Where Is Islam Most Influential Today? (Solution found)

Around 62% of the world’s Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region (from Turkey to Indonesia), with over one billion adherents. The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a country home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.1%), India (10.9%) and Bangladesh (9.2%).

  • Where is Islam most influential today? Muslims are the overwhelming majority in Central Asia, the majority in the Caucasus and widespread in Southeast Asia. India is the country with the largest Muslim population outside Muslim-majority countries. Sizeable Muslim communities are also found in the Americas, China, Europe, and North Asia.

Where is Islam most popular?

The most populous Muslim countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The number of Muslims in Indonesia alone (175 million) exceeds the combined total in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, the traditional heartlands of Islam.

Where is Islam found in the world today?

A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

How has Islam impacted the world today?

Islam quickly spread throughout the Arab Peninsula into the Middle East and across North Africa. Likewise, Islam spread peace, unity, equality, and increased literacy rates. Islam directly influenced society and altered the course of development in history and in today ‘s contemporary world.

What country influenced Islam?

Early Islamic architecture was influenced by Roman, Byzantine, Persian and all other lands which the Muslims conquered in the 7th and 8th centuries. Further east, it was also influenced by Chinese and Indian architecture as Islam spread to the Southeast Asia.

How many Muslims are in the World 2021?

Earth is home to more than 1.9 billion Muslims. Islam is also the world’s fastest-growing religion. The Islamic population is mainly split between 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims and 240-340 million Shia Muslims, with the remainder scattered among a few smaller denominations.

Who wrote the Quran?

The Prophet Muhammad disseminated the Koran in a piecemeal and gradual manner from AD610 to 632, the year in which he passed away. The evidence indicates that he recited the text and scribes wrote down what they heard.

Who is the founder of Islam?

The rise of Islam is intrinsically linked with the Prophet Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be the last in a long line of prophets that includes Moses and Jesus.

How has Islam contributed society?

How Islam has contributed to the culture of the world over time in, e.g. foods, science, mathematics, astronomy, hygiene, medicine, art, technology, commerce, literature, gardening, welfare systems. Religion affects not just the spiritual lives of believers but also the social, cultural, moral and practical.

Has the Quran changed over time?

Orthodox Muslims insist that no changes have occurred to the Koran since the Uthmanic recension. But this view is challenged by the Sa’na manuscripts, which date from shortly after the Uthmanic recension. “There are dialectal and phonetical variations that don’t make any sense in the text”, says Puin.

What Islamic day is today 2021?

Eid al-Fitr date in 2021 falls on 13 May 2021 or 1 Shawwal 1442 AH at the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan or Ramzan.

What did Islam bring to the world?

Muslims were great explorers, travellers and merchants. Not only did Muslims bring back valuable silks and spices and other precious goods, they also acquired scientific and technical knowledge which they later made accessible to Europe.

Is culture important in Islam?

There are certain areas of overlap: A people’s religion influences their culture, and culture influences how they practice their religion. But in Islam there is a clear distinction between the two. For many Muslims, as with people of other faiths, their cultures play a strong role in their lives.

Does Islam promote religious tolerance?

Islam is a religion of universalism, tolerance, peace, and reconciliation. Islam teaches that life is sacred and that the believer has a duty to uphold truth and justice.

PBS – Islam: Empire of Faith – Faith

Islam, followedby more than a billion people today, is the world’s fastest growing religionand will soon be the world’s largest. The 1.2 billion Muslims make upapproximately one quarter of the world’s population, and the Muslim populationof the United States now outnumbers that of Episcopalians. The most populousMuslim countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The numberof Muslims in Indonesia alone (175 million) exceeds the combined totalin Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, the traditional heartlandsof Islam. There are also substantial Muslim populations in Europe andNorth America, whether converts or immigrants who began arriving in largenumbers in the 1950s and 1960s. In keeping with tradition, the two mainbranches of Islam today are Sunniand Shiite.Beginning in the1970s and 1980s Islam remerged as a potent political force, associatedwith both reform and revolution. Given the large number of adherents,it is no surprise that Muslims incorporate a broad and diverse spectrumof positions in regard to liberalism and democracy. Some are secularistswho want to disengage religion from politics. Others are reformers, whoreinterpret Islamic traditions in support of elective forms of government.Still there are others who reject democracy entirely.

