Islam or Mohammedanism is a religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. It emerged principally from a synthesis of various religious currents competing in the Arabian Peninsula at the time; Christianity, Talmudism and local Arabian paganism. An adherent of the religion is called a Muslim meaning "one who submits (to God)". There are approximately 1.61 billion Muslims, belonging to the various competing sects of the religion; making it the second-largest organised religion in the world, after Christianity.
The two major sects of Islam are the Sunni and Shi'a, splitting in the 7th century. The latter prefered the religious and political leadership of Muhammad's family and their descendants; known as the Imams. Today, Shia are most prominent in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and elsewhere, they form a minority of 15 % and in general are more Aryanised and least barbaric sect. The majority of 85 % are Sunni, but within that are also various schools of thought. The most objectionable groups; Salafism and Deobandism; are fairly recent in origin, deriving their thought from 19th century puritanical cultists, similar in some sense to the impact that Calvinism had on Western Christianity. Major Sunni dominated countries include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and many others.
Beliefs and practices
Muslims believe that God reveled the Qur'an to Muhammad through the Archangel Gabriel; they consider him to be the Final Prophet of the religion initiated with the Israelite prophets, including Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth and others amongst the Prophets. They regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam. There are various different hadith collected purporting to document the saying (Sunnah) of Muhammad; examples including the Shia's Al-Kutub Al-Arb'ah and the Sunni's Al-Kutub al-Sittah. Muslims claim that they are the true representatives of the Israelite religion and that Christians and Jews distorted the texts either by alteratio, false interpretation, or both.
Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community. In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws, banking, warfare, sexuality and even toiletry habits.
Mohammed as Final Prophet
Muhammed was the founder of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the last messenger and prophet of God (Allah), and is also regarded as a prophet by the Druze and as a Manifestation of God by the Baha'i Faith. Muslims do not believe that he was the creator of a new religion, but the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and others. They see him as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets of Islam.
Sources on Muhammad’s life concur that he was born ca. 570 CE in the city of Mecca in Arabia. He was orphaned at a young age and was brought up by his uncle, later worked mostly as a merchant, and was married by age 26. At some point, discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic tradition, it was here at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islām) is the only way (dīn), acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and other prophets.
Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was largely met with hostility from the tribes of Mecca; he was treated harshly and so were his followers. To escape persecution, Muhammad and his followers migrated to Yathrib (Medina) in the year 622. This historic event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad managed to unite the conflicting tribes, and after eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, his followers, who by then had grown to ten thousand, conquered Mecca. In 632, on returning to Medina from his 'Farewell pilgrimage', Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of Arabia had converted to Islam.
The revelations (or Ayats, lit. Signs of God), which Muhammad reported receiving till his death, form the verses of the Qur'an, regarded by Muslims as the “word of God”, around which the religion is based. Besides the Qur'an, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims.
Almost all Muslims belong to one of two major denominations. The schism developed in the late 7th century following disagreements over the religious and political leadership of the Muslim community. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 15 percent are Shi'a. Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe and Russia. There are also large Muslim immigrant communities in wealthier and more developed parts of the world such as Western Europe. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.
Islam has many schools and branches. Sufism is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam with a large number of orders. There is Kharijite Islam, an early branch with the only surviving Ibadi order. Ahmadiyya does not believe Muhammad is the final prophet. Quranism holds the Qur'an to be the only canonical text in Islam and rejects the religious authority of Hadith and often Sunnah (which Shi'a and Sunni use). There are also smaller branches like Ahl-e Haqq (a mystical version), Mahdavism (believes it to be a redeeming of the religion), Messiah Foundation International (Pakistani sect), and Zikri (based around the teachings of Muhammad Jaunpuri). One German professor of the religion in Germany who converted at age fifteen even believes Muhammad never existed.
A sect known as the Salafists tend to be barbaric, hostile to all forms of culture and are often covertly allied in the political arena to the interests of Zionism. Most of the international terrorist attacks against gentile civilians, are carried out by Sunni Salafists. Even within Islam this group has proven controversial because of their fanatical iconoclasm, which has led them to carry out the destruction of many early heritage sites in the Arabian Peninsula associated with Islam around Mecca and Medina.
