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).
Verses from the Qur'an
So remember me; I will remember you | Baqarah 152.
Who Was Muhammad?
Muhammad was the prophet and founder of Islam. Most of his early life was spent as a merchant. At age 40, he began to have revelations from Allah that became the basis for the Koran and the foundation of Islam. By 630 he had unified most of Arabia under a single religion. As of 2015, there are over 1.8 billion Muslims in the world who profess, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”
The Life of Muhammad
Muhammad was born around 570, AD in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia). His father died before he was born and he was raised first by his grandfather and then his uncle. He belonged to a poor but respectable family of the Quraysh tribe. The family was active in Meccan politics and trade.
Many of the tribes living in the Arabian Peninsula at the time were nomadic, trading goods as they crisscrossed the desert. Most tribes were polytheistic, worshipping their own set of gods. The town of Mecca was an important trading and religious center, home to many temples and worship sites where the devoted prayed to the idols of these gods. The most famous site was the Kaaba (meaning cube in Arabic). It is believed to have been built by Abraham (Ibrahim to Muslims) and his son Ismail. Gradually the people of Mecca turned to polytheism and idolatry. Of all the gods worshipped, it is believed that Allah was considered the greatest and the only one without an idol.
In his early teens, Muhammad worked in a camel caravan, following in the footsteps of many people his age, born of meager wealth. Working for his uncle, he gained experience in commercial trade traveling to Syria and eventually from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. In time, Muhammad earned a reputation as honest and sincere, acquiring the nickname “al-Amin” meaning faithful or trustworthy.
In his early 20s, Muhammad began working for a wealthy merchant woman named Khadijah, 15 years his senior. She soon became attracted to this young, accomplished man and proposed marriage. He accepted and over the years the happy union brought several children. Not all lived to adulthood, but one, Fatima, would marry Muhammad’s cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom Shi’ite Muslims regard as Muhammad’s successor.
The Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad was also very religious, occasionally taking journeys of devotion to sacred sites near Mecca. On one of his pilgrimages in 610, he was meditating in a cave on Mount Jabal aI-Nour. The Angel Gabriel appeared and relayed the word of God: “Recite in the name of your Lord who creates, creates man from a clot! Recite for your lord is most generous….” These words became the opening verses of sūrah (chapter) 96 of the Qur'an. Most Islamic historians believe Muhammad was initially disturbed by the revelations and that he didn’t reveal them publicly for several years. However, Shi’a tradition states he welcomed the message from the Angel Gabriel and was deeply inspired to share his experience with other potential believers.
Islamic tradition holds that the first persons to believe were his wife, Khadija and his close friend Abu Bakr (regarded as the successor to Muhammad by Sunni Muslims). Soon, Muhammad began to gather a small following, initially encountering no opposition. Most people in Mecca either ignored him or mocked him as just another prophet. However, when his message condemned idol worship and polytheism, many of Mecca’s tribal leaders began to see Muhammad and his message as a threat. Besides going against long standing beliefs, the condemnation of idol worship had economic consequences for merchants who catered to the thousands of pilgrims who came to Mecca every year. This was especially true for members of Muhammad’s own tribe, the Quraysh, who were the guardians of the Kaaba. Sensing a threat, Mecca’s merchants and leaders offered Muhammad incentives to abandon his preaching, but he refused.
Increasingly, the resistance to Muhammed and his followers grew and they were eventually forced to emigrate from Mecca to Medina, a city 260 miles to the north in 622. This event marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. There Muhammad was instrumental in bringing an end to a civil war raging amongst several of the city’s tribes. Muhammad settled in Medina, building his Muslim community and gradually gathering acceptance and more followers.
Between 624 and 628, the Muslims were involved in a series of battles for their survival. In the final major confrontation, The Battle of the Trench and Siege of Medina, Muhammad and his followers prevailed and a treaty was signed. The treaty was broken by the Meccan allies a year later. By now, Muhammad had plenty of forces and the balance of power had shifted away from the Meccan leaders to him. In 630, the Muslim army marched into Mecca, taking the city with minimum casualties. Muhammad gave amnesty to many of the Meccan leaders who had opposed him and pardoned many others. Most of the Meccan population converted to Islam. Muhammad and his followers then proceeded to destroy all of the statues of pagan gods in and around the Kaaba.
The Death of Muhammad
After the conflict with Mecca was finally settled, Muhammad took his first true Islamic pilgrimage to that city and in March, 632, he delivered his last sermon at Mount Arafat. Upon his return to Medina to his wife’s home, he fell ill for several days. He died on June 8, 632, at the age of 62, and was buried at al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) one of the first mosques built by Muhammad in Medina.
A Brief History Of The Last Egyptian Dictator- Pharaoh(Firon) Life & Death
(Fir’aun)Pharaoh was an Egyptian king. He was the most wicked dictator ever existed on this earth. He was very selfish and arrogant. He was also very rude and atheist. He had so much ego and arrogance that he forced the people of his time to believe and worship him as a god.
