The religion of Muhammad is called by its followers al-Islam الاسلامa word which implies the entire surrender of the will of man to God. [ISLAM.] Its adherents speak of themselves as Muslims, pl. Muslimun, or Mu’min, pl. Mu’minun, a Mu’min being a “believer.”
In Persian these terms are rendered by the word Musalman, pl. Musalmanan.
The principles of Islam were first enunciated in portions of the Qur’an, as they wore revealed piecemeal by Muhammad, together with such verbal explanations as were given by bun to his followers; but when the final recension of the Qur’an was produced by the Khalifah ‘Usman, about twenty-two years alter Muhammad’s death, the Muslims possessed a complete book, which they regarded as the inspired and infallible word of God. [QUR'AN.] But. as an interpretation of its precepts, and as a supplement to its teachings, there also existed, side by side with the Qur’an the sayings, and practice of Muhammad, called the Ahadis and Sunnah. The traditions of what the Prophet “did and said” gradually laid the foundations of what is now called Islam. For whilst a canon in Islam that nothing can be received or taught which is contrary to the literal injunctions of the Qur’an, it is to the Traditions rather than to the Qur’an that we must refer for Muslim law on the subject of faith, knowledge purification. Prayer, alms giving, fasting, marriage, barter, inheritance. punishments, fate, duties of magistrates religious warfare, lawful food, death, Day of Judgment &c., and each collection of traditions has sections devoted be these subjects; so that it is open these traditional sayings, quite as much as upon the Qur’an itself, that the religious, and civil law of the Muslims is based, both Shi’ah and Sunni appealing alike to Tradition in support of their views.
When the Prophet was alive, men could go direct to him with their doubts and difficulties: and an infallible authority was always present to give “inspired” directions But after the deaths of all those who knew Muhammad personally, it became absolutely necessary to systematise the great mass of traditional sayings then afloat amongst Muslims, and thus various schools of jurisprudence were formed; the concurrent opinion of those learned regarding matters of dispute in Muslim law being called Ijma’ [Ijma']. Upon this naturally followed the system of analogical reasoning called Qiyas [QIYAS]; thus constituting the four “pillars” or foundations of Islam, known as the Qur’an, Hadis, Ijma’ and Qiyas.
Islam, whether it be Shi’ah, Sunni, or Wahhabi, is founded upon these four authorities, and it is not true, as is so frequently asserted that the Shiahs reject the Traditions. They merely accept different collections of Ahadis to those received by the Sunnis and Wahbabis. Nor do the Wahhabis reject Ijma’ and Qiyas, but they assort that Ijma’ was only possible in the earliest stages of Islam.
The Din, or religion of the Muslim is divided into Iman, or “Faith.” and ‘Amal or “Practice.”
Faith consists in the acceptance of six. articles of belief:—
1. The Unity of God.
2. The Angels.
3. The Inspired Books.
4. The Inspired Prophets.
5. The Day of Judgment.
6. The Decrees of God.
Practical Religion consists in the observance of.—
1. The recital of the Creed —- “There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God.”
2. The five stated periods of prayer.
3. The thirty days fast in the month Rsmazsn.
4. The payment of Zakat, or the legal alms.
5. The Hajj, or Pilgrimage to Makkah.
A belief in these six articles of faith, and the observance of these five practical duties, constitute Islam. He who thus believes and acts is called a Mu’min or ”believer ” but he who rejects any article of faith or practice is a Kafir, or “infidel.”
Muhummadan theology, which is very extensive, is divided into-
l. The Qur’an and its commentaries.
2. The Traditions and their commentaries.
3. Usul, or expositions on the principles of exegesis.
4. ‘Aqa’id, or expositions of scholastic theology founded on the six articles of faith.
5. Fiqh. or works on both civil and religious law. [THEOLOGY.]
Islam is, therefore, a system which affords a large field for patient study and research, and much of its present energy and vitality is to be attributed to the fact that, in all parts of Islam, there are in the various mosques students who devote their whole lives to the study of Muslim divinity.
The two leading principles of Islam are those expressed in its well-known creed, or kalimah, namely, a belief in the absolute unity of the Divine Being, and in the mission of Muhammad as the Messenger of the Almighty. [KALIMAH.]
” God! There is no God but He, the Ever-Living, the Ever-Subsisting. Slumber seiseth Him not nor sleep. To Him belongeth whatsoever is in the Heavens and whatsoever is in the Earth, Who is he that shall intercede with Him, save by his permission? He knoweth the things that have gone before hand the things that follow after, and men shall not compass aught of His knowledge, save what He willeth. His throne comprehendeth the Heavens and the Earth, and the care of them burdeneth Him not. And He is the High, the Great.’— Quran, ii. 256.
But with this Power there is also the gentleness that belongs only to great strength. God is the Guardian over His servants, the Shelterer of the orphan, the Guider of the erring, the Deliverer from every affliction; in His hand is Good, and He is the Generous Lord, the Gracious, the Hearer, the Near-at-Hand. Every surah of the Quran begins with thre words, ‘In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,’ and Mohammad was never tired of telling the people how God was Very-Forgiving, that His love for man was more tender than the mother-bird for her young.
Islam does not profess to be a new religion, formulated by Muhammad (nor indeed is it), but a continuation of the religious principles established by Adam, by Noah, by Abraham, by Moses, and by Jesus, as well as by other inspired teachers, for it is said that God sent not fewer than 313 apostles into the world to reclaim it from superstition and infidelity. The revelations of these great prophets are generally supposed to, have been lost, but God, it is asserted, had retained all that is necessary for man’s guidance in the Qur’an, although, as a matter of fact, a very large proportion of the ethical, devotional, and dogmatic teaching in Islam, comes from the traditional sayings of Muhammad and not from the Qur’an itself. [TRADITIONS.]
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam