On Being a Muslim: Finding a Religious Path in the World Today

On Being a Muslim : Finding a Religious Path in the World Today
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Start by pressing the button below! Martin and Mark R. NL08 1 Prelims ver. Ramadan: When Boats are Safe in the Harbour 2. To Dump or Not to Dump? The Courage to be Mad 6. Go Slowly With the Mud! Access to our Waterholes? The Jews! Watch Out For the Jews! Crime Out There? Or in Here? I offer my sincere gratitude to the following: To Brother Norman Wray who gave me the support to dig up stories from early Islam and to make them come alive for the kids at St Patrick's Technical High School in Karachi.

To Yusuf Patel who first encouraged the idea of putting all my Al Qalam columns together. While copies of manuscripts which they returned to me with their scribblings eventually ended up in the bin, I did consider their comments carefully and believe that it has substantially improved the quality of this work. To my dear friend Ruwayda Hendrickse, who was initially going to be the only reader of the manuscript. Ruwayda, blame it on all of the folks above, if you still think so after reading through it. To Juliet Mabey and Helen Coward of Oneworld Publications, for their editorial comments and for the gracious way they put up with my interminable delays.

To Sisa Maboza, my wonderful research assistant, for invaluable back-up in just about everything and for feeding my fish. And I'm praying that my royalties will cover the defamation suits. Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him 1 Prelims ver. A rabbi disappears from his synagogue for a few hours every Day of Atonement. One of his followers suspects that he is secretly meeting the Almighty, and follows him. He watches as the rabbi puts on coarse peasant clothes and cares for an invalid woman in a cottage, cleaning her room and preparing food for her.

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The follower goes back to the synagogue. There is an exciting and challenging wind of relevance blowing through the world of Islam. Numerous Muslims, especially among the young, are keen to know how Islam relates to our here and now. Many responses have been forthcoming as a part of this wind of relevance: these are often vague, repetitive, superficial and, at times, even alarming. Some of these responses are alarming not only to those who desire to be unfettered in their march to entrench their control over the global economy but also to many Muslims who value social justice and personal freedom.

Alhamdulillah Praise be to Allah , of the latter breed there is a growing band. The more strident, angry and fanatical1 displays of this revival receive a great deal of attention. This Muslim is new in the sense that she is adamant that a stagnant and fossilized Islam confined to a set of rituals that are mere motions must make way for a personally meaningful and socially relevant Islam. Much of the emphasis in contemporary works on Islam by committed Muslims has hitherto been on the more obviously ideological aspects of Islam.

These works usually cater for those who simply see Islam as an alternative to the universal colonization of consciousness through a process of relentless McDonaldization, the accompanying destruction of local cultures and economic exploitation. Two other factors have contributed to the sharp, rather angry and often dehumanizing image of Islam. These are the suffering endured by Muslims in several parts of the world such as in Palestine, Chechnya, the Balkans and Kashmir, and a simplistic recourse to our religious heritage as both our safe haven and the mother of all weapons.

I believe that there is a path between dehumanizing fundamentalism and fossilized traditionalism. This is a path of a radical Islam committed to social justice, to individual liberty and the quest for the Transcendent who is beyond all institutional religious and dogmatic constructions; an Islam that challenges us to examine our faith in personally and socially relevant terms. This Islam, I believe, provides a set of personal responses in an increasingly materialistic society where most people are living, and very many dying, lives of quiet desperation with a frightening sense of alienation from themselves, others and Allah.

Muslims can make an effective contribution alongside those of other religious convictions to the creation of a world wherein it is safe to be human. One of the things that often distinguishes religious groups from other ideological groups is our commitment to personal introspection. We struggle not only to examine the socio-economic structures that create and entrench oppression but also to examine our personal roles in, as well as reactions to, them. Islam was never nurtured in a protective hothouse; the history of early Islam was a continuous struggle of socio-political engagement, introspection, revelation and more engagement.

And so the bottom line in this book is a comprehensive commitment to personal growth through involvement alongside others in a struggle to create a more humane and just world where people are truly free to make Allah the centre of their lives. On Being a Muslim has a long history, and this is reflected in the seeming unevenness of this work. During the seventies I started writing little essays to form position papers for workshops and retreats with adolescents in Pakistan, where I was a student of Islamic theology.

Much later, I developed these into a manual on personal growth, The Review of Faith, in the Call of Islam, a South African organization committed to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. It was in those groups that I first became acquainted with the struggle to relate Islam to, initially, our day-to-day realities and, later on, the struggle for a more humane society in Pakistan.

Those were difficult days without a similar programme known to us, at a time when I was just emerging from a long night of spiritual anguish and emotional trauma. Two elements saw me and our core group through it all: the support and encouragement of a dear friend and brother, Moosa Desai, along with some Pakistani students of mine, and the support from Breakthrough, a group of young Christians in Karachi. I remember how the most difficult students would be assigned to his group for reflections and sharing.

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This was, of course, quite valuable even though it had its awkward moments. I explained with embarassment that the person whom I had left in charge of the group must have slipped off for a brief while, leaving the students free for their mischief. Along with Moosa, I found the active support of some senior students deeply meaningful in developing a programme for critical and personal engagement with Islam and society. Sohail Salimuddin, Zulfiqar Selanie, Adil Khan, Najam Zahir Khan and the late Sayed Junaid Baghdadi were tremendous in the way they supported their fellow students and those who came after them in the numerous programmes which we organized.

As I said, the other element that encouraged our search for a meaningful Islam was the presence of young Christians in a group called Breakthrough. Norman Wray, Bernadette Menezes, Derrick Dean, Lucia Gomes, Kenny Fernandes and others were engaged in their own struggle with their faith, seeking expression in the Pakistani battle for justice. The companionship which they offered me did much to enable me to retain my faith as a Muslim. My Pakistan experience affected my approach to Islam in several significant ways. First, my own keeping the faith was in large measure due to being touched by the humanity of the religious other.

This means that I am determined to find a space in my own theology for those who are not Muslim, yet are deeply committed to seeing the grace and compassion of an All-Loving Creator expressed in the righteous and caring works of ordinary men and women. Second, the struggle of so many young Christians to relate their faith to concrete issues of justice and the involvement of the clergy in liberation movements in South Africa, Latin America, the Philippines and elsewhere forced me to re-examine the social relevance of my faith.

Regrettably, we do not have a shortage of the latter in Islam. This involvement also made me realize how one can be involved with others on a training programme for days and yet not be touched by any of them in a deeply personal and human way. The brothers in the movement were terribly excited when I introduced them to the more personable aspects of religious reflections that I developed in my work at school and incorporated into their programme. However, I never felt free to tell them about my gallivanting with the Christians in Breakthrough; they seemed too anti-everyone-other-than-ourselves.