It is believed that the pharaoh’s death was the most tragedic death on this earth. He started considering himself as the creator of this world.
How did Fir’aun(Pharaoh) treat his own people?
The Egyptians believed pharaoh to be intermediary between the gods and the world of men. As a divine ruler, the pharaoh was the savior of the god-given order, called maat.
They were made to worship pharaoh as he claimed to be the only God. He was responsible for his people’s economic and spiritual welfare and disburse justice to his subjects.
Pharaoh strongly encouraged and practiced slavery. He ruled over people who were known as “Banu-Israel,” i.e., children of Israel. They were beaten and tortured to build great monuments and statues of the pharaohs.
Many years ago even before the birth of Moses, Pharaoh had this astrology that a male child born in his kingdom would be the reason for his downfall and death.
Hence from then onwards he gave a command that, any male children being born in that year were to be killed in the cradle itself.
When Moses’s mother came to know that the army of Pharaoh was coming for him, she put Moses in a cane basket and set him in the river Nile. It might surprise you to know that Moses (may peace and blessings be upon him) was an adopted child of Pharaoh.
The basket in which Moses was laid, came in the vicinity of the royal palace of Pharaoh(Fir’aun).
Pharaoh’s wife who was an extremely kind lady saw this baby in the basket and went into the water to fetch him.
She requested pharaoh to keep the child as a prince in the royal palace itself. It was only a coincidence that a lady was to be hired to breastfeed this young one, hence the birth mother was appointed as she was a milking mother.
What have researchers found about Fir’aun(Pharaoh)?
According to many researchers, it is a miracle for scientists to see a well preserved dead corpse even after centuries.
Dr. Maurice Bucaille one of the heads of researchers in France got a chance to conduct research on the dead mummy of Pharaoh after the late French president Fransisco Mitra took over France in1981.
The people of France appealed to the Egyptian government to organize the display of the mummy of Pharaoh for laboratory and archaeological examinations.
The French president and all misters were the royal attendants who bowed in respect before the mummy. After the ceremony the mummy was taken to the archaeology center of France into a specially-designed sector. Then it was brought under observation and tests by the greatest French archaeologists, anatomical scientists for further study and discovery of such a grandmummy.
When they received the mummy, they conducted several examinations as to how the dead body has still been preserved?
Later they came to know that the body had drowned in the sea and hence the salt remains were found.
Professor Maurice Bucaille was the head of the scientist’s team. He was mainly concerned about the reason behind the death of mummy’s death! Late night the report was out from the results of analysis of the mummy’s body.
It was mentioned in the report that the leftover salts in mummy is an unconcealed evidence that it was drawn in the sea, and the body was escaped very shortly and then saved.
The French government returned the body back to Egypt.
Dr. Maurice was still not satisfied with the results of the experiment. He had more questions and wanted to know more about what happened during the death of Pharaoh.
From this conversation, one can get a clear picture of Pharaoh’s self-centered nature.
“when moses came to them with clear signs,they said this is nothing but sorcery faked up:never did we hear the like among our fathers of old!”
Moses said: “my lord knows the best who it is that comes with guidance from him and whose end will be best in the hereafter:certain it is that the wrong doers will not prosper”
Pharaoh said: “O chiefs! No god do I know for you but myself: therefore,O Haman! Light me out of clay, and build me a lofty place,that I may mount uo to the god of Moses:but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!”
How firon died was when prophet musa was taking the Jews out of Egypt the ocean spilt and all the Jews ran across. Later firon and his army tried to cross the ocean,Closed on firon and his army and they all died and firon had no succesor
So the final conclusion about pharaoh’s miserable death was his own ego and pride which made him think that he would be eternal. His and his followers were plunged into the sea as a mark of an end of those who do wrong.
On the day of judgment the sinners shall not be able to seek any help from anybody and those who shall respect and walk on the path of true wisdom with good deeds and loyal heart shall be blessed and rewarded on the day of judgment.
Qurʾān, (Arabic: “Recitation”)also spelled Quran and Koran, the sacred scripture of islam. According to conventional Islamic belief, the Qurʾān was revealed by the angel gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in the West Arabian towns Mecca and Medina beginning in 610 and ending with Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. The word qurʾān, which occurs already within the Islamic scripture itself (e.g., 9:111 and 75:17–18), is derived from the verb qaraʾa—“to read,” “to recite”—but there is probably also some connection with the Syriac qeryānā, “reading,” used for the recitation of scriptural readings during Church services. The Qurʾānic corpus, composed in an early form of Classical arabic, is traditionally believed to be a literal transcript of God’s speech and to constitute the hearthly reproduction of an uncreated and eternal heavenly original, according to the general view referred to in the Qurʾān itself as “the well-preserved tablet” (al-lawḥ al-mahfūẓ; Qurʾān 85:22).
