1. Early in the Seventh Century a religious movement was born in the interior of Arabia, and within twenty years absorbed the tribes of the entire peninsula.

2. This movement is called Islam meaning submission or surrender to Allah founded by Mohammed.

3. Muslims or Moslems (lit., those who make or do Islam) as followers of the movement are known, indicate by their name that they have committed themselves into the hands of a sovereign divine ruler, whose will it is their purpose to follow in every aspect of life.

4. Mohammed is only considered a prophet: Islam is Islam to only Allah.

Arabia Before Mohammed

1. The Arabian Peninsula is made up of deserts, barren mountains, along with a few favorable oases and coastal areas where water is sufficient for agriculture and settled life.

2. For most of its history it has been an area of wandering nomadic tribes in search of water and pasturage.

a. Each Spring they venture into the deserts where rain briefly brings plants into bloom.

b. Then the nomads return to the high central plateau, and there each group stakes out part of the land for use by its own particular flocks and herds.

3. Because of geographical conditions, life in Arabia has followed much the same pattern for many centuries.

a. It became a barrier that discouraged military conquest and, to some degree, insulated the people of the interior from the outside world.

b. The Arabs themselves were never able to unite sufficiently to form a state of their own -- yet, there was contact of Arabs on the northern borders with other civilizations.

ie. it stimulated trade which brought with it ideas and influences of more developed cultures.

Mohammed's Tribe and Pre-Islamic Arabia

1. Mohammed was a member of the Quraysh tribe, and the conditions of tribal life formed one of the important elements in his own background and the rise of Islam.

2. The Quraysh had gained possession of the barren valley of Mecca -- it eventually became a thriving community that flourished on commerce.

a. The Quraysh emerged as one of the most powerful tribal groups within the Peninsula.

b. Although it had become an urban community, the Quraysh maintained ties to their former existence in the desert by sending their children to live for a time with a nomad group.

3. The Bedouin Arabs were animistic believing in a number of powers, spirits, and demons.

ie. Spirits associated with rocks and springs and trees were of particular importance.

4. The Bedouins were also influenced by the astral religion of ancient Semitic peoples, which led them to recognize deities associated with heavenly bodies.

a. The major figures were goddesses, of whom the most important were al-Lat, al-Uzzah, and al-Manat.

b. A superior deity called Allah was also familiar to them, but his function was vague, and he did not figure strongly in their thinking or practice.

c. Mohammed's proclamation of his unique sovereign power did not involve the introduction of a wholly new deity.

5. Arabs also made pilgrimages to shrines located at various places in the peninsula.

a. The most important center of pilgrimage was the rectangular stone building in the valley of Mecca, near the well Zam-Zam known as the Kabba.

b. In Pre-Islamic times the principal god of the Kabba was Hubal, but there were others that were also associated with the shrine.

c. When the Quraysh came into possession of Mecca, each clan erected its own deity in the sacred precincts of the shrine.

d. Almost the first act of Mohammed upon the conquest of Mecca was the destruction of these pagan idols and the purification of the Kabba to free it from pagan symbols.

6. Pilgrimage to the Kaba and the performance of rites there, including much that is now part of Islam, took place during a certain month of the lunar calendar considered sacred (ie. fighting was forbidden).

a. Renunciation of hostilities allowed tribesmen to assemble for not only trade, but also for poetry competitions and other activities enjoyed by the Arabs.

b. The Islamic duty of pilgrimage was built upon this familiar heritage of ancient Arabia.

7. There is also evidence that there was intense religious dissatisfaction in Arabia shortly before the rise of Islam.

a. A group called the Hanifs, who claimed spiritual descent from Abraham, were known for their virtue and deep religiousness.

b. Mohammed maintained that he was a Hanif and saw his new teaching as a continuation of Hanifi Teaching.

c. Little is known about the Hanifs, even the meaning of the name is obscure, but their religious thinking was moving towards monotheism and a more reassuring basis for spiritual life.

