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Introduction to Islam

Middle East
• Judaism, Christianity, Islam
– born in Middle East
• Moses born in Egypt
– 1526 B.C
• Jesus born in Bethlehem (Palestine)
– 4 B.C
• Muhammad born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
– 570 A.D
Abraham (Ibrahim)
• Most important of early prophets
– born in Ur (Iraq)
• 1900 B.C
– rebuilt place to worship one God
• ka’bah in Mecca (originally built by Adam)
– father of Ishaq (Isaac), lsma'il (Ishmael)
• descendants of Isaac: Hebrew tribes
• descendants of Isma'il: Arabian tribes
Islam timeline
• 7th century Arabian Peninsula
– Pagans: many tribes
– Jews: three tribes (Yathrib and Yemen)
– Christians: few (North, West and Yemen)
Islam timeline
• Quraish
– most noble Arabian tribe
– to which Muhammad was born (570 A.D)
• Before his birth
– lost father
• At Age six
– lost mother
Islam timeline
• Until eight
– Grandfather cared for him
• After grandfather death
– uncle raised him
• Worked
– as shepherd, in caravan trade
• Named “the truthful, the honest”
– rare qualities of character
Islam timeline
• Was illiterate
• Meditated in solitude of desert
– cave outside Mecca
• At age 40
– received first revelation from God
– through angel Gabriel (Jibril)
– commanded him to read
Islam timeline
• Muhammad responded he didn't know how
• Gabriel replied:
– “Read in the name of your Lord Who created,
– He created man from a clot,
– Read and your Lord is Most Honorable,
– Who taught (to write) with the pen,
– Taught man what he knew not”
Islam timeline
• Muhammad's mission
– "read" what Allah ordered
• Qur'an Word of Allah
– revelations
• solitude or presence of others
• words flowed from mouth
• way others described as inspired
Islam timeline
• Discussed message
– wife (Khadijah), cousin (Ali), friend (Abu-Bakr)
• all became Muslims
• Told to call people to worship one God
– hostility, persecution
• religious reasons
• economic reasons
Islam timeline
• Muhammad, followers migrate to Yathrib (Medina)
– “hijrah” or “emigration”
– Islamic state established
• based on laws from Qur’an
– invited tribes, nations to Islam
– several battles with Quraish
Islam timeline
• Returns to Mecca
– large number of followers
• Enters city peacefully
– most citizens accept Islam
• Clears idols out of Kaaba
– rededicates it to the worship of one God
• 633 C.E. Muhammad dies
Islam timeline
• Michael Hart (author of “The 100: A
ranking of the most influential persons in
• Put Muhammad on top of the list
• “ The only man in history who was supremely
successful on both religious and secular levels”
Islam timeline
• Abu-Bakr (632-634)
– message spread to Syria, Iraq, Persia
• Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (634-644)
– message spread to Palestine, Egypt, North Africa
• Othman Ibn Affan (644-656)
– collected, compiled Qur’an
– emergence of power struggle
• Ali Bin Abi-talib (656-661)
– power struggle escalated to armed conflict
– emergence of political parties
– Ummayah Dynasty in Damascus, Muawyia (661-680)
Islam timeline
• Islam spread
– southern France to China
• entire known world
– merchants along ancient trade routes
• people converted to a simple religion
– didn't require organized clergy
Islamic civilization
• One of the most brilliant civilization the world has known
– cultural centers
• Andalusia, Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo
– Europeans journeyed to learn
– Science, philosophy, arts flourished
• Great achievement of Islamic scholars
– placed study of subjects on a scientific footing
• West didn't achieve until Enlightenment
Islamic civilization
• Cordoba
– large, vibrant metropolis
– population 500,000 (40,000 in Paris)
– university, 70 libraries, hundreds thousands volumes
• Al-Hakim library: 400,000 books
• Baghdad
– covered with parks, gardens, villas
– numerous colleges of learning, hospitals
• Cairo
– Al-Azhar founded 970
• first university in world
Islamic civilization
• Medicine
– important additions to knowledge from Greeks
– Al-Zahrawi
• wrote a masterwork on anatomy and dissection
– standard text in European medical schools
– Ibn Al-Nafis
• discovered lesser circulation of blood
– hundreds of years before Harvey
Islamic civilization
• Mathematics
– introduced use of zero
– replaced Roman system with Arabic numerals
– invented algebra, trigonometry
• Astronomy
– measured circumference of earth with
surprising accuracy
• 800 years before Europe recognized world not flat
Islamic civilization
• Manufacturing
– used paper on large scale
• reached Europe from Arabs in Spain
• Economy/Trade
– banking system
• well developed
– merchant vessels to Indonesia, Far East
Islamic civilization
• Military
– Muslim navies commanded Mediterranean, Indian
• Sir John Glubb ( Author of The Life and Times
of Muhammad) said:
– “For five centuries after Muhammad, Muslims
dominated the world both culturally and militarily
as completely as Europe and America have done
for the last two hundred and fifty years"
Islam timeline
• 15th century
– Ottoman Empire
– conquest of Constantinople in 1453
– dismantled by European allies after WWI
• Muslim world under colonial occupation
– independence 1922-1965, except Palestine
– 48 Muslim majority countries
• Muslims 1.2 billion
– 22% of the world
• Arabs: 20% of Muslims
• Non Arabs: 80% (Iran, India, China, Russia,
• 8 million in U.S
– Islam growing
• 2.9% per year
• faster than world population (2.3%)
Basic Concepts of Islam
• Islam
– Arabic word
– same root as salaam (peace)
– surrender one's will to will of only god worthy of
• Muslim
– one who in peace surrenders himself to God
– giving oneself to belief without reservation
Basic Concepts of Islam
• Not named after a person
– "Christianity“ Jesus Christ
– "Buddhism" Buddha
• Not named after a tribe
– "Judaism" tribe of Judah
– "Hinduism" Hindus
Basic Concepts of Islam
• God created, placed humans on earth
– to test them
– life is temporary
– ordered to worship him alone
• Allah does not need our worship
– can not increase his kingdom, nor add to his power
– each person responsible for own actions
– Humans equal in sight of Allah
• no color, race, tribe, lineage better
– only thing distinguish them piety, good deeds
Basic Concepts of Islam
• God Just
– system of accountability
• Heaven, Hell
– admission criteria for both

