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Is an arabic word coming from the root s-l-m (think shalom in Hebrew).
It means peace or to surrender = It is the peace that comes from surrendering to
Holy Book(s)
Islam recognizes both the Jewish Scriptures (OT) and the Christian Scriptures (OT
+ NT) as sacred texts which contain the revelations of prophets.
Quran (Koran) is the most sacred of the scriptures.
Quran means “recitation” : It was not a book that developed over time, it doesn’t
have vastly different time periods, it is revelations given directly to Muhammad
and recited by him.
Quran is THE DEFINITIVE revelation of God. OT and NT were only partial
Set Up
Contains 114 Surahs (like chapters) of varying lengths.
To find 2:178, you would go to surah 2, verse 178.
Original and Only Language
Quran is recited in Arabic and written down in Arabic.
It cannot be translated and retain its sacred status. An English translation of the
Quran is not considered sacred.
The divine word is embodied in the language, which was chosen by God as the
best vehicle for transmission. The language itself is holy.
Muhammad considered the Quran to be the only miracle which God worked
through him (he was illiterate but somehow produced highly poetic revelations--it
must have been God)
Biblical Figures in the Quran
Abraham and Sarah had a child named Isaac. Before this, however, Sarah gives her
Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abraham to have a son. This son is Ishmael.
When Hagar and Ishmael are kicked out by Sarah, God finds them in the desert and
promises that Ishmael too will become a great nation. Muslims interpret this to
mean that when Hagar and Ishmael settled down, they did so in Mecca and thus
Ishmael is considered to be the father of Islam.
All three religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--trace their ancestry to Abraham
which is why they are called “Abrahamic Religions.”
The Q of Jesus
The Quran recognizes the legitimacy of all biblical prophets--Adam, Abraham,
Noah, Moses, and ultimately Jesus.
Deny Jesus is God, recognize him as a great prophet.
Jesus is saved by God, like all prophets, from crucifixion (did not really die).
Do believe in the virgin birth.
Life of Muhammad
Born in 570 AD in Mecca (modern day Saudi Arabia)
Arabia at the time
● Life under desert conditions were harsh. This was a clan/tribal society. You
shared with those in your tribe, but those outside were barely human and
could be stolen from or killed. Because we are living in the desert, there is a
lack of goods meaning that plundering was common and was a means to show
your manhood. There were no unifying moral guidelines because individual
gods existed, each minor and largely ineffective, and rampant debauchery
characterized the city.
● This was a turbulent time
Life of Muhammad
He is orphaned at a young age and his uncle adopted him, but his uncle’s business
declines so he must work hard as a shepherd.
Character-- sweet and gentle disposition. He was sensitive to the suffering of
others. He was known for being true and trustworthy. But he did not approve of the
lack of morality in his city.
At 25 he became a caravan driver and entered into the service of the wealthy
widow Khadija. She became his best friend and his one steadfast support system
for the duration of her life. They eventually fall in love and get married.
Life of Muhammad
Muhammad begins to make retreats to Mt. Hira in order to pray, meditate, and
reflect on the conditions of his time.
At the time, Allah is a known God in Arabia. Allah is worshipped by some people
called hanifs. Allah, however, was conceived of as one of many gods, and was a
very distant and impersonal god.
Night of Power
In 610, Muhammad experiences the moment which shapes the rest of his life.
Known as the Night of Power, this evening Muhammad was in his cave on Mt. Hira,
praying, and experienced the Angel Gabriel appeared to him, telling him: “Recite!”
At first Muhammad says he cannot, but on the 3rd command, Muhammad begins
reciting the words of God. What he realizes is that Allah is the ONLY god, not one
of many.
Allah, the word itself, means “The God,” and Muhammad realizes that all the other
gods in Mecca are merely idols, powerless and ineffectual.
After this experience, Muhammad rushes home, thinking he is either mad, or a
prophet. Khadija, upon hearing of his experience, assures him he is a prophet, and
becomes his first convert.
His conviction that Allah is the only God led him to begin preaching to others of this
Reaction to Muhammad’s Teachings
1. Its uncompromising monotheism threatened polytheistic Mecca and the
revenue that came into it for the pilgrimages to its 360 shrines
2. Moral teachings demanded an end to the licentiousness that citizens clung to
3. Its social content challenged an unjust order. Everyone equal.
Muhammad is mocked, then harassed, then persecuted and threatened physically.
