Muhammad (PBUH)

Muslims, Moslems, Mohammad, Mohammed, Mohammadans

{iz' - luhm} {mooz' - lims} {moo - hahm' - uhd}

General Information

هو إله طيبة {ah' - lah ock - bar} God is good.

لا إله إلا الله ، وأن محمدا رسول الله. There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet.

Islam is the religion of many Arabic and Persian nations. Followers are called Muslims (or Moslems).

Mahomet Mohammed (or Muhammad) (PBUH) (c. 570 - 632 AD) is the primary prophet

Editor's Note:

Muslims strongly dislike the word Mohammedanism and insist on Islam. They feel that Mohammedanism implies some Divine aspect to Muhammad (PBUH) himself. They revere Muhammad as a glorious Prophet but insist on making clear that he is not a god and does not deserve to have their religion named for him. They feel that Islam is the only correct name. Early Western and Christian authors tended to use the term Mohammedanism. Western authors also tended [and some still tend] to use the term Moslem rather than Muslim for the believers.

There are many misunderstandings between Christians, Jews and Muslims about the beliefs, behaviors and understandings of the other belief systems. One of BELIEVE's intentions is to try to help reduce some of those misunderstandings. All three have aspects that are extremely impressive and other aspects that are very disappointing. The actual core religions in each case appear to be excellently accurate and true, but later assumptions and attitudes have caused some incorrect distortions in all three religions. All three have scholars who are wonderfully careful regarding assuring accuracy, and therefore the existing records of all three seem extremely reliable. As an example in Islam, consider this portion of the accepted text of this Hadith (Volume 4, Book 52, Number 47 of Sahih al-Bukhari):

they were as kings on the thrones (or like kings on the thrones)." (Ishaq, a sub-narrator is not sure as to which expression the Prophet used.)

Scholars are wonderful in their extreme care such as this, in being concerned whether the correct word was like or as. The fact that the sub-narrator was concerned about such a tiny detail gives an indication of the extreme effort at finding accuracy. The fact that modern Islamic scholars see reason to consider and discuss such tiny details is an indication that they truly are excellent scholars.

In an attempt to ensure the most precise accuracy of the wording of all such statements by Muhammad, all Hadiths include the reference to the initial source of the text (in this case, Narrated Anas bin Malik), who was often an actual witness to Muhammad speaking the words. In addition, Muslim scholars generally have Isnads for every Hadith, which is essentially a paper-trail of the specific people who had repeated the words of that Narrator, until the words eventually got permanently written down several generations later.

The many thousands of Hadiths also often include near duplicates of specific statements by Muhammad, where the wording is very slightly different, such as Volume 4, Book 52, Number 50 and Number 52, which were apparently two different hearers of Muhammad, where their two Narrations are essentially identical except for interchanging the words forenoon and afternoon.

Christianity also has massive scholarly documentation behind every word and every concept, as is demonstrated in the thousands of Early Christian Manuscript texts that are included in the BELIEVE web-site. For example, the single presentation on The Diatessaron of Tatian includes over 3,800 footnotes! That particular text might be of special interest to Muslims, as it was actually only preserved for Christianity around 1200 years ago due to Muslim scholars of that era preserving that text in Arabic! ALL modern Christian texts of the Diatessaron are therefore entirely dependent on the talents and care of Muslim scholars of long ago!

However, in all three religions, many of the followers are not familiar with these careful researches, and their understanding of their own faith is based entirely on what they are told by their own local religious leader, whom they trust absolutely totally. In the vast majority of cases in all three religions, that is still fine, as most of the Teachers are very careful regarding trying to Teach accurate information. Unfortunately, in all three religions, there are some Teachers who either intentionally or unintentionally Teach wrong and sometimes false ideas and beliefs. Within Christianity, such groups are called Cults, and when recognized, are no longer considered to be Christians, except by their own Members. Within Islam, the same situation exists, and it is sometimes even more destructive of Islam due to the listeners not having any way to confirm or deny the Truth of what they are told. That situation can result in some Muslims having incorrect beliefs about their own Islam, even while the value and accuracy of Muhammad and Islam is usually not in question at all. In Christianity, Cults have sometimes gotten into the news due to the consequences of their distortions of Christianity, even though Christianity itself was not in question. Cults are a tiny percentage of Christians, but those stories of deaths of Branch Davidians or the Jonestown suicides have the effect of causing all of Christianity to look bad. Similarly, in Islam, even though the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving (as Muhammad (PBUH) Taught them) and wonderful people, the relatively small number of Islamic extremists that feel they are supposed to kill anyone who does not completely agree with them, makes the whole of Islam look very bad.

PBUH means Peace Be Upon Him and PBUT means Peace Be Upon Them. After every reference to the Prophet Muhammad or to Allah or to the other Prophets such as Moses, Abraham and Jesus Christ, a Devout Muslim should write or say these sentiments. Within the articles included in BELIEVE, this formality is often neglected, and so apologies are made to all Muslim readers regarding this fact.

Muhammad taught that man must submit himself to the one God; that nations are punished for rejecting God's prophets; that heaven and hell await in the future life; and that the world will come to an end in a great judgment day. These are all very similar to what Christianity Teaches.

Muhammad offered himself to the Jews and Christians as the successor of Jesus Christ but met with severe opposition. He severely condemned the Jews in his teachings. In general, Muhammad and Muslims feel that Jews originally had the correct "book", originally provided by Moses (The Torah or the First Five Books of the Christian Bible), but that the Jews had improperly altered the texts of those important Manuscripts. For that reason, Muhammad and Muslims feel that Jews (and Christians) are sinful in following texts that have been distorted. Muslims rely on a book which presents the Messages that Muhammad received from the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) which they feel are precisely correct, which is called the Koran. The Koran regularly refers to "the book", where it is actually referring to those Original texts of Moses, but it is conceded that no copy of those original (correct) texts still exists today anywhere. Many Muslims incorrectly interpret those many references to "the book" as somehow referring to the Koran itself, but a careful examination of the Koran text makes clear that that is clearly not true. The Original texts of the First Five Books of Moses, which Muslims feel no longer exist, are referred to as the Taurah.

BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
Every good (Sunni) Muslim centers his life about the performance of five duties, referred to as the Pillars of Faith:

(Shia Muslims are taught slightly different duties.)

Eternal punishment is the fate of those guilty of hypocrisy (false religion), murder, theft, adultery, luxury, dishonesty, and a few other sins. There are great similarities to the sins described in the Ten Commandments of Christian Judaist beliefs. Drinking, gambling and usury are rigorously prohibited.

Since Muslims feel that Jews and Christians use distorted copies of the Torah text as the basis of their beliefs, that is seen as the basis of the above mentioned hypocracy or false religion. The fact that Christians and Jews are attempting to Worship that same One True God, is not sufficient for many Muslims, and in some cases, great hatred has developed due to that. Christian beliefs include an additional area which encourages confusion, where the One True God of the First Commandment is discussed as being Three distinct People, an interpretation that confuses even many Christians!

The Koran includes many references that Muslims are to treat "all believers in the One True God" as brothers. Those references in the Koran indicate that Jews and Christians should be treated as brothers. It is only that aspect where Muslims insist that Jews and Christians use intentionally distorted versions of the Lord's texts where severe animosity arose.

I hope that some day, Muslim scholars and Jewish scholars and Christian scholars might study to find the precise TRUE text which Moses had provided to us.

Early on, Muslims divided into two groups. The Eastern (or generally Persian) Muslims are known as Shiites or Shi'a. The Western (or generally Arabic) Muslims are known as Sunnites or Sunnis. Sunnites (Arabs) generally consider Shiites as schismatics. Sunnites are Semites; Shiites are not. The division occurred around 660 AD due to arguments over who was properly the correct leader of Islam after Muhammad died.

Muhammad was born of poor parents in Mecca, around 570 AD. He was orphaned early and had to tend sheep for a living, so he received little education. At 25, around 595 AD, he became a commercial agent for a rich widow, whom he soon married.

Muhammad was respected but not particularly well-known until one specific incident occurred. This appears to have occurred around 596 AD. The celebrated Black Stone had been removed from the Kaaba building to be cleaned, and four Tribal leaders were arguing over which of them would get the honor of carrying it back to the Kaaba. The argument was becoming extremely serious, as each of the four Tribal leaders wanted that honor personally. It seemed that there was no possible resolution for this situation, and that a Tribal war seemed unavoidably about to begin. At this point, the young Muhammad stepped forward to offer a suggestion. He suggested locating a blanket and placing the Black Stone on top of the middle of it. Then each of the four would lift a corner, and all four would equally receive the honor of carrying it back to the Kaaba. That suggestion showed such brilliant insight that forever after that, Muhammad was consulted for solutions whenever difficult situations arose, and his fame became enormous virtually overnight. All Muslim children today, world wide, are taught about this impressive accomplishment of Muhammad.

Some years later, around 610 AD, at around age 40, while inside a cave, Muhammad had a vision in the desert north of Mecca in which he believed he was commanded to preach. Muhammad was told that he was getting taught directly from Allah (God), by the Angel Jibril (Gabriel). He came to believe that he was a medium for divine revelation and that he was a Prophet of God (Allah). In the next several years, during the 610s, he received many such revelations while in such caves. His later followers memorized his revelations and his successor, Abu Bakr, had them compiled as a book (the Koran), apparently in the early 640s AD.

Muslims believe that Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus received revelations from God, and are therefore Prophets, but they regard Muhammad as the greatest and the last Prophet of God. Adam is also seen as a Prophet.

At first, few converts followed Muhammad. In 622, the people of Mecca actually drove him and around seventy followers out of the city and he fled to Medina. This flight (called the Hegira) was taken as the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After the Hegira, while based in Medina, he often turned to warfare, plunder and conquest. In 630, he returned to Mecca in triumph and treated his former persecutors with kindness. Everyone was impressed with the generous attitudes of Muhammad regarding his previous adversaries, which quickly caused great increases in the numbers of his followers.

He called all of his followers to a holy war in which he promised that all who died fighting (specifically in defending Islam) would ascend straight to Paradise. This single comment from the generally peace-loving Muhammad has been used as the central cause of numerous religious (jihad) wars, and, more recently, terrorism. Virtually all of his other teachings emphasize peace, charity, tolerance and kindness to all. It seems unimaginable that the kind and generally peace-loving Muhammad would have desired that innocent strangers should be murdered, but some of his (extremist) followers now believe that. After he died in 632, the war was carried on by his successors (Caliphs) and others.

Critics find many things to attack in Islam. Many suras of the Koran were composed before 622 AD, while Muhammad was still in Mecca. In general, those suras tend to be extremely peaceful, compassionate, considerate. In fact, historian Sir W. Muir (in Life of Mahomet, 1864, four volumes, vol. 1, p. 503) said "In the Meccan period of his life there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives ... Mahomet was then nothing more than he professed to be, 'a simple Preacher and a Warner'; he was the despised and rejected prophet of a gainsaying people, having no ulterior object but their reformation. He may have mistaken the right means for effecting this end, but there is no sufficient reason for doubting that he used those means in good faith and with an honest purpose."

After he arrived in Medina, the suras composed then seem to have a generally much harsher tone, often even mean-spirited and barbaric, as regarding non-believers. Muir continued the above citation "But the scene changes at Medina. There temporal power, aggrandisement, and self-gratification mingled rapidly with the grand object of the Prophet's life, and they were sought and attained by just the same instrumentality. Messages from heaven were freely brought down to justify political conduct, in precisely the same manner as to inculcate religious precept. Battles were fought, executions ordered, and territories annexed, under cover of the Almighty's sanction. Nay, even personal indulgences were not only excused but encouraged by the divine approval or command. A special license was produced, allowing the Prophet many wives; the affair with Mary the Coptic [Christian] bond-maid was justified in a separate Sura; and the passion for the wife of his own adopted son and bosom friend was the subject of an inspired message in which the Prophet's scruples were rebuked by God, a divorce permitted, and marriage with the object of his unhallowed desires enjoined. ... As the natural result, we trace from the period of Mahomet's arrival in Medina a marked and rapid declension in the system he inculcated. Intolerance quickly took the place of freedom; force, of persuasion. "

Muir later added "If Mohammed deviated from the path of his early years, that should cause no surprise; he was a man as much as, and in like manner as, his contemporaries, he was a member of a still half-savage society, deprived of any true culture, and guided solely by instincts and natural gifts which were decked out by badly understood and half-digested religious doctrines of Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed became thus the more easily corruptible when fortune in the end smiled upon him. ... [In Medina], he offered very little resistance to the corrupting action of the new social position, more particularly in view of the fact that the first steps were accompanied by bewildering triumphs and by fatal sweetness of practically unlimited political power. ... The deterioration of his moral character was a phenomenon supremely human, of which history provides not one but a thousand examples."

Following generations of Muslims were often brutal and gruesome in their treatment of people who did not accept Islam or who questioned anything about it.

Muslims consider the Koran to be EXACTLY the very Word of God (Allah). They do not doubt or question even the slightest aspect of it. However, by the year 325 AD, three hundred years before the Koran, Christians had established the concept of the Trinity, as being ONE God, Who seemed to exist as Three different Persons, the Father (YHWH or Jehovah), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost, and never varied from that. (Christians believe that the One True God had decided to "divide Himself in Two" such that He could experience an entirely human lifetime as Jesus, while still remaining in Heaven/Paradise to oversee the Universe. Christians feel that God has unlimited Ability so that He could do that, possibly in order to better understand why His people seemed to always fail Him. So Christians have NO doubt that there has ever only been One True God, but that He chose a course where it appeared for 33 years that He was simultaneously in two places. With these understandings, Christians feel that Muslims should realize that the One True God [Allah] that they worship was actually present in walking the Earth (as Jesus) just 600 years before Muhammad.)

If the Koran is actually the words of God (Allah), and not altered in any way since they were given to Muhammad, it seems odd that the Koran presents the Christian Trinity as being God, Jesus, and Mary! (Sura 5:116) (Christians have never considered Mary to be Divine, except for her function as Mother of Jesus.) This seems to imply that God (Allah) made a mistake, or Muhammad made a mistake, or later copyists/commentators made a mistake (several times, as at Sura 5.77 and Sura 4.169). Scholars see such things as obvious problems, but virtually all Muslims overlook them, and consider anyone bringing up such things as blasphemous.

Observers have noted that, if the Koran was precisely and exclusively the Word of God, there are many Suras that seem instead to have been expressed by either Muhammad, the Archangel Gabriel or other Angels, without clarification. For example, the opening Sura, called the Fatiha, is clearly address TO Allah and not BY Him. If the exact wording had been provided by Allah, it seems that it should be worded slightly differently. Sura 19.64 was clearly spoken by Angels. The observation is: the Koran either IS or IS NOT exclusively the Word of God that Muslims claim.

It is certainly true that the Koran contains many hundreds of concepts, beliefs and stories from the Bible, particularly the Pentateuch, the first five Books of the Bible (also called the Torah or Taurah). These similarities involve roughly half of the 80,000 words of the Koran (while representing but a very small portion of the Bible's 800,000 words). As a result, the Koran and Islam contains many similarities and many parallels with Christianity and Judaism. However, there are very great differences in some areas.


{muh - ham' - uhd}

General Information

The place of the Prophet Muhammad in world history is directly related to the formation of Islam as a religious community founded on the message of the Koran, which Muslims believe to be the words of God revealed to the Prophet.

Muhammad's Life and Work

Muhammad was born about 570 AD in the city of Mecca, an important trading center in western Arabia. He was a member of the Hashim clan of the powerful Quraysh tribe. Because Muhammad's father, Abd Allah, died before he was born and his mother, Amina, when he was 6 years old, he was placed in the care of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, who also soon died, and, after 578, of his uncle Abu Talib, who succeeded as head of the Hashim clan. At the age of about 25, around 595 AD, Muhammad entered the employ of a rich widow, Khadijah, in her commercial enterprise. They were married soon after. Two sons, both of whom died young, and four daughters were born. One of the daughters, Fatima, acquired special prominence in later Islamic history because of her marriage to Muhammad's cousin Ali.

About 610 AD, Muhammad, while in a cave on Mount Hira outside Mecca, had a vision in which he was called on to preach the message entrusted to him by God. Further revelations came to him intermittently over the remaining years of his life, and these revelations constitute the text of the Koran. The opening verses of chapters 96 and 74 are generally recognized as the oldest revelations; Muhammad's vision is mentioned in 53:1 - 18 and 81:19 - 25, and the night of the first revelation in 97:1 - 5 and 44:3. At first in private and then [613 AD] publicly, Muhammad began to proclaim his message: that there is but one God and that Muhammad is his messenger sent to warn people of the Judgment Day and to remind them of God's goodness.

The [pagan] Meccans responded with hostility to Muhammad's monotheism and iconoclasm. As long as Abu Talib was alive Muhammad was protected by the Hashim, even though that clan was the object of a boycott by other Quraysh after 616. About 619, however, Abu Talib died, and the new clan leader was unwilling to continue the protective arrangement. At about the same time Muhammad lost another staunch supporter, his wife Khadijah. In the face of persecution and curtailed freedom to preach, Muhammad and about 70 followers reached the decision to sever their ties of blood kinship in Mecca and to move to Medina, a city about 400 km (250 mi) to the north. This move, called the Hegira, or hijra (an Arabic word meaning "emigration"), took place in 622, the first year of the Muslim calendar. (Muslim dates are usually followed by AH, "Anno Hegirae," the year of the hegira.)

In Medina an organized Muslim community gradually came into existence under Muhammad's leadership. Attacks on caravans from Mecca led to war with the Meccans. Muhammad's followers obtained (624) victory at Badr but were defeated at Uhud a year later. In 627, however, they successfully defended Medina against a siege by 10,000 Meccans. Clashes with three Jewish clans in Medina occurred in this same period. One of these clans, the Banu Qurayza, was accused of plotting against Muhammad during the siege of Medina; in retaliation all of the clan's men were killed and the women and children sold into slavery. Two years later, in the oasis of Khaybar, a different fate befell another Jewish group. After defeat they were allowed to remain there for the price of half their annual harvest of dates.

Since 624 AD (2 AH) the Muslims of Medina had been facing Mecca during worship (earlier, they had apparently turned toward Jerusalem). Mecca was considered of primary importance to the Muslim community because of the presence there of the Kaaba. This sanctuary was then a pagan shrine, but according to the Koran (2:124 - 29), it had been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael and had therefore to be reintegrated in Muslim society. An attempt to go on pilgrimage to Mecca in 628 was unsuccessful, but at that time an arrangement was made allowing the Muslims to make the pilgrimage the next year, on condition that all parties cease armed hostilities. Incidents in 629 ended the armistice, and in January 630, Muhammad and his men marched on Mecca. The Quraysh offer to surrender was accepted with a promise of general amnesty, and hardly any fighting occurred. Muhammad's generosity to a city that had forced him out 8 years earlier is often quoted as an example of remarkable magnanimity.