World Muslim population more widespread than you might think

“>The latest executive order issued by President Donald Trump According to estimates from a 2015 Pew Research Center report on the current and projected sizes of religious groups, temporarily freezing immigration from seven predominantly Islamic countries would have a minimal impact on the world’s Muslims, accounting for only about 12 percent of the world’s Muslims. In reality, no one of the seven nations included in the new immigration ban — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – is among the top ten countries with the greatest Muslim populations.

1.6 billion Muslims lived in the globe in 2010, according to estimates, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition behind Christianity in terms of population.

In reality, India and Pakistan have a combined Muslim population of 344 million people, which is higher than the whole Middle East-North Africa area (317 million).

Muslims constitute a majority of the population in 49 nations throughout the world, according to the United Nations.

India boasts the world’s second-largest Muslim population in terms of raw numbers (about 176 million people), despite the fact that Muslims account for just 14.4 percent of the country’s overall population.

Try our email course on Muslims and Islam

Every other day, four brief courses will be given to your mailbox to help you learn more about Muslims and Islam. Sign up right away! Counting Muslims and other religious groups around the world is accomplished through a variety of surveys, census reports, population registers, and other data sources. The goal is to count all groups and individuals who self-identify with a particular religion, which is accomplished through a variety of data sources. The information supplied here is current as of 2010.

  • The proportion of Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise from 15.5 percent in 2010 to 24.3 percent by 2050.
  • Asia will continue to host the vast majority of Muslims, but with a reduced percentage of the total (52.8 percent ).
  • North America is home to about 0.2 percent of the world’s Muslim population.
  • This is an updated version of a post that was first published on June 7, 2013.

According to new projections, the Muslim population in the United States is continuing to expand. David Masci was a former senior writer/editor at the Pew Research Center who specialized on religion.

25 Influential American Muslims

Who is the voice of Muslims in the United States? In a nutshell, there isn’t anyone. There is no single individual or organisation that can claim to speak for the almost 3.5 million Muslims in this nation, a varied and dynamic community that is predicted to double in size by 2050. Instead, we witness zones of impact that occasionally connect and overlap with one another. On CNN, more than 100 American Muslims were interviewed over the course of a year to find out who they considered to be the most important Muslims in their industries.

Only a handful of the nominees were unable to participate due to personal reasons, but the great majority were eager to take part.

Their backgrounds range from comedians to legislators, campaigners to Olympians, fashionistas to political warriors, converts to Christianity to believers from their earliest childhoods.

Together, they form one of the world’s most diverse and forward-thinking Muslim groups – and they all have extraordinary stories to tell about their experiences.


He was awarded the prestigious ‘genius grant.’ She came up with the idea of a Muslim superhero. She represents models who are modest in their appearance.


He established a Muslim educational institution. He altered the way in which we learn Islam. She is a Muslim chaplain trainer. He doesn’t want to betray his religious beliefs. ‘Muslim Cool’ was defined by her.


He is the first Muslim to serve in the United States Congress. She was the driving force behind the Women’s March. He is in charge of US intelligence. She is opposing President Donald Trump’s travel restriction. She managed to flee the battle zone and then run for office.


His calling was inspired by the suffering of a young child. She is a pioneer in advancing women’s rights. On Capitol Hill, he was apprehended. She erected a mosque specifically for women.

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Her TED lecture was viewed by millions of people. He’s a little cynical when it comes to religion. WTF is the question posed by this youngster. He accepts and celebrates his’messy identity.’ We’d love to hear your thoughts on this initiative, as well as any prominent Muslims you’d like to put on your list of influential Muslims. Please contact us by email at [email protected]


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See the complete list of 25 important American Muslims.

How the world’s biggest Islamic organization drives religious reform in Indonesia – and seeks to influence the Muslim world

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has re-imposed their Islamic ideology through limitations on women’s rights and other restrictive policies following their re-accession to power in late 2014. These individuals are portraying to the world an Islam that is bigoted and in opposition to societal development. Islam, on the other hand, has many different interpretations. According to a group that I have researched, Nahdlatul Ulama, which literally translates as “Reawakening of the Islamic Scholars,” emphasizes a humanitarian view of Islam that focuses on “rahmah,” which may be loosely translated as love and compassion.

