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Autor     Robert Stockman
Titel    Notes on Islam from a Baha'i Perspective
Herausgeber    Bahá'i Library Online
Jahr    1998
Anmerkung    unpublished; Veröffentlichungsdatum gemäß Angaben in http://bahai-library.com/stockman_history_islam; seit 26.10.2003 im WWW verfügbar (laut Angaben in http://web.archive.org/web/20061103163334/http://www.bahai-library.com/id.php?itemnew=1427)
URL    http://web.archive.org/web/20040514131942/http://bahai-library.com/?file=stockman_history_islam.html

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5.4. The Seventh Century – Arrival of a new religion

While historical knowledge of seventh-century Arabia is not as good as that of first century Palestine, historians know the basic outline of events in Arabia immediately before the coming of Muhammad. To the north and west were Iran, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, all urbanized, advanced societies. Iran and the Byzantine Empire were constantly fighting for control over Iraq and Syria, and the border between these two huge empires fluctuated back and forth, with terrible economic consequences for both. A Roman army had invaded Arabia [once, in 24 B.C.E., but the desert proved impenetrable and the expedition was a disaster.]

Pre-Islamic Arabia

While historical knowledge of seventh-century Arabia is not as good as that of first century Palestine, historians know the basic outline of events in Arabia immediately before the coming of Muhammad. To the north and west were Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, all urbanized, advanced societies. Iran and the Byzantine Empire were constantly fighting for control over Iraq and Syria, and the border between these two huge empires fluctuated back and forth, with terrible economic consequences for both. Arabia was invaded by a Roman army once, in 24 B.C.E., but the desert proved impenetrable and the expedition was a disaster.

Anmerkungen

Kein Hinweis auf eine Übernahme.

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(Graf Isolan), SleepyHollow02

[2.] Maa/Fragment 038 01 - Diskussion
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[A Roman army had invaded Arabia] once, in 24 B.C.E., but the desert proved impenetrable and the expedition was a disaster.

In the far south of the Arabian Peninsula was Yemen, a hilly area with more rainfall where frankincense and myrrh - important spices, especially for embalming - were grown. Coffee later became a major source of income for Yemen as well. The spice trade brought wealth to Yemen and it gradually became organized as a country. Yemen established close ties with Abyssinia, an early Christian kingdom that is modern Ethiopia now. Abyssinia even conquered Yemen from about 521 to 575, when it briefly fell under Persian influence. From Abyssinia, Yemen learned of Christianity; from Iran, it was influenced by the Persian cult of Zoroastrianism; and at least one king became a convert to Judaism.

The semiarid hills and arid plains of the Arab peninsula were inhabited by migrating Arab tribes, which had camels and sometimes goats and sheep. The population was divided into clans and tribes that fought each other fiercely at times and protected their own according to an ancient, and often cruel, tribal law. Many tribes believed for instance in killing female babies, so that the first-born would be a son. The desert had occasional oases where little villages, and eventually towns, sprang up. Because of its isolation, civilization spread to the area only slowly, primarily via the caravan trade, because of the war between Byzantium and Persia.36

Much of Yemen's spices and many goods from India moved to the Mediterranean overland by the means of caravans. Jews, usually merchants, moved into the area and settled at the oases, where they became numerous. Christian missionaries visited as well. That’s how the Arabs got into contact with the two monotheistic religions and some even converted. A primitive monotheism also sprang up, consisting of Arabs who had rejected polytheism in favour of one God but did not convert to Christianity or Judaism.


36 Compare to: Noth, Albrecht and Jürgen, Paul, Der islamische Orient – Grundzüge seiner Geschichte, Würzburg 1998, 74ff

Arabia was invaded by a Roman army once, in 24 B.C.E., but the desert proved impenetrable and the expedition was a disaster.

In the far south of the Arabian peninsula was Yemen, a hilly area with more rainfall where frankincense and myrrh--important spices, especially for embalming--were raised. Coffee later became a major source of income for Yemen as well. The spice trade brought wealth to Yemen and it gradually became organized as a country. Yemen established close ties with Abyssinia, the kingdom occupying modern Ethiopia. Abyssinia even conquered Yemen from about 521 to 575, when it briefly fell under Persian influence. From Abyssinia, Yemen learned of Christianity; from Iran, Zoroastrianism; and at least one king became a convert to Judaism, so that religion obviously had some impact as well.

