Islam: Muhammad and His Religion

Islam is the religion which has developed from the preaching and life of Muhammad, a citizen of the city of Mecca in Arabia, who early in the seventh century of the Christian Era appeared as a preacher of monotheism to his own people and founded a religious movement which today counts perhaps as many as 300,000,000 followers, mostly in the heat belt from Indonesia to Morocco.
The old Arabian paganism was at that time in a process of disintegration, but Judaism and Christianity were widely represented in the peninsula, and to a lesser extent Zoro-astrianism and certain Gnostic sects. Several preachers of monotheism had arisen and each had gained a following, but it was Muhammad who succeeded in syncretizing certain basic elements of Judaeo-Christian faith and practice with native Arabian beliefs and, by his own burning faith in his mission and indomitable courage in carrying out that mission, initiated what has become one of the world religions of our day.
Muhammad seems to have thought of himself as in the succession of the Old Testament men of faith, sent on his mission by the one and only Lord of all. Like Noah, Jonah, and Elijah he preached a religious message in the name of this Supreme Lord, and like Moses he also issued legislation in His name, for like Abraham he was not only a maintainer of righteousness but the founder of a community o£ the righteous. Like neighboring religious communities, this community of his has, as its most precious and distinctive possession, a Book, a Scripture which sets forth his preaching and legislation for the community and the essential themes of his faith. Such material of this nature as his followers could gather together after his death and publish has come down to us as the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is thus the fundamental document for the religion of Islam and is regarded by the faithful as the Holy, Revealed, Eternal Word of God. After the Prophet’s death, however, the growing community of his followers found that a great many problems of religion and even more of community life were arising for which there was no specific guidance in the Qur’an. Guidance was therefore sought in the Traditions, Hadith as to what the Prophet had said and done, or was reported to have said and done. This vast accumulation of genuine, partly genuine, and quite spurious traditions was presently digested into the collections of Hadith, six of which are considered to be the canonical collections. [These six canonical collections of Hadith are: the Sahih of al-Bukhari (d. 256 A.H., 870 A.D.), the Sahih of Muslim (d. 261 A.H., 875 A.D.), the Jami’ of at-Tirmidhi (d. 279 A.H., 892 A.D.), the Sunan of Abu Dawud (d. 275 A.H., 888 A.D.), the Sunan of Ibn Maja (d. 273 A.H., 886 A.D.), and the Sunan of an-Nasa’i (d. 303 A.H., 915 A.D.).] But as these canonical collections were primarily concerned with material of a juristic nature, it follows that much material of importance for the religion of Islam had to be drawn from the other, uncanonical collections. It was well known to Muslims that much of the Hadith material was spurious, but for the study of Islam even those traditions which the community invented and attributed to Muhammad have their value, often as much value as those which may actually have come from him.
Muhammad called his new religion “Islam,” a word which means submission, that is, submission to the will of Allah, the Lord. One who accepts Islam and makes such submission is a Muslim. Such a person is termed a mu’min (believer), and one who does not accept Islam is a kafir (unbeliever). To live in submission to Allah and in obedience to the teaching of the Prophet a Muslim, a Muslim must follow a rule formulated for him as a good Muslim. Such a rule is provided in the Shariah which is in the first instance on the Qur’an, in the second instance on the Hadith, the Traditions, in the third instance on Ijma’, the consensus of the community, and in the fourth instance on qiyas, the application of analogical reasoning to the other three sources for the deduction of new rules. Obviously, the Prophet’s intention was that the community should be a single community and the Shari’a its common rule of life. After his death, however, party strife broke out under his successors, the caliphs, three out of the first four of whom died by violence. Under the fourth caliph, `All, the Prophet’s cousin and husband of his daughter Fatima, the community was torn in two. The legitimists, who held that the succession should remain in the Prophet’s family and that ‘Ali should have been the first caliph, have developed into the Shi’a sects, which are still a minority group in Islam. The great mass of Muslims, however, form the Sunni sect, ruled over at first by the caliphs of the Umayyad Dynasty reigning in Damascus, and then by the ‘Abbasid Dynasty reigning in Baghdad, until the caliphate was taken over by the Turks.
