Origins of Islam
Introduction to Islam
- [Voiceover] The world Islam can best be translated into English as meaning surrender, and the context of the Islamic faith is referring to a surrender to the will of God. Now, a Muslim is someone who practices Islam, one who submits to the will of God, and the central text in Islam is the Quran, which Muslims believe is the revealed knowledge or the revealed words of God through the messenger Muhammad. Now, it's very important, sometimes, especially in older texts, older western texts, you might see Islam referred to as Muhammadism the same way that Christianity refers to Christ. Now, Muslims are very sensitive to this, because they don't view Muhammad as a divine figure the way that Christians view Christ. They view Muhammad as a human, a human whose practices and whose life they view, they revere, but they don't view him as a divine figure. They view him as the messenger who revealed God's words through the Quran, and they take this so seriously in most Muslim traditions, they don't create images of Muhammad for fear that people would start to worship it as some type of an idol. Now, on this timeline, you see other significant Judeo-Christian figures, and that's because according to Muslims, they are following in the same tradition of these figures. They view these other figures as people who have submitted to the will of God, and Moses and Jesus in particular are the most frequently mentioned prophets in the Quran. Now, Muslims also believe that the Quran isn't the first book that God had revealed to mankind. They also believe that the Torah, which is the first five books of the Hebrew bible, and also the first five books of the Christian Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, they believe that to be a revealed text from God through the prophet Moses. They also believe that Psalms is a revealed text from God through King David, so through the prophet David, who lived around 1000 BCE, and they think that the Gospel is a revealed message through Jesus. Now, above and beyond these revealed texts, another significant part of the Muslim tradition or faith are the notions of Sunnah and Hadith, and Sunnah are the practices and life and sayings of Muhammad, and many of them are accounted for in the Hadith. Hadith are second hand accounts of other people who lived at the time of Muhammad, although many of them were written decades or sometimes hundreds of years later, and so it is a debate in the Muslim community on which Hadiths are considered more trustworthy than others. The one commonality, regardless of sect, is a centrality of the Quran and viewing that as the actual word of God. To see this a little bit more concretely in terms of how much Muslims view themselves as the same tradition that we see from the Old and New Testament, here are some Quranic quotes, and the first one essentially speaks to this core idea of being in that same tradition. "He has ordained for you of religion "what He enjoined upon Noah "and that which we have revealed to you, O Muhammad, "and what we enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus, "to establish the religion and not be divided therein." And this is speaking to the importance of Abraham. "And who is better in religion than "one who submits himself to God while being a doer of good "and follows the religion of Abraham, "inclining toward truth? "And God took Abraham as a friend." And Abraham in particular plays a very central role. The Kaaba, which Muslims view as the house of God, based in Mecca, right over here, is viewed as being built by Abraham and Ishmael, and so Medina, which is where in future videos we'll talk more about, where the early Muslims sought exile to escape persecution, that's often viewed as the city of Muhammad, but Mecca, which is the direction that all Muslims pray in during their ritual five times a day prayer, which we'll talk about in a little bit, that's often referred to as the city of Abraham. And now here is reference to Moses. "And before it was the scripture of Moses "to lead and as a mercy. "And this is a confirming book in an Arabic tongue, so this" this being the Quran. This is a quote from the Quran. "And this is a confirming book in an Arabic tongue "to warn those who have wronged "and as good tidings to the doers of good." So once again, a very clear message, in at least the Islamic tradition, that this is the same faith or tradition as that of Moses. And now here's reference to Jesus. "Then we caused our messengers to follow in their footsteps "and we caused Jesus, son of Mary, "to follow and gave him the Gospel "and placed compassion and mercy "in the hearts of those who followed him." The key difference between Muslims and Christians in terms of the life of Jesus, is that Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion and the resurrection, and they do not believe that Jesus was God or the son of God. They believe him to be a very significant prophet, the prophet before Muhammad came to reveal to the Quran. Now, for a practicing Muslim, there are often considered to be five pillars, and this is especially the case for the majority of Muslims, for Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims have a slightly different combination of pillars, but there's a lot of commonality. So the five pillars, the first is this notion of faith, which is referred to Shahadah. Shadahah can also be interpreted as testifying or testimony, and it's this notion that a Muslim needs to believe and say that there is no God but God. Muhammad is God's messenger. And in fact, to convert to Islam, you need to say this, and you have to say it in the presence of at least two witnesses, and that's all that's necessary in order to convert. Now, the other key element of Islam, the second you could say of the five pillars, is this notion of prayer. So Muslims pray five times a day at dawn, noon, in the afternoon, evening, and night, and they face in the direction of the Kaaba, which is based in Mecca, which once again, they believe that Abraham constructed with his son Ishmael, who they believe that the Arab people are descendant from. Now, what's interesting about this, this has a lot of parallels with the five times a day prayer of the Zoroastrians, including the ritual washing of your body before each prayer. Now, the third pillar is charity, and it's called Zakat, and this is customarily two and half percent of wealth. Now, two and half percent might not sound like a lot, but this isn't of income, this is of wealth. The fourth pillar is the notion of fasting dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calender, and that month is Ramadan, and it's fasting without food or water, once again, from dawk to dusk, and the Islamic calender is a lunar calender, and the notion of a month, in fact in English, it comes from the word moon, because it's referring to a full cycle of the moon. Now, the end of this month ends with the Eid-al-Fitr, which is the Festival of Breaking the Fast, which is considered one of the two major holidays in Islam. Now, the fifth pillar of Islam is the notion of pilgrimage to the Kaaba during the 12th month, and it's during a certain period in that 12th month, and then also in that 12th month, you have the second major holiday in Islam, and that's Eid-al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, and that once again is making reference to Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son before God stops him. So this is the general idea of Islam. In other videos, we're going to go into much more detail in terms of how it started, the life of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina, and then how it spread through the world shortly after or even during the life of Muhammad in the sixth and seventh centuries of the common era.
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