Was Muhammad from Petra and not Mecca

Islam - five pillars form the foundation of faith

Islam, founded by the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century, is the youngest of the three western, monotheistic world religions after Judaism and Christianity. In Islam, Allah is revered as the only God, Creator of all things and ruler of the world. The believer has to submit to his will unconditionally. The promised reward for a godly life is paradise.

The holy book of Islam is the Koran, the summary of the revelations of the Prophet Mohammed from around 650. It is divided into 114 sections called suras. The most important shrines of Islam are Mecca, where Mohammed founded Islam, and Medina, which is also on the Arabian Peninsula.

The central beliefs are expressed in the Five Pillars of Islam: the creed "There is only one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet"; the five times daily prayer in which suras from the Koran are recited and one prostrates before God; the alms tax, which should make up at least two percent of income; the fast in the month of Ramadan, during which the believers are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke between sunrise and sunset; the pilgrimage to Mecca, called Hajj, at least once in a lifetime.

The religious concept of jihad is often misunderstood as a "holy war" against the unbelievers for the purpose of expanding and asserting Islam. In the true sense of the word, jihad means human effort and effort on God's path and overcoming one's own weaknesses.

After Muhammad's death in 632 there was a split in Islam into the two main directions Sunnis - today about 90 percent of all Muslims - and Shiites. Both directions produced several schools of law that interpret the Koran differently.

Mohammed, the praised: prophet and founder of the faith

Where did the founder of the Islamic religion come from?

Abul-Kasim Mohammed was born in Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula in 570. His father had died before he was born, and his mother gave him to a wet nurse at an early age, which was customary for merchant families at that time for the children to prosper. Muhammad's mother died when he was only six years old. His grandfather took him into his care for the next two years, and after his death his uncle Abu Talib. With him, Mohammed made friends with his cousin Ali. The family of Mohammed belonged to the respected but increasingly impoverished clan of the Banu Hashim from the Quraish tribe. The care of the ancient Arabic sanctuary of the Kaaba was in her hands. At an early stage, Mohammed, under the leadership of his experienced uncle Abu Talib, joined trade caravans heading for Damascus or Gaza.

How did Mohammed meet his first wife?

She hired him as a businessman. According to tradition, Mohammed was not only a good businessman, but also distinguished himself from an early age by a high degree of prudence and cleverness as well as by his great honesty and reliability. His good reputation was also heard by the wealthy merchant widow Khadijah, who then hired him and divided him up mainly for caravans in the regions of present-day Syria. The forty-year-old Khadijah soon found pleasure in the 15-year-old man in private. She offered him the marriage and Mohammed consented. Since he had not inherited anything as an orphan, his wife's fortune enabled him to become a wealthy businessman.

What was the significance of faith for Mohammed?

He played a central role in his life. He regularly withdrew from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and disappeared into the loneliness of the desert. He preferred to go to the bare slopes of the mountain Hira near Mecca, at the foot of which there was a cave, into which he increasingly withdrew for prayer-like exercises.

On the Arabian Peninsula there were not only local religious beliefs but also Jewish communities as well as Christian monks, prisoners of war and slaves. What Mohammed learned about their religion preoccupied him very much. Most of all, he was drawn to the idea of ​​a single god, which he soon adopted, while he had long disliked the constant clashes between the various tribes of the peninsula, and the greed and moral decline of the people of Mecca.

How was Mohammed called to be a prophet?

Out of the blue, because Mohammed was completely unprepared, despite his strict religious practices, when - he had fallen asleep while meditating in the cave - the Archangel Gabriel appeared as a divine messenger who spoke of the one God. He then returned to the cave for nights to pray. Gabriel appeared to him again and asked him aloud to recite what he had heard. At this first revelation around the year 610, the archangel referred to him as the messenger of God.

Mohammed was so confused and frightened that he seriously considered throwing himself off the rocks to his death. But Khadija encouraged him to believe in the message. After all, he was convinced that God had commissioned him to preach his message. At first, Mohammed only initiated people from his private environment into the revelations, which he now received more often. So he gathered the first followers around him before he began to speak publicly about three years later. At first he was quite successful with this, and many members, especially from the middle class, joined him.

Why did Mohammed have to flee Mecca?

The wealthy merchants were hostile to Mohammed from the start. In this situation, the situation was aggravated by the fact that his uncle Abu Talib died and his successor, as head of the Banu Hashim Mohammed clan, withdrew his family's support. In the year 622 the pressure finally increased so much that Mohammed decided to secretly emigrate with his followers to Yathrib, 300 kilometers away. The local community had called him as a mediator in a dispute and granted him protection for it. This emigration, the Hejra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

What was Mohammed's relationship with Jews?

In Yathrib, which was soon renamed Medina (the short form for Medinat an-Nabi, City of the Prophet), Mohammed tried unsuccessfully to find a common religious basis with the Jews there. But they rejected his revelations, as did the few Christians with whom he had contact. Mohammed came to the assumption that Jews and Christians were only partially in possession of the divine revelations, but had falsified them. Mohammed saw himself as the prophet to whom God had revealed the truth directly and unadulterated through his angel, which was then summarized in the Koran, the holy book of Muslims. From now on he fought not only the inhabitants of Mecca, but also the Jews.

How did the teachings of Muhammad spread?

In Medina, which had now become the center of the new religion, many of the surrounding Arab population already professed Islam. There Mohammed was head of a community that required not only religious leadership, but also a social and economic system. The Prophet took this into account with the municipal code of Medina: The foundation stone for an Islamic state was thus laid.

