How were pagans treated under Islamic rule
Islam from a Catholic point of view
1. From Abraham to Muhammad
The believers of Islam also refer to Abraham, the physical and spiritual progenitor of Judaism: the Muslims. You see in the son of Abraham Ishmael (cf. Genesis 16:16 and 17:20), the ancestor of the Arab tribes from which the great prophet of Islam, Muhammad (570 - 632 AD; often pronounced Mohammed in the West), originates. Born in the Arab trading city of Mecca, raised as an orphan by relatives, happily married to the wealthy and 15 years older merchant Kadijah, Muhammad knew himself to be called to be prophet and messenger of God around the year 610: He should - like Abraham, Ishmael before him , Moses and many other prophets - proclaiming the people again the belief in the one and only God (Arabic: Allah). The polytheism, which was common in Mecca at that time, should come to an end. The Kaaba, according to Arabic tradition of Adam, first Church of the world built and rebuilt by Abraham after the destruction by the Flood, is to be cleansed of idols and pagan customs. Until his death in 632, Muhammad repeatedly experienced "revelations" (transmitted by the angel Gabriel, Arabic Jibril), which were recorded in the Koran (Arabic Quran, literally: reading) at irregular intervals. Kadijah - she remains Muhammad's only wife during her lifetime - and some Meccans believe in him, others reject his sermon about the judgment of God and about the raising of the dead on the last day as a fraud.
2. Muhammad succeeds
Hostile and disappointed, the "Messenger of Allah" leaves Mecca with his loyal companions in 622 and moves to Jathrib (later called Medina, city of the Prophet), where he is welcomed and his religious, social, political and military talents are appreciated. This emigration (Hijra) is the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad becomes the successful founder, leader and general of a growing Muslim society, ordered according to the instructions of "Allah and His Messenger". The Ummah, the community of Muslims, is now increasingly differentiating itself from the Jews and Christians, who, like Muslims, believe in one God, but not in the manner prescribed by the Koran. After a few armed conflicts - the Battle of Badr is famous - Muhammad succeeds in moving into Mecca and the Kaaba of polytheism - in addition to the creator god Allah, there are z. B. three more "daughters of Allah" worshiped - to purify. Although Muhammad married more than a dozen women (including a Coptic Christian) and fathered many children after the death of Kadijah (619), no son survived him, so that the question of the legitimate succession in the leadership of the Umma is still controversial among Muslims to this day is (Sunnis, Shiites).
3. The Koran (Quran)
The Koran, divided into 114 suras (chapters), is the culmination and conclusion of all divine revelations for Muslims. It is recognized that God sent the Torah down to Moses and the Messiah Jesus (Arabic Isa) the Gospel (Arabic: Al-Indschil), but immediately added the Ahl al-Kitab, ie the "people of the Scriptures" (= Jews and Christians) have falsified these scriptures, which is why the Bible can no longer be relied on. According to Muslim beliefs, the Koran is quite different: Here every verse is dictated literally by God in Arabic to the "Messenger" and has been faithfully handed down ever since. The Koran is incomprehensibly beautiful and wonderful, no one could invent such verses! With the death of Muhammad, the "seal of the prophets", the chain of God's prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and many others, came to an end. In the Arabic Quran, God said his last, most beautiful and unsurpassable word for all of humanity (and also for the Djin, invisible beings created from fire). What does God expect from his creatures? - Islam! This Arabic word means submission and submission. And whoever submits to Allah is a Muslim, a devotee, or a Muslim, a devotee. The first sura - "the opening one" (Al-Fatiha) - is also the most quoted:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
the Merciful, the Merciful,
the ruler on the day of judgment!
We serve you and we call for help to you.
Guide us on the right path,
the way of those to whom you are gracious,
not of those whom you are angry with and of those who go astray. "
4. The six Articles of Faith
At the center of Islam is the belief in the uniqueness and sublimity of God. Any pictorial representation of him is prohibited. To put someone or anything at the side of God is called shirk ("addition") and is considered the greatest crime. The Christian belief in a differentiation in God (Trinity) and in the incarnation of God in Jesus is rejected as blasphemous. God, the Creator and Lord of the world, is far too great and exalted to be human. A crucified God cannot be at all. It is grace enough that God "sent down" his word to the prophets, who are all only human beings.
