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Islam (//;[a] Arabic: اَلْإِسْلَامُ, romanized: al-’Islām, [ɪsˈlaːm] (listen) "submission [to God]") is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with 1.9 billion followers, or 24.9% of the world's population, known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 47 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humanity through prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, as well as the teachings and normative examples (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 – 632 CE).
Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims consider the Quran, in Arabic, to be the unaltered and final revelation of God. Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgment with the righteous rewarded in paradise and the unrighteous punished in hell. Religious concepts and practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, as well as following Islamic law (sharia), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment. The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.
From a historical point of view, Islam originated in early 7th century CE in the Arabian Peninsula, in Mecca, and by the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliphate extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east. The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the Abbasid Caliphate, when much of the historically Muslim world was experiencing a scientific, economic, and cultural flourishing. The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates and states such as the Ottoman Empire, trade, and conversion to Islam by missionary activities (dawah).
Most Muslims are of one of two denominations: Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%). Sunni and Shia differences arose from disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions. About 12% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country; 31% live in South Asia, the largest percentage of Muslims in the world; 20% in the Middle East–North Africa, where it is the dominant religion; and 15% in sub-Saharan Africa. Sizable Muslim communities can also be found in the Americas, China, and Europe. Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.
In Arabic, Islam (Arabic:إسلام, "submission [to God]") is the verbal noun originating from the verb سلم (salama), from triliteral root س-ل-م (S-L-M), which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, submission, sincerity, safeness, and peace. Islam is the verbal noun of Form IV of the root and means "submission" or "total surrender". In a religious context, it means "total surrender to the will of God". A Muslim (Arabic:مُسْلِم), the word for a follower of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb form, and means "submitter (to God)" or "one who surrenders (to God)". The word "Islam" ("submission") sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Quran. Some verses stress the quality of Islam as an internal spiritual state: "Whoever God wills to guide, He opens their heart to Islam."[i] Other verses connect Islam and religion (dīn) together:[ii]
"Today, I have perfected your religion for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion."
Others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith.[iii] In the Hadith of Gabriel, Islam is presented as one part of a triad that also includes imān (faith), and ihsān (excellence).
The word "silm" (Arabic:سِلْم) in Arabic means both peace and also the religion of Islam. A common linguistic phrase demonstrating its usage is "he entered into as-silm" (Arabic:دَخَلَ فِي السِّلْمِ) which means "he entered into Islam," with a connotation of finding peace by submitting one's will to the Will of God. The word "Islam" can be used in a linguistic sense of submission or in a technical sense of the religion of Islam, which also is called as-silm which means peace.
Islam itself was historically called Mohammedanism in the English-speaking world. This term has fallen out of use and is sometimes said to be offensive, as it suggests that a human being, rather than God, is central to Muslims' religion, parallel to Buddha in Buddhism. Some authors, however, continue to use the term Mohammedanism as a technical term for the religious system as opposed to the theological concept of Islam that exists within that system.
Articles of faith
Faith (iman, Arabic: إيمان) in the Islamic creed (aqidah) is often represented as the six articles of faith, notably mentioned in the Hadith of Gabriel. Belief in these articles is necessary and obligatory upon all Muslims.
Concept of God
The central concept of Islam is tawḥīd (Arabic:توحيد), the unity of God. Usually thought of as a precise monotheism, but also panentheistic in Islamic mystical teachings. God is described in Chapter 112 of the Quran: Say, “He is God—One and Indivisible; God—the Sustainer ˹needed by all˺. He has never had offspring, nor was He born. And there is none comparable to Him.” No human eyes can see God till the Day Of Judgement. According to Islam, God is transcendent, therefore Muslims do not attribute human forms to God. God is described and referred to by several names or attributes, the most common being Ar-Rahmān(الرحمان) meaning "The Entirely Merciful," and Ar-Rahīm( الرحيم) meaning "The Especially Merciful" which are mentioned before reciting every chapter of the Quran except chapter nine.
Islam teaches that the creation of everything in the universe was brought into being by God's command as expressed by the wording, "Be, and it is,"[iv] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God without associating partners to Him.[v] God is not a part of the Christian Trinity. He is viewed as a personal god who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him.[vi] There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God, who states: "Your Lord has proclaimed, Call upon Me, I will respond to you."[vii] Consciousness and awareness of God is referred to as Taqwa. Allāh is traditionally seen as the personal name of God, a term with no plural or gender being ascribed to it. It is used by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews in reference to God, whereas ʾilāh (Arabic: إله) is a term used for a deity or a god in general.
Belief in angels is fundamental to Islam. The Quranic word for angel (Arabic:ملك malak) derives either from Malaka, meaning "he controlled", due to their power to govern different affairs assigned to them, or from the triliteral root ’-l-k, l-’-k or m-l-k with the broad meaning of a "messenger", just as its counterpart in Hebrew (malʾákh). Unlike the Hebrew word, however, the term is used exclusively for heavenly spirits of the divine world, as opposed to human messengers. The Quran refers to both angelic and human messengers as rasul instead.
The Quran is the principal source for the Islamic concept of angels. Some of them, such as Gabriel and Michael, are mentioned by name in the Quran, others are only referred to by their function. In hadith literature, angels are often assigned to only one specific phenomenon. Angels play a significant role in literature about the Mi'raj, where Muhammad encounters several angels during his journey through the heavens. Further angels have often been featured in Islamic eschatology, theology and philosophy. Duties assigned to angels include, for example, communicating revelations from God, glorifying God, recording every person's actions, and taking a person's soul at the time of death.
In Islam, just as in Judaism and Christianity, angels are often represented in anthropomorphic forms combined with supernatural images, such as wings, being of great size or wearing heavenly articles. The Quran describes "Angels as His messengers with wings—two, three, or four."[viii] Common characteristics for angels are their missing needs for bodily desires, such as eating and drinking. Their lack of affinity to material desires is also expressed by their creation from light: angels of mercy are created from nūr ('light') in opposition to the angels of punishment created from nār ('fire'). Muslims do not generally share the perceptions of angelic pictorial depictions, such as those found in Western art.
The Islamic holy books are the records that most Muslims believe were dictated by God to various prophets. Muslims believe that parts of the previously revealed scriptures, the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospel), had become distorted—either in interpretation, in text, or both. The Quran (lit. "Recitation") is viewed by Muslims as the final revelation and literal word of God and is widely regarded as the finest literary work in the classical Arabic language.
Muslims believe that the verses of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel (Jibrīl) on many occasions between 610 CE until his death in 632. While Muhammad was alive, these revelations were written down by his companions (sahabah), although the prime method of transmission was orally through memorization. The Quran is divided into 114 chapters (suras) which combined contain 6,236 verses (āyāt). The chronologically earlier suras, revealed at Mecca, are concerned primarily with ethical and spiritual topics. The later Medinan suras mostly discuss social and legal issues relevant to the Muslim community.
The Quran is more concerned with moral guidance than legislation, and is considered the "sourcebook of Islamic principles and values". Muslim jurists consult the hadith ('accounts'), or the written record of Prophet Muhammad's life, to both supplement the Quran and assist with its interpretation. The science of Quranic commentary and exegesis is known as tafsir. The set of rules governing proper elocution of recitation is called tajwid. Muslims usually view "the Quran" as the original scripture as revealed in Arabic and that any translations are necessarily deficient, which are regarded only as commentaries on the Quran.
Prophets and sunnah
According to the Quran, God instructed the prophets (Arabic: أنبياء, anbiyāʾ) to bring the "will of God" to the peoples of the nations. Muslims believe prophets are human and not divine, though some can perform miracles to prove their claim. Islamic theology says that all of God's messengers preached the message of Islam—submission to the will of God. The Quran mentions the names of numerous figures considered prophets in Islam, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others.