Upon my return to South Africa, the Muslim Youth Movement, with which I was involved for a brief while, encouraged me to put some of these ideas on paper. The involvement of that group in the South African struggle for justice through a movement that we formed, the Call of Islam, afforded us a new perspective of the vision and responsibility of the compassionate Muslim in a racist and sexist society.

Adli Jacobs, Ebrahim Rasool and Shamil Manie were the other members of that group and though we have each long since gone our own ways, their footprints lie all over this work as they lie indelibly over my growth. I lived and grew with them; wrote down the living and the growing; had it discussed with prayers, laughter and tears. After I parted company with the Call of Islam in and spent a few years in England and Germany, I found the time to rethink many of those ideas. I subsequently had a number of essays published in Al Qalam, as well as in As-Salamu Alaikum and Islamica, regular publications produced in Johannesburg, New York and London respectively.

Various friends encouraged me to rework them in a collection for wider dissemination. I too wonder sometimes. I too am struggling to live alongside the ideas expressed herein. I offer them to you as a co-struggler who has experienced, and who still is experiencing, all the joys and pain of trying to actualize the will of Allah in personal and socio-political terms. My consolation is that Allah will not question us about whether we succeeded or not, but only as to how hard we tried. I have simultaneously, and again unashamedly, utilized these to justify deeply cherished beliefs. And it is impossible to say whether the justification came before the inspiration or the other way around.

This refusal to place the one before the other and the interconnectedness of doing and thinking, in other words praxis as the basis for theory, characterize every page. While each chapter has a neat heading trying to force different themes into respectable square blocks, little else is neat about my categories, for there is nothing which is purely spiritual or purely political, purely this-worldly or purely other-worldly, purely self or purely other.

Spirituality without politics, I increasingly understood, was far from being neutral; quite the contrary, it was, and is, invariably supportive of oppressive socio-economic systems. And so this work is, in many ways, about a South African engaged in the struggle for justice and trying to relate that struggle to his Islam. I am, however, also a post-apartheid South African, struggling to remain true to my religious heritage and invoking the best in it for the attainment of a truly non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

The struggle to live as a child of the times in a liberated society and to be committed to Islam is incredibly difficult if you take your theological heritage seriously. Every answer seems to be accompanied by a multitude of questions. I believe that the questions and perspectives experienced here can be useful for Muslims elsewhere, even if only in opening up the possibilities for critical questioning within the context of remaining faithful. My own experience in the South African struggle has alerted me to the many dimensions of the endeavour to create a better world. Few in our community are willing and able to deal with these battles in a sensitive and creative manner, yet they ravage numerous souls.

Unlike the physical scars that a police baton or quirt leaves one with, our emotional scars are largely unattended and we have enormous difficulty talking about them. And so I commit some of my own insights into all of these issues into your trust. The presence of Allah in the world and ultimate accountability to Him1 are absolute assumptions for virtually all Muslims.

Most Muslims experience and give expression to this faith in Allah through a range of religious practices and verbal utterances, and in the way in which they seek refuge in the ultimate when personal, natural or social calamities strike. Others, equally sincere, are desperate actually to make sense of the presence of Allah in a world where, seemingly, evil so often triumphs over good. While a religious life filled only with rituals may be meaningful for some, many others whose faith is in search of integrity cannot avoid the questions thrown up by being alive to the world and all its challenges.

Despite the seeming preponderance of the somewhat colder face of Islam, the vast majority of ordinary believers throughout the world still revere much of the Sufi tradition. At the most widely practised level, though, this has regrettably been reduced to a new set of folk rituals, with a focus on saints and other holy men as the primary means of reaching closeness to the Prophet Peace be upon him , who is expected to intercede with Allah.

Our lives as Muslims are largely devoid of an ongoing and living connection with Allah. We confine this relationship to moments of personal difficulty, have it mediated through a professional class of religious figures — the managers of the sacred — or to the formal rituals of the five daily prayers, the pilgrimage to Mecca and fasting in the month of Ramadan. Absent is the warmth evident from the following hadith qudsi a saying of Allah, in the words of the Prophet : When a servant of Mine seeks to approach Me through that which I like out of what I have made obligatory upon him [her] and continues to advance towards Me through voluntary effort beyond the prescribed, then I begin to love him [her].

When I Love him [her] I become the ears by which [s]he hears, the eyes by which [s]he sees, and the hands by which [s]he grasps, and the feet with which [s]he walks. The struggle for an authentic spirituality accompanied by righteous works and the need to avoid simplistic answers is then discussed. The last part of this chapter considers some of the challenges presented by these and suggests ways in which they can become more meaningful. The relationship with Allah dealt with in this chapter is often uncomfortable, and I discuss it in the full awareness that many of us prefer to bury this discomfort.

Despite the occasional funny or even flippant twist to my narratives, I do not regard this discomfort or wrestling with Allah lightly. I do, however, believe that in my own uttering of it I develop a deeper insight into it.

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In so doing, others may also understand their struggles a bit better. Hopefully, we can all respond in ways that take us closer to Allah. If, however, you look at a three-year-old child dying of Aids and you also believe in an AllPowerful God, then the questions take a more serious turn. Oh no, I never bowed in front of an idol but there are many other gods — academic ladders, sex, power, prestige. Here follows my narration of one such encounter with Allah, who, at that time, appeared to be the Supremely Indifferent. For Muslims, a visit to Mecca is often the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.

For some, as my story shows, the rewarding consequences and fulfilment coming from such a visit are often obscured and delayed. For Muslims, a journey to Mecca is also an encounter with our roots; genealogical, religious and spiritual. I approached Mecca with a mixture of feelings. One actually descends into the haram sacred area from the barren surrounding hills. If only I, too, I thought, could descend into a seemingly barren self and cause a new being to come forth from a desolate soul.

If this land in its barrenness can become the spring where so much of humankind come to be nourished, then there must be hope. A spring can yet flow from my existence of seeming nothingness and allow me to drink from it, so that I may become fully human and fully Muslim. I became lost in the crowd. Is there then just no limit to the times that one can get lost?

Just this once — answer me! However desperately needed, there was still no self-expression or erratic, even frenzied, crying from a mutilated self. Was the written word again going to be the separating wall between me and my Sustainer? Was the eternal alliance between religion and capitalism being replayed here, destroying the innocent and vulnerable? I elbowed my way to the Black Stone, fervently hoping that it might absorb my blackness this was long before I wondered about the equation of sin with blackness , my burdensome title, power games, politico-religious position, eloquence and mess-ups.

And then, still clinging to my book of litanies, money bag and passport, I reached the door. Temporarily liberated, I lowered my small book and my orderly litanies gave way to uncontrolled weeping. I wept bitterly, for my past, present and future, I wept for what I believed was an existence in mud and actually hoped that someone would come from inside the door.

