Islamic Culture II

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Islamic Culture II    ... It was because those laws could not be found out by
individual experiment, and could only partly be detected
in the long run of history by a student and a thinker here
and there, that thy required to be revealed by a Prophet.
Otherwise they are as natural as the physical laws which
govern our existence evidently and which none would
dream of disputing.


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Culture means 'cultivation' and, generally nowadays,
when this word is used alone, it means 'the cultivation of
the human mind.' Islamic culture differs from other
cultures in that it can never be the aim and object of the
cultivated individual, since its aim is not the cultivation
of the individual or group of individuals, but of the entire
human race. No amount of works of art or literature, in
any land can be regarded as the justification of Islam so
long as wrong, injustice and intolerance remain. No
victories of war or peace, however brilliant, can be
quoted as the harvest of Islam. Islam has wider objects,
grander views. It aims at nothing less than universal
human brotherhood Still, as a religion, it does encourage
human effort after self, and race, improvement more
than any other religion and since it became the power in
the world, it has produced cultural results which will
bear comparison with the results achieved by all the
other religions, civilizations and philosophies put
together. A Muslim can only be astonished at the
importance, almost amounting to worship, ascribed to
works of art and literature (which one may call the
incidental phenomena of culture) in the West; as if they
were the justification, and their production the highest
aim, of human life. Not that Muslims despise or ever
should despise, literary, artistic and scientific
achievements, but that they regard them in the light of
blessings by the way, either as aids to the end or
refreshment for the wayfarer. They do not idolize the aid
and the refreshment.

About Naqshaband Tariqah in Islam

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Verily all Praise is for Allaah, we praise Him, seek His aid and ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and the evil of our actions. Whomsoever Allah guides then there is none who can misguide him, and whomsoever Allaah misguides then there is none who can guide him.About Naqshaband Tariqah I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone, having no partners and I bear witness that Muhammad (may Peace Be Upon Him) is His slave and Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allaah be on the final Prophet Muhammad (may Peace Be Upon Him), his family, his companions and all those who follow in their footsteps until the last day. To proceed:
This little booklet is a modest attempt to analyse and expose the teachings and practices of the Tariqat ul Naqshabandi in the light of the Glorious Qur’aan and Sunnah, and is done purely in fulfilling our obligation to enjoin the right and forbid the evil. Over the years many deviant movements have arisen in the Muslim world bent on corrupting the teachings of Islam and thereby mislead the Muslims. One of the most dangerous of the contemporary movements is the group known as the Naqshabandi Tariqat.

About a Muslim Family Life in Islam

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The social organisation of Islam is founded on the unit of the family. The family has been assigned an important place because Islam is the religion suited to human nature- Din ul-fitra (the natural religion). Human nature is constituted in such a manner that it finds no peace, stability or relaxation except within the family environment. The Most Holy and Glorious Qur'an says:

The Spirit of Worship in Islam 2

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The Spirit of Worship in Islam, What makes a Muslim say their Prayers at places where there is no one to ask them to offer them or even to see them offering them?  Isn’t it so because of their belief that God is ever looking at you?  What makes them leave their important business and other occupations and rush towards the mosque for Prayers?  The Spirit of Worship in Islam, What makes them terminate your sweet sleep in the early hours of the morning, to go to the mosque in the heat of the noon, and to leave their evening entertainments for the sake of Prayers?  Is it anything other than sense of duty—their realization that they must fulfill your responsibility to the Lord, come what may?

The Spirit of Worship in Islam I (Ibadah)

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Ibadah (worship) is an Arabic word derived from abd (a slave) and it means submission.  It portrays that God is your Master and you are His slave, and whatever a slave does in obedience to and for the pleasure of his Master is Ibadah.  The Islamic concept of Ibadah is very wide.  If you free your speech from filth, falsehood, malice, and abuse and speak the truth and talk goodly things and do all these only because God has so ordained to do, they constitute Ibadah, however secular they may look in semblance.  If you obey the law of God in letter and spirit in your commercial and economic affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your parents, relatives, friends, and all those who come in contact with you, verily all these activities of yours are Ibadah

Muhammad (The Miracles) Part 1

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Apart from the greatest miracle given to him, the Quran, Prophet Muhammad performed many physical miracles witnessed by his contemporaries numbering in hundreds, and in some cases thousands.[1]  The miracle reports have reached us by a reliable and strong methods of transmission unmatched in world history.  It is as if the miracles were performed in front of our eyes.  The meticulous method of transmission is what convinces us that Muhammad indeed performed these great miracles with divine aid and, thus, we can believe him when he said, ‘I am God’s Messenger.’
Muhammad’s great miracles were witnessed by thousands of believers and skeptics, following which verses of the Quran were revealed mentioning the supernatural events.  The Quran made some miracles eternal by etching them in the conscious of the believers.  The ancient detractors would simply remain silent when these verses were recited.  Had these miracles not taken place, they would have seized the moment to scandalize it and belie Muhammad.  But rather, the opposite took place.  The believers grew more certain of the truth of Muhammad and the Quran.  The fact that the faithful grew stronger in their faith and the silence of the unbelievers and not denying their occurrence is acknowledgment from both that the miracles took place exactly as the Quran describes.

the Islamic Iran’s Theocracy

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By Aram Anahid-June 3rd, 2009

  • Editor’s Note:  Aram Anahid is the penname of a learned Baha’i intellectual in Iran, who has previously contributed to Iran Press Watch and other sites (e.g.  Iran Press Watch is pleased to publish this fascinating, original and thought-provoking essay by this young intellectual of the Baha’i community of Iran.  (Incidentally, what appears below is not a translation; rather it is original composition of Aram Anahid.)

