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Introduction to Islam. Mohammed M. Hafez, Ph.D. National Security Affairs Department Naval Postgraduate School NS3330 Middle East 2009. Islam – Definitions and Demographics. Islam - Submission to Allah , which is Arabic for God Approximately 1.1 to 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.

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introduction to islam

Introduction to Islam

Mohammed M. Hafez, Ph.D.

National Security Affairs Department

Naval Postgraduate School

NS3330 Middle East


islam definitions and demographics
Islam – Definitions and Demographics
  • Islam - Submission to Allah, which is Arabic for God
  • Approximately 1.1 to 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide
islam demographics
Islam – Demographics
  • 85-90% of Muslims are Sunnis
  • 10-15% are Shiites
origins of islam muhammad
Origins of Islam - Muhammad
  • Pre-Islamic Arabia - Jahiliyyah
    • Social inequality
    • Internecine fighting among tribes
    • Polytheistic (idol worshiping) society
  • 570 A.D. - Ordinary man, Muhammad, was born
  • 610 A.D. - Muhammad receives a revelation from God
  • 632 A.D. - Muhammad dies after spreading Islam to Arabia
Origins of Islam - Successors
  • After Muhammad’s death, he was succeeded by four leaders:
    • Abu Bakr al-Siddiq
    • Umar Ibn al-Khattab
    • Uthman Bin `Afan
    • Ali Bin Abi Talib
  • Sunnis consider these to be Al-Khulafa al-Rashidun (Rightly-Guided Caliphs)
  • Majority of Shiites (Twelver) only see Ali as the legitimate leader
origins of islam five pillars
Origins of Islam – Five Pillars
  • Shahada ~ Confession of faith:“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet”
  • Salaat ~ Prayer toward Mecca observed five times a day
  • Zakat ~ Almsgiving or purification tax (approximately 2.5 percent of one’s wealth) for the poor
  • Siyaam ~ Fasting from food, water, and all other pleasures of life from sunrise till sunsetobserved during the holy month of Ramadan
  • Hajj ~ Pilgrimage to Mecca once during a lifetime
origins of islam essential beliefs
Origins of Islam – Essential Beliefs
  • Monotheism -In line with the Judeo-Christian tradition, Islam is a monotheistic creed that believe there is only one God. The unity of God (tawhid) is central to Islam
  • People of the Book -Muslims recognize the divine origins of Jewish and Christian doctrines, but believe the original message has been subverted by Jews and Christians. Islam is the final prophecy
origins of islam essential beliefs1
Origins of Islam – Essential Beliefs
  • Universalism -Islam is a religion for all humanity and applies at all times and places
  • Judgment Day -Muslims believe that one day – when the world comes to an end – everyone will stand for judgment in front of God.
  • Eternity in Heaven or Hell -Muslims believe in life after death, when believers and sinners will live in heaven or hell based on their deeds as well as God’s mercy and compassion
shariah islamic law
Shariah – Islamic Law
  • Shariah as “the way” of God and His divine laws for humanity
  • Shariah has come to denote specific rules and laws that could be implemented by Muslims in personal lives as well as in public matters and disputes
sources of sunni shariah
Sources of Sunni Shariah
  • Qur’an- Revealed word of God sent to the Prophet Muhammad, the final of all monotheistic apostles that began with Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.
  • Sunna - Sayings (hadith) and outward conduct of the prophet Muhammad as recalled through a chain of oral transmission from one person to another beginning with the companions of the Prophet
    • Sahih (Bukhari, Muslim)
    • Da`iif (Apocryphal, weak)
  • Ijma`a - Consensus of the companions, scholars, Muslims
  • Qiyas – Analogical reasoning based on accepted sources
schools of islamic jurisprudence
Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence

Four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafi`i,Maliki, Hanbali; Shia have their own jurisprudence, the best known is the Ja’afari school

sunni shiite divide
Sunni-Shiite Divide
  • Shiite comes from Shia of Ali … “Followers of Ali”…”Partisans of Ali”
  • Shiites are a minority in Islam, but majority in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain
    • 10-15% of Muslims worldwide
origins of the sunni shiite divide
Origins of the Sunni – Shiite Divide
  • Origins is a political dispute over who should lead the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Muhammad – Who has the legitimate authority to rule?
    • Should rule go to any Muslim?
    • Should it go only to the companions of the Prophet?
    • Should it go only to Prophet’s family and blood descendants?
origins of the sunni shiite divide1
Origins of the Sunni – Shiite Divide
  • Shiite view is that only those who are from the Prophet’s family and their direct male descendants should rule
  • After death of the Prophet, Shiite view is that Ali should have been chosen as leader
  • Sunni view is that Abu Bakr al- Siddiq was correctly chosen
sunni view
Sunni View



  • Sunni view is that the four caliphs that came after the Prophet are legitimate leaders and are considered Rightly-Guided
  • After the four, Muslim rulers were not so great (or as great)

Abu Bakr

Sunni View as Legitimate Rulers




twelvers imamis
Twelvers (Imamis)
  • Largest Shiite sect; largest number of Muslims after Sunnis
  • Iran (90%)
  • Iraq (60%)
  • Lebanon

(South and Beirut, 35%)

  • Bahrain (80%)
  • Kuwait (35%)
  • Saudi Arabia

(Eastern province 10-15%)



Fatima married to…

1. Ali (d. 661)

2. Hassan (d. 669)

3. Hussein (d. 680)

4. Ali Zayn al-Abidin (d. 714)

Shiite Divisions






5. Muhammad al-Baqir (d. 731)

Zayd (d. 740)

6. Jafar al-Sidiq (d. 765)

7. Musa al-Kazim (d. 799)

Isma`il (d. 760)

8. Ali al-Rida (d. 818)

9. Muhammad al-Jawad (d. 835)

10. Ali al-Hadi (d. 868)

11. Hasan al-Askari (d. 874)

12. Muhammad al-Mahdi (occultation)

key terms you must know
Key Terms You Must Know
  • Tawhid(verb: Affirming God’s monotheism; No God but Allah)
  • Sunna(Way of the Prophet Muhammad)
  • Hadith (Saying of the Prophet Muhammad)
  • Khulafa al-Rashidun (Rightly-Guided Caliphs)
  • Sahaba(Companions of the Prophet Muhammad)
key terms you must know1
Key Terms You Must Know
  • Ijtihad(Reasoning or deriving an Islamic ruling based on Islamic texts)
  • Fatwa(Islamic legal ruling based on a question or issue)
  • Hijra (Migration; referring to Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina)
  • Fiqh (Jurisprudence)
  • Ulema(Muslim scholars of Islamic jurisprudence)
key terms you must know2
Key Terms You Must Know
  • Fitna(civil discord, chaos, fighting among Muslims)
  • Imam (Person who leads prayer; for Shiites it has the added meaning of ultimate religious authority after the Prophet Muhammad and source of religious knowledge)
  • Kafir (Infidel; unbeliever)
  • Takfir(verb: Act by one Muslim calling another Muslim kafir, infidel)
key terms you must know3
Key Terms You Must Know
  • Murted (Apostate; person who abandons Islam by renouncing the faith or converting to another religion)
  • Jahiliyyah(Literally means ignorance; when Islam came, the period preceding the rise of Islam came to be known as the age of jahiliyyah. Sometimes defined as paganism)
  • Shirk (Polytheism or belief in multiple Gods; opposite of monotheism)