FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM, MUSLIM DUTIES AND MORALITY

TENETS OF ISLAM

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salat
Islam means submission to God, and a Muslim is one who has submitted to the will of God. At the center of the religion is an intense concentration on the unity of God and the separation between God and his creatures. No physical representation of God is allowed. There are no other gods. The duty of humanity is to profess the simple testimony: "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his Prophet." Obedience to God's will rests on following the example of the Prophet in one's own life and faithfulness to the revelations collected into the most sacred text, the Quran. [Source: Library of Congress *]

The central beliefs of Islam are monotheism and Muhammad's status as the "seal of the Prophets," that is, the final prophet to whom God revealed messages for the spiritual guidance of humanity. Jesus Christ and the prophets of the Old Testament are also accepted as Islamic prophets. Muslims who profess belief in God and Muhammad's prophethood, pray regularly, and live by Islamic ethical and moral principles are assured that their souls will find eternal salvation in heaven. *

People who obey God's commandments and live a good life will go to heaven after death; those who disobey will go to hell. All souls will be resurrected for a last judgment at the end of the world. Muslims view themselves as followers of the same tradition preserved in the Judaic and Christian scriptures, accept the prophetic roles of Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), and Isa (Jesus), and view Islam as the final statement of revealed truth for the entire world.*

Regulation of the Muslim community rests primarily on rules in the Quran, then on authenticated tales of the conduct (sunna ) of the Prophet Muhammad, then on reasoning, and finally on the consensus of opinion. A pious Muslim strives to follow a code of ethical conduct that encourages generosity, fairness, chastity, honesty, and respect. Certain acts, including murder, cruelty, adultery, gambling, and usury, are considered contrary to Islamic practice. Muslims also are enjoined not to consume carrion, blood, pork, or alcohol. *

Websites and Resources: Islam Islam.com islam.com ; Islamic City islamicity.com ; Islam 101 islam101.net ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/islam ; BBC article bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam ; Patheos Library – Islam patheos.com/Library/Islam ; University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts web.archive.org ; Encyclopædia Britannica article on Islam britannica.com ; Islam at Project Gutenberg gutenberg.org ; Islam from UCB Libraries GovPubs web.archive.org ; Muslims: PBS Frontline documentary pbs.org frontline ; Discover Islam dislam.org ;

Qur’an (Quran, Koran) and Hadith:
Quran translation in English alahazrat.net ; Quran in Easy English, Urdu, Arabic and 70 other languages qurango.com ; Quran.com quran.com ; Al-Quran.info al-quran.info ; Quranic Arabic Corpus, shows syntax and morphology for each word corpus.quran.com ; Word for Word English Translation – emuslim.com emuslim.com/Quran ; Digitised Qurans in the Cambridge University Digital Library cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk ; Sunnah.com sunnah.com ;
Hadith – search by keyword and by narrator ahadith.co.uk

Five Pillars of Islam


The Five Pillars of Islam (“arkan al-din”) are: 1) reciting the profession of faith (“the shahada”) by declaring, “There is only one God and that God is Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.”; 2) praying five times a day ( “salat” in Arabic); 3) giving of alms to the poor (“zakat”, zakah in Arabic); 4) fasting (“sawm”. abstaining from dawn to dusk from food, drink, sexual relations, and smoking) during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar), the holy month when God's revelations were received by Muhammad; and 5) making the pilgrimage (“hajj”) to Mecca at least once during one's life if possible. [Source: Library of Congress *]

The profession of belief in one God and the prophethood of Muhammad is known as the sahadet (in Arabic, shahada ) is the first of the five basic obligations or "pillars" of Islam. The profession of faith — "There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet" — always is recited in Arabic. It is repeated during prayer and on many other ritual occasions. *

The "five pillars of Islam" are so named because they are supposed to support and give structure to Muslim life. They are not regarded as validly performed unless they prefaced inwardly with a statement of sincere intention (“ niya” ). A hand symbolizes the five pillars of Islam.

In addition to these five duties Muslim are forbidden to eat pork, drink alcohol, gamble and practice usury. Mislims are also expected to avoid unethical behavior such as slander or perjury. Above and beyond that Sharia — a system of laws and rules for living — is expected to be followed, setting forth an ethical ideal of which one is supposed to conform to. Being a good “Muslim citizen” and abiding by Sharia firms up a worshippers position in the Muslim community and entitles him or her to the privileges given Muslims by God.