Message of Thaqalayn : The Significance of Self-control and Self-purification ~ Shadra Institute Palopo

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26-27 March 2011, Sultan Hotel, Jl. Gatot Subroto Jakarta 10002, Indonesia

Philosophical anthropology is the attempt that seeks to unify the several investigations and explorations of humans in an effort to understand human behavior as both creatures of their environment and creators of their own values. Although the majority of philosophers throughout the history of philosophy can be said to have a distinctive "anthropology’’ that undergirds their thought, philosophical anthropology itself, as a specific discipline in philosophy, arose within the later modern period as an outgrowth from developing methods in philosophy, such as phenomenology and existentialism. The former, which draws its energy from methodical reflection of human experience from the philosopher's own personal experience, naturally aided the emergence of philosophical explorations of human nature and the human condition.

Message of Thaqalayn : The Significance of Self-control and Self-purification

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Mohammad Ali Shomali
It is a common idea amongst all religious and spiritual traditions that human beings should have some kind of self-control. Although we enjoy free will, we need to exercise our free will in a responsible way. In the same way that we expect others to respect our dignity and interests, we should respect dignity and interests of others. We should also safeguard our own dignity and long term interests. Thus, we cannot simply go after our whims and desires and do whatever we want. We need to have self-control and self-discipline which leads to self-purification. If we purify our hearts we will no longer need to resist our temptations and control ourselves against lower desires and lusts, since a purified person desires nothing except what is good and moral for himself and others. In what follows, we will study the necessity of self-control and self-purification.

Message of Thaqalayn "Al-Ghadir" and its Relevance to Islamic Unity

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Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari
Translated by Mojgan Jalali
Vol. 3, No. 1 and 2 (1417 AH/1996 CE)

The distinguished book entitled "al-Ghadir" has raised a huge wave in the world of Islam. Islamic thinkers shed light on the book in different perspectives; in literature, history, theology, tradition, tafsir, and sociology. From the social perspective we can deal with the Islamic unity. In this review the Islamic unity has been dealt with from a social point of view.

Message of Thaqalayn: The Prophetic Hadiths in Al-Khisal

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  Mohammad Javad Shomali

Al-Khisal (lit. traits of character) of Shaykh Saduq is one of the most valuable early sources of hadiths (narrations) from Prophet Muhammad and his household. Shaykh Saduq, Muhammad b. Babawayh al-Qummi (d.329/940), was an outstanding jurist and a prominent scholar of hadith. He was given the title ”Imad Al-Din” by Shaykh Tusi.
In Al-Khisal, Shaykh Saduq has prepared a collection of traditions in an interesting way. The main themes of the traditions are ethics, manners and good characteristics. All the traditions are presented with a complete record of transmission. Furthermore, they are divided into different groups according to numbers e.g. all the traditions related to the number one are gathered in one part then traditions related to number two and so on. It starts with one and ends with one million. Al-Khisal seems to be the first on record to be compiled with this style. Moreover, Al-Khisal is a great encyclopedia on Islamic knowledge and many authoritative works on Shi'ite traditions such as Bihar Al-Anwar have cited it as a reference.
The following article is a collection of traditions from the Prophet, selected from Parts One to Twelve of Al-Khisal.

Message of Thaqalayn Tawassul

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Dr. 'Abd al-Karim Bi-Azar Shirazi
Translated by Sayyid 'Ali Shahbaz
Vol. 5, No. 4, Summer 2000/1421
"O you who believe! Fear Allah and seek an approach unto Him..."
(Holy Qur'an 5:35)

Over the last few centuries, the Muslims have been wracked by severe discord and hostility over the issue of tawassul (beseeching or supplicating) to Prophet Muhammad (s), the Ahl al-Bayt ('a), the Saints and the Pious, to the extent that those who reject this concept have accused its supporters of shirk or polytheism, while the upholders of tawassul have charged its opponents with enmity and aversion towards the Prophet (s) and his Infallible Household ('a). The result has led to increasing bigotry on both sides to the benefit of their common enemies who have increased their domination of Muslim lands. This article is an attempt to examine and critically study the issue of tawassul.

Message of Thaqalayn Methods of Religious Thought in Islam

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By "religious thought" we mean that form of thought which is concerned with any of the problems of a religious nature within a particular religion, in the same sense that mathematical thought is the form of thought which deals with mathematical questions and solves mathematical problems. 
Needless to say religious thought, like other forms of thought, must have reliable sources from which the raw material of its thought originates and upon which it depends. Similarly, the process of reasoning necessary for the solution of mathematical problems must have a series of established mathematical facts and principles.

Message of Thaqalayn: The Geography of Qur'anic Accounts: Eight Questions from Six Scholars of the Qur'an

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Translated by I. Rasuli
Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3

While reading the holy Qur'an we come across the names of certain nations, places and persons such as Dhul Qarnayn Dam, Ashab-e Kahf Cave, Dhat al-`Imad, etc. The question is that is it possible to locate these places in the present natural geography or they have gone under any changes? Can we take recourse to science and rely upon the scientific method in dealing with these Qur'anic names? 

Message of Thaqalayn : An Outline of Law from a Qur’anic Perspective

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Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi
Summarized and Paraphrased by Karim Aghili

This paper is an attempt to partially delineate the salient features of Islamic law from a Qur'anic perspective. It seeks to clarify that every human society necessitates that there exist a system of rules without which there can be no public order but chaos. It also shows that in Islam, there is no separation of religion from morals, worldly affairs and from politics. Islam is an all-embracing religion consisting of a set of laws and injunctions which are requisite for the establishment of an ideal society. Therefore, all the laws and injunctions which are of a practical character and which should be applied to human society can be subsumed under the general rubric 'law.' The paper continues by discussing the sources of Islamic law and its goals.

Message of Thaqalayn Ahl-al-Bayt Its Meaning and Origin

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Translated by M. Jalali 
Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3 
The term "ahl" signifies the members of a household of a man, including his fellow tribesmen, kin, relatives, wife (or wives), children, and all those who share a family background, religion, housing, city, and country with him. "Ahl" and "al" are both the same term with the exception that "al" is exclusively used for human beings and should come before the family name, but such a condition is not existent in the case of "ahl". 