The Qurʾān is markedly shorter than even the New Testment, let alone the Hebrew Bible. It is subdivided into 114 chapte rlike units called “surahs,” a word used within the Qurʾān to designate revelatory passages of an unspecific length (e.g., 9:64). With the exception of the short opening surah, recited during each of the five daily Islamic prayers, the sūrahs are ordered roughly according to decreasing length, although this general rule is frequently interrupted. The second sūrah is by far the longest one. All sūrahs are traditionally known by names—many of them by more than one—which appear to have emerged only after the death of the Prophet. Sūrah names are usually derived from some conspicous word in the respective text, such as “The Cow” (the second) or “The Poets” (the 26th), though they do not necessarily identify a text’s main theme. Each sūrah, apart from the ninth, is preceded by the so-called basmalah, the formulaic invocation “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” Many sūrahs (e.g., the second) are opened by detached Arabic letters, the meaning of which has not yet been satisfactorily explained.
Internally, the sūrahs are subdivided into verses called āyāt (singular āyah), a word that literally means “sign” and is also used in the Qurʾān to designate manifestions of God’s power and grace, such as miscellaneous aspects of the natural world (e.g., God’s sending down of rain) or the punishments that God is said to have inflicted on sinful peoples of the past. Qurʾānic verse borders are normally defined by the presence of a verse-final rhyme, even though the Islamic tradition transmits conflicting systems of subdividing the Qurʾān into individual verses. The subdivision that is now predominant counts a total of 6,236 verses. These display extreme divergences in length, ranging from only a few words to entire paragraphs of text, but it should be noted that verse length across a given sūrah is tangibly more uniform than across the entire corpus. Unlike classical Arabic poetry, whose beginnings stretch back to pre-Islamic times, Qurʾānic verses do not adhere to a quantitative metre; i.e., they do not conform to fixed patterns of long and short syllables. In this sense, it is correct to insist, with the Islamic tradition, on a principled distinction between Qurʾānic and poetic verses. Many parts of the Qurʾān are highly formulaic, and longer verses often conclude with certain set phrases, such as “God is forgiving, compassionate” or “God is knowing, wise.”
The Qurʾān generally styles itself as divine speech by employing the first person singular or plural (“I” or “we”) in statements that clearly refer to the Deity. However, this divine voice alternates with third-person statements about God. Utterances by Muhammad are normally introduced by the command “Say:…,” thus emphasizing that the Prophet is speaking on divine injunction only. Prophetic statements often respond to objections or denials ascribed to Muhammad’s opponents, which cast doubt on Qurʾānic doctrines such as the belief in a universal ressurection of the dead or in the existence of only one God. This can result in an extended to-and-fro that endows parts of the Qurʾān with a decidedly polemical and disputatious quality.
Many passages of the Qurʾān are devoted to describing the eschatological judgment through which God will consign each Human being to paradise or hell and portraying the ensuing rewards of the saved and torments of the damned. There are also narratives, some of which centre on biblical persons, such as adam, Moses, Jesus, and Mary. Narrative passages include brief reminiscences (e.g., 85:17–18) as well as much more extensive accounts (e.g., the 12th sūrah, devoted to the story of Joseph). Regardless of their length, these stories are generally retold in an allusive style that would appear to presuppose that they were already known to their target audience. The stress is not on details of the narrative plots but on their didactic significance, which is often explicitly pointed out by means of interjected comments. In many cases, Qurʾānic narratives show important parallels not merely to certain biblical passages but also to post biblical Rabbinic and Christain texts. For example, the story of Abraham’s dispute with his idolatrous father and his destruction of his people’s false deities (e.g., 37:83–98) is not found in the book of Genessis itself but only in later texts, such as a Rabbinic commentary on Genesis. The mediation of those narrative traditions into the Qurʾān’s enivroment may very well have relied on oral transmission rather than written texts. Even where the Qurʾān retells previously attested stories, it normally does so by harnessing them to its own theological agenda. The Qurʾān’s demonstrable overlap with earlier traditions is patently in line with its self-description as providing a “confirmation” of previous revelations (e.g., 2:97).
Except for the shortest sūrahs that are positioned toward the end of the Qurʾānic corpus, almost all others consist of a succession of paragraph-like sections between which there are frequent and often seemingly abrupt topic shifts. At first sight, the literary coherance of many sūrahs may therefore appear doubtful. Nonetheless, research conducted since the 1980s has increasingly demonstrated that the sūrahs do in fact display a high degree of compositional unity that is manifested in, for instance, in the recurrence of key terms and phrases, sometimes in such a way as to create conspicuous terminological brackets or to yield concentric literary structures. Furthermore, many medium-sized sūrahs conform to a common structural template that centres on a narrative middle section. Particularly accessible examples are sūrahs 26, 37, and 54, whose middle section consists of a cycle of stories recounting how God dispatched earlier messengers to admonished their compatriots. These warners include not only biblical figures such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses but also nonbiblical messengers sent to certain ancient Arabian tribes. In almost all cases, God’s emissaries are dismissed or ignored, resulting in a catastrophic divine punishment. Apart from such obvious parallels in content, most of the individual episodes constituting these narrative cycles are also concluded by a refrain, adding further symmetry to the entire composition.
