Outline of Islam

Do you want to understand this religion in a broad sweep? Here it is. A Christian reaction is placed at the end.

Let’s get started on the outline and tables.

The opening chapter in the Quran (in its entirety):


In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe,

Sovereign of the Day of Judgment!

You alone we worship, and to You alone

We turn for help.

Guide us to the straight path,

The path of those whom You have favored,

Not of those who have incurred Your wrath,

Nor of those who have gone astray.

I. Introduction

A. Youngest major world religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity are the other four)

B. One of the largest: over one billion

C. Religious / theological roots in Judaism and Christianity

D. “Muslim” means “one who submits” to God (not “peace”)

Islam: The Big Picture

Quick Overview




Life of Muhammad c. 570-632 M marries; becomes prophet; Qur’an revealed; Medina becomes Muslim, then Mecca, then Arabia; M dies in 632
Early Caliphate 632-661 Qur’an develops towards final form; Disputes over leadership; Four Caliphs; First Civil War; Quran collected and finalized
Umayyad Empire 661-750 Capital moves to Damascus, still subject to Caliph; conquests of Egypt, Libya, Fertile Crescent, Syria, Iraq, Persia, and Afghanistan; invasion of Spain and S France; Sunni and Shi’ite sects emerge over Caliphate dispute; seeds of Islamic civilization grow
Abbasid Empire 750-1258 Capital moves to Baghdad, still subject to Caliph; flowering of Islamic civ in ME and Asia: many mosques, Al-Azhar Univ in Cairo, and other mosque-schools; relig scholars and philosophers; and Sharia (Islamic law) developed; Hadith is begun = Reports about M’s and Companions’ lives and sayings (mostly M’s)
Sultanate Islam 1258-1700s to 1800s Genghis Khan and Mongol army overrun Baghdad in 1258; eventually Islam recovers and divides into three with Sultan as ruler:

1) Ottoman Empire, centered in Istanbul, Turkey, ME, Balkans, and S Europe

2) Persian Empire, centered in Iran, where Shi’ites dominate

3) Mughal Empire, centered in Delhi and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh

Modern 1800s to Present West now dominates; Islam seeks a response: Join them? Reform from within? Fight them? Muslims move into West; Muslims may become a large voting block by 2050; US has 3 million (firm figures unknown)

Pre-Islamic Religion

I. Major Religions

A. Byzantine Christianity

1. Local communities in Arabia (South and North)

2. Muhammad will deny Trinity

B. Judaism

1. Local communities in Medina, Arabia

2. At first Muhammad is sympathetic, but strife emerges

3. Major source of Quran and Islam

C. Zoroastrianism

1. More distant influence (A and B are sufficient)

D. Muhammad sees himself as reformer of A and B, but learns the following from them:

1. One God

2. One revealed Scripture

3. Eschatology: Day of Judgment

4. Heaven and Hell

5. Ethics and law

II. Native Religion(s) in Arabia

A. Qur’an is major source of knowledge of native religion(s)

B. Polytheists

1. Local and Tribal deities

2. Number of angels, jinns, demons

3. One supreme God over others = Al-lah

C. Animism

1. Natural things are alive or have soul

2. Black rock (meteor?)

a. Veneration at shrine, Kabah

Life of Muhammad

I. Early Life

A. Clan

1. Partially controlled Kabah shrine in Mecca

B. Parents

1. Father: dies before Muhammad’s birth

2. Mother: dies during his sixth year

3. Raised by Tribal chief uncle: Abu-Talib

C. “Illiterate” or unlettered, which probably just means he’s no scholar

1. So Qur’an is a miracle (or sometimes Muslims will say he was a scholar of sorts, if it suits them.

“Men, I am God’s messenger to you all. He has sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. There is no god but Him. He ordains life and death. Therefore, have faith in God and His apostle [messenger], the Unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His Word. Follow him so that you may be rightly guided.” (7:158)

D. Occupation

1. Steward and merchant of rich widow Khadijah

2. Travels in caravans, meeting Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians

3. He fears for his own polytheistic people

E. Marriage and family

1. To Khadijah (25 and 40 years old)

2. Fatima

3. Other daughters

II. Religious Experience and Mission

A. Retreats and meditates

1. Gabriel appears

2. Muhammad doubts, but wife encourages him

B. Appearances throughout his life

1. In trance or hearing bell ringing, he reports Qur’an, which is written by Zayd (and others) on parchments, stones, bones, leaves

