- the FAITH, obedience and practice of the followers of MUHAMMAD believed by them to be the final and perfected RELIGION revealed by GOD. When the word is written "islam" it denotes surrender to God, but when written "Islam" it denotes the religion established by Muhammad in the seventh century A.D. Fundamentally it means submitting oneself to God and renouncing any other object of WORSHIP. It is sometimes said that the word "islam" means peace, but this does not seem correct linguistically. The first MIRACLE of Islam is the poetry of its HOLY BOOK--the QUR'N. The second miracle is the early conquests of Muslim armies. During Muhammad's lifetime his followers were confined to Arabia. After his death, Syria was quickly conquered, Damascus being taken in 635 and Jerusalem in 636, Mada'in the Persian capital fell in 637. Within a century Muslim armies reached the borders of China and spread Westward to conquer North Africa. In 711 Spain was invaded and the Muslims were defeated at Tours, France in 732this battle ended Islam's first major thrust into Europe. Today there are over 200,000,000 Muslims in the world. Islam is a MONOTHEISTIC religion based on the CREED "There is no God but God and Muhammad is His PROPHET." ABRAHAM, MOSES and JESUS and other Biblical figures are also recognized as Prophets but their REVELATIONS are said to have been distorted by their followers. Muhammad was the last of the prophets to whom God revealed His Holy Word the QUR'N. The test of ORTHODOXY in Islam is not assent to a BELIEF, but attendance at WORSHIP. Muslims are expected to observe five basic religious duties involvingweekly communal worship; daily devotions; fasting during the month of Ramadan; the payment of religious tax; and pilgrimage to MECCA at least once in their lifetime. To these duties JIHD--religious war--or the defence of Islam by military force, is also added. The duties are not inflexible but may be modified according to circumstances and in theory at least, depend upon the individual's conscience for their performance. In addition to this, Islam makes no distinction between religious and civil law, the secular and the sacred, Church and State. As a result the whole of life is governed by religious law which is ultimately based upon the QUR'N. The interpretation of law is therefore one of the great concerns of Islam about which scholars argue it is also one of the major issues today when Islamic societies face MODERNITY and the challenge of SECULARISM. Islamic APOLOGISTS argue that the women in Islam have always been able to own property and have enjoyed a much higher status than women in the West. This claim appears true, in terms of the formal documents, but is highly questionable in terms of actual practice which tends to make women subordinate to their nearest male relative.
Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.
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