8. The two monotheistic faiths of Judaism and Christianity had also penetrated into Arabia.

a. In Southern Arabia, more than a century before the rise of Islam, there had been a Jewish Kingdom which had been destroyed by Ethiopian Christians.

b. There were also widely scattered Arabic-speaking Jewish tribes, particularly in the oasis of Yathrib, where Mohammed settled when his position in Mecca had become dangerous.

c. Christians were fewer, but there was a well known Christian Community at Najran south and east of Mecca.

d. Knowledge of these two religions was important, for it prepared those who came in contact with them to receive the closely related teachings of Mohammed, and thus contributed to the actual rise and development of Islam.

9. The prevailing conditions in Mecca also had a significant influence on Mohammed and the rise of Islam. -- born in the city not the desert.

a. Prior to Mohammed's birth, Mecca had become a thriving commercial center, and its citizens, the Quraysh, had gained both wealth and prestige.

b. Mecca's growth was the result of contemporary power politics.

1. The long-standing hostility between Sassanian Persia and Roman Byzantine had destroyed the traditional overland route from the Mediterranean to the head of the Persian Gulf.

2. A new route extended along the coastal plain of Arabia, from the port of Yemen where ships sailed both to India and Africa.

3. Mecca was located in the coastal plain where the north-south route intersected another major route to the east and Iraq.

        Mecca became a rich center of trade and of cultural exchange.

The Prophet

1. Mohammed, the posthumous son of Abdullah, was born into the Bani Hashim, one of the nobler but poorer clans of the Quraysh at an unknown date between A.D. 570 and 580.

2. Shortly after his birth his mother also died, and he was brought up an orphan by his uncle, Abu Talib.

3. There are a number of stories and legends about Mohammed's childhood, but it is difficult to place much reliance on most of this information.

4. Mohammed's marriage to the widow, Khadijah is confirmed.

a. Prior to the marriage Mohammed had prospered in the service of this lady who maintained her fortune through commercial dealings.

b. Although Khadijah was allegedly much older than Mohammed, the marriage produced a number of children.

        No boys survived childhood.

c. A.D. 610: Mohammed, some time after his fortieth birthday, had a decisive vision.

"While I was a sleep, with a coverlet of silk brocade on which was some writing, the angel Gabriel appeared to me and said, Read! I said, I do not read. He pressed me with the coverlet so tightly that I thought I was dead. Then he let me go, and said, Read...... So I read aloud, and he departed from me at last. And I awoke from my sleep, and it was as though these words were written on my heart. I went forth until, when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying, Oh, Mohammed! thou art the messenger of Allah, and I am Gabriel. I raised my head toward heaven to see, and lo, Gabriel in the form of a man, with feet set evenly on the rim of the sky, saying, Oh, Mohammed! thou art the messenger of Allah, and I am Gabriel."

5. Thus began a series of revelations whose record constitutes the chief work of the Moslem scriptures, the Koran.

6. Mohammed began his public career as the Prophet working in Mecca for ten years or more.

a. The majority of the people in Mecca at first ignored him, but as he began to gain some following, they began to fear him and then to oppose him.

b. His earliest converts were largely from the lower classes, many of whom were slaves.

c. Eventually Mohammed attracted several leading men from the city, the most important being Abu Bakr and Umar, his first two successors in the leadership of the community.

7. As opposition to Mohammed intensified, the Meccans began to persecute those from the lower classes who had no protection from a clan group.

a. Mohammed himself was ridiculed but not harmed because of the support from his clan.

b. This support continued even when the rest of the Quraysh enforced a boycott against the Bani Hashim in a hope of gaining the surrender of the Prophet.

8. Mohammed's situation worsened after his wife, Khadijah, and then his uncle, Abul Talib died.

a. Abu Talib, like most of the Bani Hashim, had never become a Moslem, but always gave his full support to Mohammed.

b. Another uncle, Abu Lahab, now became the head of the Bani Hashim, and he was among Mohammed's strongest opponents.

c. Mohammed attempted to solve his problem by approaching the people of al-Taif, a hill town near Mecca, asking them to accept him and his community.