Liberty and freedom are viewed as things given by God to the faithful not things that are guaranteed by a secular society. Only God has the power and disposition to give freedoms and take them away and he bestows them on the Muslim community and thus for an individual to realize the he must perform his duties within the community.

Shahada

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The “shahada” is the basic statement of Muslim belief and one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Confirming a belief in God it goes: "there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." It is often featured in calligraphy artwork in mosques. According to Sunni beliefs no person who repeats the “shahada” can be called an infidel or excluded from the Muslim community.

New convert declare the “Shahadah” as a confirmation faith. Pious Muslims repeat it many times every day. The first phrase ("there is no God but Allah”) both repudiates polytheism and declares that it is a sin for any person or creature to imply they have the powers of God. The second phrase (“and Muhammad is the messenger of God”) does not imply there was anything wrong with other prophets such as Adam. Abraham and Moses but rather than Muhammad was the bearer of the final and perfect revelation from God.

Muslim Prayers

Islam has few rituals other than prayer, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. There are no sacraments. Prayer consists of defined movements and recitations of passages of the Qur’an. The cycles of prayer begins after a Muslim orients himself or herself towards Mecca.

The prescribed prayers are recited in Arabic and are accompanied by a series of ritual body movements meant to demonstrate submission to God: standing, bowing, kneeling, and full prostration. Muslims say the prayers at five prescribed times a day, always while facing in the direction of Mecca. 20120509-salat -Namaz-.jpg
Prayers are preceded by a ritual ablution, and, unless the prayer is said in a mosque, a ritual purification of the ground is achieved by the unrolling of a clean prayer rug. Although it is permissible to pray almost anywhere, men pray in congregation at mosques whenever possible, especially on Fridays. Women are not required to pray in public but may attend worship at mosques, which maintain separate sections for women. [Source: Library of Congress]

Prayers are intended to be a public avowal of faith and membership of the Muslim community. According to sura 62:9-10: “O you who believe. When the call is heard for prayer on the day of the congregation, hurry to remembrance of God and leave your trading. That is better for you if only you knew. And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek God’s bounty, and remember God much so that you be successful.”

Prayers can be done anywhere, except a place regarded as unclean, but are ideally done in a mosque. A prayer at a mosque is supposed to bring 27 times more blessing than a prayer outside a mosque. Once a Muslim begins his prayers he is not supposed abandon them even if he or she are approached by a poisonous snake. Women who see their child in danger while they pray and supposed to keep praying while they make the rescue.

See Prayers and Rituals

Zakat

The third pillar of Islam, zakat (almsgiving), is required of all Muslims. The faithful are expected to give in proportion to their wealth. In various historical periods, zakat assumed the status of a tithe that mosques collected and distributed for charitable purposes. In addition to zakat, Muslims are encouraged to make free-will gifts (sadaka , from the Arabic sadaqa ).*

Zakat generally involves giving away a certain percentage of one's income and savings to the poor.It is regarded as a form of worship and an expression of sympathy and a sharing in God's blessing. It has traditionally been practiced in association with Ramadan, when the rich traditionally held feasts for the poor, but today is very institutionalized and resembles paying taxes, with government and mosque bureaucracies collecting much of the money and dispensing it as a kind of welfare.

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meat for the poor during Kurban bayrum
According to the BBC: Zakat “is regarded as a type of worship and of self-purification. Zakat is the third Pillar of Islam. Zakat does not refer to charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity, but to the systematic giving of 2.5% of one's wealth each year to benefit the poor. T he 2.5% rate only applies to cash, gold and silver, and commercial items. There are other rates for farm and mining produce, and for animals. [Source: BBC, September 8, 2009 |::|]

“The benefits of Zakat, apart from helping the poor, are as follows; 1) Obeying God; 2) Helping a person acknowledge that everything comes from God on loan and that we do not really own anything ourselves; 3) And since we cannot take anything with us when we die we need not cling to it; 4) Acknowledging that whether we are rich or poor is God's choice; 5) So we should help those he has chosen to make poor; 6) Learning self-discipline; 7) Freeing oneself from the love of possessions and greed; 8) Freeing oneself from the love of money; 9) Freeing oneself from love of oneself; 10 ) Behaving honestly” |::|

Zakat was originally a religious tax of 1 to 5 percent of a individuals earnings. It was an obligation often conjoined with prayer and was distinguished from the free will giving. Muslims regarded it not as a tax but rather as a “loan” made to God — in addition to taxes to authorities — specifically to help the poor and needy. These days Sunnis are expected to hand over 2.5 percent of their income; Shiites, 10 percent. In some Arab and Muslim countries, zakat replaces taxes.

