Islam

'Ulama

The 'Ulama (sing. 'alim) is the body of Muslim religious scholars and chief religious authorities, members of which often serve as teachers, judges, jurists, preachers, urban and rural imams, market inspectors, and advisers in various capacities.

Abul A’la Maududi

Abul A’la Maududi (1903–1979) was an influential Islamic revivalist, Islamist thinker, prolific author and political activist, and founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political organization that has profoundly shaped the Islamic character of Pakistan. Among Islamists globally, Maududi was one of the first to articulate a modern Islamic political vision and to forge a path independent of both traditional Islamic leadership (the ‘Ulama) as well as nationalist leaders. His writing and political life had an important impact on global Islamism, inspiring others across the Muslim world...

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Ahmadiyya Movement in Nigeria, The

The Ahmadiyya Movement was founded in British India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1836-1906), an Islamic reformist and mystic, who in 1891 claimed that he was a prophet, mujaddid (“renewer”), and the messiah/mahdi anticipated by Muslims. The movement split in two following the death of Ahmad’s successor, Maulana Nur ad-Din in 1914, with one group affirming Ahmad’s messianic status (The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam) and a second group regarding him as a reformer, but otherwise adhering to mainstream Islamic beliefs that understand Muhammad to have been the final prophet (the Lahore Ahmadiyya...

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Ahmadiyya Movement in Pakistan, The

The Ahmadiyya Movement was founded in British India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1836-1906), an Islamic reformist and mystic who in 1891 claimed that he was a prophet, revivalist (mujaddid), and the messiah (mahdi) anticipated by Muslims. The movement split in two following the death of Ahmad’s successor, Maulana Nur ad-Din in 1914, with one group affirming Ahmad’s messianic status (The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam) and a second group regarding him as a reformer, but otherwise adhering to mainstream Islamic beliefs that understand Muhammad to have been the final prophet (the...

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Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is a Qatar-based television network which began broadcasting in 1996. Al Jazeera grew in notoriety in the West for its highly critical coverage of the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq. Connections with Islamists facilitated access to people that other networks didn’t have, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Not only was Al Jazeera the first global network on the ground in Afghanistan, it could offer interviews with Taliban leaders. It was also the first network during the war that could bypass Pentagon restrictions on images of violence, which are...

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Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar University is one of the world’s oldest educational institutions, founded in 972 by the Fatimids, and continues to serve as one of the most prominent centers of Sunni religious orthodoxy in the Muslim world. Many members of Egypt’s religious scholarly class, the ‘ulama, are graduates of al-Azhar. Al-Azhar has long played a role in Egyptian and wider Muslim politics, at times lending support and legitimacy to ruling powers and at other times serving to represent popular opinion against ruling powers.

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Alawism

The Alawi creed originated in Iraq during the ninth century. Muhammad ibn Nusayr al-Bakri al-Numari (d. 883) was a disciple of the eleventh Shi’a Imam Hasan al-Askari (d. 873) but was reportedly denounced by the Imam for his unorthodox views. He did establish a wide following, however, and the community grew enough to develop into a faith and to train theologians. By the eleventh century, there were two Alawi centers; one in Baghdad, Iraq and one in Latakia, Syria. The Baghdad center was destroyed by the Mongols in 1258.

Alawi Muslims practice an esoteric form of...

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Alevism

Alevism is a branch of Shi’a Islam that is practiced in Turkey and the Balkans among ethnic Turks and Kurds, and is related to—though distinct from—Alawism in Syria. Alevis make up 20% of Turkish Muslims and comprise Turkey’s largest religious minority community.

Alevism emerged in Turkey during the 10th century. Like other Shi’a Muslims, Alevis believe that the Prophet Muhammad’s nephew ‘Ali Ibn...

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Caliphate

The caliphate refers to Islam’s politico-religious position of authority established with the death of the Prophet Muhammad, at which point the caliphate, or “God’s deputy on earth,” passed to his successor Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. The Ottoman Empire inherited the caliphate from the defeated Mamluks upon conquering Egypt, and maintained a succession of caliphs until the fall of the Empire and the abolition of the caliphate under ...

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Circumcision

The surgical removal of the foreskin covering the head of the penis. In Judaism, this is a ritual practice traditionally undertaken eight days after birth.

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