A Reader on Classical Islam

A Reader on Classical Islam

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 440
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Reader on Classical Islam
    Book Description:

    To enable the reader to shape, or perhaps reshape, an understanding of the Islamic tradition, F. E. Peters skillfully combines extensive passages from Islamic texts with a fascinating commentary of his own. In so doing, he presents a substantial body of literary evidence that will enable the reader to grasp the bases of Muslim faith and, more, to get some sense of the breadth and depth of Islamic religious culture as a whole. The voices recorded here are those of Muslims engaged in discourse with their God and with each other--historians, lawyers, mystics, and theologians, from the earliest Companions of the Prophet Muhammad down to Ibn Rushd or "Averroes" (d. 1198), al-Nawawi (d. 1278), and Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406). These religious seekers lived in what has been called the "classical" period in the development of Islam, the era when the exemplary works of law and spirituality were written, texts of such universally acknowledged importance that subsequent generations of Muslims gratefully understood themselves as heirs to an enormously broad and rich legacy of meditation on God's Word.

    "Islam" is a word that seems simple to understand. It means "submission," and, more specifically in the context where it first and most familiarly appears, "submission to the will of God." That context is the Quran, the Sacred Book of the Muslims, from which flow the patterns of belief and practice that today claim the spiritual allegiance of hundreds of millions around the globe. By drawing on the works of the great masters--Islam in its own words--Peters enriches our understanding of the community of "those who have submitted" and their imposing religious and political culture, which is becoming ever more important to the West.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2118-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  4. Introduction: A Primer on Islam
    (pp. 3-7)

    Islam was not founded by Muhammad (ca. 570–632 C.E.); on the Muslim view, it is better understood as part of God’s merciful providence, present from all eternity but revealed at various moments in history through the agency of His Chosen Prophets. Muhammad was one of these latter, a mere man singled out by God—the divine name in Arabic,Allah, may obscure the fact that this is in truth the same universal God who spoke to Abraham, Moses, and Jesus—to communicate His final message to His creation. These revealed messages, warnings, and signs for all mankind were communicated...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Past, Sacred and Profane
    (pp. 8-42)

    The Christians accept Genesis as Scripture that is, God’s true word and so their account of Creation is identical with that of the Jews, though it was originally read, of course, in a Greek or later a Latin translation, and was often commented upon in a very diVerent way. For the Muslims, on the other hand, the Scripture called the Quran superseded the Book of Genesis; and though its source is the same as that in Genesis, God Himself, there are obvious diVerences in detail in its view of Creation.

    It was God who raised the skies without support, as...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Life and Work of the Prophet
    (pp. 43-98)

    Muhammad was the son of Abdullah, son of Abd al-Muttalib (whose name was Shayba), son of Hashim (whose name was Amr), son of Abd al-Manaf (whose name was al-Mughira), son of Qusayy (whose name was Zayd), son of Kilab, son of Murra, son of Ka‛b, son of Lu’ayy, son of Ghalib, son of Fihr, son of Malik, son of al-Nadr, son of Kinana, son of Khuzayma, son of Mudrika (whose name was Amir), son of Ilyas, son of Mudar, son of Nizar, son of Ma‛add, son of Adnan, son of Udd or Udad, son of Muqawwam, son of Nahur, son...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Community of Muslims
    (pp. 99-157)

    Remember We gave to Moses the Book and sent after him many an apostle; and to Jesus son of Mary We gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with divine grace. Even so, when a messenger brought to you what did not suit your mood, you turned haughty, and called some impostors and some others you slew.

    And they say: “Our hearts are enfolded in covers.” In fact, God has cursed them in their unbelief; and only a little do they believe. (Quran 2 : 87 – 88 )

    How many of the followers of the Books having once known...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Word of God and Its Understanding
    (pp. 158-211)

    We sent down the Torah which contains guidance and light, in accordance with which the prophets who were obedient to God gave instruction to the Jews, as did the rabbis and the priests, for they were the custodians and witnesses of God’s writ. . . . Later in the train (of prophets), we sent Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah which had been sent down before him, and gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light for those who preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path. . . . And to you We have revealed the Book...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Quran, the Prophet, and the Law
    (pp. 212-256)

    God knows that man cannot of himself provide for his own needs, and does not intuitively understand the consequences of things without the benefit of the example of messengers, the books of his ancestors, and information about past ages and rulers. And so God has assigned to each generation the natural duty of instructing the next, and has made each succeedingg eneration the criterion of the truth of the information handed down to it. For hearing many unusual traditions and strange ideas makes the mind more acute, enriches the soul, and gives food for thought and incentive to look further...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Worship of God
    (pp. 257-306)

    The reason that led them [that is, the descendants of Ishmael] to the worship of images and stones was the following. No one left Mecca without carrying away with him a stone from the stones of the Sacred House as a token of reverence to it, and as a sign of deep affection to Mecca. Wherever he settled he would erect that stone and circumambulate it in the same manner he used to circumambulate the Ka‛ba (before his departure from Mecca), seeking thereby its blessing and affirming his deep a V ection for the Holy House. In fact, the Arabs...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Saints and Mystics
    (pp. 307-357)

    Know that the life of this world is only a frolic and a mummery, an ornamentation, boasting and bragging among yourselves, and lust for multiplying wealth and children. It is like rain so pleasing to the cultivator for his vegetation which sprouts and swells, and then begins to wither, and you see it turn to yellow and reduced to cha V. There is severe punishment in the Hereafter, but also forgiveness from God and acceptance. As for the life of this world, it is no more than the merchandise of vanity. (Quran 57:20)

    Al-Mustawrid ibn Shaddad told that he heard...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Islamic Theology
    (pp. 358-412)

    The duties of the Muslim may concern either the body or the heart. The duties of the heart are concerned with faith and the distinction between what is to be believed and what is not to be believed. This concerns the articles of faith which deal with the essence and the attributes of God, the events of the Resurrection, Paradise, punishment and predestination, and entails discussion and defense of these subjects with the help of intellectual arguments. (Ibn Khaldun,Muqaddima 6 . 9) [IBN KHALDUN 1967 : 2 : 438] These main articles of faith are proven by the logical...

  13. Sources Cited
    (pp. 413-416)
  14. Index
    (pp. 417-420)