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Introduction to Islam

Sodan

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Nov 25, 2010
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#21
Apparently some men deliberately use rougher mats (eg straw mats) and rub their heads harder to get this mark since its a sign of piousness.

Also, some men have similar marks near their ankles.
hehe, I guess you get the literals in all religions/non-religions. lol.

But what's up with the ankle marks?
 

wayfarer

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#26
Role of the Caliph: 1 of 2

Main > Q&A > Role of the Caliph: 1 | 2
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Arb question but can you explain the below:

The second Caliph, Umar, related in a hadith

I'm assuming Caliph is some form of ruler/title? Hadith a memoir or letter?
Previous posts by others should give you a good idea of what these terms mean. Perhaps I should just add the following:

Caliph (Ar: khaleefah) translates into English as deputy/vicegerent/custodian. The successors of Prophet Muhammad, i.e. the successive individuals who led the Muslims after the Prophet's death, were called caliphs. The first 4 of these successors are held in very high esteem by Muslims because of their impeccable characters. Umar was one of the closest companions of the Prophet, and the 2nd successor, after Abu Bakr.

Why call them deputies? Why not title them to attribute the meaning of first-in-command?
The successors regarded themselves as deputies of Prophet Muhammad, and sought to even post-humously implement the Prophet's will, and therefore God's Will, rather than their own. The title deputy is also understood in the context of God being the Lord of the worlds, and the highest rank that any created being can attain is that of deputy.

One of the reasons that so many Muslim scholars are also environmentalists is because of this concept of custodianship of the Earth. While God states that:

“To God belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth, for God encompasses everything.” (Quran 4:126)

God also says, regarding the human status of caliph in the context of denoting stewardship:

"It is He (God) who has made you custodians, inheritors of the earth." (Quran 6:165)
 
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wayfarer

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#27
3. Canonical Texts

Main > Canonical Texts
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The word "canon" is an English word referring, in this context, to sacred texts. Interestingly, it derives from the Arabic word "kanun", which means "law" or "principle".

Islam does not, like Christianity, have a clergy. There is no institute that holds it together or unifies it. So how has it held together and flourished for the last 14 centuries? How has its core remained so homogeneous that the Islam of 1900 CE was doctrinally exactly the same as the Islam of 700 CE? Where have its internal checks and balances come from?

The answer is that Islam has a traditional canon: a collection of sacred texts which everyone has agreed are authoritative and definitive, and which ‘fix’ the principles of belief, practice, law, theology and doctrine throughout the ages. All that Muslim scholars have left to do is to interpret these texts and work out their practical applications and details (and the principles of interpretation and elaboration are themselves ‘fixed’ by these texts), so that in Islam a person is only considered learned to the extent that he can demonstrate his knowledge of these texts.

This does not mean that Islam is a religion of limitations for these texts are a vast ocean and their principles can be inwardly worked out almost infinitely in practice. It does mean, however, that Islam is ‘fixed’ and has certain limits beyond which it will not go. This is an extremely important concept to understand, because misunderstanding it, and setting aside the traditional canon of Islam, leads to people killing and assassinating others in the name of religion. The traditional canon of Islam is what protects not just the religion of Islam itself, but the world (including Muslims themselves) from terrorism, murder and oppression in the name of Islam. The canon is Islam’s internal check and balance system; it is what safeguards its moderation; it is ‘self-censorship’ and its ultimate safety feature.

To be more specific, the Canon of mainstream Islam (more than 90% of the world's Muslims are mainstream) starts with the

  • Quran itself; then
  • Traditional Commentaries upon it (e.g. Tabari; Razi; Qurtubi; Jalalayn; Ibn Kathir) then
  • Eight traditional collections of Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, (e.g. Muslim; Bukhari; Tirmidhi; Ibn Maja); then
  • Later Muhaddithin, or Traditionists (e.g. Bayhaqi; Baghawi; Nawawi and ‘Asqalani); then
  • Sira, the traditional biographical and historical works of the Prophetic era (Ibn Ishaq; Tabari; and Suhayli); then
  • the Risala of al Shafi‘i: the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik; the Ihya of Ghazali; Ash‘arite and Maturidian theology; the (original)‘Aqida of Tahawi; Imam Jazuli’s Dala’il al Khayrat, and finally - albeit only extrinsically - Pre-Islamic era poetry (as a background reference for the semantic connotations of words in the Arabic language).

A specific (but not exhaustive) list is given, in order to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding.

Adapted from RISSC publications.
 
