About Islam

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Islamic Borrowings and the Arabic Peoples

Islamic Borrowings and the Arabic Peoples

We ended the last article with an overview of some of the religions that influenced Islam.  This article will begin by looking at the some of the things Islam borrowed from those religions and then some relevant cultural aspects of the Arabic people. Islam’s Borrowings The list of Islamic borrowings below is not complete, but does show how extensive they were.  This view is reinforced by the words of Ignaz Goldziher who wrote the following early in the twentieth century, ‘The dogmatic development of Islam took place under the sign of Hellenistic thought; in its legal system the influence of Roman law is unmistakable; the organization of the Islamic state as it took shape during the ‘Abbasid caliphate shows the adaptation of Persian political ideas; Islamic mysticism made use of Neoplatonic and Hindu habits of thought.  In each of these areas Islam demonstrates its ability to absorb and assimilate foreign elements so thoroughly that their foreign character can be detected only by the exact analysis of critical research. ‘With this receptive character Islam was stamped at its birth.  Its founder, Muhammad, did not proclaim new ideas.  He did not enrich earlier conceptions of man’s relation to the transcendental and infinite … The Arab Prophet’s message was an eclectic composite of religious ideas and regulations.  The ideas were suggested to him by contacts, which had stirred him deeply, with Jewish, Christian, and other elements, and they seemed to him suited to awaken an earnest religious mood among his fellow Arabs.  The regulations too were derived by foreign sources; he recognized them as needed to institute life according to the will of God.(1) Read More

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The World Before Muhammad

The World Before Muhammad

Before we can evaluate something, we have to first understand it.  Much of what we read in the media or see on television about Islam is either very selective in its presentation or simply wrong.   The primary goal of these articles is help you understand some of Islam’s basic tenets and their development.  Along the way we will also look at some of the significant difference between Islam and Christianity, and the implications of those differences.   My objective is not to tell you what to think, but instead to provide you with information and sources you can use to make up your own mind.  I am simply going to present the facts, and places where you can find more information if you want it.  Where possible the information in these articles will come directly from original sources.  These are the best places to use if you truly want to learn about something. Read More