In earlier times, there was an alliance between Jews and Muslims as part of the Caliphatism imperialism against Christian nations, this led to capturing of the Levant, North Africa, parts of the Byzantine Empire and the Iberian Peninsula by them. Even into the early modern era, Sephardic Judaics, who had been expelled from Spain, went to the Ottoman Empire and the Netherlands, to incite proxy wars against the Christians inbetween. It was under the watch of the Ottoman Empire, that Sabbateanism, the cult of fake "convert" Sabbatai Zevi was allowed to develop. Out of this came a most potent energising force of Kabbalistic, Freemasonic and Zionist movements.
Criticisms of Islam
Criticisms of Islam is a moderately politically incorrect topic that is often labeled as "Islamophobia". However, while it is not a politically correct topic like criticisms of Christianity, it is also not a very politically incorrect topic like criticisms of Judaism. Even politically correct wikis like Wikipedia and RationalWiki have many articles on this topic. There are also entire wikis on this topic (such as WikiIslam) and many other websites and writings by a wide variety of critics such as Christians, Jews, Muslims (such as Muslims from one denomination criticizing Muslims from another denomination), atheists/agnostics, conservatives, and even liberals. See such sources regarding various detailed criticisms.
- "But those, whose faces will be white, they will be in Allah’s mercy." – Al-Quran
- "Beware of marrying the Negros (zunj) for they are a distorted creation." – Book of Nikah from the Kitab al-Kafi, recognised as hadith by Shia Twelvers
- Esposito, John
- (1998). Islam: The Straight Path (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-511234-4
- (2003). Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-516886-0
- (2004). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975726-8
- Esposito, John; Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck (2000). Muslims on the Americanization Path?. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513526-8
- Steven Emerson: Jihad Incorporated – A Guide to Militant Islam in the US, 2006
- Akif Pirincci: Das Schlachten hat begonnen, 2013 (in German)
- Muḥammad Ibn Ḥabīb: Prominent Murder Victims of the Pre- and Early Islamic Periods Including the Names of Murdered Poets, 2021
- Concering Mohammedanism by E. J. G. Jones (traditional Christian view)
- Chronology: A History of the Shiite-Sunni Split at NPR
- Islam Will Be Largest Religion in the World by 2070, Says Report http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/01/islam-will-largest-religion-world-2070-says-report/
- L. Gardet; J. Jomier. "Islam". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- Lane's lexicon. Retrieved on 2007-07-03.
- This claim is made by Islamic population. Other sources give a range from 1 billion to 1.8 billion.
- Major Religions of the World—Ranked by Number of Adherents (HTML). Retrieved on 2007-07-03.
- Esposito (1996), p.41
- Ghamidi (2001): Sources of Islam
- Accad (2003): According to Ibn Taymiya, although only some Muslims accept the textual veracity of the entire Bible, most Muslims will grant the veracity of most of it.
- Esposito (1998), pp.6,12
- Esposito (2002b), pp.4–5
- F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
- F. Buhl; A. T. Welch. "Muhammad". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- Hava Lazarus-Yafeh. "Tahrif". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- Esposito (2002b), p.17
- Esposito (2002b), pp.111,112,118
- "Shari'ah". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
- Esposito (1998), p.12
- Esposito (2002b), pp.4–5
- F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
- Encyclopedia of World History (1998), p.452
- The word "islām" derives from the triconsonantal Arabic root sīn-lām-mīm, which carries the basic meaning of safety and peace. The verbal noun "islām" is formed from the verb aslama, a derivation of this root which means to accept, surrender, or submit; thus, 'Islam' effectively means submission to and acceptance of God. See: Islam#Etymology and meaning
- 'Islam' is always referred to in the Qur'an as a 'dīn', a word that means 'way' or 'path' in Arabic, but is usually translated in English as 'religion' for the sake of convenience
- Esposito (1998), p.12; (1999) p.25; (2002) pp.4-5
- "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
- Peters (2003), p.9
- After Muhhammad's migration to Yathrib, the city came to be known as Madina al-Nabi, lit. 'City of the Prophet'; hence, the name Medina
- The term Qur'an was first used in the Qur'an itself. There are two different theories about this term and its formation that are discussed in Quran#Etymology cf. "Qur'an", Encyclopedia of Islam Online.
- Esposito (2002b), p.21
- Esposito (2004), pp.2,43
- Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt