1- Discuss the reasons why the Arabia's way of life before Islam is called Jahiliyya by explaining a) its
main characteristics and b) its significance in Islamic thought
Worshiped many gods and goddesses. The spirits of these gods were associated with sacred objects
such as trees, stones, springs and wells. Mecca possessed a central shrine of the gods. The Kaba, a cube-
shaped building housed 360 idols of tribal patron deities
1) Lack of Tawhid (believe in one God): Two opinions among Islamic scholars regarding the pre-
Islamic Arabs’ approach to God:
A) Monotheism, belief in one god, did exist prior to Islam Evidences: both Jewish and
Christian Arab communities had been present in Arabia before Mohammad. Christians
were also present in Mecca.
B) Polytheism- Evidences: The Arabian God was associated with three goddesses who
were the daughters of Allah: al-Lat, Manat and al-Uzza.
2) Characterized by fatalism:
no meaning or accountability beyond this life;
no resurrection of the body;
no divine judgment, or eternal punishment or reward
Justice was guaranteed and administered not by God, but by the threat of group
vengeance or retaliation;
Little sense of cosmic moral purpose nor individual or communal moral responsibility
Might was right
3) Extreme inequality among men and women:The prevalence of femicide among Arabs
2- Discuss Sayyid Qutb's doctrine of Jahiliyaa and explain how his reading of Jahiliyaa is utilized by
3- Discuss the Prophet's life by outlining the three stages of his life: before prophecy, after he became
the Prophet (before Hijra) and after Hijra. Make sure to provide examples of the Prophet's life both as
the man and as the Prophet.
Muhammad the Men:
Main Attributes:An orphan, an honest man, lived humbly, a sensitive soul, an spiritual man
meditative trips to mount Hira.
His Private Life: his marriage to Khadija, Khadija’s role -> The first Muslim, financial support
moral support, political Support
In Society Was Against:
A- Meccan’s Hypocrisy
B- Arab’s philosophy of life: against fatalism of Arabs, against Bedouin's crude materialism C) Against the dominant tradition of Meccan society: against Femicide, against unjust
treatment of orphans and widows
Conclusion: he believed in the following.
–His society is in theological crisis: monotheism vs. polytheism
–His society is in economic-social crisis: social justice vs. hierarchy
–His society is in moral crisis: Accountability vs. fatalism, Honesty vs. hypocrisy
Before Prophecy: Mohammad, the man, belonged to the Banu Hashim (sons of Hashim), a lesser clan of
the powerful Quraysh tribe which dominated Meccan society. Mohammad’s tribal background not only
exposed him to the inequality that existed in his society but also it is one of the factors that made him so
sensitive about poverty, social and economic justice. Around 610 A.D. Angel Gabriel appeared to
Muhammad while he had retired into mount Hira during one of his meditative nights. Angel Gabriel
gave Muhammad the first verses of Sura 96 of the holy Quran.
After Prophet: Three important aspects of Muhammad’s prophecy while he was in Mecca:
1- Muhammad’s method of spreading the message of Islam: Quiet Persuasion:
- Focused on close family and relatives
- the first Muslims: Khadija; Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (the prophet’s cousin); Abu-Bakr; Zayd Ibn
- Focused on simple rituals such as praying
- Focused on the principles of Tawhid; prophecy and Day of Judgment
- After three years, he started to openly invite people to Islam
- The Arabs, both elites and slaves started to join Muhammad
- Gave rise to fear among elites
2- Muhammad’s opponents and their styles of confrontation
A) Muhammad’s staunch opponents:
- Muhammad’s first enemy: his own uncle Abu Lahab and his wife
- Kabaa’s trustees
- Tribal leaders
B) Styles of confrontation:
- Boycott his tribe
- Assassination plan
Conclusion: Muhammad realized that in order to survive, he must expand and/or go beyond Mecca
After Hijra: Muhammad’s search for a brighter future for his religion
• “Hijra”: 622 A.D
• Hijra: Muslim community (Umma) came into being
• Umma: defining point of the Islamic sense of identity based on common faith (instead of pre-
Islamic tribal sense of identity).