The Qur'an and the Nature of Life

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Written by Martyr Murtada Mutahhari   
Here we intend to carry out a Qur'anic study of the problem of life to find out the specific viewpoint of the Qur'an about life. In particular, we intend to study the view that the Qur'an takes of the relation between life and the supranatural world and Divine will.


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Monotheism of Allah (Tawheed)
Monotheism is the essence of Islam. It is the affirmation of believing that there is no other divinity other than God. For the most part, the spirit of the Quran revolves around the theme of pure monotheism. Thus, God is the center of a Muslim's belief. Whereas other religions focus on individuals, for example, Christianity's focus on Jesus Christ, Islam focuses solely on God.
Islam is based on the Absolute (God), not His manifestations. The Quran itself speaks about the oneness of God, “Allah has borne witness that there is no god other than Him, and the angels, and those with knowledge also witness this. He is always standing firm on justice. There is no god but Him, the Mighty, the Wise.” (3:18)

Discovering Islam (What is Islam?) Chapter 1

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Islam[1] means “submitting or surrendering one's will to the will of God (Allah).”[2]
The human beings' innate disposition naturally submits to the reverence of God; this natural feeling was infused with him or her on the day of creation. In reality, the entire universe, through its ordered workings all submit to the will of God. Modern science calls these phenomena “the laws of nature,” but these laws of nature, from an Islamic perspective, are not just any set of laws, rather, they are the laws of God for nature. Human beings depend on, and are in need of God's sustenance and guidance throughout their entire lives; thus, the human being must yield his self-will and desires to the will of the Creator.

Discovering Islam

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Imam Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini
Imam Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini
Islamic Educational Center of Orange County
3194-B Airport Loop Drive
Costa Mesa, California 92626 U.S.A.
Copyright 2001 by Moustafa Al-Qazwini

Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty IV

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Message Of Hejab From A Muslim Woman

Hearken! O Woman! This jingle jangle is the clink of your chains!
What an old and rusty clink!
As if it has continued to ring for thousand of years of history till
this day. under the dominance of the systems devouring the blood of humanity,
Throughout the decadent society in which you live,

Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty III

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Imperialist Roots Of The Abolition Of Hejab 

"From Woman's Lap Man Ascends to the Skies". (Imam Khomeini [RA])
The Islamic Revolution of Iran, before being a political revolution for getting hold of the power, or an economic revolution dealing with the economic and class relationships, is a cultural revolution possessing a moral and spiritual value in the depth of the being of the individual and society as well as the heroes of the Muslim community of Iran. It is a gift of Allah's angels to the people which has been showered through the Imam of the Community from the hidden divine treasures to the land of the oppressed, and clean-washed the souls addicted to the hunger for power and position, the greed for amassing wealth, adoration for beauty,

Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty II

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Address by Sister Zahra Rahnavard at the Seminar for Studying Hejab. The Seminar for Studying Hejab was held on Sunday, 16th Dey 1364 (5th January 1986) at Farhang Hall. It was attended by some Members of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), experts and officials of the Educational Affairs Section, Sector 11, Department of Education, Tehran. At this Seminar Sister Zahra Rahnavard gave a speech on "Zeebaiye Hejab va Hejabe Zibayi" (Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty). In view of the unique views, beautiful approach and deep study of the problem, full text of the address is given below.

Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty I

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Sister Dr. Zahra Rahnavard

Translated into English by
Dr. Sayyid Ali Raza Naqvi

A Study in the Philosophy of Islamic Rites

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Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
Translated by Yasin T. Al-Jibouri 
Rites enjoy an important role in Islam. Their injunctions represent an important part of jurisprudence and a worshipping conduct which formulates a noticeable phenomenon in the daily life of the pious. 

'Ashura - Popular Distortions and our Responsibility

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Martyr Murtada Mutahhari
Translated from the Persian by 'Ali Quli Qara'i
Vol XIII No. 4 (Winter 1996)
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the Most Merciful. 
All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and the Maker of all creation, and may Peace and benedictions be upon His servant and messenger, His beloved and elect, our master, our prophet, and our sire, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his pure, immaculate, and infallible Progeny. 

'Ashura - History and Popular Legend III

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Martyr Murtada Mutahhari
Translated from the Persian by 'Ali Quli Qara'i
Vol XIII No. 3 (Fall 1996)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and the Maker of all creation, and may Peace and benedictions be upon His servant and messenger, His beloved and elect, our master, our prophet, and our sire, Abul Qasim Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his pure, immaculate, and infallible Progeny.

Ashura - History and Popular Legend II

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                                                     Martyr Murtada Mutahhari
Translated from the Persian by 'Ali Quli Qara'i
Vol XIII No. 3 (Fall 1996)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and the Maker of all creation, and may Peace and benedictions be upon His servant and messenger, His beloved and elect, our master, our prophet, and our sire, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his pure, immaculate, and infallible Progeny.

Ashura - History and Popular Legend

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Martyr Murtada Mutahhari
Translated from the Persian by 'Ali Quli Qara'i
Vol XIII No. 3 (Fall 1996)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and the Maker of all creation, and may Peace and benedictions be upon His servant and messenger, His beloved and elect, our master, our prophet, and our sire, Abul Qasim Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his pure, immaculate, and infallible Progeny.


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he long vision of the Gold Dinar is the full implementation of Mu'amalat according to the Amal of Madina al-Munawwara.  Fiat currencies are not our way.  They are part of banking, they originate from banking and we continue to use them as a result of the elimination of freedom represented by the crowning of capitalism in our constitutions through three main elements: Central Banks, National Debt and Legal Tender.