The burden of that moment was shattering. The silence that greeted me was deafening in its loudness. There was no glimmer of the emergence of a new being after being consumed by the flame. A body went to drink from the sacred Zam Zam well, a body went to run between the hills of Saffa and Marwah in imitation of Hagar Peace be upon her , the Black wife of Abraham, a body went to the hotel, a body returned to the haram five times a day for three days and a body got on to a bus which dropped it at the foot of the Mount of Light. And who knows? I can always take a try. Anyway, I had nothing to lose.

Being in the heart of summer, and midday at that, there were no other bodies or souls around. There is no flock awaiting me. I am alone and this journey is a matter of life and death for me. I want the mountain to be abandoned when I make my discovery. Musa, surely you understand all about these mountain trips?

Not that he was very far off the mark, mind you. There are, thus, no official signs showing the path to the Cave of Hirah. And if there are none around? Follow the Pepsi cans! Thousands and thousands of them, all along the route right up to the mouth of the cave, a few even littering its interior. What a sad spectacle! Let me not be unfair to attempts by Muslims to outline the path for themselves. There were a few shoddily painted arrows pointing in the same direction as the Pepsi cans. As if my agony at having to exorcize a thousand devils was not enough! As if having to mix sand with flour and feeding our children with it was not enough!

As if. And now, arrows pointing in opposite directions! I continued following the Pepsi cans. The path was steep and the journey agonizing. Along the way I noticed another guy with a Palestinian scarf next to him, fast asleep. He, too, I said to myself, is a searcher. Let him also be. And since when did it dawn upon you to be? I chuckled at the banality of it all and felt that perhaps there was nothing more to life than this. Why not call it quits? In those few seconds my existence flashed in front of me. Just before doing what I wanted to do, I heard the voice of my fellow searcher, whom I thought I had long since left behind.

Ap ki; taswir khenchi? Sirf bis riyal hai? It will cost you only twenty riyals — as he smilingly uncovered his Kodak Instamatic from the Palestinian scarf. He was in search of suckers. I died my second death in as many days. This was the culmination of my darkest night. Upon my return to South Africa a curious even if seemingly unremarkable thing happened. The extent of my spiritual crisis was so severe that I simply had to reach out to others, even if only to ensure my physical survival.

I met on a regular basis with three other close friends, Adli, Shamil and Ebrahim, to discuss the question of our own spiritual emptiness and struggles to lead lives of submission to the will of Allah in a racially divided and economically exploited society. From that support and discussion group grew the Call of Islam, a movement that was to play a very significant role in ensuring that Muslims were an integral, even if often unwilling, part of the struggle for non-racialism and non-sexism in South Africa.

For a number of years I found this movement and, more specifically, the founding group, deeply supportive in my wrestling with Allah and self. And so it appears as if Allah does have ideas for us, but that He does not panic when we do. For me, this means that I sincerely believe in the ideas that I espouse and that I am actually engaged in a serious attempt to live alongside them. For someone who is also concerned about a comprehensive Islam this is not something that can be avoided indefinitely, however. Why, then, my reluctance to deal with these themes? Nevertheless, I remained deeply unhappy and unfulfilled as a person.

Looking back, I now know that spirituality for me was an escape from facing raw and unpleasant truths about myself. While spirituality is for many a religiously sanctioned form of neurosis, it also has the potential to assist us as we confront our selves and our neurosis.

Uncovering our motives will enable us to confront the truth about who we really are, and in this truth we will also come to know our Lord. The second hadith has a number of very interesting readings. I have always wondered about the way some Muslims from the Indo-Pak subcontinent seem to think that Allah is an Urdu-speaking Indian or Pakistani.

Other examples of this projection include Pakistani cricketers falling on their knees in prostration, in gratitude to Allah after victory on the field; Diego Maradonna making the sign of the cross after having scored or George Bush praying with Billy Graham on the eve of his attack on Baghdad. In truth, those of us committed to justice and pluralism seek an Allah who is just and inclusive and those committed to chauvinism and to narrow nationalism seek and, sadly, find a God who is a male — despite protestations of dogma to the contrary — Indian, Pakistani, American or Argentinian.

A number of thinkers have, of course, long argued that religion is essentially projection. While I have no doubt that it also, and mostly, functions as such, I do not believe that Allah or religion is only projection and that there is nothing beyond us and our material world. Given the little that we know of ourselves and our world, the inescapably marvellous in nature and the miracle of our existences, it would be rather foolish to claim definitively that whatever is out there is merely a reflection of what is in here.

The adhan call to prayer commences with the statement Allahu Akbar, as does every change in the movements of the formal prayer. The invitation to Allah is thus one to transcendence, to go beyond ourselves. The vast majority of Muslims, though, experience Allah only via the trappings of reified Islam and often as an afterthought; an allpowerful being to be invoked in appendages to everyday speech: insha Allah God willing , masha Allah as God pleased or when disaster strikes. So, Allah is, and Allah is greater. I do not know what all of this means, nor do I wish to justify it, but this is my first certainty.

This presence of Allah in the world and in my life, whatever else it may be, is real enough for me to believe in. This belief, although it has not always sat comfortably with me, has served me well. I have never, furthermore, yearned for a return to those days. In my personal experience spirituality has always been conflated with being emotionally messed up. I simply had to find a more authentic way of living out my yearning for nearness to Allah. I first met Amir Behram Izadyar in Tehran where he was a student of Islamic theology, trustworthy enough to be appointed as a guide for guests of the late Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini.

Underneath the well-rehearsed responses I sensed a real person wanting to break free and just be. Subsequently, in Washington DC where he became a student of international relations, I wanted to know how far he had come and where he was then. The Prophet Muhammad emphasized this sanctity of people when he asked his Companions if they knew who a pauper was.

They replied that among them a pauper was one who had nothing, neither cash nor property. For most, though, it seems to imply some sort of living connection with Allah that enables one to feel an inner calm. This connection, it is usually suggested, can come from greater emphasis on the formal prayers, invocations, communal liturgical gatherings, etc.

Others though, counter that our spirituality does not operate in a vacuum and that, for them, participating in a funeral for a victim of a racial murder or sharing a deeply fulfiling relationship were by themselves spiritually enriching. I am more inclined to the latter view. There is, however, more to the story, even if it discomforts. How is it possible for a person who lives an integrated and balanced life to worship Allah as Allah and not merely as an extension of ideological systems?

Is it possible to speak to Allah as Allah and not only in terms of where He fits into our perception of the world?

On Being a Muslim: Finding a Religious Path in the World Today

Can the committed Muslim return to that model of the Companions of the Prophet May Allah be pleased with them as committed warriors on horseback during the day and ascetics on prayer mats in intense communication with their Lord at night? I recently heard Seyyed Hossein Nasr making a very interesting point.

