Introduction to Islam

Geriatrix

Executive Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2005
Messages
6,554
#41
I am not sure which of these your Fordsburg acquaintances sympathise with, but if it is the latter, I would find it highly problematic.
Oh, have to point out, it's not my friends who sympathies with them. Jeez no, my friends are cool, just the people you can run into there. You can buy some pro-Bin Ladin stuff in a lot of shops in the Oriental Plaza for instance. Seems to be popular.
 

rodga

Executive Member
Joined
May 9, 2007
Messages
8,847
#42
Thanks for this
I dont usually get involved in religious/political threads, but this one seems worthwhile
 

Nerfherder

Honorary Master
Joined
Apr 21, 2008
Messages
24,288
#43
Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
 

OrbitalDawn

Ulysses Everett McGill
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
40,823
#44
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.
I think another problem is where cultural/tribal norms also gets dragged into Islamic societies. It creates the impression that some of the horrific things people do is based on Islam, when in reality it's a tribal custom from a specific area. This happens a lot in Morocco and Algeria, I think.

Nerfherder said:
Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
You're perhaps thinking of Ayatollahs? There are a lot of them, though, so it's not entirely like a Pope.
 

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#45
Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah: 2 of 2

Main > Q&A > Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah: 1 | 2
[HR][/HR]

Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
Interestingly, you could be referring to the previously-mentioned caliph, or khaleefah. The station is largely political, and nothing like a Pope. The khaleefah will guide and lead Muslims politically, but the faith will always be guided by scholars. According to many scholars, it is religiously sound that the Muslims should strive for a single political leader. This leader is required to be religiously sensitive and to be righteous. Muslims have had a caliphate virtually throughout modern history, up until the abolishment of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s. Sadly, many of the caliphs were neither knowledgeable about the religion, nor particularly righteous. The first 4 caliphs are notable exceptions, and are ranked amongst the most respected personalities in Islam (all having been immediate companions of Prophet Muhammad).

Muslims are required to be united, but not necessarily uniform. The fact that there exists 4 schools of thought within mainstream Islamic practice is not problematic, but according to classical scholars, a mercy. The 4 schools of practice have about 75% in common across all 4 schools. There is also a universal recognition of each other's validity amongst the 4 schools of practice. Furthermore, mainstream Muslims have a single creed. Minimal doctrinal differences do exist, but these are so complex that they seem to exist exclusively in the realm of advanced scholarship, and the lay Muslim really has no need to delve that deep.

Islam is meant to be a diverse and dynamic body, and would continue to be so under a righteous caliph. The Shariah has very wide and organic (to an extent) boundaries, and is by its very nature inclusive. Extremists (and dictators) overstep these boundaries, and draw new exceedingly narrow and rigid boundaries. In so doing, Muslim extremists alienate not only non-Muslims, but also over 90% of the world's Muslims.

A caliph would not necessarily ban all extreme doctrinal interpretations or practices, but would be obligated to forbid criminal activities such as terrorism (often in the name of Islam) and woman-abuse, etc.

See also: Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah (1)
 
Last edited:

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#46
I think another problem is where cultural/tribal norms also gets dragged into Islamic societies. It creates the impression that some of the horrific things people do is based on Islam, when in reality it's a tribal custom from a specific area...
Spot on, and the problem is compounded when the perpetrators sometimes commit these horrific tribal things in the name of Islam.
 

OrbitalDawn

Ulysses Everett McGill
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
40,823
#47
Sadly, many of the caliphs were neither knowledgeable about the religion, nor particularly righteous.
Could they ever be, though? We're talking about human beings here. :p

On a more serious note, there seems to be a particular strain of Islamists who want to turn the whole planet into a Caliphate, under strict Sharia law. Is this something that mainstream Muslims actively desire, even if they're not extremist?
 

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#48
4. Diversity: Doctrinal and Ideological Divisions

Main > Diversity: Doctrinal and Ideological Divisions
[HR][/HR]
Doctrinal Divisions​

Sunni doctrine (90%)

The two main schools of doctrine are the Ashari (Abu al Hasan al Ash'ari, 874-936 CE) and the Maturidi (Muhammad Abu Mansur al Maturidi, 853-944 CE). These two have minor differences that are so small that discussions about the differences are generally the domain of scholars of doctrine, and not the man in the street. Both doctrines insist on the trust in Revelation as well as reason, but Maturidis put slightly more emphasis on human reasoning.