In Sunni Islam there were various attempts by learned jurists to work out a systematized formulation of the Law, the Shari’a. Gradually four [Those of Abu Hanifa (d. 150 A.H., 767 A.D.), Malik b. Anas (d. 179 A.H., 795 A.D.), ash-Shafi`i (d. 204 A.H., 820 A.D.), and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 240 A.H., 855 A.D.).] such systematizations succeeded in imposing themselves on the community, so that today most Sunni Muslims will be found following the madhhab (system) of one of these four, ordering their religious and community life according to the prescriptions worked out by the jurists of one of these schools. There is nothing binding in adherence to any one of these four, so that individuals can and do change for various reasons from one madhhab to another, just as among Christians a Baptist may become, if he wishes, an Episcopalian, or an Episcopalian a Baptist.
There were also attempts at an early period to work out some formulation of the beliefs and practices of Muslims. In the Qur’an itself there were passages which briefly summarized the things a Muslim should believe, and somewhat more elaborate statements are to be found in the Traditions. These were too brief, however, to be sufficient and too bare to be satisfying to inquiring minds, especially where such minds had become aware of the existence of theological formulations in the hands of followers of other religions with whom they were in contact and not uncommonly in controversy: so ere long we find circulating, under the names of certain famous divines, what may justly be called credal statements. These presently became the subject of discussion and commentary until in time there grew up an Islamic theology and a Muslim science of dogmatics. One result of this theological activity was that Islam, as other religions, developed its heretical sects, so that a part of the task of dogmatics is to distinguish orthodox belief and practice more precisely from various forms of heretical teaching.
The two schools in which orthodox Sunni teaching found its final crystallization are those of the Ash’arites and of the Maturidites. [These are the followers respectively of Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’arl (d. 324 A.H., 935 A.D.) and Abu’l-Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 333 A.H., 944 A.D.).] Most of the standard theological treatises still studied in Muslim centers of learning come from one or the other of these schools. The simple general statement common to them both is that orthodox Islam consists of (a) iman (faith) in six things most truly believed: in Allah, His angels, His books, His prophets, the Last Day, and the predestination of good and evil; together with (b) din (religious practices), or the five pillars of Islam: profession of faith, prayers, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. For the content of these six articles of faith and five practical duties, the reader is referred to the appropriate sections of this anthology, where they are described.
Devotional life among Muslims has been fostered by the daily prayers, by frequenting mosques, by meditation, by the devotional reading of the Qur’an, and by participation in annual feasts and fasts. Besides these practices, however, there grew up among the devotionally minded in Islam a distinctive Islamic mysticism. In its development of practical techniques for the devotional life, this trend finally embodied itself in the Dervish Orders which are widespread throughout the world of Islam, and on the intellectual side developed a somewhat complex but highly interesting mystical theology. Within the limited scope of this anthology, however, it was not possible to include material illustrative of the theological and philosophical developments in Islam.
Arthur Jeffery
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p xi-xiv)
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 3-4)
If it is true, as we are often told, that Christianity is Christ, there is also a sense in which it is true that Islam is Muhammad. It was from his preaching in seventh-century Arabia that the religion got its start. Its Scripture, the Qur’an, bears the impress of his mind, with its enthusiasms and its limitations, from the first page to the last. The sunna enshrined in the corpus of Traditions, both canonical and uncanonical, is from one point of view nothing more than an attempt to get Muhammad’s personal authority as backing for every detail of public or private conduct. In this sense it is an attempt to provide the faithful Muslim with material for an imitatio Muhammedis more far-reaching in its consequences than any imitatio Christi has ever been. There are thus two figures of Muhammad, the Muhammad of history and the Muhammad of faith, the historical preacher who lived and labored in seventh-century Arabia and the mythical figure of the Prophet which lives in the faith of his community.
The historical Muhammad is said to have been born about 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca of a poor and humble but well-connected family. Left an orphan at an early age, he was cared for by relatives, and as a youth seems to have worked as a camel-herdsman. In his youth he may possibly have gone with some of his kindred on caravan journeys to the markets of the north. Certainly he went later with the caravan of a wealthy Meccan widow, who, when he was twenty-five, married him and became the mother of all his children who survived. In about his fortieth year he went through the religious experience from which he emerged with a conviction that he had a prophetic mission to his own people. There was at first amused tolerance and then some persecution in Mecca, so that in the year 622 he left for Madina on that well-known “flight” which became the starting point for the Muslim era, whose lunar years A.H. (anno Hegirae) contrast with our solar years A.D. Once established in Madina, Muhammad became less a preacher and prophet than a community leader and man of state, and we witness that curious change of character which develops steadily until his death from a wasting fever in 632.
The earliest Muslim Life of the Prophet that has come down to us is one by Ibn Hisham (d. 219 A.H. = 834 A.D.). There is a German translation of this by Gustav Weil, Das Leben Mohammeds, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1864), and an English translation by A. Guillaume (London, 1955). Aloys Sprenger’s Das Leben and die Lehre des Mohammed, 2nd ed., 3 vols. (Berlin, 1839), and Sir William Muir’s Life o f Mohammad, ed. T. H. Weir (Edinburgh, 1923), are full-dress biographies of the Prophet still worth reading. Of more critical studies perhaps the best are D. S. Margoliouth’s Mohammed and the Rise of Islam (London, 1905); Tor Andrae, Mohammad, translated by T. Menzel as Mohammed, the Man and His Message (New York, 1936); F. Buhl and H. H. Schaeder, Das Leben M uhammeds (Heidelberg, 1955). An attempt at a more favorable evaluation of Muhammad has been made by W. Montgomery Watt in two volumes, Muhammad at Mecca (Oxford, 1953) and Muhammad at Medina (Oxford, 1956).
For some account of the curious development of the mythical Muhammad, the older book by S. W. Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism (London, 1889), may be consulted, and in particular the critical study by Tor Andrae, Die Person Muhammeds in Lehre and Glauben seiner Gemeinde (Stockholm, 1918).
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 3-4)
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 47-48)
The Qur’an is the scripture of Islam. It is called the Noble Qur’an, the Glorious Qur’an, the Mighty Qur’an, but never the Holy Qur’an save by modern, Western-educated Muslims who are imitating the title Holy Bible. It contains the substance of Muhammad’s deliverances during the twenty-odd years of his public ministry. It is clear that he had been preparing a book for his community which would be for them what the Old Testament was for the Jews and the New Testament for the Christians, but he died before his book was ready, and what we have in the Qur’an is what his followers were able to gather together after his death and issue as the corpus of his “revelations.” Orthodox Muslim theory, however, holds that, this. material was all there just as we have it today, in a heavenly archetype, whence it was revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad bit by bit as circumstances warranted, was written down by scribes as it was proclaimed by Muhammad, was collated by him and Gabriel with the heavenly original, and was all ready for publication by the Prophet’s successors at his death.
In style it is in rhymed prose, closely resembling the form in which the pre-Islamic soothsayers of Arabia set forth their pronouncements. Its present arrangement is doubtless that given it by the committee appointed by the third caliph, `Uthman, to issue an official recension of the text. In this arrangement we find the whole divided into 114 chapters (Suras) of varying lengths, generally the longer coming at the beginning and the shorter at the end, preceded by a prayer entitled the Fdtiha (Opener) and closed by two little charms, known as al-Mu’awidhdhatdn. None of the longer Suras save Sura XII deals with any one subject consistently, and in most of them will be found material coming from the most varied periods of the Prophet’s ministry. The arrangement is clearly haphazard, though some modern Muslim writers make fantastic attempts to show a purposeful arrangement of, the material in the Suras. Since the Prophet’s style of utterance changed markedly as he moved from period to period of his mission, it has been customary since the days of Weil 1 and Noldeke 2 to class material in four periods: I. Early Meccan; 11. Middle Meccan; 111. Late Meccan; IV. Madinan. In Richard Bell’s The Qur’an: Translated with a Critical Rearrangement of the Surahs (Edin-burgh, 1938-39) an attempt has been made by means of printing devices to show the structure of each Sara and the periods to which the various units may be provisionally assigned.