However, it adheres to mainstream Sunni Islam while also embracing Islamic mysticism and acknowledging Indonesia’s cultural and historical heritage.

Despite the fact that the group has a membership that much exceeds that of the Taliban, this face of Islam is not properly acknowledged on the international scene.

Since then, it has developed a more detailed version of this reform, which it refers to as “Humanitarian Islam.”

Humanitarian Islam

Since 2006, Yahya Cholil Staquf, the organization’s general secretary, has convened multiple gatherings of the organization’s Islamic academics to discuss reformist issues. Some of the most contentious problems, such as political leadership, equal citizenship, and contacts with non-Muslims, were addressed in public statements in support of changing Islamic philosophy. The Nahdlatul Ulama pronouncements contain important rulings that distinguish “Humanitarian Islam” from other views of the religion of Islam.

  • It has been acknowledged by both mainstream Islamic scholars, such as those at Al-Azhar – Egypt’s world-renowned Islamic institution – and extreme groups, such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, as well as radical groups such as the Taliban.
  • Furthermore, by refusing to create a difference between Muslims and non-Muslims as legal categories, these statements emphasize the necessity of equal citizenship in a democratic society.
  • The Nahdlatul Ulama has taken concrete measures toward achieving these objectives.
  • From the perspective of a Western liberal, these NU pronouncements may appear insufficient because they do not address some topics such as LGBTQ rights.

An understanding of the Indonesian context is necessary in order to properly comprehend the significance of NU’s position as well as its limitations.

Indonesia’s tolerant Islam

Yahya Cholil Staquf is the general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, an Islamic organization. My research on 50 Muslim-majority nations reveals that Indonesia stands out since it is one of the few democracies among them, according to the findings of my study. Known as Pancasila, Indonesia’s founding creed relates to the belief in God, humanitarianism, Indonesian national unity, democracy and social justice, all of which are encapsulated in the phrase “five principles.” Indonesia has a population of 270 million people, with Muslims constituting around 88 percent of the population.

Muhammadiyah, like NU, has tens of millions of members, and the two organizations frequently collaborate in the fight against extreme Islamist organizations.

Indonesia’s first democratically elected president, Abdurrahman Wahid, was elected under this procedure in 1999.

Wahid, who passed away in 2009, also left behind a religious legacy.

Indonesia’s intolerant Islam

Not all Islamic beliefs and practices in Indonesia are tolerant of differences in thought and practice. Those who sell or consume alcohol in the country’s Aceh region have been subjected to caning in accordance with Islamic criminal law, which is a kind of capital punishment. Indonesia’s blasphemy legislation, which culminated in the 20-month incarceration of the capital of Jakarta’s Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Purnamain 2017-2018, for making a remark regarding a passage in the Quran, is another example of religious and political intolerance in the nation.

In less than two weeks, the Indonesian government issued a law prohibiting public schools from making any religious garb a prerequisite for attendance.

Even inside NU, there are divisions between conservatives and reformists who differ on many issues.

The current minister of religious affairs, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, is a senior member of the NU and the younger brother of the NU’s reforming general secretary, who is himself a leading NU member.

NU’s Humanitarian Islam movement may be critical in promoting tolerance within Indonesia’s Islamic majority, which is now dominated by radical Islam. Can it, however, have an impact outside of Indonesia?

Influencing the Middle East

If this reform movement is to have a worldwide influence, it is critical that it is accepted in the Middle East, which has historically been the core of Islam. Humanitarian Islam has been largely neglected by academics and governments in Middle Eastern countries, who typically regard it as a rival to their own efforts to exert influence over the Muslim world, according to the World Bank. Humanitarian Islam is distinct from other Middle Eastern initiatives to alter the Muslim world, which are predominantly government-led projects.

Humanitarian Islam, with its reformist emphasis, may appeal to certain young Muslims in the Middle East who are dissatisfied with their nations’ political and conservative interpretations of Islam, according to some scholars.

It remains to be seen if this Indonesian project will have an influence on the Middle East and whether it will grow into a really worldwide movement for Islamic reform.