What is Khamr in Islam

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The drink prohibited in Islam is described as Khamr.  The word Khamr which is equivalent to the word liquor in English,

Fiqh by Yusuf Estes

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All praise due to Allah the Lord of the universe.  Worthy is He of all praise.
Praised Himself before He created the heavens and the earth.
As He said in the Quran in verse 1 of Surah Fatir
(Interpretation of the meaning is):


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About Fiqh

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Definitions and descriptions of Sharia (

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Sharia has been defined as
  • "Muslim or Islamic law, both civil and criminal justice as well as regulating individual conduct both personal and moral. The custom-based body of law based on the Quran and the religion of Islam. Because, by definition, Muslim states are theocracies, religious texts are law, the latter distinguished by Islam and Muslims in their application, as Sharia or Sharia law."[19]
  • "a discussion on the duties of Muslims," —Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb[20]
  • "a long, diverse, complicated intellectual tradition," rather than a "well-defined set of specific rules and regulations that can be easily applied to life situations," —Hunt Janin and Andre Kahlmeyer[21]
  • "a shared opinion of the [Islamic] community, based on a literature that is extensive, but not necessarily coherent or authorized by any single body," —Knut S. Vikor[22]
From the ninth century, the power to interpret and refine law in traditional Islamic societies was in the hands of the scholars (ulema). This separation of powers served to limit the range of actions available to the ruler, who could not easily decree or reinterpret law independently and expect the continued support of the community.[23] Through succeeding centuries and empires, the balance between the ulema and the rulers shifted and reformed, but the balance of power was never decisively changed.[24] At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution introduced an era of European world hegemony that included the domination of most of the lands of Islam.[25][26] At the end of the Second World War, the European powers found themselves too weakened to maintain their empires.[27] The wide variety of forms of government, systems of law, attitudes toward modernity and interpretations of Sharia are a result of the ensuing drives for independence and modernity in the Muslim world.[28][29]

The Etymology of Sharia (

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In The Spirit of Islamic Law, Professor Bernard G. Weiss states "In archaic Arabic, the term sharì'a means 'path to the water hole.' When we consider the importance of a well-trodden path to a source of water for man and beast in the arid desert environment, we can readily appreciate why this term in Muslim usage should have become a metaphor for a whole way of life ordained by God."[16]

In Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, Professor Irshad Abdal-Haqq states "Shar'iah, or more properly Al-Shari'ah, literally means the pathway, path to be followed, or clear way to be followed, and has come to mean the path upon which the believer has to tread. In original usage Shar'iah meant the road to the watering place or path leading to the water, i.e., the way to the source of life. The technical application of the term as a reference to the law of Islam is traced directly to the Qur'an, wherein the adherents of Islam, the believers, are admonished by Allah (God) to follow the clear and right way, the path of Shari'ah: Then we put thee on the (right) Way of religion so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not[Qur'an 45:18]."[17]

According to Abdul Mannan Omar in his Dictionary of the Holy Quran, the word at 45:18 (see Abdal-Haqq above) derives from the "Quranic root" shara'a. Derivations include: Shara'a (as prf. 3rd. p.m. sing.), meaning "He ordained", appearing once in the Qur'an at verse 45:13; Shara'u (prf. 3rd. p.m. plu.) "They decreed (a law)" appearing once at 42:21; Shir'atun (n.) "Spiritual law", used at 5:48; finally, Shariatun (act. 2nd. pic. f. sing.) "System of divine law, Way of belief and practice" is used at 45:18.[18]

Islamic Concept of God

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   In order to be a Muslim, that is, to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief, later called Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah, is not enough. Many of the idolators knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. But this was not enough to make them Muslims. To tawhid ar-rububiyyah, one must add tawhid al-'uluhiyyah. That is, one acknowledges the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing or being.

            Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce him to deny truth.

            When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states that result in certain actions. Taken together, these mental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophet said:“ Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds”.

            Foremost among those mental stated is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of ibada (worship).

            The feeling of gratitude is so important that a non-believer is called 'kafir', which means 'one who denies a truth' and also 'one who is ungrateful'.

            A believer loves, and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favors, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

            The Qur'an tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Qur'an:“ He is God; there is no god but He. He is the Knower of the unseen and the visible; He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. He is God; there is no god but He. He is the King, the All-Holy, the All-Peace, the Guardian of the Faith, the All-Preserver, the All-Mighty, the All-Compeller, the All-Sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the Almighty, the All-Wise” (59:22-24).

Stimulus for Spiritual Growth

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The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Patience is a surpassing light"
(Muslim (14), 1.203: 223), and some Sufis, such as the Malamatiyya or 'followers of the
path of blame,' have considered patience with psychic pain, particularly that of the derision,
censure, and scorn of others, a means of pruning away spiritual insincerity. The sheikhs of
this school, Hamdun of Nishapur and others, noticed that the heart pays an inordinate
amount of attention to what others think, and that love of others' regard is often a reason
for insincerity with Allah.

They found that breaking the ordinary habits of the mind, and
the resultant helplessness and dismay at being left without anyone or anything to helpexcept
God-was a means for opening up a door between the soul and the Divine. Mawlay al-
'Arabi al-Darqawi methodically used this to precipitate the realization in his disciples that
there was no recourse from Allah except to Him. When disciples took him as their sheikh,
he had them give away everything they owned and then go door-to-door begging,
particularly in neighborhoods where they were well known and would be certain to meet
with insult and humiliation. It was very effective in breaking egos, and Darqawi filled North
Africa with awliya and 'arifin. Ibn 'Ata Illah says, "Nothing pleads more for you than utter
need; nor is anything swifter in bringing divine gifts than humiliation and want" (Hikam
(8), 43: 129). I personally experienced something of the baraka of this when I moved to
Jordan in 1980. I had been working at sea fishing for some years, and was big and I thought
tough-until several years of chronic liver disease, never precisely identified, made me too
weak to walk much farther than fifty yards without exhaustion.

Few things ever benefited
me more than this dark and distressing period, from which I finally realized that Allah
alone was in control, and that "truly man has been created weak" (Qur'an 4:28). Abul
Hasan al-Shadhili experienced this so often in his own path that he said, "By Allah, I have not seen triumph except in humiliation." Clearly in the mystic way, the dark night of the
soul often precedes the dawn of illumination. Suffering is just part of the story.


