1st Reading Response 1 or 1.5 page

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CHAPTER
DEFINING
I
ISLAM
It is difficult to generalize abour Islam. To begin with, the
word itself is commonly used with two related bur distinct
meanings, as the equivalents both of Christianity and of
Christendom. In the one sense it denotes a religion, a sys- .
tern of belief and worship; in the other, the civilization that
grew up and flourished under the aegis of that religion.
The word Islam thus denotes more than fourteen centuries
of history, a billion and a third people, and a religious and
cultural tradition of enormous diversity. Christianity and
Christendom represent a greater number and a longer period-more
than 2 billion people, more than twenty cen-
turies, and even greater diversity. Nevertheless, certain
generalizations
can be and are made about what is vari-
ously called Christian, judeo-Chrisrian,
and-more
simply-Western
post-Christian,
civilization. While general-
4
The CrisisofIslam
DefiningIslam
izing about Islamic civilization may be difficult and at
daism and Islam share the belief in a divine law that regu-
times in a sense dangerous, it is not impossible and may in
some ways be useful.
lates all aspects of human activity, including even food and
drink. Christians and Muslims share a common triumphal-
In space, the realm of Islam extends from Morocco to
ism. In contrast to the other religions of humaniry, includ-
Indonesia, from Kazakhstan ro Senegal. In time it goes back
ing Judaism, they believe that they alone are the fortunate
more than fourteen centuries, to the advent and mission of
recipients and custodians of God’s final message to hu-
the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia in the seventh century
maniry, which it is their duty to bring to the rest of the
and the creation under him of the Islamic community
world. Compared with the remoter religions of the East, all
and state. In the period which European historians see as a
three Middle Eastern religions-Judaism,
Christianity,
and Islam-are closely related and indeed appear as vari-
C.E.
dark interlude between the decline of ancient civilization-Greece and Rome-and the rise of modern civiliza-
5
Islam was the leading civilization in the
ants of the same religious tradition.
Christendom and Islam are in many ways sister civiliza-
world, marked as such by irs great and powerful kingdoms,
tions, both drawing on the shared heritage of Jewish reve-
its rich and varied industry and commerce, its original and
lation and prophecy and Greek philosophy and science,
creative sciences and letters. Islam, far more than Christen-
and both nourished by the immemorial traditions of Mid-
dom, was the intermediate stage between the ancient East
and the modern West, to which it contributed significantly.
dle Eastern antiquity. For most of their joint history, they
But during the past three centuries, the Islamic world has
polemic they reveal their essential kinship and the com-
lost its dominance and its leadership, and has fallen behind
mon features that link them to each Other and set them
both the modern West and the rapidly modernizing Orient.
apart from the remoter civilizations of Asia.
tion-Europe,
have been locked in combat, but even in struggle and
This widening gap poses increasingly acute problems, both
practical and emotional, for which the rulers, thinkers, and
ties between the two, and these go beyond the obvious dif-
rebels of Islam have not yet found effective answers.
ferences in dogma and worship. Nowhere
Islam as a religion is in every respect far closer to the
judeo-Christian tradition than to any of the great religions
differences more profound-and
of Asia, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism.Ju-
exponents, to the relations between government, religion,
But as well as resemblances, there are profound dispariare these
more obvious-than
in
the attitudes of these two religions, and of their authorized
6
The Crisisof Islam
DefiningIslam
7
and society. The Founder of Christianity bade his follow-
of Christians have been ensnared in rhat choice. In Islam,
ers “render Unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and
there was no such painful choice. In the universal Islamic
unto God the things which are God’s” (Matt. XXII:21)-and for cenruries Christianiry grew and developed as a re-
poliry as conceived by Muslims, there is no Caesar but only
God, who is the sole sovereign and the sole source of law.
