ISLAM. Submission to the One God. Islam – “submitting to one God”. The name Islam is derived from the Arabic word sallam meaning “peace through faith and surrender” Key teaching = There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.
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ISLAM Submission to the One God
Islam – “submitting to one God” • The name Islam is derived from the Arabic word sallam meaning “peace through faith and surrender” • Key teaching = There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God. • A Muslim is one who submits to and finds peace in God, his or her main expression of faith is total surrender to Allah – the one true God who spoke to the people through the prophet Muhammad. • Central elements: • Qur’an: sacred text • Prophet Muhammad • Central teachings derived from the Qur’an and the Prophet • The Muslim community
A Brief History of Islam • Islam begins in Arabia • Around the time of the birth of Muhammad, Arabia had a trade-based economy • The main form of religious practice was: • Idolatry: a polytheistic belief system were objects, usually in the form of paintings or sculptures, are worshipped. The idols are representations of different divine aspects. • The Ka’bah – a cube shaped building in Mecca was full of idols at the time of Muhammad’s birth
Muhammad (570-632 CE), the Messenger of God • Born in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia), raised by his Uncle after the death of his parents • From a young age he demonstrated a preference for monotheism and a disdain for idolatry. • He met and married a widowed business-women named Khadija whom he later married and had children – all died except for one daughter – Fatimah. • Deeply grieved by the death of his children and agitated by the thought of the Last Judgment of all peoples, Muhammad spent more and more time wandering the hill so Mecca and meditating on death. • At age 40 in the year 610 CE, on one of his retreats, Muhammad had a revelation that would change his future and the future of the world.
Muhammad the Messenger • Islam begins with a revelation. • While meditating on Mount Hira, an angel appeared to Muhammad and announced that Muhammad was to be a prophet for the one God, Allah. • The messenger was Jibril or the Angel Gabriel, who asked him to read from a scroll. • Saying: “ Recite in the name of your Lord, the Creator, who created man from clots of blood! Recite! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, who by the pen has taught humankind things they did not know.” (Qur’an 96:1-5) • This night is celebrated by Muslims as the Night of Power and Excellence.
Revelation • Over the next 20 years, Muhammad had more revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel and thus began his work as the mouthpiece of God, a prophet. • He began preaching around Mecca, his main message: • One God = Allah; Therefore, people should reject idolatry • Called the various tribes of Mecca to be one under God • His messages were written down in the Holy scriptures of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an: Islam’s Sacred Presence • Also called the Koran = earthly center of Islam, means “that which is to be read” • The primary sacred text of Islam, originally written in Arabic. • The Qur’an is Allah’s word as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad without any element of the prophet reflected in it, thus it is infallible. • This is the Book in which there is no doubt. In it is guidance to those who fear God, who believe in the unseen, are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We [God] have provided for the, and who believe in the revelation sent to thee [Muhammad] and sent before thy time, and [in their hearts] have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on [true] guidance from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper. (2:2-5) • One must ritually wash one’s hands before touching the holy book and must be kept on a high shelf to indicate its superiority to any other book.
The Turning Point • Opposition grew quickly, becoming so severe that Muhammad and his followers had to flee Mecca. • Before he left, he underwent a profound spiritual experience know as the ‘Night Journey and Ascension’ or ‘Mi’raj, where he was taken by the angel to the temple mount in Jerusalem. • In 622 CE, the Prophet and his followers left Mecca for the town now known as Medina, “City of the Prophet.” • This flight from Mecca is referred to the Hijra = migration. • The Hijra marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. • In Medina, Muhammad was recognized as the Rasul, or Messenger, of Allah, he became not only a capable spiritual leader but a political and military leader as well. From this time on, Muslims believed that ideally religion and state should be one, operating under the principles of the Qur’an.
