Islamic Ethics: Comprehensive Study Notes
Our goal in this unit is to become familiar with the ethical teachings of Islam as they were developed by the Prophet Muhammad and by scholars shortly after his death. Beginning as a fusion of Ju daism and Christianity, Islam quickly became identified as a distinct revelation from God to the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula in the early seventh century CE. It emphasizes community and submission to the will of God (or Allah) as the sacred duty of each and every believer. A strict code of ethics and frequent communal prayer mark out Islam as unique among the world’s major religious traditions. Like Christianity, Islam claims universal significance and has spread all over the world. Timeline 570 CE Birth of Muhammad 610 CE Muhammad’s revelations of the Qur’an begin 620 CE Death of Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah 622 CE Muhammad’s hijrah from Mecca to Medina 630 CE Mecca controlled by Muhammad 632 CE The death of Muhammad; succeeded by Abu Bakr 633 CE Spread of Islam begins, expanding to northern Egypt, Palestine, Iran 634 CE Abu Bakr succeeded by Umar 650 CE Canonization of the Qur’an 661 CE Damascus is established as capital of Umayyad caliphate 680 CE Death of Husayn at Karbala’, sacred for Shi’a Muslims 691 CE Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is completed 711 CE Arab armies reach the shores of Spain Following the unit structure, we will explore: • early Islam: origin and development; • Islamic scriptures: the tradition’s source texts for ethics; • the basic ethical teachings of early Islam; • analysis and discussion of Islamic ethics: conduct, principles, worldview; • Islamic virtues and vices; and • moral self and moral community. Ethics in World Religions RLGN 1420 Unit 10 1Learning objectives At the end of this unit you will be able to: 1. outline the historical and cultural context out of which Islam emerged; 2. identify some of the scriptural sources for Islamic belief and how its ethical teachings developed out of the Jewish and Christian traditions; 3. describe the ethical teachings of the prophet Muhammad; 4. analyze Islamic ethics on the levels of conduct, principles, and foundation; 5. suggest what are some Islamic virtues; and 6. suggest what the early Islamic tradition defines as the moral self and the moral community. Required readings Read the following from the required textbooks: • The World’s Religions, chapter 12: Islam: The Way of Submission to Allah • Anthology of World Scriptures, chapter 12, Islam Suggested viewing • My Religion Lab: The World’s Religions: Islam • Chapter 12 in the Companion website for Anthology of World Scriptures (do not submit any exercises to your instructor) Instructional content Early Islam: Origin and development Islam originated in the Middle East on the Arabian Peninsula (present day Saudi Arabia) in the year 622 CE by the Western calendar. This date marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar and commemorates the The World's Religions: chapter 12, “Introduction,” “Arabia in the Seventh Century C.E.,” and “The Prophet Muhammad Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Introduction,” and “Name,” “The Call of Muhammad,” “Opposition to Muhammad,” and “The Flight to Medina” In 622 CE, after Muhammad had amassed a decent following, he made a famous journey (Hirja) to Yathrib (later called Medina, or “City of the Prophet”), some 280 miles north of Mecca Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “The Death of Muhammad” The World's Religions: chapter 12, “The Spread of Islam and the Rise of Islamic Civilization,” and “Branches of Islam Using your text, The World’s Religions, write out the definitions for: • Allah • Kabah • Yathrib • Hirja Islamic Scriptures: The tradition’s source texts for ethics Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Overview of Structure,” “Historical Origin and Development,” “Contemporary Use,” and “The Holy Qur’an” The World’s Religions: chapter 12, “The Holy Qur’an” Abraham Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Creation,” and “Adam, Eve, and the Fall Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Selections from the Hadith” The World’s Religions: chapter 12, “The Spread of Islam and the Rise of Islamic Civilzation” Lawful (halal), and therefore obligatory • commendable, and therefore recommended (mustahabb) • neutral, and therefore permitted (mubah) • reprehensible, and therefore disliked (makruh) • unlawful (haram), and therefore forbidden As a study aid to sorting out the various scriptural texts that are mentioned above, and in Young, and that are excerpted from in Van Voorst, write out definitions of the following terms: • Qur’an • hadith • ummah • shari’ah • fiqh The basic ethical teachings of early Islam Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Contemporary Use” “God’s Absolute Oneness,” and “On Unbelievers, Jews, and Christians” Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “The Wives of Muhammad,” and “Women,” and “Law Codes How is the Qur’an like the Hebrew and Christian scriptures? How is it different? • What is the Muslim view of Jesus? • What are your thoughts on the Qur’an’s view toward women? Does this constitute ethical treatment, or does it fall short of the mark? Analysis of Islamic Ethics: conduct, principles, foundation The World's Religions: chapter 12 “The Islamic Worldview Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “The Conduct of Believers” Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Confession of Faith,” “Prayer,” “Alms,” “The Fast,” and “Pilgrimage” Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “The Different Dimensions of Struggle (Jihad) Anthology of World Scriptures: chapter 12, “Predestination,” “Resurrection and Judgment,” and “Heaven and Hell After working carefully through the last section of the manual and the accompanying readings, define the following terms, indicating how each relates to ethics: • zakat • the fourth pillar of Islam • jihad • judgment • predestination Islamic virtues and vices Moral self and moral community Discuss some of the principle differences between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ethics. How has Islam similar? How is it different? In your response, be sure to reference the prophets, scripture, and positions on key ethical questions. Fiqh—jurisprudence, or the theoretical principle that outlines the laws contained in shari’ah Hadith—a commentary on the Prophet’s sayings or actions Hajj—the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, taken at least once in a lifetime if feasible Ijtihad—applying one’s reason to legal opinions Jihad—the Muslim word for struggle or striving (both an inner struggle against temptation and an outward struggle for a Muslim social order) Mecca—the most sacred city in Islam, and site of the Kabah and the hajj pilgrimage Ethics in World Religions RLGN 1420 Unit 10 14Salat—one of the five pillars of Isalm salat indicates the Muslim obligation to pray five times per day Shahadah—The profession of faith that God is the only God and Muhammad is His messenger Shari’ah—the divine law as it is interpreted by judges, based on the Qur’an and hadith tradition Shi’ite—the smaller branch of Islam that trace the Prophets succession through the imams in the lineage of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law Sunni—the larger branch of Islam that trace the Prophet’s succession through the caliphate Ummah—The Muslim community as a whole Additional readings Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library, 2002. Denny, F. M. “Islam: Qur’an and Hadith. In The Holy Book in Comparative Perspective, edited by F. M. Denny and R. L. Taylor. Charleston: University of South Carolina Press, 1985. Hixon, Lex. Heart of the Koran. Wheaton, IL: Thosophical Publishing House, 1988. Peters, Francis, E. A Reader on Classical Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. Stowasser, B. Women in the Qur’an, Traditions, and Commentaries. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Wadud,-Mushin, Amina. Qur’an and Women. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Fajar Bakti Sdn. Bhd, 1992.