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|Turning towards Mecca|
“”If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.
|—Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi|
Islam is chronologically the third major monotheistic Abrahamic religion. It is the second-largest religion in the world after Christianity, with an estimated number of 1.8 billion followers (known as Muslims) worldwide. Islam was founded by Muhammad (c. 570 CE - c. 632 CE), whom his followers regard as the last divine prophet and who relayed the text of the Qur'an, which believers in Islam see as the authentic and final revelation of God (Arabic: Allah); he later became a powerful military leader and spread Islam across the Middle East.
There is no central religious authority in Islam; the two most widespread sects are Shi'a and Sunni, but many other forms are practiced worldwide. Most Muslims follow the 5 basic tenets of their religion, known as the Five Pillars. They also obey particular dietary rules, known as halal, and other restrictions on behavior including a set of rules for women and restrictions on depicting God, Mohammed, and often living creatures. More controversially, many Muslims feel dutiful to spread their religion and a prominent concept is Jihad, a pious struggle which can take many forms, ranging from intellectual, social, and economic efforts to holy war.
In Arabic, "Islam" means "submission" (root word aslama — "submits"; compare also the common root word for as-salamu alaykum, Arabic greeting meaning "peace be upon you"). Some argue that if the root word is the same, then the meaning is also the same, and claim that since salam means peace, Islam means "peace through submission" (to God, specifically), as it descends etymologically from the root word aslama, meaning "submission"; therefore, a Muslim is "one who has submitted to (or made peace with) God". However, the root word being the same does not necessarily mean that the meaning is the same, hence Islam most plausibly means just submission [to God].
Historically, English-speakers long referred to Islam as Mohammadanism or Mahometanism; politically correct circles now consider this an insult since it implies worship of Mohammed, as Christians worship Christ. Islamic belief goes the other way, denying the divinity of Christ, though they do revere him as a prophet.
Mussulman and Moslem are also old words for a Muslim; again, these are no longer used in English, but equivalent terms remain in common use in other European languages, such as Portuguese, Russian, and French, and in Indic languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and Gujarati. Islam's pejorative term for non-Muslims is "Kaffirs", which means "Deniers of truth".
Islam is particularly controversial in the West, hated by a section of the population, because of the rise of Islamism, the idea that Islam should be a political system with control over most elements of society, and the use of Islamic terrorism to establish a wholly Islamic society (often conflated by anti-Muslims with Sharia law, which is a more general term for any Islamic jurisprudence). Whether or not to classify violent holy warriors like Osama bin Laden as "true Muslims" remains a matter for debate among Muslim scholars. This is a common problem in many other religions that preach peace and harmony, yet frequently have violent histories and theology.
- 1 God
- 2 Texts
- 3 Schisms and denominations
- 4 The Five Pillars
- 5 Other important beliefs
- 6 Muhammad's theological importance and hadiths
- 7 Social mores
- 8 Islam, politics and Arab identity
- 9 Critics and criticism
- 9.1 Anti-free speech
- 9.2 Antifeminism
- 9.3 Comments on non-Muslims
- 9.4 Evil Jews
- 9.5 Homophobia
- 9.6 Corporal punishment for children in religious schools
- 9.7 Sharia as applying to non-Muslims
- 9.8 Promotion of creationism and pseudoscience
- 9.9 Muslims' apologetic obfuscation
- 9.10 Muhammad's character
- 9.11 Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- 10 Islamophobia
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
Muslims believe in one god, whom they call Allah. Islam's god is the same Abrahamic god as the one in Judaism and Christianity; Allah is merely the Arabic word for 'God'. They consider it blasphemous to say that God (in the Christian sense) is the same as Allah, as the Christian God (in some interpretations) affirms the Christian Trinity doctrine, and Allah doesn't. Muslims see the Christian Trinity as polytheistic, directly contradicting tawhid — the oneness of god. Note that Muslims also consider it blasphemous to place Allah in a human or animal sexual gender-category; see Qur'an 112:3-4. Essentially, if God's Holy Book was a series, then the Qur'an is the Revised, Updated, And Final Edition (following the Torah (Ed. 1) and Bible (Ed. 2)), and Muhammad is its publisher.
The holy text of Islam is the Qur'an, which Muslims treat as the revealed word of Allah. Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel transmitted its verses to Muhammad, Allah's final prophet. Muhammad, who was illiterate, dictated the revelations to his followers. The followers eventually compiled these teachings, both written and transmitted orally, to form the Qur'an. Muslims regard Muhammed as the chief and final prophet.