Umma – The Community of Islam • People were to live in obedience to the will of Allah, in a community united in one faith, one religious practice and one government. • Meanwhile, the Meccans grew concerned about the growing appeal of Islam and several times sent armed forces to destroy the new Islamic community. • After 3 major battles, in 630 CE, Muhammad rode into Mecca victoriously and went directly to the Kaaba, the central shrine for the worship of idols, claiming the city & its shrine for Islam. • Muhammad ordered all the statues removed from the shrine except for a sacred Black Stone, said to be a meteorite given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. • To this day, the Kaaba contains only the Black Stone and is the central place of prayer and pilgrimage for the Muslims. • People rapidly converted to Islam. Jews and Christians were allowed to stay in conquered areas, they were tolerated because they were followers of the true prophets.
Community • Ummah = nation • To be considered a member one merely has to submit to the will of Allah by practicing the duties of a Muslim • The community transcends race, ethnicity, language or other cultural factors (ideally).
The Seal of the Prophets • In the Qur’an, 25 prophets are named, including Adam, David, Johan and Ezekiel. • The five most important are Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus, and Muhammad (the last and most important). • Muhammad is called “the Seal of the Prophets” because the revelations given to him are believed to be final and complete. • The prophets were sent by God to deliver humanity from ignorance and superstition. • All the true prophets has the same message but generations of followers had changed or corrupted the original message of the earlier prophets.
The Spread of Islam • Islam spread much faster than any other major world religion. • By 650 CE, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, and the Persian Empire was predominantly Islamic. • Preachers were sent out to convert non-Muslim peoples, basic principles: • Islam is universal: all peoples are accepted as children of Allah. • Islam is a simple religion: does not require intensive study, harsh ascetic practices or elaborate rituals. • If missionaries were unsuccessful, the Muslim cavalry followed: The Caliphs • The Caliphs: • Successors to Muhammad: spiritual and temporal heads of Islam also brilliant military leaders
The Caliphs • Abu Bakr (632-34): original disciple, collected the revelations of Muhammad and compiled them in the Qur’an. • Umar was the second successor: oversaw the expansion of Islam to Persia, Damascus, and Jerusalem through military conquests. • Uthman: published and distributed the Qur’an, later murdered • Ali (son-in-law of Muhammad): was murdered as well Essentially, were responsible for military expansion of Islam based on 3 factors: - Promised eternal rewards to members who went into battle on Islam’s behalf - Muslims soldiers were allowed to keep over half of the war booty. - Muslims soldiers were often welcomed as deliverers from the oppressive and abusive Roman and Persian rulers at the time.
Islamic Contributions • Founded one of the first universities in the world in Cairo. • Golden Age: 8th -12th centuries, art, literature, science, architecture, and mathematics flourished • Architecture: Alhambra (Spain), Taj Mahal • Astronomy: navigation: longitude, latitude, the compass • Engineering: irrigation systems • Mathematics: developed the use of zero, the decimal system and algebra • Medicine: discovered the relationship between infection and disease, herbal medicine • Music: harp, lyre, tambourine, flute, oboe • Science: Optics and microscopic refractions microscope and telescope
Central Teachings: Creed • Allah (God) alone is worthy of worship • The entire universe is created by Allah, and nothing is profane or unrelated to Him • Allah provides the material resources necessary to maintain life. • Allah has raised up prophets for humanity’s needs, and revealed to them the straight path of life necessary for self-fulfillment, social justice and peace. • Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and the final prophet who completes the divine revelation of Allah’s code of life • Allah give to humanity freedom of choice • All Muslims are equal before Allah • The Qur’an is inspired scripture containing the divine revelation of Allah • There will be a day of judgment. Allah has sovereign rights to judge whether all people have followed the straight path, as described in the Qur’an, during their lifetime. • A Muslim is one who accepts the code of life offered by Allah through his prophet Muhammad, one who submits to Allah and professes the faith of Islam.
Islamic Creed • The Islamic Creed names seven beliefs: in Allah, in Allah’s books, in Allah’s angels, in Allah’s messengers, in the last day, in Allah’s providence, and in life after death. • Allah is very near and His presence can be experienced in several ways: • The cosmos: Creation came about through the word of Allah • The mercy of Allah: the purpose for creation is love and mercy • Humanity’s place: humans are Allah’s representatives, free will and speech mark the divine qualities of human intelligence and their special role. • Judgment: Muslims believe in life after death and that how a person will spend eternal life depends on how he or she lived on earth. Doing the will of Allah will earn rewards in heaven, if not they will be eternally punished with hell. At the Last Judgment, all will be gathered, and each person will be questioned about his/her deeds.
