosques, palaces, and monuments.
- Islamic Philosophy (Journal of Islamic Philosophy, University of Michigan)
- Islamic Civilization