Central Arabia consisted of semiarid hills and arid plains occupied by migrating Arab tribes, who tended camels and sometimes goats and sheep. The population was divided into clans and tribes that fought each other fiercely at times and protected their own according to an ancient, and often cruel, tribal law. Many tribes believed in killing girl babies, so that the first-born would be a son. The desert had occasional oases and at them villages, and eventually towns, sprang up. Because of its isolation, civilization spread to the area only slowly, primarily via the caravan trade; because of the war between Byzantium and Persia, much of Yemen's spices and many goods from India moved to the Mediterranean overland. Jews moved into the area and settled at the oases, where they became numerous. Christian missionaries visited and some Arabs converted. A primitive monotheism also sprang up. The Arabs who had rejected polytheism in favor of one God but did not convert to Christianity or Judaism were (at a later date, at least) called anfs.

Anmerkungen

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[3.] Maa/Fragment 039 01 - Diskussion
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Gradually one town in central Arabia emerged as the principal centre of Arab culture: Mecca. Mecca's merchants came into a position that enabled them to control much of Arabia’s caravan trade and turning their home town gradually into the region’s economic centre. But Mecca was also a spiritual centre. One reason for that was the black stone cube that covers about thirty feet square called the ka'bah (which is Arabic for cube). It was decorated with 365 idols, representing the same number of gods and goddesses. The ka'bah came to be seen as the centre of Arab religion; every year one month, the month of hajj, became a month when Arabs went on pilgrimage to Mecca. There they met for

trade purposes, arranged marriages, sought entertainment, and worshipped at the ka'bah. During the month of hajj, warfare was forbidden.

Arab poets composed lyrics to be read at those hajj celebrations; pre-Islamic poetry has been preserved and gives us a sample of the language the people spoke. An alphabet for the Arabic language was developed from the Aramaic alphabet which shows the cultural link to the Mediterranean area. However, scripture only received limited use by merchants and poets. Children born on the holy land around the ka'bah were automatically considered members of the Quraysh tribe, the tribe that controlled the ka'bah. The link between the hajj celebrations, the ka'bah, and the Quraysh tribe shows the establishment of social institutions that one-day could have led to a united Arab nation, probably under a Quraysh king.37


37 Monroe, James T., The Poetry of the Sirah Literature, in: Arabic Literature to the end of the Umayyad Period, Cambridge 1983, 73ff.

Gradually one town in central Arabia emerged as the principal center of Arab culture: Mecca. Mecca's merchants came to control much of the caravan trade. Mecca had a stone cube-shaped building about thirty feet square called the ka'bah (which is Arabic for cube) which was filled with 365 idols, representing the same number of gods and goddesses. The ka'bah came to be seen as the center of Arab religion; every year one month, the month of ajj, became a month when Arabs went on pilgrimage to Mecca. There they traded, arranged marriages, had a good time, and worshipped at the ka'bah. During the month of ajj, warfare was forbidden. Arab poets composed poetry to be read at the ajj celebration; pre-Islamic poetry has been preserved and gives us a sample of the language the people spoke. An alphabet for the Arabic language was developed from the Aramaic alphabet, and received limited use by merchants and poets. Children born on the holy land around the ka'bah were automatically considered members of the Quraysh tribe, the tribe that controlled the ka'bah. Mecca gradually emerged as central Arabia's primary trading center. In the ajj, the ka'bah, and the Quraysh tribe we see the establishment of social institutions that one day could have led to a united Arab nation, probably under a Quraysh king.
Anmerkungen

Kein Hinweis auf eine Übernahme.

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5.6. From the Prophet to Islam

In the year 570 Yemen attempted to invade and conquer Mecca and the area, but the invasion failed. This was the year that the Prophet was born. Muhammad was born into a small, weak clan of the Quraysh tribe. His father was named Abdullah, which means "servant of God." The "ulláh" part of the name comes from "Allah," the modern Arabic word for "god". It is not known where the word "Allah" had came from; possibly it is a contraction of al-iláh, "the god" (al means "the" in Arabic). At any rate, the name of Muhammad's father may be a clue for us because it sounds like the name aanf - a monotheist would be. It suggests that Muhammad’s father or grandfather had rejected polytheism.

Whether this had any influence on Muhammad is not known, because Abdullah died before his son was born. Unfortunately for Muhammad, his mother died when he was about six, leaving him an orphan. The boy was raised by his uncle [(the father of 'Ali), a caravan operator and merchant.]