The Qurʾān forms the bedrock of Islamiclaw, even though many legal details are derived not from scripture but from extra-Qurʾānic utterances and actions attributed to Muhammad—the so-called Ḥadīth. Most of the Qurʾān’s legal or quasi-legal pronouncements are concentrated in a few of the longest sūrahs, the most extensive block of such material being 2:153–283. The domains covered by Qurʾānic law include matters of familylaw (e.g., inheritance rules), ritual law (e.g., the performance of ablution before prayer or the duty to fast during the month of Ramadan), dietaryregulations (e.g., the prohibition of consuming pork or wine), criminallaw (e.g., the punishment for theft or for manslaughter), and commerciallaw (the prohibition of usury). Concrete behavioral prescriptions are not expounded in a systematic order and can be presented as responses to audience queries—for instance, at 5:4, “They ask you what is permitted to them [to eat]. Say:….”
Origin And Compilation
Whether or not the Qurʾān was divinely revealed is a question of religious belief that is not amenable to historical or philological confirmation or falsification. What does admit of scholarly scrutiny, however, is the text’s likely appearance in place and time. Islamic sources report that a complete written collection of the Qurʾānic revelations was produced only after the Prophet’s death, when a great number of those who knew the Qurʾān by heart were killed on the battlefield and the fear arose that knowledge of the Qurʾān might disappear. It was accordingly decided to collect the Qurʾānic revelations. These are said to have been recorded on materials as diverse as palm branches and stones as well as having been preserved in people’s memories. A companion of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thābit, reportedly copied out on sheets of parchment whatever proclamations he could find and handed them over to the second caliph (leader of the Islamic community), ʿumar (reigned 634–644 CE). After ʿUmar’s death the collection was inherited by his daughter Ḥafṣah. In order to forestall divergences in the recitation of the Qurʾān, the third caliph, ʿUthmān (reigned 644–656 CE), is reported to have ordered that copies of Zayd ibn Thābit’s recension be sent to the main garrison towns of the Islamic realm and that alternative versions of scripture be burned.
Quʾrān manuscriptTwo leaves from a Quʾrān manuscript that is believed to be among the oldest Quʾrān texts in the world. Radiocarbon analysis in 2015 dated the parchment on which the text is written to the late 6th or early 7th century CE.Frank Augstein/Ap Images
It bears emphasizing that ʿUthmān’s standardization is understood to have pertained only to the Qurʾān’s so-called rasm, its consonantal skeleton shorn of any auxiliary signs. Apart from lacking vowels, the rasm also includes a significant number of consonantal homographs. Incidentally, medieval Islamic scholarship readily acknowledges the resulting ambiguity by admitting more than one authoritative way of reading many Qurʾānic words as long as these readings are considered to have been transmitted from early authorities.
Although some scholars have conjectured that the final standardization of the Qurʾānic rasm might not have taken place until considerably later than is maintained by the Islamic tradition, the carbon dating of a number of early Qurʾānic manuscripts has produced results that are by and large consistent with the traditional view that the received text of the Qurʾān was in existence by about 650 CE. Other considerations—for instance, the fact that the Qurʾān is lacking in unequivocal references to any of the main events of Islamic history after the death of the Prophet—also support the assumption that the Qurʾānic corpus is to be dated to the first decades of the 7th century and really does comprise the prophetic proclamations of Muhammad (whose historical existence is confirmed by early non-Islamic sources). Nonetheless, on purely historical grounds, it is difficult to rule out that the Qurʾān could have undergone some amount of early post-prophetic editing, a possibility that remains to be assessed by future research.
According to Islamic tradition, the Qurʾān was revealed to Muhammad in separate passages that often consisted of isolated verses or verse groups. Islamic sources preserve a great number of reports about the occasions on which a certain surah or part of a sūrah was allegedly revealed. Thus, pre-modern Muslim exegetes envisaged the revelation of the Qurʾān as having been intimately connected with specific events in the life of the Prophet that are reported by extra-Qurʾānic literature. However, Western scholarship has gradually adopted a more cautious attitude toward the reliability of the relevant extra-scriptural material, which often cannot be traced back further than the 8th or at most the late 7th century CE. Recent research therefore exhibits a pronounced tendency to examine the Qurʾān’s theological and literary features in deliberate isolation from later accounts about the life of Muhammad. At the same time, current scholarship is marked by a renewed awareness of the very significant degree to which the Qurʾānic proclamations are in conversation with a rich array of postbiblical Jewish and Christian traditions that are preserved in non-Arabic (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic) sources. It is important to emphasize that acknowledging such contincont does not entail reducing the Qurʾān to a mere replica of earlier stories and ideas. Instead, the acknowledgement is a precondition of fully appreciating the theological and literary innovativeness that can often be shown to characterize the Qurʾānic appropriation, recasting, and critique of prior traditions.
