The Study of World Religions
Friday March 19, 2010
Islam – Peace or surrender. When you combine the two words together, it literally
means the peace that comes from when you surrender your life wholly unto God.
Allah – God, the one true God.
Adam – Human or man in Hebrew. Adam is not a name, rather it represents the whole
human race. Adam in Islam is the first human and the first prophet.
Abraham – Also a prophet, one of the 124,000 prophets. Jews derive their descent or
biological lineage from Isaac, Abraham’s second son. Arabs derive their descent from
Ishmael, Abraham’s first son. Abraham has two wives: Sarah is the mother of Isaac and
Hagar is the mother of Ishmael.
Ishmael – son of Abraham.
Moses – Also a prophet, buy he is a prophet of distinction. He is the first prophet to
establish a religious community. He gives laws to the community to guide their lives by,
and most prophets don’t do this. The laws that are being referred to are those of the
covenant that is made at Mount Sinai.
Jesus – Also a prophet. The Koran makes the point that he is not the Son of God, but
affirms that his birth is a miraculous one in the sense that Mary conceived him while
remaining a virgin. The Koran also makes the point that he does not die on the cross; it
is a false representation of him that dies on the cross while God takes Jesus into
Muhammad – The last of the prophets. He is also referred to as the seal of the
prophets, the seal that completes all previous prophetic revelations. He was born in
approximately 570 CE. The Koran makes the point that he is not different than you and
I, but God makes him different by choosing him to speak to humanity. Muhammad
receives his first revelation in 610 CE.
Nabi – Prophet. Preaches on behalf of God
Rasul – A messenger. A prophet who brings God’s law, brings the message of God. A
Rasul is higher than a Nabi.
Jinn – A beastly spirit. Refers to the period in Arabia prior to the preaching of
Muhammad, when the lesser deities were worshipped in Arabia. Jahiliya – Time of polytheism. Literally means period of darkness. So long as people are
worshipping many Gods, they are ignorant of the one God who they should be
Koreish/Quraysh Tribe – A powerful tribe in Mecca at the time, into which Muhammad
Mecca – The place where Muhammad was born and where the Ka’ba (central shrine) is
located. At the time of Muhammad’s birth, the Ka’ba was a place of worship of many
Gods. Mecca is also a key place on the trade route between East and West. Mecca
therefore becomes very wealthy.
Ka’ba – Large cubicle temple, thought to be built by Abraham himself. Prior to
Muhammad’s revelation, many Gods are worshipped there. After, Muhammad
rededicates it to one God. To the present day, Muslims pray in the direction facing
Mecca and the Ka’ba.
Hanifs – At the time of Muhammad’s birth, they were outsiders who were deemed
exceptions to the rule. They are contemplatives or mystics who believe in one God.
Kahins – Sooth sayers or poets. They are religious seers who believe they have
something important to say and people should listen to them. The Kahins and the Hanifs
are two groups of people who were despised. Prior to receiving the revelation from God,
Muhammad also despised them.
Khadija – Muhammad’s first wife. She was a wealthy widow engaged in trade. She was
40 years old, while Muhammad was 25 at the time of their marriage. She was also the
first convert to Islam.
Mount Hira – Muhammad meditated on this mountain once each year and there, he
receives the revelation from God.
Night of Power – During one of his contemplative retreats on the mountain, the angel
Gabriel meets Muhammad and gives him the words of