Muslims believe that God finally sent Muhammad as the last law-bearing prophet ("Seal of the prophets") to convey the divine message to the entire world (to sum up and to finalize the word of God). In Islam, the "normative" example of Muhammad's life is called the sunnah (literally "trodden path"). Muslims are encouraged to emulate Muhammad's actions in their daily lives, and the sunnah is seen as crucial to guiding interpretation of the Quran. This example is preserved in traditions known as hadith, which recount his words, his actions, and his personal characteristics. Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, regarded as God's verbatim words quoted by Muhammad that are not part of the Quran. A hadith involves two elements: a chain of narrators, called sanad, and the actual wording, called matn. Hadiths can be classified, by studying the narration as: "authentic" or "correct" (صَحِيْح, ṣaḥīḥ); "good", hasan (حَسَن, ḥasan); or "weak" (ضَعِيْف, ḍaʻīf), among others. The Kutub al-Sittah are a collection of six books, regarded as the most authentic reports in Sunnism. Among them is Sahih al-Bukhari, often considered by Sunnis to be one of the most authentic sources after the Quran. Another famous source of hadiths is known as The Four Books, which Shias consider as the most authentic hadith reference.
Because the Quran only briefly covered the lives of biblical prophets, scholars, poets, historians, and storytellers elaborate their stories in Tales of the Prophets. Many of these scholars were also authors of commentaries on the Quran; however, unlike Quran commentaries which follow the order and structure of the Quran itself, the Tales of the Prophets told its stories of the prophets in chronological order—which makes them similar to the Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible.
Besides prophets, saints possess blessings (Arabic:بركة , "baraka") and can perform miracles (Arabic:امات, Karāmāt). Saints rank lower than prophets and they do not intercede for people on the Day of Judgment. However, both the tombs of prophets and saints are visited frequently (Ziyarat). People would seek the advice of a saint in their quest for spiritual fulfillment. Unlike saints in Christianity, Muslim saints are usually acknowledged informal by consensus of common people, not by scholars. Unlike prophets, women like Rabia of Basra, were accepted as saints.
Resurrection and judgment
Belief in the "Day of Resurrection" or Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic|يوم القيامة), is also crucial for Muslims. It is believed that the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God but unknown to man. The Quran and the hadith, as well as in the commentaries of scholars describe the trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah. The Quran emphasizes bodily resurrection, a break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death.
On Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة), Muslims believe all humankind will be judged by their good and bad deeds and consigned to Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell). The Quran in Surat al-Zalzalah describes this as: "So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it." The Quran lists several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as disbelief in God (كفر, kufr), and dishonesty. However, the Quran makes it clear that God will forgive the sins of those who repent if he wishes. Good deeds, like charity, prayer, and compassion towards animals, will be rewarded with entry to heaven. Muslims view heaven as a place of joy and blessings, with Quranic references describing its features. Mystical traditions in Islam place these heavenly delights in the context of an ecstatic awareness of God. Yawm al-Qiyāmah is also identified in the Quran as Yawm ad-Dīn (Arabic:يوم الدين "Day of Religion");[ix] as-Sāʿah (Arabic:الساعة "the Last Hour");[x] and al-Qāriʿah (Arabic:القارعة "The Clatterer");[xi]
The concept of divine decree and destiny in Islam (Arabic: القضاء والقدر, al-qadāʾ wa l-qadar) means that every matter, good or bad, is believed to have been decreed by God and is in line with destiny. Al-qadar meaning "power" derives from a root that means "to measure" or "calculating". The Quran emphasises that nothing occurs outside of His divine decree: "Say, 'Nothing will ever befall us except what God has destined for us'." Muslims often express this belief in divine destiny with the phrase "Insha-Allah" meaning "if God wills" when speaking on future events.
Acts of worship
There are five core practices in Islam, collectively known as "The Pillars of Islam" (Arkān al-Islām) or "Pillars of the Religion" (Arkān ad-din), which are considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith: Three of the pillars are obligatory for all Muslims, while Zakāt and Hajj are obligatory only for able Muslims. Both Sunni and Shi'a sects agree on the essential details for performing these acts. Apart from these, Muslims also perform other religious acts. Notable among them are voluntary charity (Sadaqah) and recitation of the Quran.
The shahadah, which is the basic creed of Islam, must be recited under oath with the specific statement: "ʾašhadu ʾal-lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu wa ʾašhadu ʾanna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh" (أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله), or, "I testify that none deserves worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God." This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.
The five daily ritual prayers are called salah or ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة|صلاة). Salat is intended to focus the mind on God and is seen as a personal communication with him expressing gratitude and worship. Salat consists of bowing and prostrating to God and praising God. Performing prayers five times a day is compulsory, but flexibility in the timing specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language and consist of verses from the Quran. The prayers are done in direction of the Ka'bah. The act of supplicating is referred to as dua. Ritual purity is required for salat, this is achieved through wudu (ritual purification) or ghusl (full body ritual purification).
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name masjid. A large mosque for gathering for Friday prayers or Eid prayers is called masjid jāmi (مَسْجِد جَامِع, "congregational mosque"). Although the primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer, it is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study. The Masjid an-Nabawi ("Prophetic Mosque") in Medina, Saudi Arabia, was also a place of refuge for the poor. Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century and contain a variety of architectural elements such as minarets. The means used to signal the prayer time is a vocal call called the adhan.
Zakāt (Arabic: زكاة, zakāh, 'alms') is a means of welfare in a Muslim society, characterized by the giving of a fixed portion (2.5% annually) of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy, such as for freeing captives, those in debt, or for (stranded) travellers, and for those employed to collect zakat.[xii] It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to supererogatory charity, known as Sadaqah) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a "trust from God's bounty". Conservative estimates of annual zakat are that it amounts to 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions. The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, distributed zakat as one of the first examples of a guaranteed minimum income, with each man, woman and child getting 10 to 20 dirhams annually.
Sadaqah means optional charity practiced as a religious duty and out of generosity. Both the Quran and the hadith put much emphasis on spending money for the welfare of needy people, and have urged Muslims to give more as an act of optional charity.[xiii] The Quran says: "Those who spend their wealth in charity day and night, secretly and openly—their reward is with their Lord."[xiv] One of the early teachings of Muhammad was that God expects men to be generous with their wealth and not to be miserly.[xv] Accumulating wealth without spending it to address the needs of the poor is generally prohibited and admonished. Another kind of charity in Islam is waqf, meaning a perpetual religious endowment of property.
Fasting (Arabic: صوم, ṣawm) from food and drink, among other things, must be performed from dawn to after sunset during the month of Ramadan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it, Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, develop self-control and restraint, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts must be compensated for later.[xvi]
The obligatory Islamic pilgrimage, called the "ḥajj" (Arabic: حج), has to be performed during the first weeks of the twelfth Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every physically and financially able Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. All Muslim men should wear simple white clothing (ihram) during Hajj and Umrah. Rituals of the Hajj include: spending a day and a night in the tents on the desert plain of Mina, then a day in the desert plain of Mount Arafat praying and worshiping God, following the footsteps of Abraham; then spending a night out in the open, sleeping on the desert sand in the desert plain of Muzdalifah; then moving to Jamarat, symbolically stoning the Devil recounting Abraham's actions;[self-published source?] then going to Mecca and walking seven times around the Kaaba which Muslims believe Abraham built as a place of worship; then walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah recounting the steps of Abraham's wife, Hagar, while she was looking for water for her son Ishmael in the desert before Mecca developed into a settlement. Another form of pilgrimage, umrah, is supererogatory (not morally required) and can be undertaken at any time of the year. The Quran refers to Islamic Pilgrimage in various places, often describing the rites and rulings which apply when undertaking Hajj.