The Life of Muhammad

In the year 570 Yemen attempted to invade and conquer Mecca and the area, but the invasion failed. Because the Yemenese army was equipped with elephants--the tanks of their day--the year of the invasion was remembered as "the year of the elephant." This was the year in which Muhammad was born.

Muhammad was born into a small, weak clan of the Quraysh tribe. His father was named Abdu'lláh, which means "servant of God." The "ulláh" part of the name comes from "Alláh," the modern Arabic word for "god." It is not known where the word "Alláh" came from; possibly it is a contraction of al-iláh, "the god" (al means "the" in Arabic). At any rate, the name of Muhammad's father may be a clue for us, because it sounds like the name a anf--a monotheist--would have. It suggests that polytheism had been rejected by Muhammad's father or grandfather. Whether this had any influence on Muhammad is not known, because Abdu'lláh died before his son was born.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, his mother died when he was about six, leaving him an orphan. The boy was raised by his uncle (the father of 'Al), a caravan operator and merchant.

Anmerkungen

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[5.] Maa/Fragment 042 01 - Diskussion
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[The boy was raised by his uncle] (the father of 'Ali), a caravan operator and merchant. Muhammad was raised a merchant himself, and as a young man was hired by a wealthy widow named Khadjah to run her caravans. At the age of 25 he married her and they had about six children. Their life together was happy; Muhammad married no other women until after Khadija died.

All accounts indicate that Muhammad did not feel any divine call in the beginning of his life. He did not seek out mystical experiences, nor did he meditate or withdraw from life. He was, to put it in modern terms, a successful businessman and family man. However, he did seek solitude from the troubles he found in Mecca, often in a cave on a nearby hillside. In 610 he began to have Visions. In one of them the angel Gabriel came to him and said, “You that are wrapped up in your vestment, arise, and give warning. Magnify your Lord, cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution”.43 Muhammad fled from these experiences and hid himself in his cloak. Once he ran to Khadjah and hid himself in her robes. But Khadjah encouraged him to listen to his revelations, which often came to him again and again.

Khadjah's cousin, Waraqah, who was a Christian, also encouraged him. Finally Muhammad realized that he was receiving messages from God. He began to take them to the people of Mecca, first privately, then more publicly. His message emphasized acceptance of the one, transcendent God; that Muhammad is his messenger; that idol worship and cruelties practiced within the archaic tribal society like the killing of girl babies was forbidden; and that one must prepare oneself for the Day of Judgment. A few, listening to Muhammad, accepted him as a prophet and became the first Muslims. Most Meccans, however, looked at him as a crazy poet and made fun of Muhammad. Their taunts are preserved in the Koran itself.

When Muhammad began to preach against worship of the idols in the ka'bah many Meccans became outwardly hostile, since such preaching undermined the hajj, and therefore their livelihood. Muhammad also condemned the town's [economic and social inequalities.]


43 Hasan, Masudul, History of Islam, New Delhi 1992. 11ff.

The boy was raised by his uncle (the father of 'Al), a caravan operator and merchant. Muhammad was raised a merchant himself, and as a young man was hired by a wealthy widow named Khadjah to run her caravans. At age 25 he married her; they had about six children. Their life together was happy; Muhammad married no other women until after Khadjah died.

All accounts indicate that Muhammad did not want to become a prophet. He did not seek out mystical experiences, nor did he meditate or withdraw from life. He was, to put it in modern terms, a successful businessman and family man. However, he did seek solitude from the troubles he found in Mecca, often in a cave on a nearby hillside. In 610 he began to have visions. In one of them the angel Gabriel came to him and said "You that are wrapped up in your vestment, arise, and give warning. Magnify your Lord, cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution."

Muhammad fled from these experiences and hid himself in his cloak. Once he ran to Khadjah and hid himself in her robes. But Khadjah encouraged him to listen to his revelations, which often came to him again and again. Khadjah's cousin, Waraqah, who was a Christian, also encouraged him. Finally Muhammad realized that he was receiving messages from God. He began to take them to the people of Mecca, first privately, then more publicly. His message emphasized acceptance of the one, transcendent God; that Muhammad is His messenger; that idol worship and killing of girl babies was forbidden; and that one must prepare oneself for the Day of Judgment.

