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An Introduction

Annemarie Schimmel

State University of New York Press


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First published in U.S.A. by State University of New or! "ress# Albany

1$$% State University of New


How strange that in every special case one praises one's own way! If Islam means "surrender into God's will" it's in Islam that we all live and die, 3ohann 4olf+an+ von 0oethe

Anne&arie S'hi&&el: (er )sla&# *ine *infiihrun+ , 1$$- "hilipp .e')a& /un. 0&b1 & 2o.# Stutt+art

All ri+hts reserved. No part of this publi'ation &ay be reprodu'ed or trans&itted# in any for& or by any &eans# without per&ission. "rinted in the United States of A&eri'a For infor&ation# address State University of New or! "ress# State University "la5a# Albany# N 1%%67 "rodu'tion by 8arilyn P Se&erad 8ar!etin+ by 9heresa A. Swier5ows!i Fibrary of 2on+ress 2atalo+in+>in>"ubli'ation (ata S'hi&&el# Anne&arie. :)sla&. *n+lish; )sla& : an introdu'tion I Anne&arie S'hi&&el. p. ern. 9ranslation of: (er )sla&. )n'ludes inde<. )S=N ->?$16>1@%?>7 Ahard'overB. > )S=N ->?$16>1@%C>6 ApaperB I. )sla&>1istory. I. 9itle. .. D ="EE.S@61@ 1$$% 1 f'\ (~IJ' . %$?>d'%I' t I $%>%EEC 2)" 1- $ C

MAR n 5 1999

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Introduction Arabia Before Islam Muhammad The Expansion of Islam The Koran and Its Teachings The Tradition The Law Theology and Philosophy The Shia and elated Sects Mystical Islam and Sufi Brotherhoods Popular Piety and the !eneration of Saints Modern "e#elopments Inside Islam Bibliography Index

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know too much of Muhammad to idealize him but too little to do full justice to him." The attitude of orientalists in the past century has been criticized frequently during recent decades, whether one discovers, with dward !aid, imperialistic goals in the works of "ritish and #rench scholars or regrets the lack of true understanding of the spiritual aspects of $slam. %uring recent years, however, a considerable number of publica& tions e'press their authors( warm sympathy for $slam and, in particular, for its mystical dimensions. The positive at& titude of the !econd )atican *ouncil has contributed to new efforts for better understanding of a much+maligned re& ligion. ,etone also has to take into account e'tremely crit& ical approaches to early $slam, which try to interpret early $slamic history and culture from new and unusual vantage points. -n the following pages we take the traditional view of $slamic history without venturing into the vast area of so& ciological or political approaches.

Arabia Before Islam

!outh .rabia, the Arabia felix of antiquity, had been famed for its wealth, but when Muhammad was born /0123 its most glorious times were over. .ncient polytheism had been largely replaced by 4ewish and *hristian influences. $n *entral .rabia, a rather "primitive" religion was still maintained, and the country boasted numerous tribal sanc& tuaries. *aves and /as is common among the !emites3 stones were regarded as sacred and filled with blessing power, baraka. . center of the stone cult was Mecca5 there, the black stone in the southeastern corner of the 6a(ba was the goal of annual pilgrimages. !uch pilgrimages, per& formed at specific times, brought the wealthy trade center economic advantages. Trade fairs and markets were held during the four sacred months, during which fighting and killing were prohibited, and members of all .rabic clans and tribes would travel to the sacred places. The life of the .rabs during that period, which the Muslims calljiihiLiyya, "time of ignorance," showed but little trace of deep reli& gious feeling, as far as one can judge from inscriptions and

IsLam: An Introduction


literature. Arabic literature (primarily poetry) from the late sixth century A.D. sings mainly of the virtues of the Be douins: that is, bravery, boundless hospitality, revenge, faith in an immutable fate, but does not display much reli gious consciousness. ompared !ith the themes of heroic life, the purely erotic moment remains in the bac"ground. #he !omen of the tribe used to compose threnodies for those slain in !ar$ the priests at the sanctuaries performed soothsaying in high%sounding rhyming prose. &t is astounding to see ho! highly developed the Ar abic language already !as at this early time. &n its poetical idiom, !hich !as common to all tribes, it unfolded to per fection the finest tendencies inherent in all 'emitic lan guages, superseding the dialectical variants of everyday speech. An almost inexhaustible !ealth of !ords is com bined !ith an extreme syntactic brevity, and even at that early time the use of several distinct meters in poetry can be seen. &n fact, the perfection of pre%&slamic Arabic poetry has rarely been reached by !riters at any later point in his tory, and the language, !ith its apparently boundless pos sibilities, !as perhaps the most important and precious her itage !hich &slam received from its native Arabic soil. (o! and then in ancient Arabic poetry, hristian mo tifs appear: !andering mon"s, or the light that shines forth from a hermit)s cell. #he country !as situated in the sphere of influence of By*an* and +ersia, both trade partners of the ,eccans, and this facilitated contacts !ith -acobite, ,el"ite, and (estorian hristians$ but entire hristian col onies !ould probably not have been found in the heart of Arabia. .o!ever, there !ere -e!ish settlements not far from ,edina$ furthermore, the "ings of 'heba had con verted to -udaism around the year /00. 1ne hears also of see"ers, unsatisfied !ith the dominant religion of the Ar abs, !ho !ere in 2uest of a higher faith. #hese men !ere called banif, and it seems that the belief in a high 3od, Allah (a term that incidentally appears else!here among the Arabs) formed the center of their religious attitude. &t may !ell be that their religious interest had been intensified

