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3. Islam


Subject Religion » Islam

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631182757.1996.00005.x


For Muslims, Islam has been from the beginning much more than what is usually meant by the Western concept ‘religion’. Islam, meaning in Arabic ‘submission (to God)’, is at the same time a religious tradition, a civilization and, as Muslims are fond of saying, a ‘total way cf life’. Islam proclaims a religious faith and sets forth certain rituals, but it also prescribes patterns of order for society in such matters as family life, civil and criminal law, business, etiquette, food, dress and even personal hygiene. Traditional Muslims view virtually all aspects of individual and group life as being regulated or guided by Islam, which is seen as a complete, complex religious and social system in which individuals, societies and governments should all reflect the will of God. The Western distinction between the sacred and the secular is thus foreign to traditional Islam, although some Muslim intellectuals now call for more attention to the sacred as a response to the world-wide spread of secularism. Since Islam is such a rich religious and cultural tradition that has varied dramatically across time and place, the sources and methods for understanding it vary equally in breadth. Until recent decades the study and portrayal of Islam involved mainly the tasks of editing, translating and interpreting written sources. This emphasis on the analysis of written texts meant that historical and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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