The Five Pillars of Islam • Central obligations, beliefs and practices that are essential to Islam. • If any one of the pillars is missing, a person’s religious observance is incomplete; their religious life is not fulfilled. • These pillars are not optional for Muslims, they are commands contained in the Qur’an • In Islam, there is no separation between work days and days of worship – everyday life becomes the arena for continuous worship.
The Five Pillars • Confession of Faith: “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,” is the first and most important pillar. These are often the first words spoken in an infant’s ear, and the last words spoken at death. • Prayer: Public expression of praise and submission to Allah designed to sanctify all life. Takes place 5 times a day and is performed facing Mecca, Friday is the special day of public prayer. Must undergo ritual washing, be wearing proper clothing. - Communal prayer takes place at a mosque, since there is no priesthood in Islam, prayers are led by an imam who stand in front of the faithful • Alms-giving or Poor Due: Muslims give alms to the needy as an act of worship. All Muslims who have reached the age of majority and possess a minimum of wealth are expected each year to give a percentage of their total possessions, about 2.5 %. This is one way a person can be freed from those things that are obstacles to Allah. • Fasting: During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to abstain during daylight hours from food, evil thoughts, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse. This period marks the time when Muhammad first received the divine message of Allah. Reminds Muslims to fulfill their obligations. • Pilgrimage: Each Muslims is expected to make the journey to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Only Muslims are allowed to enter the sacred area of Mecca and see the ancient shrine of the Kaaba. Pilgrims go to the mosque and make seven circuits around the Kaaba before touching the Black Stone and asking for forgiveness and guidance. The last rite of the hajj is the sacrifice of a sheep, goat, or camel to represent Abraham’s sacrifice.
Sacred Places • Mosque: Translates to “a place of prostration”. Main purpose is for prayer, either communally or privately. • Built from stone or brick in the form of a square, with a distinctive minaret or tower where the muezzin (crier) proclaim the call for prayer. • Also used for weddings or meetings. • Mecca: Muslims believed that when Allah created the earth, the first thing God created was the Kaaba. It was rebuilt by Adam and his son, and again by Abraham and his son Ishmael. Also the site of the well Zam Zam. • Medina: Muhammad is buried in Medina, and the first mosque was built there. • Jerusalem: The miraj refers to the night Muhammad was taken by angel Gabriel to the temple mount in Jerusalem (now the Dome of the Rock). There he visited with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, and ascended to heaven to be greeted by Allah.
Islamic Morality • The Code of Behaviour in Islam is familiar to most of the major world religions. • Central to Islamic morality is charity and forgiveness. • All moral commands support and expand on the duties of prayer, fasting, and the poor-due.
Personal and Social Life of Islam • Allah is not only ruler of the earth, but of every aspect of a Muslim’s life. • E.g. In some Muslim countries, zakat is enforced by law. • Islamic law = Shari’ah law • Spells out what is legal and illegal in Islamic society • Spells out the expected moral behaviours of the community and the individual • Sources for Shari’ah: • The Qur’an, 2. the Hadith, 3. responsible individual opinion, usually by an Islamic leader who uses reasoning, and 4. consensus of the community. -Shari’ah evolved over centuries. Nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan draw all of their laws from the Shari’ah.
Standards of Behaviour • Care of the Body: the body ultimately belongs not to the individual but to God; the body is to be kept clean, no seductive clothing nor overly luxurious. -Dietary restrictions: no pork or animals that have died without being slaughtered (halal), birds of prey, rodents, reptiles, blood, and alcohol • Family Life: Marriage and close family ties are considered religious duties, moral safeguards, and social commitments for Muslims. Marriage may take place between couples of proper age, free consent, and honorable intentions.