A few, listening to Muhammad, accepted him as a prophet and became Muslims. Most Meccans, however, looked at him as a crazy poet and made fun of Muhammad. Their taunts are preserved in the Qur'an itself. And when Muhammad began to preach against worship of the idols in the ka'bah many Meccans became outwardly hostile, since such preaching undermined the ajj, and therefore their livelihood. Muhammad also condemned the town's economic inequalities.

Anmerkungen

Kein Hinweis auf eine Übernahme.

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[6.] Maa/Fragment 043 01 - Diskussion
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[Muhammad also condemned the town's] economic and social inequalities. After ten years the Muslim community grew slowly but tension increased to the point where the Muslims no longer could be protected by their clans against violence. But without clan protection one was in grave danger, because in the absence of police and courts it was the fear of starting a blood feud that prevented people from killing each other.44

In one famous case a non-Muslim tried to force his Muslim slave, Bilál, a black man, to recant. Bilál was tied to the ground and heavy stones were piled on his chest in order to torture him. The torture ended when a Muslim purchased Bilál and then emancipated him. In 615 Muhammad had to send some of his followers to Abyssinia, where the Christian king offered them refuge, an act of generosity that Muslims remember to this day.

In 619, his wife Khadjah died, as did Muhammad's uncle, who had also protected him from murder. This put Muhammad in grave danger. In 620 he was invited to move to the city of Yathrib, two hundred miles to the north, and to become the chief arbitrator of the city's feuding tribes. The situation in Mecca finally became unbearable and Muhammad and two hundred of his followers had to flee the city in 622. This event is called the hijra or hegira (the Latin pronunciation of the Arabic word) and marks the beginning of Islam as a religion. Dates in the Islamic calendar are reckoned from the hijra.

In Medina Muhammad began as leader of one of the town's eight groups, but he gradually emerged as the town's leader, and therefore he was able to implement the social changes that the revelations had demanded. This sets Muhammad off from Jesus in a sharp way; while Jesus was a prophetic figure, he never ruled a state; Muhammad was both prophet and statesman. This makes his career radically different from that of Jesus.


44 Hamidullah, Muhammad: „ Le Prophète et l’Islam“, Paris 1959, 213ff.

Muhammad also condemned the town's economic inequalities. After ten years the Muslim community grew slowly but tension increased to the point where the Muslims no longer could be protected by their clans against violence. Without clan protection one was in grave danger, because in the absence of police and courts it was the fear of starting a blood feud that prevented people from killing each other. In one famous case a non-Muslim tried to force his Muslim slave, Bilál, a black man, to recant. Bilál was tied to the ground and heavy stones were piled on his chest in order to torture him. The torture ended when a Muslim purchased Bilál, then emancipated him. In 615 Muhammad had to send some of his followers to Abyssinia, where the Christian king offered them refuge, an act of generosity that Muslims remember to this day.

In 619 Khadjah died, as did Muhammad's uncle, who also protected him from murder. This put Muhammad in grave danger. In 620 he was invited to move to the city of Yathrib, two hundred miles to the north, and become the chief arbitrator of the city's feuding tribes. The situation in Mecca finally became impossible and Muhammad and two hundred of his followers had to flee the city in the year 622. This event is called the hijra or hegira (the Latin pronunciation of the Arabic word) and marks the beginning of Islam as a religion. Dates in the Islamic calendar are reckoned from the hijra.

In Medina Muhammad began as leader of one of the town's eight groups, but He gradually emerged as the town's leader, and therefore he was able to implement the social changes that the revelations had demanded that Mecca make. This sets Muhammad off from Jesus in a sharp way: while Jesus was a prophetic figure, he never ruled a state; Muhammad was both prophet and statesman. This makes his career radically different from that of Jesus.

Anmerkungen

Kein Hinweis auf eine Übernahme.

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[7.] Maa/Fragment 044 01 - Diskussion
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Medina was a large agricultural town containing pagan and Jewish tribes. The pagans embraced Islam but the Jews did not, which prompted Qur'anic revelations criticizing Jews and Christians for their obstinacy. Considerable friction arose between the Jews and Muslims and eventually led to the expulsion of the Jewish community from the town. Medina was a trading rival of Mecca, and the inhabitants of Mecca decided to go to war against Medina and their cousin. This made the prophet a military leader and an Islamic warrior and further reinforced the notion of a fusion of state and religious affairs.45

Warfare continued sporadically for seven years, with Muslim victories and defeats. In 627, Mecca soldiers besieged Medina for two weeks and almost took the city. Muhammad acquired more allies, however, as tribes became Muslim. In 630 Mecca surrendered to a Muslim army, converted to Islam, and became the centre of an Islamic Arabia. Muhammad and 'Al cleansed the ka'bah of its idols, restoring it to the worship of the one true God. Pilgrimage to Mecca which had existed for centuries before the arrival of Islam as a sort of pagan worship became a Muslim pilgrimage. In the course of next two years, most of Arabia accepted Muhammad as their leader and nominally became Muslim. In 632 Muhammad died at the age of 63, leaving behind him a new and rapidly growing faith.