He said that he had yet to come across a villager who was an atheist; disbelief in the existence of the Transcendent, he observed, is essentially an urban phenomenon. Now, one is not suggesting that we all go back to the village; toothpaste cannot go back into the tube, after all. However, if we are to avoid the clumsy responses to the problem of our alienation from Allah then we have to reflect seriously on the context within which we want to do this.

The point which Sherrard argues, though, is that essentially spiritual activity and activity relating to the Transcendent will remain a marginal activity in a world which is moulded by science and technology. It is not so much that one wants to return to that world; rather the issue is to address the complexity of the task awaiting those who are concerned about the centrality of the Transcendent in our lives.

Our world, Sherrard argues, is one that reflects the desire of the human mind to cut its links with the divine and with the earth. In so far as this world has any ideals, these are purely temporal and finite and concern only the terrestrial welfare of its members. We have, however, paid a terrible price for fabricating around us a society which is as artificial and as mechanized as our own. The inorganic technological world that we have invented lays hold on our interior being and seeks to reduce that to a blind inorganic mechanical thing.

It seeks to eliminate whole emotional areas of our life, as it has been understood in both the religious and the humanist ages — one that has no heart, no affections, no spontaneity, and is as impersonal as the metals and processes of calculation in which it is involved.

Humanist Common Ground: Islam

And it is not only our emotional world that is deadened. The world of our creative imagination and intelligence is also impoverished p. He does, however, raise some profound and challenging issues upon which any committed Muslim must seriously reflect. Have we thought of how our careers interfere with the spiritual quest? Does our isolation from nature work against genuine contemplative activity? Do the kinds of homes that we live in and the transport that we use play a role in shaping our relationship with Allah? The problem, though, is that Coke has little or no nutritional value by itself and is little more than sugar, water and gas.

So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led right. When [s]he comes to me walking, I go to him [her] running. Most Christians have made great play about the idea of the Transcendent being a personal God of boundless love. In part, their arguments against the Muslim understanding of Allah were facilitated by an Islam that has been overwhelmingly dominated by a narrow legalism, where jurisprudence has become synonymous with Islam.

I, for one, have no memories of being taught about a loving God that cares for me, not at any stage of my long trek from alif with my stern and unsmiling great-grandfather, Tata, to studying Hadith in Pakistan with the very loving Mawlana Nasrullah Khan. The idea of an Allah who is compassionate and merciful is one that we need to retrieve in order to recapture Islam from those who insist that our faith and Allah are only about anger and vengeance.

Among them was a woman who ran all over the place. When she found a child, apparently hers, she lifted it, drew it close towards her and suckled it. In this rather sophisticated political love that condones social suffering, they certainly have a lot of fellow travellers among some Muslim groups. Here I want to reflect on how the use of words and works can enable one to edge slightly closer to Allah and to walk a path between the apolitical, fuzzy love of God and the relentless coldness of a distant Transcendent Being who only cares via retribution.

There are, of course, set formulae that we learn to use in our daily prayers and the other rituals of Islam. These are important for they bind us to our historical tradition and to the community. We are, after all, not only individuals but also part of a universal community.

https://idonfine.tk There are indeed times when one can be imprisoned by the predetermined words of prayers. It is very difficult to picture the first Muslims just using memorized formulae; why should one allow words to be a barrier between oneself and Allah? Skilful use of the tongue can work in two ways: it can eloquently articulate the stirring of our souls or it can be used to mask them while giving the impression of earnest communication with Allah.

While words are one of the ways in which we reach out to each other, however ineffectively, with Allah it seems as if a greater requirement is a heart filled with earnestness and awe rather than a tongue filled with words. Fairly common in Christian circles — in fact I first picked up the idea from a group of Christians in Pakistan — this way of praying to Allah was also practised by the earliest Muslims. This way of praying would be more likely to be answered by Allah.

Today the idea of praying together is strange to most Muslims. In this incident we have two friends getting together and asking Allah to fulfil their aspirations. In this way, too, do our brothers and sisters become carriers of our burdens or joys. Words, of course, only work if accompanied by works. While Allah is the Cause of Causes and the Originator of all the natural laws and, therefore, at liberty to suspend all or any of His laws and respond to us without our intervention, this is not His divine pattern.

We turn to Him before we experience His nearness. He desires that we strive and call upon Him; not call upon Him but strive. These two actions are not mutually exclusive, as if our striving is our side of the deal and our calling Him a reminder that He must complete His side of the deal; the very ability to strive comes from Him. To call upon Him without having exhausted what He had already given us is a rejection of His grace.

What if all of these words and works fail to open windows, let alone doors? As I recounted above, I have often felt that I was met with a deafening silence. Alas, rather belatedly I have discovered that I do not control the agenda. Timing, my sister, timing.

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Where do the formal prayers fit into the Islamic scheme of things that they should be seen as synonymous with the trust assumed by humankind? Prayers, being the second of the five pillars of Islam, cannot be viewed apart from the rest of the structure for they do not have an intrinsic value of their own.

Prayer in Islam is truly an institution of tawhid, the oneness of Allah, reflecting it and directed towards it. The body is involved in the physical acts of the ritual; the heart reflects on the greatness of Allah, and the mind adheres to the legalities governing the prayers; all of these struggle to reach out to the One. We stand on the earth and rest our heads on it, remembering the saying of the Prophet that the entire earth is a place of worship i. We are reminded of our being a part of the ecosystem and our responsibility to the earth as a trust from Allah.

The emphasis on performing the formal prayers in congregation is one such example. Here one sees the example of Muslims, deeply engrossed in a seemingly purely spiritual matter, simultaneously transmitting political messages to their adversaries. These ideas, however, cannot become the conscience rags to wipe away guilt feelings about a lack of an authentic spirituality in our lives. Spirituality, however, is not only in these acts of witness. While we must find personally meaningful and socially relevant avenues to actualize this quest, for Muslims, the centrality of the formal prayers in the struggle to reach closeness to Allah is inescapable.

When reading personal accounts of prayers in the lives of the early Muslims one is struck by their obsession with a spirit of devotion and humility in the full knowledge that they were in the presence of Allah. A number of us, theology students, would not join the prayers at their commencement. Instead, we would remain in a sitting position, pretending to be in the last prayer unit of our optional prayers which preceded the congregational one. This enabled us to complete the two units of the early morning prayers without subjecting ourselves to the inconvenience of standing throughout the lengthy reading of the first unit.

Now, if these are the games of full-time students of Islam who understand Arabic, then. Or is it because we are professional theologians? For Muslims, the externals or legality of Islam have been laid down by Allah and exemplified by the Prophet as the way of achieving the morality of Islam. While the means may not be totally divorced from the end, we cannot hold on to them to dodge the end.