        They refused, and this action increased the hatred against him in Mecca.

9. In 621 - Mohammed began negotiations with some citizens from Yathrib and was able to secure an agreement that he and his followers would be accepted and given protection.

a. It was pilgrimage time: so his followers began to leave Mecca to take up their new homes in Yathrib.

b. In 622, Mohammed himself arrived in Yathrib -- afterwards the city became known as Medina, the city of the prophet.

c. Hegira -- because of its importance it was adopted as the starting point of the Islamic Calendar.

September 24, 622: Mohammed arrived at Medina -- 17 years later, Caliph Omar designated the first day - July 16, 622 of the Arabian year in which this Hegira took place as the official beginning of the Mohammedan Era.

Mohammed In Medina

1. Mohammed's preaching in Mecca centered upon one sovereign deity, Allah, who controlled the destiny of all mankind.

a. Mohammed proclaimed a god who created the universe, established its order, and placed its fate in his own hands.

b. From all people Allah demands acknowledgement and submission to His laws.

2. Mohammed found his situation at Medina very different from that in Mecca from the very first.

a. Medina was an oasis with well-developed agriculture a large, settled population -- yet, life had been disrupted by fighting between tribal elements over the ownership of the land.

b. Some of Medina's citizens joined themselves together under the leadership of Mohammed, in a hope that he could restore peace.

                                                                    Arab and Jewish tribes, as well as a considerable number of Mohammed's followers from Mecca were included in this association.

                                                                    Most Medina Jews clung to their own Faith -- Mohammed drew up an agreement (Concordat) with the Jews.

"The Jews who attach themselves to our commonwealth shall be protected from all insults and vexations; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our assistance and good offices; they form with the Moslems one composite nation; they shall practice their religion as freely as the Moslems ...... They shall join the Moslems in defending Yathrib against all enemies ....... All future disputes between those who accept this charter shall be referred, under God to the prophet."

c. The nature of the new community, or ummah, was set out in a famous document between Mohammed and the Medinese, known as the Constitution of Medina.

3. The first years of Mohammed's stay in Medina were occupied with consolidating his position.

a. Jealousy arose between the Medina followers (Ansar) and those who had emigrated from Mecca (Muhajirun).

o        The dependence for a long time of the Muhajirun on the native population had caused resentment.

b. More important was the dissatisfaction and covert opposition of the non-Moslem Medinese whom the Koran condemns as hypocrites.

c. The Jewish Tribes now became increasingly resentful as the prophet's understanding of the ummah narrowed to include only Moslems.

1. The Jews refused to accept Mohammed as a prophet (which he had expected them to do).

2. Eventually the majority of the Jews were removed from the oasis, some by banishment and others accused of conspiring with his enemies by a bloody massacre.

4. Once his position in Medina was secure, Mohammed turned his attention to secure wider support outside of Medina (the oasis).

a. Mohammed's principal way of extending his influence was by forming a complex system of alliances with various tribal groups.

b. Several of the prophet's marriages were probably contracted for this purpose -- this process served to strengthen his position with specific groups and to plan a campaign against Mecca.

5. Mohammed's Campaign Against Mecca

a. It began by raiding one of the Meccans' caravans during the sacred month of Rajab when fighting was prohibited -- Mohammed persisted in this policy of attacking and harassing the caravans that were the source of Meccan wealth and power.

b. Victory went to Mohammed in the first major engagement at the Battle of Badr in A.D. 624 which is famous for its role in uniting the Muslim community and confirming its sense of purpose.

1. In A.D. 630, as a result of diplomacy and growing armed might, Mohammed gained possession of Mecca without a fight.

2. He dealt with the city leniently -- with the result that the Meccan capitulation was an immediate and enormous gain in prestige for Mohammed.

c. Bedouin tribesmen and delegations from all over Arabia came forward to pledge their allegiance -- he had easily become the most powerful man in Arabia.