Learn more about Islam by reading our six-part series on TheConversation.com, Understanding Islam.


Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia in the 7th century CE propagated Islam, which is a prominent international religion. The Arabic termislam, which literally translates as “submission,” illustrates the essential theological notion of Islam: that the believer (also known as a Muslim, from the active component ofislam) accepts surrender to the will ofAllah (in Arabic, Allah is translated as “God”). According to Islam, Allah is the one God, who is the creator, sustainer, and restorer of the universe.

  1. In Islam, Muhammad is regarded as the final prophet in a line of prophets that includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Jesus, and his teaching both summarizes and completes the “revelations” credited to preceding prophets, according to Islamic tradition.
  2. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, there were more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the globe.
  3. Britannica QuizIslam What is your level of knowledge about the Prophet Muhammad?
  4. With this quiz, you may see how well you know about Islam.

The essential ideas and practices of Islam, as well as the relationship between religion and society in the Islamic world, are discussed in the article Islamic world. The history of the numerous peoples who have adopted Islam is also discussed in the article Islamic world.

The foundations of Islam

When Islam was first introduced to the world, Muhammad instilled in his followers an understanding of brotherhood as well as a shared commitment to their faith. These qualities contributed to the development among his followers of a strong sense of closeness that was heightened by their experiences of persecution as a fledgling community in Mecca. It was only through a deep devotion to the teachings of the Qur’anic revelation and the evident socioeconomic substance of Islamic religious activities that this bond of faith could be strengthened.

The religion of Islam developed its distinctive ethos during this early period, as a religion that encompassed both the spiritual and temporal aspects of life, and that sought to regulate not only the individual’s relationship with God (through conscience), but also human relationships in a social setting.

Select Muslim intellectuals did not differentiate between the religious (private) and the secular (public) until the twentieth century, and only in some countries, such as Turkey, was the distinction formalized.

This dual religious and social character of Islam, which manifests itself in one way as a religious community commissioned by God to bring its own value system to the world through theji After the Prophet’s death in 632ce, they had placed a huge portion of the world under the control of a new ArabMuslim empire, stretching from Spain to Central Asia and India.

  1. Islam’s fundamental equality within the community of the faithful, as well as its explicit discrimination against adherents of other religions, attracted a large number of recruits quickly.
  2. They were, however, obligated to pay a per capita tax known as jizyah, as contrast to pagans, who were forced to either adopt Islam or die as a result of their refusal.
  3. During the period after the 12th century, the Sufis (Muslim mystics) were largely responsible for the spread of Islam in India, Central Asia, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as other parts of the world (see below).
  4. Islam was brought to Indonesia in the 14th century, but it had little time to establish a political foothold in the country before the region fell under the control of the Dutch.
  5. All elements of Muslim society, on the other hand, are united by a shared religious belief and a sense of belonging to a single community of believers.

In the mid-20th century, the religion of Islam aided many Muslim peoples across their quest for political independence, and the oneness of Islam led to subsequent political solidarity in the world.

Sources of Islamic doctrinal and social views

In Islamic theology, law, and thinking in general, four sources, or essential principles (ul), are relied upon: (1) the Qur’an, (2) the Sunnah (or “Traditions”), (3) the Ijma (or “consensus”), and (4) the Ijtihd (or “individual thought”). Known as the Qur’an (literally, “reading” or “recitation”), it is said to be the verbatimword, or speech, of God, as given to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel. It is the most important source of Islamic doctrine since it is divided into 114 suras (chapters) of varying length.

  1. The suras revealed at Medina at a later stage in the Prophet’s life are primarily concerned with social law and the political-moral principles that should guide the formation and organization of the community.
  2. Photograph by Orhan Am/Fotolia Pre-Islamic Arabs used the term sunnah (which means “a well-trodden road”) to refer to their tribe or common law systems.
  3. Six of these compilations, which were collected in the 3rd centuryah (9th centuryce), came to be considered as particularly authoritative by the Sunnis, who constitute the majority of Islam’s population.
  4. To unify legal theory and practice, as well as to remove individual and regional variations of opinion, the doctrine ofijm, also known as orconsensus, was established in the 2nd centuryah (eighth centuryce).
  5. The concept of Ahijm has existed since the 3rd century and has come to represent a principle of stability in thought; topics on which consensus had been established in practice were deemed closed, and any further meaningful questioning of them was forbidden.
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Finding the legal or doctrinal answer to a new situation necessitated the use of the word ijtihd, which means “to endeavor” or “to exert effort.” During the early period of Islamic history, becauseijtihd took the form of individual opinion (ray), there was an abundance of contradictory and chaotic viewpoints to choose from.