However, years would pass before they returned to their hometown of Mecca. At the Battle of Badr in 624, Muhammad's small army defeated the vastly outnumbered force from Mecca, which only reinforced the belief of his followers that he was under God's protection. A bitter defeat at Mount Uhud followed a year later, but shortly afterwards the counterattack in Mecca failed due to an ingenious move by Mohammed: He had dug a protective ditch around Medina that the opponents could not overcome.

How did the prophet win over Mecca?

After countless negotiations, the Prophet and his entourage were finally able to move into Mecca in 630 without too much resistance. The inhabitants of Mecca had largely given up their original fears about the new religion. Mohammed declared the Kaaba, the former pagan shrine, an Islamic one and made pilgrimage there a duty for all Muslims. This retained a central source of income for the city. The fact that the Islamic community was now subordinate to the authority of the individual tribes also meant more security for the pilgrims, the trade and the caravans. Because the constant fighting between the clans had led to high losses of people and property.

Mohammed first destroyed the old idols, but offered his forgiveness to the Meccans and refrained from reclaiming the goods that they had illegally appropriated from his loyal companions after his departure from Mecca. However, Mohammed could not enjoy his triumph for long. Just a few months later, in June 631, he died unexpectedly of a fever in Medina.

What is the position of Mohammed in Islam?

There he is a central figure. He himself always emphasized that he was an ordinary person with faults and weaknesses. Nevertheless, the Muslims have transfigured his person over the centuries. Each of his words and actions were precisely recorded and are considered an ideal, by which every Muslim should orient his life. Clairvoyant and miraculous abilities were subsequently attributed to the founder of the faith, and today most people consider him to be flawless and sinless. This is a transfiguration that Mohammed himself never wanted, on the contrary, he did not shy away from blaming himself for his own misconduct. However, his position as the seal of the prophets is extraordinary: the series of prophetic revelations is concluded with him, after him no one can call himself a prophet.

How was Mohammed seen in the west?

For a long time the Christian West saw him as just a heretic and accused him of falsifying the words of God revealed in the Old and New Testaments, of violence and unrestrained indulgence. In fact, according to tradition, the Prophet married a total of 13 women after the death of Khadijah, but almost exclusively for political reasons and in order not to leave the widows of his fallen fellow combatants unsupported. Luther still referred to him as an antichrist per se, but in the West he was reproached for not having even performed miracles - a condition for prophethood according to Christian beliefs.

In any case, the Muslims subsequently attributed miracles to him. A visit to his grave is also recommended during the great pilgrimage. To the devout Muslims, Muhammad is not only seen as a prophet, but also as God's representative on earth.

What role did Khadija play?

Mohammed's first wife Khadijah had inherited a large fortune as a two-time widow, which she had invested and increased well as a clever businesswoman. Although she was courted by men because of her high social position and wealth, she chose the penniless Mohammed. After the first revelation of Muhammad, it was Khadijah who believed in him and his new religious message and also encouraged him to speak publicly. She was the first devout Muslim woman, and Mohammed thanked Khadijah by remaining his only wife until her death in 619.

Did you know that …

Mohammed initially attracted the resentment of the rich Meccans because he endangered their political power? The new religion, which called for the abolition of polytheism, endangered the influence of the wealthy merchants who made good money on pilgrimages to the sanctuaries.

the rich merchants weren't exactly squeamish about their leverage against Mohammed himself and his environment? They did not shy away from persecution, threats of a trade boycott or the dumping of rubbish at the doors of their opponents.

Koran, Sunna and Sharia: Muslim rules of life

What is in the Koran?

In the Koran, the holy book of Muslims, the revelations received from God through the Prophet Mohammed are written down. The fragments, which were initially handed down partly in writing and partly in oral form, were only collected in a book around 20 years after his death. The Koran, literally "Recite!" (The archangel Gabriel's invitation to Mohammed), is a direct copy of the original book of God, which is with it, and is therefore a true-to-original word of God.

According to Islamic belief, Moses and Jesus were already sent to the people with this message, but both Jews and Christians falsified it. To prevent this from happening in the future, there must be no other prophets after Mohammed and the Koran as the word of God can only be read in Arabic. Any translation is already considered an interpretation. As a result, Arabic has become a language that unites all Muslims, even if most of them are only learning enough to be able to say and understand the prescribed prayers.

Why is the Koran considered a work of art?

The Koran is considered a miracle of Islam because of its inimitably beautiful language. The entire book is written in rhyming prose. It consists of 114 suras, each of which is divided into verses. The suras are not in chronological order, but in descending order according to their length. The only exception is the opening sura "al-Fatiha", which, although quite short, forms the beginning.

The Koran was and is also formative for art and literature in the Middle East. Above all, however, as the direct word of God, it is regarded as unchangeable and forms the basis for legislation. In contrast to Christianity, but comparable to Judaism, Islam is a religion of the law. Another basis of Islamic law is the traditional behavior of the Prophet Mohammed. All regulations going beyond this must be in accordance with these two sources.

What does the Sunnah contain?

The Sunnah - the traditional customs of the Prophet - is synonymous with the Koran as a guideline for the life of a devout Muslim. It includes his actions, his speeches and his tacit approval of what was done and said around him, as well as the behavior of his first followers. This tradition was initially oral and was later recorded in writing in the so-called hadith collections (collections of the sayings of the prophet).

Which schools of law are there in Islam?

The various schools of law that developed from the hadith collections are named after their founders: Among the Sunnis, who are mainly based on the prophet, there are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali schools of law. The Jafarite school of law applies to the Shiites, who are more oriented towards Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of Mohammed. The schools of law differ only in individual areas. As a rule, every Muslim belongs to one of these schools, but this is not binding, everyone can also join a different law school for individual decisions.

What is written in the Sharia?

The Sharia ("way", "path") includes provisions for all areas of life, including inheritance law, marriage and family law, criminal and procedural law, and regulates the religious and social behavior of individuals and the Muslim community. The Koran and Sunna as the basis of the Sharia arose very early and were soon no longer sufficient to answer the constantly emerging questions about correct behavior. In order to complete the Sharia, additional methods of finding the law were introduced, which, however, may only be used by specially trained legal scholars. This is how, for example, the general ban on alcohol came about. The Koran itself only speaks of wine. Since the reason for this is its intoxicating effect, all intoxicating drinks were forbidden. The consensus of the faithful is a further basis, since, according to the assumption, they cannot be wrong on important questions. From the 10th century onwards, the possibility of free choice of law was severely restricted, and it is still a common legal remedy for the Shiites.

What rules does a Muslim orient himself to?

For every Muslim there are five categories that determine his or her actions. These are a) duties such as ritual prayer, b) recommended actions such as additional fasting, c) permitted things for which there is no religious judgment, such as traveling by plane, d) disapproved actions such as praying in tight clothing and e) prohibited things such as the consumption of alcohol.

Did you know that …

Islam is enshrined in the constitution as the state religion in most countries with a predominantly Muslim population?

there is no overriding authority in Islam, not even in legal questions? That is why there is no one binding Sharia law and therefore no identical legal situation that applies to all Muslims.

Festivals in Islam: memorial days with historical content

How does the Feast of Circumcision work?

To distract attention from the pain, a festival is held for the boys on this day, to which relatives and friends are invited.The festival child, who often wears a richly decorated cape, receives presents and is proudly presented. Since the costs for these celebrations - as well as the payment for the circumciser - are not insignificant, a wealthy father often organizes the festival for several children. The boys are usually circumcised between the seventh and fortieth day after birth or when they are seven years old. The Arabic term for it translates as "purity". The circumcision of boys was already common in pre-Islamic times and, although not mentioned in the Koran, became an integral part of Islamic customs.

What is ramadan

Once a year during the whole month of Ramadan, all Muslims are required to fast strictly from sunrise to sunset. It is not allowed to eat, not to smoke and actually not to drink it. In addition, sexual abstinence is required. On one of the last three nights of Ramadan, usually on the 27th of the month, the Night of Destiny, called "Laylat al-Qadr", is celebrated. That night the Quran was revealed to earth for the first time. Since these nocturnal hours are particularly beneficial, numerous devout Muslims spend them in a mosque until sunrise.

Only when the new moon can be reliably seen at the end of the month of Ramadan does the actual festival, also known as a small festival, begin after a festive prayer in the main mosque. For three days you visit each other, distribute gifts, especially to children, put on new clothes and enjoy good food, some of which is only prepared in Ramadan.

What happens on the pilgrimage to Mecca?

Every year in the pilgrimage month, up to two million Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia to make their mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca. First of all, the cube called the Kaaba, the central sanctuary of Islam, is circled seven times in the great mosque, and the black stone set into the east wall of the Kaaba is kissed. The pilgrim then walks back and forth between the Safa and Marwa hills seven times. On the 9th day of the pilgrimage month, Mount Arafat is visited. After a symbolic stoning of the devil on the 11th day, the festival of sacrifice begins on the 12th day, also known as the "great festival". Thousands of pilgrims each have a sheep or a goat slaughtered as a sacrifice. Some of the meat is consumed, the rest is given to the poor. After the sacrifice, the pilgrims can have their hair and beard cut again. After circumnavigating the Kaaba one more time, they are no longer obliged to abstain. Eating, drinking and celebrating are now part of the pilgrimage.

When is the day of death of Muhammad commemorated?

The 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar is considered the birth and death anniversary of the Prophet. Today it is celebrated in almost the entire Islamic world as a festival in memory of Mohammed. Tents are usually set up days in advance, in which poems for the prophets are read out and Koran recitations are held. Musical performances and songs in honor of Muhammad are not uncommon at the events, even if this is frowned upon in strict Islam. If in earlier times one mainly thought of the miraculous circumstances of his birth, today it is mostly a matter of depicting the life of the prophet as a model for every devout Muslim.

When is the New Year celebrations?

According to the western calendar, it is a "mobile" holiday, because the Islamic calendar is based purely on the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycle of the lunar phases. One revolution of the moon takes 29 days, so a complete lunar year consists of 354 days - in contrast to the 365 days of a solar year. As a result, the date of the New Year celebrations, from which the dates of the other festivals can be derived, is shifted forward by eleven days each year. In addition, the Islamic calendar only begins with the year 622, the date of Muhammad's emigration from Mecca to Medina.

What additional day of remembrance do the Shiites celebrate?

Muharram is also an important festival for the Shiites. They commemorate the violent death of Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Mohammed. Hussain was the son of Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, and Ali is the central figure in the Shia, the "party" of the Shiites. The martyrdom of the prophet's grandson is commemorated through funeral songs and readings that describe his suffering, and on the 10th of the month through litigation processions.

In Iran, the Ta'ziye passion play is very popular, in which the suffering of Hussain and his role for the Shia is depicted. The self-flagellation that the faithful publicly undertake in these processions is spectacular. The willingness to be martyred and to self-sacrifice for their faith, which is celebrated in the process, corresponds to the self-image of many Shiites.

Did you know that …

the biblical Abraham and his son Ismail are regarded by the Muslims as the builders of the Kaaba in Mecca?

in poorer areas sometimes all residents gather in order to enable the most respected believer in their circle to take part in the pilgrimage to Mecca?

Muslims all over the world celebrate the festival of sacrifice at the same time as the pilgrims to Mecca?

The Five Pillars of Islam: Religious Duties of a Muslim

What is the Islamic creed?

It reads: "There is no god but God and Mohammed is his prophet". This expresses absolute belief in a single God. This strict monotheism distinguishes itself from the Christian conception of the trinity of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The second part emphasizes that Mohammed brought God's word to the people with the Koran. This is final, so there can be no other prophet after him. The Islamic creed, the Shahada, is the indispensable basis of faith for every Muslim.

The significance of the Shahada is so great that it also forms the basis for converting one's faith: anyone who expresses it with full conviction three times in front of witnesses, preferably in a mosque, is considered a Muslim from that point on.

What are the rules for prayer?

In order to demonstrate humility and devotion to God externally, every Muslim is obliged to say a ritual prayer (salat) five times a day: before sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, before sunset and in the late evening. When praying, Muslims always turn towards Mecca. The best place for this is the mosque, but prayer can take place anywhere. Many Muslims own a prayer rug as a “mobile” clean prayer place.

This prayer is always and everywhere in the world in Arabic. This is why Koran schools for children are so important, because here the children learn the most important prayers and the basics of the Arabic language in order to be able to read the Koran in Arabic.

What are the precepts of fasting in Islam?

"Eat and drink until the white thread can be distinguished from the black thread of the dawn" (Sura 2,187). Once a year, in the Islamic month of Ramadan, all religiously adult Muslims are obliged to fast (saum). This includes completely avoiding eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset. But also immoral or even sinful thoughts and actions must be avoided, as they invalidate the fast.

Fasting is used to purify the mind and soul. The rhythm of life adapts to the necessary restrictions, activities during the day are limited to what is absolutely necessary, social life takes place predominantly in the evening and night hours. The faithful eagerly await the public announcement of sunset, then after a prayer they will eat, usually in the company of family and friends. Most people get up shortly before sunrise to have a meal before the next day of fasting begins.

How are the poor supported?

Every Muslim is obliged to give part of his property to the community. For this, a certain, precisely defined share, the alms tax (zakat), is levied on property in the form of precious metals or commercial goods, but also of agricultural products. It is intended to benefit the poor, debtors, travelers and other needy people.

What should every Muslim do once in a lifetime?

Every Muslim should make the great pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) once in a lifetime. At the prescribed time, during the pilgrimage month, millions of believers travel to the holy places, usually by bus or plane. There they put on their pilgrim robes and enter the state of consecration. These robes consist of white, unlined cloths, which are supposed to symbolize that in religion everyone is equal, regardless of their social or financial background. The pilgrims are not allowed to shave or comb their hair, cut nails or hair, and have to forego perfume and sexual intercourse.

After a great ablution, a prayer and the affirmation of your intention, the actual pilgrimage begins. This includes walking around the Kaaba several times, a cube-like building with a black stone on one corner, walking into the Arafat plain, running to Mina, prayers and a sermon as well as symbolically throwing stones at the devil. For the pilgrims, participating in this ritual usually means an impressive experience for the Islamic community.


What happens if you can't keep your duties?

Islam is a very pragmatic religion. Bids that cannot be fulfilled at the prescribed time due to external circumstances may (and must) be made up later. Those who work make up for the missed prayers after work; Sick people, travelers, soldiers in war, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth only fast when they are able to do so again, and the pilgrimage is only compulsory for those who are physically, mentally and financially able to do so.

Did you know that …

every fifth person is a Muslim? With over a billion believers, Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity.

it is strictly forbidden for all non-Muslims to enter the holy precinct in Mecca?

"Islam" means something like "devotion to God"?

the muezzin, a kind of crier who announces the daily prayer times from the tower of the mosque, the minaret? However, this task is increasingly being taken over by a loudspeaker.

The expansion of the caliphate: the triumph of the prophet's teaching

How did Islam begin to spread?

After the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632, the Islamic community threatened to disintegrate. However, by forays into areas outside the Arabian Peninsula, Mohammed's successors managed to reunite the warring tribes. Within three decades, the Islamic armies succeeded in conquering the Fertile Crescent, large parts of North Africa as well as Mesopotamia and Iran. Islam's triumphant advance was facilitated by the weakness of its opponents. The Byzantine Empire in the north (Palestine, Syria, Egypt) and the Sassanid Empire in the east (Iraq, Iran) were already in decline when they were attacked by the Islamic warriors from the Arabian Peninsula. Many Christians in the Middle East - for example Copts and Nestorians - followed a different doctrine than the Byzantine rulers in Constantinople and welcomed the new rulers. Some even joined the Islamic armies in the fight against Byzantium.

How did the Arabs rule the conquered territories?

The Muslim conquerors were distinguished by pragmatism. In any case, they initially regarded Islam explicitly as the "religion of the Arabs". They were more concerned with expanding their domain than with converting other peoples to their faith en masse. The principle laid down in the Koran "There is no compulsion in religion" found its practical application here.

The Muslim rulers largely took over the existing administrative structures in the conquered areas. Important offices remained in the hands of Christians and members of other religions. Only the military elite consisted entirely of Muslims. Non-Muslims, however, had to pay higher taxes and were otherwise legally disadvantaged. This form of coexistence meant that in some areas of the Middle East, such as Egypt, Christians remained in the majority until the Crusades.

Why did the Islamic community split?

The question of the leadership of the Islamic community was a burning problem. After the death of Muhammad, the Islamic empire continued to be ruled from Medina. The first four "deputies" of the prophet, called "caliphs", were considered to be guided by the law and were raised into office with the approval of the most important tribes. Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali had been companions of the Prophet. They converted to Islam early on and therefore had a natural authority.

After the death of Ali, a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, in 661, his followers took the view that only Ali's descendants were entitled to be succeeded by Muhammad. Ali's partisans, the "Shiat Ali", now known as Shiites, were to remain a minority.

How did the Umayyads regulate the question of succession?

In 661 the Umayyad dynasty succeeded the first four rightly guided caliphs. The caliph was no longer selected from a group of candidates, but was determined by succession from the ranks of the Umayyad clan, which, like Mohammed, belonged to the Quraish tribe. The Umayyads moved the center of the empire to Damascus in Syria. The resistance to the secular rule of the Umayyads finally brought them down. They were fought by the Shiites who had established themselves in Iraq, but also by rival tribes and non-Arab Muslims who wanted a fairer share of power.

When did the caliphate flourish?

The Islamic empire reached its greatest extent during the rule of the Abbasids, which lasted around 500 years. At times it stretched from Spain to Afghanistan. The Abbasids moved the caliphate to Baghdad around the middle of the 8th century. During their rule, Arabic established itself as the cultural language and laid the foundation for classical Islamic civilization. Ultimately, however, the Abbasids also failed because of their claim to establish a just state of God on earth. The sheer size of the empire led to secession tendencies on the margins early on. When the Caliphate of Baghdad was finally destroyed in the course of the Mongol storm in 1258, the Islamic empire had long since disintegrated into many small principalities.

Who took the most radical position on the question of succession?

These were the Kharijites, because they believed that only the best Muslim could be the rightful successor of the Prophet and be allowed to lead the Islamic community - whether Arab or non-Arab, whether a relative of the Prophet or not. However, they did not answer as to how to determine the best Muslim in a gigantic empire that stretched from North Africa to Central Asia. Because of their radical claim to equality, the Kharijites were regarded as "exaggerators" among their contemporaries. The Kharijites remained a tiny minority in the course of Islamic history.

Sunnis and Shiites: The Two Main Streams of Islam

Why are there Sunnis and Shiites in Islam?

The two directions developed out of the dispute over the succession of Muhammad. Already after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 latent tensions erupted when he was first followed by Abu Bakr, then Omar and Othman as leaders of the young community (Ummah). Ali ibn Abi Talib was the cousin and also the son-in-law of the Prophet. For many believers, not only because of his close relationship with Mohammed, but also because of his prominent position as the rightful heir of the Prophet: Ali had been the first man to profess Islam and he had repeatedly risked his life for Mohammed.

What happened after Ali's death?

After Othman's death in 656, Ali became caliph - "successor" of Muhammad - but repeatedly had to assert himself against political opponents. After Ali's murder in 661, one of them, Muawija of the Othman clan, seized power and founded the Umayyad caliphs' dynasty. However, some of the Muslims had always adhered to the Hashimite clan, the clan of Muhammad. This is where the name Shiite comes from, because Shiat Ali means "Ali's party". A pretender to the throne from the Omajja clan, who had attacked the prophet during his lifetime, was out of the question for them and Othman and Muawija were Omajjads. Muawija forced Ali's son Hassan to surrender the throne.

What led to the secession of the Shiites?

The Kerbela massacre was the actual starting point for the separation of the Shia from the main Sunni tendency. After Muawija's death in 680, Ali's younger son, Hussain, who lived in Medina, was assaulted by messengers from the Iraqi Kufa to disempower Muawija's son Yazid. But when Hussain arrived in Iraq, the uprising was suppressed, and he and his family were besieged near Karbala for days. On the 10th of Muharram, the camp was stormed and all but Hussain's son Ali and the women of the family were massacred.

Followers of Hussain, who had not reached Karbala in time, now increasingly distanced themselves religiously.For centuries, the Shiites were to form a small, oppressed minority in most Sunni countries. Only in Iran from the 16th century onwards, in the Fatimid Empire of the Middle Ages and in some peripheral areas did they succeed in establishing their own rule.

How did Ismailis and Twelve Shiites come about?

The next big crisis, this time within the Shia, came after the death of the sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq in 765. There was no agreement on the successor in the Imamat (Imam is the title of the rightful head of all Muslims in Shiite parlance) . Daschafar's first son, Ismail, died about ten years before his father, and so part of the community believed that Ismail actually ruled in secret as an imam. At the end of time he would return and lead the believers to victory. The followers of this direction are called Ismailis; over time they again disintegrated into numerous splinter groups, the most famous of which are the followers of Agha Khan today.

Most of the community, however, joined Ismail's younger brother, Musa al-Kazim. Today the Shiites in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon as well as the Afghan Hazara belong to this faith. Since the chain of their imams breaks after the eleventh and they traditionally believe in another hidden imam, they are called "Twelve Shiites".

What are the foundations of Islamic law?

In addition to the Koran, Islamic law makes use of numerous collections of sayings of the Prophet; for the Shiites, the sayings of the imams are also binding. The Ismailis are convinced that the Koran has a deeper, esoteric meaning that is not generally accessible. In the course of their history they dealt with the philosophical legacy of antiquity and Persia, and later partly with Hinduism. The clergy, which only exists among the Twelve Shiites, largely belong to a direction which, in contrast to the Sunni conviction, prefers the analogy based on reason to the majority decision of a religious body when making decisions.