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Theodicy fails not only because of the humanistic fallacy of making an infinite Divine
analogous to the limitarily human, but also because its crucial premise "Someone just and
good would not allow suffering and evil if he could prevent them," is contradicted by many
examples of Allah's wisdom, justice, and goodness in creation that entail suffering and evil,
of which the following are only those most plain after a little reflection.

The Next World
The value of one over infinity approaches zero. So too, the time one spends in this world
pales to insignificance before eternity, where, in the next world, each of us will realize that
in this one, "you bode but little" (Qur'an 23:113). Allah has placed the story of each
particular human being, the creative theophany of the Rahman or Most Merciful, in the
larger context of forever, the special theophany of the Rahim or All-compassionate to those
who were His true servants in this world. The eternity of the afterlife furnishes the true
measure and context of the transitory sufferings of this life, which are ephemeral in

Rumi alludes to this "global answer" to suffering in his parable of the sapling in the
midst of the leafless winter, shivering and muttering to itself about the misery of the biting
wind and cold, unable to think why God should do such a thing to it. The answer finally
comes in the form of the warm and verdant springtime. In the trajectory of a believer's life
and afterlife, when springtime comes it lasts forever.

The Gulf Between the Here and the Hereafter
The significance of joys and sufferings in this world will dwindle to nothing before the next
not only quantitatively, because of its eternity, but qualitatively because of its nature. The
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
The person who had the most pleasing life in this world, of any of the people of hell, will be
summoned on Resurrection Day and utterly plunged into the hellfire, then asked, "O human
being, have you ever beheld any good at all; have you ever felt a single joy?" and he will say,
"No by God, my Lord." And the most miserable sufferer in this world, of any of the people of
paradise, will be summoned and utterly plunged into paradise, then asked, "O human being,
have you ever seen any bad at all; have you ever experienced a single misery?" and he will say,"No by God, my Lord: I have never seen any bad or suffered a single misery" (Muslim(14),
4.2162: 2807. S).

They are not lying, but what their testimony means is that nothing in this world can even be
called "joy" or "misery" compared with the next.

Joy and Suffering as Signs
Obversely, the joys and sufferings of this world, if they pale in the face of eternity, are
tremendously evocative in human hearts of the realities of paradise and hell. Abu 'Ali al-
Rudhabari used to say, "What He has made manifest of His blessings indicates what He yet
conceals of His generosity." The experience of those with ma'rifa in this world is but a
foretaste of the incommensurability of the beatific vision of God in the next. For its part,
disease is a harrowing ordeal, especially psychologically, since most of us tend to identify
closely with our bodies. Yet through its pain and travail we come to understand how little
we could bear endless suffering, teaching us to implore Allah to spare us from the hellfire,
thus serving as a means of our deliverance. As Ibn 'Ata Illah has said, "Whenever He
loosens your tongue with a petition, know that He wants to give to you" (Hikam (8), 37:

Central to worship is supplicating the Worshipped. "Say, 'My Lord would not even concern
Himself with you were it not for your supplication'" (Qur'an 25:77). Unlike friends,
relatives, and virtually everyone else, Allah loves to be asked and dislikes not to be. The
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Truly, supplication is what worship is,"
then he recited, "And your Lord says, 'Call on Me and I will answer you: Verily those too
haughty to worship Me shall inevitably enter hell, utterly humiliated'" [40:60] (Ahmad (9),
4.271: 18.386. S). Moreover, as Poor Richard said, "Danger is sauce for prayers": if not for
the problems, fears, inadequacies, and pain man faces, he would remain turned away from
the door of the Divine generosity, and miss an enormous share of worship that benefits him
in this world and the next.

Triumph over Suffering
Though well able to do so, Allah did not create all mankind in paradise to begin with, but
rather willed to consummate their perfect and endless bliss with the knowledge that by His
grace, they have triumphed over all suffering, limitation, and evil for all time. "Allah
solemnly promises believers, men and women, luxuriant groves of paradise beneath which
rivers flow, abiding therein; and surpassing fine dwellings in lush groves of Eden: And the
merest of the supreme pleasure of Allah is far yet greater. That is the mighty triumph"
(Qur'an 9:72). He could have created all souls on a beach as clams, contentedly filterfeeding
from an endless peaceful sea. But to do so would be without any challenge,
suffering, purification, or struggle, or any of the other realities that befit the distinctive
humanness which Allah has made our special endowment.

Much of the suffering and evil in this world comes of man's inhumanity to man, which
Allah does not accept, but punishes, sometimes in this world and sometimes in the next.
Man has no excuse for this, having been sent messengers teaching us decency and
goodness. But man's gift of being able to decide and choose for himself how he may treat
his fellow man, for good or for evil, is his freedom, a perfection which Allah in His wisdom
has bestowed on each of us.

The Exaltedness of Human Choice
Allah has raised the stakes of human existence at once to the highest possible worth and the
direst possible peril by the fact of Judgement Day, with its eternal consequences. Though
man's life and works are finite, their consequences are infinite because man's
determination, once he has made up his mind, is how he intends to act forever if he is able.
The hardened atheist who dismisses God as a mindless superstition does not intend to ever
believe and change, so when he dies, he is requited in the measure of his intention, forever,
out of Allah's justice. The believer who loves Allah and acts accordingly does not intend to
ever change, so when he dies, he too is requited in the measure of his intention, forever, out
of Allah's mercy.

Eternal hellfire is a harrowing chastisement; but forewarned is forearmed, and after
revelation, it is only what its denizens have chosen for themselves: "Read your record: your
own self suffices today as a reckoner against you" (Qur'an 17:14). The existential threat of a
fire has stopped many an iniquitous wrong in this world from being inflicted upon others,
though I have never heard of an intellectual discussion of ethics that did. Hell is a peril, but
one that is a mercy for whoever makes sensible choices. Like the endless happiness of
paradise, its effect is to exalt the worth of every moment of human life in this abode, out of
Allah's wisdom.

