Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Islam: A Way of Life

Copyright Date: 1970
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Professor Hitti, the distinguished orientalist, writes vividly and on a basis of lifelong scholarship about Islam, showing that it is not only a religion but also a state and a culture and that in these overlapping and interacting aspects it is a whole way of life. Writing of Islam the religion Professor Hitti describes it as a system of beliefs and practices initially revealed by Allah to Muhammad in the seventh century, enshrined in the Arabic Koran, complemented by tradition, and modified through the ages in response to changes in time and place. Islam the state, he shows, is a political entity with an aggregate of institutions based on koranic law, founded by Muhammad in Medina, developed by his successors (caliphs) at the expense of the Persian and East Roman empires to a height unattained in either ancient or medieval times, and then fragmented into splinter states in western Asia, northern Africa, and southwestern and southeastern Europe. Islam the culture, he explains, is a compound of varied elements -- ancient Semitic, Indo-Persian, Hellenic -- synthesizes under the caliphate and expressed primarily through the medium of the Arabic tongue. Unlike the other two, Islam the culture was mainly formulated by conquered peoples rather than by Arabians. From the middle of the eighth century to the end of the twelfth century, it was unsurpassed in its literary, scientific, and philosophic output. In the final chapter, discussing the confrontation of Islamic culture with modernity, the author maintains that the world can view with gratitude Arab contributions to the past and can look with hope to their accomplishments in the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6296-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [viii]-[viii])
  3. Islam the Religion

      (pp. 2-24)

      Islam is a way of life. As such it has three main aspects: religious, political, and cultural. The three overlap and interact, sometimes imperceptibly passing from one to the other.

      Islam the religion is a system of beliefs and practices initially revealed by Allah to Muhammad, enshrined in the Arabic Koran, supplemented by tradition, and modified through the ages in response to changes in time and place. It is the third and last major monotheistic religion. A historical offshoot of Judaism and Christianity, it is most closely related to them. Originally the simple, humble religion of a few unsophisticated tribes...

      (pp. 25-40)

      Few peoples in history seem to have been as susceptible to the influence of the word, spoken or written, as the “sons of Arabic,” the Arabs’ favorite designation of themselves. It was only in the field of verbal expression that pre-Islamic Arabians distinguished themselves. The extent to which they developed their language is surprising; it was out of proportion to the development of their political, social, and economic institutions. How illiterate camel breeders living in scattered tribes, with no political cohesion to unite them, could develop a refined, richly worded means of expression remains a mystery.

      Linguistic development culminated in...

      (pp. 41-53)

      Of all ancient peoples the Semites were not only the most religiously oriented but also the most legalistically minded. The Babylonian society, unlike its Sumerian predecessor, was based on divine law. Its great legislator Hammurabi (d. ca. 1686) incorporated Sumerian ordinances in his code but represented himself as receiving it directly from the sun god Shamash. The Hebrews continued the tradition. All legislation in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy was a direct revelation from Jehovah through Moses (Exod. 25:1, 35:1; Deut. 6:1). The Decalogue was written by Jehovah’s own hand on tablets and handed down to Moses (Exod. 24:12; 31:18...

      (pp. 54-69)

      Mysticism as a religious phenomenon is shared not only by the three Scriptured religions but by all other great religions, including Hinduism and Taoism. Every religious tradition has a mystical aspect, involving a mystery behind the veil separating the human from the superhuman, and there have always been those with the earnest desire to penetrate that veil. These individuals or groups in all religious denominations are not satisfied with the offerings of their established systems; they yearn for personal communion with Such daring souls venture to plunge into an uncharted sea.

      Being personal, that is, subjective and emotional, mysticism varies...

  4. Islam the State

      (pp. 72-86)

      At the beginning of the rise of Islam the two world powers were the Byzantine or East Roman Empire and the Persian Empire. One was Christian and the other Zoroastrian. It was truly startling that a new power, preaching a strange religion, emerged from little-known Arabia, stripped one of the two empires of its richest provinces in Asia and Africa, and destroyed the other to its very foundation. By 642, ten years after the death of the Prophet, the Persian Empire had been erased from the register of existence, and the Byzantine Empire had lost greater Syria (from the Taurus...

      (pp. 87-103)

      The shift from an Umayyad to an ’Abbasid regime was more than a dynastic change. It had geographic, ethnic, socioeconomic, and political aspects. Iraq moved to the forefront as Syria receded to the background; the orientation became toward Persia. The Arab aristocracy that had been in control was gradually replaced by a multi-ethnic group called Arab, in the sense of Arab-speaking, but including Neo- Moslems and clients — mostly Persians, who were under the of various Arabian tribes. As the military caste was deposed the preoccupation of the government turned from warfare to traded an industry. Gradually pensions paid to...

  5. Islam the Culture

      (pp. 106-120)

      Islam the culture, as was pointed out in the first chapter, unlike Islam the religion and Islam the state, was preponderantly the product of the intellectual activity of conquered peoples Arabicized and Islamized. A highly synthetic compound of disparate elements, it was interracial and interreligious. Moslems, Christians, and Jews, Semites, Hamites, and Indo-Europeans, all participated in its production. What is then called Arab culture or Moslem civilization was Arab in the sense of its being expressed in the Arabic language, rather than being the product of Arabians, and it was Moslem in the sense of its having been developed during...

      (pp. 121-137)

      In common with other Semites, the Arabs developed no system that could be called philosophy — unless it was their religious system. They did, however, have philosophy in its etymological sense, “love of wisdom.” Their early literature is rich in proverbs, wise sayings, anecdotes, and fables intended to inculcate courage, hospitality, tribal solidarity, and other virtues high in their scale of values. Their respect for the wise man (hakim, the same word as is used for physician) was great. The pre-Islamic Arab sage Luqman was adopted by Muhammad as the wise maker of proverbs and subsequently consecrated in the Koran,...

      (pp. 138-155)

      The word “literature” may be used in a broad, or etymological, sense to include any writing that has come to us from the past. Especially in the case of remote or little-known civilizations, a clay tablet, a parchment, or a stone bearing a marriage contract, a business transaction, or a medical prescription can be considered literature. In a more limited meaning, literature comprises writings that convey the highest thoughts or deepest emotions of a people expressed in poetry or elegant prose. Literary compositions are then only those which in form or content have aesthetic value. The Arabic word for “literature,”...

    • ART
      (pp. 156-175)

      In art as in science and philosophy the Moslem Arabian had heritage from which to draw. Of the products of creative imagination only poetry figured prominently in pre-Islamic Hijaz. Any relics of architecture, sculpture, or painting that survived in fact or in literature were devoid of aesthetic value and could hardly qualify as pieces of art. In none of these three fields was an artistic height attained before Muhammad. None became a scholarly discipline until one or two centuries later. The same could be said about music. If Arabic provided the spiritual complex, the conquered lands to the north offered...

      (pp. 176-184)

      The fall of the Moslem caliphate in the mid-thirteenth the successive Mongol invasions, and the rise of the successor states—mostly Persian and Turkish—left the Arab world in a state of blackout that lasted for no less than six centuries. It was a period of political and spiritual stagnation. The cause of the spiritual decadence, however, was not the loss of political power; the cause was rather than external. When a storm blows, it is the tree with the rotten core that is toppled.

      Books continued to be written, but they were mostly new versions of old material or...

    (pp. 185-186)
  7. Index
    (pp. 187-198)