The presidential campaigns have been debating who is best qualified to handle foreign policy while pundits have been throwing around verbiage that is either familiar but misunderstood or that is relatively new to many Americans.
Islam, and the problems that go with it, is a complex subject with no clear solutions in a 21st century world. There is, however, a small list of terms that can useful in understanding the confusion.
Following is an alphabetical vocabulary of a few basic terms that can help make Islam slightly less mysterious.
Abrogation – This word is rarely discussed by the mainstream media, but it is important to understanding the Koran when it is quoted by scholars and journalists. Abrogation is used to explain inconsistencies in Koranic scripture or to override earlier revelations. This is a relevant aspect of Islam because early verses can be nullified by later concepts, which means the chronology of a quote becomes significant. The Koran justifies abrogation on at least four occasions.
Dar al-Islam (“House (Territory) of Islam”)/Dar al-harb (“House (Territory) of War”) – Islam is divided into several realms. After the death of Muhammad, Islam began widespread expansion to the west. Populations that came under Muslim control became places where Islam could be practiced freely and, therefore, provided government protection under Sharia Law; dar al-Islam. Non-Muslims, or unbelievers, are known as “infidels.” Countries at war with Islamic regions reside in the realm of dar al-Harb, or the “House of War.”
Dhimmitude – People from other religions, usually Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, which are non-slave populations that are permitted to live relatively freely under Muslim rule are known as “dhimmi.” Dhimmitude has several variations but the original term was coined by Bat Ye’or, a Jewish writer and political commentator, to describe poor treatment of non-Muslims by Muslims. Some authorities are critical of the term “dhimmitude” as being Islamophobic.
Hadith – Muhammad was illiterate, which means that the Koran was transmitted by the Prophet and written down by others. Many episodes from the life of Muhammad that provide specific examples of how to live that are not included in the Koran were written in the 8th century AD in the Hadith. The Hadith is second only in importance to the Koran in Islamic authority.
Islam – For the purposes of this story only the translation of the word “Islam” is provided because it is revealing. Islam means “submission” or “surrender”, and a Muslim is “one who submits.”
Jihad – Some say that “jihad” is the sixth pillar of Islam. The word “jihad” means “struggle.” It is mentioned more than 40 times in the Koran, but frequently it refers to the personal struggle people endure throughout their lives. This can be far ranging and cover a multitude of subjects. The most common meaning, and the one we are most familiar with, is “holy war” or the struggle to defend Islam, by forceif necessary. Many Islamic scholars claim that a holy war as defined by “jihad” is misleading and a product of contemporary media.
Kaaba (Cube) – This temple in
Koran (Kuran, Quran, Qur’an) – The Islamic holy book is well known, but what is lesser known is that “Koran” means “recitation.” Muslim scholars insist that the Koran cannot be translated and only interpreted in its native language of Arabic. Muslim prayers throughout the world are recited in Arabic even though most Muslims do not speak the language.
Sharia – Islam is more than a religion. It is also a political system where there is no separation between church and state. From a Western perspective, this makes it complicated to deal with because the Islamic moral code covers both secular laws as well as personal matters. Different Muslim countries and sects interpret sharia in various ways, with the Wahabbi faction in
Taqiyya (Taqiya, Taqiyah, Tuqyah) – This practice is not a popular topic for discussion because it allows Muslims to deny their faith or commit illegal acts if they believe they are at risk of persecution or physical harm. Taqiyya is primarily a Shi’a concept because that faction of Islam was often in the minority and faced severe pressure. The practice is sanctioned in the Koran in Sura 16:106 which says, “Those who are forced to recant while their hearts remain loyal to the Faith shall be absolved…” In its simplest form, taqiyya is regarded as “lying” which perpetuates another area of conflict between the West and the
Islam is a difficult religion for Westerners to grasp because it has so many variables and because many of its basic tenets are so foreign to our codes of morality. This guide to some of Islam’s most common terms is meant to provide some element of clarity for understanding.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
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