The sunnah, or recorded practices of the Prophet as passed down in books of hadith (literally: "news"), clarify the practices of Islam, and are nearly as important to the practice of the religion as the Qur'an itself (except for Quranists.) The Sunni hadith collections are called the Kutub al-Sittah (the six books), the Shi'a hadith collections are called the Kutub al-Arba'a (the four books). Ibadis have their own hadiths, in particular the Jami Sahih. Although Muslims do not regard Jesus Christ as the son of Allah, he functions as an historically important Islamic prophet, ranking as a precursor to Muhammad and helping prepare the world for the "final revelation". Additionally, Muslims believe that Jesus will return at the end of times.
One issue that Islam struggles with that other religions do not is that it has a policy of abrogation, wherein later revelations can supersede earlier ones. Most of Muhammad's more peaceful pronouncements came from earlier revelations [during the early Mecca period — when Muslims were weaker], and the more warlike revelations came after [Medina period, after 622 — when Muslims gained military strength], so unfortunately Salafism and other militant interpretations of the Qur'an are consistent with this policy, and also with Muhammad's own actions — several hadiths and Quranic verses tell of him taking part in raids during the war periods.
Schisms and denominations
“”"Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects — you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do."
A literal reading of Qur'an and hadiths would lead to a conclusion that only one Islam is legitimized under its theology. Hadith Abu Dawood 4597 stated that there will be 73 sects, and only 1 of them will go to Heaven, and rest will go to Hell. Therefore, the existence of differences among Muslims is not necessarily a proof of Islamic theological pluralism.
There are many different denominations within Islam, but the two most notable groups within modern Islam are the Sunni and the Shi'a. The schism between the Sunni and Shi'a is akin to the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches — it is interesting that both splits occurred as a result of power struggles, personality clashes and theological differences. Before dying, Muhammad did not make clear instructions as to how the caliphs were to be elected, and the Qur'an does not have such instructions either. It is ambivalent on that account, despite Qur'an claiming that "… We [Allah] have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything." Qur'an 16:89
Muhammad's cousin Ali was expected by some followers, the party of Ali (Shiat Ali), to be his successor in the fledgling Rashidun Caliphate. Instead, Muhammad's companion Abu Bakr becomes the first Caliph from 632 to 634. He dies of natural causes in 634, but his reign was mostly marked by a fight against 'Ridah', or apostasy, in the form of tax collection (Zakat was collected by the government at the time). After him comes Omar, from 634 to 644, who called himself the 'Commander of the Faithful', tying the Church and military together. The third Caliph was Uthman, from 644 to 656, and who called himself 'Caliphate Allah' (lit. the Successor to God). Uthman is 'elected' through a quid pro quo style election in which he makes promises to families with lots of power and money, and he is hated by the people. Uthman today is a major source of contention with Islam because late into his reign he collected all copies of the Qur'an and burned those not exactly like his. Typically, it is considered that A) he did it or B) the people hated him so much that they just pinned the event onto him. He was murdered in 656. Finally, as the fourth caliph, Ali took his place, and reigned from 656 to 661. It is worth mentioning that Ali refuses the title of caliph because he regarded it as tainted by Uthman. After that, the murder of Ali's son Husayn solidified the schism. Ali is later killed in a fight with the Kharijites, lead by Mu'awiyah, and with his death, the golden age of Islam is considered over.
Within and around these groups there are other subsets of Islam. Among these is Sufism, which is generally thought of as an ascetic spiritual movement similar in philosophy to Buddhism, but could be as fundamentalist as Salafism and Wahhabism, as Hassan Al Bana, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a Sufi. Druze, Yazidism, and Ba'hai are offshoots of Islam, though not traditionally considered to be included within the Islamic faith, but as independent religions.
- Shi'a/Shi'ites, who represent about 10-20% of Muslims globally, believe that the prophet Muhammad appointed Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor. Shi'a prefer hadiths attributed to the Ahlul Bayt (the prophet's family) and close associates. Shi'as consider the city of Karbala holy.
- Sunnis are about 87-90% of the global Muslim population. They consider Abu Bakr to be Muhammad's legitimate successor. There are four major schools of legal interpretation among Sunnis; Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafi'i. They make up roughly 80+% of the world's Muslims. Sunni beliefs are typically based on the Qur'an and the Kutub al-Sittah (the six books of hadith). The Kutub al-Sittah consists of Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan al-Sughra, Sunan Abu Dawood, Jami al-Tirmidhi, and Sunan ibn Majah. Sunnis are sometimes called Bukharists.
- Sufism is pan-denominational movement which promotes "Islamic mysticism". It's unpopular with non-Sufis, as the movement emphasizes personal faith over legalism, contemplation over action, and development of the soul over social interaction. Sufis have come under attack from Islamic extremists because their focus on introspection and their reverence towards saints are considered heretical in some circles.