C. Strict monotheist: One God, Al-lah = (the) God

D. Last or “seal” of prophets

1. Earlier messages incomplete

2. His completes and finalizes revelation

E. Preaches in Mecca (a k a Makkah)

1. Hostility from worshippers at Kabah and wealthy elite

2. First convert: Khadijah

3. Second convert (disputed): Cousin and (future) son-in-law Ali or slave Zayd, freed slave and adopted son

4. 10 years with moderate success

5. Dominant clans boycott Muhammad’s clan

6. Some followers urged to flee to Abyssinia or Ethiopia

F. Uncle and Khadijah die (619)

1. Marries numerous other wives in Medina (but not yet)

III. Formation of Early Islam

A. Muhammad gets an invitation from Medina (a k a Yathrib or Madina) (620)

1. Medina has tribal strife

2. Leaders invite Muhammad to arbitrate

3. Medinans convert—eventually and not all of them

B. Hijrah = emigration = flight, Sept 24, 622 (July?) from Mecca to Medina

1. Date is reference for Muslim calendar

2. Years dated AH (anno hegirae), not BCE or CE

C. In Medina

1. Large network of tribes of pagans (Aws or Aus), some of whom had intermarried with Jews

2. Three (major) Jewish tribes (clans)

3. Medina Charter

a.       Religious freedom for non-Muslims

b.       Religious freedom will end rapidly (e.g. Surah / Chapter 9:5)

4. Jews resist Muhammad, so he’s hostile towards them

5. Marries Aishah (623)

D. Battle of Badr (March 624)

1. Medinan Muslims v. Mecca

2. Muhammad initiated attacks on caravans from Mecca in 623 for more than a year

3. Then he got a lucky strike in January 624

4. In March 624, 300 Muslims v. 1000 Meccans, yet Muslims win (Muhammad praying for troops); see Surah / Chapter 8

5. Celebrated to this day

E. Relations with Jews in Medina

1. Three principal clans (Qaynuqa, Nadir, and Qurayza)

F. Battle of Trench (or Ditch) (AD 627)

1. 10k Meccans and allies fail to take Medina

2. A clan of Jews of Medina denounced as traitors, so men beheaded; women, children sold into slavery

a. See Surah 33:25-27

G. Truce of Hudaybiyah declared in 628, so Muslims allowed togo on pilgrimage to Kabah (629)

1. Muhammad leads pilgrims, but claims Mecca breaks Treaty in late 629

H. Subjugation of Mecca (early 630)

1. Muhammad leads 10k against Mecca, which is too weak to resist

2. Muhammad grants them amnesty

3. He destroys idols around Kabah stone

4. Marries more wives

IV. Last Years

A. Control of most of Arabia

1. By diplomacy, war, or conversion

B. Farewell address after pilgrimage to Mecca

C. Dies (632) without clearly appointing successor

1. Ali (cousin / son-in-law) v. Abu Bakr (Companion of M / father of Aisha)

D. Abu Bakr “appointed” by community as caliph = “representative or deputy”

1. Shi’ites doubt this version

2. “Shi’ites” = Shia (party) of Ali

3. So the strife goes on even to today

The Qur’an

I. Basics

A. “Qur’an” literally means “Reading, Recitation”

B. Arrangement:

1. 114 surahs (chapters), about 6000 ayat (verses)

2. Placed according to size (approximately biggest to smallest), not in chronological order

3. About 85% size of New Testament? (so says text), but it’s probably bigger than New Testament

C. Authority

1. Claim: No human authorship—but a dictation

2. Last word to humanity

D. Collection

1. Finalized about 20-50 years after Muhammad’s death

2. But some scholars say later

E. Devotion

1. Recitation is a ritual

2. Hafiz = person who memorizes all of it

3. Reciting produces God’s name

II. Core Teachings

A. Allah = general name for God

1. About 2,500 times in Quran

2. Strict monotheism

Never has God begotten a son, nor is there any god besides Him (23:91)

3. Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Creator

4. 99 names, e.g., The Merciful One, the Creator

B. Spiritual Hierarchy

1. Angels

a. Link between God and humans

2. Jinn (geniis):

a. Between angels and humans, can be good or bad, convert, go to heaven or hell

It has been revealed to me [Muhammad] that a group of jinn once listened in and said, [jinn speaking] “We have heard a wondrous Qur’an that gives guidance to the right path, and we have come to believe. We shall never set up partners with our Lord. He has neither spouse nor child—He is far above this in majesty! Outrageous things have been said about God by the foolish among us, although we had thought that no man or jinn [would dare] to tell a lie about Him. Men have sought refuge with the jinn in the past, but they only misguided them further. They thought, as you did, that God would never raise anyone from the dead. We tried to reach heaven, but discovered it to be full of stern guards and shooting stars—we used to sit in places there, listening, but anyone trying to listen now will find a shooting star lying in wait for him—[so now] we do not know whether those who live on earth are due for misfortune, or whether their Lord intends to guide them. Some of us are righteous, others less so; we follow different paths. We know we can never frustrate God on earth; we can never escape Him. We came to believe when we heard the guidance: whoever believes in his Lord need fear no loss or injustice. Some of us submit to Him and others go the wrong way: those who submit to God have found wise guidance, but those who go wrong will be fuel for Hellfire . . . .” (72:1-15)

3. Satan (Iblis):

a. Leads evil jinns and demons

b. Tempted Adam and Eve

c. Satan fell for not bowing to Adam

                We created man from dry clay, from black molded loam, and before him Satan from smokeless fire. Your Lord said to the angels: “I am creating man from dry clay, from black molded loam. When I have fashioned him and breathed of my spirit into him, kneel down and prostrate yourselves before him.”

                The angels, one and all, prostrated themselves, except Satan. He refused to prostrate himself with the others.

                “Satan,” said God, “why do you not prostrate yourself?”

                He replied: “I will not bow down to a mortal whom You created of dry clay, of molded black loam.”

                “Begone,” said God, “you are accursed. My curse shall be on you till Judgment Day.”

                “Lord,” said Satan, “reprieve me till the Day of Resurrection.”

                He answered: “You are reprieved till the Appointed Day.”

                “Lord,” said Satan, “since you have thus seduced me, I will tempt mankind on earth. I will seduce them all, except those of who are your faithful servants.”

                He replied: “This is the right course for Me. You shall have no power over My servants, only the sinners who follow you. They are all destined for Hell. It has seven gates, and through each gate they shall come in separate bands. (15:26-44)

4. Humans:

a. Apex of physical, visible creation

b. God’s representatives on earth

It is He who has made you [His] agents, inheritors of the earth. He has raised you in ranks, some above others that he may try you. For the Lord is quick in punishment, yet He is indeed oft forgiving, most merciful (6:165)

C. Predestination

1. Extreme implies fatalism, determinism

a. This view dominates Islam

“In the end, it was the extreme predestination position that triumphed. To this day, Friday prayer leaders affirm from mosque pulpits around the world belief in divine decree, be it good or evil.” Mahmoud M. Ayoub, “Islam,” World Religions: Western Traditions, 2nd ed. (New York: OUP, 2002), 368.

2. Qur’an also affirms humans are free and responsible

D. Eschatology

1. All will face Allah’s judgment

2. Body decays, soul sleeps until End of Time

3. Body raised at End of Time, reunited with soul

4. Eternal destiny based on faith and good works (not faith alone) v. infidelity and vice in earthly life

5. Good and evil deeds are recorded

                It is We who resurrect the dead. We record the deeds of men and the marks they leave behind: We note all things in a glorious book. (36:11)

                Those that persecute believers, men or women, and never repent shall be rewarded with the scourge of Hell, the scourge of the Conflagration. But those that have faith and do good works shall be rewarded with gardens watered by running streams. That is the supreme triumph. (85:10-11)

                The true believers, both men and women, are friends to one another. They enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil; they attend to their prayers and render the alms levy, and obey God and his apostle [Muhammad]. On these God will have mercy. God is mighty and wise.

                God has promised the men and women who believe in Him gardens watered by running streams, in which they shall abide forever; goodly mansions in the gardens of Eden: and, what is more, they shall have grace in God’s sight. That is the supreme triumph. (9:71-72)

                We shall reward the steadfast according to their noblest deeds. Be they men or women, those that embrace the Faith and do what is right We will surely grant a happy life; We shall reward them according to their noblest deeds. (16:97)

                . . . But the righteous shall dwell among gardens and fountains; in peace they shall enter them. We shall remove all hatred from their hearts, and they shall take their ease on couches face to face, a band of brothers. Toil shall not weary them, nor shall they be driven out. (15:45-48)

I swear by the Day of Resurrection, and by the self-reproaching soul!

