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Friday, August 31, 2007


Muhammad (c. 570July 6, 632) was an Arab religious, political, and military leader who founded the religion of Islam as a historical phenomenon. Muslims view him not as the creator of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and others. In Muslim tradition, Muhammad is viewed as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets—as the man closest to perfection, the possessor of all virtues.[31] For the last 23 years of his life, beginning at age 40, Muhammad reported receiving revelations from God. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur'an, was memorized and recorded by his companions.[32]

The Masjid al-Nabawi ("Mosque of the Prophet") in Medina is the site of Muhammad's tomb.
The Masjid al-Nabawi ("Mosque of the Prophet") in Medina is the site of Muhammad's tomb.

During this time, Muhammad preached to the people of Mecca, imploring them to abandon polytheism. Although some converted to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. After 13 years of preaching, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra ("emigration") to the city of Medina (formerly known as Yathrib) in 622. There, with the Medinan converts (Ansar) and the Meccan migrants (Muhajirun), Muhammad established his political and religious authority. Within years, two battles had been fought against Meccan forces: the Battle of Badr in 624, which was a Muslim victory, and the Battle of Uhud in 625, which ended inconclusively. Conflict with Medinan Jewish clans who opposed the Muslims led to their exile, enslavement or death, and the Jewish enclave of Khaybar was subdued. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control.[33] By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless Conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 he ruled over the Arabian peninsula.[34]

In Islam, the "normative" example of Muhammad's life is called the Sunnah (literally "trodden path"). This example is preserved in traditions known as hadith ("reports"), which recount his words, his actions, and his personal characteristics. The classical Muslim jurist ash-Shafi'i (d. 820) established the importance of the Sunnah in Islamic law, and Muslims were encouraged to emulate Muhammad's actions in their daily lives. The Sunnah is seen as crucial to guiding interpretation of the Qur'an.[35]

Resurrection and judgment

Main article: Qiyama

Belief in the "Day of Resurrection", yawm al-Qiyāmah (also known as yawm ad-dīn, "Day of Judgment" and as-sā`a, "the Last Hour") is also crucial for Muslims. They believe that the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God but unknown to man. The trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah are described in the Qur'an and the hadith, and also in the commentaries of Islamic scholars. The Qur'an emphasizes bodily resurrection, a break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death. It states that resurrection will be followed by the gathering of mankind, culminating in their judgment by God.[36]

The Qur'an lists several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as disbelief, usury and dishonesty. Muslims view paradise (jannah) as a place of joy and bliss, with Qur'anic references describing its features and the physical pleasures to come. There are also references to a greater joy—acceptance by God (ridwān).[37] Mystical traditions in Islam place these heavenly delights in the context of an ecstatic awareness of God.[38]


Main articles: Predestination in Islam and Adalah

In accordance with the Islamic belief in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa'l-qadar), God has full knowledge and control over all that occurs. This is explained in Qur'anic verses such as "Say: 'Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector'…"[39] For Muslims, everything in the world that occurs, good or evil, has been preordained and nothing can happen unless permitted by God. In Islamic theology, divine preordainment does not suggest an absence of God's indignation against evil, because any evils that do occur are thought to result in future benefits men may not be able to see. According to Muslim theologians, although events are pre-ordained, man possesses free will in that he has the faculty to choose between right and wrong, and is thus responsible for his actions. According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfūz, the "Preserved Tablet".[40]

The Shi'a understanding of predestination is called "divine justice" (Adalah). This doctrine, originally developed by the Mu'tazila, stresses the importance of man's responsibility for his own actions. In contrast, the Sunni deemphasize the role of individual free will in the context of God's creation and foreknowledge of all things.[41]


Muslims consider the Qur'an to be the literal word of God; it is the central religious text of Islam.[23] Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad by God through the angel Gabriel on many occasions between the years 610 and his death on July 6, 632. The Qur'an was written down by Muhammad's companions (sahabah) while he was alive, although the prime method of transmission was orally. It was compiled in the time of Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and was standardized in the time of Uthman, the third caliph. From textual evidence, modern Western academics find that the Qur'an of today has not changed over the years.[24]

The Qur'an is divided into 114 suras, or chapters, which combined, contain 6,236 āyāt, or poetic verses. The chronologically earlier suras, revealed at Mecca, are primarily concerned with ethical and spiritual topics. The later Medinan suras mostly discuss social and moral issues relevant to the Muslim community.[25] The Qur'an is more concerned with moral guidance than legal instruction, and is considered the "sourcebook of Islamic principles and values".[26] Muslim jurists consult the hadith, or the written record of Muhammad's life, to both supplement the Qur'an and assist with its interpretation. The science of Qur'anic commentary and exegesis is known as tafsir.[27]

The word Qur'an means "recitation". When Muslims speak in the abstract about "the Qur'an", they usually mean the scripture as recited in Arabic rather than the printed work or any translation of it. To Muslims, the Qur'an is perfect only as revealed in the original Arabic; translations are necessarily deficient because of language differences, the fallibility of translators, and the impossibility of preserving the original's inspired style. Translations are therefore regarded only as commentaries on the Qur'an, or "interpretations of its meaning", not as the Qur'an itself.[28]


slam (Arabic: الإسلام; al-'islām ) is a monotheistic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th-century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means "submission", or the total surrender of oneself to God (Arabic: الله, Allāh). An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits (to God)".[1][2] There are between 0.9 and 1.4 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.[3]

Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, God's final prophet, and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam.[4] They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both.[5]

Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community.[6] In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.[7]

Almost all Muslims belong to one of two major denominations, the Sunni and Shi'a. The schism developed in the late 7th century following disagreements over the religious and political leadership of the Muslim community. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 15 percent are Shi'a. Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, Western Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, and Russia. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab

Etymology and meaning--Islam

he word islām is derived from the Arabic verb aslama, which means to accept, surrender or submit. Thus, Islam means submission to and acceptance of God, and believers must demonstrate this by worshiping him, following his commands, and avoiding polytheism. The word is given a number of meanings in the Qur'an. In some verses (ayat), the quality of Islam as an internal conviction is stressed: "Whomsoever God desires to guide, He expands his breast to Islam."[9] Other verses connect islām and dīn (usually translated as "religion"): "Today, I have perfected your religion (dīn) for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion."[10] Still others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith.[11]