In his final years Muhammad continued his political and military involvements, making arrangements with nomadic tribes ready to accept Islam and sending expeditions against hostile groups. A few months after a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca in March 632 he fell ill. Muhammad died on June 8, 632, in the presence of his favorite wife, Aisha, whose father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph.

God's Messenger

According to Muslim belief, God sent Muhammad as a messenger (rasul, or "apostle") from among the Arabs, bringing a revelation in "clear Arabic" (Koran 26:192 - 95); thus, as other peoples had received their messengers, so the Arabs received theirs. As one who had lived "a lifetime" among them before his calling (10:16), however, Muhammad was rejected by many because he was simply a man among men and not an angelic being (6:50; 18:110). As Moses had brought the Law and Jesus had received the Gospel, the Prophet (al - nabi) Muhammad was the recipient of the Koran. He is "the Seal of the Prophets" (33:40), and the Koran is the perfection of all previous revelations.

Exemplar and Guide

In his sermon during the farewell pilgrimage Muhammad testified that he had fulfilled his mission by leaving behind "God's Book and the sunna (custom) of the Prophet." Imitation of the Prophet - following the example of his life in all circumstances - is a prerequisite for every Muslim. Moreover, the "Blessing of the Prophet," based on a Koranic verse (33:56) and consisting of an invocation of God's blessing on the Prophet (and his family and companions) plays a major role in Muslim piety. In addition to the accomplishments of his lifetime and his significance for the present, most Muslims anticipate a future role for Muhammad - as intercessor, "with God's permission," on Judgment Day.

Willem A Bijlefeld

M Ali, The Living Thoughts of Muhammad (1950); T Andrae, Muhammad: The Man and His Faith (1936); A Azzam, The Eternal Message of Muhammad (1964); J Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad (1970); A Guillaume, ed., The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasaul Allah' (1955); A Jeffrey, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (1958); M Rodinson, Mohammed (1971); W M Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Stateman (1961).


Editor's Note

The article above presents the "traditional" story of Muhammad's life, as generally understood by nearly all Muslims. There is extremely little "external" confirmation of the many facts presented, and so virtually all of the knowledge of Muhammad's life come from either the Koran (which was assembled from his statements) or from the Hadith (which was again assembled from his statements and those of people near him). There were also a few biographies of Muhammad (he died in 632 AD):

There are some important details of that traditional Muslim biography that were not included in the article above. These following points are all described in the writings of the respected Muslim writers listed above.

Critics of Islam recognize the possibility that some, or even all, of those somewhat unpleasant facts might have been exaggerated or even fabricated by much later writers, in an effort to give credibility to the Islamic Faith. This would remove Allah and Muhammad from having any flaws. This seems interesting, because essentially the exact same criticisms have been directed at Christianity and Christ by critics, who note that extremely little external corroborating evidence exists to confirm the facts of the life of Jesus. In both cases, there are extreme critics who question whether Muhammad or Jesus even actually existed!

There appear to be other parallels. Both the Bible and the Koran seem to contain confusing sections, where there even seem to be internal contradictions. Both contain many examples of repetitive statements, where the same concept is repeated, either in exactly the same words or very similar ones. Whichever of these two Faiths one might believe, it seems difficult to try to claim the high ground as to absolute credibility if one elects to criticize the other.

As with the many Christian subject presentations in BELIEVE, where both supportive and challenging positions are presented, there is no intention to promote or dismiss Islam or any claims it makes, but rather to just present as accurate a set of facts as is known. We intend no improper criticism of Islam, but rather simply honest discussion of both solid and weak aspects of it. In this vein, we include here both the traditional Islamic understandings and some seemingly credible alternatives, hopefully without suggesting judgment.

Author Michael Cook has researched non-Muslim historical sources regarding these aspects of Muhammad's biography. He confirms that a person named Muhammad lived, that he was a merchant, and that something significant occurred in 622, and that Abraham was important in his teaching. However, there appears to be no indication that Muhammad was in central Arabia and there is no mention whatever of Mecca or Medina and there is no historical reference to the Koran until nearly 700 AD. He also found compelling evidence that early Muslims prayed in a direction far north of Mecca, which seems to suggest that some different city was involved than Mecca. Also, he found that coins minted around 700 AD which had Koranic quotations, have different wordings than the current authorized canonical text of the Koran. This seems to suggest that the text of the Koran had not yet been permanently established, seventy years after the death of the Prophet.

An early Greek source mentions Muhammad being alive in 634 AD, two years after the traditional Muslim death date. [Wansbrough] That same Greek source (c. 634-636 AD) presents the Prophet's message as essentially being Jewish messianism.

There was a Christian writer of the fifth century (prior to Muhammad) named Sozomenus who describes an Ishmaelite monotheism identical to that of the Hebrews prior to the time of Moses (1275 BC). He also argued that Ishmael's laws must have been corrupted by the passage of time and by the influence of pagan neighbors. Essentially identical beliefs later became central aspects of Islam.

The Arabic term muhajirun corresponds to the English term Hagarism, the reference to their ancestry as being through Hagar, Abraham's maid who was the father of Ishmael. This term seems to have arisen early in Islamic history.

In early Jewish history (c. 722 BC), a group known as Samaritans did not accept the later Books of the Old Testament of the Bible, and their Bible consisted exclusively of the Pentateuch, the first Five Books. Islam and Muhammad show familiarity with the Samaritans, and indeed, recognized and revered the very same Books. Critics feel that Muhammad adopted most of his early theology from the much earlier Jewish Samaritans. Samaritan liturgies constantly included the concept "There is no God but the One", again, a central and essential component of Islam.


{iz' - luhm}

General Information

Islam, a major world religion, is customarily defined in non - Islamic sources as the religion of those who follow the Prophet Muhammed. The prophet, who lived in Arabia in the early 7th century, initiated a religious movement that was carried by the Arabs throughout the Middle East. Today, Islam has adherents not only in the Middle East, where it is the dominant religion in all countries (Arab and non - Arab) except Israel, but also in other parts of Asia, Africa and, to a certain extent, in Europe and in the United States. Adherents of Islam are called Muslims (sometimes spelled Moslems).

The Name and Its Meaning

The Arabic word al - islam means the act of committing oneself unreservedly to God, and a Muslim is a person who makes this commitment. Widely used translations such as "resignation," "surrender" and "submission" fail to do justice to the positive aspects of the total commitment for which al - islam stands - a commitment in faith, obedience, and trust to the one and only God (Allah). All of these elements are implied in the name of this religion, which is characteristically described in the Koran (Arabic, Qur'an; the sacred book of Islam) as "the religion of Abraham." In the Koran, Abraham is the patriarch who turned away from idolatry, who "came to his Lord with an undivided heart" (37:84), who responded to God in total obedience when challenged to sacrifice his son (37:102 - 105), and who served God uncompromisingly.

For Muslims, therefore, the proper name of their religion expresses the Koranic insistence that no one but God is to be worshiped. Hence, many Muslims, while recognizing the significance of the Prophet Muhammad, have objected to the terms Muhammadanism (or Mohammedanism) and Muhammadans (or Mohammedans) - designations used widely in the West until recently - since they detect in them the suggestion of a worship of Muhammad parallel to the worship of Jesus Christ by Christians.


Estimates of the world population of Muslims range from a low of 750 million to a high of 1.2 billion; 950 million is a widely used medium. Notwithstanding the significant variations in these estimates, many observers agree that the world population of Muslims is increasing by approximately 25 million per year. Thus, a 250 million increase is anticipated for the decade 1990 - 2000. This significant expansion, due primarily but not entirely to the general population growth in Asia and Africa, is gradually reducing the numerical difference between Christians (the largest religious community) and Muslims, whose combined totals make up almost 50 percent of the world's population.


While many Muslims vehemently oppose the language that the Prophet Muhammad is the "founder" of Islam - an expression which they interpret as an implicit denial of God's initiative and involvement in the history of Islam's origins - none would challenge that Islam dates back to the lifetime (570 - 632) of the Prophet and the years in which he received the divine revelations recorded in the Koran. At the same time, however, most of them would stress that it is only in a sense that Islam dates back to the 7th century, since they regard their religion not as a 7th century innovation, but as the restoration of the original religion of Abraham. They would also stress that Islam is a timeless religion, not just because of the "eternal truth" that it proclaims but also because it is "every person's religion," the natural religion in which every person is born.

Islam's Comprehensive Character

When applied to Islam, the word religion has a far more comprehensive meaning than it commonly has in the West. Islam encompasses personal faith and piety, the creed and worship of the community of believers, a way of life, a code of ethics, a culture, a system of laws, an understanding of the function of the state - in short, guidelines and rules for life in all its aspects and dimensions. While many Muslims see the Sharia (the "way," denoting the sacred law governing the life of individuals as well as the structures of society) as fixed and immutable, others make a clear distinction between the unchangeable message of the Koran and the mutable laws and regulations for Muslim life and conduct.

Throughout history, practices and opinions have differed with regard to the exact way in which Islam determines life in all its aspects, but the basic notion of Islam's comprehensive character is so intrinsic to Muslim thought and feeling that neither the past history of the Muslim world nor its present situation can be understood without taking this characteristic into consideration.

According to Muslim jurists, the sharia is derived from four sources

History and Spread of Islam

The Prophet

Muhammad was born in 570 in Mecca, a trading center in western Arabia. About 610 he received the first of a series of revelations that convinced him that he had been chosen as God's messenger. He began to preach the message entrusted to him - that there is but one God, to whom all humankind must commit themselves. The polytheistic Meccans resented Muhammad's attacks on their gods and finally he emigrated with a few followers to Medina. This migration, which is called the Hegira (Hijrah), took place in 622; Muslims adopted the beginning of that year as the first year of their lunar calendar (Anno Hegirae, or AH). At Medina Muhammad won acceptance as a religious and military leader. Within a few years he had established control of the surrounding region, and in 630 he finally conquered Mecca. There, the Kaaba, a shrine that had for some time housed the idols of the pagan Meccans, was rededicated to the worship of Allah, and it became the object of pilgrimage for all Muslims.

By the time of his death in 632, Muhammad had won the allegiance of most of the Arab tribespeople to Islam. He had laid the foundation for a community (umma) ruled by the laws of God. The Koran records that Muhammad was the Seal of the Prophets, the last of a line of God's messengers that began with Adam and included Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Jesus. He left for the future guidance of the community the words of God revealed to him and recorded in the Koran, and the sunna, the collective name for his opinions and decisions as recorded in the tradition literature (hadith).

A Rapidly Growing Empire, 632 - 750

After the death of Muhammad, a successor (khalifa, or caliph; was chosen to rule in his place. The first caliph, the Prophet's father - in - law, Abu Bakr (r. 632 - 34), initiated an expansionist movement that was carried out most successfully by the next two caliphs, Umar I (r. 634 - 44) and Uthman (r. 644 - 56). By 656 the Caliphate included the whole Arabian peninsula, Palestine and Syria, Egypt and Libya, Mesopotamia, and substantial parts of Armenia and Persia. Following the assassination of Uthman, the disagreements between those upholding the rights of the fourth caliph, Ali (r. 656 - 61), the Prophet's son - in - law, and their opponents led to a division in the Muslim community between the Shiites and the Sunnites that still exists today. When the governor of Syria, Muawiya I, came to power after the murder of Ali, the Shiites refused to recognize him and his successors.

Muawiya inaugurated an almost 90 year rule by the Umayyads (661 - 750), who made Damascus their capital. A second wave of expansion followed. After they conquered (670) Tunisia, Muslim troops reached the northwestern point of North Africa in 710. In 711 they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, rapidly overran Spain, and penetrated well into France until they were turned back near Poitiers in 732. On the northern frontier Constantinople was besieged more than once (though without success), and in the east the Indus River was reached; the Islamic empire now bordered China and India, with some settlements in the Punjab.

Rival Dynasties and Competing Capitals, 750 - 1258

In 750, Umayyad rule in Damascus was ended by the Abbasids, who moved the caliphate's capital to Baghdad. The succeeding period was marked more by an expansion of horizons of thought than by geographical expansion. In the fields of literature, the sciences, and philosophy, contributions by such Muslim scholars as al - Kindi, al - Farabi, and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) far surpassed European accomplishments of that time.

Politically, the power of the Abbasids was challenged by a number of rival dynasties. These included an Umayyad dynasty in Cordoba, Spain (756 - 1031); the Fatimids, a dynasty connected with the Ishmalis (a Shiite sect), who established (909) themselves in Tunisia and later (969 - 1171) ruled Egypt; the Almoravids and the Almohads, Muslim Berber dynasties that successively ruled North Africa and Spain from the mid 11th to the mid 13th century; the Seljuks, a Muslim Turkish group that seized Baghdad in 1055 and whose defeat of the Byzantines in 1071 led indirectly to the Christian Crusades (1096 - 1254) against the Islamic world; and the Ayyubids, who displaced the Fatimids in Egypt and played an important role in the later years of the Crusades.

The Abbasids were finally overthrown (1258) in Baghdad by the Mongols, although a family member escaped to Egypt, where he was recognized as caliph. While the brotherhood of faith remained a reality, the political unity of the Muslim world was definitely broken.

Two Great Islamic Powers: The Ottomans and the Moguls

The Ottoman Turkish dynasty, founded by Osman I (c. 1300), became a major world power in the 15th century, and continued to play a very significant role throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The Byzantine Empire, with which Muslim armies had been at war since the early days of Islam, came to an end in 1453 when Ottoman sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople. That city then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. In the first half of the 16th century, Ottoman power, already firmly established over all Anatolia and in most of the Balkans, gained control over Syria, Egypt (the sultans assumed the title caliph after deposing the last Abbasid in Cairo), and the rest of North Africa. It also expanded significantly northwestward into Europe, besieging Vienna in 1529.

The defeat of the Ottoman navy in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was not, as many in Europe hoped, the beginning of a rapid disintegration of the Ottoman Empire; more than one hundred years later, in 1683, Ottoman troops once again besieged Vienna. The decline of the empire becomes more visible from the late 17th century onward, but it survived through World War I. Turkey became a republic under Kemal Ataturk in 1923, and the caliphate was abolished in 1924. The Moguls were a Muslim dynasty of Turko - Mongol origin who conquered northern India in 1526. The Mogul Empire reached the climax of its power in the period from the late 16th century until the beginning of the 18th century. Under the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb, Mogul rule was extended over most of the subcontinent, and Islamic culture (with a strong Persian flavor) was firmly implanted in certain areas. The splendor of the Moguls is reflected in a special way in their architecture. In the 18th century Mogul power began to decline. It survived, at least in name, however, till 1858, when the last sultan was dethroned by the British.

Two Examples of the Coming of Islam in Frontier Areas

Indonesia and West Africa. While there may have been sporadic contacts from the 10th century onward with Muslim merchants, it was only in the 13th century that Islam clearly established itself in Sumatra, where small Muslim states formed on the northeast coast. Islam spread to Java in the 16th century, and then expanded, generally in a peaceful manner, from the coastal areas inward to all parts of the Indonesian archipelago. By the 19th century it had reached to the northeast and extended into the Philippines. Today there are 140 million Muslims in Indonesia, constituting 90 percent of the population.

Islam penetrated West Africa in three main phases. The first was that of contacts with Arab and Berber caravan traders, from the 10th century onward. Then followed a period of gradual Islamization of some rulers' courts, among them that of the famous Mansa Musa (r. 1312 - 27) in Mali. Finally, in the 16th century the Sufi orders (brotherhoods of mystics), especially the Qadiriyya, Tijaniyya, and Muridiyya, as well as individual saints and scholars, began to play an important role. The 19th century witnessed more than one Jihad (holy war) for the purification of Islam from pagan influences, while later in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, Muslims formed a significant element in the growing resistance to colonial powers. In the post colonial period Islam plays an important role in Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Mali and Niger, while there are smaller Muslim communities in the other states in West Africa.

Islam in Modern History

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, followed three years later by the expulsion of the French troops by the combined British - Ottoman forces, is often seen as the beginning of the modern period in the history of Islam. The coming to power of Muhammed Ali (r. 1805 - 49) and the modernization of Egypt under his leadership was the beginning of a long struggle throughout the Muslim world to reestablish independence from the colonial powers and to assume their place as autonomous countries in the modern world. Resistance to foreign domination and an awareness of the need to restore the Muslim community to its proper place in world history are integral parts of the pan - Islamic efforts of Jamal Al - Din Al - Afghani as well as the nationalist movements of the 20th century. The political, social, and economic developments in the various countries with Muslim majorities show significant differences.

For example, Turkey and many of the Arab countries have become secular republics, whereas Saudi Arabia is virtually an absolute monarchy, ruled under Muslim law. Iran was ruled from 1925 to 1979 by the Pahlavi dynasty, which stressed secularization and westernization. Growing resistance from the Muslim community, which is overwhelmingly Shiite, culminated in the forced departure of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic republic under the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini. However, while opinions differ with regard as to how Islam can continue to function in modern societies as a force relevant to all aspects of life, the great majority of Muslims hold fast to the notion of the comprehensive character of Islam as well as to its basic theological doctrines.

Islamic Doctrines

Islamic doctrines are commonly discussed and taught widely - often by means of a catechism, with questions and answers - under six headings: God, angels, Scriptures, messengers, the Last Day, and predestination. The Muslims' notion of God (Allah) is, in a sense, interrelated with all of the following points and will be referred to below. Some of the angels (all of whom are servants of God and subject to him) play a particularly important role in the daily life of many Muslims: the guardian angels; the recording angels (those who write down a person's deeds, for which he or she will have to account on Judgment Day); the angel of death; and the angels who question a person in the tomb. One of those mentioned by name in the Koran is Jibril (Gabriel, angel), who functioned in a special way as a transmitter of God's revelation to the Prophet. The importance of the Muslim recognition of Scriptures other than the Koran and of messengers other than Muhammad will be referred to below.

The promise and threat of the Last Day, which occupy an important place in the Koran, continue to play a major role in Muslim thought and piety. On the Last Day, of which only God knows the hour, every soul will stand alone and will have to account for its deeds. In the theological discussions of the Last Day and, in general, of the concept of God, a significant issue has been whether the descriptions in the Koran (of Heaven and Hell, the vision of God, God being seated on the throne, the hands of God, and so on) should be interpreted literally or allegorically. The majority view accepts the principle of literal interpretation (God is seated on the throne, he has hands), but adds the warning and qualification that humans cannot state and should not ask how this is the case, since God is incomparable (bila kayf, "without how"; bila tashbih, "beyond comparison").