                Does man think We shall never put his bones together again? Indeed, We can remold his very fingers!

                Yet man would ever deny what is to come. “When will this be,” he asks, “this day of Resurrection?”

                But when the sight of mortals is confounded and the moon eclipsed; when sun and moon are brought together—on that day, all shall return.

                Man shall on that day be told of all his deed, from first to last. Indeed, man shall bear witness against himself, plead as he may with his excuses. (75:1-13)

For the unbelievers we have prepared chains and fetter, and a blazing fire. But the righteous shall drink of a cup tempered at the Camphor Fountain, a gushing spring at which the servants of God will refresh themselves: they who keep their vows and dread the far-spread terrors of Judgment Day, who, though they hold it dear, give sustenance to the destitute, the orphan, and the captive, saying: “We feed you for God’s sake only; we seek of you neither recompense nor thanks: for we fear from our Lord a day of anguish and woe.”

                God will deliver them from the evil of that day, and make their faces shine with joy. He will reward them for their steadfastness with Paradise and robes of silk. Reclining there upon soft couches, they shall feel neither the scorching heat nor the biting cold. Trees will spread their shade around them, and fruits will hang in clusters over them.

                They shall be served with silver dishes, and beakers as large as goblets, silver goblets which they themselves shall measure: and cups brim-full with gingered-flavored water from a fount called Salsabil. They shall be attended by boys graced with eternal youth, who to the beholder’s eyes will seem like sprinkled pearls. When you gaze upon that scene, you will behold a kingdom blissful and glorious.

                They shall be arrayed in garments of fine green silk and rich brocade, and adorned with bracelets of silver. Their Lord will give them pure nectar to drink. (76:6-22)

“The Quranic vision of the afterlife is both spiritual and physical. Since the Last Day will be accompanied by bodily resurrection, the pleasures of heaven and the pains of hell will be fully experienced. The Garden of Paradise is a heavenly mansion of perpetual peace and bliss . . . and the enjoyment of one’s spouses and beautiful dark-eyed female companions . . . . John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, 3rd ed. (New York: OUP, 1998), 30-31.

                They shall recline on jeweled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason) . . . And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris [beautiful young maidens], chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds . . . we created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand: a multitude from the men of old, and a multitude from the latter generations. (56:10-30)

                Say: “Fear the Lord, you that serve God and are true believers. Those who do good works in this life shall receive a good reward. God’s earth is vast. (39:9)

“. . . Those who believe [have faith] and do good works . . . .” is a frequent clause in the Qur’an, (e.g., in Sura 42)

“The sincerity and determination of a person in his or her effort to obey God’s law will determine his or her state in the life to come. Since there is no outside agency of redemption in Islam comparable to what is offered in Christianity, the only means for a person to earn his or her salvation is to live a life of sincere faith and righteous action and hope in God’s mercy.” Mahmoud M. Ayoub, “Islam,” World Religions: Western Traditions, 2nd ed. (New York: OUP, 2002), 368.

The Mosque

I. Origin

A. Many (not all) early Muslims were travelling traders

1. Need to worship anywhere

B. Central place is Kabah shrine

C. All mosques point toward Kabah

II. Worship

A. Friday is day of communal prayer service

1. Face Mecca

B. Imam

1. Leads service

C. Sermon

1. Topical, from Qur’an

2. In Arabic or vernacular

D. School (Madrassa; a k a Madrasah)

1. Recite Qur’an and learn Hadith

2. Al-Azhar University in Cairo is oldest—for Sunnis

3. Madrasas in Qom (Qum), Iran, is center for Shi’ites

The Five Pillars




Repetition of Creed Shahadah “There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
Daily Prayer Salaht Cleanse hands, mouth, face, and feet; ideally five times: daybreak, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and evening; bows, prostrations, and recitations of fixed prayers and passages from Q
Almsgiving Zakat 2.5(-10)% to community and the poor
Ramadan Fast Sawm Lunar months, so it rotates throughout year; fast (no drinking or eating) from sunrise to sunset; eating in evening; for reflection and discipline; commemorates time M first received Q
Pilgrimage Hajj Pilgrimage season follows Ramadan; go to Mecca and Kabah; white garments symbol of purity; circle Kabah seven times, counterclockwise


