JEWS, Christians and Mohammedans believe in one God and yet differ widely in their interpretation of this idea. Unless we know the Moslem's idea of God we cannot understand his creed nor judge his philosophy, nor intelligently communicate our idea of God to him. The strength of Islam is not in its ritual nor in its ethics, but in its tremendous and fanatical grasp on the one great truth - Monotheism.
Our purpose in these pages is to learn the extent and content of this idea; an idea which holds the Moslem world even more than they hold it. I have found no book in English, among the wealth of literature on Islam, that treats of this subject. In German there are two books on the theology of the Koran 1, but both are rare and limited, as appears from their titles, to a consideration of what the Koran teaches.
For a fair interpretation, however, of Islam's idea of God we must go not only to the Koran, but also to orthodox tradition. The Hadith are the records of the authoritative sayings and doings of Mohammed
1 Haller's Lehre von Gott aus dem Koran gezogen. Altenburg, 1779. Dettinger's Beitr�ge zu einer Theologie des Korans. T�bingen Zeitschrift f�r Theologie, 1831, 3's Heft.
and have exercised tremendous power on Moslem thought since the early days of Islam; not only by supplementing but by interpreting the Koran. The Hadith are accepted by every Moslem sect, in some form or other, and are indispensable to Islam. For proof of these statements we refer to Sprenger and Muir. The Koran-text quoted is from Palmer's translation, together with references to the three standard commentaries of Beidhawi, Zamakhshari and Jellalain. For orthodox tradition I have used the collection known as Mishkat-al-Misabih, because it is short, authoritative, and because an English translation of this collection exists. (Captain Matthew's Mishcat-ul-Masabih, or a collection of the most authentic traditions regarding the actions and sayings of Mohammed; exhibiting the origin of the manners and customs, the civil, religious and military policy of the Musselmans. Translated from the original Arabic. Calcutta, 1809; 2 folio volumes.) This collection, originally the work of Bagawi (516 A.H.) and based on the classical works of Buchari and Muslim, was edited and issued in its present form by Abdullah-al-Khatib (737 A.H.); and Brockelmann in his history of Arabic literature calls it "the most correct and practical book of Moslem traditions." I had no access to the translation and all references are to the Arabic edition printed in Delhi.
The frontispiece is from the celebrated Shems-ul
Ma'arif of Muhyee-ed-Din-al-Buni This book treats of the names of God and their use in amulets, healing, recovering lost property, etc. I am aware that in some parts of the Mohammedan world disintegration of religious ideas is in progress and that the theology as well as the ethics of Islam is being modified by contact with Western civilization, Protestant missions, and Christian morals. My idea, however, was not to sketch the theological views of Moslems in Liverpool nor of the reformers of Islam in India, but of the vast orthodox majority of the people both learned and illiterate.
In the comparative study of any religion the idea of God is fundamental, and if these pages give a clearer idea of what Mohammed taught and what his followers believe concerning Allah, the Christian missionary will the more earnestly preach to Moslems the Gospel of our Saviour, who said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."
"Historically, a pure theism is all but impotent. There is only one example of it on a large scale in the world, and that is a kind of bastard Christianity - Mohammedanism; and we all know what good that is as a religion. There are plenty of people who call themselves Theists and not Christians. Well, I venture to say that is a phase that will not last. There is little substance in it. The God whom men know outside of Jesus Christ is a poor nebulous thing; an idea and not a reality. You will have to get something more substantial than the far-off god of an unchristian Theism if you mean to sway the world and to satisfy men's hearts." - Alexander Maclaren (in sermon on John 14:1).
ANALYSIS OF ISLAM AS A SYSTEM DEVELOPED FROM ITS CREED
"There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is His Apostle"
THE DOCTRINE OF GOD "Pantheism of Force"
1. Negative (Nafi) "There is no god" -
2. Positive (Athbat) "but Allah."
His Names ... of the essence, Allah (the absolute unit)
of the attributes, - ninety-nine names
His attributes ... The physical emphasized above the moral
Deification of absolute force
Expressed in a series of negations, "He is not."
THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION:
(Mohammed, the Apostle of God, is the sole channel of revelation and abrogates former revelations)
Orthodox Moslems acknowledge two kinds of revelation and one authority besides them:
I. BY THE KORAN
(Wahi el Matlu)
Verbal revelation, which teaches the two-fold demands of Islam: -
(what to believe), "Iman"
1. In God
2. Angels (angels, jinn, devils)
Moslems believe that 104 "books" were sent from heaven in the following order:
These are utterly lost
To Adam – ten books
To Seth – fifty books
To Enoch – thirty books
To Abraham – ten books
These are highly spoken of in the Koran but are now in corrupted condition and have been abrogated by the final book
To Moses – The TORAH
To David – The ZABOOR
To Jesus – The INJIL
To Mohammed – the KORAN
Eternal in origin: complete and miraculous in character; supreme in beauty and authority
4. Last Day (Judgment)
a. The Greater
Adam – "Chosen of God."
Noah – "Preacher of God"
Abraham – "Friend of God"
Moses – "Spokesman of God"
Jesus – called "Word of God" and "Spirit of God"
MOHAMMED, (who has 201 names and titles)
b. The Less
Of these there have been thousands. Twenty two are mentioned in the Koran viz.: -
Enoch, Hud, Salih, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Lot, Aaron, Shuaib, Zakariah, John, David, Solomon, Elias, Lukman, Zu-el-kifl, Alexander the Great, Elisha.
B. PRACTICE :
(what to do) "Din"
[the five pillars]
1. Repetition of the Creed
2.Prayer (five times daily) including:
a. Purification : washing various parts of the body three time according to fourteen rules
b. Posture (prostrations) : facing the Kiblah (Mecca), prostrations, genuflections
c. Petition : Declaration of the Fatihah or first Surah. Praise and confession – the Salaam.
3. Fasting (month of Ramadhan)
4. Alms-giving (about 1-40 of income)
Mecca (incumbent), Medina (meritorious but voluntary), Kerbala, Meshed, Ali, etc. (Shiahs)
II. BY TRADITION(Wahi gheir el Matlu)
Revelation by example of the perfect prophet [The Man]
1. Records of what Mohammed did (Sunnat-el-fa'il) example
2. Records of what Mohammed enjoined (Sunnat-el-kaul) (precept)
a. Verbally handed down from mouth to mouth and finally sifted and recorded by both sects
(1) The Sunnite Traditions: (collected and recorded by the the following six authorities:
Buchari A.H. 256
Muslim A.H. 261
Tirmizi A.H. 279
Abu Daood A.H. 275
An-Nasaee A.H. 303
Ibn Majah A.H. 273
Note: Not one of them flourished until three centuries after Mohammed.
(2) The Shiah Traditions: (five authorities)
Kafi A.H. 329
Sheikh Ali A.H. 381
Tahzib A.H. 466*
Istibsar A.H. 466*
Ar-Razi A.H. 406
*By Abu Jaafer
3. Records of what Mohammed allowed (Sunnat-et-takrir) (license)
III. OTHER AUTHORITY
A. Among the Sunnites:
1. IJMA'A or unanimous consent of the leading companions of Mohammed concerning Sources I, i.e. the Koran,
2. KIYAS or the deductions of orthodox teachers from Sources I and II
3. The doctrine of the twelve IMAMS (beginning with Ali, who interpreted I and II.
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