Islam Notes

Preliminary Depth Study 4: Islam

• the origins and history of Islam:

  - the significance of the Qur’an as source material for Islam

    Definition of Qur’an
    The sacred book of Islam; the word of God revealed to the Prophet. It is the foundation of Islamic belief and practice.

    ← For Muslims, it is the eternal, uncreated, literal word of god sent down from heaven, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad as a guide for humankind.

    ← The Qur’an contains the essential teachings of the unity and power of God, stories of the prophets, and the consequences of good and evil for life and the hereafter.

  - the historical and cultural context in which Islam began

    - background to Islam: Arab peninsula and polytheism

      ← Started from the north-west part of Arabia in the 7th century and rapidly spread north, east and west.

      ← Muhammad belonged to the Banu Hasim, a lesser clan (a clan is a group of several related families) of the powerful Quraysh tribe (a group of several clans) which dominated Makkan society. (Makka is a prominent city in Arabia that was a centre of trade and commerce.)

      ← The religion of Arabia reflected its tribal nature and social structure. Gods and goddesses served as protectors of individual tribes, and their spirits associated with sacred objects – trees, stones, springs and wells. These gods and goddesses were feared and respected and were the objects of cultic rituals (sacrifice, pilgrimage, prayer).

      ← The city of Makka possessed a central shrine of the gods, the Ka’ba. (a cube-shaped building that housed 360 gods and goddesses of individual tribes) The Ka’ba was a site of a great annual pilgrimage and fair.

      ← The tribes had a shared belief in Allah. Allah, the supreme high god, was the creator and sustainer of life but was seen as so important that he was not the object of cult or ritual.

    - contact with Judaism and Christianity

      ← Jewish and Christian...