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An introduction to the faith, culture and people of Islam


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Title: An introduction to the faith, culture and people of Islam

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the
  • An introduction to the faith, culture and people
    of Islam
  • by
  • Dr. Sahib Mustaqim Bleher

  • Muslims in the World
  • History of Islam
  • Beliefs and practice
  • Key differences
  • Misconceptions
  • Questions/Answers

Muslims in the World
  • 1.2 billion, Muslims represent just over 20 of
    the world's population 1 of 5 humans in the
    world is a Muslim
  • Second largest religion in the world
  • Fastest growing including Europe and America

(No Transcript)
World Distribution of Muslims
Source  Britannica Yearbook, 1997
Muslims in Britain
  • 1.6 million Muslims live in the UK
  • 3 of general UK population
  • Higher concentrations in metropolitan areas, e.g
  • 8.5 of London population
  • Disproportionate presence in custody
  • 8 of prison population in UK (x2.67)

Coin with Islamic inscription issued by
Anglo-Saxon King Offa of Mercia, 8th century
History of Islam
  • Monotheistic Tradition
  • Prophet Muhammad in Arabia
  • Expansion and development
  • Fall of the Caliphate

Monotheistic Tradition
  • Islam literally means achieving peace with
    oneself and ones environment through submission
    to God
  • It is seen as a continuation of the previous
    monotheistic teachings, particularly Judaism and
    Christianity (the people of the Book)
  • The Quran confirms the Torah, the Psalms and the
    Gospel as divinely revealed scriptures before the

Monotheistic Tradition
  • Most of the prophets mentioned in the Quran are
    known to the previous traditions
  • Adam (Adam), Idris, Nuh (Noah), Hud, Saleh, Lut
    (Lot), Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq
    (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Shuayb
    (Jethro), Ayyub (Job), Musa (Moses), Harun
    (Aaron), Dawud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), Yunus
    (Jonah), Ilyas (Elijah), Al-Yasa (Elisha),
    Dhu-l-Kifl, Zakariya (Zechariah), Yahya (John),
    Isa (Jesus)

Prophet Muhammad in Arabia
  • Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born in Arabia
    in 570 and received the first revelation at the
    age of 40.
  • After 10 years in Makkah, where the growing faith
    was soon persecuted, he emigrated with his
    followers to Madinah in 622. This is known as the
    Hijrah and marks the beginning of the Muslim
    lunar calendar.
  • During the remaining 13 years of his life he laid
    the foundation for the city state at the heart of
    the growing Muslim sphere of influence.

Expansion and development
  • Islamic rule spread within decades to the three
    continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
  • The developing civilisation absorbed and adapted
    the heritage of ancient people like Egypt, Persia
    and Greece and excelled in art, architecture,
    astronomy, geography, history, linguistics,
    literature, medicine, mathematics and physics,
    laying the foundation for European enlightenment.

Expansion and development
  • At the same time the Islamic sciences of Quranic
    studies (Tafsir), Hadith classification, Islamic
    jurisprudence (Fiqh) matured, leading to a wealth
    of religious literature which formed the
    foundation for subsequent development.

Fall of the Caliphate
  • Soon after the death of the prophet, however,
    Islam also saw numerous political upheavals,
    leading, for example to the split between Sunni
    and Shia traditions.
  • In spite of power struggles within the Islamic
    territory, for most of the time there was some
    kind of political unity.
  • The dissolution of the Caliphate at the end of
    WWI and the resulting age of colonialism
    presented Muslims across the world with a new
    phenomenon of fragmentation and disunity from
    which they have still not recovered to date.

Beliefs and practice
  • Five pillars
  • Halal and haram
  • Variations within Islam
  • Relationship to other faiths

The five pillars of Islam
  • Declaration of faith (Shahadah)
  • Prayer (Salah)
  • Charity (Zakah)
  • Fasting (Saum)
  • Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Beliefs of Islam
  • Allah
  • Angels
  • Scriptures
  • Messengers
  • Predestination
  • Hereafter

BeliefAllah One God
  • Allah is the Arabic name for God used by Muslims
    of the world as well as Arab Christians.
  • Say He is God, the One and Only  God, the
    Eternal, Absolute  He begets not, nor is He
    begotten And there is none like Him. (The Quran,
    Surah 112)

Belief The Angels
  • Part of the belief in the unseen is the belief in
    other forms of creation (the angels made from
    light the Jinn (spirits, demons) made from the
    essence of fire)
  • Some angels have specific tasks Jibril (Gabriel)
    brings the revelation, Israfil delivers commands
    and blows the trumpet on the day of judgment,
    Mikail (Michael) is the bringer of blessing and
    in charge of nature, Izrail the angel of death.
  • Our deeds are recorded by two personal angels

Belief Scriptures The Quran
  • Revealed over 23 years in Makkah and Madinah
  • Both memorised and recorded in writing, todays
    copy is proven to be exactly the same as at the
    time of revelation
  • 114 Surahs (chapters) divided in Ayahs
  • Explanation (Tafsir) takes account of historic
    situation, linguistic understanding, and context
    of other verses
  • Recited in Arabic during prayer translations are
    accepted for personal use, but not authoritative

BeliefMessengers - Muhammad
  • Descendant of Ishmael, the first son of Abraham.
  • Born in Mecca, Arabia, in the year 570
  • Received first revelation at the age 40 through
    angel Gabriel.
  • Died in the year 632 C.E, after preaching Islam
    for 23 years.
  • Seal of the chain of prophets no more prophets
    to follow.