• Muhammad’s achievements in Medina:
A) Unified two enemy tribes in Medina
B) Smoothly assimilated Meccan’s Muslims into Medina society – the use of Muslim
C) Drafted the first Islamic Constitution
D) Regulated Muslim’s relation with Jewish and Christina communities
E) Invented Shura: Islamic Participatory decision-making F) His challenge with “Muslim” Hippocrates (Munafeghin)
G) His attempt to conquer Mecca
H) Muhammad's wars with Meccans (Badr and Uhud)
I) Muhammad’s peace with Meccans and subsequent conquer of Mecca
J) Muhammad’s last speech: gave birth to Muslim Umma
K) Muhammad’s letter to world leaders: Ethiopia, Egypt, Byzantine and Persian
4. Discuss the prophet's strategy in Medina and explain the constitution of Medina. Make sure that
you elaborate on the outcome of the constitution for Muslim community.
• Muhammad’s achievements in Medina:
1. Unified two enemy tribes in Medina
2. Smoothly assimilated Meccan’s Muslims into Medina society – the use of Muslim
3. Drafted the first Islamic Constitution
4. Regulated Muslim’s relation with Jewish and Christina communities
5. Invented Shura: Islamic Participatory decision-making
6. His challenge with “Muslim” Hippocrates (Munafeghin)
7. His attempt to conquer Mecca
8. Muhammad's wars with Meccans (Badr and Uhud)
9. Muhammad’s peace with Meccans and subsequent conquer of Mecca
10. Muhammad’s last speech: gave birth to Muslim Umma
11. Muhammad’s letter to world leaders: Ethiopia, Egypt, Byzantine and Persian
5- Explain the Orientalist view of the Quran. Discuss how the major teachings of the Quran discredit
the Orientalist view .. Make sure you cover all the major teachings of the holy book discussed in the
lecture and the readings .
The Quran as the book of God. Revealed to the Prophet Muhammad as a guide for all humankind. 114
Chapters, called Sura. Suras are arranged in order of length, starting from the longest. Each Sura is
divided into verses (Ayas). The Quran was revealed to the prophet over a period of 22 years. The
prophet himself is excluded from any role in the collection of the text.
The major collection of the text: during the reign of “Uthman Ibn Affan” (reigned 644-56) the third
caliph. The Quran was collected, not edited or organized thematically.
Orientalist criticizes the Quran, claiming:
• It has an arbitrary structure and organization;
• There is no chronological order of material;
• There is no explicit thematic order to the material;
• There is frequent repetition of themes throughout the book
• The ordering of the chapters and verses was itself divinely inspired.
• This format enables a believer to start at anywhere in the text
6 Major Teachings of Quran:
1) Allah and his laws- Allah as the central theme (Name appears more than 2500 times) -must worship Allah, and obey his rules (Quran)- we must know tolerance + accountability.
- no association alongside God.
- Jesus not son of God, for thy God has no sons. However Jesus is the Messiah (the anointed one)
-Quran is against inequality of people
-Allah in transcendent—he is beyond this world—not related to humans.
-Allah created the universe, he is powerful + merciful.
-Allah knows when the world will end and will judge us according to our deeds.
2) The Quranic universe
-Paradise, earth, hell—3 parts of the Quranic universe.
-Life is a test- not eternal.
-angels are the link btwn God and man.
- God- Good, Satan- evil.
-Humans are Allah’s representatives on earth.
-no concept of original sin in Islam.
- It is here that we see the roots of Islamic ethics: God ordains; humankind (both man and the
woman) to implement his will
3) The Muslim community
-Called the Umma (community of believers). – an individual and community obligation.
-God declares in the Quran: Muslims now constitute the new community (umma) of believers
-Quran promotes the unity and equality for all believers of God.
-Must treat the underprivileged well (orphans, widows, weak).