Quranic recitation and memorization
Muslims recite and memorize the whole or parts of the Quran as acts of virtue. Reciting the Quran with elocution (tajwid) has been described as an excellent act of worship. Pious Muslims recite the whole Quran during the month of Ramadan. In Muslim societies, any social program generally begins with the recitation of the Quran. One who has memorized the whole Quran is called a hafiz ("memorizer") who, it is said, will be able to intercede for ten people on the Last Judgment Day. Apart from this, almost every Muslim memorizes some portion of the Quran because they need to recite it during their prayers.
Sharia is the religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its scholarly interpretations. The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists.
Traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence recognizes four sources of sharia: the Quran, sunnah (Hadith and Sira), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). Different legal schools developed methodologies for deriving sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad. Traditional jurisprudence distinguishes two principal branches of law,ʿibādāt (rituals) and muʿāmalāt (social relations), which together comprise a wide range of topics. Its rulings assign actions to one of five categories: mandatory (fard), recommended (mustahabb), permitted (mubah), abhorred (makruh), and prohibited (haram). Some areas of sharia overlap with the Western notion of law while others correspond more broadly to living life in accordance with God's will.
Historically, sharia was interpreted by independent jurists (muftis). Their legal opinions (fatwa) were taken into account by ruler-appointed judges who presided over qāḍī's courts, and by maẓālim courts, which were controlled by the ruler's council and administered criminal law. In the modern era, sharia-based criminal laws were widely replaced by statutes inspired by European models. The Ottoman Empire's 19th-century Tanzimat reforms lead to the Mecelle civil code and represented the first attempt to codify sharia. While the constitutions of most Muslim-majority states contain references to sharia, its classical rules were largely retained only in personal status (family) laws. Legislative bodies which codified these laws sought to modernize them without abandoning their foundations in traditional jurisprudence. The Islamic revival of the late 20th century brought along calls by Islamist movements for complete implementation of sharia. The role of sharia has become a contested topic around the world. There are ongoing debates whether sharia is compatible with secular forms of government, human rights, freedom of thought, and women's rights.
Islam, like Judaism, has no clergy in the sacerdotal sense, such as priests who mediate between God and people. However, there are many terms in Islam to refer to religiously sanctioned positions of Islam. In the broadest sense, the term ulema (Arabic: علماء) is used to describe the body of Muslim scholars who have completed several years of training and study of Islamic sciences. A jurist who interprets Islamic law is called a mufti (مفتي) and often issues legal opinions, called fatwas. A scholar of jurisprudence is called a faqih (فقيه). Someone who studies the science of hadith is called a muhaddith. A qadi is a judge in an Islamic court. Honorific titles given to scholars include sheikh, mullah, and mawlawi. Imam (إمام) is a leadership position, often used in the context of conducting Islamic worship services.
Schools of jurisprudence
A school of jurisprudence is referred to as a madhhab (Arabic: مذهب). The four major Sunni schools are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali madhahs while the three major Shia schools are the Ja'fari, Zaidi and Isma'ili madhahib. Each differs in their methodology, called Usul al-fiqh ("principles of jurisprudence"). The following of decisions by a religious expert without necessarily examining the decision's reasoning is called taqlid. The term ghair muqallid literally refers to those who do not use taqlid and, by extension, do not have a madhab. The practice of an individual interpreting law with independent reasoning is called ijtihad.
To reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, Islamic economic jurisprudence encourages trade, discourages the hoarding of wealth and outlaws interest-bearing loans (i.e. usury; Arabic: riba). Therefore, wealth is taxed through Zakat, but trade is not taxed. Usury, which allows the rich to get richer without sharing in the risk, is forbidden in Islam. Profit-sharing and venture capital where the lender is also exposed to risk is acceptable. Hoarding of food for speculation is also discouraged.
The taking of land belonging to others is prohibited. The prohibition of usury and the revival of interest-based economies has resulted in the development of Islamic banking. During the time of Muhammad, any money that went to the state was immediately used to help the poor. Then, in AD 634, Umar formally established the welfare state Bayt al-Mal ("House of Wealth"), which was for the Muslim and Non-Muslim poor, needy, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. The Bayt al-Maal ran for hundreds of years under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century, continuing through the Umayyad period, and well into the Abbasid era. Umar also introduced child support and pensions.
Jihad means "to strive or struggle [in the way of God]". In its broadest sense, it is "exerting one's utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation". Depending on the object being a visible enemy, the Devil and aspects of one's own self (like sinful desires), different categories of jihad are defined. Jihad also refers to one's striving to attain religious and moral perfection. When used without a qualifier, jihad is understood in its military form. Some Muslim authorities, especially among the Shia and Sufis, distinguish between the "greater jihad", which pertains to spiritual self-perfection, and the "lesser jihad", defined as warfare.
Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants. Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law and may be declared against illegal works, terrorists, criminal groups, rebels, apostates, and leaders or states who oppress Muslims. Most Muslims today interpret Jihad as only a defensive form of warfare. Jihad only becomes an individual duty for those vested with authority. For the rest of the populace, this happens only in the case of a general mobilization. For most Twelver Shias, offensive jihad can only be declared by a divinely appointed leader of the Muslim community, and as such, is suspended since Muhammad al-Mahdi's occultation in 868 AD.
Sufism (Arabic: تصوف, tasawwuf), is a mystical-ascetic approach to Islam that seeks to find a direct personal experience of God. It is not a sect of Islam and its adherents belong to the various Muslim denominations. Classical Sufi scholars defined Tasawwuf as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God", through "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. Sufis themselves claim Tasawwuf is an aspect of Islam similar to sharia, inseparable from Islam and an integral part of Islamic belief and practice. Sufi congregations form orders (tariqa) centered around a teacher (wali) who traces a spiritual chain back to Muhammad.
The religiosity of early Sufi ascetics, such as Hasan al-Basri, emphasized fear of failing God's expectations of obedience, in contrast to later and more prominent Sufis, such as Mansur Al-Hallaj and Jalaluddin Rumi, whose religiosity is based on love towards God. For that reason, some academic scholars refuse to refer to the former as Sufis. Nevertheless, Hasan al-Basri is often portrayed as one of the earliest Sufis in Sufi traditions and the influential theologian Al-Ghazali later developed his ideas. Traditional Sufis, such as Bayazid Bastami, Jalaluddin Rumi, Haji Bektash Veli, Junaid Baghdadi, and Al-Ghazali, argued for Sufism as being based upon the tenets of Islam and the teachings of the prophet. Sufis played an important role in the formation of Muslim societies through their missionary and educational activities.
Popular devotional practices such as the veneration of Sufi saints have faced stiff opposition from followers of Wahhabism, who have sometimes physically attacked Sufis, leading to a deterioration in Sufi–Salafi relations. Sufism enjoyed a strong revival in Central Asia and South Asia. Sufi influenced Ahle Sunnat movement or Barelvi movement defends Sufi practices and beliefs with over 200 million followers in south Asia, Sufism is prominent in Central Asia, where different orders are the main religious sources, as well as in African countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Chad and Niger.