- Ahmadiyya is a reformist denomination founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed in 1835, who called himself subordinate prophet within Islam, and is considered to be the Mahdi. Their motto is "love for all; hatred for none." Mainstream Muslims reject Ahamadiyya as heresy because they view Muhammad as the last prophet of Islam and Ahmed as a pretender.
- Ahle Quran, also known as Quraniyoon, is an Islamic denomination that generally rejects the authoritative nature of hadith collections, and considers the Qur'an to be the only dependable religious text.
- Nondenominational Muslims are those who do not follow a particular branch and simply call themselves "Muslim".[citation NOT needed]
- Ibadi is a very small branch of Islam with only 3 million followers that is only dominant in Oman. Ibadism developed out of the Seventh Century Khawarij sect; nowadays their theology is characterized by a more accommodating attitude towards the "corrupt monotheist", a rejection of the physical nature of God, and a rjection of the need for an overall leader of the Islamic faith.
- Alawites are an off-shoot of the Shi'a movement which deifies Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, and considers the Five Pillars of Islam to be symbolic and non-mandatory. The Assad dynasty in Syria is Alawite, and their harsh rule over the country's Sunni majority helped feed the tensions that led to that country's civil war.
- The Nation of Islam is a US-based organization which blends elements of Islamic teaching with elements of liberation theology and black nationalism. Originally, the movement held its founder, Wallace D. Fard, as the Mahdi, though since the late 1970s it has largely reintegrated with mainstream Sunni Islam. Louis Farrakhan, a prominent minister within the movement, rejected this reintegration and led a schism of the organization, retaining the Nation of Islam name but introducing huge amounts of antisemitism along with the study of Dianetics.
- 5-percenters self-identify as Muslims and follow the Five-Percent Nation, which holds that black people are the original humans and that Islam is a way of life, not just a religion. Their name comes from the idea that 10% of the world are the elites who keep the 85% ignorant while the remaining 5% are those who seek to spread the truth.
- Liberal Reformist, who generally use postmodernist techniques to argue that there is no link between text and meaning, there are no right or wrong interpretations, and only good and bad people interpreting a meaningless text into what they think it means. Traditional Muslims, in addition to critics claim that it makes no sense, as it implies that the Qur'an is essentially meaningless, and interchangeable with, say, Harry Potter.
The Five Pillars
The concept of "Five Pillars" in Islam does not occur in Qur'an, but only in hadith.
Islam (i.e. the Qur'an, plus Hadiths) has five core pillars, which are considered to be vitally important parts of Islam. All Muslims are expected to follow them.
- The Shahadah (lit. "bears witness"): An oath of faith which states "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."[note 1] One who voluntarily takes the oath is considered a Muslim. However the phrase is often spoken into the ear of newborn babies as both a proxy oath for the child, and a blessing. Once a convert has taken the oath, they cannot change their mind without being considered an apostate by the Muslim community. Many Muslim scholars believe that the punishment for apostasy should be death, and such death penalties are imposed in a number of Islamic countries including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia..
- Salah: Prayer. Prayer must be made five times per day, though this can be suspended depending on illness or travel. Prayer is made facing the Kaaba, a shrine in Mecca held to have been constructed by Abraham. Prior to praying, a Muslim is required to perform a ritual cleansing, or ablution called wudu. Each prayer consists of a series of prostrations and is divided into a number of sections called Raka'ah. Each raka'ah includes recitations from the Qur'an including Al-Fatihah, the first sura. Prayers are made during the dawn, early afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and night-time and are of prescribed lengths. The dawn prayer is 2 Raka'ah, the early afternoon and late afternoon prayers are 4 Raka'ah, the evening prayer is 3 Raka'ah, and the night-time prayer is 4 Raka'ah. This becomes impossible once you are around Arctic and Antarctic poles, where morning and nights can last for months. The Qur'an is ambivalent on the existence of such poles. It is also impossible in outer space.
- Zakat: Giving alms, done by all who can afford it. Typically, a Muslim gives 2.5% of their accumulated wealth (or savings) to charities, often organized through local mosques; however, it is becoming acceptable to bypass the mosque's role as a middleman to charities and donate directly to the charity.
- Sawm: Fasting during the month of Ramadan. During this month, which rotates throughout the year due to the fact that the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muslims must abstain from food, drink (including water), smoking, and sexual intercourse from sunrise (specifically when a thread of light can be discerned from the darkness) to sunset. The goal of the fast, as with most ascetic pursuits, is to rid oneself of material concerns and to bring oneself closer to God. Women who are pregnant or menstruating, those who are ill or elderly, and pre-pubescent children are exempt from the need to fast. Said fasting has had the effects of increasing crime, health problems, and driving accidents. It is worth noting that during Ramadan life typically flips around: people sleep during the day and at night wake up to do normal life.