The last of the six articles, Predestination, is also a theocentric issue. Because the divine initiative is all decisive in bringing humans to faith ("had God not guided us, we had surely never been guided," 7:43), many concluded that God is not only responsible for guiding some but also for not guiding others, allowing them to go astray or even leading them astray. In the debate of later theologians on these questions, the antipredestinarians were concerned less with upholding the notion of human freedom and, therefore, of human dignity, than with defending the honor of God. According to these thinkers - the Qadarites and the Mutazilites, of the 8th to 10th centuries - the Koranic message of the justice of God "who does not wrong people" (" ... they wrong themselves," 43:76) excluded the notion of a God who would punish human beings for evil deeds and unbelief for which they themselves were not really responsible.

The major concern of their opponents was to maintain, against any such reasoning, the doctrine of the sovereign freedom of God, upon whom no limits can be placed, not even the limit of "being bound to do what is best for his creatures." Two important theologians of the 10th century, al - Ashari (d. 935) and al - Maturidi (d. 944), formulated answers that would mark for the centuries to come the traditional (Sunni) position on these points. Although one's acts are willed and created by God, one has to appropriate them to make them one's own. A recognition of a degree of human responsibility is combined with the notion of God as the sole creator, the One and Only.

Around this concept of the unity of God another debate arose on the essence and attributes of God; it focused on the question whether the Koran - God's speech - was created or uncreated. Those who held that the Koran was created believed that the notion of an uncreated Koran implied another eternal reality alongside God, who alone is eternal and does not share his eternity with anyone or anything else. Their opponents felt that the notion of a created Koran detracted from its character as God's own speech. The Sunni position that emerged from these discussions was that the Koran as written down or recited is created, but that it is a manifestation of the eternal "inner speech" of God, which precedes any articulation in sounds and letters.

None of the theological issues referred to above can be understood fully unless the sociopolitical context of these doctrinal debates is taken into consideration. The interrelation between theological positions and political events is particularly clear in the first issues that arose in the history of Islam. Reference has already been made to the division between the Shiites and the Sunnites. The Shiites were those who maintained that only "members of the family" (Hashimites, or, in the more restricted sense, descendants of the Prophet via his daughter, Fatima and her husband Ali) had a right to the caliphate.

Another group, the Kharijites (literally "those who seceded"), broke away from Ali (who was murdered by one of their members) and from the Umayyads. They developed the doctrine that confession, or faith, alone did not make a person a believer and that anyone committing grave sins was an unbeliever destined to hell. They applied this argument to the leaders of the community, holding that caliphs who were grave sinners could not claim the allegiance of the faithful. While the mainstream of Muslims accepted the principle that faith and works must go together, they rejected the Kharijite ideal of establishing here on earth a pure community of believers, insisting that the ultimate decision on whether a person is a believer or an unbeliever must be left to God. Suspension of the answer till Judgment Day enabled them to recognize anyone accepting the "five pillars" (see below) as a member of the community of believers, and to recognize those Muslims who had political authority over them, even if they objected to some of their practices.

Islamic Worship, Practices, and Duties

To what extent faith and works go together is evident from the traditional listing of the basic duties of any Muslim, the "five pillars" of Islam:

The witness to God stands here side by side with the concern for the poor, reflected in almsgiving. The personal involvement of the individual believer, expressed most clearly in the formulation of the shahada, "I witness there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God," is combined with a deep awareness of the strength that lies in the fellowship of faith and the community of all believers, significant dimensions of both the ritual prayer and the pilgrimage.

Muslim worship and devotion is not limited to the precisely prescribed words and gestures of the salat, but finds expression also in a wealth of personal prayers, in the gathering of the congregation in the central mosque on Fridays, and in the celebration of the two main festivals: Id al - Fitr, the festival of the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan; and Id al - Adha, the festival of the sacrifice (in memory of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son). The latter, observed on the 10th day of the month of pilgrimage, is celebrated not only by the participants in the pilgrimage, but also simultaneously by those who stay in their own locations. The interpretations of jihad (literally, "striving" in the way of God), sometimes added as an additional duty, vary from sacred war to striving to fulfill the ethical norms and principles expounded in the Koran.

Islamic Views of Other Religions

Islam is definitely an inclusivistic religion in the sense that it recognizes God's sending of messengers to all peoples and his granting of "Scripture and Prophethood" to Abraham and his descendants, the latter resulting in the awareness of a very special link between Muslims, Jews, and Christians as all Abraham's children. Throughout history there have been believers who discerned the Truth of God and responded to him in the right manner, committing themselves to him alone. Of these "Muslims before Muhammad," the Koran mentions, among others, Abraham and his sons, Solomon and the queen of Sheba, and the disciples of Jesus. This inclusiveness is also expressed in the Muslim recognition of earlier Scriptures, namely, the Taurat (Torah) given to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) of David, and the Injil (Gospel) of Jesus.

This recognition of other prophets besides Muhammad and other Scriptures besides the Koran is coupled with the firm conviction that the perfection of religion and the completion of God's favor to humanity have been realized in the sending down of the Koran, the sending of Muhammad as "the Seal of the Prophets," and the establishing of Islam. People's reactions and response to this final criterion of truth became, therefore, the evidence of their faith or unbelief. Those who, on the basis of what they had previously received from God, recognize the message of the Koran as the ultimate Truth show themselves thereby as true believers, while those who reject it prove themselves to be unbelievers, no matter by what name they call themselves.

Willem A Bijlefeld

M Abdul - Rauf, Islam: Creed and Worship (1975); K Cragg, The House of Islam (1975); H A R Gibb, Mohammedanism (1949); P K Hitti, Islam, A Way of Life (1970); B Lewis, ed., Islam and the Arab World (1976); K W Morgan, ed., Islam: The Straight Path (1958); S H Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam (1966); F Rahman, Islam (1979); J Schacht and C E Bosworth, eds., The Legacy of Islam (1974); W M Watt, What Is Islam? (1968).

Islam in Modern History:
K Cragg, Counsels in Contemporary Islam (1965) and The Call of the Minaret (1985); J L Esposito, Islam and Politics (1984); D MacEnoin and A Al - Shahi, eds., Islam in the Modern World (1983); E I J Rosenthal, Islam in the Modern National State (1965); W C Smith, Islam in Modern History (1959); R Wright, Sacred Rage (1985).

Sociology of Islam and Ethnographical Data:
I R Al Faruqi and L Lamya, The Cultural Atlas of Islam (1986); R Levy, The Social Structure of Islam (1957); R C Martin, Islam: A Cultural Perspective (1982); R V Weeks, ed., Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey (1978).

Salat, The Five Daily Prayers, Ṣalat

Advanced Information

Fajr or Subh (Morning) Between the very beginning of dawn and sunrise.
Dhuhr or Zuhr (Noon)

Between the declining of the sun and Asr (when the shadow of something is twice its own length).
Asr (Late Afternoon) Immediately after the last time limit of Dhuhr until just before the sunset.
Maghrib (Evening) Soon after the sunset until the disappearance of the twilight.
Isha (Night) After the disappearance of the twilight until midnight.
Note: There is also a very much emphasized prayer (Witr) after Isha.

Mohammed and Mohammedanism

Catholic Information


Mohammed, "the Praised One", the prophet of Islam and the founder of Mohammedanism, was born at Mecca (20 August?) A.D. 570.

Arabia was then torn by warring factions. The tribe of Fihr, or Quarish, to which Mohammed belonged, had established itself in the south of Hijas (Hedjaz), near Mecca, which was, even then, the principal religious and commercial centre of Arabia. The power of the tribe was continually increasing; they had become the masters and the acknowledged guardians of the sacred Kaaba, within the town of Mecca - then visited in annual pilgrimage by the heathen Arabs with their offerings and tributes - and had thereby gained such preeminence that it was comparatively easy for Mohammed to inaugurate his religious reform and his political campaign, which ended with the conquest of all Arabia and the fusion of the numerous Arab tribes into one nation, with one religion, one code, and one sanctuary. (See ARABIA, Christianity in Arabia.)

Mohammed's father was Abdallah, of the family of Hashim, who died soon after his son's birth. At the age of six the boy lost his mother and was thereafter taken care of by his uncle Abu-Talib. He spent his early life as a shepherd and an attendant of caravans, and at the age of twenty-five married a rich widow, Khadeejah, fifteen years his senior. She bore him six children, all of whom died very young except Fatima, his beloved daughter.

On his commercial journeys to Syria and Palestine he became acquainted with Jews and Christians, and acquired an imperfect knowledge of their religion and traditions. He was a man of retiring disposition, addicted to prayer and fasting, and was subject to epileptic fits. In his fortieth year (A.D. 612), he claimed to have received a call from the Angel Gabriel, and thus began his active career as the prophet of Allah and the apostle of Arabia. His converts were about forty in all, including his wife, his daughter, his father-in-law Abu Bakr, his adopted son Ali Omar, and his slave Zayd. By his preaching and his attack on heathenism, Mohammed provoked persecution which drove him from Mecca to Medina in 622, the year of the Hejira (Flight) and the beginning of the Mohammedan Era. At Medina he was recognized as the prophet of God, and his followers increased. He took the field against his enemies, conquered several Arabian, Jewish, and Christian tribes, entered Mecca in triumph in 630, demolished the idols of the Kaaba, became master of Arabia, and finally united all the tribes under one emblem and one religion. In 632 he made his last pilgrimage to Mecca at the head of forty thousand followers, and soon after his return died of a violent fever in the sixty-third year of his age, the eleventh of the Hejira, and the year 633 of the Christian era.

The sources of Mohammed's biography are numerous, but on the whole untrustworthy, being crowded with fictitious details, legends, and stories. None of his biographies were compiled during his lifetime, and the earliest was written a century and a half after his death. The Koran is perhaps the only reliable source for the leading events in his career. His earliest and chief biographers are Ibn Ishaq (A.H. 151=A.D. 768), Wakidi (207=822), Ibn Hisham (213=828), Ibn Sa'd (230=845), Tirmidhi (279=892), Tabari (310-929), the "Lives of the Companions of Mohammed", the numerous Koranic commentators [especially Tabari, quoted above, Zamakhshari 538=1144), and Baidawi (691=1292)], the "Musnad", or collection of traditions of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (241=855), the collections of Bokhari (256=870), the "Isabah", or "Dictionary of Persons who knew Mohammed", by Ibn Hajar, etc. All these collections and biographies are based on the so-called Hadiths, or "traditions", the historical value of which is more than doubtful.

These traditions, in fact, represent a gradual, and more or less artificial, legendary development, rather than supplementary historical information. According to them, Mohammed was simple in his habits, but most careful of his personal appearance. He loved perfumes and hated strong drink. Of a highly nervous temperament, he shrank from bodily pain. Though gifted with great powers of imagination, he was taciturn. He was affectionate and magnanimous, pious and austere in the practice of his religion, brave, zealous, and above reproach in his personal and family conduct. Palgrave, however, wisely remarks that "the ideals of Arab virtue were first conceived and then attributed to him". Nevertheless, with every allowance for exaggeration, Mohammed is shown by his life and deeds to have been a man of dauntless courage, great generalship, strong patriotism, merciful by nature, and quick to forgive. And yet he was ruthless in his dealings with the Jews, when once he had ceased to hope for their submission. He approved of assassination, when it furthered his cause; however barbarous or treacherous the means, the end justified it in his eyes; and in more than one case he not only approved, but also instigated the crime. Concerning his moral character and sincerity, contradictory opinions have been expressed by scholars in the last three centuries. Many of these opinions are biased either by an extreme hatred of Islam and its founder or by an exaggerated admiration, coupled with a hatred of Christianity.

Luther looked upon him as "a devil and first-born child of Satan". Maracci held that Mohammed and Mohammedanism were not very dissimilar to Luther and Protestantism. Spanheim and D'Herbelot characterize him as a "wicked impostor", and a "dastardly liar", while Prideaux stamps him as a wilful deceiver. Such indiscriminate abuse is unsupported by facts.

Modern scholars, such as Sprenger, Noldeke, Weil, Muir, Koelle, Grimme, Margoliouth, give us a more correct and unbiased estimate of Mohammed's life and character, and substantially agree as to his motives, prophetic call, personal qualifications, and sincerity. The various estimates of several recent critics have been ably collected and summarized by Zwemer, in his "Islam, a Challenge to Faith" (New York, 1907). According to Sir William Muir, Marcus Dods, and some others, Mohammed was at first sincere, but later, carried away by success, he practised deception wherever it would gain his end. Koelle "finds the key to the first period of Mohammed's life in Khadija, his first wife", after whose death he became a prey to his evil passions. Sprenger attributes the alleged revelations to epileptic fits, or to "a paroxysm of cataleptic insanity".

Zwemer himself goes on to criticize the life of Mohammed by the standards, first, of the Old and New Testaments, both of which Mohammed acknowledged as Divine revelation; second, by the pagan morality of his Arabian compatriots; lastly, by the new law of which he pretended to be the "divinely appointed medium and custodian". According to this author, the prophet was false even to the ethical traditions of the idolatrous brigands among whom he lived, and grossly violated the easy sexual morality of his own system. After this, it is hardly necessary to say that, in Zwemer's opinion, Mohammed fell very far short of the most elementary requirements of Scriptural morality. Quoting Johnstone, Zwemer concludes by remarking that the judgment of these modern scholars, however harsh, rests on evidence which "comes all from the lips and the pens of his own devoted adherents ... And the followers of the prophet can scarcely complain if, even on such evidence, the verdict of history goes against him".


A. Geographical Extent, Divisions, and Distribution of Mohammedans After Mohammed's death Mohammedanism aspired to become a world power and a universal religion. The weakness of the Byzantine Empire, the unfortunate rivalry between the Greek and Latin Churches, the schisms of Nestorius and Eutyches, the failing power of the Sassanian dynasty of Persia, the lax moral code of the new religion, the power of the sword and of fanaticism, the hope of plunder and the love of conquest - all these factors combined with the genius of the caliphs, the successors of Mohammed, to effect the conquest, in considerably less than a century, of Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, North Africa, and the South of Spain. The Moslems even crossed the Pyrenees, threatening to stable their horses in St. Peter's at Rome, but were at last defeated by Charles Martel at Tours, in 732, just one hundred years from the death of Mohammed. This defeat arrested their western conquests and saved Europe.

In the eighth and ninth centuries they conquered Persia, Afghanistan, and a large part of India, and in the twelfth century they had already become the absolute masters of all Western Asia, Spain and North Africa, Sicily, etc. They were finally conquered by the Mongols and Turks, in the thirteenth century, but the new conquerors adopted Mohammed's religion and, in the fifteenth century, overthrew the tottering Byzantine Empire (1453). From that stronghold (Constantinople) they even threatened the German Empire, but were successfully defeated at the gates of Vienna, and driven back across the Danube, in 1683. Mohammedanism now comprises various theological schools and political factions. The Orthodox (Sunni) uphold the legitimacy of the succession of the first three caliphs, Abu Bakr, Omar, and Uthman, while the Schismatics (Shiah) champion the Divine right of Ali as against the successions of these caliphs whom they call "usurpers", and whose names, tombs, and memorials they insult and detest.

The Shiah number at present about twelve million adherents, or about one-twentieth of the whole Mohammedan world, and are scattered over Persia and India. The Sunni are subdivided into four principal theological schools, or sects, viz., the Hanifites, found mostly in Turkey, Central Asia, and Northern India; the Shafites in Southern India and Egypt; the Malikites, in Morocco, Barbary, and parts of Arabia; and the Hanbalites in Central and Eastern Arabia and in some parts of Africa. The Shiah are also subdivided into various, but less important, sects. Of the proverbial seventy-three sects of Islam, thirty-two are assigned to the Shiah. The principal differences between the two are:

as to the legitimate successors of Mohammed;

the Shiah observe the ceremonies of the month of fasting, Muharram, in commemoration of Ali, Hasan, Husain, and Bibi Fatimah, whilst the Sunnites only regard the tenth day of that month as sacred, and as being the day on which God created Adam and Eve;

the Shiah permit temporary marriages, contracted for a certain sum of money, whilst the Sunnites maintain that Mohammed forbade them;

the Shi'ites include the Fire-Worshippers among the "People of the Book", whilst the Sunnites acknowledge only Jews, Christians, and Moslems as such;

several minor differences in the ceremonies of prayer and ablution;

the Shiah admit a principle of religious compromise in order to escape persecution and death, whilst the Sunni regard this as apostasy.

There are also minor sects, the principal of which are the Aliites, or Fatimites, the Asharians, Azaragites, Babakites, Babbis, Idrisites, Ismailians and Assassins, Jabrians, Kaissanites, Karmathians, Kharjites, followers of the Mahdi, Mu'tazilites, Qadrains, Safrians, Sifatians, Sufis, Wahabis, and Zaidites. The distinctive features of these various sects are political as well as religious; only three or four of them now possess any influence. In spite of these divisions, however, the principal articles of faith and morality, and the ritual, are substantially uniform.

According to the latest and most reliable accounts (1907), the number of Mohammedans in the world is about 233 millions, although some estimate the number as high as 300 millions, others, again, as low as 175 millions. Nearly 60 millions are in Africa, 170 millions in Asia, and about 5 millions in Europe. Their total number amounts to about one-fourth of the population of Asia, and one-seventh that of the whole world. Their geographical distribution is as follows:


India, 62 millions; other British possessions (such as Aden, Bahrein, Ceylon, and Cyprus), about one million and a half; Russia (Asiatic and European), the Caucasus, Russian Turkestan, and the Amur region, about 13 millions; Philippine Islands, 350,000; Dutch East Indies (including Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, etc.) about 30 millions; French possessions in Asia (Pondicherry, Annam, Cambodia, Cochin-China, Tonking, Laos), about one million and a half; Bokhara, 1,200,000; Khiva, 800,000; Persia, 8,800,000; Afghanistan, 4,000,000; China and Chinese Turkestan, 30,000,000; Japan and Formosa, 30,000; Korea, 10,000; Siam, 1,000,000; Asia Minor; Armenia and Kurdistan, 1,795,000; Mesopotamia, 1,200,000; Syria, 1,100,000; Arabia, 4,500,000. Total, 170,000,000.


