THE MUSLIM WORLD
THE MUSLIM WORLD
BY HAYATU NJOBDI
Chad. Doula. Nigeria. Egypt
THE MUSLIM WORLD by Hayatu Njobdi All Right reserved printed in Chad. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of reprints in the context of reviews
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Kaaba, also spelled Kaʿbah, small shrine located near the centre of the Great mosque in Mecca and considered by Muslims everywhere to be the most sacred spot on Earth. Muslims orient themselves toward this shrine during the five daily prayers, bury their dead facing its meridian, and cherish the ambition of visiting it on pilgrimage, or Hajj, in accord with the command set out in the Qur'an.The cube-shaped structure is roughly 50 feet (15 metres) high, and it is about 35 by 40 feet (10 by 14 metres) at its base. Constructed of gray stone and marble, it is oriented so that its corners roughly correspond to the points of the compass. The interior contains nothing but the three pillars supporting the roof and a number of suspended silver and gold lamps. During most of the year the Kaaba is covered with an enormous cloth of black brocade, the kiswash.Located in the eastern corner of the Kaaba is the Black Stone of Mecca, whose now-broken pieces are surrounded by a ring of stone and held together by a heavy silver band. According to tradition, this stone was given to Adam on his expulsion from paradise in order to obtain forgiveness of his sins. Legend has it that the stone was originally white but has become black by absorbing the sins of the countless thousands of pilgrims who have kissed and touched it.Every Muslim who makes the pilgrimage is required to walk around the Kaaba seven times, during which he or she kisses and touches the Black Stone. When the month of pilgrimages (Dhū al-Ḥijjah) is over, a ceremonial washing of the Kaaba takes place; religious officials as well as pilgrims take
Every Muslim who makes the pilgrimage is required to walk around the Kaaba seven times, during which he or she kisses and touches the Black Stone. When the month of pilgrimages (Dhū al-Ḥijjah) is over, a ceremonial washing of the Kaaba takes place; religious officials as well as pilgrims take part.
The early history of the Kaaba is not well known, but it is certain that in the period before the rise of islam it was a polytheist sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage for people throughout the ArabianPenisuala The QuraQu says of Abraham and ishmael that they “raised the foundations” of the Kaaba. The exact sense is ambiguous, but many Muslims have interpreted the phrase to mean that they rebuilt a shrine first erected by Adam of which only the foundations still existed. The Kaaba has been destroyed, damaged, and subsequently rebuilt several times since. In 930 the Black Stone itself was carried away by an extreme Shiʿi sect known as the Qarmatins and held almost 20 years for ransom. During Muhammad's early ministry, the Kaaba was the Qiblah, or direction of prayer, for the Muslim Community. After the Muslim migration, or Hijrah to Medina, the qiblah briefly switched to Jeruslem before returning to the Kaaba. When Muhammad’s forces conquered Mecca in 630, he ordered the destruction of the pagan idols housed in the shrine and ordered it cleansed of all signs of polytheism.The Kaaba has since been the focal point of Muslim piety.
Verses From the Qur'an
And Allah (SWT) will not punish them, while they seek forgiveness | Al-Anfaal 33.
HOLY MOSQUE MECCA
The Arab Middle East
Islam varies widely across the Middle East in practice, legal and theological orientation, attitude toward women, and role in government and society. The Middle East includes Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine/Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Syria, and Lebanon. Islam has developed in four major periods in the Middle East: foundations ( 622 – 750 ), institutional formation ( 750 – 1050 ), classical period ( 1050 – 1800 ), and modern transformation ( 1800 –present). The Middle East is the birthplace of Islam and the location where its major tenets, law, and many of its major historical dynasties (Ummayad, Abbasid, Ottoman, and Safavid) developed. The Middle East is also the heartland of religious scholarship and tradition, attracting scholars from throughout the Muslim world. Concerns about the perceived corruption of Islam and society and the need for reinterpretation of legal sources resulted in a major Islamic revival in the Middle East (and elsewhere in the Muslim world, especially in India) in the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century brought European colonial powers and Western science and technology to the Middle East. The result was the development of Islamic modernism, a reinterpretation of classical Islam to meet the needs of the modern world. Independence from European colonial powers resulted in the establishment of secular-oriented governments, adoption of state industrialization plans, and massive urbanization. The Islamic revival began in 1967 with losses in the Arab-Israeli War and the failure of modernization and development plans. Modernist and secular programs lost favor, and political Islam or “Islamist” reformers gained popularity. They remain the dominant opposition to the surviving monarchies and military dictatorships. The most overtly religious states are Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of which claim to be Islamic states and implement Islamic law. Forms of states differ—Saudi Arabia is a Sunni monarchy, while Iran is a Shii republic that holds elections.