Working backward from the Qurʾān as a closed corpus that likely came into existence during the prophetic career of Muhammad, is it possible to discriminate between earlier and later layers of the Islamic scripture and to date the sūrahs, or parts thereof, relative to one another? The Islamic tradition distinguishes between Meccan and Medinan revelations, the watershed between the two being Muhammad’s emigration from his hometown of Mecca to Medina in 622. Relying on this traditional bifurcation, the German Orientalist scholars Gustav Weil (died 1889) and TheodorNöldeke (died 1930) proposed that the Meccan texts could be further subdivided into three successive periods. The primary dating criterion they employed was verse length, with the operative assumption being that Qurʾānic verses tended to grow longer over time. It is of course by no means self-evident that it must be possible to rearrange the material collected in the Qurʾānic corpus into a linear series of temporally consecutive texts, but no alternative account of the Qurʾān’s composition has yet been worked out to a sufficient level of detail and explanatory power. If Weil and Nöldeke’s assumption of a gradual lengthening of verses over time is accepted, then most of the short sūrahs, which also tend to have short verses, emerge as belonging to the early period of Muhammad’s ministry, whereas sūrahs 2–5, for example, would date to a much later stage of the Qurʾān’s emergence. Such a chronology has important implicationsi phone for understanding the development of Muhammad’s preaching. For instance, one consequence would be that the Qurʾānic proclamations did not begin to show a discernible interest in legal regulations until fairly late.
Many early sūrahs are devoted to the notion of a universal resurrection and “Day of Judgment” (yawm al-dīn). A number of passages at least clearly imply that the judgment will occur very soon (e.g., 70:6–7), although others are more noncommittal (e.g., 72:25). The judgment will be preceded by a thorough disintegration of the cosmos, as depicted, for instance, in Qurʾān 81:1–14. It is frequently emphasized that God’s verdict will be based exclusively on individual merit and demerit and that the Day of Judgment will be “a day at which no soul will be able to do anything for another soul” (82:19). Disbelief in the judgment is assumed to be concomitant with a propensity to exploit and mistreat the weaker members of society, such as orphans and the poor, whose protection the Qurʾān urges (e.g., 107:1–3).
The announcement of an eschatological resurrection of the dead seems to have occasioned doubts and objections among the Qurʾān’s original audience. Many Qurʾānic passages therefore rehearse various aspects of the natural order that God has created, thereby demonstrating his grace toward humankind and his power to recreate all deceased humans at the end of the world (e.g., 75:37–40 or 78:6–16). God’s ability and willingness to enact just punishment is also supported by accounts of his destruction of past peoples (e.g., 89:6–14). At the same time, the Qurʾān assures believers of God’s steadfast assistance to the pious and their entitlement to paradisiacal reward. Narratives about past messengers, such as Noah, AbraAbr, and Moses, not only illustrate the obliteration of the wicked and impious but also demonstrate that God does not abandon his “chosen servants” in the face of adversity (e.g., 37:74, 81, 111). Thus, the Qurʾānic understanding of God combines the attributes of omnipotence and punitive justice, requiring a human attitude of fearful wariness (taqwā), with an emphasis on God’s creative solicitude for humankind, his compassion, his forgiveness, and his loving affection for the pious (e.g., 7:151–154, 19:96, or 85:14).
A second core doctrine of the Qurʾān, which makes a slightly later appearance than the notion of eschatological judgment, is the denial that there are any other divine beings apart from the one divine creator and judge, Allāh (“the Deity” in Qurʾānic Arabic; e.g., 51:51 and 73:9). By contrast, Muhammad’s opponents are cited as professing additional belief in a plurality of “gods” (e.g., 25:42), who appear to occupy a subordinate and intermediate status and to function as intercessors, obviating exclusive reliance on Allāh. Like the Qurʾānic announcement of an eschatological resurrection, the clash between its uncompromising monotheism, on the one hand, and the willingness of many of its addressees to countenace a more extended pantheon, on the other, triggers polemical exchanges in which Muhammad’s opponents are charged with the sin of “associationism”—i.e., of illicitly relying on other beings and associating them with God.
The sūrahs that are customarily dated to Muhammad’s Medinan period exhibit not only changes in literary format but also new doctrinal developments. Most conspicuous is a novel focus on detailed legal regulations (briefly discussed above) and the expectation that believers are sufficiently committed to engage in militant “striving” on behalf of God (an expectation also espoused by strands of late antique Christianity). The enemies to be striven against are mostly the “unbelievers” and “associators” against whom the earlier Meccan sūrahs polemicize so extensively and who are now accused of having expelled Muhammad and his adherents from their midst and of denying them access to “the inviolable place of prostration,” generally identified with the Meccan Kaʿbah sanctuary (e.g., 2:191, 8:30–34). The presentation of Muhammad also undergoes some noticeable changes across the Qurʾān. Whereas early proclamations describe him primarily as a “warner” whom God has sent to admonish his compatriots (e.g., 32:3) and who has no responsibility beyond the “clear delivery” of God’s message (e.g., 11:57), Medinan sūrahs command believers to obey Muhammad and charge him with passing judgment among them (e.g., 4:59–70). One passage even declares Muhammad to be an “exemplar” for the believers (33:21). Thus, the central importance that imitation of the Prophet plays in traditional Islamic piety has its point of origin already in the Qurʾān. A third distinctive trait of the Medinan sūrahs is an explicit critique of Jewish and Christian beliefs and practices. For instance, Christianity's signature belief in the divinity of Jesus as the son of God is singed out (e.g., 5:17, 72–77, 116–118).