I. Compilers

A. Most Reliable

1. Imam Bukhari (196-256 AH; d. 870 CE)

2. Imam Muslim (c. 202-275 AH; d. 875 CE)

B. Three Main Groups / Qualities

1. Sahih (Sound)

2. Hasan (Good)

3. Da’if (weak) or saqim (infirm, sick)

II. Definition

A. Record of the words and deeds of Muhammad outside of the Quran

III. Qur’an v. Hadith

A. Inspiration

1. Qur’an stronger than Hadith, but Hadith still “inspired”

B. Authority

1. Qur’an over Hadith, but Hadith still has a lot of authority

C. Examples:

It is reported on the authority of Abdullah son of Umar that the Holy Prophet said: (the superstructure) of al-Islam is raised on five (pillars), i.e. the oneness of Allah, the establishment of prayer, payment of zakat, the fast of Ramadan, Pilgrimage (to Mecca). Muslim transmitted it.

Ibn ‘Umar reported God’s messenger as saying, “I am commanded to fight with men until they testify that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, observe the prayer and pay zakat. When they do that, they will keep their lives and their property safe from me, except for what is due to Islam; and their reckoning will be at God’s hands.” (Bukhari and Muslim, but Muslim did not mention “except for what is due to Islam”).

Abu Huraira reported that an Arab came to the Prophet and said, “Guide me to a deed by doing which I shall enter paradise.” He [the Prophet] said, “Worship God and associate nothing with Him, observe the prescribed prayer, pay the obligatory zakat, and fast during Ramadan. He [the Arab] replied, “By him in whose hand my soul is, I shall not add to this, nor fall short of it.” Then when he turned away, the Prophet said, “If anyone wishes to look at a man who will be among the people of paradise, let him look at this man.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

Rafi’ b. Khadij said: God’s Prophet came to Medina when they were fecundating the palm trees. He asked, “What are you doing?” and they replied, “We have been accustomed to do it.” He said, “Perhaps if you did not do it, it would be better”; so they gave it up, but the crop was diminished. They mentioned that to him and he said, “I am only a human being. When I issue any command to you regarding your religion, accept it; but when I issue any command to you based on my own opinion, I am merely a human being.” Muslim transmitted it.

He [Abu Huraira] reported God’s messenger as saying, “Islam began as a small religion and will return to the state in which it began. Then the blessed will be the few [who hold it].” Muslim transmitted it.

He also reported God’s messenger as saying, “Faith will shrink back to Medina as a snake shrinks back to its hole.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

Compare Qur’an 9:33:

It is He Who hath sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest it.

It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it.

Abu Mahdhura said that God’s messenger himself taught him how to make the call to prayer, telling him to say, “God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. I testify that there is no god but God. I testify that there is no god but God. I testify that Muhammad is God’s messenger. I testify that Muhammad is God’s messenger. Come to prayer. Come to prayer. Come to salvation. Come to salvation. God is most great. There is no god but God.” Muslim transmitted it.

Abu Huraira said that the Prophet used to say when prostrating himself, “O God, forgive me all my sins, small and great, first and last, open and secret.” Muslim transmitted it.

A‘isha said: One night I missed God’s messenger from the bed, and when I sought him my hand came on the soles of his feet while he was in the act of prostration with them raised, and he was saying, “O God, I seek refuge in Thy good pleasure from Thy anger, and in Thy forgiveness from Thy punishment, and I seek refuge in Thee from Three. I cannot reckon Thy praise. Thou are as Thou hast lauded Thyself.” Muslim transmitted it.

A‘isha said that God’s messenger used to make supplication during the prayer saying, “O God, I seek refuge in Thee from punishment in the grave, I seek refuge in Thee from the trial of the antichrist, I seek refuge in Thee from the trial of life and the trial of death. O God, I seek refuge in Thee from sin and debt.” Someone said to him, “How often you seek refuge from debt!” He replied, “when a man is in debt, he talks and tells lies, makes promises and breaks them.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

 ‘Uthman performed ablution, pouring water over his hands three times, then rinsing his mouth and snuffing up water, then washing his face three times, then washing his right arm up to the elbow three times, then washing his left arm up to the elbow three times, then wiping his head, then washing his right foot three times, then the left three times. He said, “I have seen God’s messenger performing ablution as I have done it just now” . . . (Bukhari and Muslim, the wording being Bukhari’s)

An-Nu’man b. Bashir said: god’s messenger used to straighten our rows as if he were trying to make them straight as arrows until he saw that we had learned it from him. One day he came out, stood up, and was just about to say “god is most great” when he saw a man whose chest projected from the row, so he said, “Servants of God, you must straighten your rows, or God will certainly put your faces in contrary directions [“faces’ here may mean the people themselves and their inner nature . . . or civil strife]. Muslim transmitted it.

Abu Mas’ud reported God’s messenger as saying, “The one of you who is most versed in God’s Book should act as imam for the people; but if they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding the sunna [acts of the Prophet]; if they are equal regarding the sunna, then the earliest them to emigrate; if they emigrated at the same time, then the oldest of them. No man must lead another in prayer where the latter has authority, or sit in his place of honor in his house without permission.” Muslim transmitted it.

Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “We who are last [relative to Jews and Christians] shall be first on the day of resurrection, although [others] were given the Book before us and we were given it after them. It follows that this was their day which was prescribed for them (meaning Friday), but they disagreed about it and God guided us to it. The people come after us with regard to it, the Jews observing the next day and Christians the day following that.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

Jabir said that when God’s messenger preached, his eyes became red, his voice rose, and his anger became violent, so that he was like one warning an army and saying, “The enemy has made a morning attack on you.” “The enemy has made an evening attack on you.” He would say, “The last hour and I have been sent like these two” . . .  Muslim transmitted it.

Islam and Women

I. Pre-Islamic Arabia

A. Absolute patriarchy

1. Father and sons at center

2. Marriage controlled by men

3. Unlimited polygamy allowed (?)

B. Dowry and inheritance favor men

C. Divorce easy for men, impossible for women

D. Veils

E. Female infanticide

II. Post-Islamic Arabia: Change, Continuity

A. Patriarchy is still the rule

Women have rights similar to those [men] over them, while men stand a step above them. (2:228)

 Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat [daraba] them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. God is high, supreme. (4:34)

B. Marriage

1. Qur’an allows (or does not forbid) woman to contract marriage arrangement

2. Woman (not father) receive dower from future husband

3. Polygamy discouraged and restricted to four

a. Only if man able to care for each equally

4. Women may inherit (but half of men’s inheritance)

C. Divorce

1. Last resort—discouraged

2. Arbitration if troubles arise

a. One from his family

b. One from hers

3. Change from Pre-Islam

a. Women could initiate divorce in court, but must have grounds for it

4. Continuity with Pre-Islam

a. “I divorce you” three times in a row, in rapid succession

(1) Three month waiting period

b. “I divorce you” three times, one each month

c. Final and irrevocable at three month’s end

d. Divorce effected immediately

D. Veils

1. Modesty in Qur’an commanded, so is veil:

“Prophet, enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers to draw their veils [outer garments] close around them.” (33:59) (This does not say specifically their face)

2. Don’t show off finery and jewels

E. Female infanticide forbidden


I. Introduction

A. “Jihad” literally means “struggle or striving”

1. Textbook says “Holy War” is not maximally accurate translation

B. West sees it as military—with good reason

C. Some Muslims see it as “Sixth Pillar,” though it has no official status

II. Interior meaning

A. Declare war on / struggle with inner vices and sins

III. Exterior meaning

A. Qur’an is unambiguous on exterior meaning of jihad

1. Defensive war with aggressors is included

Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first [but do not transgress limits]. God does not love the aggressors [transgressors]. (2:190)

2. Aggression forbidden, but . . . .

3. . . . War is commanded beyond self-defense

Fight [q-t-l] those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) People of the Book, until they pay tribute [the jizya] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29) (Muhammad then talks about Jews and Christians.)

Prophet, make war [j-h-d] on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate. (9:73)

Believers, make war [q-t-l] on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous. (9:123)

B. Some Muslim scholars teach that only self-defense is justified

C. Historically, though, Muslims have waged aggressive wars

1. From Medina, Muhammad attacked Meccan caravans many times (often without direct provocation)

Spread of Islam

I. Reasons for Spread

A. Islam is universal (conversion simple)

B. Five Pillars are not so hard, esp. first one (but many Muslim find the other four tough

C. World around Islam weak

1. Arabs weary of tribal strife

2. Persian and Byzantine Empires wear themselves out with wars

3. Byzantine Christianity eventually falls

II. Means of Spread

A. Islam is spread by sword

1. This way was encoded early on by Muhammad, e.g. his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 (See Sura 9:29 ff.)

