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Muslims

Muslims

BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

ISLAMIC CIVILIZATIONS

SECTS OF ISLAM

MUSLIMS AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Muslims are the second-largest religious group in the world, after Catholics (Saenz 2005). The group is racially and ethnically diverse, but the Muslim identity has taken on racial connotations at various points in U.S. history, most recently after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. Although the racialization of a religious identity is not a new phenomenonfor example, Jews experienced an identity change during and after the Holocaustthe impact of this transformation and increased otherization of Muslims and Muslim Americans has profound implications for a group that is seen as both a religious and a cultural threat to the mostly white, Christian U.S. population.

BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

Currently, over a billion Muslims live in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. There are roughly forty-four Islamic countries in the world today. Although Muslims vary in their particular religious practices and cultural beliefs from region to region, the majority follow the same basic tenets of Islam (Esposito 1998).

Islam is one of three Abrahamic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism, that trace their communities back to the biblical Abraham. The basic teachings of Islam were said to have been revealed to Muhammad (c. 570632), the final prophet, and collected and recorded in the Quran. Muslims rely on the Quran for the fundamental Islamic teachings and guidelines for their lives. Aside from the teachings in the Quran, Muslims also believe that Muhammad led an exemplary life that all Muslims should attempt to emulate. These examples can be found in the hadith, the documented reports of the prophets life, which Muslims also rely on for spiritual and practical direction.

In addition, every Muslim is required to follow the five pillars of Islamobligatory practices outlined in the Quran (Nasr 2003). The first of these is the profession of faith, where a Muslim declares, There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God, emphasizing the monotheistic nature of the religion (Esposito 1998, p. 68). In making this declaration, a person becomes a Muslim. The second pillar is prayer, or salat. Muslims are instructed to pray at specific times, five times a day. Prayers begin with the azan, the call to prayer, followed by an ordered series of recitations from the Quran in conjunction with bowing and prostrations toward the direction of Mecca. Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a religious tax required of those who have enough money to give to the poor and needy. Giving of alms is not voluntary, but rather a duty defined by sharia, or Islamic law. Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. Every year, Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset during the Islamic month of Ramadan, based on the lunar calendar. According to John Esposito (1998), this is a time for Muslims to reflect on their spiritual beliefs and gratitude for good health and wealth, and to remember their duties toward those who are less fortunate than themselves. The final pillar of Islam is pilgrimage, or hajj. During the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims who are physically and financially able are required to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca; this needs to be done only once in a persons lifetime. Once in Mecca, Muslims perform a series of rituals such as circling the Kaba (House of God) while reciting verses from the Quran. According to Seyyed Nasr hajj signifies a return both to the spatial center of the Islamic universe and to the temporal origin of the human state itself (Nasr 2003, p. 95).

ISLAMIC CIVILIZATIONS

Islamic civilization grew rapidly after the death of Muhammad in 632. Over the course of the century beginning around 600 CE, an Islamic Empire spread to occupy what was once known as Arabia, Central Asia, North Africa, and parts of Europe. Throughout the next few centuries, Islamic imperialism had a profound effect on the arts, sciences, and philosophy. Many scholars note that during this time Islam advanced beyond predominantly Christian Europe in many areas, including trade and commerce, exemplified by the urban centers that popped up all across the Islamic Empire (Turner 1995; Esposito 1998; Nasr 2003). Islamic scholars greatly contributed to the progress of math and science, expanding on Greco-Roman geometry and advancing algebra and trigonometry. Universities and academies flourished in Islamic countries. Nonetheless, although Islamic contributions were significant, they are often overlooked in Western cultures. The Enlightenment brought about a positivist view of the world that refuted religious explanations, ignoring the contributions of Islamic civilizations while promoting eurocentric scientists and artists.

SECTS OF ISLAM

Islam has never been a homogenous or unified religion. During the era of Islamic imperialism there were vast differences in Islamic practices and the development of Islamic cultures. The best known sects today are Sunni Islam, Shiism, Sufism, and the Nation of Islam.

Sunni and Shiite Islam Sunni Muslims constitute the majority of the roughly one billion Muslims in the world today; Shia comprise the second-largest Islamic sect. After Muhammads death a schism occurred over who should be the next caliphate, or leader of the Muslims. Abu-Bakr became the first caliphate after Muhammad, followed by Umar, Uthman, and then Ali (the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad). The Shia believe that Ali should have been the first caliphate because of his blood relation to Muhammad. Sunnis practice a more decentralized version of Islam than the Shia, which does not require one religious authority, but relies instead on a community of learned religious scholars and the standard religious texts. Thus, Sunnis are more literalist than Shia when interpreting the Quran and hadith. Shia follow the Quran too, but they rely on imams, religious leaders, who they see as divinely guided by God to help them interpret the Quran. Thus, they follow a more authoritarian form of Islam compared to Sunnis, who are more communitarian in their practice.

