2 July 2012

Encyclopaedia Brittanica 1911 Entry on Islam



ISLAM, an Arabic word meaning " pious submission to the will of God," the name of the religion of the orthodox Mahom-medans, and hence used, generically, for the whole body of Mahommedan peoples. Salama, from which the word is derived appears in salaam, " peace be with you," the greeting of the East, and in Moslem, and means to be " free " or " secure." (See MAHOMMEDAN RELIGION, &c.)





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Muslim Predestination



The Qadarites were concerned with the doctrine of predestination and free-will. So long as Moslems were fighting the battles of Islam they naturally paid most attention to those revelations which laid stress on the absolute determination of a man's destiny by God. They fought with great bravery, because they believed that God had foreordained their death or life and they could not escape His will. In the quieter realm of town and court life and in their disputations with Christians they were called upon to reconcile this belief with the appeals made in the Koran to man's own self-determination to good, to courage, &c. Mahomet was not a systematic theologian and had done nothing to help them. The Qadarites declared that man had power over his own actions. But the teaching of predestination had gained too great a hold on Moslems to be thus displaced. The teaching of the Qadarites was held to be heresy, and one of its first professors, Ma'bad ul-Juham, was put to death in 699.' During this period Medina was the home of tradition. Those who had been in closest relation with the Prophet dwelt there. The very people of the city derived a certain splendour and authority from the fact that Mahomet had lived and was buried there. Free thought in religion had little chance of arising, less of expressing itself, in the holy city. But the Koran was diligently studied, traditions were collected (and invented) though not yet written in books, and innovation (bid'a) was resolutely avoided. At the same time it really did contribute a new element to religious practice, for the custom (ijma\ see above) of-Medina gained a certain authority even in Syria and the East. -from Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911





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