he Muslim populations of the Middle East make up only 44% of the total world Muslim population of the world (see “Muslim-Majority Countries of the Middle East” chart). A basis for understanding the role of Islam in Middle Eastern societies, is the distinction between its doctrine and the cultural practices which are done in the name of Islam or which informed them, historically. An effective way to bring out contrasts is to compare Islam with Judaism and Christianity. At the same time there are many aspects they share which are rooted in the same cultural milieu. We recommend reviewing the comparison chart comparing the
Abramic religions again after reading this section.
In Islam, as in Christianity and Judaism before it, there are two distinct realms for religious oversight:
- faith and worship (ibadat).
- temporal and worldly activity (mu’amilat).
Islamic law, or the shar‘ia, is a system of theological exegesis and jurisprudence which covers both areas. Thus it guides the religious practices of Muslim communities, and also may serve as a basis for government as it did in Islamic empires of the past and a handful Muslim states of the present, such as Saudi Arabia. Once the modern nation state became the norm for government in most Muslim-majority countries shar ‘ia took a different kind of role in Muslim society, as states favored Western-style government and constitutional democracy. Secular states encouraged a more private practice of Islam.
Shar’ia remains an important guide to daily life for many Muslims, but its legislation now resides outside of the legal system in most Muslim-majority countries, with differing levels of involvement and influence. In some cases shar‘ia has remained the state’s government and legal system, as in Saudi Arabia. In any Muslim community, however, Islam’s precepts for good conduct remain paramount. The Five Pillars provide a foundation for proper religious practice, and are as follows (in order of importance):
- Shahada, or Declaration of Faith;
- Salat, or Prayer (5 times daily);
- Saum, or Fasting (Especially During the Month of Ramadan);
- Zakat, or Alms (2.5% of one’s income should go to those in need, provided one has that much after meeting one’s own, one’s immediate family, and surrounding community needs);
- Ḥaj, or Pilgrimage (if one has the health and financial means, a Muslim is required to go to Mekka once in his or her lifetime, during the month of Ḥaj and perform a specific set of rituals)
Islam in Middle Eastern Societies.
In Islam, the only requirement to become Muslim is the first pillar; which is simply to utter the Shahada, or Declaration of Faith (translation, Payind): “I bear witness that there is no God other than the one God. I bear witness that Muhammad is the servant messenger of God.
Beyond the Five Pillars, however, a moral life includes principles from the Qur’an and the example set by the prophet Muhammad which provide a moral foundation for the practices and laws which are intended to guide all facets of individual lives, families and society as a whole.
The concept of Jihad.
These principles for leading a correct life often require a moral struggle to achieve. This relates to a duty in Islam called jihad. The meaning of jihad is struggle – it can be internal and spiritual/moral, or external and physical/combat. Inner struggle is considered the “Greater Jihad”, orJihad al-Akbar, due to its greater difficulty and greater importance in the life of a Muslim. Jihad al-Akbar is revered by Muslims. Jihad’s other meaning, related to war against an enemy, is the lesser jihad, or jihad al-Asghar. This is the struggle against injustice, oppression or invasion, and it allows the use of military force. Jihad al-Asgharpossesses greater renown in the West, due to three powerful factors:
- Jihadi extremist groups in the news,
- European conflicts between Europe and what they called “Islamdom”, termed “Holy War” at the time (jihad continues to be translated as “holy war” for this reason).
- Stereotypes of Muslims as angry and violent aggressors pervade the Western knowledge base due to this history and the reinforcement of these images through various forms of media.
This list reflects the association which has developed in Western cultures between Islam and violence. Theologically, Islam’s orientation toward war is to minimize, and consider it as a last resort. The Qur’an expressly forbids needless killing:
“Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being-unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth-it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind. “ Qur’an, Surah 5, Verse 32, Pickthall translation
Islam doesn’t condone a passivist response to violence or injustice either. In this aspect, it differs greatly from Christianity’s precept to “offer the other cheek”. According to shar’ia, retaliation is acceptable, provided that it is and arbitrated decision, based on evidence, and it falls under one or more of the following categories:
- self defense.
- a response to an assailant of your family or community.
- apostasy, or treason (apostasy, or the relinquishing of the faith, has traditionally been considered a form of treason).