Sufism Sufis follow a very different version of Islam than Sunnis and Shia. Whereas Sunnis are more literalist in their interpretation of the Quran, the Sufis interpretation is more symbolic and allegorical, and their religious practices are often described as mystic. Sufism developed out of a desire to return to a purer and more spiritual version of Islam as a reaction to the corruption that Sufis felt had became rampant during imperialist Islam. Hence, Sufis embrace an ascetic way of life and reject materialism in an attempt to return to the lifestyle of Muhammads time. Sufism focuses particularly on Gods love and meditation.

The Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam is a newer sect of Islam, introduced to African Americans in the 1930s through Wallace D. Fard (1891?1934?) and then made popular in the United States by Elijah Muhammad (18971975). Fard took passages from both the Bible and the Quran and preached a religion that encouraged black liberation, using messages from Islam about brotherhood and social justice to encourage African Americans to reject the domination of their white oppressors. Elijah Muhammad took over leadership of the Nation of Islam after Fard disappeared in 1934. He claimed that Fard was Allah (the Arabic word for God), and that he was his messenger. It was during Muhammads leadership of the Nation of Islam that the sect welcomed the most conversions, due to the popularity of one of Elijahs disciples, Malcolm Little, or Malcolm X (19251965), and the racially charged climate of the 1960s in the United States. As the civil rights movement gained momentum, the Nation of Islam offered an alternative to African Americans who lived in mostly poor urban areas and who felt that their immediate issues and needs were not being addressed by the leaders of the mainstream movement. The Nation of Islam lost members in 1964 after the split with Malcolm X and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and suffered a further decline in membership after the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975. Elijah Muhammads son Warith Deen Muhammad (b. 1933) succeeded him and converted to Sunni Islam, taking many leaders with him and leaving the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan (b. 1933).

MUSLIMS AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

The events of September 11, 2001, had an impact on Muslims around the world. Since then, both Afghanistan and Iraq have been invaded by the United States with the support of a number of allies. In the Euro-American media, anti-Muslim rhetoric demonstrates a simplified and reductionistic understanding of Islam and its followers rather than depicting the various political and cultural particularities of Muslims from different Muslim countries.

Moreover, Muslims are often portrayed as a homogenous group fanatical in their religious beliefs, and either participants in, or supporters of, terrorism. Muslims in the United States face increasing racism through racial profiling and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes in the media. Jack Shaheens Reel Bad Arabs (2001) identified roughly 900 American movies from the 1900s through the early 1990s in which Muslims and Arabs have been negatively stereotyped. Because these images are so long-standing, they s eem to Americans to be normal, natural attributes of Muslims, and this has led to public and political support for the creation and implementation of racist laws and policies such as the U.S. Patriot Act, which has curbed the civil rights of Muslims in the United States and spurred military action against Muslim-majority countries.

The United States is not the only country where Muslims face racism and persecution due to misunderstanding of their culture and religious beliefs. In France, Muslim girls are forbidden from wearing the hijab (headscarf), and in 2005 a Danish newspaper published a political cartoon that depicted Muhammad as a terrorist. Acts of violence by Muslims are stripped of their political motivations and reduced to religious fanaticism; images of Muslims as violent terrorists perpetuate an already antiMuslim ideology that Islam is a threat to both modernity and a democratic world. In truth, Islam is not a monolithic religion; Muslims vary in their cultural makeup, political views, level of religiosity, and in the type of Islam that they choose to practice.

SEE ALSO Enlightenment; Fundamentalism, Islamic; Islam, Shia and Sunni; Jihad; Muhammad; Mysticism; Orientalism; Pan-Arabism; Racialization; Racism; Religion; September 11, 2001; Stereotypes; Terrorism

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Armstrong, Karen. 2000. Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library.

Bloom, Jonathan, and Sheila Blair. 2000. Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New York: TV Books.

Curtis, Edward E. 2006. Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 19601975. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Denny, Frederick Mathewson. 2006. An Introduction to Islam. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Esposito, John. 1998. Islam the Straight Path. 3rd ed. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. 2003. Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Saenz, Rogelio. 2005. The Changing Demographics of Roman Catholics. Population Reference Bureau. http://www.prb.org/Articles/2005/ TheChangingDemographicsofRomanCatholics.aspx.