When we become all wrapped up in the details of prayer and obsessed with its finer points then prayer can even become our means of avoiding communion with Allah. For Muslims, these sources remain the anchor from which we derive our support and inspiration. The problem is one of invoking these sources in a world where, by and large, they fall on deaf ears.

I do believe though, that virtually all Muslims genuinely want to become more committed to Islam and that those who pray sincerely desire greater constancy and regularity in doing so as well as more fulfilment from it. For most of us, it does not seem to be a natural part of our lives. Prayer was as natural as breathing and eating. The intrinsic part that the formal prayers played in their lives is seen in the fact that their days and activities were organized around the times of prayer.

This, besides indicating their prayer consciousness, also reflects their relationship with their natural surroundings. We therefore need to reflect on the improbability of prayer ever becoming a natural outflow of life if that life has to be lived as a cog in a modern industrial state. Perhaps living in a modern industrial state is unavoidable; being a cog in it is not. There are numerous individuals all over the world who are exploring alternative ways of living and it is only within these that we can reclaim spaces for our selves and reaffirm the centrality of Allah in them.

Whatever momentary value prayer may have in the life of a believer, its real efficacy is judged by the impact that it has on our daily lives. Besides dealing with the relationship between one of the pillars of Islam and the moral—ethical system to be built on it, the verse also instructs the believer to make sure that his or her prayer does, in fact, prevent him or her from lewdness and evil.

Prayer is like a petrol station that enables the believer to fill up five times a day for a pleasant and smooth journey to Allah. What about those among us who do actually stop five times a day but never get filled up, and find that the next prayer time finds us exactly where the last one left us? What about we who have been queuing up for petrol for years and our tanks are still empty?

In part, the answer is related to what I said in the beginning. Prayer does not only influence our lives, it is also influenced by it. The act itself is important but the idea that prayer takes just a few minutes is rather foolish. One does not pour a jug of water into a pot along with the food ingredients and boil it to produce a great meal. What preceded it? Do you have all the ingredients or do you think that you can skip the onions?

How fresh are your ingredients? How tender the meat? Did it require marinating? There is no reason to suppose that our spiritual sustenance requires any less effort and energy than our material sustenance. The act in and by itself, as well as what comes from, it is important. As much as the outcome depends on what we bring into it, so does it depend on how we go about it. Perhaps that is not really the problem, for we make jolly well sure that we concentrate on the prayers we want to have answered.

The following ideas, some of which I found helpful, are culled from it. Breaking the entrenched habit of frequently repeated short chapters can help overcome absentmindedness. The Prophet used several different ones. For instance, before going into the bowing position check on the state of your standing position qiyam : did everything go OK? Was I conscious? If we force ourselves to start again every time we wander, our minds will eventually anticipate the checkpoint and concentrate before we get to it.

If, after this, you still find your tank leaking, do not panic. Much as I love my geographical home, South Africa, and much as I am committed to my religious home, Islam, I enjoy being abroad. I feel quite comfortable with other cultures and with followers of other religious persuasions as well as with those who have none. I do not yearn for the future, nor do I long for the past. Both of these options, I believe, are escapes from the challenge and sometimes the pain of living in the present.

I thus believe in blooming wherever I am planted or, more appropriately, regularly replanted. And so I joyfully try to make do with wherever and whosoever I am. One time of year, though, wherever I may find myself, I yearn for home and, indeed, make my way home. It is a time when I want to touch base with my own, want to be strengthened by them and unashamedly rejoice in being a part of it all. When the month of fasting, Ramadan, approaches, I head for Cape Town. The month of Ramadan was a period when the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him regularly sought refuge in the mountains of Mecca from the social evils and injustices of Arab society before Islam.

The Problem of the Marginalized Sometimes, when I reflect on the misery around us — all wrought by our own hands — I wonder why Allah still keeps the world intact. I often conclude that it is because of the sincerity and devotion of a few that things still move, the few who feel called to withdraw for periods from the world just to pray and contemplate.

Even in this consolation though there is a dark cloud. While in many parts of the world women also frequent the mosque, this retreat of the last ten days of Ramadan is confined to men. Then again, I reflect on the injustice towards women aided and abetted by religion. The minimum amount is fixed and has to be dispensed before one heads for prayers on the morning of the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

Thus we are reminded that our duty of fasting — while it may have been for our own self-discipline and to incur the pleasure of Allah — was also about our responsibility to those around us. I love this part of Ramadan. For a long time though, I have believed that the major reason many people die because they do not eat enough is that a few people are dying because they eat too much. I also have to reflect on the nature of charity and kindness, therefore. So often this seems to imply that the poor will always be with us and that we need the poor for our own purification.

Connected to this is another curious fact. Many scholars, and certainly many socially aware Muslims, often say that one of the reasons we fast is to empathize with the poor and the hungry. Does it mean that we think of Muslims as wealthy or, at least, self-sufficient? Who shapes this discourse whereby the wealthy are the subjects of religion and poor its objects and we, even if unwittingly, suggest that they do not fast or do not have to fast? Quite simply, the human condition. We are unable to sustain the same level of heightened Allah-consciousness throughout the year.

If we were, then Ramadan would no longer be Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is the period in which we return to our harbours to repair our weather-beaten souls and prepare for the next lap of our struggle to reach closer union with Allah, with our higher selves, with nature and with other human beings. Just a few days into the post-Ramadan journey, though, it becomes clear that things are not nearly as smooth as they were when we were in the harbour. It is not completeness that we are out to achieve, it is progress.

My goal is not to become a perfect Muslim at least not this Ramadan ; it is only to ensure that the next Ramadan finds me a bit closer to Allah and a somewhat more pleasant person than this one did. Thus let those who witness the month fast. As for others who may be ill or travelling, let them complete it some other time. Ramadan is thus a month of heightened awareness of Allah, of a more intense struggle to reach closeness with Allah. During this month abstinence from food, drink and sexual activity from dawn to sunset, on the one hand, and increased spiritual devotions, on the other, are an intrinsic part of this struggle.

However, there is more to Ramadan than the formal burdens on the flesh! Thus we are to learn discipline, patience, forbearance and sacrifice during this month. While we fast in order to attain the pleasure of Allah, how we conduct ourselves during this month is pretty much about other people and how we relate to them. However, is it only about this? Is the search for oneness with Allah really without any fun? Piety is also about rejoicing and I know of few communities who know as much about this as the Muslims of Cape Town. The month of Ramadan is a month of great joy, of togetherness, of vibrancy and sharing.

Just before sunset children are seen criss-crossing the neighbourhoods with small plates of cakes or biscuits for their neighbours. The mosques are filled with men and women — all of us sincerely believing that prayerful activity earns us bonus points in this month. Yet we also gather to reconnect with each other, to meet friends. Wishing us well? What do you mean? The struggle for piety can be fun. To return to a theme with which I started: reaching out to others requires a sense of belonging somewhere. In the yearly cycle Ramadan is the spiritual home for the Muslim.