In most places and most countries individuals are left on their own to make their own charitable contributions with no civil penalties of they don’t pay up. Donations come in the form of cash, jewels, cars and even kidneys. Rich Gulf Arabs have donated millions of dollars. Telethons in the rich gulf states have amassed more than a $100 million in a few hours. In the old days slaves and prisoners were sometimes freed as a zakat gesture.

Sunnah on Charity


There are about 700 verses in the Qur’an the refer to zakat. Among them is: "O ye who believe! Give of the good things which ye have earned" Zakat shows a willingness to "purify" earthly wealth and take on social responsibility for the Muslim community. Providing debt relief and helping strangers are both considered forms of zakat.

The Sunnahs are the practices and examples drawn from the Prophet Muhammad's life. Along with the Hadiths they are the most important texts in Islam after the Qur’an. They must adhere to a strict chain of narration that ensures their authenticity, taking into account factors such as the character of people in the chain and continuity in narration. Reports that fail to meet such criteria are disregarded.

The Sunnah reads: “When God created the earth it began to shake and tremble; then God created mountains, and put them upon the earth, and the land became firm and fixed; and the angels were astonished at the hardness of the hills, and said, "O God, is there anything of thy creation harder than hills?" and God said, "Yes, water is harder than the hills, because it breaketh them." Then the angel said, "O Lord, is there anything of thy creation harder than water?" He said, "Yes, wind overcometh water: it does agitate it and put it in motion." They said, "O our Lord! is there anything of thy creation harder than wind?" He said, "Yes, the children of Adam giving alms: those who give with their right hand, and conceal from their left, overcome all." [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 11-32]

“The liberal man is near the pleasure of God and is near paradise, which he shall enter into, and is near the hearts of men as a friend, and he is distant from hell; but the niggard is far from God's pleasure and from paradise, and far from the hearts of men, and near the fire; and verily a liberal ignorant man is more beloved by God than a niggardly worshiper.

“A man's giving in alms one piece of silver in his lifetime is better for him than giving one hundred when about to die. Think not that any good act is contemptible, though it be but your brother's coming to you with an open countenance and good humor.

“There is alms for a man's every joint, every day in which the sun riseth; doing justice between two people is alms; and assisting a man upon his beast, and with his baggage, is alms; and pure words, for which are rewards; and answering a questioner with mildness is alms, and every step which is made toward prayer is alms, and removing that which is an inconvenience to man, such as stones and thorns, is alms.

“The people of the Prophet's house killed a goat, and the Prophet said, "What remaineth of it?" They said, "Nothing but the shoulder; for they have sent the whole to the poor and neighbors, except a shoulder which remaineth." The Prophet said, "Nay, it is the whole goat that remaineth except its shoulder: that remaineth which they have given away, the rewards of which will be eternal, and what remaineth in the house is fleeting." Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and free the captive if he be unjustly bound.

Ramadan

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Ramadan is the month-long Muslim fast or more properly the ninth month of the Muslim year in which the fast takes place. According to Islamic custom, every able bodied Muslim is required to fast during the daylight hours or "as long as a white thread can be distinguished from a black one."

Abstinence from dawn to dusk from all food and beverages during the Islamic month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of the faith required of Muslims. Persons who are ill; women who are pregnant, nursing, or menstruating; soldiers on duty; travelers on necessary journeys; and young children are exempted from the fast. However, adults who are unable to fast during Ramadan are expected to observe a fast later. Ramadan is a period of spiritual renewal, and the daytime fasting is meant to help concentrate a Muslim's thoughts on religious matters. Many mosques, especially in urban areas, sponsor special prayer meetings and study groups during the month. The evening meal that breaks the fast has special religious significance and also is an occasion for sharing among families and friends. Muslims who can afford to do so often host one or more fast-breaking meals for indigents during Ramadan. The month of fasting is followed by a three-day celebration, Seker Bayrami (in Arabic, Id al Fitr), which is observed in Turkey as a national holiday. [Source: Library of Congress]

Ramadan commemorates the night when Allah revealed the first portion of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad in A.D. 610. It is a time a sacrifice that leads to renewal and strength and is intended to teach Muslims discipline, subdue their passions, cleanses their spirit and humble them by letting them experience what it is like to be poor.