In a Muslim family, some religious ceremonies attend the birth of a child. Immediately after the birth, the words of Adhan are pronounced in the right ear of the child. On the seventh day, the aqiqah ceremony is performed, in which an animal is sacrificed and its meat is distributed among the poor. The child's head is shaved, and an amount of money equaling the weight of its hair is donated to the poor. Apart from fulfilling the basic needs of food, shelter, and education, the parents or the elderly family members undertake teaching moral qualities, religious knowledge and religious practices to the children. Marriage, which serves as the foundation of a Muslim family, is a civil contract that consists of an offer and acceptance between two qualified parties in the presence of two witnesses. The groom is required to pay a bridal gift (mahr) to the bride, as stipulated in the contract. Most families in the Islamic world are monogamous. Polyandry, a practice wherein a woman takes on two or more husbands, is prohibited in Islam. However, Muslim men are allowed to practice polygyny and can have up to four wives at the same time, per Surah 4 Verse 3. A man does not need approval of his first wife for a second marriage as there is no evidence in the Qur'an or hadith to suggest this. With Muslims coming from diverse backgrounds, including 49 Muslim-majority countries, plus a strong presence as large minorities throughout the world, there are many variations on Muslim weddings. Generally, in a Muslim family, a woman's sphere of operation is the home and a man's corresponding sphere is the outside world. However, in practice, this separation is not as rigid as it appears. Regarding inheritance, a son's share is double that of a daughter's.[xvii]
Certain religious rites are performed during and after the death of a Muslim. Those near a dying man encourage him to pronounce the Shahada as Muslims want their last word to be their profession of faith. After death, according to Islamic burial rituals, members of the same gender bath the body appropriately and enshrouded it in a threefold white garment called kafan. The Salat al-Janazah ("funeral prayer") is said over the bathed and enshrouded body. Placing it on a bier, the body is first taken to a mosque where the funeral prayer is offered for the deceased, and then to the graveyard for burial.
Etiquette and diet
Many practices fall in the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with "as-salamu 'alaykum" ("peace be unto you"), saying bismillah ("in the name of God") before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking. Islamic hygienic practices mainly fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health. Circumcision of male offspring is practiced in Islam. Muslims are restricted in their diet. Prohibited foods include pork products, blood, carrion, and alcohol. All meat must come from a herbivorous animal slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, except for game that one has hunted or fished for them self. Food permissible for Muslims is known as halal food.
In Muslim society, members of the community perform various social service activities. As these activities are instructed by Islamic canonical texts, a Muslim's religious life is seen as incomplete if not attended by service to humanity. In fact, in Islamic tradition, the idea of social welfare has been presented as one of its principal values. Quran 2:177 is often cited to encapsulate the Islamic idea of social welfare.[xviii]
Similarly, duties to parents, neighbors, relatives, the sick, the old, and minorities have been defined in Islam. Respecting and obeying one's parents, and taking care of them especially in their old age have been made a religious obligation. A two-fold approach is generally prescribed regarding duty to relatives: keeping good relations with them, and offering them financial help if necessary. Severing ties with them has been admonished. Regardless of a neighbor's religious identity, Islam teaches Muslims to treat neighboring people in the best possible manner and not to cause them any difficulty. The Quran forbids harsh and oppressive treatment of orphaned children while urging kindness and justice towards them, and rebukes those who do not honor and feed them.[xix]
The Quran and the sunnah of Muhammad prescribe a comprehensive body of moral guidelines for Muslims to be followed in their personal, social, political, and religious life. Proper moral conduct, good deeds, righteousness, and good character come within the sphere of the moral guidelines. In Islam, the observance of moral virtues is always associated with religious significance because it elevates the religious status of a believer and is often seen as a supererogatory act of worshiping. One typical Islamic teaching on morality is that imposing a penalty on an offender in proportion to their offense is permissible and just; but forgiving the offender is better. To go one step further by offering a favor to the offender is regarded as the peak of excellence. The Quran says: "Good and evil cannot be equal. Respond ˹to evil˺ with what is best, then the one you are in enmity with will be like a close friend."[xx] Thus, a Muslim is expected to act only with good manners as bad manners and deeds earn vices. The fundamental moral qualities in Islam are justice, forgiveness, righteousness, kindness, honesty, and piety. Other mostly insisted moral virtues include but are not limited to charitable activities, fulfillment of promise, modesty (haya) and humility, decency in speech, tolerance, trustworthiness, patience, truthfulness, anger management, and sincerity of intention.
As a religion, Islam emphasizes the idea of having a good character as Muhammad said: "The best among you are those who have the best manners and character."[xxi] In Islam, justice is not only a moral virtue but an obligation to be fulfilled under all circumstances. The Quran and the hadith describe God as being kind and merciful to His creatures, and tell people to be kind likewise. As a virtue, forgiveness is much celebrated in Islam, and is regarded as an important Muslim practice. On modesty, Muhammad is reported as saying: "Every religion has its characteristic, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty."
Mainstream Islamic law does not distinguish between "matters of church" and "matters of state"; the scholars function as both jurists and theologians. Currently, no government conforms to Islamic economic jurisprudence, but steps have been taken to implement some of its tenets. The Sunni and Shia sectarian divide effects intergovernmental Muslim relations such as between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Muhammad's revelations (610–632)
Islamic tradition views Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) as the seal of the prophets, sent by God to the rest of mankind. During the last 22 years of his life, beginning at age 40 in 610 CE, according to the earliest surviving biographies, Muhammad reported receiving revelations from God, conveyed to him through the archangel Gabriel while he was meditating in a cave. Muhammad's companions memorized and recorded the content of these revelations, known as the Quran.
During this time, while in Mecca, Muhammed preached to the people, imploring them to abandon polytheism and worship one God. Although some converted to Islam, the leading Meccan authorities persecuted Muhammad and his followers. This resulted in the Migration to Abyssinia of some Muslims (to the Aksumite Empire). Many early converts to Islam were the poor, foreigners, and former slaves like Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi. The Meccan elite felt Muhammad was destabilizing their social order by preaching about one God and about racial equality, and that in the process he gave ideas to the poor and their slaves.
After 12 years of the persecution of Muslims by the Meccans and the Meccan boycott of the Hashemites, Muhammad's relatives, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra ("emigration") in AD 622 to the city of Yathrib (current-day Medina). There, with the Medinan converts (the Ansar) and the Meccan migrants (the Muhajirun), Muhammad in Medina established his political and religious authority. The Constitution of Medina was formulated, instituting a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and pagan communities of Medina, bringing them within the fold of one community—the Ummah.[b]
The Constitution established:
- the security of the community
- religious freedoms
- the role of Medina as a sacred place (barring all violence and weapons)
- the security of women
- stable tribal relations within Medina
- a tax system for supporting the community in the time of conflict
- parameters for exogenous political alliances
- a system for granting protection of individuals
- a judicial system for resolving disputes where non-Muslims could also use their own laws and have their own judges.
All the tribes signed the agreement to defend Medina from all external threats and live in harmony amongst themselves. Within a few years, two battles took place against the Meccan forces: first, the Battle of Badr in 624—a Muslim victory—and then a year later, when the Meccans returned to Medina, the Battle of Uhud, which ended inconclusively.
The Arab tribes in the rest of Arabia then formed a confederation and during the Battle of the Trench (March–April 627) besieged Medina, intent on finishing off Islam. In 628, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed between Mecca and the Muslims and was broken by Mecca two years later. After the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, many more people converted to Islam. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control. By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 (at age 62) he had united the tribes of Arabia into a single religious polity.
The earliest three generations of Muslims are known as the Salaf, with the companions of Muhammad being known as the Sahaba. Many of them, such as the largest narrator of hadith Abu Hureyrah, recorded and compiled what would constitute the sunnah.
Caliphate and civil strife (632–750)
With Muhammad's death in 632, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Abu Bakr, Muhammad's companion and close friend, was made the first caliph. Under Abu Bakr, Muslims put down a rebellion by Arab tribes in an episode known as the Ridda wars or "Wars of Apostasy". The Quran was compiled into a single volume at this time.
Abu Bakr's death in 634, about two years after he was elected, which resulted in the succession of Umar ibn al-Khattab as the caliph, followed by Uthman ibn al-Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hasan ibn Ali. The first four caliphs are known in Sunni Islam as al-khulafā' ar-rāshidūn ("Rightly Guided Caliphs"). Under the caliphs, the territory under Muslim rule expanded deeply into parts of the Persian and Byzantine territories.