When a delegation arrives from Yathrib, asking him to come with them and be the
administrator of the city--settle disputes between warring tribes objectively--he
accepts. Along with 70 Islamic families, he migrates to Yathrib/Medina.
Yathrib becomes known as Medina al-nabi, “the city of the prophet,” and
eventually, Medina for short.
There, Muhammad becomes a brilliant administrator, uniting the once warring city
and earning a reputation as a just and merciful judge.
The Battle for Mecca
● 2 years into their Medina stay, the Meccan army tries to defeat Medina. Medina wins
a huge victory over Meccan army, a miracle.
● Mecca strikes back, though, and injures Muhammad
● 2 years later, Mecca tries to end it once and for all and fails, turning to the tide to
● Muhammad marches back to Mecca with his army, where he takes control of the city,
cleans out all the idols and dedicates it to Allah.
● He goes back to Medina
● He dies in 632 AD (10 AH) but with virtually all of Arabia under his contro.
● Before the century closes, his followers had conquered Armenia, Persia, Syria,
The Standing Miracle
The Quran is known as the standing miracle in Islam. Muhammad was unlettered,
could barely write his own name. But God was able to have him produce a
grammatically perfect and poetically beautiful book. Revelations would come to him
over the course of 23 years and he would recite them. His followers would
memorize them and write them down. Then they were arranged in order of biggest
to smallest.
● Koran completes the Old and New testaments, which are seen as God’s earlier
● But the OT and NT have some limitations
○ They record only partial truths
The Quran is THE revelation of God on earth.
Jesus: Christianity
Quran: Islam
The Quran is equivalent not to the New Testament but to Jesus.
Basic Concepts: God
● God is immaterial and invisible
● Hanifs already worshipped Allah alone. What the Koran does is remove idols from
the religious scene and focus on the single invisible god = brings monotheism to
● Judaism is already monotheistic but Judaism is confined to the Jewish people.
● Christianity compromised monotheism by deifying Christ--It is not proper for God to
have children.
● Hinduism’s gods seen as idols as well.
● God is awesome and fear-inspiring--the right kind of fear that we face up to the
Basic Concepts: Creation
● World created by a deliberate act of Allah’s will;
● He has created the heavens and the earth.
● World of matter is real and important.
● The material world is good.
Basic Concepts: Human Nature
Human Nature
● Humans have been created by God = are good.
● No doctrine of a fall or original sin.
● People do forget their divine origin (ghaflah). Ghaflah is the idea that when people
err or do evil, what has gone wrong is that they have forgotten who they are and that
they are God’s creature.
● Fundamental nature is unalterably good, so they are entitled to self-respect and a
healthy self-image
Basic Concepts: Obligations
People have 2 primary obligations:
● Gratitude for all of God’s blessing which you allow. This should lead you to
give back to those around you.
● To Surrender to God: to surrender is to give oneself wholeheartedly
○ This is freeing: to be a slave to Allah is to be freed from all other forms of
slavery (to anxiety, to greed)
○ this is a commitment in which nothing is withheld from the divine
○ this is why Abraham is so important
Basic Theological Concepts: Judgment
Human soul is individual and unique--there will never be another you.
Human soul is also free and thus responsible--your choices matter
Islam denies the idea that human lives and actions are meaningless. Rather, they
ascribe immense meaning to them.
Your choices affect Judgment Day.
Islam has vivid imagery of heaven and hell--sometimes leading Westerners who
forget the vivid imagery of hell in the NT to claim it is harsh.
We will be judged by our actions when we die.
5 Pillars
Each group has 1 of the 5 pillars.
On your poster board, write the name of your pillar and illustrate it.
In some manner, explain on your poster board what your pillar consists of
Compare it to Christianity
What are the pros (if any), what are the cons (if any)
Present to class
5 Pillars
God’s revelation has proceeded through 4 great stages:
1. God revealed the truth of monotheism, God’s oneness, to
2. God revealed 10 ten commandments through Moses
3. God revealed the Golden Rule--through Jesus
All of these are important, authentic messengers. One question
remained: How should we love our neighbor? Islam answers this
question, giving Jesus’ command definite laws.
