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University of Toronto Mississauga
Alireza N Haghighi

Week 1 September 07 2011PreIslamic Era Jahiliyya In this lecture we discuss the sociopolitical and religious modes of living in Arabia before the rise of IslamFurther we will discuss the significance of the concept of Jahiliyya for the later development of Islamic thought In particular the second article of this week introduces you to the historical development of this concept and the competing and sometimes differing readings of it including one offered by Islamic fundamentalism Required ReadingSchimmel Islam pp 19William E Shepard Sayyid Qutbs Doctrine of Jahiliyya in International Journal of Middle East Studies vol 35 no iv pp 521545 2003 on blackboardWeek 2 September 14 2011Mohamamd the Man and the ProphetRequired ReadingSchimmel Islam 1117Brown A New Introduction to Islam Second Edition 4969Schimmel Islam 1117Muhammad pg 11Muhammad was born about 570 in Mecca as a member of the Hashim clan of the Quraish He was brought up by his uncle Abu Talib He devoted himself to trade and was called alAmin for his reliability He married Khadija and did not marry any other woman as long as she was alive she died when he was roughly fifty years of age She faithfully supported her husband in the spiritual crises triggered by his experiences After her death Muhammad had married several wives mainly widows his favorite wife was the young Aisha whose home he eventually died in and whose father Abu Bakr asSiddiq the very faithful one became his first successor or caliphMuhammad liked to retire at times to meditate in a cave in Mt Hira where he was overcome by visions and voices which turned out to be an angelic voice that was entrusting him with a divine mandate Sura 96 of the Koran contains the first such address Iqra Read or ReciteThe first proclamations preached by Muhammad are dominated by the nearing Day of Judgement This was the Day of Reckoning when resurrection will take place and peoples fates will be decided They will be judged by God and the evil sinners will be dragged away by their feet The Koranic descriptions of Judgement and Hell do not reach the fantastic descriptions of for example Christian apocalyptic writing However later piety could not get enough detail of chastisementMuhammad leaned that he was not only sent to threaten and blame but also to bring good tidings every pious man who lives according to Gods order will enter Paradise where rivers of milk and honey flow in cool fragrant gardens and virgin beloveds await himMeccan merchants did not take Muhammads message seriously to them a corporeal resurrection seemed ludicrous The Koran refutes this by bringing forth numerous proofs for such a resurrection It cannot be difficult for God who created the world to reunite particles of the universe A revivication of the dead desert after rainfall is a symbol of the quickening of human beings And human fertility and birth can be taken as signs of Gods unlimited creative power To put it simply the Creator and the Lord of Doomsday must be one and the same The belief in one God without partners and without adjunct deities forms the centre of the revelation from an early momentThe duty of human beings is to surrender to this omnipotent God the Merciful the Compassionate to surrender from the bottom of ones heart with ones entire soul and mind The word Islam means this complete surrender to the Divine will and the one who practices such surrender is a Muslim This originates from the term salam peace and takes place of the term Muhammedan which was frowned upon by Muslims because it was incorrect to parallel to the way Christians call themselves after ChristThe true Muslim that recognizes One God as both Creator and Judge feels responsible to Him he believes in His books the Torah the Psalms the Gospels and the Koran and in His prophets from Adam through the patriarchs Moses and Jesus up to Muhammad the last law giving messenger Further he believes in Gods angels and in the Last Judgement and that good and evil come equally from GodFulfillment of cultic duties and the practice of mercy and justice are commanded side by side in the Koran the ritual prayer salat is combined with zakat the alms tax Worldlings who are emroiled in caring for wealth are threatened by Divine punishmentThe situation did not improve for the doctrine of the One Supreme God seemed to threaten the main sources of income for the Meccans With the hostility of the Meccans increasing a group of the new Muslims emigrated to Abyssinia a Christian country In 619 Muhammad lost both his uncle and wife However in June 622 Muhammad and his friend Abu Bakr settled in Yathrib which became known as Madinat anNabi the city of the prophet or MedinaMuslims consider their era to have begun with the date of this emigration hijra for at this point a decisive development of Muhammads activities can be observed Revelations had now been put into communal practice Up to this point the Prophet had considered himself merely as a continuator of the great prophetic religions Judaism and Christianity However Jews refused to accept the revelations connected to their own traditions for these seemed not to tally with the biblical words and to have many gaps In reaction Muhammad outlined that only the version revealed to him contained the true and real text of these stories and that the faith preached by him on the basis of direct revelation was much older than the corruption professed by the Jews and ChristiansIn keeping the direct connection to Abraham the direction of prayer then turned at Jerusalem was changed to Mecca making necessary its conquest Eight years after his migration Muhammad entered his home town in triumph During these eight years a number of battles were fought in Badr for example in 624 a small Muslim group overcame an overwhelming Meccan army After victory Muhammad forgave most of those that worked and plotted against him but he preferred to stay in Medina There he eventually died after performing the rites of the pilgrimage in 623Muhammads life was permeated by religion and just as there is no clear separation between the political and religious aspects of communal life there are no truly profane acts either Every act has to begin with the words in the name of God bismillah and must be performed in responsibility to God The human being stands immediately before God no mediating priestly caste existsBrown A New Introduction to Islam Second Edition 4969The Life of MuhammadBrown Pgs 4969By Ali SiddiquiIbn Ishaq a scholar of Medina wrote the first full biography or sira of Muhammad called the Sirat Rasul Allah written a century after Muhammad passed awayoIbn Ishaq passed away in 767CE and all other Siras revolved upon his workoIbn Ishaq starts off with two genealogical traces of Muhammads ancestry The first through the line of Qusayy the founder of Mecca to Ismail Ibrahim Abraham Shem Noah and all the way to AdamThe second trace gives a detailed analysis of the tribes that descended from Ismail the Arab tribes and it also details the kinship of the Egyptians with the Arabs through Hagar the mother of IsmailTherefore we end up finding that Muhammads lineage stems from Noah and AbrahamoThis gives Muhammad a genealogical placement for Muhammad and the Arabs in monotheistic history570CE Muhammad is thought to have been born during the auspicious Year of the ElephantWhen Abraha of Abyssinia sought out to destroy the Kaba while riding elephants but was beaten back by divine providence with God sending birds carrying plague bearing stones to destroy the Abyssinian army and Abraha suffered a gruesome death with his fingers falling off one by oneHence the auspicious name and year Muhammad was born intoMuhammads father Abd Allah died before he was born his mother Amina died when he was 6 years old leaving him an orphanHe was then taken care of by his grandfather Abd alMuttalib who passed away leaving Muhammad in the care of his uncle Abu Talib
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