Egypt, 9,000,000; Tripoli, 1,250,000; Tunis, 1,700,000; Algeria, 4,000,000; Morocco, 5,600,000; Eritrea, 150,000; Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1,000,000; Senegambia-Niger, 18,000,000; Abyssinia, 350,000; Kamerun, 2,000,000; Nigeria, 6,000,000; Dahomey, 350,000; Ivory Coast, 800,000; Liberia, 600,000; Sierra Leone, 333,000; French Guinea, 1,500,000; French, British, and Italian Somaliland, British East African Protectorate, Uganda, Togoland, Gambia and Senegal, about 2,000,000; Zanzibar, German East Africa, Portuguese East Africa, Rhodesia, Congo Free State, and French Congo, about 4,000,000; South Africa and adjacent island, about 235,000.-Approximate total, 60,000,000.


Turkey in Europe, 2,100,000; Greece, Servia, Rumania, and Bulgaria, about 1,369,000. Total, about 3,500,000.

America and Australia

About 70,000.

About 7,000,000 (i.e., four-fifths) of the Persian Mohammedans and about 5,000,000 of the Indian Mohammedans are Shiahs; the rest of the Mohammedan world - about 221,000,000 - are almost all Sunnites.

B. Tenets

The principal tents of Mohammedanism are laid down in the Koran. As aids in interpreting the religious system of the Koran we have: first, the so-called "Traditions", which are supposed to contain supplementary teachings and doctrine of Mohammed, a very considerable part of which, however, is decidedly spurious; second, the consensus of the doctors of Islam represented by the most celebrated imâms, the founders of the various Islamic sects, the Koranic commentators and the masters of Mohammedans jurisprudence; third, the analogy, or deduction from recognized principles admitted in the Koran and in the Traditions. Mohammed's religion, known among its adherents as Islam, contains practically nothing original; it is a confused combination of native Arabian heathenism, Judaism, Christianity, Sabiism (Mandoeanism), Hanifism, and Zoroastrianism.

The system may be divided into two parts: dogma, or theory; and morals, or practice. The whole fabric is built on five fundamental points, one belonging to faith, or theory, and the other four to morals, or practice. All Mohammedan dogma is supposed to be expressed in the one formula: "there is no God but the true God; and Mohammed is His prophet." But this one confession implies for Mohammedans six distinct articles:

belief in the unity of God;

in His angels;

in His Scripture;

in His prophets;

in the Resurrection and Day of Judgment; and

in God's absolute and irrevocable decree and predetermination both of good and of evil.

The four points relating to morals, or practice, are:

prayer, ablutions, and purifications;


fasting; and

pilgrimage to Mecca.

(1) Dogma

The doctrines of Islam concerning God - His unity and Divine attributes - are essentially those of the Bible; but to the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Divine Sonship of Christ Mohammed had the strongest antipathy. As Noldeke remarks, Mohammed's acquaintance with those two dogmas was superficial; even the clauses of the Creed that referred to them were not properly known to him, and thus he felt that it was quite impossible to bring them into harmony with the simple Semitic Monotheism; probably, too, it was this consideration alone that hindered him from embracing Christianity (Sketches from Eastern History, 62). The number of prophets sent by God is said to have been about 124,000, and of apostles, 315. Of the former, 22 are mentioned by name in the Koran - such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus.

According to the Sunni, the Prophets and Apostles were sinless and superior to the angels, and they had the power of performing miracles. Mohammedan angelology and demonology are almost wholly based on later Jewish and early Christian traditions. The angels are believed to be free from all sin; they neither eat nor drink; there is no distinction of sex among them. They are, as a rule, invisible, save to animals, although, at times, they appear in human form. The principal angels are: Gabriel, the guardian and communicator of God's revelation to man; Michael, the guardian of men; Azrail, the angel of death, whose duty is to receive men's souls when they die; and Israfil, the angel of the Resurrection.

In addition to these there are the Seraphim, who surround the throne of God, constantly chanting His praises; the Secretaries, who record the actions of men; the Observers, who spy on every word and deed of mankind; the Travellers, whose duty it is to traverse the whole earth in order to know whether, and when, men utter the name of God; the Angels of the Seven Planets; the Angels who have charge of hell; and a countless multitude of heavenly beings who fill all space. The chief devil is Iblis, who, like his numerous companions, was once the nearest to God, but was cast out for refusing to pay homage to Adam at the command of God. These devils are harmful both to the souls and to the bodies of men, although their evil influence is constantly checked by Divine interference.

Besides angels and devils, there are also jinns, or genii, creatures of fire, able to eat, drink, propagate, and die; some good, others bad, but all capable of future salvation and damnation.

God rewards good and punishes evil deeds. He is merciful and is easily propitiated by repentance. The punishment of the impenitent wicked will be fearful, and the reward of the faithful great. All men will have to rise from the dead and submit to the universal judgment. The Day of Resurrection and of Judgment will be preceded and accompanied by seventeen fearful, or greater, signs in heaven and on earth, and eight lesser ones, some of which are identical with those mentioned in the New Testament. The Resurrection will be general and will extend to all creatures - angels, jinns, men, and brutes. The torments of hell and the pleasures of Paradise, but especially the latter, are proverbially crass and sensual.

Hell is divided into seven regions: Jahannam, reserved for faithless Mohammedans; Laza, for the Jews; Al-Hutama, for the Christians; Al-Sair, for the Sabians; Al-Saqar, for the Magians; Al-Jahim, for idolaters; Al-Hawiyat, for hypocrites. As to the torments of hell, it is believed that the damned will dwell amid pestilential winds and in scalding water, and in the shadow of a black smoke. Draughts of boiling water will be forced down their throats. They will be dragged by the scalp, flung into the fire, wrapped in garments of flame, and beaten with iron maces. When their skins are well burned, other skins will be given them for their greater torture. While the damnation of all infidels will be hopeless and eternal, the Moslems, who, though holding the true religion, have been guilty of heinous sins, will be delivered from hell after expiating their crimes.

The joys and glories of Paradise are as fantastic and sensual as the lascivious Arabian mind could possibly imagine. "As plenty of water is one of the greatest additions to the delights of the Bedouin Arab, the Koran often speaks of the rivers of Paradise as a principal ornament thereof; some of these streams flow with water, some with wine and others with honey, besides many other lesser springs and fountains, whose pebbles are rubies and emeralds, while their earth consists of camphor, their beds of musk, and their sides of saffron. But all these glories will be eclipsed by the resplendent and ravishing girls, or houris, of Paradise, the enjoyment of whose company will be the principal felicity of the faithful. These maidens are created not of clay, as in the case of mortal women, but of pure musk, and free from all natural impurities, defects, and inconveniences. They will be beautiful and modest and secluded from public view in pavilions of hollow pearls. The pleasures of Paradise will be so overwhelming that God will give to everyone the potentialities of a hundred individuals.

To each individuals a large mansion will be assigned, and the very meanest will have at his disposal at least 80,000 servants and seventy-two wives of the girls of Paradise. While eating they will be waited on by 300 attendants, the food being served in dishes of gold, whereof 300 shall be set before him at once, containing each a different kind of food, and an inexhaustible supply of wine and liquors. The magnificence of the garments and gems is conformable to the delicacy of their diet. For they will be clothed in the richest silks and brocades, and adorned with bracelets of gold and silver, and crowns set with pearls, and will make use of silken carpets, couches, pillows, etc., and in order that they may enjoy all these pleasures, God will grant them perpetual youth, beauty, and vigour. Music and singing will also be ravishing and everlasting" (Wollaston, "Muhammed, His Life and Doctrines").

The Mohammedan doctrine of predestination is equivalent to fatalism. They believe in God's absolute decree and predetermination both of good and of evil; viz., whatever has been or shall be in the world, whether good or bad, proceeds entirely from the Divine will, and is irrevocably fixed and recorded from all eternity. The possession and the exercise of our own free will is, accordingly, futile and useless. The absurdity of this doctrine was felt by later Mohammedan theologians, who sought in vain by various subtile distinctions to minimize it.

(2) Practice

The five pillars of the practical and of the ritualistic side of Islam are the recital of the Creed and prayers, fasting, almsgiving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The formula of the Creed has been given above, and its recital is necessary for salvation.

The daily prayers are five in number: before sunrise, at midday, at four in the afternoon, at sunset, and shortly before midnight. The forms of prayer and the postures are prescribed in a very limited Koranic liturgy. All prayers must be made looking towards Mecca, and must be preceded by washing, neglect of which renders the prayers of no effect. Public prayer is made on Friday in the mosque, and is led by an imâm. Only men attend the public prayers, as women seldom pray even at home. Prayers for the dead are meritorious and commended.

Fasting is commended at all seasons, but prescribed only in the month of Ramadan. It begins at sunrise and ends at sunset, and is very rigorous, especially when the fasting season falls in summer. At the end of Ramadan comes the great feast-day, generally called Bairam, or Fitr, i.e., "Breaking of the Fast". The other great festival is that of Azha, borrowed with modifications from the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Almsgiving is highly commended: on the feast-day after Ramadan it is obligatory, and is to be directed to the "faithful" (Mohammedans) only.

Pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime is a duty incumbent on every free Moslem of sufficient means and bodily strength; the merit of it cannot be obtained by deputy, and the ceremonies are strictly similar to those performed by the Prophet himself (see MECCA). Pilgrimages to the tombs of saints are very common nowadays, especially in Persia and India, although they were absolutely forbidden by Mohammed.

(2) Morals

It is hardly necessary here to emphasize the fact that the ethics of Islam are far inferior to those of Judaism and even more inferior to those of the New Testament. Furthermore, we cannot agree with Noldeke when he maintains that, although in many respects the ethics of Islam are not to be compared even with such Christianity as prevailed, and still prevails, in the East, nevertheless, in other points, the new faith - simple, robust, in the vigour of its youth - far surpassed the religion of the Syrian and Egyptian Christians, which was in a stagnating condition, and steadily sinking lower and lower into the depths of barbarism (op. cit., Wollaston, 71, 72). The history and the development, as well as the past and present religious, social, and ethical condition of all the Christian nations and countries, no matter of what sect or school they may be, as compared with these of the various Mohammedan countries, in all ages, is a sufficient refutation of Noldeke's assertion. That in the ethics of Islam there is a great deal to admire and to approve, is beyond dispute; but of originality or superiority, there is none. What is really good in Mohammedan ethics is either commonplace or borrowed from some other religions, whereas what is characteristic is nearly always imperfect or wicked.

The principal sins forbidden by Mohammed are idolatry and apostasy, adultery, false witness against a brother Moslem, games of chance, the drinking of wine or other intoxicants, usury, and divination by arrows. Brotherly love is confined in Islam to Mohammedans. Any form of idolatry or apostasy is severely punished in Islam, but the violation of any of the other ordinances is generally allowed to go unpunished, unless it seriously conflicts with the social welfare or the political order of the State. Among other prohibitions mention must be made of the eating of blood, of swine's flesh, of whatever dies of itself, or is slain in honour of any idol, or is strangled, or killed by a blow, or a fall, or by another beast. In case of dire necessity, however, these restrictions may be dispensed with. Infanticide, extensively practiced by the pre-Islamic Arabs, is strictly forbidden by Mohammed, as is also the sacrificing of children to idols in fulfilment of vows, etc. The crime of infanticide commonly took the form of burying newborn females, lest the parents should be reduced to poverty by providing for them, or else that they might avoid the sorrow and disgrace which would follow, if their daughters should be made captives or become scandalous by their behaviour.

Religion and the State are not separated in Islam. Hence Mohammedan jurisprudence, civil and criminal, is mainly based on the Koran and on the "Traditions". Thousands of judicial decisions are attributed to Mohammed and incorporated in the various collections of Hadith. Mohammed commanded reverence and obedience to parents, and kindness to wives and slaves. Slander and backbiting are strongly denounced, although false evidence is allowed to hide a Moslem's crime and to save his reputation or life.

As regards marriage, polygamy, and divorce, the Koran explicitly (sura iv, v. 3) allows four lawful wives at a time, whom the husband may divorce whenever he pleases. Slave-mistresses and concubines are permitted in any number. At present, however, owing to economic reasons, concubinage is not as commonly practiced as Western popular opinion seems to hold. Seclusion of wives is commanded, and in case of unfaithfulness, the wife's evidence, either in her own defense or against her husband, is not admitted, while that of the husband invariably is.

In this, as in there judicial cases, the evidence of two women, if admitted, is sometimes allowed to be worth that of one man. The man is allowed to repudiate his wife on the slightest pretext, but the woman is not permitted even to separate herself from her husband unless it be for ill-usage, want of proper maintenance, or neglect of conjugal duty; and even then she generally loses her dowry, when she does not if divorced by her husband, unless she has been guilty of immodesty or notorious disobedience. Both husband and wife are explicitly forbidden by Mohammed to seek divorce on any slight occasion or the prompting of a whim, but this warning was not heeded either by Mohammed himself or by his followers. A divorced wife, in order to ascertain the paternity of a possible or probable offspring, must wait three months before she marries again. A widow, on the other hand, must wait four months and ten days. Immorality in general is severely condemned and punished by the Koran, but the moral laxity and depraved sensualism of the Mohammedans at large have practically nullified its effects.

Slavery is not only tolerated in the Koran, but is looked upon as a practical necessity, while the manumission of slaves is regarded as a meritorious deed. It must be observed, however, that among Mohammedans, the children of slaves and of concubines are generally considered equally legitimate with those of legal wives, none being accounted bastards except such as are born of public prostitutes, and whose fathers are unknown. The accusation often brought against the Koran that it teaches that women have no souls is without foundation. The Koranic law concerning inheritance insists that women and orphans be treated with justice and kindness. Generally speaking, however, males are entitled to twice as much as females. Contracts are to be conscientiously drawn up in the presence of witnesses. Murder, manslaughter, and suicide are explicitly forbidden, although blood revenge is allowed. In case of personal injury, the law of retaliation is approved.

In conclusion, reference must be made here to the sacred months, and to the weekly holy day. The Arabs had a year of twelve lunar months, and this, as often as seemed necessary, they brought roughly into accordance with the solar year by the intercalation of a thirteenth month. The Mohammedan year, however, has a mean duration of 354 days, and is ten or eleven days shorter than the solar year, and Mohammedan festivals, accordingly, move in succession through all the seasons.

The Mohammedan Era begins with the Hegira, which is assumed to have taken place on the 16th day of July, A.D. 622. To find what year of the Christian Era (A.D.) is represented by a given year of the Mohammedan Era (A.H.), the rule is: Subtract from the Mohammedan date the product of three times the last completed number of centuries, and add 621 to the remainder. (This rule, however, gives an exact result only for the first day of a Mohammedan century. Thus, e.g., the first day of the fourteenth century came in the course of the year of Our Lord 1883.) The first, seven, eleventh and twelfth months of the Mohammedan year are sacred; during these months it is not lawful to wage war. The twelfth month is consecrated to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and, in order to protect pilgrims, the preceding (eleventh) month and the following (first of the new year) are also inviolable.

The seventh month is reserved for the fast which Mohammed substituted for a month (the ninth) devoted by the Arabs in pre-Islamic times to excessive eating and drinking. Mohammed selected Friday as the sacred day of the week, and several fanciful reasons are adduced by the Prophet himself and by his followers for the selection; the most probable motive was the desire to have a holy day different from that of the Jews and that of the Christians. It is certain, however, that Friday was a day of solemn gatherings and public festivities among the pre-Islamic Arabs. Abstinence from work is not enjoined on Friday, but it is commanded that public prayers and worship must be performed on that day. Another custom dating from antiquity and still universally observed by all Mohammedans, although not explicitly enjoined in the Koran, is circumcision. It is looked upon as a semi-religious practice, and its performance is preceded and accompanied by great festivities.

In matters political Islam is a system of despotism at home and aggression abroad. The Prophet commanded absolute submission to the imâm. In no case was the sword to be raised against him. The rights of non-Moslem subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the "Infidel". Medieval and modern Mohammedan, especially Turkish, persecutions of both Jews and Christians are perhaps the best illustration of this fanatical religious and political spirit.

Publication information Written by Gabriel Oussani. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


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Jewish Viewpoint Information

Arabic word denoting "submission to God"; the name given to the religion of Mohammed and to the practises connected therewith. This religion was preached first to Mohammed's follow citizens in Mecca, then to all Arabia; and soon after his death it was spread to distant lands by the might of the sword. Its followers are called "Moslems" (Arabic,"Muslimin"). The word "Islam" represents the infinitive, the noun of action, of the factitive stem of the Arabic root "salam," and is rightly compared (Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 641; comp. Steinschneider, "Polemische und Apologetische Literatur," p. 266, note 56) with the use of the "hif'il" of "shalam" in later Hebrew; e.g., Pesiḳ. 125a ("mushlam"); Tan., ed. Buber, Gen. p. 46 ib. (where "hishlim" is used of proselytes).

Motive Principles.

The preaching of Mohammed as the messenger of God ("rasul Allah"; See Mohammed) owed its origin to the prophet's firm conviction of the approach of the Day of Judgment ("Yaum al-Din") and to his thorough belief in monotheism. The former was primarily a reaction against the conduct of the Meccan aristocracy of his time, which in his eyes was sensual, avaricious, proud, oppressive, and wholly indifferent to things spiritual; the latter was a protest against the polytheistic traditions of the Arabs. Mohammed was led to both through Jewish and Christian influences, to which he was subjected in his immediate surroundings as well as during the commercial journeys undertaken by him in his youth. Only in the second period of his activity, after the Hegira-the departure of himself and his most faithful followers to Medina (formerly Yathrib) in 622-did he undertake a practical organization of his prophetic work, and, by making concrete laws, give a definite form to the general religious feelingwhich had been aroused by his preaching. These laws dealt both with social relations and with religious worship. It was only then that the religious tendency which had arisen out of a reaction against the heathenism of Arabia took on the form of a real, positive institution.

Mohammed's conception of his own calling and the fate which his efforts had to endure at the hands of the infidels ("kafir"= "kofer") appeared to his mind as a reflection of the prophets of the Bible, whose number he increased by a few characters (e.g., Hud and Ṣaliḥ) borrowed from an old tradition (see Jubilees, Book of). The persecutions which were suffered at the hands of their fellow citizens by those whose work he had now taken up were repeated in his own career. There was the same obstinate refusal, the same appeal to ancestral traditions, the resigning of which for the sake of a Godsent message heathen nations had ever opposed. In the conduct of the Meccans toward Mohammed were repeated the actions of earlier peoples toward the messengers and prophets sent from time to time by Allah to mankind. Mohammed himself was the last link in the prophetic chain; the conclusion, the "seal of the prophets" ("khatam al-anbiya'"; comp. parallels in "J. Q. R." xiv. 725, note 5).

Relation to Predecessors.

