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World Religions Islam Overview – General • Islam began in the interior of Arabia in the 7th century AD • Within 20 years it absorbed the tribesmen of the entire peninsula, and continued to expand geometrically • Today there are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide • Between 1976 and 2003 Islam grew to 1.2 billion from .5 billion (that’s almost triple in 24 years!) • Largest numbers in a belt of countries along both side of the equator, stretching from Morocco to the Philippines Overview – General – Greatest concentration are in the Indian sub- continent (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India --- c. 250 million – Indonesia has c. 175 million (more than Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran combined) – USA 5 million, France 4.5 million, Germany 3 million, Turkey 2.5 million, Britain 2 million In the US, Muslims outnumber all Episcopalians, and are a little more than one third as large as the SBC, the largest Protestant denomination in the world. Overview – Arabia Before Muhammad • Religious dissatisfaction in the years before the rise of Islam • Christianity and Judaism had made inroads to Arabia • Conflict between Christians and Jews, and between Christian groups • Knowledge of these religions and their conflicts became important to the rise of Islam • Allegedly, Christians ignored the Arab people and failed to translate the Bible until after rise of Islam Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Muhammad born c. 570 AD in Mecca (modern Saudi Arabia) • Orphaned at 6 (father died before Muhammad was born, mother died when he was 6); never formally educated and illiterate • In youth he worked along the caravan routes between the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea • He encountered many Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, heard their beliefs and witnessing their disputes • At 25 met an married Khadija, a wealthy widow of 40 Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Khadija bore six children and became Muhammad’s first convert • No longer needing to work, he began going into the hills to meditate c. 610 • During one such period, he claimed to have met the angel Gabriel who brought him a special message “Read in the name of thy Lord who created, who created man of blood coagulated. Read! Thy Lord is the most beneficent, who taught by the pen, taught that which they knew not, unto men.” Claimed words were whispered in his ear by Gabriel in dictation fashion---meaning words, form, and style were all divine Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Claimed the messages “sent down” were from a heavenly book which is eternal and co-existent with God It is the “Well Preserved Tablet” or “Mother of the Book” It consists of God’s unchanging will and truth Other books given to past prophets were also taken from this book Muslims believe that the nature of Muhammad’s revelations were such that his mental processes were suspended and he was in a trance-like state when the angel communicated with him. Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Muhammad claimed the new book was given due to: – the need for Arabs to have God’s word in their language – Corruption of former texts by Christians and Jews • The Ou’ran (Koran), as the book became known, is highly reverenced by Muslims • Even handling the book is considered important It is not allowed to be placed on the ground Translation out of Arabic is frowned upon because it is believed that in translation it loses it status as the true word of God Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Muhammad’s visions and revelations continued – in dreams & ecstatic seizures – for 23 years until his death • His revelations culminated in the conviction that there was only one God, Allah, and he, Muhammad, was the last (and greatest) prophet • He began preaching this message to the people of Mecca, with very little support – even hostility • When he began to have converts they too were persecuted • In 620 a group of men traveled from Yathrib (Medina) to confer with Muhammad Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • 621 - 12 delegates (10 were Jews who thought he was the Messiah) from Yathrib came to ask him to be judge of the city • 622 - Hearing of a plot to assassinate him, he moved from Mecca to Medina, arriving on September 24. This journey is called the “Hijrah” (migration), and is the time from which Muslims date their calendars • He consolidated his power into a spiritual/political machine in Medina, but soon met with resistance from local Jews – In the beginning he told people to pray facing Jerusalem – After hostilities from the Jews, he instructed people to pray facing Mecca Overview – The Prophet (570-632 AD) • Muhammad led his people to raid Meccan traders • 624 - angry Meccans sent an army against Medina, but were defeated by Muhammad’s army • 630 - Muhammad conquered Mecca with an army of 10,000 – Went to the Kaaba, the sacred temple in Mecca, and destroyed 360 idols – To this day the Kaaba is the most sacred sanctuary to Muslims • 632 - Muhammad returned to Medina, became ill, and ultimately died Muslim Theology The Name Says It All Islam – Submission, or to Submit Muslim – One who Submits The Qu’ran A copy of the eternal book in heaven The source of all education A great act of piety to memorize the whole text It alone is God’s final revelation It is guarded by God from any corruption or distortion Muslim Theology The Qu’ran Supposedly, the exact words of Allah given by Gabriel