Fasting represents both a submission to God and a willingness to sacrifice oneself for God. By going through the experience together, Muslims are expected to develop a stronger bond with one another and a sense of community. Some religious scholars have suggested that Muhammad had Christian relatives and that the notion of fasting as a form of penitence was picked up from Christian ascetics who lived in the desert.

See Holidays

The Hajj

The fifth pillar of Islam is the hajj . Each Muslim who is financially and physically able is expected at least once in his or her lifetime to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and participate in prescribed religious rites performed at various specific sites in the holy city and its environs during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. In one of their most important rites, pilgrims pray while circumambulating the Kaaba, the sanctuary Muslims believe Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael) built to honor the one God. During the hac , pilgrims sacrifice domesticated animals such as sheep and distribute the meat among the needy. Known as the Feast of Sacrifice, Kurban Bayrami (in Arabic, Id al Adha), this occasion is celebrated not only by the pilgrims but by all Muslims, and is observed in Turkey as a national holiday. The returning pilgrim is entitled to use the honorific haci (in Arabic, hajji ) before his or her name, a title that indicates successful completion of the pilgrimage. [Source: Library of Congress]

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims fulfilling one of the pillars of Islam and answering the edict from the Qur’an: “And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel...from every deep ravine.” The Hajj literally means “to continuously strive to reach one’s goal.” One of five pillars of Islam, it is regarded by many Muslims as a kind of dress rehearsal for the Judgement Day and incorporates elements of the other four "five pillars of Islam." [Source: Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, National Geographic November 1978; Thomas Abercrombie, National Geographic, January 1966]

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Circling the Kaaba during the Hajj

Participation in the Hajj is both a personal, spiritual experience for an individual and a chance to become part of global Muslim community by performing common rituals with hundred of thousands of Muslim from all over the world. It is a great honor to go on the Hajj. When word gets out in a Muslim community that someone is going people call them to offer their congratulations and often ask the future pilgrim to say special prayers for them.

One pilgrim wrote in the Chicago Tribune that attending the Hajj “was the most powerful and immense spiritual experience of my entire life. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of my time in Mecca.” A Mecca resident told National Geographic, “It’s a wonderful experience, a joyous time. When people leave their worldly gains behind and come to pray in simple white garments, to realize there’s no difference between rich and poor, black and white. There’s a sense of equality. Those that attend the Hajj receive forgiveness for all their past sins.”

Book: “The Hajj: Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places” by F.E. Peters

See Separate article onThe Hajj

Moral Beliefs

Islam stresses egalitarianism. The emphasis on equality and brotherhood is somewhat similar to emphasis on love in Christianity. There is a strong bond between Muslims. In his “pilgrimage of farewell,” Muhammad said, “know that every Muslim is a Muslim’s brother, and that the Muslims are brethren.”

The Muslim version of the Golden Rule goes: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” An imam told National Geographic, “In the Qur’an, God commands us to be merciful with one another, to live an ethical life...The Qur’an confirms many of the teachings already laid down in the Bible. In may ways God’s message in the Qur’an boils down to “treat other better than they treat you.”

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The Qur’an

A central precept of Islam is that the injustice of others does not justify one’s own injustice. Muslims also believe in the principal of "the less of two evils." It is okay for a Muslim to eat pork to stave off starvation and it is alright for a women to get an abortion of her life is in danger.

Muslims believe that God has 99 key attributes such as generosity and wisdom and 30 that are uniquely divine. If they all come together in one place they become the unity of God. Only God possesses them all.

Muslim Morality Versus Western Morality

Some scholars argue that Islam offers a different moral system than the one offered by Christianity. Unlike Christianity which seems to associate asceticism with virtue, Islam does not consider the accumulation of material wealth to be a sin. Muhammad himself was a trader. He only insisted that wealth be shared with the poor.

One reason some Muslims are hostile to the West is that they see it at decadent and immoral: Western women don’t cover themselves; men and women drink alcohol and casually engage in extramarital sex. Conservative Muslims frown upon what they see as a Western emphasis on making money, dancing and listening to music and ignore saying prayers, engaging in mediation and studying of religious texts.