In reality this confession or practise which he sought to establish was nothing new: it was only a restoration of the ancient religion of Ibrahim, to which God had called him (Mohammed) through the medium of Gabriel, the angel of revelation, whom he identified with the Holy Ghost. He claimed that he was to continue the mission of the earlier prophets from Adam to Jesus, and demanded for all of them faith and recognition; he would have their revealed books recognized as Holy Scriptures, viz., the Torah ("Taurat"), the Psalms ("Zabur"), and the Gospel ("Injil"). In addition, certain other prophets had written the will of God on rolls. As to his personal valuation, he made the most modest demands: he did not wish to be regarded as being above the sphere of humanity; he was only a man, of the same flesh and blood as those to whom his speech was directed; and he even declined with consistent firmness the suggestion to perform miracles, the one and only miracle being God's inimitable, unsurpassable word ("ḳur'an"), as the instrument of which he was called by God. Hence he emphatically denied the claims which Christianity made in regard to the character of its founder-a character which he held to be in contradiction not only to that of a prophet sent by God, but also to that of the transcendental monotheism which he (Mohammed) preached: "He is Allah, one alone; he begets not, and is not born; and no one equals him in power" (sura cxii.).

Since he claimed to be a restorer of the ancient, pure religion revealed to Abraham, he connected his teaching with that of the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, of whose contents, however, he had in many particulars only a very imperfect knowledge-his teachers having been monks or half-educated Jews-and this knowledge he often repeated in a confused and perverted fashion. What he received from the Jews was mixed with haggadic elements current orally among Arabian Jews or existing in written form [-probably preserved in Ethiopic translations of Hebrew pseudepigraphic writings.-K.]; and his conception of Christian teachings was sometimes that of the heretical sects (Collyridians, Docetæ) scattered throughout the Orient, and not recognized in the canonical doctrines of Christianity. As has recently been shown, Mohammed himself not only borrowed from Jews and Christians, but was influenced also by Parseeism, with the professors of which ("majus," "magian") he came into direct contact (I. Goldziher, "Islamisme et Parsisme," in "Actes du ler Congrès Internat. d'Histoire des Religions," i. 119-147, Paris, 1901).

The Koran.

The first and most ancient document of Islam is naturally the Koran ("Proclamation"), which, containing God's revelations to Mohammed, forms the foundation of his religion. The doctrine of faith and practise preached by Mohammed is unfolded gradually with the succession of stages in the growth of the Koran. In the first period of his activity (at Mecca) he was occupied chiefly with his inspirations in regard to the truths of the faith, the monotheistic idea, the divine judgment, and his prophetic calling. The monotheistic conception of God, which he opposes to Arabian heathendom, agrees in substance with that of the Old Testament; he emphasizes, however, as Nöldeke has pointed out, "more the universal power and the unhindered free will of God than His holiness." Mohammed connects the idea of omnipotence with the attribute of mercy, which forms an essential element in the exercise of God's omnipotence and which is expressed in the name for God taken from the mother religion, "al-Raḥman" ("Raḥmana"), usually joined with "al-Raḥim" (="the Compassionate"). The formulation of the social and ritualistic laws was revealed to him principally after the Hegira, during his sojourn in Medina; while the most essential elements of the ritual ordinances had been evolved during the Meccan period. In Medina he had counted much on the support of the influential Jews, by whom he expected to be regarded as the final messenger of God promised in the Scriptures. He accordingly at first made them various concessions. He pointed to Jerusalem as the direction ("ḳiblah") toward which they should turn when praying, and he established the tenth day of the first lunar month ('Ashura) as the great annual fast-day. The prohibition against eating swine's flesh was also taken from Judaism, and, like that against drinking wine, was accepted, since it was difficult in those days for Arabs to procure that beverage; whereas the adoption of the Biblical prohibition against camel's flesh would have encountered great opposition, because such meat formed an integral part of the national food (Fränkel, "Aramäische Fremdwörter im Arabischen," iii.). Circumcision, a custom preserved from old Arabian heathendom, does not possess in Islam the fundamental character peculiar to it among the Jews.

Opposition to Judaism.

In view, however, of the obstinate opposition maintained by the Jews, Mohammed soon annulled some of these concessions. The ḳiblah was directedtoward Mecca (sura ii. 136); the month Ramaḍan became the great period of fasting, in place of the tenth day of the first month; and in other cases also he opposed some of the principal details of Jewish practise. He set aside the restrictions of the dietary laws (retaining only those in regard to swine's flesh and animals which die a natural death or are offered as heathen sacrifices); and he protested against the Jewish conception and observation of the Sabbath. Instead of the day of rest in commemoration of God's resting, he appointed Friday ("Jum'ah") as a day of assembly for divine worship ("Die Sabbath-Institution in Islam," in "Kaufmann Gedenkbuch," pp. 86-101). In the abolition of such Biblical ordinances he laid down the principle of Abrogation which forms the basis of Islamic theology.

Institutions of Islam.

The fundamental obligations of Islam, called "pillars of religion," in their most complete systematic form are five in number:

(1) The "shahadah," the confession of faith: "There is no God but Allah; and Mohammed is his apostle." This twofold confession ("kalimata al-shahadah") is amplified into the following creed: "I believe in Allah, in his angels, in his [revealed] Scriptures, in his Prophets, in the future life, in the divine decree [in respect to] the good as well as [to] the bad, and in the resurrection of the dead."

(2) "Ṣalat" (divine worship), to be performed five times a day; viz., at noon ("ẓuhr"), in the afternoon ("'aṣr"), in the evening ("maghrib"), at the approach of night ("'isha'"), and in the morning between dawn and sunrise ("ṣubḥ"). The institution of these five times of prayer developed gradually; to the three daily prayers which Mohammed himself appointed after the Jewish pattern were soon added the other two, in imitation of the five "gah" of the Parsees.

(3) "Zakat," the levying of an annual property-tax on all property, the sum coming into the state treasury from this source to be used for the public and humanitarian objects enumerated in the Koran (sura ix. 60).

(4) "Al-ṣiyam" (= Hebr. "ẓom"), fasting from morning till evening every day during the month Ramaḍan (the severity of this law was lightened by certain indulgences).

(5) "Al-ḥajj" (the pilgrimage) to Mecca, imposed on every one for whom the performance of this duty is possible. The ceremonies incident to this pilgrimage Mohammed preserved from the traditional practises followed during the period of heathendom, although he reformed and reinterpreted them in a monotheistic sense (C. Snouck Hurgronje, "Het Mekkaansche Feest," Leyden, 1880). Dozy's theory, based on I Chron. iv. 39-43 (see his "De Israelieten te Mekka," Haarlem, 1864; German transl., Leipsic, 1864), that the pilgrimage ceremonies of olden times in Mecca were instituted by Israelites, more particularly by Simeonites who had been scattered thither, and that even the nomenclature of the rites may be etymologically explained from the Hebrew, has found little favor (comp. Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." iv. 281; "Z. D. M. G." xix. 330).

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29).

The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad. For the exercise of the ritual duties certain ceremonies are appointed (e.g., the preliminary ablutions and the definite number of bows and prostrations in the case of the ṣalat), the forms of which were, however, still variable during the first century of Islam. The early dispersion of the Moslems into distant lands, in which they conducted wars of conquest, made it difficult to establish a fixed practise. The most varying opinions arose concerning the regulations which the prophet had ordained in regard to these forms and the manner in which he had himself performed the ceremonies-in a word, concerning what was the "sunna" (traditional custom) in these matters. The claim as to the validity of each opinion was based on some alleged report ("ḥadith") either of a decree or of a practise of the prophet or of his companions ("aṣḥab").

In regard to these questions of detail, as indeed in regard to questions of law in general-which latter embraces both jurisprudence and matters of ritual-it was only in the second century after the establishment of Islam that fixed rules were adopted. These were founded partly on what was recognized as tradition, partly on speculative conclusions, and partly on the generally acknowledged and authenticated consensus of opinion in the community ("ijma'"). These legal regulations were worked up systematically, and furnished material for the activity of those theological schools in which was developed the Mohammedan law that to-day is still recognized as authoritative.

The study of law is one of the most important of Mohammedan sciences, "fiḳh" (lit. "reasonableness" ="juris prudentia"; Hebr. "ḥokmah"). Its students are the "fuḳaha" (sing. "faḳih"; i.e., "prudentes" ="ḥakamim"). On the development of this science Roman and Talmudic law, especially the former, has exercised a great influence. The studies of the oldest law schools have led to different results in the regulation of many details of the law according to the varying application of the data and of the fundamental principles. Hence arose the differencesin the ritualistic practises and in the verdicts of the various legal sects ("madhahib") of Islam. Many of these sects have since disappeared; but the Hanafites, the Shafiites, the Malikites, and the Hanfalites have survived to the present day, and are distributed over large tracts of the extensive Islamic world.


By far the largest sect is that of the Hanafites, founded in the school of the Imam Abu Ḥanifah (d. 150 A.H.=767 C.E.); it predominates in Turkey, in middle Asia, and in India. The Shafiites, named after the Imam Al-Shafi'i (d. 204=819), prevail in Egypt, southern Arabia, the Dutch colonies, and in German East-African territory. The Malikites, named after Malik ibn Anas, the great Imam of Medina (d. 179=795), include those who profess Islam in northern Africa and some in Upper Egypt. The Hanbalites, distinguished for their rigor and intolerance, and for a strict adherence to tradition, are named after the Imam Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (d. 241=855). This sect suffered a serious decline after the fifteenth century; but it revived in the eighteenth century in the Wahabite movement of central Arabia, where the general adoption of its point of view led to the foundation of the Wahabitic dynasty. These four sects stand on the common basis of the sunna.

The Mohammedan schismatic movement was in origin not religious, but political. Its central point is the question as to the rightful successor to the prophet in the government of the Islamic community. While the Sunnites recognize the right of election to the califate, the Shiites refuse to accept the historical facts, and recognize as legitimate rulers and successors ("khalifah") to the prophet only his direct blood relations and descendants in the line of his daughter Fatima, the wife of Ali. But they are again divided among themselves according to which branch of the prophet's descendants they recognize. The Shiitic High Church, represented by the sect of the Ithna-ashariyyah (="Twelvers"), also called "Imamites," derive the legitimate succession in the califate (they prefer the term "Imam" to "Khalifah") from Ali, and transmit it from father to son until the twelfth Imam, Mohammed b. Ḥasan al-'Askari.

This Mohammed is said to have disappeared mysteriously in the year 266 A.H. (=879 C.E.), when he was but eight years old; and the "Twelvers" hold that since then he has lived in concealment, and will appear again at the last day as Imam Mahdi. Another branch of the Shiites, the so-called "Isma'iliyyah," known in history as "the Fatimites," founded a dynasty which was powerful for some time in North Africa and in Egypt (909-1171 C.E.). As a result of the veneration paid by the Shiites to the family of Ali and Fatima (belief in the infallibility of the Imams is obligatory on all Shiites), doctrines of incarnation have sprung up within these sects, which join to the theory of the legitimate imamate the belief that the possessor of this dignity becomes super human; and this belief is even carried to the point of recognizing the existence of "God-men."

Liberal Movement in Islam.

The Gnostic teachings that have developed in Islam have exercised an influence on its cosmogonic and emanational theories, plainly evidencing the effect of Babylonian and Parsee ideas. To this day the stunted remains of these old tendencies survive in the Druses, Noṣairians, and the other sects scattered through Persia and Syria; and the history of Islam as well as a not inconsiderable literature bears testimony to the extent of their influence (comp. Dussaud, "Histoire et Religion des Noṣairis," Paris, 1900; Seybold, "Die Drusenschrift 'Das Buch der Punkte und Kreise,'" Tübingen, 1902). An acquaintance with the dogmatic movement in Islam and with the sects that have proceeded from it is of great importance for the study of the history of religious philosophy in Judaism, and of its expression in the Jewish literature of the Middle Ages. As early as the second century of Islam, through the influence of Greek philosophy a rationalistic reaction took place in Syria and Mesopotamia against a literal acceptance of several conceptions of orthodox belief. This reaction touched especially upon the definition of the attributes of God, the doctrine of revelation, and the conceptions of free will and fatalism. While the strictly orthodox party, represented for the greater part by the followers of Ibn Ḥanbal (see above), clung in all questions to a literal interpretation of the Koran and tradition, the Motazilites introduced a more reasonable religious view, one more in keeping with the essence of monotheism (see Arabic Philosophy).

Its Spread.

Wholly without parallel in the history of the world was the rapid and victorious spread of Islam, within scarcely a century after the death of its founder, beyond the boundaries of Arabia, over Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, middle Asia to the borders of China, the whole coast of North Africa (ancient Mauritania and Numidia), and Europe as far as Spain. It subdued the Sudan as well as India; it flooded the Malayan islands; and it has not yet finished its propaganda among the negroes of Africa, where it is steadily gaining ground. Starting from Zanzibar, it has spread to Mozambique, to the Portuguese colonies on the coast, to the negro tribes of South Africa, and it has even penetrated Madagascar. Islam is represented in America also, in some of the negroes who have immigrated to the western hemisphere. The slight Islamic propaganda of modern times among the Christians of North America is a peculiar one. It finds its expression in an English-Mohammedan service, in an Islamic literature, as well as in a newspaper ("The Moslem World"). In England, also, a Mohammedan community has recently been founded (Quilliam; comp. "Islam in America," New York, 1893).

The total number of professors of the Mohammedan faith in the world has been variously estimated. Two computations of modern times should especially be mentioned: that of the Mohammedan scholar Rouhi al-Khalidi, who gives the total number as 282, 225, 420 ("Revue de l'Islam, "1897, No. 21), and that of Hubert Jansen ("Verbreitung des Islams," etc., Friedrichshagen, 1897), whose estimate, in round numbers, is 260,000,000.

Relation to Judaism:

In connection with the general sketch given above it is of especial importance from the Jewish standpoint to note the relations between Jews and Mohammedans.In the Koran many a harsh word is spoken against the Jews, probably as the immediate effect of the difficulties which people in Arabia offered to the fulfilment of Mohammed's hopes and of the obstinate refusal with which they met his appeal to them. They are characterized as those upon whom "God's anger rests" (suras v. 65, lviii. 15, and, according to the traditional exegesis of Mohammedans, i. 7). They are taxed with having a special hatred for the faithful (v. 85); hence friendships with them should not be formed (v. 56). This sentiment is presupposed to a still greater degree in the old ḥadith. It was a general conviction that the Jew who seems to salute a Moslem with the usual salaam greeting, instead of saying the word "salam" (health) says "sam" (death), which has a similar sound. One instance of this is related as having taken place even as early as the time of the prophet (Bukhari, "Isti'dhan," No. 22; idem, "Da'awat," No. 56). "Never is a Jew alone with a Moslem without planning how he may kill him" (Jaḥiẓ, "Bayan," i. 165). In this way a fanatical rage against the Jews was infused into the minds of the Mohammedans. On the last day the faithful will battle with the Jews, whereupon the stones will say to the believers: "Behind me lurks a Jew, oh Moslem! Strike him dead!" (Musnad Aḥmad, ii. 122, 131, 149; Bukhari, "Jihad," No. 93).

Treatment of Jews.

But, in spite of the continuance of this malevolent disposition in single cases, one gathers from the old literature of Islam the general impression that after the foundation of the Mohammedan community a milder sentiment in respect to the Jews was introduced. Even Mohammed had already proclaimed toleration of the "Ahl al-Kitab" in consideration of their paying a certain tax ("jizyah") into the state treasury; although, to be sure, a certain humiliation for the unbelievers attached to the collection of this tax (sura ix. 29). In the following generation, under the calif Omar, the details were fixed for the execution of this general law. One might say that side by side with the harshness shown by Mohammed and Omar toward the Jews settled in Arabia itself (they were, in fact, all driven out), there existed a more tolerant disposition toward those who were brought under the Mohammedan yoke through the extensive conquests of Islam.

This disposition is expressed in many old ḥadiths, of which the following may serve as an illustration: "Whoever wrongs a Christian or a Jew, against him shall I myself appear as accuser on the Judgment Day." A number of current decrees emphasize the duties toward the "mu'ahad" (those with whom a compact has been made to protect them), or the "dhimmi" (those recommended to protection)-such are the names given to the professors of other faiths who are granted protection-and whenever mention is made of protection of the "persecuted," the commentators never omit to add that this is obligatory in regard to Moslems and also in regard to the "ahl al-dimmah." It is probable that the influence of the old Arabic conception of the duty of caring for whomsoever the tribe had taken under its protection is to be seen here; according to that conception, difference in religion was not sufficient ground for making an exception (an example of this may be found in "Kitab al-'Aghani," xi. 91).

Pact of Omar.

In the instructions which Omar gave to the generals as they set forth to spread the supremacy of Islam by the power of the sword, and to the officials to whom he entrusted the administration of the conquered lands, the injunction to respect and guard the religious institutions of the inhabitants of such lands who profess other faiths often occurs; e.g., in the directions given to Mu'adh ibn Jabal for Yemen, that no Jew be disturbed in the exercise of his faith ("Baladhuri," ed. De Goeje, p. 71). Omar likewise directed that some of the money and food due to the poor from public revenues be given to non-Moslems (ib. p. 129). Characteristic of this attitude toward the Jew is a story-somewhat fabulous, it is true-told of a house in Busrah. When Omar's governor in this conquered city desired to build a mosque, the site of a Jew's house appeared to him to be suitable for the purpose. In spite of the objections of the owner, he had the dwelling torn down, and built the mosque in its place.

The outraged Jew went to Medina to tell his grievance to Omar, whom he found wandering among the graves, poorly clad and lost in pious meditation. When the calif had heard his complaint, anxious to avoid delay and having no parchment with him, he picked up the jaw-bone of an ass and wrote on it an urgent command to the governor to tear down his mosque and rebuild the house of the Jew. This spot was still called "the house of the Jew" up to modern times (Porter, "Five Years in Damascus," 2d ed., p. 235, London, 1870). To Omar, however, is likewise ascribed the origin of a pact ("'ahd 'Omar"; See Omar) whose provisions were very severe.

Whatever may be true as to the genuineness of these "pacts" (see in this connection De Goeje, "Mémoire sur la Conquête de la Syrie," p. 142, Leyden, 1900; T. W. Arnold, "The Preaching of Islam," p. 52), it is certain that not until the science of Mohammedan law had reached its full development in the Fiḳh school and the canonical law had been definitely codified after the second century of the Hegira, was the interconfessional law definitely established. A chapter dealing with the social and legal position of those "possessing Scriptures" may be found in every Mohammedan legal code. There is a regular gradation in respect to the degree of tolerance granted by the various legal sects ("madhahib"). On the whole, the attempt was made in these codes to adhere in theory to the original fundamental laws. The adherence was modified, however, by a certain amount of increased rigor, corresponding to the public feeling of the age in which the codes came into existence-that of the Abbassids. The most intolerant were the followers of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal. The codification of the laws in question has been given in detail by Goldziher in "Monatsschrift," 1880, pp. 302-308.