• Series of trials
– enduring trials, conforming to certain laws
• reward great: permanent pleasure in Paradise
– decline to endure trials, not conform to laws
• regret next life: permanent torment in Hellfire
Basic Concepts of Islam
• "O humankind! Verily! We have created
you from a male and female, and have
made you nations and tribes that you may
know one another. Verily! the noblest
among you in the sight of Allah is the most
God-fearing. Verily! Allah is The Knower,
The Aware"
• Qur'an, (49):13
Levels of Islam
• 1) Islam (pillars of Islam)
– Profession of faith (Shahada)
• testify no god but Allah, Muhammad his messenger
• establishes obedience to God Almighty alone
– Prayers (Salah)
• 5 daily
• reminds us to bear God in mind in all actions
– Giving of alms (Zakat)
• obligatory charity
• 2.5% of wealth to charity every year
– if savings exceed a minimum level
Levels of Islam
– Fast (Sawm Ramadan)
• fast 1 month every year
• no eating, drinking (sunrise to sunset)
– Pilgrimage (Hajj)
• to Mecca
• once in lifetime if able
• Muslims from all over world join together for six
– prescribed set of acts of worship
Levels of Islam
• 2) Faith (Pillars of Iman)
– believe in Allah
– believe in Angels
– believe in Books (Scriptures)
– believe in Messengers, Prophets
– believe in Day of Judgment
– believe in Divine Decree (fate) good or bad
• 3) Excellence/Goodness (Ihsan)
– worship Allah as if you see Him
• for if you can not see Him, He assuredly sees you
• Humans selected by God
– convey message entrusted to them
– given miracles, special talents
• to assist message
• through power of God
– cannot decide who goes to heaven, hell
• Mohammad last of all prophets
– given God's final, complete guidance to mankind
• Jesus
– one in line of prophets sent to children of Israel
– miraculous birth to virgin mother
– Qur’an compares birth with creation of Adam
(without parents)
– message reiterated
• submission to one God
• obedience of law given to Moses
God names
• Old Testament
– Moses referred to God as "El" or "Elohiym"
• New testament
– Jesus referred to God as “Eloi”
• pronounced {el-o-ee'}
• Aramaic word means “My God”
• Qur’an
– ALLAH in Qur’an
• "Elahi" pronounced {el-ah-ee'}
God names
• More than 100 names
– throughout Qur'an
– major characteristics of Allah
• "The Gracious," "The Merciful," ..etc..
– "Say (unto mankind): Supplicate unto Allah, or supplicate
unto the 'Rahman' (Compassionate/Merciful/Gracious),
unto whichever you supplicate (it is the same). His are
the most beautiful names."
• Qur'an, (17):110
Original sin
• Concept does not exist in Islam
– Adam and Eve repented, forgiven
• Humans born in pure, natural state
– existence of Satan drives people to sin
• people who repent, return to state of sinlessness
– when a child reaches puberty
• account of deeds opens
– when a person dies
• destination Paradise or Hell
– depends on balance of good, bad deeds
Religious Hierarchy