to Muhammad Zayd, Muhammad’s secretary, wrote them down (remember, Muhammad was illerate) Never published during Muhammad’s lifetime 114 “suras” (chapters) and 6,000 “ayas” verses The combined Qu’ran, traditions, consensus, and analogy, make up the “Shari’ah”, the rules and regulations governing the day to day life of Muslims Muslim Theology The Hadith • A record of the carefully observed actions and words of Muhammad • Many accounts exist; six are considered authentic • The form is normally: “so and so heard from so and so that the prophet said or did thus and so.” The report of what the prophet said or did will follow. • Part of the governing teachings of Islam Muslim Theology The Nature of God • God is absolute or unrestrained will • God has no Son, thus Jesus is not God • God has 99 names; devout Muslims repeat these as Catholics would a rosary, often using beads to aid memory • The accepted prophets of Islam (including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus) were all created human beings, and therefore have no divine characteristics • There are other spiritual beings Muslim Theology The Nature of God • Other spiritual beings (cont.) – Angels – Djinn – created of fire and are halfway between humans and angels • Some are guardian beings, others are demons • The demon leader is a fallen angel, Iblis • He is tempter and the prosecutor of humanity, and was responsible for the fall of Adam Muslim Theology Predestination – Al-Qadar • All is in the hands of God – He is absolute will • He has planned all events in advance • Muslims express this belief in the statement, “im shallah” (if God wills it) “This does not mean that human beings do not have a free will. Man has a free will and is therefore responsible for his own choices.” Islam-guide.com Muslim Theology Predestination – Al-Qadar (cont.) • The belief in predestination means four things: – God knows everything; he knows what has happened and what will happen – God has recorded all this information – Whatever God has willed to happen happens, and whatever he wills not to happen does not happen – God is the creator of everything Eschatology – Judgment Day -- At the last day, trumpet sounds, bodies rejoin souls -- People are judged based on deeds and beliefs recorded in a book kept for this purpose -- The faithful and virtuous go to paradise, evil go to torment Religious Institutions & Institutes The Mosque • Because Islam is not a temple centered religion, the mosque is primarily a place for prayer (though some instruction may take place there) • Islam sees no need for priests, ministers, or intermediaries • In place of temples, Muslim life is governed by the Shari’ah, the Qu’ran, & the Hadith, usually on a personal and individual basis • Thus, temples may be very bare places with only a place to kneel for prayer Religious Institutions & Institutes The Five Pillars • Shahadah (bearing witness by repetition of the creed) – “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammad rasul Allah” There is no God but Allah: Muhammad is a messenger of Allah – The devout utter it as often as possible everyday – It is the Muslim profession of faith. To utter it makes one a devout Muslim – It affirms God’s oneness and Muhammad’s central role in the religion Religious Institutions & Institutes The Five Pillars • Salah (worship through daily prayer) – The call to prayer is Adan, made five times a day: dawn, midday, late afternoon, just after sunset, and at evening – The call follows a specific script and order – In the early days, Muezzins (criers) climbed to the Minarets (other parts of the temple) five times a day and called people to prayer – Today this is usually done by prerecorded messages or singing – On Fridays a sermon is added to the noon prayer – Before prayers, Muslims must wash (in sand if water is unavailable) Religious Institutions & Institutes The Five Pillars • Zakat (almsgiving) – Proper Muslims share their belongings with people of the community – Begging is not dishonorable – This is a mandatory tax on Muslims – Not strictly enforced – Given at specific time of year – Amount 2.5% of cash income Religious Institutions & Institutes The Five Pillars • Ramadan Fast – 9th month of the Islamic calendar – Must refrain from food, drink, smoking, and other things deemed pleasurable until sunset (until one cannot tell the difference between a white thread and a dark one) – Ramadan is seen as an exercise in self-restraint in obedience to God – During the last 10 days of Ramadan the night of prayer occurs – After Ramadan, a three day fast ensues. Family visits together and exchanges gifts – Some can be excluded from the fast: sick, young, elderly, pregnant, nursing, or during menstrual cycle Religious Institutions & Institutes The Five Pillars • Hajj (the pilgrimage) – During month of Dhu al-Hajj – During pilgrimage, pilgrims must abstain from food and drink during daylight hours – Must visit the well of Zamzam, the place where Hagar and Ishmael went on their journey – After pilgrimage, pilgrims are known as Hajji • Must have a Haj permit (visas based on the population of each country) • Washes himself, dons a white robe, and participates in the ritual of absolution, after which he can never kill man, beast, or plant • During hajj, fingernails or hair cannot be cut, and sexual activity is prohibited Religious Institutions & Institutes Jihad • Historically, Muslims waged war to spread Muslim rule rather than to force conversions (though forced conversions did happen) • Some Muslims see the Jihad as an allegory • Four types of Jihad are taught: – War