Fear and Hope
Abu 'Ali al-Rudhabari said, "The most beneficial of certitude is that which exalts the Real in
your eyes, makes everything beside Him dwindle in them, and instills fear and hope in your
heart." Sheikh 'Abd al-Wakil used to say that fear and hope were the two wings of the
believer, without which he could not ascend. Both evoke supplication, and Allah loves to be
asked. Fear and hope, moreover, are obligatory. Imam Taqi al-Din al-Subki says:
The spiritual station (maqam) of every man is commensurate with his hal (state), and his hal
with his knowledge of the Divine (ma'rifa). People vary immensely in this, no one being more
perfect therein than the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), while people after him
are each according to their own station, some possessed of much, some of little. Fear is
obligatory: Allah Most High says, "Fear you Me, if you be true believers" [Qur'an 3:175], and
He Most High says, "So let none of you fear men, but fear you Me" [5:44]. And hope is
obligatory, because it is the opposite of despair, and despair is haram: Allah Most High says,
"Verily none despairs of the relief sent by Allah but people of the unbelievers" [12:87], and
He Most High says, "And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord but those utterly lost?
[15:56]" (Fatawa al-Subki (18), 2.556).

In the Sufi path, fear and hope must be realized by the traveller from the first. The
possibilities of both suffering and liberation therefrom are integral to the ascending stages
of the dhikr, in which fear (khawf) and hope (raja) are transmuted first, respectively, into
awe (hayba) and intimate love (uns), then rigor (jalal) and beauty (jamal), and then
extinction and finally subsistence in the Majestic (al-Jalil) and the Beauteous (al-Jamil)
Himself. Fear and hope, in these successive stages, remain the two wings of the traveller,
for those most in love with the Beloved remain the most fearful of offending Him and being
expelled from His presence. As Abu Madyan said, "Presence with Him is paradise, and
absence from Him is hell." The possibility of punishment and suffering remains a spur on
the way of spiritual attainment, even at its highest degrees, until the traveller has both feet
in paradise, and can see for himself the triumph of the transformations Allah has thereby
wrought in him.

Punishment for Sin
Much of the suffering man experiences is requital for disobedience. Allah says, "Whatever
misfortune befalls you is for what your very hands have earned, and He pardons much"
(Qur'an 42:30)-which is the general rule, to which some of the headings discussed above
and below contain exceptions. Scholars affirm that every ruling of Sacred Law has been
revealed for our benefit, not Allah's. The effects of right and wrong are far more crucial in
the next world, but as the above verse makes plain, they are also at least sometimes
punished in this. For those Allah loves, the punishment turns them back to the path of
tawfiq and obedience. For those with whom Allah is wroth, disobedience is punished by
their committing other acts of disobedience. As the early mystic Muzayyin said, "One sin
following another is punishment for the first, and one good deed after another is reward for
the first."

A sin that often brings unlooked-for misfortune in this world is revealing sins to others.
Allah has commanded us to conceal all sins, except when that would lead to someone being
harmed. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said, "Whoever conceals the
faults of a Muslim, Allah shall conceal his faults in this world and the next" (Muslim (14),
4.2074: 2699. S). This includes one's own. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace) said: "All of my Umma shall be forgiven, except those who commit iniquities openly.
Verily, open indecency includes a man committing an act by night, and then in the morning
when Allah has concealed what he did, saying, "O So-and-so, last night I did such and
such." He passed the night, his Lord having concealed what he did, and morning came, and
he pulled aside the veil of Allah" (Bukhari (2), 8.24: 6069. S). In Islam, to mention a sin is
itself a sin. How many a person has been unable to resist telling a friend or a spouse of the
wickedness they did in their previous life, and Allah punished them with disgust and
contempt in the other's heart that could never quite be forgotten! There is no baraka in the

There are other sins palpably punished in this world before the next, such as pride, illtreatment
of parents, or oppressing others. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace) said, "Beware the prayer of the wronged, for there is no veil between it and Allah"
(Bukhari (2), 3.169-70: 2448. S). Negligence too of our stewardship of the natural order is
punished by a world in which we cannot eat, drink, or breathe without imbibing our own
befoulment. "Corruption has appeared on land and sea through what people's hands have
earned, to let them taste something of what they have done, that haply they may repent"
(Qur'an 30:41).

The Example of the Patient
The innocent are sometimes tried with suffering in order to manifest their spiritual rank or
inspire others by their example. The prophets, for example (upon whom be blessings and
peace), were exemplars to mankind, and their suffering was greater than anyone else's-not
to punish or purify them, for they were already without blemish, but in order to teach
mankind patience and fortitude. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was
asked, "Who amongst mankind is greatest in affliction?" and he replied: "The prophets,
then those most like them, then those next most like them. A man is tried in the measure of
his religion: if his religion is firm, his trial is great; while if there is flimsiness in his religion,
he is tried according to his religion. Tribulation remains with the servant until it leaves him
walking on the earth without a single error" (Tirmidhi (19), 4.601-2: 2398. S). Yet this is
probably an elucidation of the exception, which is tribulation in the lives of the righteous,
rather than the general case, which is their being preserved from it-for it is a sunna to ask
Allah to be free of affliction. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told Abu
Bakr, "Ask Allah for well-being (mu'afah), for no one was ever given anything, after
certitude, that was better than well-being" (Ahmad (9), 1.3: 5. S).

a ‘Sect’ in Islamic Thought

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As a preliminary, it must be highlighted that in the use of this term, ‘sect’1, lies a potential
cross-cultural communication problem with significant consequences in the academic and
the political world. It is common for academics and journalists commenting on the Muslim
world to use such terms with the same import as they have in a European or American context.
I shall not compare definitions because for the purposes of this paper how the Western
experience is defined is irrelevant. Instead, I will state what comprises a sect within Islamic