The Salafis/Wahhabis (less than 1%) have specific doctrinal beliefs that noticeably differentiate them from the majority of Sunnis. Salafis place emphasis on literal interpretation of the Qur'an and Hadith, with skepticism towards the role of human reason in theology.

Shi'i doctrine (9%)

About 9% of all Muslims are Shi'as. Shi'as believe that the leaders of the Muslims should be direct descendents of Prophet Muhammad through his daughter, Fatima (with her husband, Ali).

There are three main schools of Shi'i doctrine:
The Twelvers believe in the infallibility of the 12 Imams that are descendent from Prophet Muhammad, starting with his son-in-law, Ali, and believe that these Imams should be in charge of Muslims politically and spiritually.

The Isma'ilis (also called the Seveners, as they believe that Ismail bin Jafar was the seventh and final leading Imam) believe that the complete true meanings of the Quran and Hadith lie solely with the prevailing Imam.

The Zaidis (also called the Fivers, as they believe that Zaid Ibn Ali was the fifth and final leading Imam) reject the ascription of infallibility to the 12 Imams, and hold that any of the descendants of Prophet Muhammad can be the Imam.

Ibadi doctrine (less than 1%)

Ibadis believe that God created the Qur'an at a certain point in time, and that God will not be seen on the Day of Judgment. They also believe in the eternal nature of hell for all those who enter it.

Ideological Divisions​

Traditional Islam (96%)

This ideology is not politicised and is largely based on scholarly consensus of correct opinion. Traditional Islam (or Orthodox Islam) makes up 96% of the world's Muslims, and includes Sunnis, Shi'as and Ibadis. Traditional Muslims emphasise the importance of adhering to a consistent school of Islamic law. Many also follow one of the mystical brotherhoods for spiritual refinement.

Sunnis are the largest denomination of Muslims, making up 90% of the world's Traditional Muslims. They follow one of the four schools of law, namely Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.

Shi'as are the second-largest denomination of Muslims, making up 9.5% of the world's Traditional Muslims. Their schools of law include the 2 Twelver schools (less than 8% of all Muslims), namely the Usuli and the Akhbari. Other Shi'a schools of law are the Isma'ilis (less than 0.5% of all Muslims) and the Zaidis (less than 0.8% of all Muslims).

Ibadis make up 0.5% of the world's Traditional Muslims. They make up the majority of the population of Oman, and are also found in some parts of Africa.

Islamic modernism (1%)

This ideology makes up 1% of the world's Muslims, and emphasises the need for religion to evolve with Western social advances. Modernist Muslims are criticised for having very little knowledge of Traditional Islam, its systems and content, and thus, not fully realising what they are rejecting or criticising.

Islamic fundamentalism (3%)

This is a highly politicized religious ideology that makes up 3% of the worlds Muslims. It was popularised in the 20th century through movements within both the Shi'a (Revolutionary Shi'ism) and Sunni (Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabism/Salafism) branches of Islam — characterised by aggressiveness and a reformist attitude toward Traditional Islam.

Based on RISSC stats.
 
Last edited:

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#49
On a more serious note, there seems to be a particular strain of Islamists who want to turn the whole planet into a Caliphate, under strict Sharia law. Is this something that mainstream Muslims actively desire, even if they're not extremist?
Mainstream scholars generally oppose those who call for this, not because they oppose Shariah per se or do not understood its inclusive or socially beneficial character, but precisely because of the "shariah" version that those shouting for it would implement were they to succeed. Islam allows for various political systems, such as democracies, constitutional monarchies, or a caliphate - as long as fairness prevails. A caliphate is a political system, whereas Sharia is, amongst other things, a system for deriving law.

If a modern democracy (or any other fair political system) elects to be ruled by a modern inflection of the shariah of the mainstream (unperverted by corrupt rulers), then this, by the mainstream, would be sound.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as "strict Shariah Law". Shariah is a system for deriving law, and Islam's canons provide very little actual legislation or penal codes. This is why the Shariah of different regions and times can differ so much, while remaining equally valid. There is nothing wrong or objectionable about this system, and in many respects it is comparable to the Napoleonic Code spread by French colonials, or the British common Law and Roman/Dutch Law spread by the British/VOC colonials. Most of the objections are about pre-modern penal codes that some Muslim countries implement, such as stoning as a form of capital punishment. Penal codes are not necessarily immutable (fixed) components within the Shariah.