Much as I continue to see one of the reasons for my own existence as having to reach out to people of other religious persuasions and even of no such persuasions, I must return to a place called home, to my own to check on the state of my own barometer and my compass, to be sustained by the great warmth and excitement among our people that accompanies the religious quest in this month.

Soon thereafter I may hit the road again. Yet I am aware that all rituals and religious practices can become so social and cultural that they can be stripped entirely of the true awareness of Allah that is meant to accompany them and towards which we are supposed to move, and so there is something beyond all the rituals, religious practices and sense of community.

Thus as I set out on my travels again I must be guided not only by my compass but also by the ever present stars above, the Spirit of Allah blown into all of us at the time of the creation of humankind. I respond to the one who calls unto me. It is imprisonment in one moment of time, confinement in one sharp uncompromising deed or aspect of our selves.

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Hell is time arrested within and refusing to join the movement of mind and stars. Heaven is the boulder unrolled to let new life out. Laurens van der Post This chapter is about self-renewal and some of the conditions that I have found helpful in the struggle for it, not that the outcome has always been as new as I, or those whom I deal with on an ongoing basis, would have wanted. The struggle for renewal is an infinitely difficult one. The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life Is the one staring back from the glass.

I do not wish to revisit any of these, for I find most of this argumentation rather confusing, even bewildering. I start with the assumption of our freedom to remould our personal and social lives, because this is the only assumption that makes my own life worth living and allows for the belief in a God who is just.

The awareness of this freedom and the awesome responsibility that it places on us to lead conscious lives is the first condition of becoming unstuck and growing. The second condition that I have found helpful is a critical and honest awareness of oneself and the games that one plays with oneself and with others. Games, at a very basic level, are those interactions that serve to mask the real interaction taking place, whether with oneself or with others.

Life is tough; the great perversity of our age is our desperation to make it even tougher on ourselves. There are sufficient numbers of people around who will refuse to recognize us and our worth. There is no great need for us to add to their numbers. The promise of self-esteem is not a protection blanket against change but a prerequisite for change. It is the acknowledgement that, while we have many inadequacies and may have committed numerous blunders, we need to be our own best friends in the journey of self-renewal. In the same way that Allah never abandons us despite our failings, we too should stick around for ourselves.

Sticking around is the fourth condition for growth. Consistency means making comebacks in our lives, never ignoring all the possible lessons from our previous falls, however difficult it may be to live alongside all the implications of these lessons. In his teens he was a prominent surfer who was permanently and severely physically disabled in a surfing accident. Frankl, a Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, was the founder of what is known as the Third Viennese School of psychotherapy.

Karl wrote to me about how from that hell in Auschwitz he [Frankl] devises a philosophy of hope and strength. He says our frail and last freedom which can never be torn away and towards which it behoves us to take responsibility, is the freedom of our attitude to our suffering. And he says something which struck me through and through. I must cease asking what more can I expect from life and ask instead, what might life be expecting from me? After the deaths of his first wife Khadijah al-Kubra May Allah be pleased with her and his uncle, Abu Talib, in , the Prophet was convinced that he could no longer stay in Mecca.

There simply was no hope of security against the persecution to which he and his followers were subjected in Mecca. Before things became too critical, he had to act vigorously to secure an alternative, and he set out for Taif, a city to the north of Mecca. Once there, he went to the three chiefs and tried to explain his message to them.

After a series of negative responses, he tried approaching some of the ordinary people, but nobody would listen to him. When he realized that further efforts were in vain, he decided to leave the town.

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It is said that the Prophet was pelted with stones to the extent that much of his body was covered with blood with his sandals clogged to his feet. Unto you do I complain of my frailty, lack of resources and my insignificance before these people. To whom will You abandon me? To one afar who looks askance at me or to an enemy to whom You have given mastery over me? If Your indignation is not against me, I have no worry for Your security encompasses everything. I seek refuge in the light of Your Presence, which illuminates the darkness and the light by which the affairs of this life and the Hereafter have been rightly ordered, lest Your wrath descends on me, or Your indignation descends upon me.

There is no other resource nor power, but in You. I am at your service; if you wish, I can cause the mountains overlooking this town on both sides to collide with each other, so that all the people therein would be crushed to death, or you may suggest any other punishment for them. Here was the Messenger of Allah, safe in the protection of his Lord, saying that the threat to the lives of a community that had just insulted and injured him was, in fact, a threat to his own life! The Prophet refused to allow the people of Taif to determine his behaviour; instead, he decided on the nature of his own responses.

He did not say that their antagonism led to bitterness on his part; instead, he assumed personal responsibility for his reaction. Even when complaining to Allah, it is essentially what he perceived as his own limitations that he lamented. I do not want to suggest that one must accept responsibility for the wrongs of others. A senior Tibetan Buddhist lama who had been severely tortured by the Chinese was asked what was the greatest danger which he ever faced.

I cannot any longer blame my mood, or attitude on her. One day, after he came out of the mosque he found that his slippers had disappeared from the spot where he had left them earlier. After a month or so, his attendant spotted the slippers as he was accompanying Mawlana Idris out of the mosque. I remember being ditched for someone else by a woman whom I loved very deeply. While she felt deeply pained for me and did whatever she could to assuage my hurt, she stubbornly refused to own responsibility for my anger and hurt.

I now know that her refusal to own my responses assisted me enormously in dealing creatively with my pain. Had she played the game of owning my reaction it might have momentarily deluded me into thinking that I had her back, and would have delayed my having to live up to the truth that the party was over.

Equally significant is the idea that the socio-economic system wherein we find ourselves — irredeemably capitalist, racist and patriarchal — does what it does but I am responsible for my reaction; I can decide to be a victim of this system or a part of a comprehensive struggle for freedom and justice; if the economic system causes a recession then I do have a choice: to organize or starve.

At a personal level we may at times have to be firm and tell another person exactly where to get off. Caliphs such as Mamun al Rashid and Al-Mu'tasim made the mutazilite philosophy an official creed and imposed it upon Muslims to follow. Mu'tazila was a Greek influenced school [ citation needed ] of Sunni scholastic theology called kalam , which refers to dialectic. In inquisitions, ibn Hanbal refused to conform [ citation needed ] and was tortured and sent to an unlit Baghdad prison cell for nearly thirty months.

With the expansion of the Abbaside Caliphate into the Sasanian Empire , Islam adapted many Hellenistic and Persian concepts, imported by thinkers of Iranian or Turkic origin. Amongst his contributions are the discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases, [] and the introduction of clinical pharmacology. Rumi wrote some of the finest Persian poetry and is still one of the best selling poets in America. This era is sometimes called the " Islamic Golden Age ". An important pioneer in this, Ibn al-Haytham is regarded as the father of the modern scientific method and often referred to as the "world's first true scientist".