What is the thought of the Karbala massacre?

On the first ten days of the month of Muharram, this is remembered through passion plays and the recitation of the stories of the martyrs. Numerous rites refer to the events in Karbala. For example, the spectators are asked for water, as the Hussains family was cut off from the water of the Euphrates for days and were terribly thirsty. According to Muslim custom, this was a breach of martial law.

Did you know that …

the Sunnis are by far the largest Muslim religious group? On the other hand, only about ten percent of Muslims are Shiites. The numerous Shiite factions represent a wide variety of beliefs.

some rites in memory of the battle of Karbala are expressly disapproved of by the Shiite clergy? This applies to self-flagellation with chains and swords or other harmful or even suicidal practices.

Islam in the Iberian Peninsula: Age of Tolerance

When did the Arabs conquer Spain?

The almost 800-year history of the Moors in Spain began in 710. A small group of Islamized Berbers crossed from North Africa to Spain and withdrew after a promising foray. After this advance, Berber and Arab armies defeated the Christian Visigoths ruling Spain and conquered city after city. In doing so, they could count on the help of the Jews, who hoped for freedom from the yoke of the Visigoths. After five years, the whole country except for a mountain strip in the far north was in the hands of the Muslims. The Visigoth upper class fled there and immediately organized the reconquest of Spain, the Reconquista.

What was life like under Moorish rule?

Exceptionally good, because al-Andalus - the name given to the Spanish areas under Arab rule - soon blossomed into a fertile cultural center. At first they emulated the Orient. The Iraqi musician Zirjab (died 857) brought among other things Persian fashion and songs, the fine cuisine of Baghdad and the game of chess to al-Andalus. At the time of the Caliphate of Cordoba (929-1031), al-Andalus himself had become a model.

In a climate of extraordinary religious tolerance, Muslims, Jews and Christians worked together to translate ancient works such as the writings of Aristotle. Many of the ideas of intellectual history that determined the development of the rest of Europe found their point of departure here. For the "barbaric" Christians in northern Spain, who stood in awe of the splendor of Cordoba and accidentally knelt before a servant whom they took to be the caliph, one had nothing but contempt.

Why did science flourish?

It is no coincidence that the height of Islamic-Spanish science fell in an epoch of political dissolution. The Omajadic caliphate split up into fighting small kingdoms, which sometimes also made alliances with the increasingly powerful Christian kings of northern Spain. The rival petty kings saw an opportunity to excel in promoting famous scholars and artists. The most important writer of this era was Ibn Hazm (994-1064), whose "collar of the dove" became world famous.

Against the relentlessly advancing armies of the Christians, the Islamic petty kings finally called the warlike and devout Berber dynasties of the Almoravids (1086) and Almohads (1147) from North Africa to help. After their victory, however, they did not withdraw as planned, but settled in al-Andalus and put an end to the relaxed life of their fellow believers. In spite of everything, that period still produced scientists of the rank of Ibn Ruschd (1126–1198), also known as Averroes, or the Jew Maimonides (1135–1204).

How did the different religions get along?

Without a doubt, Islamic rule in Spain was a tolerant epoch, although it was not entirely free from intolerant currents and isolated pogroms against Jews. In general, however, Jews and Christians could practice their own faith undisturbed, had extensive legal and administrative autonomy, and the tax burden was bearable. This was more than the Christian kings granted their subjects after the Reconquista. The tolerance and the fine way of life of the conquerors favored a rapid Arabization and Islamization of the Spaniards.

When were the Arabs expelled from Spain?

Even the Almoravids and Almohads could not prevent al-Andalus from shrinking to the province of Granada in 1246. The Spanish-Islamic craftsmanship experienced another grandiose climax there with the construction of the Alhambra in the 14th century, before this last bastion was incorporated into the Spanish Empire in 1492. The centuries-old Reconquista was now complete. Shortly after the conquest of Granada, the Catholic kings Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews, later the Muslims. Around 1600 the last Muslims who were forcibly baptized were also chased out. Spain was again purely Christian and, deprived of its middle class, was on the verge of ruin.

How does the golden age in literature continue to exist?

Even today the Arabs remember wistfully the shared Arab-Spanish history. In his poem »Alhambra«, the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923 to 1998) celebrates the encounter with a black-eyed Spanish woman from Granada, whose face reminds him of that of a Damascus woman. It pains the poet that his "beautiful heiress", who proudly presents the Alhambra to him as the work of her ancestors, does not recognize that her ancestors are also his. When saying goodbye, he hugs her as "the man whose name is Tariq ben Zijad". It was Tariq who defeated the Gothic king Roderich in 711 and is named after whom Gibraltar is: "Jabal al-Tariq", the mountain of Tariq.

Did you know that …

The Moorish prince Abu Abdallah (Boabdil) is said to have turned around with a sigh when he left Granada in 1492 to see the lost splendor again? This place is still called today Suspiro del Moro, "Sigh of the Moors".

Lion Feuchtwanger set a literary monument to the religious tolerance of the Arabs in his »Jewess of Toledo«?

Trends in the 20th / 21st Century: politicization and anti-modernism

Who introduced the separation of politics and Islam?

The Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate in 1924. The Ottoman Empire fought on the side of the Axis powers and lost the First World War, after which it had disintegrated into its individual parts. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and an advocate of secularism, deposed the Ottoman caliph, and the newly created National Assembly declared his office terminated. The abolition of the caliphate and the associated separation of church and state was a significant turning point in the history of the Islamic world.