Anti-Jewish Traditions.

The different tendencies in the codifications are shown in divergences in the decrees attributed to the prophet. While one reads, "Whoever does violence to a dhimmi who has paid his jizyah and evidenced his submission-his enemy I am" ("Usd al-Ghaba," iii. 133), people with fanatical views haveput into the mouth of the prophet such words as these: "Whoever shows a friendly face to a dhimmi is like one who deals me a blow in the side" (Ibn Ḥajar al-Haitami, "Fatawi Ḥadithiyyah," p. 118, Cairo, 1307). Or: "The angel Gabriel met the prophet on one occasion, whereupon the latter wished to take his hand. Gabriel, however, drew back, saying: 'Thou hast but just now touched the hand of a Jew.' The prophet was required to make his ablutions before he was allowed to take the angel's hand" (Dhahabi, "Mizan al-I'tidal," ii. 232, 275). These and similar sayings, however, were repudiated by the Mohammedan ḥadithcritics themselves as false and spurious. They betray the fanatical spirit of the circle in which they originated.

Official Islam has even tried to turn away from Jews and Christians the point of whatever malicious maxims have been handed down from ancient times. An old saying in regard to infidels reads: "If ye meet them in the way, speak not to them and crowd them to the wall." When Suhail, who relates this saying of the prophet, was asked whether Jews and Christians were intended, he answered that this command referred to the heathen ("mushrikin"; "Musnad Aḥmad," ii. 262). Under the dominion of the Ommiads the followers of other religious faiths were little disturbed, since it was not in keeping with the worldly policy of those rulers to favor the tendencies of fanatical zealots. Omar II. (717-720) was the only one of this worldly-wise dynasty who trenched upon the equal privileges of unbelievers; and he was under the pietistic influence.

Intolerance of infidels and a limitation of their freedom were first made a part of the law during the rule of the Abbassids (see Abbassid Califs), who, to bring about the ruin of their predecessors, had supported theocratic views and granted great influence to the representatives of intolerant creeds (comp. "Z. D. M. G." xxxviii. 679; "R. E. J." xxx. 6). Under them also the law was introduced compelling Jews to be distinguished by their clothing ("ghiyar"; Abu Yusuf, "Kitab alKharaj," pp. 72-73, Bulak, 1302). At a later period such distinguishing marks became frequent in the Mohammedan kingdoms, especially in North Africa, where the badge was known as "shaklah" (Fagnan, "Chroniques des Almohades et des Hafçidcs Attribué à Zerkechi," p., 19, Constantine, 1895).

Influence of Judaism on Islam.

The debt of Islam to Judaism is not limited to the laws, institutions, doctrines, and traditions which Mohammed himself borrowed from the Jews and incorporated in his revelations (see Koran). For its later development, also, Islam made use of much material presented to its teachers through direct association with Jews, through the influence of converted Jews, and through contact with the surrounding Jewish life. Many a Jewish tradition has thus crept into Islam and taken an important place there. It is related that 'Ayisha, the wife of the prophet, owned to having received the idea of the torments of the grave ("'adhab al-ḳabr" = Hebr. "ḥibbuṭ ha-ḳeber") from Jewish women, and that Mohammed incorporated it in his teaching. Other eschatological details of Judaism served to embellish the original material, much of which goes back to Parsee sources (e.g., the leviathan and "shor ha-bar" as food = preserved wine as a drink in paradise; the "luz"="'ujb" out of which men's bodies will be reconstructed at the resurrection, etc.; see Eschatology). From the very beginning Jews versed in the Scriptures ("ḥabr" [plural, "aḥbar"] =Hebr. "ḥaber") became of great importance in providing such details; and it was from the information thus supplied that the meager skeleton of the teachings of the Koran was built up and clothed.

These aḥbar hold an important position also as sources for information concerning Islam. It will be sufficient here to refer to the many teachings in the first two centuries of Islam which are recorded under the names Ka'b al-Aḥbar (d. 654) and Wahb ibn Munabbih (d. circa 731). In the first place, Islam owes to this source its elaborations of Biblical legends; many of these elaborations are incorporated in the canonical ḥadith works, and still more in the historical books (e.g., Ṭabari, vol. i.); and they early developed into an important special literature, a compilation of which is found in a work by Tha'labi (d. 1036) dealing exhaustively with these subjects and entitled "'Ara'is al-Majalis" (frequently printed in Cairo). Here belong the many tales current in Islamic legendary literature under the name "Isra-'iliyyat" (= "Jewish narratives"; comp. "R. E. J." xliv. 63 et seq.). According to the researches of F. Perles and Victor Chauvin, a large number of the tales in the "Thousand and One Nights" go back to such Jewish sources (see Arabian Nights).

The system of genealogy, so important among the Arabs, connecting early Arabian history with that of the Biblical patriarchs, also goes back to Jewish sources. In particular a Jewish scholar of Palmyra is mentioned who adapted the genealogical tables of the Bible to the demands of Arabic genealogy (comp. references in Goldziher, "Muhammedanische Studien," i. 178, note 2). It was likewise such Jewish converts who offered the material for certain theories hostile to Judaism; for example, the view, not generally accepted by Mohammedans (ib. i. 145), but which is nevertheless very widely spread, that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was consecrated as a sacrifice ("dhabiḥ") to God, originates from the teaching of a crafty convert who wished to ingratiate himself with his new associates (Ṭabari, i. 299).

Influence of Jewish on Mohammedan Law.

Islam in the course of its development borrowed also a large number of legal precepts from the Jewish Halakah. The importance attached to the "niyyah" (= "intentio") in the practise of law is at first glance reminiscent of the rabbinical teaching concerning "kawwanah," even though all the details do not coincide. The Mohammedan regulations appertaining to slaughtering, those relating to the personal qualifications of the "shoḥeṭ" (Arabic, "dhabiḥ") as well as those in regard to the details of slaughtering, show plainly the influence of the Jewish Halakah, as a glance into the codes themselves will prove. These are easily accessible, in the original as well as in European translations (Nawawi, "Minhag al-Ṭalibin," ed. Van den Berg, iii. 297, Batavia,1882-84; "Fatḥ al-Ḳarib," edited by the same, pp. 631 et seq., Leyden, 1894; Tornaw, "Das Muslimische Recht," p. 228, Leipsic, 1855). For example, the Mohammedan law in regard to slaughtering ordains expressly that the "ḥulḳum" (Hebr. "ḳaneh") and the "mari'" (Hebr. "wesheṭ") must be severed, and forbids killing in any other manner.

On the other hand, the law, peculiar to Islam, that the slaughterer in the performance of his duty must turn the animal toward the "ḳiblah," has given material for halakic reflections on the part of Jews (Solomon ben Adret, Responsa, No. 345; "Bet Yosef," on Ṭur Yoreh De'ah iv., end). The rule that God's name be mentioned before slaughtering is probably a reflection of the Jewish benediction, as are also in general the eulogies ordained by Islamic tradition at the appearance of certain natural phenomena (Nawawi, "Adhkar," p. 79, Cairo, 1312), which may be traced back to the influence of Jewish customs. Mohammedan law has adopted literally the provision "ka-makḥol ba-she-poperet" in the case of the precept concerning adultery, and it betrays its source through this characteristic form of speech ("R. E. J." xxviii. 79), which is not the only one that teachers of Islam have taken over from rabbinical linguistic usage (ib. xliii. 5).

The attempt has been made by Alfred von Kremer ("Culturgesch. des Orients Unter den Chalifen," i. 525, 535) to show by many examples that the codifiers, of Mohammedan civil law were influenced by Talmudic-rabbinical law. There is, however, legitimate doubt in the case of many of such coincidences whether Roman law, the influence of which on the development of Mohammedan law is beyond question, should not be considered as the direct source from which Islamic teachers borrowed. Such a question must arise from a consideration of the legal principle of the "istiṣḥab" (= "præsumptio"), the meaning and application of which coincide fully with that of the rabbinical principle of the ("Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes," i. 239). Likewise the rules and , and the fundamental principle of the ("istiṣlaḥ") are found literally among the cardinal juridical principles of Islamic law (ib. p. 229; "Muhammedanische Studien," ii. 82, No. 6).

In spite of the fact that it is a principle of Islamic tradition to avoid all imitation of the usages and customs of the ahl al-Kitab and that the disapproval of many usages of religious as well as of secular life is specifically ascribed to such a cause ("R. E. J." xxviii. 77), still many religious practises of Judaism have been incorporated into Islam; for example, many details in the ceremony of burying the dead, as "ṭaḥarah" (washing the dead), holy texts being recited during the washing of the various parts of the body (Al-'Abdari, "Madkhal," iii. 12, Alexandria, 1293). Such intrusive customs are not seldom censured by the purists of Islam as being "bid'a" (unorthodox innovations), in opposition to the "Sunnah" (old orthodox usage). Those elements of Mohammedan religious literature which correspond to the Jewish Haggadah offer a large field for derivation; in this connection See Ḥadith.

Islam is regarded by Mohammedans, as may be easily conceived, not only as the final stage of the divine revelation, but also as being quantitatively richer than either Judaism or Christianity. More ethical demands are made by it than by the older religions. This idea found expression in an old ḥadith which even at a very early period was misinterpreted to read: "Judaism has 71, Christianity 72, and Islam 73 sects." The word which was taken to mean "sects" denotes literally "branches," and should be interpreted "religious demands," "the highest of which is the acknowledgment of God and Mohammed, and the lowest the removal of offense from the way" (on the original meaning of this saying see Goldziher, "Le Dénombrement des Sectes Mohametanes," in "Revue de l'Histoire des Religions," xxvi. 129-137).


The theological relation of Islam to Judaism is presented in an extensive polemical literature on the part of Mohammedan scholars. The subject-matter of this literature is closely related to the attacks and accusations already directed against Judaism by the Koran and the ḥadith. In the Koran (ix. 30) the Jews are charged with worshiping Ezra ("'Uzair") as the son of God-a malevolent metaphor for the great respect which was paid by the Jews to the memory of Ezra as the restorer of the Law, and from which the Ezra legends of apocryphal literature (II Esd. xxxiv. 37-49) originated (as to how they developed in Mohammedan legends see Damiri, "Ḥayat al-Ḥayawan," i. 304-305). It is hard to bring into harmony with this the fact, related by Jacob Saphir ("Eben Sappir," i. 99), that the Jews of South Arabia have a pronounced aversion for the memory of Ezra, and even exclude his name from their category of proper names. More clearly still does this literature bring forward an accusation, founded on suras ii. 70, v. 15, that the Jews had falsified certain portions of the Holy Scriptures and concealed others (iii. 64, vi. 91).

Even in Mohammed's time the rabbis were said to have misrepresented to the prophet the law in regard to adulterers ("R. E. J." xxviii. 79). In later times the details as to these falsifications were continually augmented. It was said, for example, that in order to rob the Arabs of an honor done to their ancestors the Jews wrongly inserted in the Pentateuch the choice of Isaac as the child whose sacrifice God demanded of Abraham and which the paṭriarch was willing to make, whereas in reality it was Ishmael (comp. "Muhammedanische Studien," i. 145, note 5). But the accusation of misrepresentation and concealment is most emphatic in connection with those passages of the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms in which the adherents of Islam claim that Mohammed's name and attributes, his future appearance as "seal of the prophets," and his mission to all mankind were predicted.

Mohammedan, theologians divide these charges into two classes: they hold (1) that in some cases the original text itself has been falsified, while (2) in others it is the interpretation of a genuine text that has been wilfully perverted. Whereas in the earlier period of the controversy these accusations were made against the "aḥbar" as a class, who were represented as leading the Jewish people astray, lateron the personal nature of the charge was accentuated, and the fault ascribed to Ezra "the writer" ("al-warraḳ"), who in his restoration of the forgotten writings was said to have falsified them ("Z. D. M. G." xxxii. 370). Abraham ibn Daud ("Emunah Ramah," p. 79) combats this accusation. According to tradition, Ibn Ḳutaiba (d. 276 A.H. = 889 C.E.) was the first to bring together the Biblical passages supposed to refer to the sending of Mohammed. His enumeration of them has been preserved in a work by Ibn al-Jauzi (12th cent.), from which it has been published in the Arabic text by Brockelmann ("Beiträge für Semitische Wortforschung," iii. 46-55; comp. Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1894, pp. 138-142).

These passages recur with more or less completeness in the works of all Moslem apologists and controversialists (comp. the enumeration of the Biblical names of the prophet and the Biblical verses relating to him in "Z. D. M. G." xxxii. 374-379), and are usually combined with similar New Testament prophecies supposed to refer to him (Παράκλητος, confused with Περικλυτός, is taken to mean Mohammed). Of the Biblical names supposed to allude to Mohammed, Jewish apologists have been compelled most often to refute the identification of with the name of the prophet of Islam.

With this portion of the polemic directed against the Bible is often connected an exposition of the contradictions and incongruities in the Biblical narrative. The first to enter this field was the Spaniard Abu Mohammed ibn Ḥazm, a contemporary of Samuel ha-Nagid, with whom he was personally acquainted (see Bibliography below). He was the first important systematizer of this literature; and his attacks upon Judaism and its Scriptures are discussed by Solomon ben Adret in his "Ma'amar 'al Yishmael" (Schreiner, in "Z. D. M. G." xlviii. 39).

Restriction of Recognition of Islam.

One of the earliest points of controversy was the contention of the Jews that, although Mohammed was to be regarded as a national prophet, his mission was to the Arabs only or in general to peoples who had had as yet no revealed Scriptures ("ummiyin"; Kobak's "Jeschurun," ix. 24). In opposition to this, Mohammedan theologians and controversialists declared that Mohammed's divine mission was universal, hence intended for the Jews also. Abu 'Isa Obadiah al-Iṣfahani, founder of the 'Isawites (middle of the 8th cent.), admitted that Mohammedanism as well as Christianity was entitled to recognize its founder as a prophet, whose mission was intended for "its people"; he thus recognized the relative truth of Islam in so far as its followers were concerned (Ḳirḳisani, ed. Harkavy, § 11). The turning-point in this controversy was the question of abrogation of the divine laws, inasmuch as a general acceptance of Islam presupposed the abolition of the earlier divine revelations.

Otherwise the abolition of the Sabbath law (see "Kaufmann Gedenkbuch," p. 100), of the dietary laws, and of other Biblical precepts and regulations given by God would lose all claim to validity. Consequently the Mohammedans, while maintaining the authority of the ancient prophets, had to demonstrate the provisional and temporary nature of such of the earlier divine laws abrogated by Mohammed as they did not claim to be out-and-out inventions. So much the more vigorously, therefore, did the Jewish dogmatists (Saadia, "Emunot we-De'ot," book iii.; Abraham ibn Daud, "Emunah Ramah," pp. 75 et seq.) oppose from a philosophical standpoint this view, which attacked the essential principles of the Jewish religion.

The anti-Jewish controversialists of Islam assumed as an established fact that the Jews were required to hold an anthropomorphic, corporeal conception of God ("tajsim," "tashbih"). Judaism is even held responsible for the anthropomorphic conceptions found in other confessions (see "Kaufmann Gedenkbuch," p. 100, note 1). The Biblical passages brought forward as proof (among the earliest of them is Gen. i. 26-27) are counted with those which it is claimed were falsified by the Jews. Besides the Biblical passages, references from the Talmud in which extremely anthropomorphic statements are made concerning God ("God prays, mourns," etc.) are also brought forward to support these charges. The material for the last-named class of attacks was probably furnished by the Karaites, who are treated respectfully by the Mohammedan controversialists, are characterized as standing closer to Islam, and in general are exalted at the expense of the Rabbinites.

Ibn Ḥazm extends the attack against the Jews to the rabbinical amplifications of the laws, to the "bonds and chains" with which the Jews have, with unjustifiable arbitrariness on the part of the Rabbis, been bound. Since the time of the Jewish, apostate Samuel. b. Yaḥya, the polemic has taken the form of satire, directed most often against the minutiæ of the precepts on slaughtering and on the order of procedure in connection with the "bedikat ha-re'ah." The same controversialist also began to criticize the text of certain prayers (which he cites in Hebrew) and to hold up the conduct of the Rabbis to ridicule. Later Islamic controversialists have copied extensively from this convert from Judaism.