Shaheen, Jack. 2001. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. New York: Olive Branch Press.

Turner, Howard R. 1995. Science in Medieval Islam. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Saher Selod

David G. Embrick

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Muslim

Muslim

ETHNONYMS: Mahommedan, Mohammedan, Moslem, Musulman


Three countries in South Asia are among the largest Muslim nations: Bangladesh has about 98 million Muslims, India about 95 million, and Pakistan about 107 million. The entire subcontinental total can be estimated in 1989 as Including about 301 million Muslims.

The first Muslims to reach this area from Arabia came in a.d. 711, but while there were several other Muslim incursions from Persia and central Asia too in the succeeding 1,000 years it must not be thought that the huge numbers of Muslims living in the subcontinent today are all the descendants of invaders. The great majority of them are descendants of Hindus who were converted to Islam in the Middle Ages. This is important, for it goes some way toward explaining why the Islam of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is culturally different from and rather more tolerant of heterodoxy than the Islam of Arabia or Iran. While South Asian Muslims are in general orthodox believers, mostly of the Sunni sect (the party of Abu-Bakr), those aspects of their daily lives not Directly related to religion tend to be more like the cultural practices of their Hindu neighbors than of their coreligionists in the Near East. And their languages are those of the regions where they liveBengali, Urdu, etc.not Arabic or Persian. Classical Arabic is studied, of course, by everyone who reads the Quran, for this holy book is not used in translation anywhere in South Asia.

South Asian Islamic religious practices are in no essentials different from those of Arabia or Iraq. Tradition states that Islam is built on five things: testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his apostle; prayer five times daily; giving alms for the poor (zakāt ); pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj ); and fasting during the month of Ramadan. All this is fundamental in South Asia; but other aspects of Muslim society there are distinctively Indian. Even in those statespreeminently the Mogul Empire (1526-1858)that were ruled and administered by Muslims in the past, the majority of the population always remained Hindu: they could hardly be offered the orthodox choice of conversion or death. Nor could these people be excluded from the army, the administration, education, or literature and other arts. Instead they commonly played their parts in what was always a multi-religious society.

This can still be seen in microcosm in the innumerable villages having both Hindu and Muslim castes (perhaps with Sikhs or Christians too). The different religious communities share a common modus vivendi that allows them to interact with each other socially and economically while following their distinct religious practices separately.

Islam is an egalitarian religion in the sense that all believers are equal before God. But against this it may be argued that, from an outsider's point of view, Muslim women suffer certain disabilitiesrestrictions of freedom of movement, freedom of choice in marriage, freedom to divorce a spouse with the ease that men can, and freedom to become educated and pursue careers. Yet these strictures hold true also for all other non-Muslim communities of South Asia, with the Modern exceptions of Christian and Parsi women. Muslims themselves see purdah and other restrictions placed on female activities as protective and thus in the best interests of the women themselves.

Despite the doctrine of equality and brotherhood in Islam, one finds that Muslim society in South Asia is in fact different from that of the Near East in one crucial respect, the existence of a caste hierarchy. Such divisions no doubt have persisted from the earlier Hindu caste society. Even the four-part varna categories of Hindu society are roughly paralleled among the Muslims. Thus the highest category includes four castes of Near Eastern origin: Sayyid, Shaikh, Mughal, and Pathan. Below them rank the Muslim Rajputs who will not marry above or below their own rank in Muslim society. Third is a group of occupational castes who again marry only people of equal rank. At the bottom of the hierarchy are Muslim sweepers, people whose ancestry presumably traces back to Hindu Untouchables. Even in Pakistan, where very few Hindus exist today, this caste-organized sort of society is still the model.

Perhaps no case emphasizes the Indianness of Muslim society more than that of the Mapillas (Moplahs) of northern Kerala. For while in Arab lands the family is patrilocal and Indeed patriarchal, here is a case of a Muslim caste which, like neighboring Hindu castes, is both matrilineal and matrilocal. Something similar is to be found on the Laccadive (Lakshadweep) Islands too. Elsewhere in South Asia patriliny and patrilocality are the Muslim norm. Parallel-cousin marriage is practiced widely and is also found among Muslims of the Near East and North Africa. But cross-cousin marriage, so common among Hindus of southern India, is also widespread among the Muslims, although many take a spouse who is not a close relative at all.