with the tongue (proclamation of the message) – War with the heart (most important) – War with the sword (physical warfare) – War with the hand (setting a good example) Religious Institutions & Institutes Ye should believe in Allah and his messenger, Jihad and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives (Surah 61:11) • Many Muslims believe these words apply to spiritual striving rather than physical, but the concept of physical striving is important to Muslims • There are five rules that normally govern the Jihad as holy war. They are: Religious Institutions & Institutes • Physical violence may never be used to advance the cause of Islam (An Islamic country, therefore, may never initiate conflict) • Islam should be propagated only by reason and rational appeal • If another nation commits an act of aggression against an Islamic country, the Islamic country is justified in using military force to defend itself • If a non-Islamic country uses physical force to repress the free exercise of Islam, including the propagation of Islam, those actions constitute physical aggression against Islam, or a particular Islamic country Religious Institutions & Institutes • If there is territory that once was Islamic, it must be reclaimed. Reversion is therefore considered physical aggression against Islam. Also Important A jihad warrior killed in battle is assured of going to paradise Religious Institutions & Institutes • Islam and Women – Muhammad raised status of women considerably (must be historically and culturally relative to understand this) – Muslim men may have only four wives – Muslim men may divorce wife easily, but must pay a dowry – In most places Muslim women may not come to the Mosque – There are places and instances where this is changing. In some mosques women are allowed to kneel on one side of the building, while men kneel on another Religious Institutions & Institutes • The Role of Jesus – The Qu’ran states that He was the greatest prophet before Muhammad – Jesus was called upon to protect the Torah – The virgin birth is affirmed, but He was born under a palm tree – Mary is regarded as the greatest among women – The last supper is mentioned, but not the crucifixion – Jesus went directly to paradise – Christ’s return is affirmed, but to establish the Muslim religion – The deity and son ship of Jesus are denied Variations Within Islam Sunnis Orthodox & Traditionalists. Make up 85% of Muslims worldwide Fundamental authority is the Shari’ah as interpreted by learned men who base their interpretation on the Hadith There are four divisions of Sunnis Hanifites – Western Asia, India, lower Egypt Malikites – North and West Africa, upper Egypt Shafi’ites – lower Egypt, Syria, India, Indonesia Hanbalites – Saudi Arabia (most conservative) Variations Within Islam Shi’ites Developed as a result of a rupture in the religion following Muhammad’s death Muhammad’s son, Ali, was not chosen to be his father’s successor (some claimed Muhammad had chosen him) He was murdered in 661 – the Ummayad dynasty took over Ali’s youngest son waged war against the Ummayads, but was defeated at Karbala and executed His followers broke away and called themselves, Shia Ali (the part of Ali). Later called Shi’ites Variations Within Islam • Shi’ites (cont.) Largest group known as “Twelvers” These refer to Ali and the eleven who succeeded him as Imams Each one died mysteriously except the twelfth, Imam Zaman or Mahdi (Messiah) He is believed to be alive even today, but invisible One day, it is said, he will return and bring justice to the earth He is considered the Imam for all time Variations Within Islam • Differences Between Shi’ites and Sunnis – Believe further revelations come through the Imams (the great prophets) – Believe that there have been seven such revelator Imams—some never died – Believe in Mahdi (messiah) – Prize martyrdom – Reject the current Qu’ran—believe it was tampered with. Allegorical interpretation is the key to understanding it Shia Islam is the official religion in Iran. It is the largest group in southern Iraq. Worldwide, 10% to 15% of Muslims are Shi’ites Variations Within Islam Sufis Muslim mystics and ascetics from c. 800 Sufi means “woolen” and refers to the course woolen garments worn by Sufis They live in poverty and reject the world’s niceties Claim their lifestyle is more like early, “more pious” Muslims Following their founder, Mansur al-Hallaj, who claimed mystical oneness with Allah and said, “I am the truth,” they follow the more mystical aspects of the faith Variations Within Islam • Sufis (cont.) – Sufis constantly seek love and knowledge through a direct experience with God – Worship rituals include chanting, meditations, and musical recitations – They were persecuted early on and forced underground (following the crucifixion of al-Hallaj) – 12th century a professor of theology, Abu-Hamid al- Ghazali, left his post seeking God through mystical experiences. He joined the Sufis and ultimately became their teacher – Islam came to accept his teachings and Sufis began building monasteries, training adherents Variations Within Islam • Sufis (cont.) – When a convert joins a monastery he is known as a fakir (poor man) or a dervish (one who comes to the door) – Discipline, poverty, abstinence, and sometimes celibacy were hallmarks of the order – Dervishes sometimes practice whirling for hours at a time as a means to achieve a mystical encounter What is the For the darkness of Answer Islam? “Anyone who comes to me, I will not turn away” Not what --- Who!
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