Kaufmann Kohler, Ignatz Goldziher
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

M. Lidzbarski, De Propheticis, Quæ Dicuntur, Legendis Arabicis, Leipsic, 1893; G. Weil, Biblische, Legenden der Muselmänner, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1845; V. Chauvin, La Recension Egyptienne des Mille et Une Nuits, in Bibliothèque de la Facultéde Philos. et Lettres de Liège, Brussels, 1899. Dozy, Het Islamisme, Haarlem. 1863 (French transl. by Chauvin, entitled Essai sur l'Histoire de l'Islamisme, Paris, 1879); A. von Kremer, Gesch. der Herrschenden Ideen des Islams, Leipsic, 1868; idem, Culturgeschichtliche Streifzüge auf dem Gebiete des Islams, ib. 1873; idem, Culturgesch. des Orients Unter den Chalifen, Vienna, 1875-77; Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, London, 1885; Sell, The Faith of Islam, Madras, 1886; I. Goldziher, Die âhiriten, Ihr Lehrsystem und Ihre Gesch.: Beitrag zur Gesch. der Muhammedanischen Theologie, Leipsic, 1884; idem, Muhammedanische Studien, Halle, 1889-90; C. Snouck Hurgronje, De Islam, in De Gids, 1886;

Nöldeke, Der Islam, in Orientalische Skizzen, pp. 63-110, Berlin, 1892; Grimme, Mohammed, part ii., Münster, 1894; E. Moutet, La Propagande Chrétienne et Ses Adversaires Musulmanes, Paris, 1890; T. W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, London, 1896; Rüling, Beiträge zur Eschatologie des Islams, Leipsic, 1895; H. Preserved Smith, The Bible and Islam, or the Influence of the Old and New Testament on, the Religion of Mohammed (Ely Lectures), London, 1898; Pautz, Muhammeds Lehre von der Offenbarung, Leipsic, 1898; M. Steinschneider, Polemische und Apologetische Literatur in Arabischer Sprache Zwischen Muslimen, Christen, und Juden, in Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vi., No. 3, ib. 1877; I. Goldziher, Ueber Muhammedanische Polemik Gegen Ahl al-Kitab, in Z. D. M. G. xxxii. 341-387; M. Schreiner, Zur Gesch. der Polemik Zwischen Juden, und Muhammedanern, ib. xlii. 591-675. Abdallah b. Isma'il al-Hashimi, a polemic against Christianityand its refutation by 'Abd al-Masiḥ b. Isḥaḳ al-Kindi (commencement of 9th cent.), London. 1880;

comp. Al-Kindi: The Apology Written at the Court of Al-Mamun in Defense of Christianity Against Islam, with an, Essay on its Age and Authorship, London Soc. for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1887 (comp. Steinschneider in Z. D. M. G. xlix. 248, note 2); Ibn Ḳutaiba (d. 276 A.H. = 889 C.E.), ed. Brockelmann; Al-Mawardi (d. 450 = 1058). ed. Schreiner, in Kohut Memorial Volume, pp. 502-513; Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456 = 1064), Kitab al-Milal wal-Niḥal, Cairo, 1319 = 1901; Samau'al b.Yaḥya al-Maghribi (Jewish apostate, wrote 1169), Ifḥam al-Jahud (extracts therefrom revised and published by M. Schreiner in Monatsschrift, xlii. 123-133, 170-180, 214-223, 253-261, 407-418, 457-465); Mohammed ibn Ẓufr (a Sicilian; d. 565=1169), Khair al-Bishar bi-Khair al-Bashar, Cairo, 1280=1863; Aḥmad b. Idris al-ḥimhaji al-Ḳarafl (d. 684= 1285), Al-Ajwibat al-Fakhirah 'an al-As'ilat al-Fajirah, ib. 1320=1902; Sa'id b. Ḥasan of Alexandria (Jewish apostate; wrote 720=1320), Masalik al-Naẓar (excerpts published by I. Goldziher in R. E. J. xxx. 1-23);

Mohammed ibn Ḳayyim al-Jauziya (d. 751=1351), Irshad al-Ḥajara min al-Yahud wal-Naṣara, Cairo, 1320=1902 (for different title see Steinschneider, l.c. p. 108, No. 87); Abdallah al-Tarjumani (Christian apostate, wrote 823=1420), Tuḥfat al-Arib fi al-Radd 'Ala Ahl-al-Ṣalib, Cairo, 1895 (transl. by Jean Spiro in Revue de l'Histoire des Religions, xii. 68-89, 179-201, 278-301, under the title Le Présent de l'Homme Lettré pour Refuter les Partisans de la Croix; Turkish transl. by Mohammed Dhini, Constantinople, 1291=1874); Abu al-Faḍl al-Maliki al-Su'udi (wrote 942=1535), Disputatio pro Religione Mohammedanorum Adversus Christianos, ed. F. T. van den Ham, Leyden, 1890; Sayyid 'Ali Mohammed (a Shiite), Zad Ḳalil (Indian lithograph, 1290=1873; the Biblical references are inserted in the Arabic text with Hebraic letters and Arabic transcription); Proof of the Prophet Mohamet from the Bible, No. 23 of the publications of the Mohammedan Tract and Book Depot, Lahore, is wholly modern;

Al-Kanz al-Maurud fi-ma Baḳiya 'Alaina min Naḳs Shari'at al-Yahud (a Druse polemic against the Pentateuch; extracts from it have been published by I. Goldziher in Geiger's Jüd. Zeit. xi. 68-79); I. Goldziher, Proben Muhammedanischer Polemik Gegen den Talmud: i. (Ibn Haẓm) in Kobak's Jeschurun, viii. 76-104; ii. (Ibn. Ḳayyim al-Jawziya), ib. ix. 18-47 (Arabic text with German transl.)-an especial anti-Talmudic polemic.

Muhammad (or as Jews spell it, Mohammed)

Jewish Viewpoint Information

Early Years.

Early Years.

Founder of Islam and of the Mohammedan empire; born at Mecca between 569 and 571 of the common era; died June, 632, at Medina. Mohammed was a posthumous child and lost his mother when he was six years old. He then came under the guardianship of his grandfather 'Abd al-Muṭṭalib, who at his death, two years later, left the boy to the care of his son Abu Ṭalib, Mohammed's uncle. The early years of Mohammed's life were spent among the Banu Sa'd, Bedouins of the desert, it being the custom at Mecca to send a child away from home to be nursed. From the stories told of these early years it would appear that even then he showed symptoms of epilepsy which greatly alarmed his nurse. It has been stated that the boy was once taken on a caravan journey to Syria, and that he there came in contact with Jews and Christians. But he could very easily have become acquainted with both at Mecca; hence this theory is not necessary to explain his knowledge of Jewish and Christian beliefs. When Mohammed was twenty-five years old Abu Ṭalib obtained for him an opportunity to travel with a caravan in the service of Ḥadijah, a wealthy widow of the Ḳuraish, who offered Mohammed her hand on his return from the expedition. Six children were the fruit of this union, the four daughters surviving their father. Ḥadijah, although fifteen years his senior, was, as long as she lived, Mohammed's faithful friend and sympathizer.G. M. W. M.

South-Arabian Visionaries.

Mohammed's religious activity began with the fortieth year of his life. The Islamic tradition assigns as the beginning of this new career a sudden marvelous illumination through God. The Koran, however, the most authentic document of Islam, whose beginnings are probably contemporaneous with Mohammed's first sermons, speaks of this revelation on the "fateful night" rather vaguely in a passage of the later Meccan period, while the earlier passages give the impression that Mohammed himself had somewhat hazy ideas on the first stages of the revelation which culminated in his occasional intercourse with God, through the mediation of various spiritual beings. Small wonder that his pagan countrymen took him to be a "kahin," i.e., one of those Arab soothsayers who, claiming higher inspiration, uttered rimed oracles similar to those found in the earliest suras. Historical investigations, however, show that Mohammed must not be classed with those pagan seers, but with a sect of monotheistic visionaries of whose probable existence in southern Arabia, on the borderland between Judaism and Christianity, some notice has come down in the fragment of an inscription recently published in "W. Z. K. M." (1896, pp. 285 et seq.). This fragment ascribes to God the attribute of vouchsafing "revelation" (?) and "glad tidings" ("bashr," i.e., "gospel" or "gift of preaching"), meaning probably the occasional visionary illumination of the believer. As the same inscription contains other religious concepts and expressions which parallel those in the Koran, Mohammed may well be associated with this religious tendency. The name of this South-Arabian sect is not known; but the "Ḥanifs" of the Islamic tradition belonged probably to them, being a body of monotheistic ascetics who lived according to the "religion of Abraham" and who bitterly inveighed against the immoral practises of paganism.

The First Moslems.

Islam in its earliest form certainly did not go far beyond the tenets of these men. Mohammed condemns idolatry by emphasizing the existence of a single powerful God, who has created and who maintains heaven and earth: but he condemns still more emphatically the vices born of idolatry, namely, covetousness, greed, and injustice to one's neighbor; and he recommends prayer and the giving of alms as a means of purifying the spirit and of being justified at the divine judgment. This gospel includes nothing that was not contained in Judaism or in Christianity, nor anything of what constituted the fundamental difference between the two. Islam, however, did not undertake to bridge the gulf between them.

Mohammed's teaching, on the contrary, was at first expressly directed against the Arab pagans only; and even in the later Meccan period it refers to its consonance with the doctrines of the "men of the revelation," i.e., Jews and Christians. Nothing is more erroneous than to assume that the watchword of the later Islam, "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet," was characteristic of the very beginning of the religious movement inaugurated by Mohammed: not the belief in dogmas, but the recognition of ethical obligations, was the object of his mission to his countrymen. That meant that the Arab prophet strove to gain in every believer an ally to help him to wage war upon the corruptions of the day. Mohammed's political astuteness, which was a signal characteristic of his Medina period, is apparent even in the organization of the first community. Its members were mostly poor but intellectually eminent Ḳuraish like Ali, Abu Bakr, Zubair, 'Abd al-Raḥman ibn 'Auf, Sa'd ibn Abi Waḳḳaṣ, Othman, and others. They, being in the execution of their religious duties under Mohammed's personal supervision, soon grew to be so dependent upon him that their tribal consciousness-the strongest instinct in the social life of the ancient Arabs-was gradually superseded by the consciousness of being Moslems, the community thus developing into a small state with Mohammed as its chief. Hence in time sharp conflicts arose between the powerful Meccans, the sheiks of the leading families, and Mohammed. For years they had suffered him as a harmless dreamer, a soothsayer, a magician, and even as one possessed of demons; then, when his prediction in regard to the imminent judgment of God remained unfulfilled, they had mocked him; but when the community grew-eveneminent personages like Ḥamzah swearing by Islam-they grew hostile and began to persecute him and his adherents, their action culminating in the ostracism of Mohammed's family, the Banu Hashim.

Restricted in his missionary activity, and separated from a large part of the faithful who had sought refuge in Christian Abyssinia, the prophet lost heart. His preaching, in so far as its nature can be gathered from the Koran, was filled with references to the persecutions to which the earlier messengers of God had been subjected, and to their final rescue by Him; and it emphasized "raḥmah"-i.e., mercy shown to the good, and long-suffering to the wicked-as being God's chief attribute. Various dogmatic-theosophic discussions were added, among them being the first protests against the Christian doctrine of the son of God. The teachings of Islam, which at first had been merely a body of precepts, developed more and more into a regular system which reflected in its chief tenets the later Judaism.

The Hegira (622).

When the leading families of Mecca revoked the ban pronounced against the Banu Hashim, which had been maintained for nearly three years, they might well have believed that Mohammed's political importance at Mecca was destroyed. The prophet himself perceived, especially after the death of his protector Abu Ṭalib and of his (Mohammed's) wife Ḥadijah, that his native city was not the proper place in which to carry out his communal ideas; and he cast about for a locality better adapted to his purposes. After various unsuccessful attempts to find a following among neighboring tribes, he happened to meet, during the annual festival of the temple at Mecca, six people from Yathrib (Medina); the Arab inhabitants of this city had come into close contact with monotheistic ideas through their long sojourn among the Jewish tribes which had been the original masters of the city, as well as with several Christian families. These men, being related to Mohammed on his mother's side, took up the cause of the prophet, and were so active in its behalf among their people that after two years seventy-five believers of Medina went to Mecca during the festival and proclaimed in the so-called "'aḳabah," or war assembly, the official reception of Mohammed and his adherents at Mecca into the community of Yathrib. The consequence was that within a short time all the Moslems removed to Medina; and the prophet himself, as the last one, closed the first period of Islam by his hasty departure, as in flight ("Hegira"; Sept., 622).

Mohammed's entry into Medina marks the beginning of an almost continuous external development of Islam, which as a religion, it is true, lost in depth and moral content, and crystallized into dogmatic formulas, but as a political entity achieved increasing success through the eminent political ability of the prophet himself. The Arab inhabitants of Medina, the tribes of Aus and Khazraj, all joined the religion of the prophet within two years from the Hegira. Political differences, however, arose between them, especially after Mohammed had reserved for himself exclusively the office of judge; and these differences led to the formation of a moderate party of opposition, the Munafij, or weak believers, who often, and without detriment to his cause, restrained the prophet's impetuosity. But the propaganda came to a halt among the numerous Jews living in the city and the surrounding country, who were partly under the protection of the ruling Arab tribes, the Banu 'Auf, Al-Ḥarith, Al-Najjar, Sa'idah, Jusham, Al-Aus, Tha'labah, and partly belonged to such large and powerful Jewish tribes as the Banu Ḳuraiẓa, Al-Naḍir, Ḳainuḳa'. In the first year of the Hegira Mohammed was apparently on friendly terms with them, not yet recognizing their religion to be different from his; indeed, they were included in a treaty which he made with the inhabitants of Medina shortly after his arrival among them. The prophet and his adherents borrowed from these Jews many ritual customs, as, for instance, the regularity and formality of public prayers, fasting-which later on, following the Christian example, was extended to a whole month-the more important of the dietary laws, and the "ḳiblah" (direction in which one turns during prayer) toward Jerusalem, which was subsequently changed to the ḳiblah toward Mecca. But the longer Mohammed studied the Jews the more clearly he perceived that there were irreconcilable differences between their religion and his, especially when the belief in his prophetic mission became the criterion of a true Moslem.

Relation to Jews.

The Jews, on their side, could not let pass unchallenged the way in which the Koran appropriated Biblical accounts and personages; for instance, its making Abraham an Arab and the founder of the Ka'bah at Mecca. The prophet, who looked upon every evident correction of his gospel as an attack upon his own reputation, brooked no contradiction, and unhesitatingly threw down the gauntlet to the Jews. Numerous passages in the Koran show how he gradually went from slight thrusts to malicious vituperations and brutal attacks on the customs and beliefs of the Jews. When they justified themselves by referring to the Bible, Mohammed, who had taken nothing therefrom at first hand, accused them of intentionally concealing its true meaning or of entirely misunderstanding it, and taunted them with being "asses who carry books" (sura lxii. 5). The increasing bitterness of this vituperation, which was similarly directed against the less numerous Christians of Medina, indicated that in time Mohammed would not hesitate to proceed to actual hostilities. The outbreak of the latter was deferred by the fact that the hatred of the prophet was turned more forcibly in another direction, namely, against the people of Mecca, whose earlier refusal of Islam and whose attitude toward the community appeared to him at Medina as a personal insult which constituted a sufficient cause for war. The Koran, in order to lead its adherents to the belief that side by side with the humane precepts of religion were others commanding religious war ("jihad"), even to the extent of destroying human life, had to incorporate a number of passages enjoining with increasing emphasis the faithful to take up the sword for their faith. The earlier of these passages enunciated only the right of defensive action, but later ones emphasized the duty of taking the offensiveagainst unbelievers-i.e., in the first place, the people of Mecca-until they should accept the new faith or be annihilated. The prophet's policy, steadily pursuing one object, and hesitating at no means to achieve it, soon actualized this new doctrine.G. H. G.

First Raids.

Mohammed's first attacks upon the Meccans were of a predatory nature, made upon the caravans, which, as all classes had a financial interest in them, were the very life of the city. The early expeditions were of comparatively little importance; and the battle of Badr in the second year of the Hegira was the first encounter of really great moment. In this battle the Moslems were successful and killed nearly fifty of the Ḳuraish, besides taking prisoners. This battle was of supreme importance in the history of Islam. The prophet had preached the doctrine that war against the unbelievers was a religious duty; and now he could claim that God was on his side. His power was consolidated; the faith of the wavering was strengthened; and his opponents were terrified. The die was cast; Islam was to be a religion of conquest with the sword. After the battle of Badr, Mohammed dared to manifest his hostility to the Jews openly. A Jewess, named Asma, who had written satirical verses on the battle of Badr, was assassinated, by command of Mohammed, as she lay in bed with her child at the breast. The murderer was publicly commended the next day by the prophet. A few weeks later Abu 'Afak, a Jewish poet whose verses had similarly offended, was likewise murdered. It is said that Mohammed had expressed a desire to be rid of him. These were single instances. The prophet soon found a pretext for attacking in a body the Banu Ḳainuḳa', one of the three influential Jewish tribes at Medina. They were besieged in their stronghold for fifteen days, and finally surrendered. Mohammed was prevented from putting them all to death only by the insistent pleading in their behalf of Abdallah b. Ubai, the influential leader of the opposition whom Mohammed did not dare offend. Instead, the whole tribe was banished, and its goods were confiscated. The prophet was thus enabled to give material benefits to his followers.

Death to Jewish Poets.

Medina now enjoyed a few months of comparative quiet, disturbed only by a few unimportant marauding expeditions. The third year of the Hegira was marked by the assassination of a third Jewish poet, Ka'b b. al-Ashraf, who by his verses had stirred up the Ḳuraish at Mecca against Mohammed. The prophet prayed to be delivered from him; and there was no lack of men eager to execute his wishes. The circumstances attending the murder were particularly revolting. At about the same time a Jewish merchant, Abu Sanina by name, was murdered, and the Jews complained to Mohammed of such treacherous dealing. A new treaty was concluded with them, which, however, did not greatly allay their fears. Some months after these events (Jan., 625) occurred the battle of Uḥud, in which the Meccans took revenge for their defeat at Badr. Seventy-four Moslems were killed in the fight; Mohammed himself was badly wounded; and the prophet's prestige was seriously affected. The Jews were especially jubilant, declaring that if he had claimed Badr to be a mark of divine favor, Uḥud, by the same process of reasoning, must be a proof of disfavor. Various answers to these doubts and arguments may be found in the Koran, sura iii.

Attacks the Banu al-Nadir.

Mohammed now needed some opportunity to recover his prestige and to make up for the disappointment of Uḥud. He found it the next year in an attack upon the Banu al-Naḍir, another of the influential Jewish tribes in the vicinity of Medina. A pretext was easily invented. Mohammed had visited the settlement of the tribe to discuss the amount of blood-money to be paid for the murder of two men by an ally of the Jews, when he suddenly left the gathering and went home. He is said by some to have declared that the angel Gabriel had revealed to him a plot of the Banu al-Naḍir to kill him as he sat among them. The latter were immediately informed that they must leave the vicinity. They refused to obey; and Mohammed attacked their stronghold. After a siege lasting more than a fortnight, and after their date-trees had been cut down-contrary to Arabian ethics of war-the Jewish tribe surrendered and was allowed to emigrate with all its possessions, on condition of leaving its arms behind (Sprenger, "Das Leben des Moḥammad," iii. 162; "Allg. Zeit. des Jud." pp. 58, 92). The rich lands thus left vacant were distributed among the refugees who had fled with Mohammed from Mecca and who had hitherto been more or less of a burden on the hospitality of the people of Medina. The prophet was thus able both to satisfy his hatred against the Jews and materially to strengthen his position.

Destroys the Banu Ḳuraiẓa.

In the fifth year of the Hegira the Banu Ḳuraiẓa, the last Jewish tribe remaining in the neighborhood of Medina, were disposed of. Again the direct cause for attack was a matter of policy. The Ḳuraish of Mecca, whose caravans were constantly being harassed by the Moslems and by other disaffected tribes including the Jews, had formed the project of uniting their forces against Mohammed. The leader of this enterprise was the able and vigorous Abu Sufyan of Mecca. The allies encamped before Medina and engaged in what is known as "the battle of the trenches," so called from the manner in which Medina was protected from attack. The Moslems succeeded in keeping the Banu Ḳuraiẓa out of the fight by making them and the allies mutually suspicious, and the allies finally withdrew without having accomplished their purpose. The Moslems also were disappointed in having no plunder, so that Mohammed felt called upon to provide a diversion. The allies had scarcely departed, the Moslems had not yet laid down their arms, when the prophet claimed to have received a communication from Gabriel bidding him march instantly against the Banu Ḳuraiẓa. The last-named, who had no time to prepare for a long siege, retired to their castles, and surrendered after two weeks, trusting to escape as their kinsmen of the Banu Ḳainuẓa' and the Banu al-Naḍir had done. Their fate was left to the decision of Sa'ad b. Mu'adh, who, although of the tribe of Aus, the allies of the Ḳuraiẓa, felt bitter toward them on account of their supposed treachery toward the Moslems. He decided that all the men should be killed, the women and children sold as slaves, and the property divided among the army. The carnage began the next morning, and between 600 and 700 victims were beheaded beside the trenches in which they were to be buried. Mohammed refers to the siege of Medina and the massacre of the Jews in sura xxxiii.

