Islam by fionan


The Islamic World is not at all
     a monolithic entity
Nationality            Language Family
Arabs                  Semitic
Turks, Central Asians Altaic
Iranians, Pakistanis   Indo-European
Indonesians            Malayo-Polynesian
Sub-Saharan Africa     Various
         A Bit About Arabic
• Semitic Languages based on three-letter
• Example: s-l-m, connotes wisdom, harmony
   – Salaam, peace
   – Suleiman (Solomon)
   – Islam (submission to divine will)
   – Muslim (one who submits to divine will)
            A Bit About Arabic
• European languages modify words mostly through
• Arabic relies extensively on prefixes as well
   – Hence there are no simple alphabetical dictionaries of
• Arabic has numerous sounds not found in English
• Arabic omits most short vowels in print
• Arabic does not distinguish o and u clearly, or e
  and i.
• There is no single way to transliterate Arabic and
Imagine Rome Never Fell ….
  Imagine Rome Never Fell ….
• Now imagine all those people, as loyal
  Catholics, insisted they were still speaking
• That’s very much the story with Arabic
  – Written Arabic isn’t spoken
  – Spoken Arabic isn’t written
  – Arabic is the language of the Koran and all
    Arabic speakers insist they speak Arabic
  – Linguists would (and some do) subdivide
    Arabic into 5-6 distinct languages
   Arabia in Mohammed's time
• Various tribal religions
 Jewish communities
• Christian communities, usually splinter
• Born about 570 in Mecca
 About 610, claims to receive visions and
 These collected and written down about 650
  as the Koran.
 Flees to Medina, 622 (hegira)
 Return to Mecca, 630
 Unified Arabia by the time of his death in
            The Pillars of Islam
 1. Creed
 2. Five daily prayers
 3. Alms
 4. Fasting during Ramadan
 5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)
  Haji denotes one who has made the Hajj
• Some authorities add a sixth pillar:
  6. Jihad or Holy War in defense of Islam.
  Means active opposition to evil and injustice, more
  than literal warfare.
    Sources of Islamic Doctrine
• Koran (from root meaning read or study)
• Hadith (tradition): traditional sayings of
  Mohammed and other early followers
   – Tradition of the Mahdi
• Sharia (way): Codified Islamic Law
                 The Koran
• About as long as the New Testament
• 114 suras, arranged from longest to shortest
• Most suras are collections of Mohammed’s
  teachings with no overall theme
• Suras are labeled by distinctive or unusual
  words found in each
• No historical chapters
• Considered the definitive form of Arabic
• Strictly speaking, cannot be translated, only
             The spread of Islam
Inherent appeal          Conversion Incentives
 Simplicity              Tax on "People of the
 Equality                 Book” - Originally
                           Christians and Jews, later
 Rights for Women         Hindus and certain other
 High moral teachings     groups as well.
Jihad                     Forced conversion of
 Military skill
 Good government
 Tolerance               Indonesia and sub-Saharan
The spread of Islam
The World of Islam
        Schism about 700 A.D.
 Reasons:
   Succession to Caliphate (Kalifa, successor;
    successor of Mohammed)
   Incorporation of non-Koranic elements into Islam
   Worldliness of Caliphs, discrimination against non-
    Arab Muslims
 Shiites (shia: party or faction) about 10%
  (mostly Iran)
   Fundamentalist?
 Sunnites (Sunna: beaten path) about 90%
             Effects of Islam
 Preserve classical learning
 Innovations in astronomy and mathematics
 Link between East and West
 "Arabic" numbers from India
 Trigonometry also from India
 Sanctuary for Judaism
     A Few Arabic Contributions
•   Alcohol       •   Alfalfa
•   Alkali        •   Algorithm
•   Alchemy       •   Algebra
•   Benzine       •   Almanac
•   Boron         •   Azimuth
•   Zircon        •   Alidade
•   Jar           •   Most Star Names
Star Names
      The Spanish Connection
• Wadi-al-yahara (Valley of Flowing Water)
   Guadalajara
• Al-ghattas (type of sea bird) Alcatraz
• Al-amir-al-bahr (lord of the sea)
  Almirante Admiral
• Jebel Tariq (Tariq’s mountain) Gibraltar
• Much “Spanish” architecture is actually
Islam Penetrates Europe
Islam Penetrates Europe
     The Islamic World Today
 OIL!
 Sunnite vs. Shiite
 Secularism vs. Dogmatism
 Russian Southward Expansionism. Began in
  1700's. Temporarily(?) halted by collapse of
  Soviet Union.
 Terrorism: Shiite is not a synonym for "terrorist"
  or "extremist."
 Israel and the Palestinian Problem

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