by contacts !ith hristians or -e!s. 1ne can speculate that Arabia possibly !ould have become a hristian country during the late sixth to early seventh century, had ,uham mad not appeared on the scene.

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Muhammad was born about 570 in Mecca as a member of the Hashim clan of the Quraish, to which most of the no tables of Mecca belonged. He lost his parents early (his fa ther died before his birth and he was brought up by his un cle, !bu "alib. #i$e most of his Meccan compatriots, he de%oted himself to trade. !fter &some successful 'ourneys to (yria the young Muhammad, called al-Amin for his reli ability, married hi)***Q*Qy)*+,,,-hadi'a, who was his senior by se%eral years. (he bore him se%eral children, among whom four daughters sur%i%ed. all but one predeceased their father. Muhammad did not marry any other woman as long as -hadi'a was ali%e (she/a"ccfwhen/he&w/iis about fifty years old . "his fact certainly does not support the pre'u dice commonly %ented in the 0est, where fie/was/regarded as e1tremelysensual duetohis numerouslater marriages, which particularly upset those who espoused the ideal of celibacy. . Muhammad li$ed to retire at times to meditate in a ca%e in Mt. Hira, and when he was about forty years old, he

~.. Islam: An Introduction )uhammad 13


was overcome by visions and even more by voices. It took him some time to realize that it was an angelic voice that was entrusting him with a divine mandate. Sura 96 of the Koran contains the first such address, iqra' ( !ead or !ecite" # and thus $oints to the groundbreaking e%$eri& ence. Khadi'a faithfully su$$orted her husband in the s$ir& itual crises triggered by these e%$eriences. (he first $roclamations $reached by )uhammad are dominated by one single thought* the nearing +ay of ,udg. ment. (he terrible shock caused by the sudden a$$roach of the .our, the +ay of !eckoning, and the resurrection is heralded by breathless short lines in sonorous rhymed $rose. /lose is this .our. In a short while it will knock at the door and will stir u$ from heedlessness those who are embroiled in worldly affairs and who have forgotten 0od" (hen they will have to face their 1ord to give account of their sinful actions. 2atural catastro$hes will announce the +ay of ,udgment-earth3uakes, fires, ecli$ses-as de& scribed in Sura 41 in unforgettable words*
5hen the sun shall be darkened, when the stars shall be thrown down, when the mountains shall be set moving. when the $regnant camels shall be neglected, when the savage beasts shall be mustered, when the seas shall be set boiling, when the souls shall be cou$led, when the buried infant shall be asked for what sin she was slain, when the scrolls shall be unrolled. when heaven shall be stri$$ed off. when .ell shall be set blazing, when 6aradise shall be brought nigh, then shall a soul know what it has $roduced. (translated by 7. ,. 7rberry#

7t that hour 8srafil will blow the trum$et9 the dead will be resurrected in the body and, in com$lete confusion, will ask each other about their fate. /ertain trials have to be faced, and finally the unbelievers and sinners will be