When Umar was assassinated by Persians in 644, the election of Uthman as successor was met with increasing opposition. In 656, Uthman was also killed, and Ali assumed the position of caliph. This led to the first civil war (the "First Fitna") over who should be caliph. The Kharijites have been one of the main contenders within the war. They hold the sins of the caliphs put them outside of Islam and called for killing them as apostates. Unlike for the later Sunnis and Shia, a caliph requires piety only and does not need to be a descendant of Muhammad, his family, or his tribe. The Kharijites assassinated Ali in 661. To avoid further fighting, the new caliph Hasan ibn Ali signed a peace treaty, abdicating to Mu'awiyah, beginning the Umayyad dynasty, in return that he does not name his own successor. These disputes over religious and political leadership would give rise to a schism in the Muslim community. The majority accepted the legitimacy of the first four leaders and became known as Sunnis. A minority disagreed and believed that only Ali and some of his descendants should rule; they became known as the Shia. The Kharijites failed to nominate their caliph as aspirants were easily accused of sin and regarded as apostates. Mu'awiyah appointed his son, Yazid I, as successor, and after Mu'awiyah's death in 680, the "second civil war" broke out, where Husayn ibn Ali was killed at the Battle of Karbala, a significant event in Shia Islam. Sunni Islam and Shia Islam differ in some respects.
The Murji'ah was another sect in early Islam. They taught it would be best to withhold any judgment about the caliphs and defer a final judgment about people's righteousness to God alone. Living wrongdoers could best be considered misguided but not denounced as unbelievers. They adhered to unity among Muslims and advised not to participate in war with other Muslims, except for defense. Their conciliatory principles made them popular among Muslims, especially Non-Arab Muslims. Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafi (c. 699–767) school of Sunni jurisprudence, was often associated with the Murji'ah. In his al-Fiqh al-Akbar I he lay down probably the oldest surviving work regarding early Muslim creed, advocating respect for all the companions of Muhammad, withholding judgment regarding Uthman and Ali and predeterminism. His works were fundamental to later Sunni theology, Hanbilism being an exception.
The Umayyad dynasty conquered the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Narbonnese Gaul and Sindh. Local populations of Jews and indigenous Christians, persecuted as religious minorities and taxed heavily to finance the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars, often helped Muslims take over their lands from the Byzantines and Persians, resulting in exceptionally speedy conquests.
The generation after the death of Muhammad but contemporaries of his companions are known as the Tabi'un, followed by the Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in. The Caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz set up the influential committee, The Seven Fuqaha of Medina, headed by Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Malik ibn Anas wrote one of the earliest books on Islamic jurisprudence, the Muwatta, as a consensus of the opinion of those jurists.
The descendants of Muhammad's uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib rallied discontented non-Arab converts (mawali), poor Arabs, and some Shi'a against the Umayyads and overthrew them, inaugurating the Abbasid dynasty in 750.
The first Muslim states independent of a unified Islamic state emerged from the Berber Revolt (739/740-743).
Classical era (750–1258)
Al-Shafi'i codified a method to determine the reliability of hadith. During the early Abbasid era, scholars such as Bukhari and Muslim compiled the major Sunni hadith collections while scholars like Al-Kulayni and Ibn Babawayh compiled major Shia hadith collections. The four Sunni Madh'habs, the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, and Shafi'i, were established around the teachings of Abū Ḥanīfa, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Malik ibn Anas and al-Shafi'i, while the teachings of Ja'far al-Sadiq formed the Ja'fari jurisprudence. In the 9th century, al-Shafi'i provided a theoretical basis for Islamic law and introduced its first methods by a synthesis between the proto-rationalism of Iraqi jurisprudence and the pragmatic approach of the Hejaz traditions, in his book ar-Risālah. He also codified a method to determine the reliability of hadith. However, Islamic law would not be codified until 1869. In the 9th century Al-Tabari completed the first commentary of the Quran, that became one of the most cited commentaries in Sunni Islam, the Tafsir al-Tabari.
Some Muslims began questioning the piety of indulgence in worldly life and emphasized poverty, humility, and avoidance of sin based on renunciation of bodily desires. Ascetics such as Hasan al-Basri would inspire a movement that would evolve into Tasawwuf or Sufism. Hasan al Basri opposed the Umayyad governors of Iraq and the violent rebellion of the Kharijites. Connected to his political dissent was his rigorist view of sin: He denied God was the source of all human actions, emphasized responsibility and free will instead. For Hasan al Basri, although God knows the actions of people, God only created good and evil comes from the devil and abuse of free will.[c] Basran al Wasil ibn Ata (d. 748), an associate of Hasan al-Basri is usually considered the originator, along with Amr ibn Ubayd (699-761) of Mu‘tazilism, a school of thought ultimately rooted in Greek philosophy and known for upholding the doctrine of free-will. However, the main doctrine, the Five Principles, is probably developed by Abu’l-Hudhayl al-Allaf (c. 753–841).
Abbasid Caliphs Mamun al Rashid and Al-Mu'tasim made the Mu'tazilite theology an official creed. Ahmad ibn Hanbal opposed most of the Mu'tazilite doctrines, for which he was imprisoned and sent to an unlit Baghdad prison cell for nearly thirty months. He became a representative for traditionalistic Sunni theology, trying to minimalize reason and applying to literal readings. Later Sunnis also condemned the Mutazilite idea of the creation of the Quran. Al-Ash'ari and Maturidi founded the scholastic theology of Sunni Islam (kalam) Ash'arism and Maturidism, respectively.
By the end of the 9th century, Ismaili Shias spread in Iran, whereupon the city of Multan became a target of activistic Sunni politics. In 930, the Ismaili group known as the Qarmatians rebelled unsuccessfully against the Abbassids, sacked Mecca and stole the Black Stone, which was eventually retrieved.
With the expansion of the Abbasid Caliphate into the Sasanian Empire, Islam adapted many Hellenistic and Persian concepts, imported by thinkers of Iranian or Turkic origin. Philosophers such as Al-Farabi (872 – 950/951) and Avicenna (c. 980 – June 1037) sought to incorporate Greek principles into Islamic theology, while others like Al-Ghazali (c. 1058 – 1111) argued against such syncretism and ultimately prevailed. Avicenna pioneered the science of experimental medicine, and was the first physician to conduct clinical trials. His two most notable works, The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine, were used as standard medicinal texts in the Islamic world and later in Europe. Amongst his contributions are the discovery of the contagious nature of infectious diseases, and the introducing clinical pharmacology. In mathematics, the mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi gave his name to the concept of the algorithm, while the term algebra is derived from al-jabr. The Persian poet Ferdowsi wrote his epic poem Shahnameh. Rumi (1207 – 1273) wrote some of the finest Persian poetry and is still one of the best selling poets in America. Legal institutions introduced include the trust and charitable trust (Waqf).
This era is sometimes called the "Islamic Golden Age". Public hospitals established during this time (called Bimaristan hospitals), are considered "the first hospitals" in the modern sense of the word, and issued the first medical diplomas to license doctors. The Guinness World Records recognizes the University of Al Karaouine, founded in 859, as the world's oldest degree-granting university. The doctorate is argued to date back to the licenses to teach in Islamic law schools. Standards of experimental and quantification techniques, as well as the tradition of citation, were introduced. An important pioneer in this, Ibn al-Haytham (c. 965 – c. 040) is regarded as the father of the modern scientific method and often referred to as the "world's first true scientist". The government paid scientists the equivalent salary of professional athletes today. It is argued that the data used by Copernicus for his heliocentric conclusions was gathered and that Al-Jahiz (776–868/869) proposed a theory of natural selection.