There is a strong tension in Islam between efforts to view him as an ordinary man and efforts to exalt him as a miracle-working prophet. But for all Muslims, Muhammad is seen as the epitome of Muslim life, and Muslims have long sought to emulate him. His actions are seen as a model. To give but one example, the obligatory Muslim pilgrimage is patterned after Muhammad's pilgrimage in 629. Stories about his actions and words, called hadith, circulated and were passed down orally within the Muslim community; within a century or two of Muhammad's death they were written down and closely scrutinized by Muslim scholars for their historical accuracy. The hadith became a major pillar of the [Muslim tradition, supplementing the Koran itself when it was silent about a crucial matter.46]


45 Hammidullah, Le Prophète et l’Islam, Paris 1959, 256 ff.

46 Endreß, Gerhard, Einführung in die islamische Geschichte, München 1982, 342ff

Medina was a large agricultural town containing pagan and Jewish tribes. The pagans embraced Islam but the Jews did not, which prompted Qur'anic revelations criticizing Jews and Christians for their obstinacy. Considerable friction arose between the Jews and Muslims and eventually led to the expulsion of the Jews from the town. Medina was a trading rival with Mecca, and the Meccans decided to go to war against Medina and their cousin. Muhammad then became a general as well.

Warfare continued sporadically for seven years, with Muslim victories and defeats. In 627 Meccans besieged Medina for two weeks and almost took the city. Muhammad acquired more allies, however, as tribes became Muslim. In 630 Mecca surrendered to a Muslim army, converted to Islam, and became the center of an Islamic Arabia. Muhammad and 'Al cleansed the ka'bah of its idols, restoring it to the worship of the one true God. Pilgrimage to Mecca became Muslim pilgrimage. In the next two years, most of Arabia accepted Muhammad as their leader and nominally became Muslim. On 8 June 632, at age 65, Muhammad died.

How is Muhammad perceived by Muslims? There is a strong tension in Islam between efforts to view him as an ordinary man and efforts to exalt him as a miracle-working prophet. But for all Muslims, Muhammad is seen as the epitome of Muslim life, and Muslims have long sought to emulate him. His actions are seen as a model; for example, Muslim pilgrimage is patterned after Muhammad's pilgrimage in 629. Stories about his actions and words, called hadth, long have circulated in the Muslim community; within a century or two of Muhammad's death they were written down and closely scrutinized by Muslim scholars for their historical accuracy. The hadth became a major pillar of the Muslim tradition, supplementing the Qur'an itself when the Qur'an was silent about a crucial matter.

Anmerkungen

Kein Hinweis auf eine Übernahme.

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(Graf Isolan), SleepyHollow02

[8.] Maa/Fragment 045 01 - Diskussion
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[The hadith became a major pillar of the] Muslim tradition, supplementing the Koran itself when it was silent about a crucial matter.46

The reign of Muhammad over the Muslim community is viewed as the golden age of Islam. The philosophy of Plato, of all people, gives us a model for how Muhammad is viewed: as a just king. In The Republic, Plato discusses the ideal form of government, which he says is rule by a perfect king, one who insures that justice is established, that economic disparities are reduced, and that makes just laws.47 Muslim scholars, when they translated The Republic into Arabic, understood this idea as fitting Muhammad perfectly. Muslims look back with nostalgia to the early days of their community, and seek to reform modern Islamic society to fit the seventh century pattern.

This is an extremely important difference between Islam and Christianity. Christians view the perfect kingdom as something Christ will establish in the latter days; therefore their golden age is still ahead of them. Some see this golden age in very secular terms, as the product of steady social progress. Muslims, however, have their ideal society in the past, and they constantly seek to emulate that example. [...] However, whether the world, or even any segment of it can reproduce that golden age before God's Judgment Day comes, remains an open question.48


46 Endreß, Gerhard, Einführung in die islamische Geschichte, München 1982, 342ff

47 Compare to Ostenfeld, Eric Nils, Essays on Plato’s Republic, Aarhus 1997, 46ff

48 Serajuddin, Alamgir Muhammad, Sharia Law and Society, Oxford 1999, 109ff

The hadth became a major pillar of the Muslim tradition, supplementing the Qur'an itself when the Qur'an was silent about a crucial matter.