As an aside, you may be interested to know that only 7 of the over 50 Muslim states include stoning within their legal system, and of these 7, only 2 actually implement it!
 
Last edited:

OrbitalDawn

Ulysses Everett McGill
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
40,823
#50
Mainstream scholars generally oppose those who call for this, not because they oppose Shariah per se or do not understood its inclusive or socially beneficial character, but precisely because of the "shariah" version that those shouting for it would implement were they to succeed. Islamic allows for various political systems, such as democracies, constitutional monarchies, or a caliphate - as long as fairness prevails. A caliphate is a political system, whereas Sharia is a legal system.

If a modern democracy (or any other fair political system) elects to be ruled by a modern inflection of the shariah of the mainstream (unperverted by corrupt rulers), then this, by the mainstream, would be sound.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as "strict Shariah Law". Shariah is a system for deriving law, and Islam's canons provide very little actual legislation or penal codes. This is why the Shariah of different regions and times can differ so much, while remaining equally valid. There is nothing wrong or objectionable about this system, and in many respects it is comparable to the Napoleonic Code spread by French colonials, or the Roman/Dutch Law spread by the VOC colonials. Most of the objections are about pre-modern penal codes that some Muslim countries implement, such as stoning as a form of capital punishment. Penal codes are not necessarily immutable (fixed) components within the Shariah.
Yeah, makes sense. The people generally calling for this are hardline theocrats. I guess part of the problem is the lack of Muslim states that are making headway on human rights. Almost all of them are totalitarian in one way or another. As we've established before this isn't necessarily Islam's fault, but the similarities in curtailments of freedom in these states is discouraging. One recent example is the guy in Indonesia who was jailed for stating "God does not exist" on his facebook status. I find any such legal system (and society for that matter) abhorrent. There's also a middle eastern country (I forget which one) where there effectively is no penal code, but Sharia is the official law of the land. So basically judges get to decide what happens to offenders. This is dangerous.

What I meant with "strict" Sharia Law is that these fundamentalist groups calling for it would be implementing their version of it strictly. Practically speaking, I don't think it could ever happen. The politics, religious and cultural differences are too vast. It's scary how unifying a hate for infidels apparently is, though.

As an aside, you may be interested to know that only 7 of the over 50 Muslim states include stoning within their legal system, and of these 7, only 2 actually implement it!
Interesting. I'd bet the ones that do it are some of the least developed states and quite primitive in terms of social structure. Afghanistan, for example.

Also, these "scholars" you refer to, who are they? Dudes who work at universities, or at mosques or what?
 

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#51
Also, these "scholars" you refer to, who are they? Dudes who work at universities, or at mosques or what?
Most are at mainstream universities, or specialist Islamic universities. Others run their own schools/colleges or NGOs/social movements, some also double as leaders/teachers at mosques, and some are writers or activists.
 

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#54
Schools of Thought and Sunni-Shia Relations

Main > Q&A > Schools of Thought and Sunni-Shia Relations
[HR][/HR]
What are these divisions among the Sunnis?

Shouldn't they just abandon these schools in favour of one system of law?
Different schools of thought exist because Islam's canon, as with any canonical range of texts, produces different interpretive possibilities. No individual scholar or school can claim to have a monopoly on God's intended meanings. There is absolutely no need to abandon the four rich, valid legacies in favour of a new one. Sunni Muslims make up the mainstream, and within the mainstream, the fact that four schools exist is seen as beneficial, as it contributes to the dynamic and adaptive nature of Islam. It is something that is celebrated. Instances of rivalry between the schools are rare, especially in modern times.

Why is there so much hatred between Shia's and Sunni's?
Why is there so much hatred between Catholics and Protestants?

It is within the nature of human beings that they have the potential to use any difference as a pretext to gain the political upper hand, or to please the ego. This includes differences in ethnicity, socio-economic status, philosophical views, nationality, religion, etc. Nevertheless, the statement that there is "so much hatred between Shias and Sunnis" is perhaps misleading. There are regions where political strife has set the two groups at each other's throats (especially if the region is dominated by extremists from either group), and there are regions where they co-operate to form healthy societies.