While the Abbasid Caliphate suffered a decline following the reign of Al-Wathiq (842–847) and Al-Mu'tadid (892–902), the Mongol Empire put an end to the Abbassid dynasty in 1258. During its decline, the Abbasid Caliphate disintegrated into minor states and dynasties, such as the Tulunid and the Ghaznavid dynasty. The Ghaznavid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty established by Turkic slave-soldiers from another Islamic empire, the Samanid Empire. Two other Turkish tribes, the Karahanids and the Seljuks, converted to Islam during the 10th century. They were later subdued by the Ottomans, who share the same origin and language. The Seljuks played an important role in the revival of Sunnism, when Shi'ism increased its influence. The Seljuk military 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.
Pre-Modern era (1258–18th century)
After the Mongol conquests and the final decline of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Mongol Empire enabled cross-cultural exchanges throughout Asia. People could practice any religion as long as it did not interfere with the interests of the ruling Khan. The new social and political tolerance brought by the Ilkhanate, which was ruled by the grandson of Genghis Khan and had converted to Sunni Islam, allowed science and arts to flourish even in previously forbidden aspects and extended Middle Eastern influence up to China.
In scholasticism, Ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328), who did not accept the Mongols' conversion to Sunnism, worried about the integrity of Islam and tried to establish a theological doctrine to purify Islam from its alleged alterations. Unlike contemporary scholarship, which relied on traditions and historical narratives from early Islam, Ibn Taymiyya's methodology was a mixture of the selective use of hadith and a literal understanding of the Quran. He rejected most philosophical approaches to Islam and proposed a clear, simple and dogmatic theology instead. Another major characteristic of his theological approach emphasized the significance of a theocratic state. While prevailing opinion held that religious wisdom was necessary for a state, Ibn Taymiyya regarded political power as necessary for religious excellence. He rejected many hadiths circulating among Muslims during his time and relied repeatedly on only Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim to refute Asharite doctrine. Feeling threatened by the Crusaders and by the Mongols, Ibn Taymiyya stated it would be obligatory for Muslims to join a physical jihad against non-Muslims. This not only included the invaders but also the heretics among the Muslims, including Shias, Asharites and "philosophers", who Ibn Taymiyya blamed for the deterioration of Islam. Nevertheless, his writings only played a marginal role during his lifetime. He was repeatedly accused of blasphemy by anthropomorphizing God, and his disciple Ibn Kathir distanced himself from his mentor and negated that aspect of his teachings. Yet, some of Ibn Taimiyya's teaching probably influenced his methodology on exegesis in his Tafsir, which discounted much of the exegetical tradition since then. The writings of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir became important sources for Wahhabism and 21st century Salafi theology,
The Timurid Renaissance was observed in the Timurid Empire based in Central Asia. Ruled by the Timurid dynasty, it experienced phenomenal growth in the fields of arts and sciences, covering both the eastern and western world. Outstanding throughout the stages of the Renaissance were the inventions of numerous devices and the constructions of Islamic learning centres, mosques, necropolises and observatories. Herat, like Florence the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, was the focal point of a cultural rebirth. Such aspects were seen to be strongly influenced across Islamic Gunpowder empires, mainly in Mughal India.
The Reconquista launched against Muslim principalities in Iberia succeeded in 1492. Through Muslim trade networks, the activity of Sufi orders, and the conquests of the Gunpowder Empires, Islam spread into Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Malay archipelago. Conversion to Islam, however, was not a sudden abandonment of old religious practices; rather, it was typically a matter of "assimilating Islamic rituals, cosmologies, and literatures into... local religious systems". Throughout this expanse, Islam blended with local cultures everywhere, as illustrated by the prophet Muhammad's appearance in Hindu epics and folklore. Muslims in China, who were descended from earlier immigrants, began to assimilate by adopting Chinese names and culture while Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study. Turkish Muslims incorporated elements of Turkish Shamanism, which to this date differs from Turkish synthesis of Islam from other Muslim societies, and became a part of a new Islamic interpretation, although Shamanistic influences already occurred during the Battle of Talas (752). Strikingly, Muslim heresiographers never mentioned Shamans. One major change was in the status of women. Unlike Arabic traditions, the Turkic traditions held women in higher regard in society. The Turks must have also found striking similarities between Sufi rituals and Shaman practices. Shamanism influenced orthodox Muslims in Anatolia, Central-Asia and Balkans, who subscribed to it producing Alevism. As a result, many Shamanic traditions were perceived as Islamic, with beliefs such as sacred nature, trees, animals and foreign nature spirits remaining today.
The Ottoman Caliphate, under the Ottoman dynasty of the Ottoman Empire, was the last caliphate of the late medieval and the early modern era. It is important to note that a symbiosis between Ottoman rulers and Sufism strongly influenced Islamic reign by the Ottomans from the beginning. According to Ottoman historiography, the legitimation of a ruler is attributed to Sheikh Edebali who interpreted a dream of Osman Gazi as God's legitimation of his reign. Since Murad I's conquest of Edirne in 1362, the caliphate was claimed by the Turkish sultans of the empire. During the period of Ottoman growth, claims on caliphal authority were recognized in 1517 as Selim I became the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina through the conquering and unification of Muslim lands, strengthening their claim to the caliphate in the Muslim world. The Mevlevi Order and Bektashi Order had a close relation to the sultans, as Sufi-mystical as well as heterodox and syncretic approaches to Islam flourished. Under the Ottoman Empire, Islam spread to Southeast Europe. In Ottoman understanding, the state's primary responsibility was to defend and extend the land of the Muslims, and to ensure security and harmony within its borders in the overarching context of orthodox Islamic practice and dynastic sovereignty.
The Shia Safavid dynasty rose to power in 1501 and later conquered all of Iran. At that time, the majority and oldest group among the Shia, the Zaydis, named after the great-grandson of Ali, the scholar Zayd ibn Ali, used the Hanafi jurisprudence, as did most Sunnis. The ensuing conversion of Iran to Twelver Shia Islam ensured the final dominance of the Twelver sect within Shiism over the Zaidi and Ismaili sects. Nader Shah, who overthrew the Safavids, attempted to improve relations with Sunnis by propagating the integration of Twelverism into Sunni Islam as a fifth madhhab, called Ja'farism. However, Ja'farism failed to gain recognition from the Ottomans.
In the Indian Subcontinent, during the rule of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji in Bengal, the Indian Islamic missionaries achieved their greatest success in terms of dawah and the number of converts to Islam. The Delhi Sultanate, founded by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, emerged as India's first Islamic power, well known for being one of the few states to repel an attack by the Mongols and enthroning one of the few female rulers in Islamic history, Razia Sultana. The wealthy Islamic Bengal Sultanate was subsequently founded, a major global trading nation in the world, described by the Europeans to be the "richest country to trade with". Babur, a direct descendant of Tamerlane and Genghis Khan, founded the Mughal Empire. It was briefly interrupted by the Suri Empire founded by Sher Shah Suri, who re-initiated the rupee currency system. The Mughals gained power during the reign of Akbar the Great and Jahangir. The reign of Shah Jahan observed the height of Indo-Islamic architecture, with notable monuments such as Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid, Delhi, while the reign of his son Aurangzeb saw the compilation of the Fatwa Alamgiri (the most well organized fiqh manuscript), and victory over the English in the Anglo-Mughal War, and witnessed the peak of the Islamic rule in India. Mughal India surpassed Qing China to become the world's largest economy, worth 25% of world GDP, the Bengal Subah signalling the proto-industrialization and showing signs of the Industrial revolution. After Mughal India's collapse, Tipu Sultan's Kingdom of Mysore based in South India, which witnessed partial establishment of sharia-based economic and military policies i.e. Fathul Mujahidin, replaced Bengal ruled by the Nawabs of Bengal as South Asia's foremost economic territory. After Indian independence, the Nizams of Hyderabad remained as the major Muslim princely state until the Annexation of Hyderabad by the modern Republic of India.