- Hajj: A pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca during the month of Dhul-Hijah. Muslims are required to circumambulate the Kaaba ["House of Allah"], a practice that earlier pagans also used to perform, walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah (where Hagar searched for water for her baby Ishmael), travel to Mt. Arafat (where Muhammad delivered his Farewell Sermon), and symbolically stone the devil. As it is now impossible for all Muslims to travel to Mecca, a community leader is typically elected to go to Mecca and make the pilgrimage for the entire community as a proxy.
Other important beliefs
- Tawhid is the declaration of absolute monotheism — the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the Universe.
“”The Qur'an asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique, independent and indivisible being, who is independent of the entire creation. God, according to Islam, is a universal God, rather than a local, tribal, or parochial one—God is an absolute, who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil.
|—Our better half|
- Shirk is the single worst sin, the unforgivable sin, and is the sin of attributing divinity to a created entity.
Muhammad's theological importance and hadiths
In Islam, Muhammad is the ideal human being, for all times, greater than all other prophets [Jesus, Abraham etc.], and an example for all Muslims to emulate. He is the last prophet sent by God to mankind, the Qur'an being the last book, which contains solutions to all problems humans have/will have/can have, ever.
After Muhammad, no more prophets will be sent, and no other further revelations from God will be made. Muhammad was the source on how Islam is to be followed, and what a verse actually means.
This necessitated that the hadiths [which were not codified until 200 years after Muhammad's death], as the Qur'an by itself lacks context and chronology.
According to critics, this leads to a inherent problem within Islamic theology. As the Qur'an claims that it was revealed because earlier messages [the Bible and Torah] were corrupted by fallible humans and that only Qur'an is protected by Allah from corruption , Hadiths have no such protection and were recorded and transmitted by fallible humans, and hence possibly as erroneous as the Bible and Torah. However, without hadiths, the Qur'an would lose all context and chronology, and Islam's five pillars of support would also be lost.
This is a point of endless conflict between Quranists and non-Quranists [Quran + Hadiths]. Liberal reformers do not consider it a problem, as per them, "Islam is whatever you think it is".
A related concept is Taqiyya, an allowance for Muslims to conceal their religious beliefs during times of persecution, such as the Spanish Inquisition, though it has also been practiced by Shi'a facing persecution at the hands of Sunni Muslims. Some non-Muslims believe that it really means that you can pretend to have peaceful viewpoints while secretly harboring extremist ones. This has unfortunately been used to validate persecution of Muslims by Islamophobes.
Making images depicting God's creations is seen as a form of idolatry and as such is strictly forbidden by certain hadiths. Hence traditional Islamic art very rarely depicts people, and seldom animals, but focuses instead on geometric patterns, calligraphy and non-pictorial decoration. Not all Muslims believe this due to varying interpretations of the hadiths, while some believe only making 3D models is haram. Most Islamic art depicting humans or animals most likely came from Persia, as Persian traditions of paintings depicting humans sometimes won out over an artist's religious beliefs. The vast majority of devout Muslims hold that images of the prophet Muhammad to be particularly blasphemous, though there is no evidence in the hadiths that confirms this. Because of all this, the most important aspects of Islamic art include architecture, such as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, intricate geometric patterns, and calligraphy.
Some Muslims, mostly Salafi, believe it is forbidden to play or listen to musical instruments, due to it being a "distraction" or supposedly "Satanic" noises made by instruments, basing this on a hadith. Many believe music with instruments is okay as long as it's not mixed with lewd content.  Despite the common viewpoint against it, listening to music with instruments is widely accepted in Islamic countries, even Saudi Arabia to a certain extent.[note 2]
“”O you who believe! Do not approach the prayer while you are drunk, so that you know what you say…
The position of Alcohol within Islam is not as simple as many people think. Wine was grown and enjoyed in parts of Arabia before the advent of Islam. The Koran has varying views on wine, but the final chronological statement on alcohol is regarded by most modern Muslims and the final word on the topic:
“”O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination are abominations of Satan's doing. Avoid them, so that you may prosper. Satan wants to provoke strife and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you not desist?
Notably, the passage only said to avoid alcohol, not that it was forbidden (haram), so Islamic scholars have at times argued over whether this was a strict prohibition or not.