ligion of the downtrodden, until with the conversion to
Muhammad was His Propher, who during his lifetime both
Christianiry of the emperor Constantine, Caesar himself
became a Christian and inaugurated a series of changes by
taught and ruled on God’s behalf. When Muhammad died
which the new faith captured the Roman Empire and
in 632 C.E., his spirirual and prophetic mission, to bring
transformed its civilization. The Founder of Islam was his
God’s book to mankind, was completed. What remained
was the religious task of spreading God’s revelation until
own Constantine, and founded his Own state and empire.
finally all the world accepted it. This was to be achieved by
He did nor therefore create-or
church.
extending the authority and thus also the membership of
The dichotomy of regnum and sacerdotium, so crucial in the
the communiry which embraced the true faith and upheld
history of Western Christendom, had no equivalent in
Islam. During Muhammad’s lifetime, the Muslims became
God’s law. To provide the necessary cohesion and leadership for this task, a deputy or successor of the Prophet was
at once a political and a religious community, with the
required. The Arabic word khalift. was rhe title adopted by
Prophet as head of state. As such, he governed a place and
the Prophet’s father-in-law and first successor, Abu Bakr,
a people, dispensed justice, collecred taxes, commanded
whose accession to the headship of the Islamic communiry
armies, waged war and made peace. For the formative first
generation of Muslims, whose advenrures are the sacred
marked the foundation of the grear historic institution of
need to create-a
the caliphate.
history of Islam, there was no protracred testing by perse-
Under the caliphs, the community of Medina, where the
cution, no tradition of resistance to a hostile stare power.
Prophet had held sway,grew in barely a cenrury into a vast
On the contrary, the state that ruled them was that of
Islam, and God’s approval of their cause was made clear to
empire, and Islam became a world religion. In the experi-
them in the form of victory and empire in this world.
later generations, religious truth and political power were
In pagan Rome, Caesar was God. For Christians, there is
a choice between God and Caesar, and endless generations
indissolubly associated: the first sanctified the second, the
ence of the first Muslims, as preserved and recorded for
second sustained the first. The Ayatollah Khomeini once
8
The Crisisof Islam
remarked that “Islam is politics or it is nothing.” Not all
DefiningIslam
9
Muslims would go that far, but most would agree that God
an institution with its own hierarchy and laws, in contrast
to the state. The ulema (in Iran and in Muslim countries
is concerned with politics, and this belief is confirmed and
influenced by Persian culmre known as mollahs) may be
sustained by the shari’a, the Holy Law, which deals exten-
described as a clergy in the sociological sense, in that they
sively with the acquisition and exercise of power, the na-
are professional men of religion, accredited as such by
ture of legitimacy and authority, the duties of ruler and
training and certification. But there is no priesthood in
subject, in a word, with what we in the West would call
constitutional law and political philosophy.
Islam-no
priestly mediation between God and the be-
liever, no ordination, no sacraments, no rimals that only an
The long interaction between Islam and Christianiry
ordained clergy can perform. In the past, one would have
and the many resemblances and mutual influences between the two have sometimes led observers to overlook
added that there are no councils or synods, no bishops to
define and inquisitors to enforce orthodoxy. At least in
some significant differences. The Our’an
it is said , is the
‘-<.', Muslim Bible; the mosque is the Muslim church; the ulema Iran, this is no longer entirely true. The primary function of the ulema-from are the Muslim clergy. All three statements are true, yet all three are seriously misleading. The Old and New Testa- word meaning "knowledge"-is ment both consist of collections of different books, extending over a long period of time and seen by the believers as parish clergy emerged, ministering to the needs of ordinary embodying divine revelation. The Qur'an, for Muslims, is a single book promulgated at one time by one man, the Prophet Muhammad. After a lively debate in the first centuries of Islam, the doctrine was adopted that the Qur'an itself is uncreated and eternal, divine and immutable. This has become a central tenet of the faith. an Arabic to uphold and interpret the Holy Law. From late medieval times, something like a people in cities and villages, but these were usually separate from and mistrusted by the ulerna, and owed more to mystical than to dogmatic Islam. In the later Islamic monarchies, in Turkey and Iran, a kind of ecclesiastical hierarchy appeared, bur this had no roots in the classical Muslim tradition , and members of these hierarchies never claimed, still less exercised, the powers of Christian prelates. In The mosque is indeed the Muslim church in the