Modern era (18th – 20th centuries)
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. He was deeply influenced by the works of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim and condemned many traditional Islamic practices, such as visiting the grave of Muhammad or Saints, as sin. During this period he formed an alliance with the Saud family, who founded the Wahhabi sect. 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. Many Arab nationalists, such as Rashid Rida, regarded the Caliphate as an Arab right taken away by the Turks. Therefore, they rebelled against the Ottoman Sultanate until the Ottoman Empire disintegrated after World War I and the Caliphate was abolished in 1924. Concurrently Ibn Saud conquered Mecca, the "heartland of Islam", to impose Wahhabism as part of Islamic culture.
The Muslim world was generally in political decline starting the 1800s, 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 East India Company had formally annexed the Mughal dynasty in India. As a response to Western Imperialism, many intellectuals sought to reform Islam. They aimed to unite Muslims into one international brotherhood with collective opinions and goals. For many such reformers, theological and religious matters played only a marginal role. They focused on social aspects within Muslim communities instead. In the 19th century, the Deobandi and Barelwi movements were initiated.
The Barelwi movement, founded in India, emphasises the primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the prophet Muhammad. It grew from the writings of Ahmed Raza Khan, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, Shah Ahmad Noorani and Mohammad Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi in the backdrop of an intellectual and moral decline of Muslims in British India. The movement was a mass movement, defending popular Sufism and reforming its practices, and grew in response to the Deobandi movement. The movement is famous for the celebration of Mawlid and today, is spread across the globe with followers also in Pakistan, South Africa, United States, and United Kingdom among other countries.
At the end of the 19th century, Muslim reformers including Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani sought to reconcile Islam with the 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. Due to their adherence to the Salafs, they called themselves Salafiyya. However, they differ from the Salafi movement that flourished in the second half of the 20th century, rooted in the Wahhabi movement. Instead, they are also often called Islamic modernists. They rejected the Sunni schools of law and allowed Ijtihad.
On 3 March 1924, the first President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as part of his secular reforms, constitutionally abolished the institution of the caliphate. The Ottoman Caliphate, the world's last widely recognized caliphate, was no more and its powers within Turkey were transferred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the parliament of the newly formed Turkish Republic and the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
Postmodern times (20th century–present)
Jamal-al-Din al-Afghaniand his acolyte Muhammad Abduh have been credited as forerunners of the Islamic revival. Abul A'la Maududi helped influence modern political Islam. Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood advocate Islam as a comprehensive political solution, often despite being banned. In Iran, revolution replaced a secular regime with an Islamic state. 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. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), consisting of Muslim-majority countries, was established in 1969 after the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Contact with industrialized nations brought Muslim populations to new areas through economic migration. Many Muslims migrated as indentured servants (most from India and Indonesia) to the Caribbean, forming the largest Muslim populations by percentage in the Americas. The resulting urbanization and increase in trade in sub-Saharan Africa brought Muslims to settle in new areas and spread their faith, likely doubling its Muslim population between 1869 and 1914. Muslim immigrants began arriving largely from former colonies in several Western European nations since the 1960s, many as guest workers.
There are more and more new Muslim intellectuals who increasingly separate perennial Islamic beliefs from archaic cultural traditions. Across the internet, marginal groups, often tied to the Salafi movement, spread their teachings as purely Islamic, downplaying the authority of traditional institutions. Over time, traditional scholars tried gaining back authority by entering cyberspace. For example, Al-Azhar founded a database for several fatwas accessible online. Further, online access to many Islamic sources led to many personal interpretations of Islam, especially among younger Muslims, creating an "individualized" Islam. Liberal Islam refers to movements that attempt to reconcile religious tradition with modern norms of secular governance and human rights. Its supporters say there are multiple ways to read Islam's sacred texts, and they stress the need to leave room for "independent thought on religious matters". Women's issues receive significant weight in the modern discourse on Islam.
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. About half a million Muslims were killed in Cambodia by communists who, some argue, viewed them as their primary enemy and wished to exterminate them since they stood out and worshiped their own god. In Turkey, the military carried out coups to oust Islamist governments, and headscarves were banned in official buildings, as also happened in Tunisia.
Salafism, an ultraconservative Islamic movement, appears to be deepening worldwide. In many places, the prevalence of the hijab is growing increasingly common and the percentage of Muslims favoring sharia has increased. With religious guidance increasingly available electronically, Muslims can access views that are strict enough for them rather than rely on state clerics who are often seen as stooges. It is estimated that, by 2050, the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world, "due to the young age and high fertility-rate of Muslims relative to other religious groups". While the religious conversion has no net impact on the Muslim population growth as "the number of people who become Muslims through conversion seems to be roughly equal to the number of Muslims who leave the faith". Perhaps as a sign of these changes, most experts agree Islam is growing faster than any other faith in East and West Africa.
The largest denomination in Islam is Sunni Islam, which makes up 85–90% of all Muslims, and is arguably the world's largest religious denomination. Sunni Muslims also go by the name Ahl as-Sunnah which means "people of the tradition [of Muhammad]".
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 interpreting Islamic affairs.
The Sunnis follow the Quran and the Hadith, which are recorded in Sunni traditions known as Al-Kutub Al-Sittah (six major books). For legal matters derived from the Quran or the Hadith, many follow four sunni madhhabs: Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i. All four accept the validity of the others, and a Muslim may choose any one that they find agreeable.
Sunni schools of theology encompass Asharism founded by Al-Ashʿarī (c. 874–936), Maturidi by Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (853–944 CE) and traditionalist theology under the leadership of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855 CE). Traditionalist theology is characterized by its adherence to a literal understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah, the belief in the Quran being uncreated and eternal, and opposition to reason (kalam) in religious and ethical matters. On the other hand, Maturidism asserts, scripture is not needed for basic ethics and that good and evil can be understood by reason alone. Maturidi's doctrine, based on Hanafi law, asserted man's capacity and will alongside the supremacy of God in man's acts, providing a doctrinal framework for more flexibility, adaptability, and syncretism. Maturidism especially flourished in Central Asia. Nevertheless, people would rely on revelation, because reason alone could not grasp the whole truth. Asharism holds ethics can derive just from divine revelation, but not from human reason. However, Asharism accepts reason regarding exegetical matters and combines Muʿtazila approaches with traditionalist ideas.
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. Similarly, Ahl al-Hadith is a movement that deemphasized sources of jurisprudence outside the Quran and Hadith, such as informed opinion (ra'y).
Nurcu is a Sunni movement founded at the beginning of the twentieth century based on the writings of Said Nursi (1877–1960). His philosophy is based on Hanafi law and further incorporates elements of Sufism. He emphasized the importance of salvation in both life and the afterlife through education and freedom, the synthesis of Islam and science and democracy as the best form of governance within the rule of law. Through faith by inquiry instead of faith by imitation, Muslims would reject philosophies such as positivism, materialism and atheism emerging from the Western world of his time. His notion of sharia is twofold. Sharia applies to the voluntary actions of human beings and denotes the set of laws of nature. Both ultimately derive from one source, which is God. His works on the Quran in the Risale-i Nur were translated into almost all languages of Central Asia. From Nurcu other movements such as the Gülen movement derived.
The Shia constitute 10–15% of Islam and are its second-largest branch.
While the Sunnis believe a Caliph should be elected by the community, Shia believe that Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, as his successor and only certain descendants of Ali could hold positions of power. As a result, they believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim caliphs Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn al-Affan, and Umar ibn al-Khattab. 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. However, Jafar al-Sadiq himself disapproved of people who disapproved of his great-grandfather Abu Bakr, and Zayd ibn Ali revered Abu Bakr and Umar. More recently, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemned the practice.