There was a syncretic schism of the Shia branch of Islam known as the Qarmatians (or Carmathians) (c. 900-1077) who actually embraced alcohol consumption, and were notorious for their sacking of Mecca and theft of the black stone from the Kaaba.:74 During the Middle Ages Muslim science made advances while European science largely languished in protoscience and pseudoscience. Jabir ibn Hayyan (a.k.a. Geber) (c. 721–c. 815) is regarded as the father of modern chemistry; among other advances, he developed the process of distillation (which Aristotle had previously worked out in principle but not in practice).:71-72 Later, the Persian polymath Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (854–925) discovered alcohol (Arabic etymology: الكحل, al-kuḥl) by using the distillation process.:72 The physician Al-Zahrawi (936–1013), who lived where alcohol was forbidden was nonetheless perhaps the first person to describe some of the health effects of excessive drinking (convulsions, apoplexy, dementia, paralysis, gout, and liver disease).:72
During the Middle Ages, some prominent Muslims (e.g., Avicenna (c. 930–1037), Omar Khayyam (1048–1131) and Averroes (1126–1198)) argued that wine could be beneficial, at least under some circumstances.:72-73 Caliphs were known at this period to hold impressive drinking parties, and it was also a period of Islamic wine poetry, most notably by Abu Nuwas.
Islam, politics and Arab identity
The fact that Islam arose in the Arabian peninsula and that translations of the Qur'an are considered to be less faithful than the original Arabic text means that Islam has become largely associated with Arabic culture. Insistence on the infallibility of Qur'an and the fallibility of humans give theological support to perspective that all translations are necessarily prone to errors. The Arabic association can lead to nationalistic tendencies within the Arab world being blended with, and indeed disguised as, expressions of Islamic faith; believers are duped, with the promise of a glorious martyrdom, into serving nationalist causes, often violently. This is consistently demonstrated by Al Qaeda and other militant groups; a fundamental reason for their existence is to protest perceived imperialism and aggression by Western governments in the Middle East. Seen as particularly offensive is Western support for the nation of Israel, and to a lesser degree, other non-democratic, secular, corrupt, and oppressive regimes in oil-rich nations, especially pre-revolutionary Iran. Al Qaeda made no objection to the non-democratic and oppressive (but Sharia-based) regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
This philosophy has translated even to non-Arab Muslim extremists, such as those active in Kashmir, southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Almost invariably, statements from Islamic militants are in Arabic, regardless of their background. Perhaps because of this, being "Muslim" is often viewed as no different from being "Arab" in the mindsets of many people throughout the (non-Arab) world despite the fact that the largest Muslim populations in the world are not ethnically Arabs. Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler of the Nazi SS was a supporter of Islam — particularly extreme Islam, as he thought it engendered a warrior spirit — and he recruited Bosnian Muslims, Arabs, and Indians into the 'racially pure' SS.
Since Mohammad's day, Islam retains a strong element of tribalism, particularly the use of loyalty oaths to living persons, and a theological dichotomy between Muslims and non-Muslims. The separation is heavily and repeatedly referred to in Qur'an, and it is almost practically impossible to turn to a random chapter in the Qur'an and find nothing disparaging or demo said about Kuffars/non-Muslims.
Islamic law and statehood
Literal reading of Islam, as well as it's application by Muhammad, shows a necessary overlap between state and religion.
An increasing number of nations use Islamic law as the entire or partial basis of their legal systems; states governed entirely by religion in this way are known as theocracies. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country. Islamic theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been sharply criticized by human-rights advocates for their cruel and illiberal treatment of women, homosexuals (who are sometimes executed), and "apostates" (ex-Muslims).
Sharia is Islamic law, based on the teachings of the Qur'an and other texts regarded as sacred, such as the hadith. Most sharia deals with aspects of the social contract, though treatment of crime and punishment is also covered. Interpretations of Sharia vary widely, and some of the stricter variants, enforced in the fundamentalist Islamic states of the Middle East can involve brutal punishments for crimes such as sodomy (homosexuality), adultery and fornication (premarital sex). In some countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, victims of rape have been punished as adulterers or fornicators when they have been unable to prove rape charges; this has obviously had the effect of discouraging women from filing rape charges with police.
Muslims also follow rulings from various schools of Islamic jurisprudence called fatwas. Though the term fatwa has come to be synonymous with declarations of war by some extremists within Islam (leading to a certain amount of envy from fundamentalist Christians who wish they could pronounce death sentences on anyone they disagree with rather than settling for mere imprecatory prayer), a fatwa can be issued by Islamic scholars on issues as simple as questions regarding conduct in daily life. Fatwas are not legally enforced and can be simply refuting another fatwa or Islamic viewpoint.
Jihad: Crusade and/or puritanism
Another highly disputed concept in Islam is "jihad", which has oftem come to be synonymous with the concept of war waged by Muslims against the Western world. The misunderstanding occurs because the only jihad that affects non-Muslims is the lesser jihad.
Theologically, jihad has two meanings. The greater jihad is the struggle to improve one's self and one's society (read: "become better Muslims"). The lesser jihad is against the enemies of Islam, and can be violent or non-violent, as well as aggressive or defensive. In all history, it was used to expand as well as defend the Islamic state under order of the caliph. Muhammad engaged in aggressive and defensive jihad, both.