While the Abbasid Caliphate suffered a decline since the reign of Al-Wathiq — and Al-Mu'tadid — , [] the Mongol Empire put an end to the Abbassid dynasty in The Ghaznavid dynasty was an Islamic dynasty established by Turkic slave-soldiers from another Islamic empire, the Samanid Empire. Two Turkish tribes, the Karahanids and the Seljuks , converted to Islam during the 10th century, who are later subdued by the Ottomans , who share the same origin and language.

It is important to note, that the following Islamic reign by the Ottomans was strongly influenced by a symbiosis between Ottoman rulers and Sufism since the beginning. According to Ottoman historiography, the legitimation of a ruler is attributed to Sheikh Edebali. Accordingly, he interpretated a dream of Osman Gazi as God's legitimation of his reign.

The Seljuk militar leader Alp Arslan financially supported sciences and literature and established the Nezamiyeh university in Baghdad. During this time, the Delhi Sultanate took over northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Religious missions converted Volga Bulgaria to Islam. Many Muslims also went to China to trade, virtually dominating the import and export industry of the Song dynasty.

The Turks incorporated elements of Turkish Shamanism into their new religion and became part of a new Islamic interpretation, [] although Shamanistic influences already occurred during the Battle of Talas Strikingly, Shamans were never mentioned by Muslim Heresiographers. Unlike Arabic traditions, the Turkic traditions hold woman in higher regard in society. Further, the Turks must have found striking similarities between the Sufi rituals and Shaman practises.

The majority and oldest group among Shia at that time, the Zaydis , named after the great grandson of Ali, the scholar Zayd ibn Ali , used the Hanafi jurisprudence, as did most Sunnis. Ibn Taymiyya — worried about the integrity of Islam and tried to establish a theological doctrine to purify Islam from its alleged alterings. This not only including the invaders, but also the heretics among the Muslims, including Shias , Asharites and "philosophers", who were blamed by Ibn Taimiya for the deterioration of Islam.

He was repeatedly accused of blasphemy by anthropomorphizing God and his disciple Ibn Kathir distanced himself from his mentor and negated the anthropomorphizations, [] but simultaneously adhered to anti-rationalistic and hadith oriented methodology of his former mentor. The Muslim world was generally in political decline starting the s, especially relative to the non-Muslim European powers. This decline was evident culturally; while Taqi al-Din founded an observatory in Istanbul and the Jai Singh Observatory was built in the 18th century, there was not a single Muslim-majority country with a major observatory by the twentieth century.

By the 19th century the British Empire had formally ended the Mughal dynasty in India. During the 18th century Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab founded a military movement opposing the Ottoman Sultanate as an illegitimate rule, advising his fellows to return to the principles of Islam based on the theology of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This revival movement allegedly seeks to uphold monotheism and purify Islam of what they see as later innovations. Their ideology led to the desecration of shrines around the world, including that of Muhammad and his companions in Mecca and Medina.

Therefore, they rebelled against the Ottoman Sultanate, until the Ottoman Empire disintegrated after World War I and the Caliphate was abolished in At the end of the 19th century, Muslim luminaries such as Muhammad Abduh , Rashid Rida and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani sought to reconcile Islam with social and intellectual ideas of the Age of Enlightenment by purging Islam from alleged alterations and adhering to the basic tenets held during the Rashidun era.

Instead, they are also often called Islamic modernists. They rejected the Sunni schools of law and allowed Ijtihad. The Ahle Sunnat movement, or as it is more popularly known, the Barelwi movement emphasizes the primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the prophet Muhammad. The movement now has over million followers. Contact with industrialized nations brought Muslim populations to new areas through economic migration. Many Muslims migrated as indentured servants, from mostly India and Indonesia , to the Caribbean , forming the largest Muslim populations by percentage in the Americas.

There are more and more new Muslim intellectuals who increasingly separate perennial Islamic beliefs from archaic cultural traditions. Its supporters say that there are multiple ways to read Islam's sacred texts, and they stress the need to leave room for "independent thought on religious matters". Secular powers such as the Chinese Red Guards closed many mosques and destroyed Qurans, [] and Communist Albania became the first country to ban the practice of every religion.

Jamal-al-Din al-Afghani , along with his acolyte Muhammad Abduh , have been credited as forerunners of the Islamic revival. In Turkey , the Islamist AK Party has democratically been in power for about a decade, while Islamist parties did well in elections following the Arab Spring. Religiosity appears to be deepening worldwide. It is estimated that, by , the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world, "driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world's major religions, as well as by people switching faiths.

Sunnis believe that the first four caliphs were the rightful successors to Muhammad; since God did not specify any particular leaders to succeed him and those leaders were elected. Further authorities regarding Sunnis believe that anyone who is righteous and just could be a caliph as long they act according to the teachings of Islam, the example of Muhammad. Alternatively, Sunnis commonly accept the companions of Muhammad as reliable for interpretating Islamic affairs.

For legal matters derived from the Quran or the Hadith, many follow four sunni madh'habs schools of thought : Hanafi , Hanbali , Maliki and Shafi'i. All four accept the validity of the others and a Muslim may choose any one that he or she finds agreeable. Traditionalist theology is characterized by its adherence to a literal understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah, the belief in the Quran to be uncreated and eternal, and opposes reason kalam in religious matters. Maturidism especially flourished in Central-Asia. Asharism holds, ethics can just derive from divine revelation, but not from human reason.

In the 18th century, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab led a Salafi movement, referred by outsiders as Wahhabism , in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Originally shaped by Hanbalism , many modern followers departed from any of the established four schools of law Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali. The Deobandi movement is a reformist movement originating in South Asia, influenced by the Wahhabi movement.

Nurcu is a Sunni movement based on the writings of Said Nursi — founded at the beginning of the twentieth century. On the other hand, sharia denotes the set of laws of nature , but both ultimately derive from one source, which is God. While the Sunnis believe that a Caliph should be elected by the community, Shia's believe that Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib , as his successor and only certain descendants of Ali could be Imams. Other points of contention include certain practices viewed as innovating the religion, such as the mourning practice of tatbir , and the cursing of figures revered by Sunnis.

Shia Islam has several branches, the most prominent being the Twelvers the largest branch , Zaidis and Ismailis. Different branches accept different descendants of Ali as Imams. The Zaydis consider Zayd ibn Ali , the uncle of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq , as their fifth Imam, and follow a different line of succession after him. Other smaller groups include the Bohra as well as the Alawites and Alevi. Non-denominational Muslims is an umbrella term that has been used for and by Muslims who do not belong to or do not self-identify with a specific Islamic denomination.

