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					                                              Islam I:

Introduction to World Religions   Fall 2007   Dr. Hannah Schell
          Agenda for class session
•   The religions of Abraham: shared tenets
•   Basic terms; global overview
•   Beginning with God (Allah)
•   The life of the prophet Muhammad
•   A Religion of the Book: The Koran
•   Islam‟s view of human life
•   The Day of Judgment

Abraham and Isaac
     1634 (120 Kb); Oil on canvas, 158 x 117 cm (62 x 46 in);
     Hermitage, St. Petersburg
  Judaism - Christianity – Islam
• Monotheistic: these traditions believe in a single divine
  Being who is personal, that is, possessing mind and
  will; eternal, that is, not subject to the limits of time
  or change, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.
• Creation: God creates a world distinct from himself, a
  world which is real, not illusory, though totally
  dependent on God; a world which is good.
• Revelation: In a unique historical event, God reveals
  his will, requiring obedience (disobedience being sin.
  The revelation in each case is given in writing).
• Immortality and Judgment: There is a life after death; at
  death, God will judge each individual, for reward or
  (Adopted from Patrick Burke’s “The Religions of Semitic Origin” introduction. The Major Religions, 191.)
 Judaism - Christianity – Islam
These religions emphasize the importance of:
• Persons as superior to nature
• The individual human person, who must answer for his or her
  thoughts and deeds
• The moral value of justice
• Law
• History, which moves not in an everlasting cycle, but in a
  straight line, from a beginning to an end.
• Worship is communal, and takes place in a space designed for
  the gathering or an assembly (synagogue, church, mosque).

   (Adopted from Patrick Burke’s “The Religions of Semitic Origin” introduction. The Major Religions, 192.)
Basic terms, global overview
• Islam is considered the fastest growing
  religion in the world. There are
  approximately 1.3 million Muslims
  constituting a fifth of humanity. Most
  are under 25.

• Total world population is 6.1 billion:
  Christianity 2 billion; Islam 1.3 billion,
  Hinduism 900 million, Buddhism 360

• Around 85 per cent of Muslims belong
  to the majority Sunni sect. The
  minority Shi‟ite Muslims are
  concentrated in Iran and Iraq.

• Countries that are nearly 95% Muslim:
   Basic Terms & Orientation
• Islam: the name of the monotheistic tradition that
  looks to Muhammad as the final prophet. (The term
  literally means “surrender” or “submission.”)
• Muslim: term used for a person who professes the
  religion of Islam; those who adhere to the faith and
  traditions of Islam. (Literally means “one who
• Umma: refers to the community of believers made up
  of all the Muslims of the world. (Literally means
  “nation” or “community”).
• Koran/Qur’an: sacred scripture for Muslims; believed
  to have been revealed by God to the Prophet
  Muhammad. (Literally means “recitation.”)
     Muslims around the World

NOTE: Less than 20 per cent of Muslims are Arabs. Almost half of the world's
Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia.
                                                     Muslims in Indonesia

                        Muslims in North Africa

Nigerian girl

                                         South Africans

                                                        Mosque in Senegal

Mosque in Tunisia                                                           Praying in Nairobi, Kenya

Source of photos:
Muslims in “the Middle East”
                                                        Saudi Arabia

                                                  In the Middle East

Mosque in Pakistan

 Source of pictures:
               Muslims in America
The US has
5.7 million
equal to its

Muslims in the United States

                             In Seattle

In Dallas

            In Harlem   At Harvard University in Boston, MA
The story of Islam begins with God
• Radical monotheism: There is no god but
• Divine unity – oneness of God
• Allah is ultimate; awesome; powerful;
  compassionate and merciful
The story
                Divine unity
The Fatihah (Opening) of the Koran:

