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Islam term paper

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"According to Islamic doctrine, the style of the Koran is inimitable and of superhuman beauty and power. Not only does the text contain solutions for all problems that arise in the world, but there are also unknown Divine mysteries hidden in the sequence of its verses and in the arrangements of its very letters. As there is not and cannot be a truly congenial translation of the Koran in any western language, it appears difficult for some to understand why millions and millions of Muslims are so absolutely convinced of the greatness and importance of this book, which is usually mentioned with epithets like "noble", "glorious", "pure." What is it that so deeply moves the Muslim when reciting from the Koran, when seeing its verses, or when barely touching it? Goethe says in his Noten und Abhandlungen: "The style of the Koran is, in tune with its contents and goal, grand, awesome, and in some places truly sublime." This judgment is particularly true for the oldest texts of the revelation. One difficulty for the non-Muslim reader - besides the lack of a good translation - is the fact that the present order of the text is not chronological. When the sacred texts were put together in the days of the caliph Uthman, the chapters (or suras) were arranged in descending length. Thus the first, short revelations - often threats concerning the impending Day of Judgment - are situated at the end of the Koran."
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"Saudi Arabia occupies about four-fifths of the Arabian peninsula, the land from which the Arabs originated. Bounded on the west by the Red Sea and on the east by the Persian (or for some it is better known as the Arabian) Gulf, today it is populated by about 15 million people. All of its permanent population is Muslim, and within its confines lay the two holiest cities of the Muslim world, Mecca and Medina. Until the twentieth century, the population was mostly desert nomads (or Bedouin) and small village and town folk who lived in a harsh desert environment. The desert and, after the year 800, the Islamic religion largely shaped the people's character. As befits those who were the first to convert to Islam, the Arabians became very devout Muslims. Even today, the Saudi Arabians follow a particularly austere brand of Islam known in the West as Wahhabism. The origins of this sect are intimately bound up with the origins of the Saudi state, producing in Arabia the closest thing to an official brand of Sunni fundamentalism. The story of Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist Islamic outlook begins in 1744 when an alliance was struck between a local, politically ambitious Arabian prince, Muhammad ibn Saud of Diriyah (a town in the Najd, a central region of the Arabian interior), and a crusading religious reformer, Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab. Al-Wahhab preached a return to the basic, pure elements of Islam as they were thought to have been practiced in the days of the prophet Muhammad. In particular, he sought to strip away all the nonoriginal rituals and practices that had accrued to the faith over its years of expansion. In this effort, al-Wahhab and his followers, known as Wahhabis, saw themselves as "unitarians" (or mowahhidin, the term they use to refer to their brand of Islam) - that is, those who stand for the "unity of God." By this, they mean that there is but one God, and people must direct their worship exclusively to that single deity."
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"The most important among those who rejected the Sunni view are the Shi'atu 'Ali, the faction or party of 'Ali, the major breakaway group in Islam. In the classical Sunni perception, the Muslim community is guided by God; its ruler is ordained and approved by God; and its history reveals the working out of God's purpose for mankind. For the Shi'a, all the sovereigns of Islam since the abdication of d?asan - the son of 'Ali, the founder of their sect - in the year 41 of the hijra, are usurpers. The Muslim world is living in sin, and history has taken a wrong turning. In practice, the two differed rather less from each other than their doctrines would appear to require. The Shi'a found themselves obliged to make a series of compromises and live at peace under rulers whom they theoretically regarded as tyrants and usurpers. For their part the Sunnis were obliged to compromise on their definitions of what constitutes a legitimate and just ruler and to accept a series of usurpers and tyrants whose only claim to power was the possession of sufficient military force to seize and hold it. Accepting them meant recognizing their legitimacy in terms of shari'a, and this in turn meant that obedience to them was a religious obligation, disobedience a sin as well as a crime. Tyranny, according to a common saying, is better than anarchy."
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