At least one in five Muslims in at least 22 countries self-identify in this way. Some movements, such as the Druze , Berghouata and Ha-Mim , either emerged from Islam or came to share certain beliefs with Islam and whether each is a separate religion or a sect of Islam is sometimes controversial. A comprehensive demographic study of countries and territories reported that The majority of Muslims live in Asia and Africa. Most estimates indicate that the China has approximately 20 to 30 million Muslims 1.

According to the Pew Research Center , Islam is set to equal Christianity worldwide in number of adherents by the year Islam is set to grow faster than any other major world religion, reaching a total number of 2. Causes of this trend involve high fertility rates as a factor, with Muslims having a rate of 3. Countries such as Nigeria and North Macedonia are expected to have Muslim majorities by In India, the Muslim population will be larger than any other country.

The term " Islamic culture " could be used to mean aspects of culture that pertain to the religion, such as festivals and dress code. It is also controversially used to denote the cultural aspects of traditionally Muslim people. Perhaps the most important expression of Islamic architecture is that of the mosque. For example, North African and Spanish Islamic architecture such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan contain marble and porphyry columns from Roman and Byzantine buildings, [] while mosques in Indonesia often have multi-tiered roofs from local Javanese styles.

Great Mosque of Xi'an in Xi'an , China. Dome in Po-i-Kalyan , Bukhara , Uzbekistan. Interior of domes in the Alabaster Mosque in Cairo , Egypt. Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people not necessarily Muslim who lived within the territory that was inhabited by Muslim populations. However this rule has been interpreted in different ways by different scholars and in different historical periods, and there are examples of paintings of both animals and humans in Mughal, Persian and Turkish art.

The existence of this aversion to creating images of animate beings has been used to explain the prevalence of calligraphy, tessellation and pattern as key aspects of Islamic artistic culture. Islamic calligraphy representing various planets. Geometric arabesque tiling on the underside of the dome of Hafiz Shirazi's tomb in Shiraz , Iran.

The formal beginning of the Muslim era was chosen, reportedly by Caliph Umar , to be the Hijra in CE, which was an important turning point in Muhammad's fortunes. It is a lunar calendar with days lasting from sunset to sunset. Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam's formative stages. Early criticism came from Christian authors, many of whom viewed Islam as a Christian heresy or a form of idolatry and often explained it in apocalyptic terms.

Islam's sensual descriptions of paradise led many Christians to conclude that Islam was not a spiritual religion. Although sensual pleasure was also present in early Christianity, as seen in the writings of Irenaeus , the doctrines of the former Manichaean Augustine of Hippo led to broad repudiation of bodily pleasure in both life and the afterlife. Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari defended the Quranic description of paradise by asserting that the Bible also implies such ideas, such as drinking wine in Gospel of Matthew.

Defamatory images of Muhammad , derived from early 7th century depictions of Byzantine Church , [] appear in the 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Dante does not blame Islam as a whole, but accuses Muhammad of schism , by establishing another religion after Christianity. Since the events of September 11, , Islam has faced criticism over its scriptures and teachings being a significant source of terrorism and terrorist ideology. Other criticisms focus on the question of human rights in modern Muslim-majority countries, and the treatment of women in Islamic law and practice.

Despite the fact that they did not have a quantified theory of error they were well aware that an increased number of observations qualitatively reduces the uncertainty. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the religion. For the history of Islamic civilization, see History of Islam. For other uses, see Islam disambiguation. An Abrahamic monotheistic religion. Profession of faith Prayer Fasting Alms-giving Pilgrimage.

Texts and sciences. Culture and society. Related topics. Main articles: Aqidah and Iman. Main articles: God in Islam and Allah. Main article: Angels in Islam. Main articles: Quran , Wahy , and Islamic holy books. See also: History of the Quran. Main articles: Prophets and messengers in Islam , Sunnah , and Hadith. Main article: Islamic eschatology. Main article: Predestination in Islam. See also: Five Pillars of Islam. Main article: Shahadah. Main article: Salat.

See also: Mosque and Jumu'ah. Main articles: Zakat and Sadaqah. Main article: Fasting in Islam. Further information: Fasting during Ramadan. Main articles: Hajj and Umrah. Main article: Quran. Shahada Salat Raka'ah Qibla Turbah. Sunnah salat Tahajjud Tarawih. Marriage Contract Mahr. Riba Murabaha Takaful Sukuk. Dhabihah Alcohol Pork. Jihad Hudna Istijarah asylum Prisoners of war. Main articles: Sharia and Fiqh. Main article: Ulama. Main article: Madhhab. Main article: Islamic economics. Main articles: Jihad , Islamic military jurisprudence , and List of expeditions of Muhammad.

Main article: Sufism. See also: Sufi—Salafi relations. Main articles: Adab Islam and Islamic dietary laws. Main article: Islam and humanity. Main article: Morality in Islam. Main articles: History of Islam and Spread of Islam. Jews Christians. Durood Naat Mawlid. Mosque of the prophet Possessions Relics. Main articles: Muhammad and Muhammad in Islam. See also: Early social changes under Islam. Further information: Islamic revival. Main article: Islamic schools and branches. See also: Shia—Sunni relations. Part of a series on Sunni Islam.

Five Pillars. Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Sunni schools of law. Sunni schools of theology. Contemporary movements. Holy sites. Jerusalem Mecca Medina Damascus. Literature Kutub al-Sittah. Main article: Sunni Islam. Part of a series on Shia Islam. Beliefs and practices. Holy days. Ahl al-Kisa. Muhammad Ali Fatimah Hasan Husayn.

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Uri Rubin. Brookfield: Ashgate, , p. See also Caetani. Annali dell'Islam, Volume I. Milano: Hoepli, , p. Julius Wellhausen. Skizzen und Vorabeiten , IV, Berlin: Reimer, , p 82f who argue that the document is a single treaty agreed upon shortly after the hijra. Even Moshe Gil a skeptic of Islamic history argues that it was written within five months of Muhammad's arrival in Medina.

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Marshall Cavendish. Canfield Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective. Smith, p. The Earth and Its Peoples. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Economist Magazine. Retrieved 1 January The Economist. New York Times. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 September Islam: Empire of Faith Islam, followed by more than a billion people today, is the world's third fastest growing religion.

Susan Headden. April 7, Cornell Azerbaijan Since Independence M. Sharpe p. Adams, Macmillan, , p. Retrieved 21 January Retrieved 6 October Human Rights Watch. June Retrieved March 29, Asian Religions in British Columbia. University of Columbia Press. The community currently numbers around 15 million spread around the world Juan Eduardo Campo The total size of the Ahmadiyya community in was estimated to be more than 10 million "Ahmadiyya Muslims".

See also Ahmadiyya by country. Retrieved 7 January New Europe. Archived from the original on 31 January