Belief Predestination (Qadr)
  • We are accountable for our deeds, but cannot
    influence the events we encounter, which are
    intended to test us
  • Our knowledge is limited, but the Creator has
    complete knowledge of past present and future
  • The belief in predestination helps in times of
    affliction but is not intended to prevent us from
    trying our best

BeliefThe Hereafter
  • Life is part of a journey from God back to God
  • Life has a purpose we are on trial with regard
    to our behaviour
  • The soul is eternal and will be raised again
  • Perfect justice does not exist on earth full
    justice can only be achieved in the Hereafter
  • Nobody will escape accountability

Prayer (Salah)
  • Five Daily Prayers
  • Prayers involve ablution, standing, bowing,
    prostrating, sitting postures, followed by
    personal invocations
  • Muslim face a common prayer direction (Qiblah)
    towards the Kaabah in Makkah
  • Prayers can be said alone or in congregation
  • On Fridays congregational prayers preceded by a
    sermon are mandatory

Prayer (Salah)
  • The five daily prayers are
  • Fajr (from early twilight till just before
  • Zuhr (after the zenith of the sun till mid
  • Asr (between mid and late afternoon
  • Maghrib (shortly after sunset)
  • Isha (during night-time and before the next
    mornings twilight)
  • There are additional voluntary prayers as well as
    are prayers for special occasions

Prayer The Mosque
  • Mosques do not contain statues or images
  • Calligraphy and arabesque geometric designs
    beautify the mosque interior
  • There are no seats and no reserved places
  • Worshippers remove their shoes before entry
  • Washing facilities are attached to the mosque
  • The mosque also serves as a cultural centre

Charity (Zakat)
  • Everybody above the poverty threshold must pay
    2.5 of surplus (not income) for the benefit of
    the needy annually
  • Only Muslims pay Zakah
  • Other charity can be given at any time
  • The concept of Zakah ensures an awareness of
    social obligation and prevents hording

Fasting (in Ramadan)
  • Ramadan is 9th month in Islamic Lunar calendar
    and thus starts 10 days earlier every year of the
    solar calendar
  • Abstinence from food and drink and marital
    relations from dawn to sunset
  • It is traditional to break the fast with dates
  • Fasting is to teach self-control and awareness of
  • Eid ul-Fitr holiday at the end celebrations are
    preceded by giving charity and a congregational

Hajj (Pilgrimage)
  • Pilgrimage to Makkah once in life time for able
    Muslims during the last month of the Muslim
  • About 2-3 million Muslims perform Hajj each year
    from all over the world
  • The rituals of Hajj commemorate the sacrifice of
    Ibrahim (Abraham)
  • Eid ul-Adha the major Muslim holiday
    congregational prayer followed by sacrifice, food
    distribution and celebrations
  • A lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) can take place any
    time during the year as a visit to the Kaabah

Halal and Haram
  • Islam governs personal and public life through a
    concept of permitted and forbidden actions,
    further divided into a complex system of
    individual and social rights and duties.
  • The lawful and unlawful actions are graded into
    the obligatory, recommended, value-neutral,
    disliked, and prohibited.

Islamic Law Shariah
  • Sources of laws
  • Divine revelation (Quran)
  • Prophetic Tradition (Hadith/Sunnah)
  • Scholarly analogy/consensus (Ijtihad/Qiyas/Ijma)

Islamic Law Shariah
  • Classification of laws
  • Laws of God (human rights)
  • Laws of people (public order)
  • Laws of self (private morals)

Islamic Law Shariah
  • Jurisdictions
  • Daru-l-Islam (territory governed by Islamic
  • Daru-l-Harb (enemy territory)
  • Daru-l-Ahd (territory subject to agreement with
    Islamic State)

Islamic Law Shariah
  • Dual Citizenship
  • Muslims (to be drafted/obliged to pay Zakah)
  • Dhimmis (not to be drafted/obliged to pay
    Jizya/protection tax)
  • Minority rights
  • Monotheists (Ahl Kitab)
  • Polytheists

Halal/Haram Food
  • Carrion, blood and pork are amongst the forbidden
    food items
  • Meat must be slaughtered in the name of Allah and
    all blood must be drained
  • Only non-carnivorous animals are permitted for
  • All sea animals are permitted
  • Alcohol and intoxicating drugs are prohibited
  • Food prepared by the People of the Book
    (Jews/Christians) is permitted food dedicated to
    other gods is prohibited

Halal/Haram Behaviour
  • Prohibited actions
  • Murder
  • Theft
  • Usury
  • Gambling
  • Intimate relationships outside marriage
  • Same sex relationships

Variations within Islam
  • Sunni
  • Shia
  • Sufi
  • Different races, different cultures

Relationships with other faiths
  • Monotheistic faiths
  • Jews
  • Christians
  • Polytheistic faiths
  • New faiths/cults after Islam

Key Differences
The role of religion
  • Church and State
  • No church hierarchy
  • No separation of religion and politics

Key differences Christianity
  • No divinity of man
  • No crucifixion
  • No original sin
  • Personal salvation

  • A foreign religion?
  • Role of women, polygamy
  • Jihad (holy war)
  • Confusion between religious and cultural

Questions and Answers
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