"O you believers, believe in Allah and His Messenger and in the Book that He sent down to His Messenger and in the Scriptures that He sent down before. And whoever does not Allah and his Angel and his Books and his Envoy and to the Judgment Day believes that he has truly gone astray. "(Koran, Sura 4,136)
In addition to the five beliefs mentioned in this verse of the Koran, there is the sixth Cadre, the predestination of good and bad, in addition. Muslims do not want this to be understood as fatalism. Man also has a free will, but the all-determining God in his omniscience has "taken into account" man's freedom from the start. (Similar positions are also held in Christianity.)
Fundamental is the belief in the physical resurrection of the dead on the last day and in the judgment of God, before which every human being has to give an account. The good will be rewarded with Paradise, the wicked will be punished with Hell (forever or at least for a while). Those who remain Muslim will be saved, even if they have to go into the fire temporarily because of their sins. Because - as it is said again and again in the Koran - "Allah is Forgiving".
5. The five pillars (duties) of Islam
Shahada: Testimony. Muslim is whoever testifies to faith: "I testify that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God."
salad: ritual prayer. It is a duty for men and women (from 7 years of age) to perform certain prayers five times during the day in the direction of Mecca (direction of prayer = kibla), namely before sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, after sunset and at the beginning of the night. If possible, it should be prayed in community. In Islamic countries, the muezzin calls to prayer from the minaret (tower next to that of the mosque, the house for worship). Sura 1 (see above!) Is recited with every ritual prayer. On Friday, the holy day of Islam, the midday prayer is compulsory as a community prayer (sermon and prayer service in the mosque). Women are allowed to participate. Muslims pray with their whole bodies (standing, bowing, touching the ground with their foreheads, sitting). The imam (prayer leader) demonstrates the individual gestures. He is a layman, not a priest. Islam prides itself on the need for no priesthood, no sacraments, and no savior or mediator between God and man.
Zakat: the "poor tax". Every Muslim is obliged to pay a fee once a year for charitable and missionary institutions of Islam (around 2.5% of his net income, 10% of the harvest).
hem: fasting. All healthy people (from puberty) must fast in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (lunar year) from sunrise to sunset, i.e. H. they are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke and abstain from sex. Fasting teaches self-discipline and strengthens thinking about God.
Hajj: the pilgrimage. If they are financially able, Muslims have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca to the Kaaba once in their life and perform certain rites there (and in the vicinity). Here Muslims experience particularly strongly the power of Islam that unites all nations, races, skin colors and languages. All men must wear the same white pilgrim clothing (unhemmed linen).
6. The Sunnah
In addition to the Koran, which contains not only religious and moral instructions, but also legal and political instructions, the Sunna (= habit), the way of life of Muhammad, is also the standard for Muslim faith and life. Because: "He who obeys the Messenger obeys God." (Sura 4,80) Hadith is the tradition of something that the sinless and infallible prophet said, did or quietly tolerated. There are extensive collections of hadiths. The more serious a hadith, the more authority it has. Here are two examples of sayings of Muhammad:
"Neither of you is a believer until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
(from An-Nawawi: Forty Hadith)
(The envoy to women :) "Give alms, for most of you are fuel for the fire of hell!" Then a dark-cheeked woman stood up and said: "Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Because you women are so often dissatisfied and show yourself ungrateful to your husbands."
(from Sahih Muslim, Vol. II A, p. 22, Hadith 885 R1.)
7. Comprehensive order
The universal order of Islam, the Sharia ("way to the water"), wants to regulate all areas of religion, law, ethics and politics and is based not only on the Koran and Sunna but also on the consensus of the scholars (ijma) and the method of Conclusion by analogy (Kiyas).
Every human act is classified (religious-ethical). It can be
- commanded (fard): Whoever does it will be rewarded; those who fail to do so are punished.
- recommended (mandub): Those who do them will be rewarded; whoever fails to do so will not be punished.
- allowed, indifferent (mubah): They attract neither wages nor punishments.
- disapproves (makruh): Those who avoid them will be rewarded, those who do them will not be punished.
- forbidden (haram): Those who avoid them will be rewarded; whoever does it will be punished.