        In the Name of God, the merciful Lord of mercy.
                 Praise be to God, the Lord of all being,
                            The merciful Lord of mercy,
                       Master of the Day of Judgment.
   You alone we serve and to You alone we come for aid.
                         Guide us in the straight path,
From the 99 Names of Allah
                            •The Exalter
•   The Guide
                            •The Patient
•   The Avenger
                            •The pardoner
•   The Creator of Death
                            •The Eternal
•   The Responsive
•   The Trustee             •The Loving
•   The Protecting Friend   •The All-Forgiving
                            •The Giver of Life
•   The First
                            •The Last
•   The Manifest
                            •The Hidden
•   The Creator
•   The Beneficent          •The Evolver
                            •The Merciful
                                          The birth story
“When God willed the appearance of His truth, the lore of
  Muhammad, and its manifestation in a body and in a soul, in a
  form and in a content, He transferred it to its fixed abode… And
  He… selected her to be the mother of the Purified One. And it
  was proclaimed in the Heavens and on Earth that she, Amina,
  had become pregnant of one of the Lights of the Essence. And
  every zephyr blew gently to make a soft breeze freshly fanning
  the earth which was dressed, after her long period of barrenness,
  with vegetation with green silken robes. The fruits began to
  ripen, and the trees approaches the picker that he might pick the
  ripe fruits. And every domestic animal of the Quraysh spoke of
  his being expected with eloquence in the Arabic tongue.
The thrones of royalty were overturned and the idols of
  heathendom fell on their faces. The wild animals of East and
  West prophesied the good tidings, as well as the creatures of the
  sea. The worlds drank joy from the cup of juvenile strength. The
  spirits received the glad tiding of the imminence of his time….”
                      (From: Mawlid Al-Barzanji; in Textual Sources for the Study of Islam, 66).
The Life of the Prophet Muhammad
The Life of the Prophet Muhammad
• Muhammad (570 – 632 CE): “highly
  praised,” “laudable.”
• Born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia); in the
  powerful tribe of the Qur‟ash (Koreish).
• A human prophet
• Poet, soothsayer, judge; also political,
  military and religious leader.
 The birth of the future prophet

One legend has
it that the
mother, Amina,
heard a voice
when she was

 “You are pregnant with the Lord of this people and when he is born
 say, „I put him in the care of the One from the evil of every envier;
 then call him Muhammad‟ [meaning „laudable‟.”
      Muhammad as a young man
• Gained a reputation as being honest and reliable – nicknamed
al- Amin, “the trustworthy.”
• Worked as a shepherd, then as in trade
• Began to work for the wealthy widow Khadija; they married (she
was 40 and he was 25).

•Began to contemplate the low level of
moral and social life in Mecca; felt great
sympathy for orphans, widows, outcasts
and the poor; critical especially of the
practice of burying infant daughters

•Became a highly disciplined spiritual
                                             Mt. Hira – north of Mecca
seeker (Denny, 51).
       The calling of the prophet
                               • Commission occurred in 610 C.E.:
                                 The Night of Power
                               • Angel Gabriel appeared and
                                 commanded Muhammad to
                               • Khadija became his first convert.

“Proclaim in the name of your Lord who created!
Created man from a clot of blood.
Proclaim: Your Lord is the Most Generous
Who teaches by the pen;
Teaches man what he knew not.”                    Koran 96: 1-3 (quoted by Smith, 226).
The Night Journey & Ascent to Heaven
         • Angel appeared to the sleeping prophet,
           split open his chest and belly and drew
           out Muhammad‟s heart and bowels;
           washed in a golden basin filled with
           faith and replaced.
         • Traveled through the sky to Jerusalem
           on Buraq, a small steed, and then to the
           seven heavens into the very presence of
         • Spiritual, dreamlike experience or
           actual happening?
The Migration from Mecca to Medina
• First Muslims – Khadijah; Ali (Muhammad‟s cousin
  and son-in-law - married to Fatima); other family
  members; members from humble classes.
• Suffered persecution – ex. Bilal, a black slave –
  exposed to the hottest part of the day with a heavy
  rock on his chest (later became prominent as the one
  who calls the for prayer).
• 622: migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina (city
  of the prophet) – known as the Hijra.
• Period of struggle between the Meccans and the
  Medinans; eventually Muhammad rededicated the
  temple (the Ka‟ba) in Mecca; mass conversion of the
  city to Islam (Smith 230).
• Muhammad died in 632, the head of an empire.
                • Koran names 25 prophets,
                  including Noah, Abraham,
                  Moses Jesus and Muhammad.