B. Also, by trade

C. Finally, by proclamation

D. All religions spread by B and C, but Islam is unique among the other four major religions because it spread by the sword from the very beginning (the other religions did too, but centuries later).

III. Where

A. East: Persia and India and China

1. Pakistan and Bangladesh are Muslim

2. India and China have large Muslim populations

B. North and West: Syria and Palestine and Spain

C. South and West: Egypt and N Africa and Sub-Sahara Coastal Africa

D. North: S. Europe and Russia (later)

IV. Islam in Spain and France

A. Invade in 711, from Berber, N. Africa

B. Battle of Poitiers / Tours (S France) in 732

1. Charles Martel stops Muslim advance

Brief Historical Survey: The Caliphate

I. Introduction

A. Formal structure

1. Absence of hierarchical rigidity in the Quran (except Muhammad is the unrivaled, unchallengeable leader)

2. Most religious duties can be done privately

B. Muhammad leaves no clear successor

1. Perhaps he assumes Qur’an will be sole guide

C. Caliphate was unifying force in Islam

1. “Caliph,” from khalifa, means “Deputy” or “Representative” (of Muhammad)

II. First (Early) Caliphs

A. Companions, relatives of Muhammad

1. Abu Bakr (r. 632-634)

a. Military commander

b. Muslim rule in Arabia consolidated

2. Umar (r. 634-644)

a. Initiates expansion and conquest beyond Arabia

b. Appoints council of electors to decide successor

3. Uthman (r. 644-656)

a. Weak and resented

b. Assassinated

B. Ali is Fourth Caliph (r. 656-661)

1. Son-in-law (m. to Fatima) and cousin of Muhammad

2. Shiat-u-Ali = Party of Ali = Shi’ites

a. First three caliphs are interlopers

3. First Civil War: Battle of Camel (656)

a. Ali victorious

4. Second Civil War: Battle of Siffin (657)

a. Before pressing victory, Ali negotiates with Muawiyah, who is an Umayyad

b. Kharijites (hard-liners) are angry, assassinate Ali, so he is a Shi’ite martyr

5. Son Husayn challenges Umayyads

a. Defeated at Battle of Karbala in Iraq (680)

b. Assassinated, so Shi’ite martyr

III. Umayyad Caliphs (661-750)

A. Defeat of Ali’s party

B. Move capital to Damascus, Syria

C. Worldly political rulers

1. Invade Spain in 711

2. Stopped at Battle of Poitiers / Tours in 732 in France

D. Civilization and Culture

1. Arabic made lingua franca (common language) in Islamic lands among the educated

2. Religious tolerance (up to a point)

a. Dhimmi = non-Muslim People of the Book = Jews and Christians

Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) People of the Book, until they pay tribute [the Jizya] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29) (Muhammad then talks about Jews and Christians. Tabuk campaign)

IV. Abbasid Caliphs (750-1258)

A. Umayyads are weak

B. Autocratic rule from Baghdad

1. Pomp and splendor

2. Huge palaces, court etiquette

3. Royal executioner stood near Caliph

C. Civilization and Culture

1. Ulama = professional elite and religious leader → Islamic jurists and theologians

2. Philosophy, science, medicine flourish

a. Al-Ghazali (1058-1111)

Kalam Argument:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

4. That cause we understand as God.

3. Literature: Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights)

4. Considered Golden Age

V. Ottoman Turks

A. Genghis Khan and Mongols invade Baghdad

B. Capital is Istanbul

C. Caliphate = Sultan of Turkey

D. Conquests (e.g.):

1. Russia, Ukraine (didn’t last)

2. Balkans

3. Two Sieges of Vienna (1529, 1683), but repelled

4. Very powerful and far-reaching!

E. After WWI (1914-1918)

1. Caliphate ceases as office

2. Usama Bin Laden sees this as betrayal, failure

Branches within Islam

I. Sunnis

A. Majority: 85%

B. Two main sources are Qur’an and Hadith

1. Hadith = extra-Quranic reports of sayings and life of Muhammad and Companions (not in Qur’an)

C. Two additional sources

1. Arguments from Analogy

2. Consensus

D. Four Interpretative Schools

1. Hanifites (Hanifah d. 767)

2. Malikites (Malik ibn Ana d. 795)

3. Shafi’ites (al-Shafi’i d. 820)

4. Hanbalites (Ahmad ibn-Hanbal d. 855)

a. Wahhabis emerge from them, who are fundamentalist / radical

Example of a problem: If a man or woman touches the skin of someone of the opposite sex (e.g., in a handshake), the last three schools says he or she has to perform lesser ablution, first school says this is not necessary.