Above all else, the reign of Muhammad over the Muslim community is viewed as the golden age of Islam. The philosophy of Plato, of all people, gives us a model for how Muhammad is viewed: as a just king. In The Republic, Plato discusses the ideal form of government, which he says is rule by a perfect king, one who insures that justice is established, that economic disparities are reduced, and who makes just laws. Muslim scholars, when they translated The Republic into Arabic, understood this idea as fitting Muhammad perfectly. Muslims look back with nostalgia to the early days of their community, and seek to reform modern Islamic society to fit the seventh century pattern. This is an extremely important difference between Islam and Christianity. Christians view the perfect kingdom as something Christ will establish in the latter days; therefore their golden age is still ahead of them. Some see this golden age in very secular terms, as the product of steady social progress. Muslims, however, have their ideal society in the past, and they constantly seek to emulate that example. Whether the world, or even any segment of it, can reproduce that golden age, before God's Judgment Day comes, is an open question.

Anmerkungen

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Islam is the religion founded on the revelation brought to humanity by Muhammad. Muslims see it as the latest chapter in the ongoing religion of God, a religion that can be traced back through Jesus to Moses and Abraham. [...] Muslims consider all three, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, to have been prophets of God and refer to them as Muslims. Thus Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism as true religions, but claims to supersede their truths with a new divine revelation. Islam is the religion founded on the revelation brought to humanity by Muhammad (c. 570 C.E.-632 C.E.). Muslims see it as the latest chapter in the ongoing religion of God, a religion that can be traced back through Jesus to Moses and Abraham. Muslims consider all three to have been prophets of God and refer to them as Muslims. Thus Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism as true religions, but claims to supersede their truths with a new divine revelation.
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[Many of the adherents to other religions refer to Islam as "Mohammedanism",

and its adherents have been termed "Mohammedans" referring to the followers] of the prophet. Neither term is acceptable to Muslims, however, because they do not view themselves as followers of Muhammad, or Muhammad as the founder of their religion. Contrary to this point, the founder is God, and the Koran, their scripture, is seen as the word of God, and not the word of Muhammad.

The word Islam comes from the Semitic root Salam, which means submission to a higher power or the peace that comes from that submission. Islam means "submission" in Arabic and refers specifically to submission of one's will to the will of God. "Muslim" means, "one who submits" in Arabic. Thus, indeed, Jesus and Abraham were Muslims, for they submitted their wills to the will of God. Springing from the same Salam root is the Arabic word salám, which means "peace“. (Salám is a cognate to the Hebrew word shalom, which also means peace; Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages, and are closely related to each other.) Thus Islam is often referred to as the "religion of peace" as well.

From the noun "Islam," in English, is coined the English adjective "Islamic." It is important to learn how to use the words Islam, Islamic and Muslim correctly; one cannot refer to the followers as "Islam’s" or the religion as "Muslim."51


51 Fyzee, Mohamed, Mohammedan law, New Delhi 1974, 2ff

This religion has been called "Muhammadanism" in the past, and its adherents have been termed "Muhammadans." Neither term is acceptable to Muslims, however, because they do not view themselves as followers of Muhammad, or Muhammad as the founder of their religion; the founder is God, and the Qur'an, their scripture, is seen as the words of God, not the words of Muhammad. The word islám comes from the Semitic root slm, which means submission to a higher power or the peace that comes from that submission. Islám means "submission" in Arabic and refers specifically to submission of one's will to the will of God. "Muslim" means "one who submits" in Arabic. Thus, indeed, Jesus and Abraham were Muslims, for they submitted their wills to the will of God. Springing from the same slm root is the Arabic word salám, which means "peace." (Salám is a cognate to the Hebrew word shalom, which also means peace; Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages, and are closely related to each other.) Thus Islam is often referred to as the "religion of peace" as well.

From the noun "Islam," in English, is coined the English adjective "Islamic." It is important to learn how to use the words Islam, Islamic, and Muslim correctly; one cannot refer to the followers as "islams" or the religion as "Muslim."

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