1. Before his unexpected death in A.D. 632, he was able to bring the greater part of the peninsula under his sole control -- an achievement which no man before him had done.

2. The concept of his vision demanded not only political submission, but also acceptance of Islam.

d. During his lifetime Mohammed never controlled any territory outside of Arabia.

1. There is no evidence to indicate that he thought Islam had any significance except for the Arabs, though later Moslem opinion affirms his universalist purposes.

2. Mohammed did organize several expeditions against Christian Arab States, in the northern Peninsula which eventually brought Moslems into conflict with the great Byzantine and Sassanian Empires that were followed by swift and permanent conquest closely after the Prophet's death.

The Doctrine of Prophecy

1. Belief in prophecy is one of the very fundamentals of the Islamic religious system.

a. Moslems believe there has never been a people without a prophet who spoke to them in their own language.

b. The revelations to Mohammed repeat stories of previous prophets (ie. Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, and Jesus).

2. The function of Mohammed was to renew and restore the guidance given to others before him, not to found a new religion.

a. Mohammed expected Jews and Christians, who were acquainted with prophecy, to recognize him as a continuation and a reviver of their ancient religious heritage.

b. When this recognition did not come, his bitterness and resentment toward both groups intensified.

3. There was a distinction between Mohammed and previous prophets.

a. Mohammed believed that he had been chosen as the "Seal of the Prophets".

ie. He was the confirmation and climax of the centuries old-chain of divine messengers.

b. Before God had found it necessary to renew guidance to man, but this time the integrity of the revelation would be pre-served.

o        There would be no more prophets after Mohammed.

The Miracles of Mohammed

1. By the 3rd Islamic Century the prophetic tradition had evolved into a fundamental source of law and theology.

a. Followers of Mohammed had collected relics from his possessions believing that they were endowed with spiritual powers.

b. The generation immediately after the prophet associated tales of miracles with the story of his life.

2. By Medieval Times it was the universal belief that Mohammed had been a perfect and sinless being.

a. This belief was thought necessary to strengthen the revelations themselves, otherwise complete confidence in their guidance would be impossible.

b. In eschatological writings it was thought that Mohammed would act as a intercessor for his people on the Day of Judgment, refusing to enter Paradise until all others had done so.

3. The most profound veneration of Mohammed's person was displayed by the mystics.

a. In their speculation, Mohammed acquired the full dimensions of a supernatural being.

b. One school identified Mohammed with the pre-existent divine light, the first emanation from the unity of the God-head, the power that created the world and sustains it.

4. From the late 19th Century, an Islamic Revival began which increased religious interest in Mohammed.

a. A large number of prophetic biographies had been published in a variety of languages.

b. These works are often apologetic in nature with a purpose of refuting or counteracting what Moslems consider as untrue or unfair attacks on Mohammed.

c. They emphasize the ethical, humanitarian and rational sides of Mohammed's thought and activity -- presenting him as a thinker of unparalled wisdom who exhibits the virtues most desirable in human life.

d. The effect has been to create a view of Mohammed with direct contemporary relevance.

The Koran

1. The Koran is the written collection of the revelations which were delivered piecemeal to the prophet over a period of more than twenty years.

2. The name "Koran" means something to be recited -- Gabriel's command in his first revelation was "Recite".

a. One of the revelations speaks of Mohammed bringing the Arabs a "Koran" in their own language.

b. The implication seems to be that the revelations will serve as recitations in connection with worship, just as Christians and Jews recite scripture on religious occasions.

c. However, the name "Koran" seems to point to the Islamic doctrine of prophecy and scripture, for the Koran consists of words recited or read by the angel from an original heavenly book that contains the eternal speech of God.

3. The Koran is divided into 114 chapters or surahs, loosely arranged in the order of length, with the longest first.

a. A very short surah called the Fatihah (Opening) is first of all -- it is a prayer to God for guidance.

        It is used in daily prayers, the most frequently recited portion of the Koran.

b. Every surah but one begins with the words "Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim" (In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful).