"The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best jihad. He said: "The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled." — cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan." 
While Muslim apologists argue that it is in propagation of "morality and justice", it is essentially the same as the propagation of Islam, as you will find that the vision of "morality and justice" they are referring to is that of their particular religion.
Book of Jihad
Book 019, Number 4292: "Ibn 'Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi' inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before m[eet]ing them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi' said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops."
Book 019, Number 4294: "It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muilims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. When you lay siege to a fort and the besieged appeal to you for protection in the name of Allah and His Prophet, do not accord to them the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet, but accord to them your own guarantee and the guarantee of your companions for it is a lesser sin that the security given by you or your companions be disregarded than that the security granted in the name of Allah and His Prophet be violated When you besiege a fort and the besieged want you to let them out in accordance with Allah's Command, do not let them come out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your (own) command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out Allah's behest with regard to them."
By some, the term jihad is considered analogous to the English word "crusade", which can here refer to any noble Islamic endeavour, or it can mean, well, crusade. However, this is arguable, as Crusades are not inherent in the doctrine of Christianity in the way jihad is in Islam — as it was exemplified by Muhammad himself.
Treatment of non-Muslims
Historically, all the first four Islamic states under the "Righteously guided Caliphs" required that Jews and Christians pay the jizya, a tax levied exclusively against non-Muslims which was of a higher amount than zakat.
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture — [fight] until they give the jizya willingly while they are humbled."
The free practice of religion in Muslim countries is a source of controversy. The Qur'an guarantees the free practice of religion for Jews and Christians (although adherents to these religions are expected to pay tribute and to acknowledge Muslim rule if in certain Islamic states). Regardless the reality is sometimes quite the opposite. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, other religions are banned from open practice and apostasy can be a capital offense.
As Sahih Muslim Hadith 4366 says, "Narrated by Umar ibn al-KhattabUmar heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims."
Other states, such as Iran, nominally allow other religions to exist, though those religions (including the Ba'hai and Zoroastrian faiths) are typically persecuted. Some states including Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan have significant non-Muslim minorities which are treated with varying degrees of persecution, though the rise of fundamentalism in these countries has led to an increase in outbreaks of violence.
Critics and criticism
“”Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas: A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (ﷺ) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (ﷺ) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. […] He sat before the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: Messenger of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her. Thereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.
|—Sunan Abi Dawud 4361, Eng Book 39, Hadith 4348, Book 40, Hadith 11 |
The most famous recent case of free expression vs.
the right to murder people you disagree with religious values is that of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which echoed the controversy regarding the Danish cartoons, only with a considerably higher body count. Both instances involved unflattering depictions of Muhammed, which violates Islamic teachings regarding both blasphemy and idolatry.
Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel The Satanic Verses provoked outrage among many Muslims. The book was banned in India and protests in which the book was burned were held in London, England. Ayatollah Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa against Rushdie, calling on all good Muslims everywhere to do their best to kill him. Guess what? He had to go into hiding too. Even worse, governments that should have known better, like the UK and the US, shunned him instead of coming to his aid and defending his right to free speech.
This event inspired the late noted journalist Christopher Hitchens to examine closely the Western Left's lackadaisical attitude towards Islamic extremism. The sympathy which he perceived among his colleagues for Islamic extremism caused him to adopt a firmer stance against what he calls "Islamofascism", literally meaning "Fascism with an Islamic face". This has become the criticism named, regressive left.
Qur'an 4:34 states "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance — [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand."
Muslim men are allowed to have up to 4 wives, but Muslim women can not have 4 husbands. Many argue the justification for it is due to many men dying in war and thus leaving their wives widowed.
The often-forced wearing of the burqa and sister garments by many in the Middle East is another example of societal coercion. These women must dress in a conservative fashion at all times to avoid social harassment or worse.
However, there are open feminists who are practicing and devout Muslims, such as Amina Wudud and Irshad Manji, who claim the two are compatible (without addressing the theological text that appears to mean otherwise; it clearly doesn't).
Comments on non-Muslims
The Qur'an states that those who, after receiving the message of Qur'an, do not convert, are dumb, deaf and blind. The Qur'an's term for non-Muslims (especially atheists, Christians, and/or Jews) is "Kuffar", which literally means "Denier of truth".
Qur'an 2:171 "And the example of the disbelievers is similar to one who calls upon one that hears nothing except screaming and yelling; deaf, dumb, blind — so they do not have sense."
Qur'an 6:39 "And those who deny Our signs are deaf and dumb in realms of darkness; Allah may send astray whomever He wills; and may place on the Straight Path whomever He wills."
