The Qur’an

-“Qur’an” means recitation

-The revelations that Muhammad received through Gabriel are literally the Word of God

-This distinguishes it from other sacred writings (e.g. the Torah, the Bible)

-Even translations from Arabic are considered suspect

-The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years

-He remembered them and taught his Companions to also memorize it

The Hadith (or Sunnah)

-Second source of Islamic law (Shari’ah)

-3 kinds of Hadith  – sayings directly associated with Muhammad, an action or practice of Muhammad, or his silent approval of someone else’s actions

-Scholars consider different Hadiths to be more authentic than others

Groups and Institutions

-External Muslim Duties – prayer, fasting, charity, abstaining from evil and wickedness

-Internal Muslim Duties – faith, gratitude to God, sincerity, and freedom from egotism – This mystical aspect of Islam is known as Sufism

Sunni Islam

  • Believe religious authority is vested only in traditional interpretations of
    the Qur’an.
  • Accept that the rightful successor to Muhammad was the First Caliph, Abu Bakr (573-632 CE).
  • Believe in building consensus within the community to create an equitable society
  • Approx 85% of Muslims are Sunnis

Shi’ah Islam

  • Believe that since the death of Muhammad, a number of infallible Imams have had the religious authority to give guidance regarding Islamic practices.
  • Believe that Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali (600-661 CE), should rightfully have been the first Caliph, and after his murder they followed his sons
  • Dominate politics and religion in Iran; vocal minority in Iraq, East Africa, Pakistan and India


  • Not considered a separate sect
  • Mystical philosophy
  • Goal is to develop spiritually in order to discover the reality of God
  • Prayer, meditation, chanting, dancing – whirling dirvishes

The Expansion of Islam

  • Within 100 years of Muhammad’s death, Muslims had control of land from northern India, to Spain to Morocco
  • Europe was in the Middle Ages
  • Islam was thriving in philosophy, the sciences  – The Golden Age of Islam
  • Decline began in the 13th century, most noticeable during the colonization of the 19th century – Britain and France took over many Muslim lands
  • 20th century – Islamic countries of the middle east became major economic powers (oil)
  • Islamic migration to Canada began in the 19th century (gold rush, railway), migration grew much more significant in the late 20th century – currently more than 650 000
Canadian History: Women's Voting Rights

Women in Islam

  • The Qur’an states that men and women are equal – both should constantly seek to please God
  • Both are meant to live modest and virtuous lives
  • Outsiders often see the clothing of Muslim women as evidence of inequality
  • Qur’an does not demand women to wear the Hijab, but it does strongly recommend it
  • No legal penalty for not wearing it
  • Modest dress is meant to prevent unwanted attention to the body – instead to focus on personality and intellect
  • Can be seen as an expression of identity
  • However – the ideals expressed in the Qur’an often differ quite drastically to actual practice (e.g. Taliban)

Rumi – A Sufi Poet

The time has come…

the time has come
to break all my promises
tear apart all chains
and cast away all advice

disassemble the heavens
link by link
and break at once
all lovers’ ties
with the sword of death

put cotton inside
both my ears
and close them to
all words of wisdom

crash the door and
enter the chamber
where all sweet
things are hidden

how long can i
beg and bargain
for the things of this world
while love is waiting

how long before
i can rise beyond
how i am and
what i am

My dear friend

My dear friend
never lose hope
when the Beloved
sends you away.

If you’re abandoned
if you’re left hopeless
tomorrow for sure
you’ll be called again.

If the door is shut
right in your face
keep waiting with patience
don’t leave right away.

Seeing your patience
your love will soon
summon you with grace
raise you like a champion.

And if all the roads
end up in dead ends
you’ll be shown the secret paths
no one will comprehend.

The beloved I know
will give with no qualms
to a puny ant
the kingdom of Solomon.

My heart has journeyed
many times around the world
but has never found
and will never find
such a Beloved again.

ah I better keep silence
I know this endless love
will surely arrive
for you and you and you.

Only You

Only you
I choose among the entire world.
Is it fair of you
letting me be unhappy?

My heart is a pen in your hand.
It is all up to you
to write me happy or sad.

I see only what you reveal
and live as you say.
All my feelings have the color
you desire to paint.

From the beginning to the end,
no one but you.

Please make my future
better than the past.

When you hide I change
to a Godless person,
and when you appear,
I find my faith.

Don’t expect to find
any more in me
than what you give.

Don’t search for
hidden pockets because
I’ve shown you that
all I have is all you gave.


Lovers think they are looking for each other,
but there is only one search: wandering
This world is wandering that, both inside one
transparent sky. In here
there is no dogma and no heresy.
The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future, Forget the future.
I’d worship someone who could do that.
On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say “There’s nothing ahead”,
there will be nothing there.
Stretch your arms and take hold the cloth of your clothes
with both hands. The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed. If you don’t have both,
you don’t belong with us.
When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There’s no place like that anywhere in the world.


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