While the “gate ofijtihd” in Sunni Islam was effectively closed by the turning of Ijm into a conservative mechanism and the adoption of a final collection of Hadith, the “gate ofijtihd” remained open in Shi’ism.

The Qur’an and Hadith are studied in further detail below. It will be addressed below in the frameworks of Islamictheology, philosophy, and law what the importance of Ijm and Ijtih is.

Islam Isn’t the Problem

In pursuit of its grand vision for reordering the Middle East, the Bush administration speaks confidently of delivering democracy and peace to a region that has had little experience with either. One has to question if those who advocate for this vision truly believe in it, or if they are hoping that it would persuade Americans that the war against Iraq is morally justifiable. Why so many of the academics who have been most important in educating President Bush’s inner circle over Middle East affairs truly believe that there is something in Arab and Islamic culture that is inherently adverse to democracy is perplexing.

However, many Islamic activists would agree that Islam and democracy are incompatible-the idea in Islam, they would say, is that a just ruler should respect God’s law, not that he (or she) should be elected by a majority of citizens.

It is impressive to see Muslim scholars such as Abou El Fadl and, from a Shiite perspective, Aziz Sachedina demonstrate that the Qur’an and traditions can be understood in ways that are compatible with democracy—that God’s sovereignty does not preclude the exercise of individual freedom and responsibility.

  • Ultimately, this is an issue between God and each individual believer.
  • Compulsion in issues of religion is expressly forbidden by the Qur’an, which states that there should be no such thing.
  • Despite the fact that these man-made rules should be consistent with Islamic principles, they are acknowledged to be the result of human reasoning and as such are flawed and hence changing.
  • It should be noted that these viewpoints are not generally accepted by Muslims, and many traditionalists are not persuaded.
  • In addition, they take seriously the Qur’anic demand for a good Muslim to command the right and prohibit the wrong.
  • A strong government that upholds Islamic law is required in order to prevent orfitna.
  • Using it as an easy pretext for tyranny is a good idea.

I agree with Abou El Fadl that Islamic theory and philosophy — and I would extend it to include Islamic culture as well — do not exclude democratic participation in society.

Although the Qur’an itself is not an impediment to democracy, there appears to be something standing in the way of democratic development across most of the Muslim world.

So, what does explain it?

Until around two hundred and fifty years ago, there had been no precedent for what we now call contemporary liberal democracy elsewhere on the planet.

Even early American democracy would receive a low grade by today’s standards, given the fact that the bulk of the population was denied the opportunity to participate in government.

Is it possible to reproduce it in the Islamic world?

Turkey, long the epicenter of Islamic orthodoxy, is now a recognized, if flawed, democracy with a strong democratic tradition.

In addition, Muslims in India are active participants in democratic politics on a regular basis.

Even Iran, which is the most outspokenly “Islamic” of all the Middle Eastern regimes, is beginning to demonstrate symptoms of democracy from the bottom up.

Nonetheless, as compared to, for example, Latin America, the Islamic world suffers from a democratic deficit.

The continuance of reigning monarchy in the region is one of the factors to consider.

When leadership is passed down through family, a fundamental concept of democracy is violated.

Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and all of the minor Gulf states, for example, have managed to maintain their independence.

Secondly, following World War II, several countries in the Middle East earned their independence from colonial authority, and they soon embraced a popular model for consolidating power at the time-the one-party populist state (with real power lodged in the military and the bureaucracy).

Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and Iraq are all countries that have embraced some variation of this concept.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the availability of enormous oil earnings that flow directly into state coffers has been cited as one of the reasons for the continuation of both monarchies and dictatorships.

Although rentier theory does not fully explain all that occurs in the Middle East, it would be a mistake to disregard the role that oil rents play in the persistence of the current economic and political system in that region.