One important science in Islamic is aqida, that is, the statement of belief, or the creed. At
its simplest, this is the shahadah, the statement of witness that there is only one God and
Muhammad is His Messenger (pbuH). The aqida outlines in more detail the elements of the
seen and unseen that Muslims believe in, and is derived from the Qur’an in a quite straightforward
manner. A sect arises because the aqida of a group differs from that of the majority,
either by addition or subtraction. In the history of Islam, Muslims have generally concurred
that there are two sects in Islam, the majority Sunni and the minority Shi’a. It is safe to say
that most Muslims feel that this division is regrettable but few would go so far as to say
those in the other sect are not Muslims, since Sunni and Shi’a are united by the shahadah
and, contrary to current belief in the western media, have lived side by side in peace for
centuries. Also, Shi’a Muslims receive permits to visit the holy sites of Islam on the Arabian

Within Sunni Islam, there are then four main madhabs. This word is translated in different
ways, sometimes as ‘schools of thought’, or as ‘schools of law’. These are not sects; there
is mutual recognition between them. They are traditions which interpret the application of
Islamic law to all aspects of life, and while it is necessary to choose one madhab to follow,
it is legal and morally acceptable to follow a particular ruling from a different madhab under
certain conditions.

The important thing to note is that the division of the Muslim community into sects or sectarian
groupings is anathema to canonical Islam. There are warnings against this in the sayings of
the Messenger of God (pbuH), and he (pbuH) welcomed differences of opinion in the umma
as ‘a mercy’. Consequently, Islamic culture is very varied and has made a great contribution
to world legal culture (Sykiainen 2007). For these reasons, Muslims avoid breaking off from
the main body of Islam into sectarian groupings and are well able to avoid breaking off.
Thus, asking if the Gülen Movement is a sect, means asking if it is enacting a new or deviant
form of Islam. If this is not so, it is interesting to ask why the accusation is used, who makes
it and what is their purpose.

The Basic Concepts in Islam

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The word Islam is derived from the triliteral root SLM, which means "submission" or "peace," in this case, something to the effect of "the peace that comes through submission to God." A Muslim, therefore, is "one who submits." Semitic language patterns (Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew) are interrelated and very similar to one another: the Hebrew Shalom ("peace"), for example, is derived from the same triliteral root (iSLaM, muSLiM, SaLaM, ShaLoM).

The central human/historical figure of Islam is the prophet Muhammad (570-632 CE). According to tradition, in 610 CE Muhammad heard a voice that called upon him "to recite." "What shall I recite?" he asked. The answer came in the form of revelations and visions from God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel over the next twenty-plus years, beginning in Mecca, in what we know today as Saudi Arabia. For twelve years Muhammad preached Allah's message in Mecca; but because of the increasingly hostile reaction to his message, Muhammad was forced to flee to Medina (Yathrib) in 622 CE. In Medina, Muhammad connected with a community that was enveloped in divisive tribal controversy, and therefore requested his unifying leadership.  As this was the pivotal time in the history of Islam, the Muslim calendar regards the year 622 CE as the year 1 (the year of Hijrah, or "migration"). There in Medina, he developed and nurtured a large following and an army that, after eight years of struggle for the very soul of Arabia, defeated his opponents at Mecca. Upon his victorious return to Mecca in 630 CE, Muhammad purified the holy Kaaba (discussed below) by destroying its idols, condemning its polytheistic practices, and re-consecrating it to Allah, the one and only God. As the Islamic Confession goes, "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." It is therefore both inaccurate and irreverent to refer to Islam as "Muhammadanism," as Westerners have traditionally done, for this places the emphasis on Muhammad, and not on God. As a prophet, Muhammad is but the channel or the vehicle for the revelations of Allah. With virtually all of Arabia under his control, Muhammad returned to Medina where he died in 632 CE.

What was this message that Allah revealed to Muhammad? Tradition holds that Muhammad was the human instrument through which Allah recited (through Gabriel) and created the basic scriptural text of Islam: the Qur'an. Qur'an (sometimes spelled Koran) means "recitation," in reference to (a) the divine recitation to Muhammad; (b) the divine call for Muhammad to recite or proclaim this message to the world; and (c) the belief that the Qur'an is best expressing its divine reality when it is recited or read aloud. The Qur'an is sometimes referred to as "the final revelation;" it does not deny the existence and importance of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Gospels. But, says the Qur'an, their development through long periods of oral tradition, multiple translations and multiple sources has corrupted them so that they are incomplete in form and content. The Qur'an also differs from the Judeo-Christian texts in that its format is not narrative (i.e., history and story), but declarative (i.e., instructive pronouncements from God).
Fundamental to Islamic doctrine and practice are "The Five Pillars." These constitute the five basic responsibilities of every devout Muslim. They are as follows:
  • Confession (Shahada): "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his final prophet" (the final, not the only).
  • Prayer (Salat): five times per day, facing the city of Mecca (early morning, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, bedtime).
  • Charity (Zakat): a systemic annual assessment of 1/40 (2.5%) of one's material assets for the benefit of the poor. Some sources place the amount at somewhere between 2.5% and 10%.
  • Fasting (Sawm/Sayam): during the month of Ramadan,* from sunrise to sunset; in addition to abstinence from food, drink and sexual relations, this also implies a "fasting" from harsh thoughts, practices, attitudes, etc.
  • Pilgrimage (Hajj): at least once in one's lifetime (if it is economically feasible), the trip to the Great Mosque at Mecca, during the month of Dhu al-Hijah (approximately two months after Ramadan).
*Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, commemorates Muhammad's initial revelation from Allah.
There are two fundamental sects of Islam (details concerning the origin and nature of these sects will be explained further in class):
  • Sunni ("the community of consensus"): representing the majority in Islam, the Sunnis comprise about eighty percent of all Muslims.
  • Shi'a ("partisan"): the more conservative minority in Islam (approx. twenty percent), Shi'ites claim a descendency in spiritual leadership that goes back to Ali, the cousin/son-in-law of Muhammad. This sect is prominent primarily in Iran, with minorities in the nations of Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, to name a few.
Islam is often criticized in regard to its perceived treatment of women. Such practices as veiling, seclusion, etc. are oftentimes more cultural than religious in origin. Where they are Qur'anic in origin, such practices are intended as respectful protection from danger, sexual objectification, etc., and not as imposed isolation from the outside world. Women are afforded the same fundamental rights as men (to divorce, to own property, etc.).  A Muslim man may have up to four wives, but the Qur'an states that he must be able to provide equal care and support for all of them.  This practice stems initially from the early days of Islamic culture and expansion, when it became apparent that the widows of Muslim men who had died in battle, etc. needed to be cared for and protected so that they would not become destitute.  To the oft-heard Western critique of polygyny as an "immoral practice," the Muslim has been known to point out simply that what he does simultaneously, the "Westerner" tends to do successively (referring to the West's rather deplorable rate of marriage-divorce-remarriage-redivorce, etc.).  Most married Muslim men, however, do have only one wife.