sense that it is a place of communal worship. But one cannot Western influences, and institutions and professions have speak of "the Mosque" as one speaks of "the Church "-of developed which bear a suspicious resemblance to the modern times there have been many changes, mainly under 10 churches and clerics of Christendom. departure 11 Defining Islam The Crisis of Islam But these represent a Empire and the Christian Church. The invaders recog- nized both, and tried to serve their own aims and needs from classical Islam, not a return to it. If one may speak of a clergy in a limited sociological within the existing structures of Roman polity and Christ- sense in the Islamic world, there is no sense at all in which ian religion, one can speak of a laity. The very notion of something that Arab invaders who conquered is separate or even separable Africa brought their own faith, with their own scriptures in from religious authority, ex- languages by terms such as lay, tem- pressed in Christian both using the Latin language. The Muslim the Middle East and North their own language; they created their own polity, with a poral, or secular, is totally alien to Islamic thought and new set of laws, a new imperial language, and a new impe- practice. rial structure, It was not until equivalents relatively modern times that for these terms existed in Arabic. They were borrowed from the usage of Arabic-speaking Christians or and polity were defined by Islam, and full membership longed, alone, to those who professed the dominant The career of the Prophet newly invented. . with the caliph as supreme head. This state From the days of the Prophet, the Islamic society had a Muhammad, be- faith. in this as in all else the model whom all good Muslims seek to emulate, chief- falls into two parts. In the first, during his years in his birth- taincy that successively became a state and an empire. At place, Mecca (?570-622), he was an opponent of the reign- the same time, on the other hand, it was a religious com- ing pagan munity, founded by a Prophet Mecca dual character. On the one hand, it was a poliry-a and ruled by his deputies, oligarchy. In the second, after his move from to Medina (622-632), he was the head of a state. who were also his successors. Christ was crucified, Moses These two phases in the Prophet's died without entering tance, the other of rule, are both reflected in the Qur'an, and attitudes of their foundly influenced mad triumphed the promised religious land, and the beliefs followers are still pro- by the memory of these facts. Muham- during his lifetime, and died a sovereign career, the one of resis- where in different chapters, the believers are enjoined to obey God's representative and to disobey Pharaoh, the par- adigm of the unjust and tyrannical ruler. These two aspects and a conqueror. The resulting Muslim attitudes can only of the Prophet's have been confirmed by the subsequent history of their re- Islam, the one authoritarian ligion. In Western but teachable and activist. Both are amply reflected, on the one hand in Europe, barbarian in- vaders came to an existing state and religion, the Roman the development life and work inspired two traditions in and quietist, the other radical of the tradition, on the other in the un- J 2 DefiningIslam The Crisisof Islam IJ folding of events. It was not always easy to determine who For more than a thousand years, Islam provided the only was God's representative and who was Pharaoh; many universally acceptable set of rules and principles for the books were written, and many battles fought, in the at- regulation of public and social life. Even during the period of maximum European influence, in the countries ruled or tempt. The problem remains, and both traditions can be dominated by European imperial powers as well as in those seen very clearly in the polemics and struggles of our own times. that remained independent, Islamic political notions and Between the extremes of quietism and radicalism, there attitudes remained a profound and pervasive influence. In is a pervasive, widely expressed attitude of reserve, even of recent years there have been many signs that these notions mistrust, toward government. An example is the sharp dif- and attitudes may be returning, albeit in modified forms, to ference, in medieval times, of popular attitudes toward the qadi, a judge, and the rnufti.ra jurisconsult in the Holy Law. their previous dominance. The qadi, who was appointed by the ruler, is presented in literature and folklore as a venal, even a ridiculous figure; It is in the realm of politics-domestic, regional, and inter- the mufti, established in medieval Islam by the recognition national alike-that of his colleagues and the general population, enjoyed esteem and respect. A tapas in biographies of pious men-of between Islam and the rest of the world. The heads of state which we have hundreds of thousands-is that the hero tries and the United Kingdom do not, from time to time, was offered a government appointment and refused. The offer establishes his learning and reputation, the refusal his integrity. foregather