• No hierarchy of religious leadership

– no priests, bishops, monks, popes, ...etc.
• Scholars of Islam: Imam
– regular Muslims
• distinguished by study
• do not receive divine inspirations
• cannot forgive sins
• cannot change religious laws
Islamic Calendar
• Based on lunar year
– started July 16, 622 A.D
– day of Hijrah from Mecca to Madina
– 12 lunar months
– 354 days
Islamic holidays
• Eid Al-Fitr
– little Feast
• end of Ramadan
• Eid Al-Adha
– feast of Sacrifice
• seventy days after Eid al-Fitr
• coincides with pilgrimage
Islamic Diet
• No pork
– no meat of animals that died before being
– no carnivorous animals (eat dead animals)
• No intoxicants
– no alcohol or illicit drugs
Sunni and Shiaa
• Sunni 85-90 %
– follow Prophet Muhammad sayings, actions
• Shiaa
– in addition follow sayings, views of Ali
• Ali is son-in- law and cousin of prophet
• view Ali as rightful successor
Sunni and Shiaa
• Origin of Shiaa
– group wanted Ali to become successor of Prophet
(instead of Abu Bakr)
– out voted
– Ali ultimately became fourth successor (khalifa)
– Muawia, governor of Syria rebelled
– attributed assassination of Uthman to Ali's followers
– Ali assassinated
– followers constituted political party
• to secure succession to governance (Khelafa)
Sunni and Shiaa
• Similarities
– follow same book, prophet
• Shiaa differences
– different approaches to governance
• leader (Imam) must be descendant of Prophet
– sayings of Ali as authoritative as Sunna
– organized clergy
• allow imam wider latitude in government
– interpretation of Qur'an
• religious hierarchy plays role
• Religious practices to attain higher levels of
spiritual fulfillment
– not a sect
– found in many Muslim countries
• Follows Prophet's mysticism during Meccan
– solitary or group recitation of prayers
– life of pietism
• shunning worldly pleasures
• seeking inward purity of a relationship with God
Women in Islam
• Not important prior to Islam
• Babylonian Civilization
– women degraded
– denied all rights
• Greek Civilization
– women deprived of all rights
– looked down upon
• considered subhuman, inferior to men
– prostitution regular practice
Women in Islam
• Roman Civilization
– a man had right to take the life of his wife
– prostitution, nudity common
• Egyptian Civilization
– women evil, sign of a devil
• Pre-Islamic Arabia
– Arabs looked down upon women
• newborn females buried alive
Women in Islam
• Islam elevated status of women
– 1400 years ago
– equal status before Allah
• souls like souls of men precious to Allah
Women in Islam
• O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and
female and have made you nations and tribes
that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest
of you in the sight of Allah is the best in conduct
• Qur'an (49):13