dragged away by their feet and their forelocks. (he Koranic descri$tions of ,udgment and .ell do not reach the fantastic descri$tions of, for e%am$le, /hristian a$ocaly$tic writing. 1ater $o$ular $iety, however, could never get enough detail of all kinds of chastisement9 of terrible $ain in the fire9 of stinking, hot, or dirty water9 of the fruits of $oisonous trees9 and of various tortures. :ut )uhammad learned that he was not only sent to threaten and blame, but also to bring good tidings* every $ious man who lives according to 0od;s order will enter 6aradise where rivers of milk and honey flow in cool, fra& grant gardens and virgin beloveds await him. 5omen and children too $artici$ate in the $aradisial bliss. 8n its de& scri$tion of 6aradise, so often attacked by /hristian $ole& mists because of its sensuality, the Koran is not much more colorful than were the sermons on this to$ the <astern orthodo% church. (he $ractical-minded )eccan merchants did not take )uhammad;s message seriously9 to them a cor$oreal res& urrection seemed both im$ossible and ludicrous. (o refute their doubts, the Koran brings forth numerous $roofs for such a resurrection. =irst, it cannot be difficult for 0od, who has created the world out of nothing, to reunite the al& ready e%isting $arts and $articles. Second, a revivication of the-a$$arently-dead desert after rainfall is a symbol of the 3uickening of human beings. (his reasoning was used time and again in later didactic and mystical $oetry* for those who have eyes to see, every s$ring $roves the resur& rection. =inally, human fertility and birth can be taken as signs of 0od;s unlimited creative $ower* the growth of a fertilized egg into a $erfect living being is certainly no less miraculous than the resurrection of the dead. =urthermore, the 'udgments meted out to sinful $eo$les of the $ast and the calamities that wi$ed out ancient nations should be $roof enough of how 0od deals with sinners as well as with those who re'ect the $ro$hets sent to them, thus contribut& ing to their own annihilation. 7s the creation and the 1ast ,udgment are closely re& lated to each other, it is logical that the /reator and the


Islam: An Introduction



Lord of Doomsday must be one and the same. The belief in one God, without partners and without adjunct deities, forms the center of the revelation from an early moment onward. Sura 112declares:
Say: God is ne! God the "ternal: #e did not be$et and is not be$otten, and no one is e%ual to #im.

This sura, which is nowadays used mainly to refute the &hristian trinitarian do$ma, was probably first directed a$ainst the ancient 'rab concept of (the dau$hters of 'l) lah.( *ut the tauhid, the ac+nowled$ment of God(s unity, was to remain the heart of ,slam, in whichever way it was understood, and the only sin that cannot be for$iven is shirk, -associatin$ somethin$ with God.The duty of human bein$s is to surrender to this uni%ue, omnipotent God, the .erciful, the &ompassionate /as #e is called at the be$innin$ of each chapter of the 0o) ran and also at the be$innin$ of every human activity1! to surrender from the bottom of one(s heart, with one(s whole soul and one(s entire mind. The word -,slam- means this complete surrender to the Divine will! and the one who practices such surrender is a .uslim /active participle of the fourth stem of the root s.l.m., which has also the connotation of salam, -peace-1. .uslims do not li+e the term -.uhammedan,- as it su$$ests an incorrect par) allel to the way &hristians call themselves after &hrist. nly members of some late mystical currents called them) selves Muhammadi to e2press their absolute loyalty to the 3rophet as their spiritual and temporal leader. The .uslim, who reco$ni4es the ne God as both &reator and 5ud$e, feels responsible to #im: he believes in #is boo+s /the Torah, the 3salms, the Gospels, and the 0o) ran1 and in #is prophets from 'dam throu$h the patriarchs. .oses, and 5esus up to .uhammad, the last law$ivin$6 messen$er. 7urther, he believes in God(s an$els and in the Last 5ud$ment, and -that $ood and evil come e%ually from God.- #e tries to lead his life accordin$ to the revealed law, well aware that God(s presence is e2perienced in every

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place and every time, and that there is no really profane sphere in life. 7ulfillment of cultic duties and the practice of mercy and justice are commanded side by side in the 0o) ran: the ritual prayer, salat, is in almost every instance combined with zakiit, the alms ta2. *ut the worldlin$s who are embroiled in carin$ for their wealth, and who ne$lect reli$ious duties, are threatened by Divine punishment. .uhammad saw himself at first as a m899$er to the 'rabs: he was sent to warn them, as no prophet had been sent to them since 'braham. #owever, only a compara) tively small circle of adherents, mainly from the lower classes, $athered around him. The situation did not im) prove, for the doctrine of the One Supreme God seemed to threaten the main sources of income for the .eccans, i.e., the fairs in honor of various deities and especially the pil) $rima$e. :ith the hostility of the .eccans increasin$, a $roup of the new .uslims emi$rated to 'byssinia, a &hris) tian country. The situation $rew even more difficult after .uhammad, in ;1<, lost both his wife and his uncle 'bu Talib, who, althou$h not converted to ,slam, had supported his nephew faithfully. #owever, new possibilities arose in ;21: some inhabitants of =athrib, north of .ecca, came to perform reli$ious rites and invited .uhammad to join them in their home town, which was torn by internal feuds. 'fter his faithful companions had left .ecca, .uhammad him) self, alon$ with his friend '.bt.i>l98+r, mi$rated in 5une ;22 to settle in =athrib, which soon became +nown as madinat an-nabi, -the city of the 3rophet,- L?8@9i>,98( The .uslims consider their era to have be$un with the date of this emi$ration (hijra or he$ira1, for at this point a decisive development of .uhammad(s activities can be ob) served: the reli$ious vision of the .eccan revelations had now to be put into communal practice. 7urthermore, up to this time the 3rophet had considered himself merely as a continuator of the $reat prophetic reli$ions, 5udaism and &hristianity. #e was convinced that he was preachin$ the same truth that 5ews and &hristians had been teachin$ and practicin$. Stories +nown to us from the *ible can be found in the 0oran! thus, Sura 12contains what it calls( (the most


Islam: An Introduction



beautiful story," that of Joseph and his brothers and Potiphar's wife (called Zulaikha in the later tradition), a topic that was to inspire innumerable poets in the Muslim world. Howe er, the Jews refused to accept the re elations connected to their own traditions, for these seemed not to tally completely with the biblical words and to ha e many !aps. "heir ob#ections led Muhammad to the con iction that the Jews had tampered with the re elations in their scripture. He concluded thai $only the $ ersion re ealed to him contained the true and real te%t ofthese stories and that the faith 'preached'by him on the 'basis of direct re elation was much older than that professed by the Jews and &hris' tians( his was the pure faith of )braham who, throu!h *sma'il (*shmael), is the ancestor of the )rabs and who is said to ha e founded the central sanctuary in Mecca, the +a'ba. Pure monotheism, as represented for the first time by )braham, a banl,wfio had refuted his ancestors' stellar reli!ion, had been corrupted by Jews and &hristians and should now become ali e a!ain in *slam, *n keepin! with$this perception of *slam's connection to )braham, the direction of prayer, till then toward Jeru' salem, was chan!ed to Mecca( this made necessary the con-uest of Mecca. .i!ht years after his mi!ration, Mu' hammad entered his home town in triumph. /urin! these ei!ht years a number of battles were fou!ht0 in 1adr, 234, a small !roup of Muslims encountered a stron! Meccan army and was ictorious, while one year later the Meccans !ained a slim ictory near 5hud. "hree Jewish tribes were 6 o ercome and partially uprooted. "he Meccans were dis' -uieted by the !rowin! success of their compatriot, but they finally were forced to let him return. He for!a e most of those who had worked and plotted a!ainst him, but he pre' ferred to stay in Medina. "here he e entually died after per' formin! the rites of the pil!rima!e in 273. )fter +hadi#a's death Muhammad had married se eral wi es (mainly wid' ows)( his fa orite wife, howe er, was the youn! ')'isha, a mere child when he married her. He passed away in her house, and her father )bu 1akr as$8iddi-, "the ery faith' ful one," became his first successor, or' "caliph."

"he re elations that came upon Muhammad durin! the last decade of his life are stylistically -uite different from the earlier ones0 the rhymin! prose is less conspicuous and the fiery eschatolo!ical threats ha e !i en way to dis' cussion of cultic and institutional problems, for Muham' mad's role as arbiter and community leader re-uired le!al in#unctions and rules for the political and social structure of the nascent community. )ll of life was and is permeated by reli!ion, and #ust as there is no clear separation between the political and reli!ious aspects of communal life, there are no truly profane acts either. . ery act has to be!in with the words "in the name of ;od," bismillah, and must be per' formed in responsibility to ;od. "he human bein! stands immediately before ;od( no mediatin! priestly caste e%ists.

.~ :i ,.

The Expansion of Islam

Muhammad's death confronted the young community with difficult problems. The office of prophet no longer existed, for the revelation (Sura 33/40) had spoken of Muhammad as the 'seal', the last of the prophets. is successors, khalifa, (caliphs! inherited only the office"#fleading the community in prayer and war and $udging' according to the revelation. This community, umma, consists of the believers and is, as legend attests, especially protected by its relation to Muhammad. %or, thus it is told, at &oomsday when every' body (including the sinless (esus! will be exclaiming) nafsi nafsi (*+ myself, + myself ,want to be saved-*!, Muham' mad will call) Ummati, ummati (*my community, my com' munity ,should be saved-*! and thus act as intercessor, shafi', for his community, an idea that has consoled Mus' lims throughout the centuries. .bu /akr, the father of the 0rophet's wife c1isha and his first successor, managed to overcome the rebellions that broke out soon after Muhammad's death, for the freedom' loving /edouins, who particularly disliked the +slamic