What were the reactions to the end of the caliphate?

On the one hand, legal scholars who advocated the separation of religion and politics spoke up. So Ali Abd al-Raziq, a scholar at the renowned Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In his study "Islam and the Basics of Rule" he demonstrated that the Koran does not make any clear statements about what an Islamic state should look like. In Raziq's opinion, secular and religious power do not necessarily belong together in Islam.

Around the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt. Hassan al-Banna, the "father" of all Islamist movements, understood Islam primarily as an activist religion. In order to defend themselves against the advance of the West, the Muslims would have to go back to their roots and establish an Islamic order. He expressly rejected the separation of religion and politics. Banna followed the path of reform. But later, militant Islamists concentrated on jihad, "the struggle in the way of God", in order to achieve their goals.

What problems does the Islamic world face today?

One of the central problems facing the Islamic world in the context of modernization was the passivity of traditional legal scholars. Instead of recognizing social and technological progress and developing an Islam that could be reconciled with modern human rights and modern science, they by and large stuck to their traditional doctrines. At the same time, they allied themselves in an often opportunistic way with the powerful and provided presidents and monarchs with Islamic justification for their respective policies.

A good example of this unfortunate alliance is the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which has also been a mosque for over 1000 years. Its head, the Sheikh al-Azhar, is considered to be the highest authority in Sunni Islam. But it is also closely linked to political power. In the 1950s, the then Sheikh al-Azhar declared the government's collectivization measures compatible with Islam; When the Egyptian regime opened the country to foreign capital 20 years later, the Sheikh al-Azhar, for his part, declared the free market economy to be Islamic.

Why did the fundamentalists gain popularity?

The Islamists ventured into the spiritual vacuum left by the failures of traditional legal scholars. The main theorists of Sunni Islamism were religious laypeople (unlike Shiite Islamism). They only concentrated on small excerpts of the Islamic tradition in order to form their version of the "true" Islam. In addition to the Islamists, who knew how to get the people on their side with populist slogans, other religious currents found it difficult to make themselves heard.

Can Islam be reformed at all?

There have been attempts to develop an Islam that did not focus on the question of political power. For example that of the Sudanese Mahmud Mohammed Taha. His most important book was "The Second Message of Islam". According to Taha, Islam is very compatible with human rights, democracy and religious pluralism. Taha only adhered to the Koran, the word of God. He rejected the Islamic tradition developed in the first few centuries as no longer in keeping with the times. But he even reread the Koran and was of the opinion that problematic passages such as the one that a thief's hand should be cut off are no longer valid today. Taha was convicted of "blasphemy" in Sudan in 1985 and executed.

Who makes politics in Iran?

Shiite Iran is the only country where the theory of political Islam has been put into practice. In the Islamic Republic, Islamic jurists have the final say on all political matters. But the experience with the mullahs in power, who ultimately turned out to be just as corruptible as secular rulers, have even led many legal scholars to rethink. So-called Islamic enlighteners are now pushing for a clear separation of religion and politics. Iran could thus become the spearhead of an Islamic enlightenment in the future.

Did you know that …

Ali Abd al-Raziq's study "Islam and the Foundations of Rule" caused a sensation beyond the borders of Egypt? It was perceived as an attack on Islam, and Abd al-Raziq was removed from office.

Fundamentalism is a relatively recent development and only began to emerge in the 19th century? Before that, Islamic societies were often more tolerant than European ones.

Women in Islam: Between Oppression and Self-Determination

How did women live in the time of the prophet?

The question of the position of women on the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century cannot be answered unequivocally. It is true that there were women like Khadijah, Muhammad's first wife, who were wealthy and independently ran their businesses. The majority, however, were subordinate to their husband, dependent on him and also without rights in financial terms. For them, Islam brought many improvements: believing women must obey the same rules as men and can go to paradise just like them. Marriage law gave women a minimum level of security and were no longer at the mercy of men. For the first time, inheritance law guaranteed them their own right to their share of the inheritance and the right to dispose of their property.

Does a Muslim woman have to wear a headscarf?

This question is currently highly controversial. The Koran only recommends that women put a cloth over the neckline when leaving the house. On the other hand, there is a saying by Muhammad, according to which the whole body should be covered except for the face, hands and feet. Similar to traditional Judaism and Christianity, the veiling of female hair is supposed to soften the sexual attraction of women and keep them away from temptation on the part of men. In the course of time it became a symbol of the subordination of women to men, without this being justified from the religious scriptures.

First of all, a headscarf is only an indication of the religious affiliation of the person wearing it, but not of their status towards men. For example, a woman with a headscarf who is also aware of her rights in Islam can be far more emancipated than a woman with an uncovered head who does not question traditions. The variety of veiling practices - from headscarves to full-body veils - shows that regional and cultural traditions are far more formative than religious factors.

How is marriage and family law regulated?

Here the Muslim woman is clearly disadvantaged compared to the man. This starts with the marriage. An unmarried woman needs a guardian who approves her choice and signs the marriage contract, otherwise the marriage is considered invalid.

In order to prevent minors from marrying, a minimum age at marriage for both sexes has been introduced everywhere. This is intended to reduce the high birth rate at the same time. However, it is not uncommon to avoid this in rural areas by initially entering into a marriage in the mosque and only registering it at the registry office when the required age is reached.