Attacks Jews of Khaibar.

There were now no more Jews in the vicinity of Medina, but those at Khaibar continued to annoy the prophet. Abu al-Ḥuḳaiḳ of the Banu al-Naḍir, who had settled at Khaibar, was suspected of inciting the Bedouins to plunder the Moslems. Accordingly five men of the Banu Khazraj were sent secretly and murdered him. Usair, who succeeded him as chief of Khaibar, was likewise assassinated at Mohammed's command. In the sixth year of the Hegira Mohammed made a treaty with the Ḳuraish, at Ḥudaibiyah, whither he had proceeded with some of his followers with the intention of making the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Ḳuraish objected to his entering the city, and this treaty was made instead. It provided for a cessation of hostilities for ten years. In the same year Mohammed sent embassies to the rulers of the six surrounding states inviting them to embrace Islam, but the King of Abyssinia was the only one who sent a favorable reply. In the next year the prophet attacked the Jews of Khaibar in order to reward with the rich plunder of that place the followers who had accompanied him to Ḥudaibiyah. The Jews were conquered after a brave resistance, and their leader, Kinanah, was killed. Mohammed married the chief's young wife on the battle-field; and a very rich booty fell into the hands of the Moslems. Some Jews were still left at Khaibar, but merely as tillers of the soil, and on condition of giving up one-half the produce. They remained until Omar banished all Jews from the country. The Jews of the Wadi alḲura, of Fadak, and of Taima were still left; but they surrendered before the end of the year. An attempt on the life of Mohammed was made at Khaibar by a Jewish woman named Zainab, who, in revenge for the death of her male relatives in battle, put poison in a dish prepared by her for the prophet. One of Mohammed's followers who par-took of the food died almost immediately afterward; but the prophet, who had eaten more sparingly, escaped. He, however, complained of the effects of the poison to the end of his life.

His Domestic Life.

During the twenty-five years of his union with Ḥadijah Mohammed had no other wife; but scarcely two months had elapsed after her death (619) when he married Sauda, the widow of Sakran, who, with her husband, had become an early convert to Islam and who was one of the emigrants to Abyssinia. At about the same time Mohammed contracted an engagement with 'A'ishah, the six-year-old daughter of Abu Bakr, and married her shortly after his arrival at Medina. 'A'ishah was the only one of his wives who had not been previously married; and she remained his favorite to the end. After his death she exercised great influence over the Moslems. In his married life, as well as in his religious life, a change seems to have come over Mohammed after his removal to Medina. In the space of ten years he took twelve or thirteen wives and had several concubines: even the faithful were scandalized, and the prophet had to resort to alleged special revelations from God to justify his conduct. Such was the case when he wished to marry Zainab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid. Two of his wives were Jewesses: one was the beautiful Riḥanah of the Banu Ḳuraiẓa, whom he married immediately after the massacre of her husband and other relatives; the other was Safya, the wife of Kinanah, whom, as stated above, Mohammed married on the battle-field of Khaibar. None of these wives bore him any children. Mohammed built little huts for his wives adjoining the mosque at Medina, each wife having her own apartment. At his death there were nine of these apartments, corresponding to the number of his wives living at that time. Mohammed's daughter Faṭimah, by Ḥadijah, married Ali and became the mother of Ḥasan and Ḥusain.

The last three years of Mohammed's life were marked by a steady increase of power. In the eighth year of the Hegira (630) he entered the city of Mecca as a conqueror, showing great forbearance toward his old enemies. This event decided his eventual supremacy over the whole of Arabia. Other conquests extended his authority to the Syrian frontier and as far south as Ṭa'if; and in the following years embassies poured in from the different parts of the peninsula bringing the submission of the various tribes. Mohammed's death occurred in the eleventh year of the Hegira, after he had been ill with a fever for over a week. He was buried where he died, in the apartment of 'A'ishah; and the spot is now a place of pilgrimage.

Richard Gottheil, Mary W. Montgomery, Hubert Grimme
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Grimme, Mohammed; M. Hartmann, in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. lviii. 66-68, 79-80, 89-92, 102-104; Ibn Hisham, Das Leben Mohammeds, ed. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1858; W. Muir, The Life of Mahomet, London, 1877; A. Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad, Berlin, 1869. See also Islam; Koran.

Islam, Muslims

Orthodox Information

(This information may not be of the scholastic quality of the other articles in BELIEVE. Since few Orthodox scholarly articles have been translated into English, we have had to rely on Orthodox Wiki as a source. Since the Wikipedia collections do not indicate the author's name for articles, and essentially anyone is free to edit or alter any of their articles (again, without any indication of what was changed or who changed it), we have concerns. However, in order to include an Orthodox perspective in some of our subject presentations, we have found it necessary to do this. At least until actual scholarly Orthodox texts are translated from the Greek originals!)

Islam is one of the major world religions with an estimated 1.3 billion followers worldwide [1]. The name Islam comes from an Arabic term meaning submission, a reference to the central belief that the goal of religion, or of a true believer, is submission to God's will. Adherents of Islam are referred to as Muslims.

Islam teaches that God (in Arabic, Allah) revealed his direct word and commands for mankind to Muhammad (c. 570–632) in the form of the Qur'an (also Koran), and to other prophets (including Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus), many of whom are Biblical figures shared with Christianity and Judaism. Despite admitting the ministry of prophets earlier than Muhammad, Islam asserts that the primary written record of God's revelation to humankind is the Qur'an, which Muslims believe to be flawless, immutable, and the final revelation of God.

Islam has been termed one of the three Abrahamic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism. At times, the Bahá'í Faith is also included. Islam teaches that parts of the Bible have been forgotten, misinterpreted, or distorted by Christians and Jews. Given this perspective, Islam views the Qur'an as corrective of Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Muslims do not hold the divinity of Jesus Christ and his unique salvific role, and the teachings of Islam in this respect have been likened to a compound heresy composed of elements of Arianism, Nestorianism, and Docetism ("...They did not kill him [Jesus] and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them..." Qur'an, 4:157), with some Pelagian and also Monarchianistic (i.e., anti-Trinitarian)] elements.

Muslims hold that Islam is essentially the same belief as that of all the messengers sent by God to mankind since Adam, with the Qur'an (the one definitive text of the Muslim faith) codifying the final revelation of God. Islam views Judaism and Christianity as incomplete derivatives of the teachings of certain prophets—notably Abraham—and therefore acknowledges their Abrahamic roots, whilst the Qur'an calls them People of the Book.

According to the Qur'an Jesus is the Christ, the son of Mary, the Messenger of God. Further, that Jesus was given the Gospel as a Book from God, and Jesus came to confirm the Torah, and also to permit some of what was prohibited upon the sons of Israel for some reasons. It also teaches the Jesus the Christ is a Word from God, and a Messenger sent by Him.

Islam has three primary branches of belief, based largely on a historical disagreement over the succession of authority after Muhammad's death. These are known as Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kharijite.

Orthodoxy and Islam

The rise of Islam presented a major challenge to Orthodoxy. Beginning in the seventh century, major portions of the Orthodox heartlands (in Syria and Egypt) fell under Muslim rule. By the fifteenth century, most traditionally Orthodox lands were controlled either by Muslim or Roman Catholic rulers, with the exception of northeastern Russia (the Grand Principality of Moscow) and the Ethiopian highlands. The Orthodox generally accepted rule by non-Orthodox governments, provided that freedom of worship was guaranteed. In Ottoman lands, governed under the millet system (by which people were grouped by religion rather than nationality), Orthodox bishops also served as Ethnarchs (political rulers of their communities).[1] Ottoman implementation of the devsirme tax system witnessed Orthodox children of the rural populations of the Balkans, the flower of Orthodox Christendom, conscripted before adolescence and brought up as Muslims. As their empire declined, the Ottoman Muslims became decreasingly tolerant of Orthodox Chrstians.

See also

A History of Orthodox Missions Among the Muslims
Saints of the Orthodox Church who converted from Islam: St. Serapion of Kozheozero, St. Constantine Hagarit, St. Ahmed the Deftedar, St. Abu of Tbilisi, St. Peter and Stephan of Kazan.
Orthodox Women Saints and Islam
Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens on "Islam: The Extent of the Problematics”
Zakaria Botros
Roman Silantyev
Daniel (Bambang Dwi) Byantoro
Ottoman rule and Eastern Christianity

External Links

Orthodoxy and Islam at Orthodox Christian Information Center.
St. John of Damascus' Critique of Islam. Orthodox Christian Information Center.
"Islam is a Different Culture". SPIEGEL ONLINE: Interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper, September 18, 2006.
Islam and the West: Towards an Anti-Civilization. Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland website. (Argues that the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ between the “west” and “islam” is not the real issue, rather, due to pervasive secularism, it is the clash between between “civilization” and “anti-civilization” that is the real threat). World Council of Churches. Living in Community: The Goal of Christian-Muslim Dialogue. October 20, 2008.
Hilary Kilpatrick. Orthodox-Muslim Relations: The Search for Truth. In Communion: Website of Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

Human Rights and Persecution of Christians

Rev. Fr. Raphael Moore. In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust. Compiled by Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes. Boise, Idaho, USA. October 1999.
Dr. Otmar Oehring. TURKEY: Turkish Nationalism, Ergenekon, and Denial of Religious Freedom. Forum 18 News, 21 October 2008.

(Dr. Otmar Oehring is Head of the Human Rights Office of the German Catholic charity Missio. A trial has begun in Turkey of influential people alleged to be part of an ultra-nationalist group, Ergenekon. The court case reveals 86 members, ranging from the Turkish police, army, business, politics, and the mass media, are alleged in a plan to assassinate the Ecumenical Patriarch, along with the murder of two Turkish Christians. Ergenekon members are alleged to have maintained deathlists of people, including Christians with a missionary background. The Malatya murder trial is revealing plausible links between Ergenekon, the "deep state" and the murders.)

Luca Galassi ( Iraq, The Pogrom of the Christians. Oct 27, 2008.
Michael Coren. Michael Coren: The Jihad on Egypt's Christians. The National Post, Canada, October 23, 2008.
Directions to Orthodoxy. Eritrea Imposes New Controls on Orthodox Church. 26 Dec, 2006.

Further Reading

Abdullah Al-Araby. The Islamization of America: The Islamic Strategies and the Christian Response. Published by, 2003. ISBN 978-0965668378
Alvin J. Schmidt. The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West. Regina Orthodox Press, 2004. ISBN 9781928653196
Dr. N.L. Geiser and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. 2nd edition. Baker Publishing, 2002. ISBN 9780801064302
Bat Ye'or. The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude: Seventh-Twentieth Century. Translated by Miriam Kochan. Published by Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996. 522pp. ISBN 9780838636886
Fr. Nomikos Michael Vaporis. Witnesses for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000. 377 pp. ISBN 9780881411966
Fr. Samir Khalil Samir (S.J.), Giorgio Paolucci, and Camille Eid. 111

Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West. Transl. by Wafik Nasry and Claudia Castellani. Ignatius Press, 2008. 200 pp. ISBN 9781586171551 (Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, is an Islamic scholar, Semitologist, Orientalist and a Jesuit Catholic Theologian, based in Lebanon).
Fr. (Dr.) Theodore Pulcini. Face to Face: A Guide for Orthodox Christians Encountering Muslims. Light and Life Pub Co.
George Weigel. Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. Doubleday, 2007. ISBN 9780385523783
Giorgio Paolucci, Fr. Samir Khalil Samir (S.J.), Camille Eid. 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West. Transl. by Wafik Nasry and Claudia Castellani. Ignatius Press, 2008. 200 pp. ISBN 9781586171551
Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli. Islam Encounters Christ: A Fanatical Muslim's Encounter with Christ in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Transl. by Gamal Scharoubim. Light & Life Pub Co., 2002. ISBN 9781880971758
Philip H. Lochhaas. How to Respond to Muslims. Concordia Publishing House, 1995. ISBN 9780570046776
Prof. Efraim Karsh. Islamic Imperialism: A History. Yale University Press, 2006. 288 pp. ISBN 9780300106039 Serge Trifkovic. Defeating Jihad. Regina Orthodox Press, 2006. 480pp. ISBN 192865326X
Serge Trifkovic. The Sword of the Prophet: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World. Regina Orthodox Press, 2002. 300pp. ISBN 9781928653110
The Orthodox Christian-Muslim Symposium. Orthodox Christians and Muslims. Edited by Fr. N.M. Vaporis. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1986. ISBN 0917651340


1 Dr. Catharine Cookson, (J.D., Ph.D., 1952-2004). Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom. Published by Taylor & Francis, 2003. pp.313.


Dr. Catharine Cookson, (J.D., Ph.D., 1952-2004). Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom. Published by Taylor & Francis, 2003. 555 pp.

Additional Information

Comments from a Muslim visitor to BELIEVE:

About "Muhammadanism". This term is not just "offensive", it is regarded as inacceptable in Islam. Muhammadanism suggests a religion based on what Muhammad (Peace be upon him) supposedly "said in the Qur'an", but it is not Muhammad (PBUH) who spoke, it was Allah (God), and only He was the One Who sent down the Qur'an (Or Koran). There is one Surah (Chapter) in the Qur'an which emphasises the importance of this.

'And say: "All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has not begotten a son (nor an offspring), and Who has no partner in (His) Dominion, nor He is low to have a Wal (helper, protector or supporter). And magnify Him with all the magnificence, [Allahu-Akbar (Allah is the Most Great)].' (Holy Qur'an, Surah 17, Verse 111)

Replacing "Muhammadanism" with "Islam" is really the best thing to do, because never has there been an Islamic scholar which used this term to describe Islam, it has no valid ground. Moreover, Islam means "Submission to God", and this term is MUCH more appropriate than a term based on a human's name. (Note; It IS required in Islam to strive to be as Muhammad (PBUH), for he was the personification of the Qur'an! Next to the Qur'an, there is a book called the Sunnah, which contains sayings, acts, and words and acts of approval of the Prophet (PBUH).

A R Mulder

P.S. you might ask yourself what value the (Peace be upon Him) means after the name Muhammad (PBUH). It is what Muslims say whenever the Prophet's (PBUH) name is mentioned. The actual Arabic words, from which this was translated mean; May the mercy and peace of God be upon him.

Additional Information

BELIEVE Editor's Comment

There are some times when it is just apparently not possible to please anyone! As a Protestant Christian Church, we think we have made a valid effort at presenting the Islamic Faith as thoroughly and accurately as possible, in around 30 separate subject presentations. As a result, we get large amounts of vicious e-mail from many Christians, who feel we have "sold out" to Muslims in an unreasonably "nice" presentation. After 9/11, we even received several dozen death threats from Christians, for being "terrorist sympathizers!" (There is NOTHING in BELIEVE that remotely condones ANY terrorism, particularly since Jesus Taught PEACE and COMPASSION.) Even when we would respond to such incredibly vicious attacks by mentioning that we are a Christian Protestant Church, and that I am a Pastor, the threats and the swearing continued. (I sort of wonder what Jesus thinks about an alleged Christian attacking a Pastor and a Church like that!)

At the same time, we get some violently vicious e-mails from alleged Muslims as well:
No I know why I should hate you... you people are good only for putting words in order that only will take you all to hell...

I really wish you see God soon and he will tell you how wrong you are and how much wrong you have spread...

And after I (calmly) tried to clarify that we have tried to fairly present Islam, and that I am a Man of God, and that his note appeared to be a mild threat, the response was:
Well I'm not making threats... If you feel it's a threat fine with me cause you always find Muslims making threats and calling them terrorist while you have right to say anything against our religion and prophet and if we say we didn't like your idea about it you think it's a threat...

I wish that God punishes you right now... Instead of just burning you in hell... So you feel it...

If you think this is a threat threaten me with one too...

Well, in matters like this, we have concluded over the years that if we get attacks from both sides on an issue, then we may have presented the issue somewhere near the middle, which is always our goal. It's really disappointing, though, to present a purely informational site, almost an academic site, and be attacked violently from both sides. (As a point of order, several dozen e-mails from alleged Christians were FAR more vicious and threatening than this one. We have noticed that Muslims virtually never use swear words while Christians seem not to be able to write a sentence without them! We even contacted the FBI regarding a couple of the death threats [but not this one].)

Is it any wonder that peace between Muslims and Christians seems so impossible? Even though there are many rational, calm and peace-loving people on both sides, there seem to still be plenty of irrational fanatics on both sides who seem to just be looking for an excuse to kill something. And, as humans, we consider ourselves "intelligent!??"

And, for the record, the 2,000+ articles in the BELIEVE site were each selected for giving balanced presentations of their specific subjects, presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of each position. If a person of ANY Faith is averse to ever hearing a single negative word about one's own Faith, then BELIEVE is not the place to be.

Also, see:
Islam, Muhammad
Koran, Qur'an
Pillars of Faith
Testament of Abraham
Revelation - Hadiths from Book 1 of al-Bukhari
Belief - Hadiths from Book 2 of al-Bukhari
Knowledge - Hadiths from Book 3 of al-Bukhari
Times of the Prayers - Hadiths from Book 10 of al-Bukhari
Shortening the Prayers (At-Taqseer) - Hadiths from Book 20 of al-Bukhari
Pilgrimmage (Hajj) - Hadiths from Book 26 of al-Bukhari
Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihad) - Hadiths of Book 52 of al-Bukhari
ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED) - Hadiths of Book 93 of al-Bukhari
Hanafiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Malikiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Shafi'iyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Hanbaliyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Maturidiyyah Theology (Sunni)
Ash'ariyyah Theology (Sunni)
Mutazilah Theology
Ja'fari Theology (Shia)
Nusayriyyah Theology (Shia)
Zaydiyyah Theology (Shia)
Imams (Shia)
Qarmatiyyah (Shia)
Ishmael, Ismail
Early Islamic History Outline
Kaaba, Black Stone
Sunnites, Sunni
Shiites, Shia
Sahih, al-Bukhari
Abu Bakr
Fatimids (Shia)
Ismailis (Shia)
Islamic Calendar
Interactive Muslim Calendar

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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