Islam: An Introduction

)he -xpansion o# &slam


tax system, tried to regain their old independence. During Abu Bakr's short reign (632 63!", the armies o# the $us% lims reached southern &ra' and (alestine. )hese enterprises can be explained *hen one remembers that in 62+ so tra% dition has it the (rophet had sent letters to the rulers o# By,ans, &ran, and -gypt to in.ite them to embrace &slam. /hortly a#ter*ards, #irst encounters *ith the By,antines took place. )his opened the *ay #or his successors to #ur% ther con'uests, and military success o# spectacular scope *as achie.ed under Abu Bakr's successor, the stern '0mar ibn al 1hattab (63! 6!!". Damascus *as con'uered in 632, -gypt in 633 6!!, and most o# (ersia bet*een 6!0' and 6!!. A#ter '0rnar's assassination in 6!!, '0thrnan ibn 'A##an (6!! 626" success#ully continued sending out $us% lim armies east and *est $embers o# the ancient aristo% cratic $eccan #amily 0mayya no* reappeared at the polit% ical #ore#ront, although this .ery #amily had been among $uhammad's staunchest opponents. /ome o# those disa#% #ected *ith the ne* regime rose against '0thman, *ho *as murdered in 626 *hile reading the 1oran4 it *as he *ho *as responsible #or the #inal redaction o# the sacred book. 'Ali the son o# $uhammad's uncle Abu )alib and husband o# his youngest daughter 5atima, became '0thman's suc% cessor, but had to #ight $u'a*iya, #rom the house o# 0mayya. &n the battle o# /i##in, 626, $u'a*iya persuaded 'Ali to stop #ighting (though 'Ali *as about to gain .ictory" and to submit himsel# to arbitration. A segment o# 'Ali's partisans, outraged at his acceptance o# this proposal, le#t 7Ali(they are kno*n as 1hari8ites, 9seceders9"4 in 66:, a 1hari8ite assassinated 'Ali, and $u'a*iya, understandably, took ad.antage o# his death. ;ith $u'a*iya begins the 0mayyad dynasty, *hose rulers resided in /yria to reign in the spirit o# traditional Arabic leadership and chi.alry, *hile $edina turned into the repository o# piety *ithout political po*er. 0nder the 0mayyads the $uslims extended their rule to the Atlantic in 63:4 they reached the borders o# By,antium, and their armies crossed the /traits o# <ibraltar (Jabal Tariq, the

mountain o# )ari'" in 6::. During the same year they en% tered )ransoxiana and also con'uered /ind, the lo*er &ndus =alley (no* the southern part o# (akistan". ;hen $u'a*iya's son >a,id took po*er in 6+0, 7Ali's younger son ?usain, then in his late #i#ties,' tried once more to regain po*er #or his house. A#ter all, *as he not the le% gitimate grandson o# the (rophet@ ?is elder brother, ?asan, had perished more than a decade earlier (possibly poi% soned", although he had #or#eited his claims to the caliph% ate. ?usain, his companions, and members o# his #amily *ere killed in the battle o# 1erbela in southern &ra', on :0 $uharram (the #irst month o# the &slamic year". )he anni% .ersary o# his death is to this day a day o# mourning in the /hiite *orld4 his su##ering has inspired hundreds o# pious poets to compose threnodies, marthiya, especially in (ersian and 0rdu. )he processions iii /hiite cities in &ran and &ndia, *ith people #lagellating, are *ell kno*n4 in &ran, regular 9passion plays9 are per#ormed. &t , is this passion moti# *hich has shaped /hiite piety and deeply. permeates it, and many o# the recent e.ents in &ran such as the passionate participation o# so many peo% ple in the *ar against 9the enemies o# the #aith ' ' can be explained by this #eeling o# loyalty to ?usain, the arch mar% tyr o# &slam. ?usain's struggle against the 0mayyad regime *as regarded both in high literature and popular piety as an expression o# the $uslims' longing #or #reedom, #or liber% ation from un8ust rulers, and, in later times (especially in British &ndia", #rom #oreign po*ers that oppress belie.ers. At the same time a counter caliph appeared in $ecca. 'Abdullah ibn Aubair, son o# a *ell kno*n companion o# the (rophet, rebelled against the 0mayyads, As #or &ra', *here the party o# 'Ali, shiiat CAli, *as in any case the strongest political #orce, ne* doctrines de.eloped. &deas appeared concerning the #uture return o# some Alids, *ho no* *ere in the hidden *orld, and gre* into a large body o# speculations in both theology and #olk piety in the centuries to come. Again in &ra', relations bet*een the Arab con'uerors and the mawiili (non Arabs *ho *ere attached to an Arabic tribe as clients in order to be #ull


Islam: An Introduction

The ;7pansion of #slam


members of the Muslim community) grew tense, for the mawdli understandably requested the complete equality of believers, as guaranteed by the Koran. All these different currents formed a movement whose representatives requested the office of caliph for members of Muhammad's clan only. The propagandists of this move ment very s!illfully used the pro"Alid feeling in #raq and #ran to enthrone as caliph a descendant of the $rophet's un cle 'Abbas %&'(), thus deeply disappointing the partisans of )Ali'schildren. The last *mayyad fled to Andalusia where he founded, in &+,, a !ingdom which was to produce the fin est flowers of Arabic culture in art and poetry. The -panish"*mayyad !ingdom reached its culmination under 'Abdur .ahman ### %(/2"(,/). #t continued until /01/, wit nessing a unique cultural cooperation between Muslims, )hristians, and 2ews. After /01/the country fell to pieces, and 3erber groups"the Almohads and the Almoravids entered the #berian peninsula to rule there while the -pan ish reconquest increased in strength year by year. The only !ingdom able to survive till /'(2was that of the 3anu Ah mar in 4ranada5 the Alhambra is the last wor! of Arabic art in -pain. As for the Abbasid rulers, they tried to prove their ad herence to religious law more than their predecessors had done. More importantly, the empire they ruled was no longer meant to be Arab, as it had been under the *mayy ads, but rather was intended to be #slamic. The transfer of the capital from 6amascus to 3aghdad in &+, opened all doors to $ersian cultural influence, and when the e7ternal power of the caliphs decreased in the late ninth century, Tur!ish mercenaries and war slaves (mamlflks) from )en tral Asia protected the government and finally founded !ingdoms of their own. 3aghdad lived through its most splendid period under 8arun ar".ashid %&9,"90(), well !nown from the tales of the Arabian :ights. *nder 8arun's second son Ma'mun %9/1"911), translations of 4ree! scientific and philosoph ical wor!s into Arabic were encouraged. These translations

influenced the development of #slamic learning and were later transferred to ;urope, enriched by Arabic contribu tions5 these wor!s, through the mediation of translators in medieval -pain, helped the growth of ;uropean science and medicine. -lightly later, princes in the border areas of the Abbasid empire moved toward independence, ta!ing their realms as fiefs from the caliph. The founder of the $ersian -hiite dynasty of the 3uwaihids %3uyids), Mu'i<< ad 6aula, adopted the title' 'sultan= for the first time %(12). #n ('+, the 3uwaihids too! over actual rule in 3aghdad, with the caliph continuing to serve as the figure head. #n ;gypt, two Tur!ish dynasties succeeded each other as supporters of the Abbasids. They were ousted in (,( when the -hiite >atimids conquered the country, coming from :orth Africa to found )airo. #n the east, the Tur!ish sultan Mahmud of 4ha<na % e7tended his power into the #ndian subcontinent5 in /02, ?ahore became the capital of the #ndian province of the 4ha<navids. >rom that time a rich $ersian literature and $ersianate culture developed in the subcontinent, e7tending to 3engal and southern #ndia, the 6eccan. -hortly before the 4ha<navids, a new era of neo"$ersian as the lan guage of literature had begun in Khorasan, present"day Af ghanistan, than!s to the literary interests of the princely house of the -amanids. Although Arabic remained the sa cred, theological language of the #slamic world, $ersian was accepted as the main literary medium in the areas that stretched from the 3al!ans to 3engal, even though at a later point Tur!ish became an important literary medium, while in the subcontinent diverse regional languages slowly began to bloom. @hile Mahmud and his successors consolidated their empire, other Tur!ish groups from )entral Asia entered #ran and #raq, and in /0++ the -elAu! prince Thghrul 3eg assumed the role of guardian of the wea! Abbasid caliph. The -elAu!s, stern -unnites, formed one of the most im portant empires in the :ear ;ast and inspired new devel opments in #slamic art. #n /0&/, their victory over the



Islam: An Introduction

The "%pansion of &slam


Byzantines opened the way into Anatolia for the Muslims. To this day one can admire the grand mosques, madrasahs, and mausoleums built by the Rum Sel u!s or their suzerains in "rzerum, Si#as, $aiseri, and their residence, $onya. Their realm e%tended to the southern coastal area of Anatolia. Much of the flourishing &slamic ci#ilization was wiped out by the Mongol onslaught, which began in 'entral Asia in ())*, and to which the Abbasid "mpire succumbed+ the last caliph was !illed in (),-, and Baghdad was largely destroyed. &n Anatolia the Rum Sel u! empire disintegrated under Mongol pressure. .ut of the numerous independent principalities, the family of the .ttomans emerged as lead/ ers, and under .rhan, the second ruler of this house, Bursa was conquered in (0)1. This city on the northwestern fringe of Anatolia became the first cultural center of the na/ scent .ttoman "mpire. After the battle of $oso#a in 2u/ gosla#ia in (0-3, large parts of the Bal!ans came under .t/ toman rule+ the new capital was "dirne 4Adrianople5. But when 'onstantinople, &stanbul, was conquered on May )3, (6,0, it became the heart of the "mpire. 7id not the 8rophet say9 "They will conquer 'onstantinople:hail to the people and hail to the army who will do so;" The Mongol rule, some of whose rulers con#erted to &slam about (0**, ga#e new impulses to the areas of &ran and &raq, which had been lac!ing a central authority since (),-, e#en though the caliphs had long ceased wielding real power. <ollowing the Mongol conquest a number of principalities emerged in &ran, many of which were o#errun by Timur 4Tamerlane5, the Tur!ish conqueror from 'entral Asia 4d. (6*,5. =e reached northwestern &ndia as far as 7elhi in (03-, and An!ara in central Anatolia in (6*). An e%tremely cruel warrior, Tamerlane was ne#ertheless inter/ ested in fine art and literature, too! with him master crafts/ men from e#erywhere he went, and had his capital, Samar/ !and, adorned with beautiful buildings. =is descendants, especially those who ruled the eastern part of the &ranian world, were li!ewise patrons of fine art. Miniature painting

as well as calligraphy reached their first highpoint in the late fifteenth century in =erat, and poetry flourished. As for "gypt, the <atimid, Shia:&smaili dynasty had been replaced after )** years of rule by the Sunnite $urd/ ish family of the Ayyubids. The most important ruler of this dynasty was Saladin, famed e#en in "urope as a ust and noble ruler, than!s to his role during the 'rusades. The marriage of the widow of the last Ayyubid with her Tur!ish commander:in:chief led, in (),*, to the formation of the Mamlu! reign in "gypt. The strong, energetic Mamlu! sul/ tan Baibars was able to stop the Mongol hordes at Ain >alut in Syria in ()1*. 7uring the first half of the Mamlu! reign, until (0-), the throne was usually hereditary, while in the second period the sultan was generally elected. The ruler had to be a member of the class of military sla#es imported from southern Russia, the $ipcha! steppes, or the 'auca/ sus+ a long and complicated process was required for such a sla#e to reach higher rungs on the ladder of military hi/ erarchy. The Mamlu! rule of "gypt, Syria, and the holy cit/ ies of Mecca and Medina is notable for building acti#ities on a grand scale. &t ended in (,(1when the .ttoman troops under Selim the ?rim #anquished the "gyptian army near Mar 7abiq, north of Aleppo. .ttoman power then e%tended o#er the <ertile 'res/ cent and the sacred cities+ under Selim@s successor, Suley/ man the Magnificent 4(,)*:@(,115, the .ttomans pro/ ceeded e#en farther than before to the west to lay siege to Aienna in (,)3. 7uring Siileyman@s reign the master archi/ tect Sinan adorned the capital as well as "dirne with mag/ nificent mosques. To the east of the .ttoman empire, Shiite mo#ements that had been e#ident in &ran for some time crystallized to/ ward the turn of the fifteenth and si%teenth centuries. &n (,*(, Shah &sma:il, at the age of fourteen, ascended the throne of &ran to found the dynasty of the Safa#ids and to ma!e the Shiite form of &slam the official religion of &ran. Thus, a Shiite wedge was placed between the Sunni .tto/ mans in the Best and the emerging, predominantly Sunni

26 Islam: Atl Introduction

he E"pansionof Islam


MughaJ Empire in the east (although Shia rulers became more prominent in India in the course of time). his religio! political situation helps e"plain certain de#elopments in the Middle East and also the speciaJ role of Iran during the last decades$ for the Shiite form of Islam %as ne#er made the state religion in an& other countr&. 't the time %hen the (ttoman empire %as e"panding and Iran %as becoming a Shiite countr& %hile imur)s de! scendants %ere losing their grip o#er eastern Iran$ another member of the house of imur$ *abur$ born in +arghana$ founded a po%erful empire in north%estern India. E#er since the inroads of Mahmud of ,ha-na after the &ear .///$ Muslim 0ingdoms had follo%ed each other in the subcon! tinent$ e"tending soon to eastern *engal and to the 1eccan. *abur o#ercame the 2odi rulers of 1elhi in .326 to found the d&nast& of the ,reat Mughals$ %hich continued to e"ist for more than three centuries. *abur)s son 4uma&un had to see0 shelter at the Safa#id court of Iran$ but %as able to return to his homeland and had 5ust begun to consolidate it %hen he died in an accident. It %as his son '0bar (.3366 (6/3) %ho ga#e the empire its true shape. 4is tolerance for$ interest in$ and cooperation %ith 4indus$ 7hristians$ and 8arsees colored at least part of Indian Islam. 4is o%n and his descendants) li#el& interest in fine arts$ especiall& ar! chitecture and miniature painting$ ga#e Islamic art ne%