In specific legal cases, the Kadi (a judge trained at an Islamic university) decides, while fundamental judgments (fatwa) are made by the Mufti (state-recognized legal expert). It is discussed within Islam whether and how an adaptation of the Sharia to modern civil legal systems and to the "Western way of life" is possible. Muslims have a duty to work for the establishment of an Islamic society around the world, whereby the work for this, jihad (literally: effort, incorrectly referred to as "holy war"), is not understood primarily as a military effort today. For Muslims, politics and religion are inseparable. Christians and Jews are to be granted the right to live and a limited right to practice religion on Islamic sovereign territory. Often this Islamic principle was and is handled very generously, but sometimes also very restrictively. Since Jews and Christians had to pay "poll tax" and were an important source of income for Islamic rulers, there was not always great interest in their conversion to Islam.
8. Ritual purity and dietary requirements
Prayer - as taught by Islam - is only valid and accepted by God only when those who pray are in a state of ritual "purity". Body, clothing and place of prayer must be "clean". In the case of minor impurities (e.g. after defecation), partial washing (wudu) is prescribed before prayer; in the case of greater impurity (after ejaculation, menstruation, cohabitation, childbirth), washing of the whole body (ghusl). Like most acts, the Muslim begins the ablutions with the "Bismallah", the opening words of almost all suras of the Koran:
Bism illah ir-rahman ir-rahim! - In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!
Islam also knows food regulations: blood, pork and the meat of animals that have died or have not been properly slaughtered are forbidden. Intoxicating drinks are also prohibited. Only in the eternal gardens of paradise will the believers be able to drink as much wine as they want.
9. Calendar, festivals, celebrations
In the Christian year 2000, the year 1421 began for Muslims after the Hijra (see above!). The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the crescent moon (Hilal, often wrongly called "crescent") is an important symbol of Islam. The festivals can fall in very different seasons of the solar year.
The month of fasting Ramadan is of the greatest importance, because on the 27th of this month in the "Night of Destiny" (Laylat al-Kadr) the first revelation of the Koran is said to have occurred to Muhammad. The end of Ramadan is the celebration of the breaking of the fast (Arabic Id al-Fitr, Turkish Sheker Bayram). The second great festival of Islam, the Festival of Sacrifice (Arabic Id al-Adhan, Turkish Kurban Bayrami), placed at the end of the rites of the pilgrimage to Mecca, is dedicated to the memory of Abraham, who out of devotion to God would even have been willing to sacrifice his son (cf. Koran Sura 37,100-11 and Genesis 22,1-9). Families slaughter a lamb or a goat. Community prayer is compulsory for men on both festivals. Women are allowed to participate.
In some Islamic countries there are also the birth of the Prophet (Maulid an-Nabi), with presents for the children on the feast day, and his nocturnal journey into heaven (Arab. Isra), which he once made from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there to heaven should have made - the Dome of the Rock reminds of it - celebrated. The Ashura festival reminds the Sunnis of the rescue of Noah (Nuh) in the ark, the Shiites above all of the martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson Hussain in 680 AD at the battle of Karbala.
The circumcision of boys is festively celebrated in the group of relatives. and the wedding, with the bride and groom's families celebrating the conclusion of the marriage contract.
Before the burial, the deceased must be ritually washed. They are supposed to be buried within 24 hours (traditionally without a coffin) in a grave facing Mecca.
10. Justice, truthfulness, respect for life and property
In the Koran it says: "Allah wants to ease your burden, for man was created weak." (Sura 4,28) Islam sees itself as a relief compared to its predecessor religions Judaism and Christianity. The highest maxim of Islamic morality is justice. God is a just judge and a reward, but also a merciful and forgiving. Bad actions have to be compensated by good ones. The life, reputation and property of the neighbor must be respected, the parents honored. Lies are to be avoided. A woman's testimony counts less than a man's in court. Taking interest is condemned as usury; acts of violence, robbery and theft are severely punished (sura 5:38: "Chop off the thief's hands ..."). Alcohol consumption and gambling are prohibited. Love of one's enemy is not required, revenge is not forbidden, but it should be moderate. Instead of practicing blood revenge, it is recommended to take atonement. Inheriting and bequeathing is only possible among Muslims. Daughters get a smaller portion of the inheritance because they don't have to look after the family.