Some of the textual sources I used for this thread include publications that have been co-operatively produced by Muslims across the spectrum.

When did this conflict start?
The split started as a result of differing views of the rights to political succession after the passing of Prophet Muhammad.
 
Last edited:

Magandroid

Expert Member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
1,649
#55
Different schools of thought exist because Islam's canon, as with any canonical range of texts, produces different interpretive possibilities. No individual scholar or school can claim to have a monopoly on God's intended meanings. There is absolutely no need to abandon the four rich, valid legacies in favour of a new one. Sunni Muslims make up the mainstream, and within the mainstream, the fact that four schools exist is seen as beneficial, as it contributes to the dynamic and adaptive nature of Islam. It is something that is celebrated. Instances of rivalry between the schools are rare, especially in modern times.

So is this the reason they cannot agree on the Muslim personal law that they want the SA government to recognise? With all these different views the Muslims in this country are fighting amoungst each other over whose views are right and whose views should be accepted as the official law. Even in the Western Cape there are differring views about Eid (not sure about the rest of SA though).
 

wayfarer

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
1,619
#56
So is this the reason they cannot agree on the Muslim personal law that they want the SA government to recognise? With all these different views the Muslims in this country are fighting amoungst each other over whose views are right and whose views should be accepted as the official law.
No, that played a very minor role in the MPL debates. Any of the mainstream schools may be followed, even though one is generally advised to stick to only 1 for the sake of internal coherence. Following a mainstream school other than one's own, (within a particular context, and under unusual circumstances) can facilitate practice, and scholars actively offer guidance with these types of situations, and consensus is reached very quickly because thousands of precedences exist from which they draw inferences. The MPL saga has little to do with interpreting primary texts. The debate was about the degree to which the Shariah can be transmogrified and still be passed off as Shariah, and as to whether non-Muslim judges who may have a cursory understanding of Shariah and its spiritual significances can preside over courts operating under MPL.

See, for example, this submission to the SA Law Commision by the Muslim Lawyers Association.

Even in the Western Cape there are differring views about Eid (not sure about the rest of SA though).
The difference regarding which day to celebrate Eid is also unrelated to schools of thought or doctrine, and is not limited to the Western Cape or even to South Africa. Furthermore, this difference is not presently a cause for notable conflict or division.

The point is not whether or not differences may exist - differences will always exist - the point is whether a society is matured enough to tolerate and respect differences.
 
Last edited:

Sodan

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2010
Messages
2,728
#57
Awesome thread, wayfarer. This is the most informative thread, yet written in (mostly) easily understandable language, on Islam I have come across in a while.

I do have a question though:

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 indeed, flourished - for the last fourteen centuries, when its scholars and temporal policymakers keep changing and dying out over time?

Flourished? Perhaps in the past, yes, but not so much in modern times it seems. Unless there is something I don't know. Please can you elaborate on this?
 

Mineer

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2008
Messages
3,189
#58
Awesome thread, wayfarer. This is the most informative thread, yet written in (mostly) easily understandable language, on Islam I have come across in a while.
I do have a question though:
Flourished? Perhaps in the past, yes, but not so much in modern times it seems. Unless there is something I don't know. Please can you elaborate on this?
that totally depends on what your definition is on "flourish", and yes growth rate is dropping, but that is a bit misleading I think
from wiki
The report also made reference to the fact that Muslims are estimated to make up 23.4% of the total global population in 2010 (out of a total of 6.9 billion people) and that by 2030 Muslims will represent about 26.4% of the global population (out of a total of 7.9 billion people)
This shows that (if correct:D) while world population is expected to grow by 12.65% it is expected that adherents of Islam will exceed world population growth rate by 7.35% i.e Islam is expected to grow by 20% in the same period that the world population would grow by a mere 12.65%

Having said all that I dont think wayfarer was concern about the size or growth or even if Islam is the fastest growing, but just meant Islam is growing i.e. flourishing :love:
 
Last edited:

moosag

Expert Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2004
Messages
1,164
#59
@wayF Mubarak dude... Good post and may you be rewarded abundandtly for your efforts in spreading the deen and truth of Islam!
 

naeem

Expert Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2004
Messages
1,005
#60
+1 - easy to digest, civil and to the point..

Hat tip to everyone for keeping it mature and constructive.
 
Top