Some Muslims are willing to fight to keep Western influences out of Muslim lands. A British Muslim hip-hop rapper explained: “Islam has a consciousness about it, a spiritual aspect...Islam is not against materialism and capitalism — it encourages business — but it says that they have to have a moral obligation and some form or morality.”

Islam and Muslim Law

Islamic Law, or “Sharia” (also “Shari'a” or “Shariah”) literally means "well-worn camel path to the watering place." It is a set of legal codes based on scriptures from the Qur’an and interpretations of these scriptures by classical Islamic schools of thought. Governing public, private, social, religious and political life of Muslims, the laws are based on the principal that Qur’anic commands are divine and absolute and can not be questioned. To break one of the rules or even doubt their legitimacy is a sin.

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countries with sharia

Muslim law tells followers how to perform their prayers, how to pay their alms, how to observe the fast. It also describes how Muslims should dress, what food Muslims can eat and even what greetings can be exchanged. Sharia is expected to be abided by as a system of laws and rules for living. It also sets forth an ethical ideal of which one is supposed to conform to.

Sharia is clearest on personal matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. It is not clear on commercial, penal and constitutional matters and does not address legal matters at all. In most Muslim countries the state has set up its own court system that operates independent of the Sharia courts. These non-Sharia courts have traditionally handled criminal cases and cases that deal with land and finance. If there a conflict between the two courts Sharia courts are generally considered more authoritative. The other courts have often been based on local laws. Sharia often has not been applied to non-Muslims.

H.A.R. Gibb wrote in the Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions: “Regarding Sharia as simply a complicated legal system is inadequate. As governments failed to fulfill their original functions it became the task of religious leaders to make or re-make the communal life and order to all Muslims which has given the Muslim world that psychological unity which it continue to display at the present time. The accomplishment of this task gave powerful assistance to religious leaders.”

See separate article on Muslim Law and Sharia

Islam, God, History and Politics

The historian Karen Armstrong has argued that Muslims have “looked for God in history” and their “chief duty was to create a just society” and politics “was, therefore, what Christians would call a sacrament.”

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Shiite mullahs
Islam is regarded as a social and political order as well as a religion. Theoretically the state and religious community are one — with both ideally being lose collections of congregations united by conservative traditions. Egalitarian and non-authoritarian, Islam is organized on state level in some places and then a local mosque level, with out much of an in between. The idea of separation of religion and the state never really caught on in the Muslim world. Secularism is viewed by some Muslims as a threat to Islam.

By contrast, politics has never been central to Judaism and Christianity. Early Jewish and Christian communities were used to living on the fringes of organized government. Christians looked for fulfillment with God in the next world and the community was not of central importance. Many liberal Muslim scholars maintain that Islam was originally a private faith that was not intended to be a guide to state matters. Sharia literally mean “the way” or “path of life,” more or less the same meaning as “Tao” and Taoism.

Many Muslims view themselves as Muslims first and citizens of a nation second. They are more likely to see themselves as a religious group divided by nations rather than a citizen of a nation comprised of different groups. One reason for this is that nations are relatively new creations for Muslims largely imposed on them by European colonial powers.

The words that Arabs used to describe many countries in the Middle East are different from those used in the West partly because Arabs do no link ethnicity and territorial identity the same way that Westerners do. The Caliph Omar, the second successor to Muhammad, reportedly said: “Learn your genealogy, and do not be like the local peasants who, when they are asked reply: “I am from such-and-such places.”

Islam, History and Modernity

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women in burqa in
Bamdar Abbas (south Iran)
There is debate whether a religion like Islam, which is based on all truths being revealed to a 7th century prophet, can adapt to and embrace change. "History." wrote one Indian Muslim scholar, " is the knowledge of the annals and traditions of prophets, caliphs, sultans, and of the great men of religion and of government. Pursuit of the study of history is particular to the great ones of religion and of government who are famous for the excellence of their qualities or who have become famous among mankind for their great deeds. Low fellows, rascals unfit people of unknown stock and mean natures, of no lineage and low lineage, loiterers and bazaar loafers — all of these have no connection with history."