11. Sexuality, marriage, family
Chastity is important, but celibacy is not considered an ideal. Muslims should get married. A Muslim may also marry a Christian or a Jew (but not a woman who believes in many gods), whereas a Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim. Sexual intercourse is only permitted for married couples (except for the man with his slaves). Sexual offenses (e.g. adultery, homosexual practice) are highly criminal offenses. The marriage contract gives the woman economic security. The husband has to provide for the livelihood of the family and may demand obedience from his wife, who is primarily supposed to be a housewife and mother, and even beat her if necessary (cf. Sura 4,34). The Koran allows a Muslim to have up to four wives at the same time if he can treat them fairly. Only Muhammad had permission from Allah for an unlimited number of wives: "A special privilege for you in front of the believers!" (Sura. 33.50) Divorce is possible after a prescribed procedure, also on the part of the woman (more difficult!). From puberty onwards, every woman is obliged to wear a hijab (veil, covering from head to toe) in public (cf. Sura 33:59). The clitoral circumcision of girls practiced in some Islamic countries (Egypt, Sudan, Black Africa) is not prescribed in the Koran (but approved by Muhammad) and is condemned as a barbaric custom by many Muslims today. From a historical point of view, it must be said that Islam brought Arab women a better position in the time of Muhammad.
12. Divisions, schools of law, "colors"
After the death of Muhammad, the community split because they could not agree on the successor to Muhammad.The Sunnis, who now make up 90 percent of Muslims, advocated some kind of election of the head of the community, called the caliph (deputy), from the Kuraishite tribe, while the Shiites were of the opinion that the head of the community, called the imam, had to quit of the Prophet's family. The Sunnis consider the four first caliphs to be particularly relevant: Abu Bakr (632-634), Umar (634-644), who conquered Jerusalem and thus the holy places of the Jews and Christians, and Uthman (644-656), who standardized the text of the Koran and fixed (653), and Ali (656-661), the husband of the Muhammad daughter Fatima (who is venerated as the first imam by the Shiites). While there are no more Sunni caliphs today, the Shiites attach importance to the fact that the last in the chain of imams - they all descended from Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad - is still secretly leading the community and one day as Mahdi (the Guided), a kind of Messiah who will return to earth and establish a just society. The term Shiites comes from Schia, which means party (of Ali). The Shia is common in Yemen, Iran, India, Syria and Africa. The largest group among the Shiites is the Twelve Shia. She considers the 12th Imam to be the Imam who has been hidden since 940 AD. There are many parties, splits and special formations of Islam (Karijites, Zaydites, Ishmaelites, Alawis, Druze etc.).
In the course of history, four schools of law developed among the Sunnis, each interpreting the Koran and Sunna in detail in a special way: the Malikites (in North Africa), the Hanbalites (in Saudi Arabia), the Hanifites (Turkey, India, Egypt) and the Shafiites (in Palestine). They see themselves as equals. There is no dichotomy on fundamental issues.
When one speaks of the five "colors" of Islam, one means the five great cultural and linguistic associations: the Arab (North Africa, Middle East), the Turkish (Turkey, Central Asia, China), the Iran-Indian (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India), the Malay (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines) and the black (sub-Saharan Africa, blacks in the USA). Probably the Muslims in Western and Northern Europe will sooner or later represent their own "color" of Islam.