• "The most perfect of the believers in faith is the

best of them in moral excellence, and the best of
you are the kindest of you to their wives“
• Prophet's Hadith
Women in Islam
• Prophet set example for women treatment
– relationship with first wife Khadijah
• fifteen years his elder
• faithful, devoted husband for 26 years (polygamy
prevailed in Arabia)
• after death, remarried
• always remembered her with love
Women in Islam
• Aishah bint-Abu-Bakr (613-678)
– favorite wife of later years
– had education and intelligence
– could read and write (illiteracy prevailed)
– regularly consulted about teachings of
Prophet after his death
Women in Islam
• Qur'an acknowledges differences
– some appear inequitable
– on examination reveal deeper logic
• Inheritance
– man inherits twice a woman
• men must provide for his own wife, family, relatives
• women inherit the same or more in other cases
Women in Islam
• Rules of dress
– women
• cover body except face, hands
– men
• cover above chest to knees
• no gold, pure silk
– explanation
• appear restrictive
– social function: insure woman's integrity, dignity
Women in Islam
• Marriage
– must consent
– cannot be forced to accept husband
• Money
– right to own property
– keeps earned income
• Education
– same rights as men
• Some Muslim men oppress women
– non-Islamic cultural habits or ignorance
• Viewed as
– backward, demeaning
– violation of women’s rights
• Islam did not introduce polygamy
– simply permits it
– neither forces nor requires it
– limited number
– requires equal treatment
• expenditures, time, other obligations
• According to the Bible
– Abraham had three wives
• (Genesis 16:1, 16:3, 25:1)
– Moses had two wives
• (Exodus 2:21, 18:1-6; Numbers 12:1)
– Jacob had four wives
• (Genesis 29:23, 29:28, 30:4, 30:9)
– David had at least 18 wives
• (1 Samuel 18:27, 25:39-44; 2 Samuel 3:3, 3:4-5, 5:13, 12:7-
8, 12:24, 16:21-23)
– Solomon had 700 wives
• (1 Kings 11:3)
• Mutual consent
– no one can force a woman to marry a married
– may stipulate husband not to marry any other
woman in prenuptial contract
• without her consent
• Actual practice rare
– 2% (polygamous marriages in Muslim world)
• much less than extramarital affairs in West
• Why permissible?
– social, moral reasons
– number of women in world exceeds men
• men dying in wars, violent crimes, women outliving
– alternative to divorce in case of marital problems
• sick or infertile wife
– if she chooses to stay with him
• A Bishop of Anglican Church in Kenya said:
– "Although monogamy may be ideal for the
expression of love between husband and wife, the
church should consider that in certain cultures
polygamy is socially acceptable and that the
belief that polygamy is contrary to Christianity is
no longer tenable"
• Reverend David Gitari of Anglican Church said:
– “Polygamy, as ideally practiced, is more Christian
than divorce and remarriage as far as the
abandoned wives and children are concerned”
• Condemned in Qur’an
• “We also sent Lut. He said to his people: Do ye
commit lewdness such as no people in creation [ever]
committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on
men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people
transgressing beyond bounds”
– People of Lot in old city of Sodom
• first people to start this habit on national scale
• implies first appeared in Sodom
– uniquely Islamic concept
– links reason for its destruction to homosexuality
• Islamic consensus
– humans naturally heterosexual
• homosexuality sinful
• perverted deviation from norm
• All schools of thought
– consider acts unlawful
– differ in terms of penalty
• Qur'an condemns killing of humans
– "Take not life which Allah has made sacred"
• Does not explicitly mention abortion
• Every individual is God’s property
– not up to individual to determine length of his
life or lives of others
• "Kill not your children for fear of want. We
shall provide sustenance for them as well as
for you. Verily the killing of them is a great
• Qur’an (17):31