-Must pursue acts of social justice.
4) The Final Judgement
-Muslims are judged based on earthly deeds.
-Humans responsible for their own actions
-Based on personal choices: individual has the choice to do good/bad.
-Determines whether they can enter paradise
5) The path to paradise
-To reach paradise, one must: Believe in God, his messenger (Muhammad), and his book (Quran).
- One much follow the Law- which is given to Humanity as a gift
-Faith must be put into action: good deeds
6) The previous prophets
-Twenty-eight figures other than the prophet Muhammad are named in the Quran
- Only a limited number of these figures were given scriptures
- Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus.
6- Explain the five pillars of the Islamic faith. Make sure in explaining the five pillars, you address their
symbolic, ethical significance for Muslims application and their effect on Muslims' everyday life .
1) Shahadah- “to testify” or “to bear witness”
-Belief in Allah, Muhammad as prophet, and truth of Koran
-Professing belief helps solidify one’s beliefs in Islam—helps to build relationship with Allah.
-one accepts that their power and knowledge is limited—an agreement w/ god. 2) Salat (personal prayer):
-Quran says it’s the most important pillar- commands performance of the salat more than it commands
any other activity
-praying at various times of the day.
-shows dedication to God. When you pray- you are connected to God and society.
-following a ritual. Belief that god knows all truths and is all powerful.—Impacts our daily behaviour.
-must pray both inside and outside mosque (community function)
3) Zakat (alms tax):
-“Giving money to the poor” % of income and assets paid to needy
-Allah’s will for social justice (orphans, homeless, disabled, etc). Narrows gap btwn rich and poor
-Eight categories of people to whom Zakat should be given: the needy, the poor, those who collect the
zakat, those whose hearts are to be reconciled to Islam, captives, those in debt, those who are fighting
in Allah’s path, and travelers.
-helps cure self greed (purification)
-test to see if you are self-interested
- Zakat actualizes the care for the needy, the principle of distributive justice, and the Allah’s call for
-During month of Ramadan (9 month): refrain from food, drinking, smoking, sex.
-strong social component. Makes one appreciate what they have.
-Pilgrimage to Mecca: the house of Allah (Kaaba)
-All Muslims must make this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime when financially possible.
-Purpose is to renew one’s promise to Allah and answer his call to visit him.
-separates one from worldly aspects (cleansing process), all muslims are dressed the same as one
community regardless of income, gender or race, worshipping the same God.
-The hajj symbolizes emptying oneself from this-worldly egotism
-Promotes unity and makes one feel empowered by the strength of the Islamic community that exists all
over the world.
-Motivates to do good
- 5 pillars unify, and create harmony between action, though & intention.
- People must put the Koran into action, not just read it.
- 5 Pillars are social acts- not private rituals.
7- Provide a) a brief explanation of what a Hadith (the tradition of the Prophet) is .Explain b) why
Hadith is significant in Islam, discuss the scientific process of authenticating a Hadith and c) name two
major collections of Hadiths.
Sunna (plural: sunan): the prophet’s “custom”. His words, deeds, and habitual practices
Sunna is an ideal as well as a memory:
• Ideal: it is the archetype for the Muslim life
• Memory: it is remembered and transmitted by means of a literary form called “Hadith”. The Sunna is preserved and communicated by means of hadiths.
Originally transmission of hadiths did not have a regulation. However later scholars developed methods
of sifting through and evaluating them. This took over two centuries. Muslims differ in language, food,
dress, local customs and national identities but they are united in belief, behavior and attitude that are
enshrined in the Hadith of the Prophet.
The relationship between Quran and Hadith is that Quran is most authoritative source of Islamic
doctrine and practise and Hadiths confirm, extend, elaborate, explain and supplement the revelation.
The Prophet’s companions became the first figures in transmitting Hadiths.