First and foremost, as Abou El Fadl and others have emphasized, there is no reason to suppose that Muslims are fundamentally unsuitable for democratic participation.

Third, external interference is a highly improbable way of furthering democratic principles in a country.

When it comes to the Middle East, we as Americans have every reason to be hopeful that democracy will eventually prevail.

However, we should be cautious of those who tell us, with excessive optimism and a healthy dose of hubris, that democracy will be easily brought to the region by tanks and smart weapons.

Muhammad and the Faith of Islam [ushistory.org]

University of Southern California’s Muslim Students Association provided the image. In this passage from the Qur’an, which was originally written in Arabic, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” is translated. According to the Qur’an (48:29), A religious vision was revealed to a guy who was meditating alone in a cave near Mecca. This vision set the groundwork for the establishment of a new religion. Muhammad was born in the year 610, and he was a man of many names. Islamic thought evolved from Muhammad’s thoughts, and the belief system that resulted from these concepts is now the foundation for Islam, which is one of the most commonly practiced religions in the world.

  • Both of Muhammad’s parents died when he was six years old, and he was raised by his grandpa and uncle after that.
  • A Bedouin family welcomed him into their home throughout his boyhood, as per the customs of rich families.
  • Muhammad’s encounters with these persons are highly likely to have had a significant impact on the formation of Islamic thought.
  • Over the following 20 years, he rose from obscurity to become a wealthy and well-respected trader who traveled across the Arab world.
  • By the time he was 40 years old, he began receiving religious visions that would forever alter the course of his life.

A Revelation of Faith

Muhammad received a revelation while meditating in a cave on the mountain of Hira. Eventually, Muhammad came to think that he had been chosen by God to serve as a prophet and teacher of a new religion, Islam, which literally translates as “submission.” The elements of Judaism and Christianity were merged into this new religion. Religions’ sacred texts, as well as their famous prophets and leaders – Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others — were held in high regard. Muhammad addressed Abraham as “Khalil,” which means “God’s companion,” and designated him as the ancient patriarch of Islam.

Muhammad thought that he was God’s ultimate prophet and that he himself was the final prophet.

  • There is just one worldwide God, and his name is Allah. Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day with their backs to Mecca, according to Islamic tradition. All Muslims are required to pay an annual tax, which is mostly used to assist the poor and needy. Muslims are prohibited from eating, smoking, drinking, or engaging in sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset during the whole month of Ramadan. All capable Muslims are required to do the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) at least once in their lives.

The Kaaba

The Kaaba, Islam’s holiest location, is located in Mecca and is believed to have been erected by Abraham and his son Ishmael for the worship of Yahweh. Islam grew at a breakneck pace, engulfing most of what was formerly the ancient Near East, North Africa, and Spain, and eventually enveloping the whole world. The impoverished and slaves, in particular, responded favorably to Muhammad’s message.

However, his message was met with strong opposition from many quarters. As a result of the pushback, he appeared to become even more determined. As a result of years of openly pushing his opinions, he grew to be despised to the point that some began plotting his death.

From Mecca to Medina and Back

Muhammad escaped to the town of Medina in 622 because he was afraid for his life. The Hegira, which is Arabic for “flight,” was the name given to this voyage from Mecca to Medina. This year marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. When Muhammad and his entourage arrived in Medina, the locals greeted them warmly. Muhammad established the first mosque, also known as the Islamic temple, at Mecca and began the process of separating Islam from the religions of Judaism and Christianity, which had first inspired him.

Allah’s revelations to Muhammad lasted throughout his life.

During his time in Mecca, Muhammad was involved in a number of fights with the locals.

Before his death two years later, he had forced the conversion of the majority of the Arabian Peninsula to his new faith and established a tiny kingdom on the peninsula’s southern tip.

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Many Islamic sects have a belief in jihad, which is a common thread running through them. Despite the fact that the actual meaning of the Arabic word is difficult to convey in English, the word jihad is most appropriately translated as “fight.” For the vast majority of Muslims, jihad is a personal battle against evil. The sacred wars of this spiritual conflict are fought within the minds and hearts of Muslims. Sometimes the fight takes the shape of a physical battle against those who do not believe in God.