13. Jesus in Islam
The Koran speaks of Jesus (Isa) and his mother Mary (Maryam) with great respect. Mary is the only woman named in the Koran. Jesus is considered one of the great messengers of God. He was received virginally by Mary and gave testimony to God from the cradle. Allah gave him miraculous power. He could make birds out of clay, heal the sick, even raise the dead. But he must not be called "Son of God" or "God". Christians are specifically warned:
"O people of the Scriptures, do not exaggerate in your faith and speak only the truth about Allah. The Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Messenger of Allah and his word, which he put in Mary, and the Spirit of Him. Believe then Allah and His Messenger, and do not say, "Three." Forbear it - it is better for you! Allah is only one God. Praise Him! It is unthinkable that He should have a son! (Sura 4,171)
For Christians, the word of God (which belongs to the essence of God) is not only "audible" through the prophets and "readable" in the holy scriptures, but - and that is the point of Christianity! - became "flesh" in Jesus of Nazareth. They confess: The simple man Jesus, as he is, is at the same time God's word, of God's nature and essence. That is why one can rightly call this carpenter from Nazareth "Son of God". The one and only God is fully present in his Son Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. The Bible speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christian theologians call this "Trinity". Such a thing is incomprehensible for Muslims. The Eternal would never become a weak man. Should God humble himself to the point of crucifixion, as Christians claim? A Muslim writes:
"The very thought of the crucifixion is absurd. ... What Christians do not consider is the fact that the crucified were crucified naked. ... The idea of Christians that God humbles himself so deeply that he To allow himself to be mocked, ridiculed and mistreated by his enemies, by the meanest mob, and that HE ultimately suffers the most shameful and painful death between two real criminals, is for the believing Muslim a degradation of his concept of God, which he has had in his heart since childhood. " (Halid B. in http://www.fatih-moschee.de/Religioses/Jesus/jesus.html, in October 2000)
According to the Koran, Jesus did not suffer death on the cross (Sura 4,157), but Allah saved him from it and raised him to heaven. Somebody outwardly resembling him was crucified instead of him.
At the end of time - according to a Muslim tradition - Jesus will come back to earth, get married, kill all pigs, destroy crosses, churches and synagogues and work for the observance of Islam. After his death he will be buried next to Muhammad in Medina and await the resurrection.
14. Christians and Muslims
Around the world today there are around 1 billion Muslims and 2 billion members of Christian churches, including 1 billion Catholic Christians. In the course of history the relationship between Christians and Muslims has been very changeable. Under Islamic rule, Christians (like Jews) were allowed to be "protected" (dhimmi), i. H. worse off than Muslims, but better than pagans and unbelievers, live, yes, they were sometimes able to reach high offices. The Christians in Europe were always afraid of the conquests of Islam. They tried by force to regain the territories conquered by Islam and, above all, the holy places in Palestine. A lot of blood flowed. Christians today regret the use of force "in the name of Christ", but Muslims also admit that Islamic rulers waged unjust wars of aggression. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has endeavored to build a new respectful relationship with Islam. Other churches are trying to do something similar. As a Catholic Christian, I would like to state:
Common and differentiating
- Muslims and Christians believe in the one God, the Merciful, the Creator of the world, who raises all the dead to life.
- Muslims and Christians worship the one God, ask for his grace and believe that they must answer for their lives before God, the just and merciful Judge.
- Christians can see in Muhammad a sincere herald of the uniqueness of God, who in word, deed and way of life shows strong similarities with prophets of the Bible.
- For historical reasons, Christians cannot accept the denial of Jesus' death on the cross. They ask the Muslims whether the corresponding Quranic verse (Sura 4,157) may not be interpreted differently than traditionally.
- Christians admire the awe of devout Muslims for the greatness of the one God. But they do not believe that it contradicts the infinite greatness of God when God in Jesus of Nazareth voluntarily makes himself small and humiliated in order to be very close to people in their smallness, baseness, sinfulness and forlornness - loving and saving (incarnation, incarnation ). Rather, Christians have testified for 2000 years: "He emptied himself and became like a slave ..." (Philippians 2: 7) And: "He who was rich became poor because of you, in order to make you rich through his poverty." (2 Corinthians 8: 9)
- Christians believe that the theological talk of the "Trinity" of God is a stammering but legitimate attempt to put into words the indescribable mystery of life in God. They want to testify that God is inseparable from his eternal word, which he sent into the world, and from his eternal spirit, with which he is active throughout creation. Whoever deals with the Word of God is dealing with God himself, and whoever deals with the Spirit of God is dealing with God himself. There is only one god! Christians note with interest that in the Koran the one and only God speaks both as "I" and as "We".
- Christians are grateful for the great freedom to which Christ has set them free (cf. Galatians 5: 1) and ask Muslims whether some of the Koran's prescriptions are not time-bound and can be lived differently today without their original meaning - worship of the one god and righteous behavior towards fellow human beings - gets lost.
- We hope that one day Muslims and Christians in all countries of the world will be able to live on an equal footing in peace and in mutual helpfulness. For "our God and your God are one, and to him we are devoted" (sura 29:46).
Karl Veitschegger on November 4, 2000 / 6th Schaaban 1421
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