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Islam the straight path notes

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Boston College
Political Science
POLI 1042

Islam: The Straight Path By: Esposito • Islam = greatest critic of the liberal experiment o Liberalism is most successful regime the world has ever known • Prior to the emergence of liberalism, no regime thought it was wise to organize a government like that o Good to have an alternative POV (Islam believes liberalists are heretics/blasphemous)  Crisis of our time • What is the relationship between Islam and democracy that is sympathetic and critical of both parties? • Koran  means “recitation,” is lyrical, beautiful, most perfect expression of Arabic language regarded by believers as the literal word of God (written by God, God speaks Arabic) • Were Publius/Tocqueville correct that religion should play a subordinate role? o Islam is against this: as a believer, you should follow the divine law. Without religion as a guide, there is less virtue, less happiness, more isolationism. Virtue would dissolve. (anti-federalistic) • Islam means “submission” o Why is submitting good? By submitting to the truth, you will be lead to happiness/virtue/peace • Invented in 622 when Muhammad migrated from Mecca (Hijra) to Medina • Judaism, Christianity, Islam = 3 monotheistic religions in order of appearance o Islam = presented as the same revelation passed on from the previous two religions • Islam emerged in order to correct a falling away from monotheism on the Arabian Peninsula o Jews and Christians proved to be poor messengers of God’s word  Christians added blasphemous notions (divinity of Jesus, trinity, etc.  Jewish misplaced certain religious texts given to them o Shirk = one great sin in Islam associating other figures with God • Revelation of Islam came down as a teaching to Muhammad, revealed a rewarding/punishing God • Muhammad = 570-630, orphan, part of Quraysh tribe in Mecca (a major city along the caravan route, cosmopolitan), illiterate, received the revelation in 610 o Prophet = a messenger, carrier of God’s word in the flesh  There were other prophets before Muhammad • God chooses an instrument for revealing his teaching to humanity  Prophet o Played an important role in conveying God’s teaching  Need a prophet so people can understand God, acts as a midway between them • Responded to revelation in a negative way at first because it would undercut the entire social political system • Angel Gabriel acted as intermediary between Muhammad and God o First word to Muhammad = “recite” • Christianity is faith based o Judaism and Islam = law based, legal code meant to regulate life • Christianity is like Islam because both are proselytizing religions  both actively seeking converts • Muhammad’s revelations became the Koran • Koran chapters are organized by length, ¾ the size of the New Testament, 114 chapters o Every prayer begins the same way  Allah = God, one, singular law  Christian trinity doesn’t make sense with this o Earliest revelations are the shortest because the initial revelation expressed the shock of the new (God talking to human) • When Muhammad died in 632, there were no more revelations o Muhammad was the seal of the prophets, he is the last, nothing shall follow  Mormonism, Scientology = frauds according to this view • Jesus is a prophet but not the son of God, according to Islam • 5 Pillars of Islam: o 1) Statement of Faith  No god but God and Muhammad is his prophet o 2)Charity  Giving back to the less fortunate o 3) Hajj  pilgrimage to Mecca once in your life for every able-bodied Muslim o 4) Fasting during the month of Ramadan o 5) Prayer  5 times a day • Are religion and politics separable in Islam or are they intertwine? o Intertwined  Koran is the LAW, both political and religious  Sets guidelines on how to live in the world and hereafter • When Muhammad died in 632, there was a sense of crisis because it signified the end of the active connection to God/revelation o Muhammad was a great military figure o No one to mediate religious discrepancies • Second most sacred source = Sunna of prophet Muhammad o Collection of the prophet’s sayings/doings • After the death of prophet, the Caliphate emerged o Successors of the prophet  Rightly Guided Caliphs: • Abu Bakr • Umar • Uthman • Ali • Caliphate of Ali is important because… o Schisms occurred, leading to two main factions: Shia and Sunnis  Shia means/stands for partisans of Ali • Broke from the Sunnis because they believed that the ruler ship should only go to family members of the prophet. Sunnis do not believe this. o Today, Sunnies are the majority (85%) of Muslims today • Following the period of rightly guided, there is the period of the Abassad and Umayyad dynasties • Universe is organized into 3 components: Heaven, Earth, H
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