  • A small but vocal minority of Muslims, on the other hand, places a high value on holy war jihads.
  • It is this idea of jihad that serves as an inspiration for Islamic extremist terrorist activity.
  • It should be emphasized that mainstream Islam is a peaceful religion that opposes the concept of unjustified violence.
  • The unfortunate thing is that Muhammad had not named a successor.

Despite these difficulties, a huge Islamic empire was established over the course of the following 12 centuries, resulting in a worshiper base that was unsurpassed by any other religion.

The Most Influential Magazine in Muslim History?

IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH 1898, a young Syrian immigrant living in British-ruled Cairo established what would go on to become possibly the most significant journal in the history of Islam. His name was Rashid Rida, and the publication he founded during the long-forgotten Arab spring was named al-Manar (The Mirror) (The Lighthouse). It was a visual representation of the enlightening effects of what Rida marketed as a rationalist return to the ancient Islam of Muhammad’s earliest followers. Over the next several decades, Asal-readership Manar’s grew, reaching Muslims as far afield as Singapore and South America.

A religious movement named after the devout “ancestors” – thesalaf — who comprised the first few generations of Muslim leaders, Salafism was only one of numerous competing, then splintering ideologies that contributed to the great reformation of Islam that was gaining momentum during Rida’s lifetime.

  • Rida felt that by doing so, he would not only be able to allow his co-religionists to benefit from the licit benefits of modernity, but also to empower them.
  • Rida not only understood the formidable colonial combination of applied science and capitalist enterprise all around him in Cairo, but he also realized the power of the colonial combination of applied science and capitalism enterprise within himself.
  • In this contradictory but cunning ploy, Rida hoped to re-empower Muslims by using the same technological and economic tactics that European colonialists had used to bind the globe together.
  • As the founder of the world’s first international newspaper at the height of what many historians refer to as the “first era of globalization,” Rida took use of the colonial communications grid of steamships, printing, and the post to spread his views far beyond his Egyptian base.
  • Consequently, he was able to secure funding for and distribution of a periodical that was read by Muslims around the world, including Russia and China, as well as British India and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
  • In the professionally produced pages of al-Manar, media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s renowned adage that “the medium is the message” is represented more vividly than anywhere else.
  • He absorbed much from his upbringing among the European trading houses of Tripoli, in his native Lebanon, before developing a keen interest in economic theory as an adult.
  • However, for 37 years, Rida’s primary career — and primary source of income — was as editor, principal contributor, and publisher of his renowned newspaper, The New Yorker.
  • Outweighing such catchy changes of phrase, Halevi’s accomplishment is to demonstrate how these commercial considerations were not only incidental to Rida’s religious ideals, but were integral to them as well.
  • As part of God’s grand divine design, Islam urged Muslims to enjoy “the excellent things (al-tayyibat)” of God’s creation, which logically included consumer by-products of science as well, because the principles governing science were also a part of the divine plan.

This is the crux of it: the legal opinions that Rida provided in response to the thousands of requests he received for moral advice were uniformly concerned with distinguishing between new goods and gadgets that were ethically good (or, at the very least, morally neutral —mubah— in sharia’s accommodating middle ground) and those that led Muslim consumers down the high road to hellfire.

  • The sharia’s taboos had to be followed and upheld in all circumstances.
  • Although Rida was a passionate advocate for the advancement of science and technology, his liberalizing decisions were mostly focused on the economic implications of allowing people to participate in the capitalist marketplace.
  • The center of each of Halevi’s eight chapters remains Rida and al-Manar, although the publisher and magazine are finally reduced to the status of minor, supporting characters in the tale of Salafi beginnings.
  • Salafism, on the other hand, arose as a response to the material needs of Muslim consumers who wanted religious legitimacy, or at the very least direction, while they engaged in the global marketplace of European and American products.

For the hundreds of middle-class Muslims who wrote to him from all over the world with requests for moral advice about this or that product, Rida simply provided a set of legal endorsements, “responsive rulings,” articulated in the authentic terms of the Qur’an and the ancestors of the early Muslims, in response to their demands for material goods.

