Term Paper: Islam Religion in the Arab

Pages: 9 (3298 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Shiite Muslims honor Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and Ali's descendants, whom they believe should be the leaders of the Muslim community. Shiah comes from the Arabic phrase shiat Ali, meaning supporters of Ali. The majority of the Muslims in Iraq are members of the Shiah branch of Islam. Most Arabs living southeast of Baghdad belong to this sect of Islam. They see authority as residing in twelve imams, starting with Ali, who was born in about AD 600, and ending with Muhammad al-Mahdi, who was born in about AD 868. They believe this last imam is still alive, in a miraculous state of concealment from human view. He will return at the end of time to restore justice on earth. A small group of Shiites, known as the Ismaili Shiah, broke away from the Imamis in the AD 700's. One group of Ismailis, which is known as the Nizaris, still follow an imam called Aga Khan IV, who lives in France.

Today, the Kharijites make up the smallest division of Islam. Their name is based on an Arabic word that means secessionists. They received this name because they were former followers of Ali who broke away in 657. Kharijites are strict Muslims whose beliefs are based on precise adherence to the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunna as their community interprets them. They are most noteworthy for their belief in equality under God. In the first centuries of their existence, they elected their leaders and proclaimed that the best Muslim should lead his fellow believers, even if he was a slave. In some Kharijite communities in Algeria, female scholars and religious leaders serve the needs of women while male scholars and religious leaders serve the needs of men.

The Sunnites and Shiites have very little difference in their basic beliefs about God, prophecy, revelation, and the Last Judgment. However, throughout Islamic history there has been hostility between the two groups that has often led to persecution and repression of one by the other. The issue that most sharply divides the Sunnites from the Shiites is the leadership of the religious community. When Muhammad died in AD 632, he named no one to succeed him and did not establish any method for choosing a new leader. The majority, which became the Sunnites, united behind Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad's prominent disciples, and acclaimed him as caliph, the leader. A smaller group, which became the Shiites, rejected Abu Bakr and the two caliphs who succeeded him. They argued that Muhammad had designated his son-in-law, Ali, as leader, and that leadership should have remained in the family of Muhammad.

There are several million Muslims currently living in the United States and they are part of The Nation of Islam which preaches Black Nationalism. The American minister Louis Farrakhan established this sect in 1977. He based it on the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, who had led a group of the same name from 1934 to 1975. Farrakhan continued Muhammad's teachings about the need for self-knowledge, the acceptance of black identity, and economic independence.

The members are urged to eat only one meal a day and to avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol. Women are expected to emphasize housework and child rearing, though some women serve as ministers. The key groups in the organization are the Fruit of Islam and Muslim Girls Training. Members of the Fruit of Islam provide security in mosques and public places. The original Nation of Islam or Black Muslims was founded in Detroit in 1930 by a salesman named Wallace D. Fard. Elijah Muhammad led the group from 1934 until his death in 1975. He taught that Fard was Allah and that he himself was Allah's messenger. Muhammad also taught that white people were "devils" who sought to harm and oppress blacks who were "created from a "botched" experiment on subhuman creatures by an evil wizard named Yacub" (Myss, 2002). He said that whites would eventually be destroyed and blacks would emerge victorious.

Muhammad's son Warith Deen Mohammed succeeded him. Instead of continuing his father's teachings, Warith dismantled the Nation of Islam. He led his followers to Sunni Islam, a traditional branch of Islam practiced by many Africans. In time, his group became known as the Muslim American Society. Farrakhan and other discontented followers resurrected the Nation of Islam but rejected the name Black Muslims. Farrakhan also stopped preaching that whites would eventually be destroyed.

In 1997, Farrakhan began to move closer to traditional Sunni Islam. He adopted the orthodox Friday worship service, prayer posture, and fasting. These measures helped end twenty-five years of separation and hostilities between Farrakhan and Mohammed. The two men declared their unity at the second International Islamic Conference in Chicago in February 2000. However, they continue to lead separate movements.

Many American Muslims are African-American and were heavily influenced by Malcom X. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was a follower of Marcus Garvey, a black leader who worked to establish close political and economic ties to Africa. In 1931, Malcolm's father was found dead after being run over by a streetcar. Malcolm believed white racists were responsible for his father's death. When Malcolm was 12 years old, his mother was committed to a mental hospital. Malcolm spent the rest of his childhood in foster homes. He also became discouraged by racial prejudice around him.

In 1941, Malcolm moved to Boston. The youth became involved in criminal activities. In 1946, he was arrested for burglary and sent to prison. In prison, he joined the Nation of Islam, commonly called the Black Muslims. The Nation of Islam confirmed his belief that white people were devils. After Malcolm was released from prison in 1952, he adopted X as his last name. The letter stood for the unknown African name of Malcolm's slave ancestors.

Malcolm X quickly became the Nation of Islam's most effective minister and national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He was a fiery orator, urging blacks to live separately from whites and to win their freedom any way that was necessary. He soon became dissatisfied with the Nation of Islam because the group would not become involved in politics.

Malcom was Intelligent and articulate. Elijah Muhammad also charged him with establishing new mosques in cities such as Detroit, Michigan and Harlem, New York. Malcolm utilized newspaper columns, radio and television to communicate the Nation of Islam's message across the United States. His charisma, drive and conviction attracted an astounding number of new members. Malcolm was largely credited with large growth of membership within the Nation of Islam.

The crowds and controversy surrounding Malcolm made him a media magnet. He was featured in a week-long television special with Mike Wallace in 1959, "The Hate That Hate Produced." This story explored fundamentals of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm's emergence as one of its most important leaders. After the special, Malcolm was faced with the uncomfortable reality that his fame had eclipsed that of his mentor Elijah Muhammad.

Malcolm's faith was dealt a crushing blow at the height of the civil rights movement in 1963. He learned that Elijah Muhammad was secretly having relations with as many as six women in the Nation of Islam, some of which had resulted in children. Since his conversion Malcolm had strictly adhered to the teachings of Muhammad, including remaining celibate until his marriage to Betty Shabazz in 1958. Malcolm refused Muhammad's request to keep the matter quiet. He was deeply hurt by the deception of Muhammad, whom he had considered a prophet, and felt guilty about the masses he had led into what he now felt was a fraudulent organization (CMG Worldwide, 2002). In 1964, Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam. Soon afterward, he traveled to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He met Muslims of many ethnic backgrounds and rejected the view that all white people are devils. Malcolm X adopted the Muslim name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabbazz. After returning to the United States, he formed his own group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

Malcolm X rejected nonviolence as a principle, but he sought cooperation with Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists who favored militant nonviolent protests. He confirmed his following of King with the following statement, "Dr. King wants the same thing I want. Freedom" (Big Chalk, 2002). Malcom firm belief in freedom was reinforced with his statement, "When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won't do to get it, or what he doesn't believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn't believe in freedom. A man who believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to acquire... Or preserve his freedom" (Big… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Islam Religion in the Arab.  (2003, March 29).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/islam-religion-arab/5063107

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"Islam Religion in the Arab."  Essaytown.com.  March 29, 2003.  Accessed June 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/islam-religion-arab/5063107.