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Chapter Eight: Islam. Muhammad and the Birth of Islam. Muhammad born in Mecca (570) Polytheistic society Married Khadija Daughter Fatima – symbol of piety and purity Revelations of God through Gabriel Qur’an (Koran). Five Pillars of Islam. Recitation of the Muslim act of faith

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Muhammad and the Birth of Islam

  • Muhammad born in Mecca (570)

    • Polytheistic society

  • Married Khadija

    • Daughter Fatima – symbol of piety and purity

  • Revelations of God through Gabriel

    • Qur’an (Koran)

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Five Pillars of Islam

  • Recitation of the Muslim act of faith

    • There is no God but God, and M. is his prophet

  • Obligation of prayer

    • 5 times a day – facing Mecca

  • Charity

    • 1/40th income

  • Fasting during Ramadan

    • Daylight hours

  • Pilgrimage (Haj)

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  • Muhammad escapes Mecca

  • Goes to Medina to start an Islamic society

  • Islam – submission to God

  • Muslim – one who submits

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Practices of Islam

  • No pork, alcohol

  • Male circumcision

  • Polygamy acceptable

  • Usury forbidden

  • Observation of feast days

  • Simplicity and asceticism

    • Rapid growth and spread of religion

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The Qur’an

  • Central text of Islam

    • Collation of Muhammad’s oral revelations

  • 114 chapters (sûras)

  • Written in Arabic

    • Cannot be translated for prayer / recitation

  • Source of unifications for all Muslims

  • Qur’an, Hadith, Shari’a

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  • “Beautiful writing”

  • Kufic (characteristic form)

  • Decorative feature of mosques

  • Abstract, geometric designs with text

    • No depictions of divinity

    • Arabesque

    • No narrative scenes (usually)

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Islamic Architecture

  • Functions of Islamic mosques

    • Community gathering centers

  • Large gathering area

    • Minbar – pulpit

    • Michrab – niche facing Mecca

    • Fountains – ritualized cleansing

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Islamic Architecture:The Dome of the Rock

  • Temple Mount, Jerusalem

  • Octagonal building, golden dome

  • Roman+Byzantine architecture

  • Lavish mosaics – covered by tile

  • Qur’anic verses in interior

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Islamic Architecture:Mosque of Damascus

  • Originally a Roman Temple, then a Christian Church

  • Lavish interior decoration

    • Marble

    • Byzantine mosaics

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Islamic Architecture:Mosque in Córdoba

  • Muslim capital in Spain

  • Rival of Great Mosque of Damascus

  • Al-Hakam

    • Constantinople artisans, workmen

    • 17 tons of tesserae

  • Survived the Reconquista

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[Image 8.8]

Maqsura screen of the Córdoba Mosque

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Islamic Architecture:The Alhambra

  • Exterior : complex of towers and walls

  • Infusion of interior streams

  • Palace of the Myrtles

    • Public occasions

  • Palace of the Lions

    • Private residence

    • Pinnacle of opulence

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Islamic Architecture:Taj Mahal

  • Mughal reign 1526-1858

  • Emperor Shah Jahan

    • Tribute to wife, Mumtaz Mahal

  • Dome atop octagonal structure

  • Highly polished white marble

    • Restrained exterior decoration

  • Inspired by Qur’an

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[Image 8.10]

Taj Mahal

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  • Sunni and Shi’a traditions

  • Sufism = mystical dimension of Islam

    • Sheyks and disciples

    • Retirement in poverty

    • Piety and repentance

  • Sufi tariqas in North Africa, Egypt

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Sufi Writers

  • Saint Rabia

    • Aphorisms, poems, meditations

    • Focus on the love of God

    • “possess nothing…except Allah”

  • Rumi

    • Persian poems (rhyming couplets)

    • Discourses on mystical experiences

    • Recitation and movement (dervishes)

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The Culture of Islam and the West

  • Abbasid Dynasty

  • “House of Wisdom”

    • Translations of Greek texts

  • Advances in mathematics, medicine

    • Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Uqlidisi, Al-Hazen, Rhazes, Avicenna, Averröes

    • Moses Maimonides, Jewish physicians

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The Culture of Islam and the West

  • Exchange of goods / ideas

    • Quality swords, silk (damask), coffee

    • Lexicon contributions

  • Al-Ghazali

    • The Incoherence of the Philosophers

  • Averröes

    • “He of the Great Commentary”

    • The Incoherence of Incoherence

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Chapter Eight: Discussion Questions

  • In what ways are the Five Pillars of Islam similar to the basic tenets of Christianity? Explain the similarities and differences between the two religions.

  • What role did Islamic culture play in the tradition of Western literary (and, thus, philosophical) thought? What circumstances facilitated this contribution?

  • To what must we attribute the slow movement of ideas from their Islamic origins to the Western world? Does the Western canon today, in your opinion, assign adequate notoriety to those non-Western advanced thinkers? What are the implications of recognizing the origin of a technology? Explain.