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RazedInBlack

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Sep 4, 2008
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#28
The traditional canon of Islam is what protects not just the religion of Islam itself, but the world (including Muslims themselves) from terrorism, murder and oppression in the name of Islam.
err . . . but . . . oh! :confused:
 

I.am.Sam

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#30
OP not sure if you have text on the 5 pillars but i feel that is more important as a base to understanding as well
 

wayfarer

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#31
Increase in Number of Canonical Texts

Main > Q&A > Increase in Number of Canonical Texts
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How can it be said to remain homogenous when there are text added to it over time?
The core of the canon is the Quran, revealed by God, as well as the authenticated narrations that record the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (i.e. the Hadith). All the other texts are exegetical and explanatory works. Thousands of first rank Muslim scholars have for centuries further refined and recognised these texts for their value and accuracy, which while remaining true to the core (and to the spirit of the core), the texts succeed to explain, clarify and operationalise the primary loaded sacred texts. There is no doctrinal obligation to regard the extra texts as canonical, but scholarly recognition and consensus have resulted in these texts having de facto canonical status, and scholars agree that to ignore or disregard them would be foolhardy.

These texts shed light on themes, depth, contexts and connotations, and also provide practical guidelines for application.

The last decade or so has seen a rise to media prominence of Muslim groups who choose to eschew these texts and even some of the core. Furthermore, the groups have "scholars" who engage in non-academic and unsound exegetical exercises, heavily influenced by their respective geopolitical contexts, as well as by their own fancies and whims. These groups were often victims of western oppression (and in many cases, oppression by their own dictators) and were also often poverty stricken. Due to these factors, and many others, their Islam became coloured by- and started to revolve around concepts such as rebellion, martyrdom, suicide bombing - to the extent of even tainting and twisting the sacred institution of jihad (righteous strife).

While internal research within the Muslim body has shown that the groups that support this type of radicalism are very few in number (less than 3% of the world's Muslims), and those who actually participate in these types of sins/crimes even fewer, their global impact is nevertheless dramatic.

err . . . but . . . oh! :confused:
Your response is not unexpected. But I hope that the above explanation sheds some light on the utility of the comprehensive range of respected canonical texts, and the dangers of discarding centuries of work that adhere to the highest academic standards for haphazard reactionary interpretations of (often angry) individuals.
 
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Geriatrix

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#33
The last decade or so has seen a rise to power of Muslim groups who choose to eschew these texts and even some of the core. Furthermore, they have "scholars" who engage in non-academic and unsound exegetical exercises, heavily influenced by their respective geopolitical contexts, as well as by their own fancies and whims. These groups were often victims of western oppression (and in many cases, oppression by their own dictators) and were also often poverty stricken. Due to these factors, and many others, their Islam became coloured by- and started to revolve around concepts such as rebellion, martyrdom, suicide bombing - to the extent of even tainting and twisting the sacred institution of jihad (righteous strife).
In light of this, is there some movement within the Islamic community to counter act this? Because from my limited experience, visiting with friends in Fordsburg and such like places(Indian buddies) lot's of Muslim guy's do in fact sympathize with the hardline interpretations. Where would the mainstream differentiate itself from the extremists then? Who decides which interpretation of either the core or commentaries are eschewed?
 

Kornhole

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Oct 15, 2008
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#34
What would qualify as major sins? Reason I'm asking is that I met a Muslim chic a few weeks back, and she sent me a few nudes on Friday (don't ask). Is that a forgiveable sin, and if not, under what circumstances would it be forgiveable?
I must remember this for the next meet :whistling:
 

falcon786

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#35
Great thread Wayfarer,subscribed.

I have found that there is a definite need to clarify Islam to the majority of people that haven't been exposed to it properly except from the mainstream media.The picture painted there is in most cases hardly reminiscent of what the religion is really about IMO.
 
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wise_guy

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#36
Great thread Wayfarer,subscribed.

I have found that there is a definite need to clarify Islam to the majority of people that haven't been exposed to it properly expect from the mainstream media.The picture painted there is in most cases hardly reminiscent of what the religion is really about IMO.
+1

As always Wayfarers exhaustive knowledge will really help in ironing out some of the more pressing issues.
 

wayfarer

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#37
Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (1)

Main > Q&A > Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (1)
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In light of this, is there some movement within the Islamic community to counter act this?
This actually introduces us to the next topic on the contents page, which is that of diversity within Islam. I will post on that shortly. I am, however, wary of this degenerating into a politics thread, as the CA sub-forum has shown what filth political zealotry can produce.

Extremists in the form of Kharijites existed since the first century of Islam, springing to prominence during the reign of Ali, the 4th Caliph, where they were militarily and politically opposed. The term neo-Kharijite is often used to classify modern extremists. Extremist deviations from the mainstream seem to have always existed throughout Islamic history, albeit in different shapes and sizes. Often, their disputes with the mainstream were political, rather than doctrinal. While the mainstream Muslim body is extremely diverse (homogeneity comes in specifically in terms of doctrine, and not necessarily in the finer nuances of practice or in political views), some mainstream scholars have rejected these extremists as being outside the fold of Islam, while others have held that they should be considered corrupt (and excessively sinning) Muslims.