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. After the death of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq who is considered the sixth Imam by the Twelvers and the Ismailis, the Ismailis recognized his son Isma'il ibn Jafar as his successor whereas the Twelver Shia followed his other son Musa al-Kadhim as the seventh Imam. 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 and the Alawites and Alevi. Some Shia branches label other Shia branches that do not agree with their doctrine as Ghulat (extremists).
The Quranists are Muslims who generally believe that Islamic law and guidance should only be based on the Quran, rejecting the Sunnah, thus partially or completely doubting the religious authority, reliability or authenticity of the hadith literature, which they claim are fabricated.
There were first critics of the hadith traditions as early as the time of the scholar asch-Schāfiʿī; however, their arguments found little favor among Muslims. From the 19th century onward, reformist thinkers like Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Abdullah Chakralawi, and later Ghulam Ahmad Parwez in India began to question the hadith and the Islamic tradition systematically. At the same time, there was a long-standing discussion on the sole authority of the Quran in Egypt, initiated by an article by Muhammad Tawfīq Sidqī titled "Islam is the Quran Alone" (al-Islām huwa l-Qurʾān waḥda-hū) in the magazine al-Manār. Quranism also took on a political dimension in the 20th century when Muammar al-Gaddafi declared the Quran to be the constitution of Libya. In America, Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian-American biochemist and discoverer of the Quran code (Code 19), which is a hypothetical mathematical code in the Quran, founded the organization "United Submitters International".
Sometimes the rejection of the hadith leads to differences in the way religion is practiced, for example, in the ritual prayer. While some Quranists traditionally pray five times a day, others reduce the number to three or even two daily prayers. There are also different views on the details of prayer or other pillars of Islam, like zakāt (almsgiving), fasting, or the Hajj.
- mostThe Ibadi sect dates back to the early days of Islam and is a branch of Kharijite practiced by 1.45 million Muslims around the world (~ 0.08% of all Muslims). Ibadis make up a majority of the population in Oman. Unlike most Kharijite groups, Ibadism does not regard sinful Muslims as unbelievers.
- Bektashi Alevism is a syncretic and heterodox local Islamic tradition, whose adherents follow the mystical (bāṭenī) teachings of Ali and Haji Bektash Veli. Alevism incorporates Turkish beliefs present during the 14th century, such as Shamanism and Animism, mixed with Shias and Sufi beliefs, adopted by some Turkish tribes. It has been estimated that there are 10 million to over 20 million (~ 0.5% - ~ 1% of all Muslims) Alevis worldwide.
- The Ahmadiyya movement is an Islamic reform movement (with Sunni roots) founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad that began in India in 1889 and is practiced by 10 to 20 million Muslims around the world.[d]
Ahmad claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies concerning the arrival of the "Imam Mahdi" and the "Promised Messiah". However, the movement is rejected by most Muslims as heretical since it believes in ongoing prophethood after the death of Muhammad. Ahmadis have been subject to religious persecution and discrimination since the movement's inception in 1889.
- Mahdavia is an Islamic sect that believes in a 15th-century Mahdi, Muhammad Jaunpuri.
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. Prominent figures who refused to identify with a particular Islamic denomination have included Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Recent surveys report that large proportions of Muslims in some parts of the world self-identify as "just Muslim", although there is little published analysis available regarding the motivations underlying this response. The Pew Research Center reports that respondents self-identifying as "just Muslim" make up a majority of Muslims in seven countries (and a plurality in three others), with the highest proportion in Kazakhstan at 74%. 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. Yazdânism is seen as a blend of local Kurdish beliefs and Islamic Sufi doctrine introduced to Kurdistan by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir in the 12th century. Bábism stems from Twelver Shia passed through Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad i-Shirazi al-Bab while one of his followers Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri Baha'u'llah founded the Baháʼí Faith. Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak in late-fifteenth-century Punjab, incorporates aspects of both Islam and Hinduism.
A 2015 demographic study reported that 24.1% of the global population, or 1.8 billion people, are Muslims. Of those, it has been estimated that 85–90% are Sunni and 10–15% are Shia, with a minority belonging to other sects. Approximately 49 countries are Muslim-majority, and Arabs account for around 20% of all Muslims worldwide. The number of Muslims worldwide increased from 200 million in 1900 to 551 million in 1970, and tripled to 1.6 billion by 2010.
Most Muslims live in Asia and Africa. Approximately 62% of the world's Muslims live in Asia, with over 683 million adherents in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. In the Middle East, non-Arab countries such as Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries; in Africa, Nigeria and Egypt have the most populous Muslim communities.
Most estimates indicate China has approximately 20 to 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population). However, data provided by the San Diego State University's International Population Center to U.S. News & World Report suggests China has 65.3 million Muslims. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity in many European countries, and is slowly catching up to that status in the Americas, with between 2,454,000, according to Pew Forum, and approximately 7 million Muslims, according to the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), in the United States.
Religious conversion has little net impact on the Muslim population as the number of people who convert to Islam is roughly similar to those who leave it. Growth rates of Islam in Europe were due primarily to immigration and higher birth rates of Muslims in 2005.
The term "Islamic culture" can 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. Finally, "Islamic civilization" may also refer to the aspects of the synthesized culture of the early Caliphates, including that of non-Muslims, sometimes referred to as "Islamicate".
Perhaps the most important expression of Islamic architecture is that of the mosque. Varying cultures influence mosque architecture. For example, North African and Spanish Islamic architecture such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan contains marble and porphyry columns from Roman and Byzantine buildings, while mosques in Indonesia often have multi-tiered roofs from local Javanese styles. The Ottomans mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet massive domes, and achieving perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as light and shadow.
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onward by people (not necessarily Muslim) who lived within the territory that was inhabited by Muslim populations. It includes fields as varied as architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics, among others.
While not condemned in the Quran, making images of human beings and animals is frowned upon in many Islamic cultures and connected with laws against idolatry common to all Abrahamic religions. Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood reported Muhammad said, "Those who will be most severely punished by Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers" (reported by al-Bukhaari)[clarification needed].[xxii] 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. Siyah Qalam (Black Pen), frequently depicts demonic creatures (div) from Islamic narratives, but seem of Central Asian origin. The existence of this aversion to creating images of animate beings has been used to explain the prevalence of calligraphy, tessellation, and pattern are key aspects of Islamic artistic culture.
Caliph Umar reportedly chose the formal beginning of the Muslim era to be the Hijra in 622 CE, which was an important turning point in Muhammad's fortunes. It is a lunar calendar with days lasting from sunset to sunset. Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, meaning they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. The most important Islamic festivals are Eid al-Fitr (Arabic|عيد الف) on the 1st of Shawwal, marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha (Arabic|عيد الأضحى) on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, coinciding with the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage).
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, often explaining it in apocalyptic terms. Later, criticism from the Muslim world itself appeared, as well as from Jewish writers and from ecclesiastical Christians. Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the Quran are also discussed by critics.
Islamic salvation optimism and its carnality were criticized by Christian writers. 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 the 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 the Gospel of Matthew.
Defamatory images of Muhammad, derived from early 7th century depictions of the Byzantine Church, appear in the 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Here, Muhammad appears in the eighth circle of hell, along with Ali. Dante does not blame Islam as a whole but accuses Muhammad of schism, by establishing another religion after Christianity.
Other criticisms focus on the question of human rights in modern Muslim-majority countries, and the treatment of women in Islamic law and practice. In the wake of the recent multiculturalism trend, Islam's influence on the ability of Muslim immigrants in the West to assimilate has been criticized. Both in his public and personal life, others objected to the morality of Muhammad, therefore also the sunnah as a role model.
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