! I

'0bar)s son Jahangir and his grandson$ Shah Jahan follo%ed his tolerant attitude to a certain e"tent. Shah Ja! han)s son 1ara Shi0oh is famed for his interest in m&sticism and in the religious s&stems of 4induism; he undertoo0 a 8ersian translation from the Sans0rit of fift& 9panishads. he finest architectural %or0s in northern India belong to the earl& Mughal time$ i.e.$ the &ears bet%een .36/ and .66/$ such as the famed a5 Mahal$ the mausoleum of Shah Jahan)s %ife. his glorious period ended %ith 1ara Shi0oh)s e"ecution in .63: at the hand of his brother 'u! rang-eb$ %ho in #ain tried to e"pand the Mughal empire into the 1eccan %here the 0ingdoms of *i5apur and ,ol! conda boasted a refined Islamic cultural life and %ere seats

of literature and fine arts for more than t%o centuries. 'u! rang-eb died$ aged nearl& ninet&$ in .;/;. he %ea0ened empire became a to& for different Indian factions and as! sorted in#aders< the 8ersian 0ing =adir Shah plundered 1elhi in .;>: and the 'fghan leader 'hmad Shah 1urrani led militar& e"peditions against north%est India. he polit! ical a%a0ening of the 4indus (especiall& the Mahrattas) and the Si0hs and$ more than an&thing else$ the increasing e"! pansion of the *ritish East India 7ompan& from .;3; re! sulted finall& in the political brea0do%n of the last #estiges of the Mughal empire. 'fter the aborti#e militar& re#olt$ the so6called Mutin&$ in .?3;$ the *ritish 7ro%n too0 o#er India %ith the e"ception of the princel& states; the last Mu! ghal emperor died in @angoon in e"ile. Islam continued to spread in the Indian and Indone! sian areas e#en in times of political deca&; no%ada&s almost half of the %orld)s Muslims li#e in this part of the %orld. he first modernist mo#ements in the nineteenth centur& began from the Indian subcontinent in order to help Mus! lims to adapt to6or to resist6modern life as the& ob! ser#ed it in the acti#ities of their colonial masters. (ne must not forget the strong$ #er& acti#e groups of Muslims in 7entral 'sia and 7hina$ and the steadil& gro%ing pres! ence of Islam in East and Aest 'frica. he gro%ing number of Muslims in the Aestern %orld should also be mentioned. +rom the late se#enteenth centur&$ a certain stagna! tion among Muslims can be obser#ed as a result of political %ea0ness and the loss of man& important areas after the opening of the sea passage to India and the rapid gro%th of European po%er. 4o%e#er$ in the eighteenth centur&6a time usuall& neglected b& orientalists6germs of ne% inter! pretations of the Boran and of Islam as %ell as first attempts at self6identification #is6a6#is the Aest become #isible in different parts of the Islamic %orld. In the nine! teenth centur&$ some Islamic peoples reached a more out! spo0en form of self6assertion and attempted to define their role as Muslims in a changing %orld. 'fter Aorld Aar I$ nationalism$ inoculated into the =ear and Middle East b& Europeans$ appears %ith full strength. he di#ision of the




Islam: An Introduction

Middle East after that war, in the attempt to dismember the Ottoman Empire, helped the growth of nationalism. A number of independent states were formed whose names mayor may not include references to Islam. The gamut, with changing emphasis, runs from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Turkey, which claims absolute laicism as the foundation of its constitution, e en though many people still feel they are perfectly faithful Muslims. Those who know the Turkish mentality are not surprised that lately some fundamentalist mo ements are appearing in Turkey as in other countries. The tension between laical and fun! damentalist attitudes is probably more isible there than elsewhere.

The Koran and Its Teachings

The foundation of Islam is the $oran tqur'iin, %recita! tion%& which is, for the pious Muslim, not the word of a prophet but the unadulterated word of 'od, which has be! come audible through Muhammad, the pure essel, in %clear Arabic language.% Thus, (uotations from the $oran are introduced by the words qala ta(iild, %)e#Ele ated is )e#says% or similar formulas. The primordial $oran, which e*ists in hea en on a %well#preser ed tablet,% man! ifested itself in this book which %only the purified% are permitted to touch and to recite. To recite the $oran is the most sublime and edifying occupation for the Muslim, e en when he or she does not intellectually understand its words, as is the case with most non#Arab belie ers. +ince the $o! ran is the ,i ine -ord par excellence, Muslims consider it inconcei able to %translate% it into any language. A trans! lation is only an e*planation of the book.s meaning, one interpretation among others. That is why a modern English 29
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