The man's right to be married to up to four women at the same time must be viewed more as a holdover from the militant early days of Islam. Originally intended as a supply option for the war widows who stayed behind, this regulation has given rise to a general right for all men. However, the Koran makes it a condition that all women must be treated equally in all respects. A few verses later, however, this exacting basic requirement is declared more or less impossible.

Can a Muslim woman get a divorce?

In theory, divorce is possible for both sexes. While the man does not usually have to give any reasons for intending to divorce, the framework for the woman is very narrow in this context. It can only be based on a few, precisely specified reasons.These include, for example, a man's prolonged unfounded absence, his inability to pay for his maintenance, but also impotence or prolonged sexual abstinence on his part.

What is stipulated in witness and inheritance law?

In these two areas the woman is already in a subordinate relationship to the man in the Koran. A woman counts as a witness only half as much as a man, so two witnesses are required for a valid testimony. The regulations on inheritance law allow women only half of what a man receives in the corresponding lineage. Originally, these regulations were intended to compensate for the fact that the husband is solely responsible for the maintenance of the family. Since many women today have to work to ensure the survival of the family, this regulation can be viewed as questionable.

What national differences are there in legal practice?

The legal situation in the individual countries is very different nowadays. Two extreme examples are Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. In conservative Saudi Islam, women are only allowed to leave the house when accompanied by a male family member; they are completely prohibited from driving a car alone. In Tunisia, on the other hand, the guardian of marriage was abolished, polygamy was banned or severely restricted, and divorce law was interpreted in favor of women.

Did you know that …

the veil was widespread in the Orient long before Islam? It was considered a symbol of the high social status of a woman, only arms and slaves carried their heads uncovered. This tradition later found its way into Islam.

Benazir Bhutto became the first head of government of an Islamic country in Pakistan in 1988?

Muslims in Germany: The third religious force in the country

How did Muslims practice their faith in the early days?

The Turkish workers often set up small mosques in apartments or in backyards that were not recognizable as places of worship from the outside. The construction of classic mosques in the oriental style is not easy in Germany to this day. For example, due to resistance from local residents, it is often difficult to get appropriate building sites. For this reason, among other things, the first Muslim "guest workers" set up only provisionally. Nor did religious institutions develop that could speak on specific topics in the name of Islam. This role was later taken over by political groups, which, however, only represented a minority of Muslims.

Why did the Muslims initially only live their faith in private?

The reason for this can be found in the goals that the vast majority of the Turkish workforce in Germany initially pursued. With a share of around 2.5 million, the vast majority of the three million Muslims living in Germany today are of Turkish origin. Most of the workers recruited since the 1960s had originally not planned to stay in Germany for long. Rather, they wanted to return to Turkey as soon as they had saved enough money to be able to make a fresh start under better economic conditions in their homeland. For this reason, their families initially stayed behind in Turkey.

Have the migrants integrated into German society?

There is still a lot going on here. It is true that the employees, initially referred to as “guest workers”, became more than just guests. Better job opportunities than in Turkey, good social and health care and other things led to more and more Turkish Muslims settling in Germany permanently. Muslim guests became Muslim citizens, with families, children and grandchildren. In the meantime, the majority of Muslims of Turkish origin were born in Germany and there are first Muslim grave fields in cemeteries.

But the integration was very slow. Before the reform of the Citizenship Act in 2001, Turks born in Germany could only acquire German citizenship after several years. In addition, the level of education of the second and third generation of Turkish migrants lagged behind that of the majority society, mainly due to the language barrier. In the working world, too, young Turks were sometimes exposed to discrimination.

Which radical Islamic groups are there?

The inequality of opportunity increased the dissatisfaction of many migrants and led to the rise of a more politically oriented Islam. Turkish associations such as the Islamic Community Milli Görüsh (IGMG) urged their supporters to isolate themselves from non-Muslim society. The organization has been monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution for years. Their goal of establishing an Islamic state in Turkey is not compatible with the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic, so the reasoning. Milli Görüsh is considered the German arm of the welfare party, which is banned in Turkey.

Since the 1990s, the IGMG has increasingly approached churches, parties and authorities and offers itself as a representative of Islam in Germany. Milli Görüsh is the largest Muslim association in Germany with around 27,000 members. In addition, a much larger number of believers visit their mosques. Nevertheless, it can hardly claim to represent "Islam" in Germany. Only 36 percent of Muslims in the Federal Republic belong to a particular mosque. In the opinion of Petra Kappert, professor of Turkish studies in Hamburg, the majority of Muslims practice a secularized form of Islam that is also widespread in Turkey. This includes, among other things, that one largely regards one's faith as a private matter. Milli Görüsh, however, criticizes this as "un-Islamic".

Why is there no Islamic religious instruction?

One reason for this is that Islam does not have a religious hierarchy corresponding to Christianity. In order to develop a curriculum, however, a conversation partner is required on the Muslim side who can claim to speak on behalf of the Muslims. Organizations like Milli Görüsh often offer themselves as contact persons, but they ultimately only represent a minority of Muslims. Before the actually prevailing Islam in Germany has developed its own structures, there will be further legal disadvantages.

So it happens that in German schools, with the exception of the federal state of Berlin, no regular Islamic religious instruction has taken place, although Muslims in the Federal Republic form the third largest religious community next to Catholics and Protestants.

Did you know that …

there has been a chair for the religion of Islam in Germany since the end of 2004? Teachers for religious instruction are also to be trained at the Wilhelms University in Münster.

Despite all the negative reports, the integration of the Turks is progressing? More than 4,000 university graduates of Turkish origin leave a German university every year, and the number of Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany has long since passed the 50,000 mark.