                • Muhammad is the “seal”
                  (khatam) of the prophets – the
                  last, the one that validates
                  previous prophecy.
                • Came to “transmit the old
was the “Seal     message anew and established
   of the         through it a universal
                  community […] the umma”
 Prophets”        (Denny, Intro to Islam, 69).
                                                 • Organized into 114 chapters,
                                                   called suras.
                                                 • Written in Arabic; recited in
                                                 • Meccan suras and Medinan
                                                 • Text is understood as offering
 The sacred                                        “guidance for the world” or “a
                                                   clear sign for those who can
text of Islam:                                     understand.”
                                                 • Recitation, or revelation, of
  The Koran                                        what God plans to reveal to

 Source of image:

 “The Qur‟an [is]… simultaneously a source of prayer and a prayer in its own
 right, a guidebook for action as well as a ritual object” (Islam, 21).
  God revealed through scripture
“We have revealed the Torah, in which there is guidance
  and light. By it the prophets who surrendered
  themselves judged the Jews.. According to God‟s Book
  which had been committed to their keeping and to
  which they themselves were witnesses.
… After them We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary,
  confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him
  the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light,
  corroborating what was revealed before it in the
  Torah, a guide and an admonition to the righteous…
… And to you [Muslims] We have revealed the Book with
  the truth. It confirms the Scriptures which came
  before it and stands as a guardian over them.”

               - From the Koran, quoted in The World’s Wisdom, 291.
  “The word qur’an means „recitation.‟ It
     was not designed for private perusal,
 but like most scriptures, it was meant to
        be read aloud, and the sound was an
    essential part of the sense… The Qur‟an
   was deliberatively repetitive; its ideas,
images, and stories were bound together
         by these internal echoes [themes,
    words, phrases, and sound patterns],
     which reinforced its central teaching
       with instructive shifts of emphasis”
             (Armstrong, Muhammad, 58-59).
        Remembrance (dhikr)
• Based on idea of remembering the beloved in
  classical Arabic odes
• The Qur‟an itself is a reminder to humankind
• “According to the Qur‟an the human being is not
  born sinful, but forgetful, caught up in cycles of
  acquisition and competition that obscure matters of
  ultimate concern, matters represented and condenses
  in an ultimate way in the day of reckoning or
  moment of truth” (Michael Sells, 40).
    The call to prayer
• Begins with “Allahu Akbar”
  (God is most great)
• Related to the shahadah (the
  testimony of faith)
• Last line is drawn out –
  captures a sadness regarding
  the separation of humans from
  their source; “reminder of the
  separation is also a call to turn
  back to home” (151).
 The Call to Prayer (Sunni version)
Allahu akbar
                                                                   God is most great [4 times]
Ashhadu an la ilaha illa llah
                              I testify that there is no god but God [2 times]
Ashhadu anna muhammadan rasulu llah
                I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God [2 times]
Hayy ala s-sala
                                                      Come (alive) to the prayer [2 times]
Hayy ala l-falah
                                                     Come (alive) to flourishing [2 times]
Allahu akbar
                                                                   God is most great [2 times]
La ilaha illa llah
                                                           (there is) no god but God [once]

                Mustafa Ozcan Gunesdogdu – represents the Turkish tradition of Qur‟an recitation; has
                                       received international recognition and prizes. (Sunni Adhan)
View of human life
      View of human life
• “We have created humanity of the best
  stature” (95:4).
• Positive view of human nature
• Islam lacks concept of human sin
• Instead, focuses on the idea that
  humans forget (shirk) – “People… forget
  their divine origin” (Smith, 158).
      View of human life
Two obligations
  Gratitude – for life
  Surrender – to Allah

Human self
  – individual & unique
  – free & responsible
The Day of Judgment
      Surah 101 The Calamity
• Qari’a: the calamity, striking or smiting (the
  day of reckoning)
• “Evokes the scales of justice in which human
  deeds are weighed” (113).
• Includes the strange term of hawiya – can
  mean “abyss” or “woman bereft of her child”
• Meaning, and sound, are mysterious, sad.
                 The Calamity
In the Name of God the Compassionate the Caring
The qari’a
What is the qari’a
What can tell you of the qari’a
A day humankind are like moths scattered
And mountains are like fluffs of wool
Whoever‟s scales weigh heavy
His is a life that is pleasing
Whoever‟s scales weigh light
His mother is hawiya
What can tell you what she is
Raging fire

                  Muhammad Khalil al-Husari – master of murattal style of recitation.

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