However, as "signs" of Allah, Qur'an states things like Qur'an 16:79: "Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly Signs in that for people who have faith." So it is nothing more than argument from ignorance.
Holding views such as these about non-Muslims are not just limited to fringes in Taliban. Even among the most modern of Muslims, liberal defenders of Islam and critics of Islamists, like Mehdi Hassan (Viral Oxford Debate hero), these views are found -
“”The kuffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Qur'an; they are described in the Qur'an as “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Qur'an describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.
|—Mehdi Hassan|
If a non-Muslim were to say the same thing about Muslims, it would be considered a morally-corrupt act of bigotry. However, Muslims seem to have no problem with these verses.
A general Muslim response to criticism of these verses is that it was only referring to non-believers that they were at war with, and that Muslims can't start wars but only fight defensively.
“”The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.
|—Sahih Muslim, 41:6985|
Jews have been persecuted in all Muslim countries to various degrees, and by Muhammad himself.
"You [Jews and Christians] should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land Those of you who have any property with them should sell it, otherwise they should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (and they may have to go away leaving everything behind)."
Homosexuals are severely punished in Islamic states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia (except that Iran doesn't have any). Punishments can include flogging, beatings, mutilation of the genitals, and in some cases, execution. Gays being thrown off roofs and then stoned (not in the good way) has been the common punishment in ISIS-controlled parts of Syria and Iraq.
In hadiths, even "effeminate men" were ordered to be turned out of houses by Muhammad.
“”Narrated Ibn Abbas: the Prophet cursed effeminate men and those women who assume the similitude [manners] of men. He also said said: "Turn them out of your houses." He turned such and such a person out, and Umar [a principal companion of Muhammad] also turned out such and such person.
|—Bukhari vol. 8, no. 6834|
Corporal punishment for children in religious schools
“”The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Command a boy to pray when he reaches the age of seven years. When he becomes ten years old, then beat him for prayer.
Sharia as applying to non-Muslims
The notion that non-Muslims should also be subject to Islamic jurisprudence is a key tenet of Islamism, and both instances brought Islamists scurrying out of the woodwork. Such individuals, like any religious fanatics, lack a sense of humor, and provoked a seemingly endless and quite unnecessary series of absurd debates across the Western world based entirely on whether they find something personally offensive or not. Should we allow this? Well, we allow jokes about Christians and Jews? Why not? Should we exercise restraint when using our right to freedom of speech? Are we refusing to show the cartoons on national news because we don't want to offend Muslims, or because we're scared of offending Muslims? The answer to those questions, in order, is: Yes, Yes, and the news networks were scared of being blown up or something equally horrid. In our eyes, the cartoons' only real crime were being unfunny. And no violence is needed to make that point. Yet the extremist Muslim position survives and thrives in the latest South Park episode which parent companies Comedy Central and Viacom heavily censored in order not to offend the already ridiculously fragile sensibilities of many Muslims. Appropriately for South Park, however, the images of Muhammad were so cartoonishly over-censored (especially Kyle's speech at the end, of which only a few words—mostly pronouns and conjunctions—can be heard) that the censorship itself has the feeling of satire.
People can be assaulted or even murdered because a militant Muslim or lynch mob believes they have broken sharia in some way. In Bangladesh 3,000 people have been arrested following attacks and killing of atheist and other bloggers. As of June 2016, it is unclear whether this will make a difference.
Promotion of creationism and pseudoscience
The Qur'an in several places concurs with the outline of the Creation story in Genesis. Specifically, Adam is taken to be the first human, formed by God in an act of creation out of clay. Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an explicitly claims to be the actual word of God, and so it is unusual for Muslims to believe that the Qur'an contains errors. However, the Islamic text is somewhat vaguer than Genesis, leaving some room for interpretation, and it is not impossible to find Muslims who accept evolution as fact, though it might be impossible to find Qur'anic support for evolution of man from "non-man" organisms.
Many Muslims (such as liberal Muslims) are theistic evolutionists and support the idea that Muslim religious teachings are compatible with evolution. For example, Shaikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, an American Muslim and specialist in Islamic law has argued in Islam and Evolution that a belief in macroevolution is not incompatible with Islam, as long as it is accepted that "God is the Creator of everything" (Qur'an 13:16) and that God specifically created humanity (in the person of Adam; Qur'an 38:71-76). However other Muslims claim that evolution contradicts Muslim teachings and take a position similar to the position of Christian creationists.
In modern times, anti-science attitudes are a serious problem in some Islamic states; although creationism is more usually associated with fundamentalist Christianity. While some Muslims, such as Zakir Naik, tacitly promote creationism and pseduoscience by defending the inaccuracy of the Qur'an, people like Harun Yahya actively promote creationism and pseudoscience and attack evolution.