The concept of Jihad (literally, "striving" or "struggle," but often employed in the political context of "holy war"): the return of good for evil when circumstances warrant does not mean that one should passively allow evil and wrongdoing to take place. A holy war is a righteous war, intended as either defensive or to right a wrong. While one might perceive Islam as a religion that was spread by the sword, it should be remembered that idolatry against and infidelity to God are seen as enemies against whom one must defend him/herself. Westerners should likewise remember how deeply their assumptions are shaped by their Western and/or European heritage. Since the Middle Ages, Islam has been portrayed in literature and history as an ultimate evil that threatened the very life and breath of Christendom. Therefore, from a historical perspective, at least some of Islam's reputation for violence must be seen in light of, or as a response to, European Christendom's often excessive violence against them.

But the most important and immediate jihad, Muslims say, (and more in keeping to its true meaning) is the one that takes place daily within the heart of the individual self in striving to be a a faithful Muslim.  This is in fact called the "Greater Jihad," while that of the overt, political nature is referred to as the "Lesser Jihad."

The Muslim place of worship is called a mosque (from masjid, "a place for prostration/bowing down").  Traditionally domed in the center, its most impressive characteristic is space. While there may be a pulpit-like structure from which a sermon may be delivered during Friday prayer, the only other physical characteristic is the mihrab, a niche-like indentation in the wall, called the Qibla wall, that indicates the direction of the holy city of Mecca. It is like a compass point for prayer. As the prayer leader faces this indentation, along with the rest of the worshippers, it also serves a practical function as a kind of "resonator" that helps to project his voice to the group behind him.  Outside of a mosque is often a minaret, or a high tower from the top of which a muezzin ("announcer" or "caller") traditionally calls Muslims to prayer.

Central to Islamic worship and consciousness is the Kaaba, a large stone structure located within the confines of the Great Mosque in Mecca. Kaaba means "cube," as this is its overall shape. Its dimensions are 40' long x 35' wide x 50' high. Its origin and traditions predate Islamic history. The Kaaba is said to have been built and rebuilt ten times, first by angels and finally by 7th century Muslim leaders. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the Kaaba was a temple of sorts that housed the images of several gods or jinns, i.e., local village and/or nature spirits, among which Allah was included, probably as a primary local deity of a Meccan tribe known as the Quraish. Regarded as the traditional descendants of Abraham and Ishmael (Isaac is recognized as the source of the Hebraic line; see Genesis 16.1-15; 21.1-21), the Quraish appointed the priests and guardians of the Kaaba. Muhammad was a descendent of this tribe. It was likely, therefore, that Muhammad was making waves and challenging his own tribal traditions when he began to proclaim the monotheistic doctrines that led to his expulsion from Mecca.

At the lower southeast corner of the Kaaba at a height of about five feet is "The Black Stone." As Muslim worshippers circumambulate the Kaaba, they will touch and/or kiss the Black Stone. Likely a portion of an ancient meteorite, it is revered as a symbol of that line of Abraham's progeny (Ishmael) that was rejected by Israel. To support this belief, Muslims will offer a compelling interpretation of Psalm 118.22-23 in the Hebrew scriptures: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this is the LORD'S doing. . ." (the traditional Jewish interpretation of this is that the "stone" is a reference to Israel herself, while the traditional Christian perspective is that it is a messianic reference to Jesus).

When Muhammad returned victorious to Mecca in 630 CE, he destroyed the idols in the Kaaba, proclaiming Allah as the one God. He sanctioned the kissing of the Black Stone, declared Mecca the Holy City of Islam, and decreed that no unbeliever should ever be allowed to set foot on its soil. Hence, only Muslims are allowed at the Great Mosque of Mecca during the pilgrimage of the month of Dhu al-Hijah.


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Modernity, tradition and Primordial Tradition

Rejecting the idea of progress and the enlightenment paradigm, Perennialist authors describe modern civilization as a pseudo and decadent civilization, which manifests the lowest possibilities of the Kali Yuga (the Dark Age of the Hindu cosmology). To the “modern error,” the Perennialists oppose an everlasting wisdom of divine origin, “a Primordial Tradition”, transmitted from the very origin of humanity and partially restored by each genuine founder of a new religion.

Perennialists have a very specific definition of “Tradition.” Tradition implies the idea of a transmission (tradere), but for Guénon and his followers, tradition does not have a human origin and may be considered as principles revealed from Heaven and binding man to his divine origin. Beyond the diversity of religious forms, they discern a single Tradition (with a capital letter), what Schuon called a “transcendent unity”. They claim that the historically separated traditions share not only the same divine origin but are based on the same metaphysical principles, sometimes called philosophia perennis.

So far as can be discovered, the term “philosophia perennis” is modern, first appearing in the Renaissance. Though the term “philosophia perennis” is widely associated with the philosopher Leibniz who himself owes it from the sixteenth century theologian Augustinus Steuchius. But the ideal of such a philosophy is much older and one could easily recognize it in the Golden Chain (seira) of Neoplatonism, in the Patristic Lex primordialis, in the Islamic Din al-Fitra or even in the Hindu Sanathana Dharma.

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