The Words of God

1. Muslim theology considers the Koran to be the very words of God.

2. The content of the revelation was given to Mohammed by the angel (Gabriel) -- his task was only to repeat it.

3. The revelation was accompanied by trance-like states in which he was oblivious to his surroundings.

4. The messages sent down to Mohammed were taken from a heavenly book, eternal, uncreated, and co-existent with God.

ie. known as the Well Preserved Tablets or the Mother of Books.

a. It may be looked upon as the expression of God's unchanging truth and will.

b. From time to time portions of its wisdom have been given to prophets as scripture for the guidance of mankind.

c. Each of the books given to past prophets, the Injil (Gospel of Jesus), the Zabur (Psalms of David), the Torah (of Moses) etc. was drawn from the heavenly book and each was a true revelation.

5. The sending of still another book lay in the Arab's need for a prophet to address them in their own language, and partly in the distortions that both the Christians and the Jews (Peoples of the Book) had subjected their scripture.

a. Mohammed did not claim that the revelation contained in the Koran exhausted heavenly scripture, only that they were revelations derived from that divine source.

b. The Koran is that part of the heavenly scripture which God deemed sufficient for the guidance of men.

6. The Koran is never placed on the ground and is never allowed to come in contact with unclean substances.

a. One of the highest acts of piety for a Muslim is to memorize and recite the entire Koran during the month of Ramadan.

b. One who has mastered the sacred texts is called hafiz.

7. For Muslims the Koran is the highest authority in all matters of faith, theology, and law.

a. Tafsir is a commentary giving a verse by verse explanation of the sacred text.

b. The Koran in its present-day form was assembled and ordered after the death of the prophet by his companions and successors.

8. Formation of the Koran

a. Mohammed used several individuals to record the revelations, and apparently he had worked out the basic scheme of dividing the text into surahs.

b. A major role is assigned to Zayd ibn Thabit who had been a secretary of Mohammed.

c. Either during the caliphate of Abu Bakr or Umar, Zayd is reported to have collected all of the records of the revelations.

d. All this material Zayd brought together into an ordered document which then became the possession of Hafsah, the daughter of Umar.

e. During the reign of the 3rd Caliph, Uthman, the same Zayd ibn Thabit was ordered to create an official version of the Koran text from the document owned by Hafsah.

        This version has continued to be used by the Islamic community down to our own time.

The Islamic Conquests

1. The unexpected death of Mohammed created a crisis as to whom would be the successor to the prophet.

a. Some of Mohammed's closest associates succeeded in having the aging Abu Bakr proclaimed as caliph (the successor).

b. This was done to prevent a threatened civil war between various tribal factions.

2. A number of Bedouin tribes began to break away from Islam.

a. They had considered their ties to the Moslem community as personal alliances with its leader rather than an ideological sense.

b. Their defection was expressed in the refusal to pay the Zakat or alms, one of the basic duties of a Muslim.

c. The Wars of the Riddah (apostasy): these campaigns conducted by Abu Bakr was more an attempt to consolidate the community than to defeat counter-revolutionaries.

3. The first expeditions into Syria and Palestine were mainly for the purposes of plunder.

a. Syria was brought under Arab control by the Battle of Yarmuk in 636 where the Byzantines were defeated and the brother of the emperor was killed.

b. Virtually all of Palestine and Syria was in Muslim hands except for a few places with strong fortifications such as Jerusalem (which required a few more years to destroy).

4. Muslims had begun raids against Iraq at the same time as the Syrian Campaign.

        In 637 a small Arab force defeated a Sassanian army in Quadisiyah and then took the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon bringing all of Iraq under Muslim control.

5. Egypt was a Byzantine Province though religious differences existed between Constantinople and Egypt.

a. It was invaded in 639 and two years later the whole country except for Alexandria was under Muslim control.

b. In a span of only ten years, the Arabs conquered and controlled the rich Byzantine provinces on their borders.