Women in Islam: Muhammad raised the status of 7th century women of Arabia. -Women were no longer to be simply the possession of men. • Muhammad also abolished female infanticide and gave women some financial independence as well as more rights regarding marriage and divorce. • Opposes unlimited polygamy • Dress restrictions for Muslims women reflect the attitude that women should not provide temptation for men. Outside the home, women are supposed to be covered in loose-fitting garments from head to foot. • Men and women are regarded as equals but with different roles, e.g. men usually have a predominant role in economic and public life, women generally have a greater influence within the family- Islam’s central social institution.
Jihad • Jihad means “exertion”, “struggle” or essentially “striving in God’s cause.” • On a personal level it refers to the individual’s spiritual struggle against anything that detracts from revering Allah and from acting in accordance with the divine will. • Teaching, preaching about Islam, and fighting corruption or poverty can be considered jihad. • Socially, jihad refers to the preservation of the order that Allah has willed for the world. • If a force tries to eliminate Islam, then Muslims consider it their duty to resist, even by using arms BUT only if it is done in self-defense. • Ideal Islamic society is a theocracy = a state governed by Islamic law based on the teachings of the Qur’an, • which means in an Islamic country, alcohol, prostitution, non-medicinal drugs, gambling and dancing between men and women would all be prohibited. • Free and compulsory religious education for all Muslims • Women have separate sections in public transportation systems, schools, hospitals, and sports facilities; but also follow a dress code • When a society is predominantly Muslim, Muslims see it as their duty to God to keep it an Islamic state
Sacred Times • The Islamic calendar begins with the year of Muhammad’s hijrah and is based on lunar months and lasts 354 days. • An Islamic festival is moved back eleven days each year. • Two Islamic festivals are: • Eid al-Fitr: the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan, and • Eid al-Adah: commemorates Abraham’s obedience to Allah in his willingness to sacrifice his son
Ramadan • Ramadan is the name for the 12th Islamic month, the moth in which Muhammad received the first revelation from God. • All healthy Muslims are to fast during daylight hours and are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an during this holy month. • The Night of Power occurs during one of the last ten nights of Ramadan commemorating the actual time when the first revelation was given to Muhammad. • Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan; families come together for a festive meal in the homes of relatives.
Other Festivals • Eid al-Adah: second of the major festivals in Islam, commemorating the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael in accordance with the will of Allah and is celebrated at the conclusion of the pilgrimage to Mecca. • As the Angel Gabriel substituted a ram for Ishmael, so Muslims, whether on pilgrimage or no, slaughter an animal and share it with the family and those in need. • Mawlid al-Nabi: commemorates the birthday of Muhammad. Those who celebrate the Prophet’s birthday focus on his life and greatness as a prophet. • Muharram: the first month of the Islamic calendar. A time of renewal, when Muslims are exhorted to give up, any sinful ways and begin afresh with the new year. • Renewal is also reflected in a special way on the tenth day of Muharram known as Ashura on which date it is held that Allah created the heavens and the earth and Adam.
Islamic Life Cycle • Birth: There is no special ceremony to initiate children into the Muslim community, they believe that the newborn is already a Muslim. • On the day of birth, the father whispers the call the prayer into the baby’s ears, so the first thing the infant hears is “Allah is great” • In some Islamic countries, 7 days after the baby’s birth he or she is taken to the mosque where the imam shaves the baby’s head, the hair is weighed and a monetary amount equivalent to the weight of the hair is given to those in need. • Marriage: Takes place either in a mosque or a home. An imam is not required to officiate but at least 2 witnesses must be present; there is no specific ritual, usually entails reading from the Qur’an. • Death: At the point of death it is desirable for a Muslim to have the Shahadah be the last words on his/her lips. • At death, the body is positioned in a coffin and taken to a mosque or cemetery where it is placed before an imam who faces Mecca. • As the body is lowered, prayers are shared in the hope that the deceased will live forever in eternity.
