Islam the most recent form of middle eastern

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Unformatted text preview: the laws of states. Islam The most recent form of Middle-Eastern monotheism is Islam. Muslims believe that in 610 Muhammad (571-632) began to receive messages from God (Allah), via the angel Gabriel. These messages were written down and constitute the Koran. Muhammad insisted that Islam was not a new religion but was a restatement of faith in the religion of Abraham, purified of mistakes introduced by the Jews. The message of the Koran is that there is only one God. This God, the creator of the universe and of human beings, is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-just, and allloving. God has established ethical commands and imposed a moral responsibility on all human beings to be good. There will be a final day of judgment; those who are worthy will be rewarded with eternal life in paradise; those who are unworthy will spend eternity in the flames of hell. Muslims believe in angels, in Satan, and in demons. Like the Jews, Muslim Arabs claim descent from Abraham (Arabs through Abraham’s eldest son, Ishmael, Jews through Abraham’s second son, Isaac). Muslims also accept many other biblical figures, such as Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus, as prophets. They believe that Muhammad was the last of the prophets. Islam does not have elaborate creeds and statements of faith. There are only five essential duties of Muslims, the “pillars of Islam.” To be a Muslim one must: 1. Believe that there is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet, 2. Pray five times a day, 3. Fast during the daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, 4. Give Essentials of Modern World History. Wk 8: Mid-East and North Africa, 1453-1914, © D. G. Rowley, 2004. Rev. 2011. 1 alms to the needy and to care for widows and orphans, and 5. Make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime (or if poverty makes this impossible, to sincerely want to make the pilgrimage). Islam is divided into two traditions, Sunni and Shi’a. They sometimes come into conflict with one another, but the conflict is political and not religious. Neither denies that the other is faithful to the religion of Islam. The division between Sunni and Shi’a appeared immediately after the death of Muhammad, when the question arose: who was the proper Caliph (successor to the Prophet). Some people believed that this question should be decided by consensus among the community of the faithful; others believed that leadership of the Islamic community was inherited from Muhammad by his son-in-law, Ali, and by Ali’s descendants. The Arab Empires (to be described below) became Sunni—believing that the Caliph was chosen by the community. (This served the interests of the wealthy and powerful elements in Muslim society. Although it sounds democratic, there were no secret and impartial elections, and the Caliph turned out to be the leader with the support of the army.) Sunnis believe that “the community of the faithful cannot err” and therefore have been tolerant of practices and attitudes that come from traditional Arab society and not from the Koran. Sunni Islam is therefore very adaptable, and it is the form of Islam that spread...
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