Islam: Basic Terms and Concepts

Islam: Basic Terms and Concepts
The following are some basic information about the religion Islam:
1.  Around the year ad 570, Muhammad was born in Mecca, at the time the central city of the Arabian Peninsula. He belonged to the clan of Hashim, a poor but respected branch of the esteemed and prominent tribe of Quraysh.
2. ‘Purdah’ refers to a system of seclusion of women practiced by some Muslim (and Hindu) peoples. The word ‘purdah’ also designates a curtain or screen used to keep women separate from men and strangers, used especially in India.
3. Sura Al-Fatiha (also called ‘The Opening’ or ‘The Exordium’) is the first chapter (‘surah’) of the Quran. The following is an English translation of Surah Al-Fatiha:
4. Muhammad the prophet (570?-632) is the last prophet according to Islam, whose revelations, covering political and social as well as religious principles, became the basis of Islamic religion and civilization.
5. Hadith, the second source of authority in Islam, complements the Qur’an and affords the most wide-ranging source for Islamic law. It is held that the ultimate understanding of the Qur’an relies on the context of Muhammad’s life and the manners in which he observed and applied its message.
6. The Five Pillars of Islam, called ‘arkan in Arabic, refers to the five ritual duties that mainstream Muslims consider as principal to their faith
7. ‘Sufism’ is an ascetic tradition which underscored personal piety and mysticism. It contributed to Islamic cultural diversity and further enhanced the Muslim heritage. Sufism counters the legal-minded approach to Islam:
8. InAfghanistan, visiting between family, friends, and neighbors is mostly segregated by gender. Homes regularly have a special room (‘hujra’) where male guests are received by the male host. Females hang out elsewhere in the compound.
9. For non-Muslims, the terms ‘militant Islam’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ induce images of hostage crises, embassies under siege, hijackings, and suicide bombers. People also think of extremist groups like the al-Qaeda network, formed by the late Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden, that engage in a global war of terrorism.
10. Muslims declare that Islam is a faith that has always existed and that it was gradually revealed to humanity by a number of prophets. Islam avows that the final and complete revelation of the faith was made through the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE.
Part III
1-5 The Five Pillars of Islam
The ‘arkan’ (in Arabic) refers to the five ritual duties that mainstream Muslims consider as principal to their faith. These are: (1) professing the confession of faith (shahada or kalima); (2) carrying out the five daily prayers (salat); (3) fasting during the month of Ramadan (saum); (4) paying the alms tax (zakat); (5) and performing, at least once in life, the major pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). “In most places where Islam is the official religion, Muslims are not punished for failing to perform these duties. In some Islamic states, however, public denial by a Muslim of the validity, importance, or centrality of the five pillars is generally considered an act of heresy and is punishable by death” (“Five Pillars of Islam,” 2009).
6-7 The two main branches of Islam
6. Sunni Islam is one of the two main branches of Islam,
7. Shia (or Shi’ite) Islam being the other. Sunni Muslims constitute the vast majority of Islamic community in the world. The term ‘sunna’ means the ‘way’ or the ‘example’ and refers to the example of the Prophet Muhammad. Because it means the “way,” the term sunna may also be intended to distinguish mainstream Muslims from Shia Muslims, who follow a ‘side path.’ Nonetheless, all Islamic groups and sects accept the Sunna, along with the Qur'an, as binding.
8-10 Issues in Islam
8. Gender Inequality - In Islamic countries, the issue on gender inequality involves a secular, liberal feminism seeking to eradicate discrimination against women and to outlaw practices such as polygyny (multiple wives), limitation of the right of divorce to the husband, and purdah.
9. Militant Islam - The issue on ‘militant Islam’ is tied with the concept of Islamic Fundamentalism. It refers to the diverse political and social movements in Muslim countries of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia that have as their objective the creation of more Islamically oriented states and societies founded on the principles and values of Islam.
10. Migration - The issue of migration, on the other hand, is never new to Muslims. During the initial years of Muhammad’s preaching, he made just few converts among the pagan Meccans who worshiped many different gods. But over time, Muhammad’s adherents grew in number, and they began to be viewed as a threat by Mecca’s elite. Recognizing that their safety was at stake, in 622 Muhammad and his followers migrated to Yathrib (later Medina), an oasis town north of Mecca. This migration (called the ‘Hegira’) would be later used to mark the initial year of the Islamic calendar ... (more reviewer for quiz here)




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