6. Battle of Nihavand (641) -- brought the Iranian Plateau within the Arab Empire (it had been held by the remnants of the Sassanian state).

a. This conquest opened the way to Khurasan (S.W. Asia) which was to become one of the intellectual strongholds of classical Islam under the Abbasid caliphs.

b. Arab Armies moved further East and crossed the Oxus River (W. Asia), but did not subdue this region until after 705.

7. Islamic Expansion in the West

a. Muslim military power slowly expanded across North Africa and in 711 an Arab Army under the command of a slave named Tariq crossed into Spain.

ie. Tariq gave his name to Gilbraltar (Jabal al-Tariq).

b. Islamic expansion continued throughout Spain into France until Charles Martel (Frank) stopped further expansion at the Battle of Tours in 732.

8. The unique factor about the conquests of Islam (in its first wave) is its permanence -- most of these territories have continued under Islam into our own day.

a. 1498: Reconquista -- Spain is lost and the Moors were driven out.

b. 1453: Ottoman Turks take Constantinople and expand throughout the Balkan Peninsula threatening Vienna as late as 1683.

The Hadith Books

1. In the third Islamic century, scholars made several systematic collections of hadiths, recognized today as second in authority to the Koran.

a. These are known as the Six Sahih (Sound) Books -- they are organized in chapters according to subject matter.

b. This method of organization demonstrates their relationship to the needs of Islamic lawyers for their categories are drawn from Islamic Law.

2. The historical significance of the hadith collections is controversial.

a. Conservative Muslims accept the hadith books as accurate and reliable records of the prophet's sayings and actions (what he approved and did not).

b. Modern scholars point out contradictions within the Six Books themselves and deny that the hadith collections give reliable information about the prophet.

c. Their View (modern scholars) is that the hadith represents the consensus of the Muslim Community on great legal and theological questions in its history.

3. Some Muslims have attacked the normative role of tradition (sunnah) in the community's past.

        These Medieval attitudes are considered to have prevented progress of their societies and thus they reject the hadith and appeal to the exclusive authority of the Koran.

        This represents the extreme liberal view among present-day Muslims.


1. Theology has played a lesser role in Muslim religious life than Christianity -- however, it is an important division of Islam.

a. The Arabic Word usually translated as "theology" is kalam meaning speech.

ie. the Speech of God, is the Koran.

b. In technical terms kalam refers to the presentation of reasoned arguments to support fundamental religious doctrines.

c. The beginnings of Islamic theology date from the efforts to establish the correct Koranic text.

2. The stimuli to theological thinking were the political controversies that followed the murder of the 3rd Caliph, Uthman, by Egyptian dissidents in 655.

a. The two leading candidates to succeed as the next caliph were Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet, and Muawiyah, a governor of Syria and member of the great Ummayad family.

b. Ali was elected Caliph, but never succeeded in getting his leadership accepted.

c. Muawiyah eventually won in the struggle with Ali and became the founder of the Arab Kingdom of Damascus which endured for 100 years until it fell to the Abbasids in 750.

Islamic Law

1. The central place of the law in Islamic thought and religious life stems from the fundamental nature of the Islamic experience itself.

2. The most important word in the Islamic vocabulary is guidance -- it was guidance which the Koran brought from Allah.

3. There are two words for law in use among Muslims, Shariah and fiqh Shariah.

a. Originally meant pathway, the pathway in which people walk to please God.

b. It is a designation for the eternal pattern that God has ordained for the universe, a kind of cosmic ideal that embodies the divine will.


a. Means both the science of jurisprudence, that derives rules of law from the source materials, and the end products of that science as written down (in numerous thick volumes).

b. It constitutes the backbone of traditional Muslim religious studies.

4. Shariah attempts to provide an all inclusive measure for human conduct.

        All actions fall into one of five categories.

a. farad - obligatory.

b. mandub - meritorious or recommended.

c. mubah - permitted, ie. neither good nor bad but neutral.

d. makruh - reprehensible, but not subject to punishment.

e. haram - absolutely forbidden under pain of death.

5. Muslims speak of the content of law as having two parts:

a. Ibadat - duties owed to God.

b. Muamalat - duties owed to the people.

        Both are derived from Divine Decrees, and neither is more or less binding, or important, than the other.

6. Conflicts over the rule of law arose during the 1st and 2nd Centuries -- these were settled by the work of al-shafii (d. 820) whose theory of Law is still revered by Muslims today.

7. Al-Shafii worked out the theory of usul al-fiqh (roots or sources of the law).

He said that there are four usuls which stand in a definite order or rank.

a. The Koran, the word of God, whose clear commandments take precedence over all else.

b. The authentic sunnah of the prophet transmitted in valid hadith.

        Sunnah may supplement or modify Koranic injunctions but may never set them aside.

c. The lawyer (faqih) may turn to consensus (ijma) of the community of the past.

d. Qiyas (analogical thinking) was to be used with great caution, and only when the appeal to the previous three sources had proved fruitless.

        Qiyas were not to be means of introducing personal opinion or speculation on legal problems.

The Shiah and the Sunni

1. Historically the Shiah belong to the very earliest period of Islamic history -- their characteristics evolved as early, if not earlier than those of the Sunnis.

2. Islam cannot be characterized as "Orthodox" since it has not clergy, hierarchy, or other agency that Muslims recognize as having the authority to define and correct doctrine.

3. The origin of both groups lies in the controversies over leadership after the death of Mohammed.

a. Abu Bakr was elected caliph to the prophet to avoid civil war -a little more than two years later, Umar was similarly elected and after him Uthman.

b. Sunni Islam accepted the validity of the rule of the first three caliphs, along with the principle that the caliphate was an elective office among the Quraysh.

4. From the beginning there was an opposition faction that disagreed both with the specific choice of the caliph and with the principle of election.

a. They maintained that leadership belonged to the family of the prophet.

b. Their support was given to Ali ibn Abi Talib who, as cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed, was his closest male relative.

c. They were called Shiah Ali or the party of Ali.

d. The Shiah maintained that the rule of the first three caliphs was illegitimate and unjust, and that there was no true caliph in Islam until Ali came to that position.

5. When Ali became Caliph, he was never fully recognized as leader and after the diplomatic defeat by Muawiyah, following the Battle of Siffin, he was killed by a Khawarij fanatic.

a. The hopes of the Ali Shia was now centered around Ali's two sons, Hasan and Husayn.

b. Hasan had no stomach for the struggle and renounced his claim to the Caliphate.

c. Husayn was martyred by Ummayad troops at Karbala in Iraq.

d. The date of his death was the tenth of Muharram in the sixty-first year of the Hegira, corresponding to October 10, A.D. 680.

6. Having been frustrated in the political sphere, the Shiah turned to the religious exaltation of Ali and his family. (Divine Light)

a. The foundation of a new (and peculiar) religious doctrine is the belief that Mohammed chose Ali to be the recipient of the religious side of Islam because no one else was capable of understanding it.

b. This belief was passed down from father to son and was viewed as necessary for salvation.

c. By a process of transformation this belief became a doctrine very much like the incarnation.

d. It held that a divine light was fully incarnate in Ali and then, at his death, transferred to one of his descendants.

        This occurred so that there should continue to be a living source of guidance.

7. Ali and his descendants were called imans (leaders) because of their distinction as the bearers of divine wisdom and guidance.

a. Not only does rule belong properly to the iman of the age, but he is the sole source of truth.

b. For the Shiah there is no hope of a proper life or salvation, except through devotion to the iman.

8. Various groups of Shiah differ in the number of imans whom they recognize.

9. The largest group acknowledge twelve and are called the "Twelver" Sect.

a. The last of the imans is still alive, though he chose to disappear from human sight (ghaybah) to return again in the future as the Iman Mahdi (the Rightly Guided Iman) who will initiate events leading to the Last Day.

b. He still continues to be a living source of divine wisdom through the mujitahids, or learned men of the Shiah Community.

c. Twelver Shism has been the official religion of Iran since the rise of the Safawi dynasty in the 16th Century.