If you have ever tried to research Islam online, you are likely have either landed on some sensationalist hate-site against Muslims, or some equally sensationalist hate-site run by extremist Muslims. On the extremist sites you can expect to see slogans or sayings scrolling across the screen, consisting of one or two statements from canonical texts taken wholly out of context, and several other angry political statements. These groups are politically motivated, and religion is used when they find it expedient to do so. Almost all Muslim governments have instituted anti-extremism and terrorism legislation (including some corrupt middle-eastern regimes, as it gives them pretext to stifle even legitimate opposition). The ordinary Muslim is not normally defensive or reactionary, and scholars have traditionally stuck to teaching the timeless and primordial doctrine and teachings, and operationalising these in a way that is relevant in the modern world. Polemics and exposing deviations were traditionally considered as a branch of the religious sciences - important - but not to the extent of having to take its (sometimes loaded and complex) arguments to the lay Muslim masses.

This has changed since 9/11, an event which sent shock-waves through the Muslim and non-Muslim world. While some reeled in horror at this heinous crime, many in the 3rd world who had for generations been victims of Western and colonial/neo-colonial oppression and usurpation actually rejoiced. For some in the Muslim world, too, the knee-jerk reaction was to celebrate. Muslim scholars, while understanding this emotionally loaded reaction, also understood the spiritual implications of what is clearly a crime and a sin, and they were quick to condemn terrorism, and admonish their peoples. And so momentum has been growing to challenge this deviation head-on, to the extent that some scholars (such as the Cape Town based Shaykh Yusuf da Costa) have gone so far as to say that the Jihad of the day is the fight against extremism. If you are a Muslim and attend Muslim Afternoon/Sunday School, or go to mosque, you should know all about this Jihad against Wahhabism/extremism. Otherwise, all you are likely to know about Islamic activism is what you glean from IOL, Fox, CNN, etc., and you would probably have a very skewed understanding of the internal movement against extremism, to the extent that you would not even know that it exists.

The scholarly challenge is that while the masses are exhorted to tolerance, patience and religiously sound action, Muslims in various locations globally interact with aggressors invading, usurping and oppressing them, whether it be in the guise of the US/NATO "war on terror", or Zionist or Soviet aggression, or even persecution by their own corrupt dictators/monarchs. Islam does not prescribe passive acceptance of persecution, and permits self-defense. And while scholars insist on Islamically acceptable action, even non-Muslim psychologists/academics have expressed understanding when it comes to truly desperate people fighting for their land and for the lives of their families (as in the case of Palestinians living as refugees in their own country, kept under constant curfew, demoralised, humiliated, starved and oppressed).

See also: Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (2)
 
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wayfarer

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#38
Because from my limited experience, visiting with friends in Fordsburg and such like places(Indian buddies) lot's of Muslim guy's do in fact sympathize with the hardline interpretations.
Perhaps the post above would help answer this question too. It may be advantageous to differentiate between having sympathy for those fighting to defend their own lands and peoples (the vast majority of these are mainstream), and the Al-Qaida/Bin Laden types who have extremist doctrine, extremist political philosophy and believe in the language of violence. I am not sure which of these your Fordsburg acquaintances sympathise with, but if it is the latter, I would find it highly problematic. While South Africa's Muslims find themselves in the position of having just exited a period characterised by radical resistance to our country's own forms of oppression (and this would place SA Muslims in a unique geo-political position), SA Muslims are by and large mainstream, and extremists are rare. SA Muslims have been part of the struggle, and they are very much part of the multicultural society of the new SA. While SA Muslims have been recognised as being among the most practicing/devout Muslim minorities in the world, they are also noted as being among the most integrated.

Where would the mainstream differentiate itself from the extremists then?
The point is that it is not the mainstream that differentiates itself, but the extremists who deviate - and there are infinite possibilities as to how/where this can happen.

Who decides which interpretation of either the core or commentaries are eschewed?
Interpretations arrived at through thoroughly using universal scholarly/academic standards (such as applying Aristotlean logic principles) and based on actual primary (Quran/Hadith) evidence are regarded as valid. Applicability, though, depends on context. The interpretations that do not meet these criteria are eschewed by scholarly consensus.

There is much room for differing interpretations and tolerance of differing views within mainstream Islam. The same cannot be said of the tiny extremist minority. A famous saying by classical Muslim scholars is that having differing scholarly opinions/dispensations is a form of God's mercy.
 
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wayfarer

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#39
I have serious issues with sharia law in most muslim countries.
Yes, me too.

Is there a way of creating a standardised version of this law...
There will always be differences in Shariah application from region to region, and from time to time. This is precisely because multiple valid interpretive possibilities exist. And scholarly bodies within virtually all regions and times have held valid inflections of the Shariah. The perversion comes in when corrupt political powers create their own laws, heavily pollute the Shariah with it, apply it selectively, and then still call it Shariah.

...that conforms to a multi religious modern democracy?
It is not a top down approach, but bottom up. There first has to exist a modern democracy with legitimately elected leaders before the rulers will implement shariah without polluting it. People have to take responsibility to change their own conditions, and they start by changing what is within themselves.

"Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (Quran 13:11)


If not is it worth having altogether?
The "shariah" of most present-day dictatorships is not shariah at all, and therefore not worth having (it is more like an affliction that persecutes instead of protects disenfranchised groups such as women and the poor...).
 
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