Pillar 1: Shahadah (Creed)
“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his
At least once during a muslim's life, she must speak the
Shahadah correctly, slowly, thoughtfully, aloud, with full
understanding and heartfelt conviction
Pillar 2: Prayer
Pray 5 times a day (on arising, when the sun is at its zenith, its mid-decline,
sunset, and before retiring)
Face Mecca
Start off standing and end on knees, with forehead flat on the ground
Mostly prayers of gratitude--recognizing that God is God and we are God’s
creatures. We ought to align our will to God’s.
Quibla points to the direction of Mecca
Pillar 3: Charity
You must distribute at least 1/40 of all your wealth every year to those in
immediate need.
If you have a lot, you should be giving to those who have nothing.
Vast inequalities of wealth are not approved by Islam. Wealth is fine, but if you
have a lot, you ought to be helping those who do not have enough.
Pillar 4: Fast during Ramadan
From dawn to dusk for the whole month--no food or drink
Fasting makes you think
Teaches self-discipline
Underscores your dependence on God
Makes you more compassionate--if you know what it means to be hungry, you
will always help the hungry
Islam is on a lunar calendar = Ramadan could fall in December or July
Pillar 5: Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Once in your lifetime, journey to Mecca
If economically and physically able
Spiritual quest--reminds you of your devotion to God
Everyone must wear the same thing = marker of equality
Brings Muslims from all over the world together
Once there, Muslims undertake a series of rituals, one of which is walking 7 x
counterclockwise around the Kaba.
The Kaba is the sacred black square in the center of the grand mosque in Mecca
Kaba in Mecca
Social Teachings: Economics
● Islam is aware of the importance of the body. Until bodily needs are met, higher
concerns cannot flower.
● Society’s health depends on goods being appropriately distributed.
● Use of body metaphor--blood must flow freely, if it clots then the whole body is in
danger. So too, wealth must flow freely.
● Does not discourage people from working harder and being rewarded with larger
● It insists that competition be balanced with compassion
● Islam went after primogeniture--everything goes to the eldest son.
● This meant that all wealth becomes consolidated and does not ever get broken up
Social Teachings: Women
● Because it permits the plurality of wives, the West has accused Islam of degrading women.
● Historically--in the pre-Islamic period, marriage arrangements were so loose as to be
scarcely recognizable-women were property to be distributed by men. Daughters could not
inherit and were often buried alive in their infancy.
● Koran
○ forbides infanticide of girl children
○ Allows daughters to inherit
○ In her rights to education, suffrage, and vocation--the Koran leaves open the
possibility of full equality--we need culture to catch up.
○ Made marriage the sole, lawful place for sex. Woman must give her full consent.
Women cont.
Muhammad: A man can have up to 4 wives at a time but monogamy is the ideal. If you
cannot deal equitably and justly with more than one wife, then you can only have one.
Equality in love and esteem. Each wife must have her own home. There is a clause in most
marriages that prohibit another wife.
In its historical setting, this shows versatility in addressing multiple conditions.
Adapt to imperfect circumstances--loss of men--either allow strictly regulated polygny
or what will happen is loosely regulated prostitution.
Hijab: “Have daughters draw their cloaks around them so that they will be recognized and
not annoyed” = all else is custom.
Women’s rights in the West did not come through religion, they came through
culture. Religion has slowly started to catch up.
In the Middle East, in circumstances where women do not have full equality with
men, culture needs to catch up.
Nothing in the Koran or in Islam denies the full equality of men and women.
Hijab--Eastern and Western European
Burka--Saudi Arabia
Social Teachings: Race Relations
Islam preaches complete equality among different ethnicities.
It takes for its example the relationship of Abraham and Hagar (Hagar is Egyptian,
therefore African). It does not tolerate racism of any sort on religious grounds.
Social Teachings: Use of Force
● The Koran does not counsel pacifism or turning the other cheek.
● It teaches forgiveness and the return of good for evil when the circumstances warrant
but this is different from not resisting evil at all.
● Rather than turning the Muslim into a doormat, the Koran allows punishment of
wanton wrongdoers to the full extent of the injury they impart. Justice requires this. If
you get rid of reciprocity, which the principle of fair play requires, then morality
descends into impractical idealism.
● Muslims deny:
○ that Islam’s record of intolerance and aggression is greater than that of the other
major religions (with the exception of Buddhism)
○ they deny that Western histories are fair to Islam in the accounts of force
■ Jihad means exertion
■ the definition of holy war is nearly identical to that of a just war
■ christianity considers those who die in such wars to be martyrs
■ a hadith (canonical saying) ranks the battle against evil in one’s own heart
to be greater than any external enemies.