Divisions in Islam • A major division in Islam came soon after the death of Muhammad. • The first two successors were chosen from among his immediate companions, but new problems arose over the choosing of the fourth caliph. • Some believed that Muhammad had intended to establish a hereditary line of succession, and that the choice should fall on his son-in-law Ali. • Others thought only that the successor should be selected through the consensus of the Muslim community • Fighting erupted over the question of succession, and victory went to those who thought the leadership could be chosen outside the family of the Prophet. These Muslims were called Sunnis form the orthodox majority worldwide. • Those who believed Ali and his sons were the divinely-ordained successors went on to form their own tradition, and are called Shi’ites (a minority in the Muslim world but the majority in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, & Pakistan). • The word Imam is often written with a capital I to distinguish it from the imams who are the local religious leaders of the Sunnis. • Shias believe that Husayn, Ali’s younger son, atoned for the sins of Muslims by dying in battle while attempting to assert his right to the succession, and each year a festival is held in his honour. • They believe there have been 12 Imams descended from Fatima and Ali and that the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi was hidden away at a young age and at the end of time he will return to restore Islam and bring on the Day of Judgment.
Sufism: Islamic Mysticism • Sufi means “wool-wearers,” the trademark of Sufis, the type of simple wool robe they wear as a sign of their poverty. • Sufis join special brotherhoods that seek direct illumination from God by practices such as meditation and prolonged fasts. • Controversial: Sufism extends the belief that there is nothing but God, then the worshipper too must be one with God- the guiding principle of Sufism. • The Sufi experiences oneness with Allah and thus gains spiritial fulfillment. • There are several orders, each led by a shaykh, a master and teacher. • They are led through a variety of disciplines including recitation of sacred names and phrases, breathing exercises, and the chanting of odes • Whirling dervishes: as they spin, many dervishes go into a trance like state in which they have a direct experience of the goodness of Allah. • Aim of Sufi practices is al-fana or extinction which refers to the extinction of the person’s sense of ego, the notion of separate existence. One the separation between self and God disappears, they experience the union with the divine.
The Nation of Islam • In 1930, the Nation of Islam (later called the Black Muslims) was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in Detroit. • His successor, Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) claimed to be Allah’s messenger to American blacks. • Differs from orthodox Islam: • Elijah insisted that all black people separated themselves from the oppressive and doomed white race. • He believed that it was the destiny of black people to inherit the earth. • Malcolm X was a member of the Nation. His encounter with Islam converted him from a dope-addicted, streetwise ex-con into an articulate, powerful spokes-person for black aspirations. • After making a pilgrimage to Mecca, he returned to the U.S. and started the Organization of the Afro-American Unity b/c he came to believe the in Black nationalism but not Black separatism. • As a result he was expelled from the Nation of Islam and was later assassinated by radical black nationalists. • Elijah Muhammad was succeeded by his son Wallace Deem Muhammed who changed the hostile attitude of the Nation towards whites and the name of the Nation to the American Muslim Mission. Today the Black Muslim movement has become more open to other racial groups and has changed its name to the World Community of Islam in the West. • The original Nation of Islam still exists under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, still preaching a message similar to that of its founder.
Islam Today: Revivalism • Islam is experiencing a resurgence. • Islam is emerging as a powerful world influence due the great sums of money available in Arab regions due to oil resources. • Islamic missionaries are sponsored by both rich and poor countries due to zakat. • Many converts have been made in Africa as an opposition to the religion of the white colonizers. • There is a call for a return to the fundamentals of Islam: try to offer a solution to the continuing poverty and unemployment common in most Islamic countries, as well as an alternative to the perceived greed and moral decay of western culture. • Extremists: Hezbollah group in Lebanon and factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization others say that all forms of liberalism and compromise are to be stamped out. • Calls for jihad: many revivalists use the idea of jihad to support their aims, interpreting it literally as a call to holy war and armed resistance against any cultural and political forces that deny the establishment of the Islamic ummah both locally and universally. • HOWEVER, it is important to remember that in any religion, the ideals of Islam are not always put into practice.
Ideal of Unity I am neither eastern nor western, neither heavenly nor earthly, I am neither of the natural elements nor of the rotating spheres. I am neither from India nor China, from neither Bulgaria nor Tabriz, From neither the country of Iraq nor the land of Khurasan My sign is without sign, my locus is without locus, It is neither body nor soul for I am myself the Soul of souls. Since I expelled all duality, I see the two worlds as one. I see the One, I seek the One, I know the One, I call upon the One. -Rumi