10. Another group of Shiahs recognize only seven imans and are known as the "Seveners" or Ismailis (after Muhammad ibn Ismail, the last iman in the chain).

a. They have been more radical, and have also been revolutionaries, teaching their doctrines in secret and struggling to overthrow established rulers.

b. Ismailism found its strongest political expression in the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt during the 10th and 11th Centuries.

c. The present Druze of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel are Ismailis.

11. The passion motif is emphasized within Shiah -- its origin lies in the martyrdom of Iman Husayn at Karbala.

a. His martyrdom is celebrated each year in the great Ashura festival of mourning.

b. The Shiah fly black flags and hold meetings where preachers tell the story of Husanyn's death.

c. On the tenth of Muharram (Ashura) it is the custom to conduct processions that exhibit symbols of the slain leader.

        Many cut themselves with knives or other forms of self - inflicted wounds.

The Five Pillars of Faith: these are duties which Muslims are expected to perform as part of their Ibadat, or obligations to God.

1. Shahadah (or confession of faith):

a. The formula by which the Muslims declare their faith reads:

"There is no God but the one God, and Mohammed is His prophet."

b. In addition to a belief in God and prophecy, Muslims must also declare their faith in God's books, in angels, and in the Last Day.

2. Salat (or ritual prayer) is the most visible of the pillars.

a. In the hadith literature there are five times for daily prayer: at dawn, at noon, in late afternoon, at sunset, and after sunset.

b. One must prepare for prayer by a ritual purificatory washing (wadu).

c. Salat begins with one in a standing position, followed by a series of bows from the waist (ruku) and prostrations, in which the forehead touches the ground (sujud).

d. Each stage of prayer is accompanied by a quotation from the Koran or other recitation repeated silently.

e. On Friday Muslims hold congregational prayers in the mosques (masjid - place of prostration) led by an iman.

        A sermon is followed by congregational prayer.

f. Five times each day the call to prayer (adhan) rings out from the minarets of the mosques all over the Islamic World.

3. Zakat (alms giving for the poor):

a. In the time of Mohammed Zakat was of special importance as one of the outward signs of Islam.

b. The arrangement for its collection has broken down in many modern Muslim states under the pressure of other taxes levied.

c. Additional contributions (sadaqat), distinguished by being voluntary, are also urged on the Muslims as works of special merit.

d. In the early days such contributions were of vital importance since the prophet had no financial resources to further his mission.

4. Sawm (the fast):

a. Occurs during the month of Ramadan, and is obligatory upon every adult Muslim of sound health (some special conditions applying to women and travelers, and the sick exist).

b. Fasting begins at daybreak and lasts all day until sundown -- during this period all food, drink, and smoking are prohibited.

c. Because the Islamic Calendar is lunar, the months rotate through the seasons -- when Ramadan falls in the Summer, it can be a severe trial for Muslims in hot and arid climates.

d. At the end of the month of fasting there is a great feast (Id al-Fitr) which is a religious duty like the fast.

        It is one of the high points of Muslim religious life with special congregational prayers.

5. Haji (Pilgrimage)

a. Every adult Muslim of means is expected, at least once in his life, to make a pilgrimage to the Kabba in Mecca.

b. Upon entering the sacred area of Mecca, pilgrims put on a special garment (ihram) and after completing the ceremonies have their hair shaved.

c. The full ceremony of the haji is quite elaborate and takes several days, but its principal parts are:

1. Tawaf: the circumambulation of the Kabba climaxed by kissing the black stone embedded in one of its corners, and the sacrifice of an animal at Mina.

2. This day is celebrated through the Muslim World as the Id al-Adha (or Festival of Sacrifice) in commeration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.

This is the second great festival of the Muslim year.

The Kabba: it is an ancient shrine that is said to have been founded by Abraham.