The Islamic tradition has produced a rich and sophisticated exegetical literature. There is, first, Qurʾānic exegeexe in the narrow sense, consisting of dedicated commentaries that treat the text of scripture in its canonical order, either verse by verse or section by section. Such a work is referred to as a tafsīr, which is also the word for the activity of scriptural interpretation as such. Second, Qurʾānic verses and their interpretation also feature in other literary genres, such as legal and theological treatises, whose authors will often justify their claims by recourse to proof texts from scripture. This section will limit itself to Qurʾānic exegesis in the first and narrow sense.
Premodern Islamic commentaries on the Qurʾān examine the text of scripture in the light of the full panoply of scholarly disciplines that characterize medieval Islamic culture. Of particular importance were the fields of Arabic grammar, lexicography, and rhetoric, giving many Qurʾānic commentaries from the 9th century onward a distinctly philological quality. A second characteristic of much premodern Islamic exegesis is its tendency, already remarked upon above, to connect many verses and verse clusters with extra-scriptural accounts of events in the life of Muhammad. Third, such Islamic commentaries on the Qurʾān generally juxtapose and weigh alternative construals of a given verse, thereby acknowledging that many scriptural passages have more than one plausible interpretation.
The earliest full commentary on the entire Qurʾān, that ascribed to Muqātil ibn Sulaymān (died 767?), dates to the 8th century. The monumental commentary of Al-Ṭabarī (died 923) compiles interpretive pronouncements that are attributed to even earlier exegetes, most of whom flourished during the last decades of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th. Other important commentaries were penned by Al_zamshari (died 1144), whose work is famous for its interest in the Qurʾān’s rhetorical features, and by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (died 1210), one of the most prominent theologians of medieval Islam. The sufi tradition, often glossed as the Islamic equivalent of mysticism, also produced works of Qurʾānic exegesis, which focus on the interior spiritual sense of scriptural verses.
In addition to scriptural commentaries, premodern Islamic scholars authored other works devoted to the Qurʾān. Such works include comparative presentations of the 7, 10, or 14 recognized ways of reciting the Qurʾān’s canonical consonantal skeleton (rasm) by filling in vowels and by disambiguating consonantal homographs. Insofar as that literature presents and linguistically analyzes textual variants, it effectively engages in the venture of Qurʾānic textualcriticisms.
Modern Islamic exegesis is generally deemed to commence with the commentary that
CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Islam, major world religion promogulated by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia in the 7th century CE. The Arabic term islām, literally “surrender,” illuminates the fundamental religious idea of Islam—that the believer (called a Muslim, from the active particle of islām) accepts surrender to the will of Allah (in Arabic, Allāh: God). Allah is viewed as the sole God—creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. The will of Allah, to which human beings must submit, is made known through the sacred scriptures, the Qurʾān (often spelled Koran in English), which Allah revealed to his messenger, Muhammad. In Islam Muhammad is considered the last of a series of prophets (including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Jesus), and his message simultaneously consummates and completes the “revelations” attributed to earlier prophet
DID YOU KNOW?
- Islam is the second most practiced religion globally.
- One year in the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles and lasts around 355 days.
- Consumption of alcohol and pork is forbidden in Islamic tradition.
Retaining its emphasis on an uncompromising monotheism and a strict adherence to certain essential religious practices, the religion taught by Muhammad to a small group of followers spread rapidly through the MiddleEast to Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, the malay Penisuala, and China. By the early 21st century there were more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. Although many sectarian movements have arisen within Islam, all Muslims are bound by a common faith and a sense of belonging to a single community.
The legacy of Muhammad
From the very beginning of Islam, Muhammad had inculcated a sense of brotherhood and a bond of faith among his followers, both of which helped to develop among them a feeling of close relationship that was accentuated by their experiences of persecution as a nascent community in mecca. The strong attachment to the tenets of the Qurʾānic revelation and the conspicuous socioeconomic content of Islamic religious practices cemented this bond of faith. In 622 CE, when the Prophet migrated to Medina, his preaching was soon accepted, and the community-state of Islam emerged. During this early period, Islam acquired its characteristic ethos as a religion uniting in itself both the spiritual and temporal aspects of life and seeking to regulate not only the individual’s relationship to God (through conscience) but human relationships in a social setting as well. Thus, there is not only an Islamic religious institution but also an Islamiclaw, state, and other institutions governing society. Not until the 20th century were the religious (private) and the secular(public) distinguished by some Muslim thinkers and separated formally in certain places such as Turkey.