By contrast, medieval Islam was at least relatively pro-science, with early scientists such as Ibn al-Haytham and Avicenna significantly advancing their fields and paving the way for similar movements in Europe in the centuries to follow.
Muslims' apologetic obfuscation
A Qur'an quote often cited by Muslim apologists to argue that Islam is incompatible with violence is:
“”If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
However, this rendering omits a few important words. The whole verse reads:
“”On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel [Jews] that if anyone slew a person — unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity
The words in bold are usually omitted by apologists who want to give the impression that the Qur'an is against killing generally. However, when the whole verse is read in context, a very different story emerges. Firstly, the Qur'an is recounting a verse in Jewish scripture, not ordaining something to Muslims. Secondly, even the most fervent apologists have to admit that "spreading mischief" is kind of open to interpretation.
Apologists also neglect to mention that the very next verse in the Qur'an reads:
“”Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.
It is interesting that apologists accuse critics of taking apparently violent verses "out of context" yet have no qualms about doing the same with this one cherry picked quote to show that Islam is peaceful. Some apologists render "if anyone kills a person except for murder or spreading mischief" as "if anyone kills an innocent person", as if that's an acceptable paraphrase. Trouble here is that non-Muslims definitely don't qualify as "innocent" on the Qur'an's own terms. Take just one example from the same chapter (in fact only a couple of verses later):
“”As for those who disbelieve, even if they owned everything on earth, and the like of it with it, and they offered it to ransom themselves from the torment of the Day of Resurrection, it will not be accepted from them. For them is a painful punishment. They will want to leave the Fire, but they will not leave it. For them is a lasting punishment.
In literal Islam, Muhammad is the ideal human being which Muslims should strive to emulate (only to a degree that the Qur'an allows).
Muhammad had 13 wives, owned slaves and prescribed severe torture (Qur'an 8:12). Among Muhammad's wives, one (named Aisha) was 6 years old at the time of marriage and 9 years old at the time of the consummation of the marriage[note 4] (Sahih Bukhari 5:58:236), when Muhammad was around 54.
These have become problematic facts for some Muslims, as their modern sensibilities contradict with the infallible moral nature of Muhammad, for all times.
Muslims generally respond by saying it was culturally accepted then or claiming cultural relativism (Which implies that Muhammad is not an ideal for all places and all times), totally denying the validity of hadiths, or taking the postmodern revisionism approach where "Anything can mean anything" (liberal Muslims). Criticism of Mohammed's marriage to Aisha possibly when she was 9 is by far the most commonly used criticism of Islam as well.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim, victim of female genital mutilation, and prominent feminist and critic of Islam. Until her mid-teens, she obeyed the stricter codes of Islam before gradually adopting more liberal positions. She supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie during her fundamentalist years, but as she studied the Western philosophers of the Enlightenment upon her escape to the Netherlands, her stance became more open-minded, to the point where she is now a staunch supporter of everyone's right to freedom of expression. In 2004, she wrote the screenplay for the short film Submission, a film examining the treatment of women in Islam. On November 2, Theo van Gogh, the director of the film, was murdered by Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri. A dagger stabbed into Van Gogh pinned a note to the body attributing the assassination to the film. Ali was forced into hiding, and to this day is not able to appear in public without armed guards.
Islamophobia is a defined as "an irrational fear of Muslims", and considered a form of bigotry.
The term is controversial, with some arguing that it is a label used to de-legitimise and silence every criticism of Islam and every argument that shows that Islamism is a plausible (and the most probable) result of Islamic doctrine, and others claiming that it describes the pattern of irrational fear-mongering and ignorance that leads to hate crimes against minorities and the restriction of their rights. Additionally, some other people (including some Muslims themselves) might also argue that since opposing a religion is not always the same as hating everyone who follows it, a more accurate term for anti-Muslim bigotry would be “Muslimophobia”.
Basically, Islamophobes are generally those who think there is something bad in Islamic text itself, and hence something bad in all true Muslims, where definition of true Muslims being those Muslims who do not use inconsistent methods to interpret Islam based on personal moral conveniences.
Some who argue against Islamophobes claim that there is nothing bad in Islamic text as text has no meaning beyond what one forces it to mean, and all bad committed in the name of Islam is a result of "wrong" interpretations of Islam, where a wrong interpretation is any interpretation that leads to something negative.
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- This is the shortest version of the Shahadah and is translated from the Arabic phrase لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
- Well, it's not illegal per se.
- A survey of 801 American Muslims shows that 53% have experienced domestic violence while a third of American women have experienced domestic violence.
- Yes, we're using euphemisms to try to soften the blow
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