THE increased interest manifested in relation to all matters affecting the East, and the great attention now given to the study of comparative religion, seem to indicate that the time has come when an attempt should he made to place before the English-speaking people of the world a systematic exposition of the doctrines of the Muslim Faith. The present work is intended to supply this want, by giving in a tabulated form, a concise account of the doctrines, rites, ceremonies, and customs, together with the technical and theological terms of the Muslim religion.
Although compiled by a clergyman who has had the privilege of being engaged in missionary work at Peshawar for a period of twenty years, this “DICTIONARY OF ISLAM” is not intended to be a controversial attack on the religious system of Muhammad, but rather an exposition of its principles and teachings.
Divided, as the Muslim world is, into numerous sects, it has been found impossible to take into consideration all the minor differences which exist amongst them. The Dictionary is, for the most part, an exposition of the opinions of the Sunnis sect, with explanations of the chief points on which the Shiah and Wahhabi schools of thought differ from it. Very special attention has been given to the views of the Wahhabis, as it is the Author’s conviction that they represent the earliest teachings of the Muslim Faith as they came from Muhammad and his immediate successors: When it is remembered that, according to Mr. Wilfrid Blunt’s estimate, the Shiah sect only numbers some ten millions out of the one hundred and seventy five millions of Muslims in the world, it will be seen that, in compiling a Dictionary of Islam, the Shiah tenets must of necessity occupy a secondary place in the study of the religion. Still, upon all important questions of theology and jurisprudence, these differences have been noticed.
The present book does not profess to be a Biographical Dictionary, Slane supplies this. But short biographical notices of persons connected with the early history of Islam have been given, inasmuch as many of these persons are connected with religious dogmas and ceremonies; the martyrdom of Husain, for instance, as being the foundation of the Muharram ceremonies; Abu Hanifah, as connected with a school of jurisprudence; and the Khalifah ‘Umar as the real founder of the religious and political power of Islam. In the biographical notice of Muhammad, the Author has expressed his deep obligations to WILLIAM MUIR’s great work, the Life of Mahomet.
It is impossible for anyone to write upon the subject of Islam without being largely indebted, not only to Sir William Muir’s books, but also to the works of the late MR. LANE the author of Modern Egyptians, new editions of which have been edited by MR. STANLEY LANE POOL. Numerous quotations from these volumes will be found in the present work.
But whilst the Author has not hesitated in this compilation to avail hiniself of the above and similar works, he has, during a long residence amongst Muslim peoples, been able to consult very numerous Arabic and Persian works in their originals, and to obtain the assistance of very able Muslim native scholars of all schools of thought in Islam.
He is specially indebted to DR. F. STEINGASS, of the University of Munich, the author of the English-Arabic and Arabic-English Dictionaries, for a careful revision of the whole work The interesting article on WRITING is from the pen of this distinguished scholar, as well as some valuable criticisms on the composition of the QUR’AN, and a biographical sketch of the Khalifah ‘Umar.
Orientalists may, perhaps, be surprised to find that SIKHISM has been treated as a sect Of Islam, but the Compiler has been favoured with a very able and scholarly article on the subject by Mr. F. PINCOTT, M.R.A.S., in which he shows that “the religion of Nanak was really intended as a compromise between Hinduism and Islam, if it may not even be spoken of as the religion of a Muslim sect,” – the publication of which in the present work seemed to be most desirable.
At the commencement of the publication of the work, the Author received very valuable assistance from. the Rev. F.A.P. SHIRRIFF, M.A., Principal of the Lahore Divinity College, as well as from other friends, which he must gratefully acknowledge.
Amongst the numerous suggestions which the author received for the compilation of this Dictionary, was one from a well~known Arabic scholar, to the effect that the value of the work would be enhanced if the quotations from the Qur’an, and from the Traditions, were given in their original Arabic. This, however, seemed incompatible with the general design of the book. The whole structure of the work is intended to be such as will make it available to English scholars unacquainted with the Arabic language; and, consequently, most of the information given will be found under English words – rather than under their Arabic equivalents. For example, for information regarding the attributes of the Divine Being, the reader must refer to the English GOD, and not to the Arabic ALLAH; for all the ritual and laws regarding the liturgical service, to the English PRAYER and not to the Arabic SALAT; for the marriage laws and ceremonies, to the English MARRIAGE, and not to the Arabic NIKAH. It is hoped that, in this way, the information given will be available to those who are entirely unacquainted with Oriental languages, or, indeed, with Eastern life.
The quotations from the Qur’an have been given chiefly from Palmer’s and Rodwell’s translations; and those in the Qur’anic narrative of Biblical characters (Moses for example) have been taken from MR. STANLEY LANE POOLE’s edition of Lane’s Selection. But, when needful, entirely new translations of quotations from the Qur’an have been given.
The “DICTIONARY OF ISLAM” has been compiled with very considerable study and labour, in the hope that it will be useful to many; — to the Government official called to administer justice to Muslim peoples; to the Christian missionary engaged in controversy with Muslim scholars; to the Oriental traveller seeking hospitality amongst Muslim peoples; to the student of comparative religion anxious to learn the true teachings of Islam ;-to all, indeed, who care to know what are those leading principles of thought which move and guide one hundred and seventy-five millions of the great human family, forty millions of whom are under the rule of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Empress of India.
July 23rd, 1885
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam