Islam: Central Concepts

Meaning of the word "Islam":

Submission (to the will of God).

A member of this religion is called a "Muslim."

Founded by Muhammad, in Arabia, (c. 570-632 C.E.)


Sources and Documents for Beginnings of Islam:

  1. Qur'an ("The Recitation")

    --Sacred scripture of Islam

    • Record of revelations revealed through the prophet Muhammad.

    • Text preserved faithfully, carefully compiled.
      • Traditional view: Qur'an compiled very close to the time of the events.
      • Critical scholarship: Process of redaction and interpretation took place a century or more after the time of Muhammad.
    • Contains little historical or biographical material.

      Not arranged in chronological order.

    • In order of length of chapters.

    • Composed in Arabic, in beautiful rhymed prose.

      From the Opening Surah of the Quran
      Click on the Quran in the above picture to hear a passage being chanted

    • Traditional division into Meccan and Medinan "Surah"s (chapters).
    • Traditional association with events in the Prophet's life.


  2. Hadith: ("Reports")

    --Other records of the sayings and deeds of Muhammad and early Muslims, evolved over centuries.

    • Contains thousands of pieces of historical and biographical information.

    • Unreliable as historical documents: much of the material is suspect.



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