The legacy of Islamic civilization is evident throughout the land, and most visibly so in the architecture of the Taj Mahal and many dozens of other Mogul monuments. Islamic science and medicine left their mark too, in a land where both disciplines were already well developed hundreds of years Before the birth of Mohammed. At four points in northern India, including New Delhi, one can still see the huge astronomical observatories (jantar mantar ) that Muslim scholars under the Maharaja Jai Singh II erected early in the eighteenth century. Even more pervasive was Arab-Persian medical knowledge, still widely in use as the Unani ("Greek") school of medicine. Large professional armies were introduced by the state. Mogul law and administration, first developed in India in the sixteenth century on the basis of four already established schools of Muslim jurisprudence, served as the basis for the British administration of India too. Persian was indeed the language of law courts and the civil service early in the British period. Painting, jewelry, calligraphy, and other minor arts were introduced by Persians and Turks. North Indian cuisine owes much to its Persian ingredients and methods of preparation. Muslim female dress has been widely adopted by Hindu women, for example in Punjab and Rajasthan.

Even in the religious sphere it is evident that Islamic mysticism (i.e., Sufism) had a wide impact on Hindu faith and literature: a medieval sect seeking immediate experience of God rather than academic understanding, Sufism in north India affected the rise of Hindu bhakti (devotional) cults and the special worship of Krishna. Poetry, in the hands of such great Indian masters as Kabir (1440-1518), brought mystic insights from Sufism to the attention of a wide Hindu and Muslim public. Historical writing too was something that the Ghorid Turks introduced to India, starting a tradition that continued through the Mogul historians to the British, French, and South Asian historians of modern times. Sanskrit, Tamil, and other literatures that long predated the Muslim impact never managed to produce a tradition of historical writing that was distinct from epic poetry.

No theological originality marked the Islam of medieval India. Aside from the politic fiction of regarding Hindus as "people of the Book" (and thus, like Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, as eligible for the status of "protected unbelievers"), Muslim rulers and teachers propounded nothing in India that would have seemed out of place to the Sunni faithful in the Near East. Peter Hardy has succinctly summarized the ten fundamentals of Islamic belief as introduced to India;

1. God is One, without partners.

2. He is utterly transcendent, possessing no form and escaping all definition.

3. He is the Almighty Creator.

4. He knows and ordains everything that is.

5. God is all-powerful and in whatever he ordains, he cannot be unjust (that is, human concepts of justice and injustice cannot be applied to him).

6. The Quran is eternal.

7. Obedience to God is binding upon man because he so decreed it through his prophets.

8. Belief in the Prophet's divine mission is obligatory upon all.

9. Belief in the Day of Judgment is obligatory as revealed by the Prophet.

10. Belief in the excellence of the Prophet's companions and the first four caliphs is required by authentic tradition.

See also Mappila; Mogul; Sayyid; Sheikh

Bibliography

Ahmad, Aziz, ed. (1969). An Intellectual History of Islam in India. Islamic Surveys, no. 7. Edinburgh: University Press.

Ahmad, Imtiaz, ed. (1973). Caste and Social Stratification among Muslims in India. New Delhi: Manohar Publications. 2nd ed. 1978.


Ahmad, Imtiaz, ed. (1981). Ritual and Religion among Muslims in India. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.


Basham, A. L. (1975). A Cultural History of India. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Eglar, Zekiye (1960). A Punjabi Village in Pakistan. New York and London: Columbia University Press.


Hardy, Peter (1958). "Part Four: Islam in Medieval India." In Sources of Indian Tradition, edited by William de Bary et al, 367-528. New York and London: Columbia University Press.


Qadir, Abdul (1937). "The Cultural Influences of Islam." In The Legacy of India, edited by G. T. Garratt, 287-304. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Titus, Murray T. (1959). Islam in India and Pakistan. Calcutta: YMCA Publishing House.


Zaehner, R. C. (1969). Hindu and Muslim Mysticism. New York: Schocken Books.



PAUL HOCKINGS

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Muslims

Muslims

The Islamic conquest that began in the early seventh century spread the new faith from its home in Arabia to the north, east, and west. At its height, the Muslim caliphs (rulers) held both secular and sacred authority over a realm stretching from northern India and central Asia west to Persia, Mesopotamia, the Levant, North Africa, and Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal). The campaigns between Christians and Muslims in the Levant, known as the Crusades, ended with the last Christian states destroyed by the armies of the Mamluks. The Mamluk dynasty, with its capital in Cairo, Egypt, originated in a caste of soldiers. The Mamluks turned back the Christians as well as the Mongols, who in the middle of the thirteenth century invaded and destroyed Baghdad, the center of the Abbasid caliphate. Cairo was the most prominent center of learning in the Islamic world, with the Tunisian scholar Ibn Khaldun who was the leading historian and philosopher of this period.

