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(Arab. “submission”). 1. Islam (Muhammadanism; Mohammedanism) is the only major religion est. after Christianity, to which it claims to be superior. It began in Arabia (see Middle East, L), under leadership of Muhammad.* It emphasizes submission to God (Allah). One who submits to God is said to be a Muslim (Moslem). The short creed of Islam is the shahadah: “There is no deity (god) but God, and Muhammad is his apostle.” It is perhaps best to regard the word “Allah” not as the Arab. name of God but as the word for “God.” Muslims object to being called Muhammadans; to them, Muhammad is the finest example of manhood, but only a man.

2. The sacred book of Islam is the Koran,* regarded as God's “uncreated Speech” revealed to man through Muhammad. The basic guide to Muslim daily life is the Koran. Where it is silent, the accepted tradition called sunna is used. Where this is silent, the custom (adat) of an Islamic community provides the answer.

3. Main tenets of Islam concern God, Holy Scriptures, angels, prophets, resurrection and final judgment, and predestination, with decisive differences from Christian doctrine. The “five pillars” of Islamic religious practice (required at least once in a lifetime, if possible): shahadah; 5 daily prescribed prayers (salat); annual month of fasting (Ramadan*); pilgrimage to sacred places in and near Mecca (hajj); giving alms to poor (legal, zakat; voluntary, sadakat).

4. Islam recognizes 6 great prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Muhammad is said to have thought he would be accepted by Christians and Jews in Arab. because they were also “people of the book.” When he failed to win them, he directed his hostility first against Jews, later against Christians. Within 100 yrs. after Muhammad's death, Islam spread over Christian areas in N Afr., Spain,* and Fr. (see France, 1) to claim half of the former Roman Empire. Islam later spread toward the E to India,* Malaya, Indonesia* and was halted in the Philippine Islands by the Span. In the 15th c. Islam entered Eur. under leadership of Ottoman Turks, who threatened the Holy* Roman Empire at the time of the Luth. Reformation* (see also Holy Leagues and Alliances, 1).

5. The largest of many Muslim sects include Sunnites* (of which Hanafi[tes] are a subgroup) and Shi'ites.* Others include wahhabis,* Kharijites (Khawarij; from Arab. khariji, “dissenter”; radically puritanical and democratic), and the Ahmadiya miss. movement founded ca. 1879 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and centered in W Pakistan. Despite differences, there is an underlying unity and brotherhood in these sects.

6. Muslim pop. (1968 est.): ca. 493,000,000 (ca. 13,848,000 in Eur., ca. 374,167,000 in Asia, ca. 104,297,000 in Africa,* ca. 118,000 in Oceania, ca. 416,000 in S Am., ca. 166,000 in N. Am.).

See also Arabic Philosophy; Asia, B 2; Crusades; Indonesia; Kaaba; Middle East, A 3.

H. A. R. Gibb, Mohammendanism: An Historical Survey (New York, 1949); A Reader on Islam, ed. A. Jeffery (The Hague, Neth., 1962); P. S. R. Payne, The Holy Sword (New York, 1959). RDM

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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