There have been many translations of the Qur’an into various languages, both of the East and the West. There is an excellent French version by Regis Blachere (Paris, 1949-50), and one in Dutch by J. H. Kramers (Amsterdam, 1956). In English the above mentioned translation by Bell is by far the best for serious study, though for the general reader perhaps the most convenient is Rodwell’s translation (available in Everyman’s Library). Arberry’s translation, in two volumes (London, 1955), makes an attempt to preserve the stylistic, rhythmic units of the original. The translations by Marmaduke Pickthall, by N. J. Dawood, and by the Indian Muslims Muhammad `Ali and Yasuf `Ali are not recommended.
For critical study of the Qur’an the student should consult: T. Noldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, 2nd ed. by F. Schwally, G. Bergstrasser, and O. Pretzl in 3 parts (Leipzig, 1909-38); Edward Sell, The Historical Development of the Qur’an (London, 1909); Regis Blachere, Introduction au Coran (Paris, 1947); Richard Bell, Introduction to the Qur’an (Edinburgh, 1952); XV. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur’an (London, 1911); I. Goldziher, Die Richtungen der islatnischen Koranauslegung (Leiden, 1920); H. U. W. Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur’an (London, 1919); Harris Birkeland, The Lord Guideth: Studies on Primitive Is-lam (Oslo, 1956).
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 47-48)
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 71)

Once the preaching of Muhammad began to attract attention and the body of his followers to increase, there inevitably arose the need for some clear formulation of what this new religious teaching was and what was expected from converts who broke with the old paganism of their forefathers to follow it. Muhammad claimed to be restoring the religion of Abraham (VI, 161/162; III, 65/58 ff.; II, 124/118 ff.), yet his religion was clearly not that of the Jews or the Christians, who also claimed to be the spiritual children of Abraham. In the Qur’an we find certain directions about prayers, alms, fasting, and pilgrimage, and it seems highly probable that Muhammad during the years in Madina gave his followers some definite formulation of the things they were to believe and the religious rites they were to practice. No such formulation appears, however, either in the Qur’an or in the earliest strata of Tradition. What we do have is a number of brief and variant statements about some of the things that are part of true belief and part of the Muslim rule of life.
As the expansion of their empire brought Muslim people more and more into contact with other religious communities, the necessity for formulating more precisely what Islam was as contrasted with these other religions became urgent. This urgency was sharpened by-some would say was really initiated by-the rise of dissident groups within Islam itself, for one must know what true Islam is if one is to distinguish it clearly from what falsely claims to be Islam. There exists quite a number of early compendiums of belief and practice intended to explain in brief compass what Islam is. Commonly these are associated with some well-known his-torical occasion or attached to some famous name. Though the attribution may be false, these compendiums themselves are of great interest. Later there came into circulation more elaborate credal statements (`aqa’id, sing., `aqida), and later still commentaries on these, theological treatises, and even catechisms.
See M. Keijzer, De Leerstellingen van de mohammed-aansche Godsdienst (Gorinchem, 1854); M. T. Houtsma,
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 71)
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 85)
The first and most important doctrine in the creed of Islam is the doctrine of God. The name Allah, as the Qur’an itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Arabia. The common theory is that it is formed from ilah, the common word for a god, and the article al-; thus al-ilah, the god,” becomes Allah, “God.” This theory, however, is untenable. In fact, the name is one of the words borrowed into the language in pre-Islamic times from Aramaic. The old Arabian paganism both in North and in South Arabia was polytheistic, but under the influence of the surrounding culture a strong movement toward monotheism had developed. The legends about the Hanifs are one evidence of this. Muhammad was only one of several preachers of monotheism in the Arabia of his day.
It has frequently been pointed out how Muhammad’s concept of Allah in the Qur’an falls far short of that of other monotheistic religions of the Near East, but he does emphasize Allah’s uniqueness, and the moral attributes of Allah are there even though they are largely overshadowed by the attributes of transcendence. Thus it follows for orthodox Islam that the greatest of all sins is shirk or “association,” i.e., giving to anyone or anything even the smallest share in Allah’s unique sovereignty. Theology has lovingly, though rigorously, developed the doctrine of God, the technical term for which is tawhid, literally, “the making one.” Muslims are al-muwahhidun, “those who maintain the Oneness.”
(Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, Arthur Jeffery, 1958, p 85)


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Posted on 17 Maret 2009, in Pemikiran and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Komentar.

  1. ik ben een trotse moslima

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