The Mongols ruling in Iran and Iraq were converted to Islam in the late thirteenth century. In the sixteenth century, a new Safavid dynasty emerged in what was ancient Persia. In India the Mughal Empire was established in 1526 by Babur, a Timurid prince of Kabul. The Mughal rulers built their capital at Delhi and collected tribute from Hindu states south of the Indian peninsula. In the meantime, the medieval Muslim societies of the Middle East developed a productive agricultural system, building new irrigation systems that put former desert land into production. New food and cash crops imported from India and Southeast Asia, including bananas, rice, cotton, citrus, eggplants, and many others, were propagated in the west. Many Muslim cities were surrounded by large rings of market gardens and small farms that supplied their harvests to a growing and prospering urban population.

Control of the spice trade between Asia and Europe contributed to the general wealth and security of the medieval Islamic world. The search for a route to bypass the Middle Eastern spice markets was the prime reason for Portuguese exploration of the African and the Indian ocean coasts in the fifteenth century. As Portugal and later Spain established overseas colonies, and began drawing on their newly discovered resources, the Muslim world entered a period of economic decline. In Spain a Reconquista (reconquest) eventually drove the Muslims out of al-Andalus. The kingdom in Granada, the last remnant of the Moorish conquest of the eighth century, paid a heavy tribute to the rulers of Castile, a Christian kingdom, until the united forces of Castile and Aragon captured Granada in 1492. Muslim farmers fled to North Africa or were absorbed into the newly united kingdom of Spain as converts to Christianity.

After the Mongol invasion the Ottoman tribe of Turks rose to prominence in Asia Minor. They crossed into Europe in the fourteenth century and in 1453 conquered Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman domains extended into the Balkan Peninsula, and during the European Renaissance the Turkish armies posed a constant threat to Christian territory. The Ottoman Turks crushed a Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 and eventually reached Vienna, the seat of power for the Habsburg dynasty. Although the sieges of Vienna failed, the Ottomans remained a force to be reckoned with by the Renaissance princes of Europe, who were unable to set aside their differences and unite their forces for the recapture of the eastern Mediterranean.

See Also: Mehmed II; Ottoman Empire

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Muslim

Muslim a follower of the religion of Islam. Recorded from the early 17th century, the word comes from Arabic, the active participle of 'aslama ‘submit oneself to the will of God’ (see also Islam).
Muslim Brotherhood an Islamic religious and political organization dedicated to the establishment of a nation based on Islamic principles. Founded in Egypt in 1928, it has become a radical underground force in Egypt and other Sunni countries, promoting strict moral discipline and opposing Western influence, often by violence.
Muslim calendar that according to which the Islamic year is reckoned.
Muslim League one of the main political parties in Pakistan. It was formed in 1906 in India to represent the rights of Indian Muslims; its demands from 1940 for an independent Muslim state led ultimately to the establishment of Pakistan.

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Muslim

Mus·lim / ˈməzləm; ˈmoŏz-/ (also Mos·lem / ˈmäzləm; ˈmäs-/ ) • n. a follower of the religion of Islam. • adj. of or relating to the Muslims or their religion.

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Muslim

Muslim (mŭz´lĬm) [Arab.,=one who surrenders (himself to God), an agent form of the verb of which Islam is a verbal noun], one who has embraced Islam, a follower of Muhammad. The form Moslem is also common in English; the term Mussulman is now rarely used.

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Muslim

Muslim (Arabic, ‘one who submits’) Follower or believer in Islam. A Muslim is one who worships Allah alone and holds Muhammad to be the last and chief prophet. Today, there are c.935 million Muslims worldwide.

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Muslim

Muslim, Moslem Muhammadan. XVII. — Arab. muslim, act. ppl. of 'aslama (see ISLAM).

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Muslim

Muslim: see ISLAM.

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Muslim

Muslimbedim, brim, crim, dim, glim, grim, Grimm, gym, him, hymn, Jim, Kim, limb, limn, nim, prim, quim, rim, scrim, shim, Sim, skim, slim, swim, Tim, trim, vim, whim •poem • goyim • cherubim • Hasidim •seraphim, teraphim •Elohim • Sikkim • Joachim • prelim •forelimb • Muslim • Blenheim •paynim • minim • pseudonym •homonym • anonym • synonym •eponym • acronym • antonym •metonym • Antrim • megrim •Leitrim • pilgrim • Purim • interim •passim • maxim • kibbutzim •Midrashim • literatim •seriatim, verbatim •victim •system • ecosystem • subsystem •item • Ashkenazim

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