in Protestant summit conferences, nor was it we see the most striking differences or ministers of foreign affairs of the Scandinavian coun- ever the practice of the rulers of Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union, temporarily forgetting their In Ottoman times there was an important change. The qadi gained greatly in power and authority, and even the political and ideological differences, to hold regular meet- mufti was integrated into the public chain of authority. Bur the Orthodox Church. Similarly, the Buddhist states of the old attitude of mistrust of government persisted, and it is frequently expressed in proverbs, folktales, and even high literature. East and Southeast Asia do not constitute a Buddhist bloc ings on the basis of their current or previous adherence to at the United Nations, nor for that matter in any other of their political activities. The very idea of such a grouping, 14 Defining Islam The Crisis of Islam 15 based on religion, in the modern world may seem anachro- gained their independence in the last half century from the nistic and even absurd. It is neither anachronistic nor ab- Western European and, more recently, the Soviet empires. surd in relation to Islam. Throughout the tensions of the Cold War and after, more than fifry Muslim govern- Most of them are overwhelmingly Muslim in population, though a few were admitted on the strength of significant ments-including Muslim minorities. Apart from these states, there are im- monarchies and republics, conservatives and radicals, practitioners of capitalism and of socialism, portant Muslim minorities in other countries-some of supporters of the Western bloc, the Eastern bloc, and a them akin to the majoriry, as in India, some of them ethni- whole spectrum of shades of neutrality-built up an elab- cally as well as religiously different, like the Chechens and orate apparatus of international consultation and, on many Tatars of the Russian Federation. Some countries, like issues, cooperation. In September 1969 an Islamic summit conference held China, have Muslim minorities of both kinds. Many more in Rabat, Morocco, decided to create a body to be known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (0lC), with a grauon. permanent secretariat in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. This body of the OlC as a factor in international politics. The Soviet was duly set up, and it developed rapidly in the I970s. The invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a flagrant act of aggression OIC was particularly concerned with help to poor Muslim countries, support for Muslim minorities in non-Muslim against a sovereign Muslim nation, evoked no serious countries, and the international position of Islam and of recently, the organization has failed to concern itself with Muslims-in the words of one observer, the Islamic rights the civil wars in member states such as Sudan and Somalia. of man. This organization now numbers fifty-seven member Nor has its record in regional matters been impressive. Be- states, plus three with observer status. Two of these states, fought a devastating war, inflicting immense damage on Albania and Turkey, are or aspire to be in Europe (Bosnia has only observer status); two, Surinam (admitted 1996) and each other. The OIC did nothing either to prevent or to Guyana (admitted 1998), are in the Western Hemisphere. The rest are in Asia and Africa, and with few exceptions of American States and the Organization of African Uniry, countries are now acquiring Muslim minorities by irnmiThere were and are important limits to the effectiveness protest and was even defended by some members. More tween 1980 and 1988, tWOIslamic countries, Iraq and Iran, end this war. In general, the OIC, unlike the Organization does not look into human rights abuses and other domestic 16 DefiningIslam The Crisisof [slam 17 problems of member states; its human rights concerns have is not what it was in past centuries, it is by no means in-' been limited to Muslims living under non-Muslim rule, primarily in Palestine. The OIC should not, however, be significant. But in no Christian country at the presenr time can religious leaders counr on the degree of belief and par- discounted. Its cultural and social activities are important ticipation that remains normal in the Muslim lands. In few, and are growing, and rhe machinery that it provides for regular consultation between member states may increase if any, Christian counrries do Christian sanctities enjoy the in importance as the Cold War and its disruptive effects recede into the past. cepted as normal even in ostensibly secular and democratic Turning from international and regional to domestic politics, the difference between Islam and the rest of the been extended, de facto, to Western countries where Muslim communities are now established and where Muslim world, though less striking, is still substantial. In some of beliefs and practices are accorded a level of immunity from the countries that pr ... Purchase answer to see full attachment

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