This dual religious and social character of Islam, expressing itself in one way as a religious community commissioned by God to bring its own value system to the world through the jihād (“exertion,” commonly translated as “holy war” or “holy struggle”), explains the astonishing success of the early generations of Muslims. Within a century after the Prophet’s death in 632 CE, they had brought a large part of the globe—from Spain across CentralAsia to India—under a new Arab Muslim empire.
The period of Islamic conquests and empire building marks the first phase of the expansion of Islam as a religon. Islam’s essential egaltrism within the community of the faithful and its official discrimination against the followers of other religions won rapid converts. Jews and Christians were assigned a special status as communities possessing scriptures and were called the “people of the Book” and, therefore, were allowed religious autonomy. They were, however, required to pay a per capita tax called jizyah, as opposed to pagans, who were required to either accept Islam or die. The same status of the “people of the Book” was later extended in particular times and places to Zoroastrians and Hindus, but many “people of the Book” joined Islam in order to escape the disability of the jizyah. A much more massive expansion of Islam after the 12th century was inaugurated by the Sufis(Muslim mystics), who were mainly responsible for the spread of Islam in India, Central Asia, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa (see below).
Beside the jihad and Sufi missionary activity, another factor in the spread of Islam was the far-ranging influence of Muslim traders, who not only introduced Islam quite early to the Indian east coast and South India but also proved to be the main catalytic agents (beside the Sufis) in converting people to Islam in Indonesia, Malaya, and China. Islam was introduced to Indonesia in the 14th century, hardly having time to consolidate itself there politically before the region came under Dutch hegemony.
The vast variety of races and cultures embraced by Islam (an estimated total of more than 1.5 billion persons worldwide in the early 21st century) has produced important internal differences. All segments of Muslim society, however, are bound by a common faith and a sense of belonging to a single community. With the loss of political power during the period of Westerncolonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, the concept of the Islamic community (ummah), instead of weakening, became stronger. The faith of Islam helped various Muslim peoples in their struggle to gain political freedom in the mid-20th century, and the unity of Islam contributed to later political solidarity.
Sources of Islamic doctrinal and social views
Islamic doctrine, law, and thinking in general are based upon four sources, or fundamental principles (uṣūl): (1) the Qurʾān, (2) the Sunnah(“Traditions”), (3) ijmāʿ(“consensus”), and (4) ijtihād(“individual thought”).
The Qurʾān (literally, “reading” or “recitation”) is regarded as the verbatim word, or speech, of God delivered to Muhammad by the archangel Gaberial. Divided into 114 suras (chapters) of unequal length, it is the fundamental source of Islamic teaching. The suras revealed at Mecca during the earliest part of Muhammad’s career are concerned mostly with ethical and spiritual teachings and the Day of Judgment. The suras revealed at Medina at a later period in the career of the Prophet are concerned for the most part with social legislation and the politico-moral principles for constituting and ordering the community.
Sunnah (“a well-trodden path”) was used by pre-Islamic Arabs to denote their tribal or commonlaw. In Islam it came to mean the example of the Prophet—i.e., his words and deeds as recorded in complitions known as Hadith(in Arabic, Ḥadīth: literally, “report”; a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet). Hadith provide the written documentation of the Prophet’s words and deeds. Six of these collections, compiled in the 3rd century AH (9th century CE), came to be regarded as especially authoritative by the largest group in Islam, the Sunnis. Another large group, the Shiʿah, has its own Hadith contained in four canonical collections.
The doctrine of ijmāʿ, or consensus, was introduced in the 2nd century AH (8th century CE) in order to standardize legal theory and practice and to overcome individual and regional differences of opinion. Though conceived as a “consensus of scholars,” ijmāʿwas in actual practice a more fundamental operative factor. From the 3rd century AH ijmāʿhas amounted to a principle of stability in thinking; points on which consensus was reached in practice were considered closed and further substantial questioning of them prohibited. Accepted interpretations of the Qurʾān and the actual content of the Sunnah (i.e., Hadith and theology) all rest finally on the ijmāʿ in the sense of the acceptance of the authority of their community.
Ijtihād, meaning “to endeavour” or “to exert effort,” was required to find the legal or doctrinal solution to a new problem. In the early period of Islam, because ijtihād took the form of individual opinion (ray), there was a wealth of conflicting and chaotic opinions. In the 2nd century AH ijtihādwas replaced by qiyas(reasoning by strict analogy), a formal procedure of deduction based on the texts of the Qurʾān and the Hadith. The transformation of ijmāʿ into a Conservative mechanism and the acceptance of a definitive body of Hadith virtually closed the “gate of ijtihād” in sunnil islam while ijtihād continued in Shiʿism. Nevertheless, certain outstanding Muslim thinkers (e.g., al-Ghazālī in the 11th–12th century) continued to claim the right of new ijtihād for themselves, and reformers in the 18th–20th centuries, because of modern influences, caused this principle once more to receive wider acceptance.
The Qurʾān and Hadith are discussed below. The significance of ijmāʿ and ijtihādare discussed below in the contexts of Islamic theology, philosophy, and law.