3 Means of Transmission:
1) Memorizing them
2) Recording them
3) Following/imitating the Hadith in daily life
2 Parts of Hadith:
1) “ISNAD”: the opening citation of the persons who transmitted the hadith
2) “Matn: the main text
The Muslims developed a sophisticated science of hadith evaluation. The collection of all available
information related to every person mentioned in the Isnad.
According to the Scholars, the Transmitter must have memory, reputation for telling the truth, piety and
A) Trustworthy (thiqa): Universally accepted by everyone
B) Truthful (saduq): generally acceptable, unless contradicted by a transmitter at the “thiqa” lvl.
Two Main Form of Hadith:
1) The saying of the prophet, uttered by him
2) The behavior of the Prophet witnessed by others
- A typical hadith of this kind: X said that Y said that W said that V saw the Prophet do…
Malik: the first substantial and carefully sifted collection of Hadith was made by Malik Ibn Anas
- Lived in Ummayyad, worked mostly in Medina
- His name is given to the school of jurisprudence that was later founded: the maliki
- Greatest work: Muwatta (beaten Path) Bukhari and Muslim:
- Two of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal’s younger contemporaries
- Muhammad Isma’il al-Bukhari (d. 870) in Central Asia
- Muslim Ibn- al-Hajjaj (d. 875) from the Persian city of Nishapur
- Each man published a collection called “Sahih” meaning “sound” or “authentic”
- The two collections together: known as al-Sahihan (the two sound collections)
- Considered to be the best of all such collection
- Bukhari: famous for his precision in authenticating the hadith
- The founder of the discipline “ilm-al-rijal” the science of men
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:
- The generation after Malik
- Memorized a million hadiths!
- Later develop yet another law school: Hanbali
- His collection of Hadith: “Musnad”
8- Discuss commonalities and differences between the Sunni and Shi'a; explain how/in what ways
Sufism differ from both these branches of Islam.
Sunni- the people of the sunna and the community
- Ijma (consensus):
Ali is the only legitimate and Rightly Guided Imam after the Prophet
Ali is divinely ordained
Shi’at Ali means Ali’s party
10 percent of the total Muslim community world-wide
The majority of Shi’a are Twelvers or Imamiyyah
Ali eventually became the fourth caliph
Assassinated by kharijites who claimed Ali was an infidel.
Twelver Shi’a: believes in twelve Imams
The last Twelver Shi’a Imam is called Mahdi
Mahdi is believed to be still alive and in hiding (or occultation)
Theology Shi’a adopted a position close to that of the Mutazilites
Both accept Allah’s unity and the mission and message of the Prophet
Share the prophetic-revelatory event
Shi’a adds a phrase to the Shahadah (the Muslim’s witness to faith). Following “there is no God
but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, the Shi’a conclude “and Ali is the friend of
Sunnis: No centralized authority
Sunnis: religious authority is rooted in the community through Ijma (consensus)
Shi’a: resided in the prophet, the twelve Imams and the Ulama (Imams’ deputy)
• Both Sunni and Shi’a revere the Prophet’s immediate family
• Sunnis: Ali, Fatima, and the Prophet’s grandsons
• Shi’a: The family includes all twelve Imams.
• Shi’a (in contrast to Sunnis) the twelve Imams are not created from dust but rather from
columns of divine light before the world was created
• Imams, like the Prophet, possess the power to perform miracles
• Imams are infallible, protected by Allah from sin and error
• The denial of the Imams is regarded as Shirk by the Shi’a
• Sunnis see as shirk only those who worship other deities than Allah
Family law: significant differences
• Shi’a recognizes temporary marriage (mutah)
• Children born are legitimate
• Shi’a divorce law: more restriction on men’s privilege to divorce their wives
Sunni’s political and religious authority is firmly resided in the community
Shi’a: religopolitical authority is with imams who are essentially superhuman
3 major principles of Islamic faith:
1) TAWHID; 2) PROPHECY (NUBUWWAT); 3) ESCHATOLOGY or the RETURN (MA’AD).
Note: Shia’s also have 4) Justice (adl): the nature of Tawhid 5) Imama: prophecy exte