Muslim fundamentalists are anti-science and anti-West. The Prophet Muhammad, they argue, was the climax of history, and therefore there is "no place for the idea of progress." These Muslims try to live their life by rules set in the seventh century. Many uneducated Arabs believe that the earth is flat and surrounded by sea and the mountains of Kaf and are suspicious of television images and photographs of a round earth viewed from space. [Source: "The Villagers" by Richard Critchfield, Anchor Books]

Egyptian Nobel-prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz told Time that people in the West have stereotyped Arabs and Muslims as a group of "impoverished camel drivers, spendthrift oil sheikhs, cutthroat terrorists...The fundamentalist are against everything, even Islamic reformers. Let them come out into the open and show people how naked they really are, that they stand only against progress." [Ibid]

Book: “Islam and Modernity: Transformation if an Intellectual Tradition” by Fazlur Rahamn (University of Chicago Press, 1982); “ The Trouble with Islam” by Ishad Manji (Random House, 2003).

Dealing with Modernity

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women in academic dress in Iran
The Iraqi-born Islamic scholar Laith Kubba told the Washington Post: “The most urgent problem facing us, the Muslims, is...a crisis of our thinking and learning process in relationship to ourselves, Islam, Muslims and humanity a large. Without an objective, relative and rational Islamic discourse, our relationship to Islam will remain as that of a sentiment to the past, or a mere slogan.”

The desire to address Islam in the modern world has bright a resurgence in “ijtihad” , the Islamic practice of independent reasoning or “exerting one’s utmost to understand.” Described by some as the intellectual counterpart of jihad, “Ijtihad” is used to come to a better understanding of an issue through serious contemplation or discussion using Islamic teachings and scripture. In the past it was seen as something that only serious scholars could engage in but is now seen as something that any serious-minded and reasonably-educated Muslim can engage in, and has blossomed in chat room on the Internet, with people often coming to different conclusion on meaning of the certain scriptures.

Some of the most radical and far reaching criticism of Islam is coming from Muslim women and feminists. Ishad Manji, a Canadian Muslim, lesbian, intellectual who doesn’t drink or eat pork and regularly reads the Qur’an, perhaps caused a big stir with her book “ The Trouble with Islam”. In it she attacks the literal interpretation of the Qur’an, condemns the holy book’s positions on Jews, women, slavery and authoritarianism, and raises the idea that the Qur’an isn’t perfect and is full of human flaws, a notion that many Muslims regarded as blasphemous.

Reforming Islam

Muslim reformers are arguing that Islam can have many paths rather than a single path and that the religion is adaptable to changing times and conditions. Some believe that Islam will go through a process like the Christian Reformation.

George Packer wrote in The New Yorker, “Renewal and reforms — in Arabic, “tajdid” and “islah” — have an ambiguous and contested meaning in the Islamic world. They signify a stripping away of accumulated misreadings and wrong or lapsed practices, as in the Protestant Reformation.”

There are many Muslims that want to see these kinds of changes. Mansour al Nogaidan, a journalist with a Bahraini newspaper, wrote in the Washington Post: “Islam needs a Reformation. It needs someone with the courage of Martin Luther. ..Muslims are too rigid in their adherence to old, literal interpretations of the Qur’an. It’s time for many verses — especially those have to with relations between Islam and other religions — to be re-interpreted in favor or a more modern Islam.”

One Muslim from Leeds wrote to the Times of London, “It is time Muslims accepted that it is Islam’s 8th-century attitudes that are causing so much suffering he 20th century. Please keep dogma aside and let reason be part of the debate.” Another from Washington D.C. wrote; “We believers have done enough to harm ourselves. What European monarchs and the clergy did in on the Dark and Middle Ages is exactly what Muslim rulers and clergy are doing to the Muslim world.”

Many thinks that Islam will not be reformed in the Middle East but is more likely to undergo change on the periphery of the Islamic world, in West Africa, the Sahel, South and Southeast Asia or even the West. Abdullahi Ahmed an-Main, an expert on Muslim law at Emory University, told The New Yorker “I don’t really have high hopes for change in the Arab region, because it is too self-absorbed in its own sense of superiority and victimhood.” Other parts of the Muslim world “are not noticed but that is where the hope is.”

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salat clock

See Islamic Punk Rock

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Arab News, Jeddah; “Islam, a Short History” by Karen Armstrong; “A History of the Arab Peoples” by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994). Also articles in National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated May 2016


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