According to the Qurʾān, God created two apparently parallel species of creatures, human beings and jinn, the one from clay and the other from fire. About the jinn, however, the Qurʾān says little, although it is implied that the jinn are endowed with reason and responsibility but are more prone to evil than human beings are. It is with humanity that the Qurʾān, which describes itself as a guide for the humanrace, is centrally concerned. The story of the Fall of Adam (the first man) promoted in Judaism and Christianity is accepted, but the Qurʾān states that God forgave Adam his act of disobedience, which is not viewed in the Qurʾān as originalsin in the Christian sense of the term.
In the story of the creation of humanity, Iblīs, or Satan, who protested to God against the creation of human beings, because they “would sow mischief on earth,” lost in the competition of knowledge against Adam. The Qurʾān, therefore, declares humanity to be the noblest of all creation, the created being who bore the trust (of responsibility) that the rest of creation refused to accept. The Qurʾān thus reiterates that all nature has been made subservient to humans, who are seen as God’s vice-regent on earth; nothing in all creation has been made without a purpose, and humanity itself has not been created “in sport” but rather has been created with the purpose of serving and obeying God’s will.
Despite this lofty station, however, the Qurʾān describes humannature as frail and faltering. Whereas everything in the universe has a limited nature and every creature recognizes its limitation and insufficiency, human beings are viewed as having been given freedom and therefore are prone to rebelliousness and pride, with the tendency to arrogate to themselves the attributes of self-sufficiency. Pride, thus, is viewed as the cardinal sin of human beings, because, by not recognizing in themselves their essential creaturely limitations, they become guilty of ascribing to themselves partnership with God (shrik: associating a creature with the Creator) and of violating the unity of God. True faith (īmān), thus, consists of belief in the immaculate Divine Unity and islām(surrender) in one’s submission to the Divine Will.
Satan, sin, and repentance
In order to communicate the truth of Divine Unity, God has sent messengers or prophets to human beings, whose weakness of nature makes them ever prone to forget or even willfully to reject Divine Unity under the promptings of Satan. According to the Qurʾānic teaching, the being who became Satan (shaytan or Iblīs) had previously occupied a high station but fell from divine grace by his act of disobedience in refusing to honour Adam when he was ordered to do so. Since then his work has been to beguile human beings into error and sin. Satan is, therefore, the contemporary of humanity, and Satan’s own act of disobedience is construed by the Qurʾān as the sin of pride. Satan’s machinations will cease only on the Last Day.
Judging from the accounts of the Qurʾān, the record of humanity’s acceptance of the prophets’ messages has been far from perfect. The whole universe is replete with signs of God. The human soul itself is viewed as a witness of the unity and grace of God. The messengers of God have, throughout history, been calling humanity back to God. Yet not all people have accepted the truth; many of them have rejected it and become disbelievers (kāfir, plural kuffār; literally, “concealing”—i.e., the blessings of God), and, when a person becomes so obdurate, his heart is sealed by God. Nevertheless, it is always possible for a sinner to repent(tawbah) and redeem himself by a genuine conversion to the truth. There is no point of no return, and God is forever merciful and always willing and ready to pardon. Genuine repentance has the effect of removing all sins and restoring a person to the state of sinlessness with which he started his life.
Prophets are men specially elected by God to be his messengers. Prophethood is indivisible, and the Qurʾān requires recognition of all prophets as such without discrimination. Yet they are not all equal, some of them being particularly outstanding in qualities of steadfastness and patience under trial. Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Jesus were such great prophets. As vindication of the truth of their mission, God often vests them with miracles: Abraham was saved from fire, Noah from the Deluge, and Moses from the pharaoh. Not only was Jesus born from the VirginMary, but God also saved him from crucifixion at the hands of the Jews. The check conviction that God’s messengers are ultimately vindicated and saved is an integral part of the Qurʾānic doctrine.
All prophets are human and never part of divinity: they are the most perfect of humans who are recipients of revelation from God. When God wishes to speak to a human, he sends an angelmessenger to him or makes him hear a voice or inspires him. Muhammad is accepted as the last prophet in this series and its greatest member, for in him all the messages of earlier prophets were consummated. The archangel Gabriel brought the Qurʾān down to the Prophet’s “heart.” Gabriel is represented by the Qurʾān as a spirit whom the Prophet could sometimes see and hear. According to early traditions, the Prophet’s revelations occurred in a state of trance when his normal consciousnesses was transformed. This state was accompanied by heavy sweating. The Qurʾān itself makes it clear that the revelations brought with them a sense of extraordinary weight: “If we were to send this Qurʾān down on a mountain, you would see it split asunder out of fear of God.”
This phenomenon at the same time was accompanied by an unshakable conviction that the message was from God, and the Qurʾān describes itself as the transcript of a heavenly “Mother Book” written on a “Preserved Tablet.” The conviction was of such an intensity that the Qurʾān categorically denies that it is from any earthly source, for in that case it would be liable to “manifold doubts and oscillations.”
© 2020 Muhammad Hayatu