  • The orfatwa, a sharia-based legal opinion, served as the theological process via which such “modern items” were placed on trial in the first place.
  • More than a thousand legal decisions were issued throughout the three decades in question, and they serve as the basis for Halevi’s aggressively materialist worldview, which he offers as proof.
  • It was these many forgotten senders of fatwa-requests who “established the agenda,” not the great Salafi himself, by putting their requests on the table.
  • Far from delving into the nitty-gritty of Islamic law, the majority of Halevi’s chapters are devoted to the many innovations that piqued the curiosity of Muslim consumers in the early twentieth century, as well as the reasons why they appeared to be ethically dubious in Halevi’s opinion.
  • A few of the more fascinating chapters are concerned with theological discussions around two very different, yet now equally omnipresent, forms of paper products: banknotes and toilet paper, respectively.

“The view that Islam at its origins was an easy religion and that modern Muslims would flourish economically if they returned to this ancestral worldview, openly adopted technological and financial innovations, and freely traded with non-Muslims,” Halevi summarizes Rida’s general position toward modern things as advocating “the view that Islam at its origins was an easy religion and that modern Muslims would flourish economically if they returned to this ancestral worldview, openly adopted technological and financial innovations, and freely traded with non-Mus Even yet, Rida’s “liberalism” had very apparent boundaries, not the least of which was the fact that his “laissez-faire” beliefs were more concerned with economics than with ethics.

  • Halevi’s argument that, despite his embracing of many contemporary items, “the taboos of the shari’a had to be followed and maintained” is reinforced by the fact that he ruled against some commodities.
  • A similar decision was reached about German gramophones purchased in great numbers by Tatars who wrote to Rida from Russian-ruled Kazan.
  • Then, when Cairo became the center of an emerging Arabic music industry in the 1920s, he expressed his firm belief that Egyptian singers with vaudeville influences and imported American recordings did nothing except incite desire and lewdness among the public at large.
  • By providing Muslims with the guiding direction of his moral lighthouse, he attempted to steer them away from what he perceived to be the dual perils of material poverty and moral collapse.
  • He never held a formal position in Egypt’s complex legal and religious hierarchy, and he worked as a freelance fatwa writer and publisher for the majority of his professional life.
  • Through his dual embrace of the Muslim communications and consumer revolutions, he was able to achieve this level of prominence.

Through careful documentation of Rida’s rulings’ “responsive” and ad hoc nature, Halevi argues that early Salafism was less a coherent and fixed ideology than “a flexible tool for reform.” It is an insight that has particular relevance for more recent times, in which Salafism has remained a key theological facilitator — as well as a major religious check — on Muslim connections with current forms of consumer-based cultural globalization, such as the Internet.

Despite this, there are several parts of Halevi’s view of Rida’s beliefs, as well as his techniques for bringing his vision to fruition, with which other Salafi scholars may differ, as discussed below.

At the height of his fame and influence, he defended the Wahhabis against their many Muslim critics and dispatched his senior acolytes to serve in the newly formed Saudi religious bureaucracy, according to the book.

Henri Lauzière, in his book The Making of Salafism, published in 2015, described the outcome as “Rida’s rehabilitation of the Wahhabis.” With Rida’s modernism and pragmatism in mind, Halevi minimizes the deeply polemical nature of so many of his articles in al-Manar, whether in condemning Christian and Bahá’ missionaries or criticizing more established Muslim authorities, such as the clerics of al-Azhar and especially the heads of Sufi orders.

Rida was certainly not someone who shied away from controversy, and his journal played a significant role in the spread of religious disputes throughout the world.

Using the example of online muftis as brokers for what has come to be known as “fatwa-shopping,” there is yet another digital parallel to today’s world.

When it comes to rethinking the forces that shaped the transformation of Islam in the modern era, Halevi’s analysis of Rida’s vast output of legal opinions is invaluable.

The impact of translated European books has been emphasized in previous accounts of Arab and Islamic modernism; however, Halevi rejects this intellectualistic perspective, contending that consumer goods dispatched from the factories and warehouses of Birmingham and Bremen were far more influential than the translated flow of ideas.

¤ Nile Green is the Ibn Khaldun Endowed Chair in World History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The author of Global Islam: A Very Short Introduction, he is also the host of the podcastAkbar’s Chamber: Experts Talk Islam, which includes a chat with Leor Halevi on his book Global Islam: A Very Short Introduction.

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