• Killing of fetus not permissible

– as soon as one can speak of it as child
• no agreement what exact point this happens
• Hanafi
– allows abortions until day 120
– some jurists restrict to “good cause”
• Shafi
– allows to be performed up to day 120
• Maliki
– permissible with consent of both parents up to day 40
• Hanbali
– prohibited from day 40 onward
• Muslim jurists agree
– abortion unlawful
• if fetus completely formed
• given a soul (120 days)
• Exception
– completely formed
– continuation of pregnancy would result in
death of mother
• general principle of Shari'ah
– choosing lesser of two evils
Authenticity of the Qur’an
• God guaranteed collection, guarding of Qur’an
– “We have without doubt sent down the Message; and
We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)” Qur’an
• Prophet, received revelation, learned it by heart
• Encouraged companions to learn it
– many memorized whole Qur’an
Authenticity of the Qur’an
• Qur’an not compiled into a single book in
Prophet’s time
– Prophet appointed many scribes
• Zaid Ibn-Thabit chief scribe
– verses were written down
Authenticity of the Qur’an
• Battle of Yamama
– large number of huffaz (who memorize Qur’an) died
– Abu Bakr appointed Zaid
• collected all available written material
• brought master copy
• Abu Bakr kept till his death
• Omar gave it to daughter Hafsa for safekeeping
• Othman prepared several copies, distributed them
• some still exist
• Qur'an, once revelation ceased remained same,
up to this day
Holly books verses
• Does God Relax?
• Bible:
– Genesis 2:2
• By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been
doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work
• Qur’an:
– Surah 50:38
• We created the heavens and the earth and all between them
in Six Days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us
Holly books verses
• Does God Sleep?
• Bible:
– Psalm 78:65
• Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of
• Qur’an:
– Surah 2:255
• Allah. There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No
slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and
on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He
permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or
after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge
except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the
earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He
is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).
Holly books verses
• Can God be Seen?
• Bible:
– Genesis 32:30
• So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw
God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
– Exodus 24:9,10
• Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders
of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet
was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as
the sky itself.
Holly books verses
• Exodus 33:20
– But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me
and live"
• John 4:12
– No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God
lives in us and his love is made complete in us
• Qur’an:
– Surah 6:103
• No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He
is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things
Holly books verses
• God's Description
• Bible:
– Samuel 22:9,11
• Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his
burning coals blazed out of it
• Qur’an:
– Surah 42:11
• There is nothing whatever like unto HIM, and HE is the All-
Hearing, the All-Seeing.
– Surah 16:74
• Therefore do not give likenesses to Allah; surely Allah knows and
you do not know.
Holly books verses
• Is God Just?
• Bible:
– Job 19:6-7
• then know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me. "Though I cry, 'I've been wronged!' I get
no response; though I call for help, there is no justice
• Qur’an:
– Surah 10:44
• Verily, God wrongs not man at all, but men do wrong themselves
– Surah 4:40
• Surely Allah does not do injustice to the weight of an atom, and if it is a
good deed He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward
Holly books verses
• Women's Original Sin
• Bible:
– Timothy 2:11-14
• A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not
permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must
be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not
the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and
became a sinner“
• Qur’an:
– Surah 20:121,122
• In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness
appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering,
leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow
himself to be seduced. But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He
turned to him, and gave him Guidance.
Scientific Miracles in Qur’an
• Several verses interpreted by modern
– compatible with modern science
• start of creation
• spherical shape of earth
• stages of embryo growth
• expansion of universe
• Big Bang, Big Crunch theories
• formation of clouds
• water as liquid of life, water cycle, wind functions
– Useful source:
• Struggle, striving in cause of God
– control of self from wrong doings
– stand up to a tyrant, speak word of truth
– take up arms in defense of Islam when
• declared only by Muslim head of state
• Qur’an:
– Surah 2:190
• "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress
limits; for God loveth not transgressors.
– Surah 60:8-9
• God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your)
Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly
with them: for God loveth those who are just.
• God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your)
Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving
you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such
as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.
• 80 Military Defense Expeditions
– In 23 years, Prophet participated in 27
• some involved no fighting
• 1018 lives lost
– Muslims 259, non-Muslims (mostly pagans) 759
– Russian Revolution: 13 million killed
– American Civil war: thousands killed
– WWI, WWII: millions killed
Islam spread by the sword?
• Conversion by force forbidden
– “There is no compulsion in religion” Qur’an, (2):256
• Islam did not spread by sword
– Indonesia, China, Africa
• no records of Muslim armies going there
– 30 million Christian Arabs in middle East
• 10% of Arabs
• roots go back before Muslim domination
Islam spread by the sword?
• God instructed Prophet
– to send letters to surrounding powers
– inviting them to Islam: similar to what Moses did with
• Christian Byzantine king
– murdered messenger
– sent headless body back to Prophet
• Persian Emperor
– cursed letter-bearer
– claimed Arabs slaves to Persians
– promised to have Prophet seized, imprisoned
Islam spread by the sword?
• Egyptian Christian king
– sent a respectful no but thank you message
– sent three maidservants as nice gesture
• Ethiopian (Abyssinian) king
– voiced his will to embrace Islam secretly
– feared what church might do to him
Islam spread by the sword?
• Prophet sent armies to most clear threat
– Byzantines
• After death of Prophet
– successors sent armies to hostile Persia,
– Muslim armies welcomed by local people
• including Christians
Islam spread by the sword?
• “The more important factor for the spread
of Islam is its just religious law which was
designed to cover all manifestations of life”
• “Political thought in Medieval Islam” pg. 21

• “The Spread of Islam in the World- A

history of peaceful preaching”
• Book by Sir Thomas Arnold
Muslims and Jews
• Prophet had agreements with Jewish
– joined forces with Meccans against him
– tried to kill him
– was forced to fight them
– did not harm subsequent Muslim Jewish
Muslims and Jews
• Romans
– occupied Palestine
– destroyed Jewish temple
– expelled Jews from Jerusalem (70 AD)
• Qur'an's mandate
– Muslims obligated to respect “People of Book”
– Umar about to enter Jerusalem
• called leaders of Christian Church
Muslims and Jews
• Historic Covenant of Umar
– first international guarantee of protection of religious
– Muslims guaranteed Jews, Christians
• freedom of religion
• use of houses of worship
• right of pilgrims to visit holy places
• rescinded Roman decree banishing Jews from Jerusalem
• Originally inhabited by Canaanites
– migrated from Arabian peninsula
• Israelite invasion 1200 BC
– following Exodus from Egypt
• renamed "Israel"
• concept of a Holy Land
– renamed "Palestina" by Romans
• following Bar Kohba revolt (2nd century AD)
• Muslim conquest from Romans
– (638 to 1917)
• British mandate
• Palestine population in 1878
– 462,465
• Arabs 96.8 %
• Jews 3.2 %
• Several waves of Jewish migration
– return to promised land?
– displacing thousands of Arabs (Muslims, Christians)
• 1948 (May 14/15)
– Israeli state declared
• US president Truman recognized new state
minutes after it was officially created
– British mandate ended
• Today
– Occupied land
• one state vs. two states solution?