II. Shi’ites

A. Minority: 10-15%

B. Dispute over Caliphate

1. Ali and Muhammad’s family should rule

C. Imam = divinely inspired leader who speaks for Allah

1. Imamate over Caliphate

D. Series of Imams after 680

1. Either seven or twelve

2. Last Imam did not die, but is hidden as Mahdi

3. Mahdi = messiah-Imam who will reappear to establish justice and restore Muslim community

E. Martyrdoms of Ali and Husayn are honored or celebrated

F. Sunnis misinterpret (or tampered with) the hadith as to successor

G.  Based in Persia / Iran—majority there

1. 60% of Muslims in Iraq are Shi’ites

2. Shrine to Ali in Iraq

III. Sufis

A. Mystical Muslims

1. Asceticism practiced by some (but marginal)

B. “Sufi” literally means “woolen”

1. Coarse garment to symbolize poverty and rejection of worldliness

C. Origins

1. Legalism & intellectualism unfulfilling

2. Possibly a 9th century protest to reject Abbasid wealth and pomp

D. Excess

1. Mansur al-Hallaj said, “I am the Truth”

a. Executed in 922 as heretic

2. Veneration of holy men (saints)

3. Ask for intercession from Muhammad or saint

4. But Ulama opposes “excess”

E. Abu-Hamid al-Gha(z)zali (1058-1111)

1. Philosopher (see Kalam argument, above), but has personal crisis

2. Gives up teaching position and becomes beggar

3. Joins Sufis

4. Seeks to unite legal schools and mysticism

5. Rituals must be important for Sufis

F. Fraternities

1. In 11th-12th centuries, they form fraternities

Islam in Modern World

I. Inherently Conservative

A. Emphasis on Qur’an, which is conservative

B. Technology—they’ve fallen behind the West

C. Fundamentalism stunts innovation

1. Muhammad ibn-Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792)

a. Wahhabism

D. Many resist Western culture as decadent

II. End of Isolation

A. Napoleon and Egypt

B. Ottoman Empire and WWI

C. Oil industry

III. Resurgence

A. Reform movements

B. Islamic Feminism

C. Growth

1. Europe

a. Immigration

b. Conversion

D. However, Cognitive Dissonance

1. Many Muslims believe Islam is the only way, yet the West (Christendom) is far more advanced militarily and technologically

a. Remember, Muslims believe God helped them at Battle of Badr in 624, so military is important to them

b. Also, under the Turks, Islam was widespread and powerful up to one hundred years ago

c. But Turkish decline began 200 or so years ago

2. Therefore, many Muslims experience cognitive dissonance = “cannot figure this out” or “something’s off” or “what’s wrong with this picture?”

3. Some Muslims use the word “humiliation”

Christian Reaction and Reply

I have written extensively on Islam (scroll down a ways in the World Religion Category on the front page). Here are some articles:

Series on Islamic Sharia Law

Thirty Shariah Laws

The Truth about Islamic Jihad and Imperialism: A Timeline

The Qital (Warfare) Verses in the Quran

All the Jihad Verses in the Quran

Jihad and Qital in the Quran, Traditions, and Classical Law

Time to Reform Islam (if it’s possible)

How to Reinterpret the Quran

It is always right for a Muslim to discreetly leave Islam and convert to Christ. All he has to do is pray and ask Christ into his heart.


Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions


Articles in World Religions Outline Series (in alphabetical order):

Outline of Buddhism

Outline of Christianity

Outline of Confucianism

Outline of Hinduism

Outline of Islam

Outline of Judaism

Outline of of Shintoism

Outline of Sikhism

Outline of Taoism

Outline of Zoroastrianism

Each of those posts has a Christian Reaction and Reply at the end.

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