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Western University
History 2606E
Maya Shatzmiller

The Qur’an The Q. means ‘Reader’. Muhammad was preparing a book for his community to replace the scriptures of the old testament and the new testament. It teaches above all the oneness of God. The message was sent down by messengers, or apostles in accordance with previous scriptures. The Jews and Christians have corrupted their scriptures where Islam was first announced. Individual responsibility: Judgement Day, similar to Christian and Jewish beliefs, will be a day of accounting. The Q. is God’s word as revealed to an Arab Prophet. Muhammad is the “tool” of the transmission of God’s word to men. Above all he is a messenger to he people of Mecca and Medina. The Q. was preserved in heaven on a ‘board’ (al-lawh-al-mahfuz) so it was ‘descended’ anzala. It is also referred to as the ‘mother of the book’, (umm al-kitab) The Q. was revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Main message - - Monotheism: making the shift from paganism to believing in one God. - The essence of Qur’anic God: merciful and compassionate, his power is infinite so is his knowledge, God hates injustice and oppression and requires kindness and charity towards the oppressed. - Man must put his trust in God and endure the trials of life. Duties of a Muslim: - The Five “pillars” of Islam (arkan) - 1. Shahada, attestation of the creed - to bear weakness, there is no God, but God, and Muhammad is his messenger - 2. The Salah, prayer, 5 times facing the mihrab-Mecca - 3. The Zakat, the alms giving, obligatory and voluntary - 4. The Sawm, the fast of Ramadan - 5. The Haj, pilgrimage to Mecca - 6. Jihad? Holy war against infidels Social repsonsibility among kin. Unification of the Arabs: social transformation from a tribal society ruled by kinship into a social-religious community ruled by religious leader. The question of Muhammad’s mentors. In the Q. Muhammad refers to mentors and to himself as the last in a line of Prophets. Historians use to methodologies to examine the mentors’ question, vocabulary and content. Historians also point to the birth of Islam in a Christian and Jewish sectarian milieu. First prophet was Moses, second was Jesus, third and last was Muhammad. The references to biblical stories in the Q. indicate 1. identification with Abraham and Moses as prophets. 2. Prophets brought monotheism. 3. Their people turned them away The vocabulary however, points to a Jewish sect, as well as the content of the stories. Most importantly the Jews and Christians had scriptures to which Muhammad referred frequently. By 451 a distinct body of Monophysite Christian communities appear: Most importantly the Copts and the Abyssinians, the Syrian Jacobites and the Armenians. Their doctrine differed from the teaching of the Orthodox church on the double nature of Christ - divine and human after incarnation. According to the Monophysite creedL the person of the Incarnate Christ was single, though divine. This is the nature of the Islamic monotheism. The revelations of the Q. did not occur at once but took place over 20 years from 610 to 630. Sometimes a revelation occurred as a result of certain events and sometimes occurred as a result of a need to change previous revelation. As a result there was a creation of a literary branch entitled the ‘circumstances of the revelation’ (asbab al-nuzul) describing the circumstances and explaining the reasons. It is agreed that Muhammad did not write the revelations when they occurred. The structure: Suras and Ayas - 114 suras (chapters), and 6,200 ayas (verses) - Meccan suras are shorter and Medinan suras are longer, arranged in the reverse chronological order. - Meccan suras deal with goodness and the power of God; return for the last judgement, how wrong is it to trust wealth and mistreat
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