Tag Archives: Muslim

The Crusades – Christians vs Muslims – What”s it all about?

The Crusades – Muslims vs Christians

The Crusades were military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Pope Urban II authorized the First Crusade in 1095 with the goal of restoring European access to the Holy Land, and an intermittent 200-year struggle ensued. Urban was also seeking to reunite the Catholic Church under his leadership by militarily supporting Emperor Alexios I. After centuries of competitive co-existence with the Arabs following the initial Muslim conquests the Byzantine Empire had been defeated by the Turks in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert.

As a result, the Byzantines lost the fertile coastal area of Anatolia and were forced into competition with Turks migrating westward


Jihad vs. Crusade – Holy Wars in Comparative Perspective


Hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholics from many different classes and nations of Western Europe became crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the church. Some crusaders were peasants hoping for Apotheosis at Jerusalem. Pope Urban II claimed that anyone who participated was forgiven of their sins. In addition to demonstrating devotion to God, as stated by the Catholic Church, participation satisfied feudal obligations and provided opportunities for economic and political gain. Crusaders often pillaged the countries through which they traveled, and contrary to their promises the leaders retained much of this territory rather than returning it to the Byzantines.]

The People’s Crusade prompted the murder of thousands of Jews, known as the Rhineland massacres. Constantinople was sacked during the Fourth Crusade rendering the reunification of Christendom impossible. Due to the weakening that resulted from the siege, the Byzantine Empire ultimately fell to the Ottomans.[5] The Catholic Church mounted no coherent response when their last stronghold in the region, Acre, fell in 1291.

Opinions concerning the conduct of crusaders have varied from laudatory to highly critical. The impact of the crusades was profound; they reopened the Mediterranean to commerce and travel, enabling Genoa and Venice to flourish. Crusader armies would trade with the local populations while travelling, and Orthodox Byzantine emperors often organized markets for crusaders moving through their territory. The Crusades consolidated the collective identity of the Latin Church under papal leadership, were a source of heroism, chivalry, and piety. This consequently spawned medieval romance, philosophy, and literature. However, the crusades reinforced the connection between Western Catholicism, feudalism, and militarism, which was counter to the Peace and Truce of God that Urban had promoted





A 12th-century Byzantine manuscript illumination depicting Byzantine Greeks punishing Cretan Saracens in the 9th century (from the Madrid Skylitzes)

  • Crusade is a modern term derived from the French croisade and Spanish cruzada and by 1750, the various forms of the word “crusade” had established themselves in English, French, and German.[9] The Oxford English Dictionary records its first use in English as occurring in 1757 by William Shenstone.[10] When a crusader swore a vow (a votus) to be fulfilled on successfully reaching Jerusalem they were granted a cloth cross (crux) to be sewn into their clothes. This “taking of the cross”, the crux, eventually became associated with the entire journey. They saw themselves as undertaking an iter, a journey, or a peregrinatio, an armed pilgrimage. The inspiration for this “messianism of the poor” was the expected mass apotheosis at Jerusalem.[5]
  • The numbering of the Crusades is matter of debate with some historians considering that between 1096 and 1291 there were seven major Crusades and numerous minor ones.[3] However, others consider the Fifth Crusade of Frederick II as two distinct crusades. This would make the crusade launched by Louis IX in 1270 the Eighth Crusade. In addition, sometimes even this crusade is considered as two, leading to a Ninth Crusade.
  • Popes frequently called political crusades and crusades were also declared as a means of conflict resolution amongst fellow Roman Catholics. The first of these was called by Pope Innocent III against Markward of Anweiler in 1202.[14] Further examples include a crusade against the Stedingers and several against Emperor Frederick II and his sons called by a number of popes.[15] Others include two crusades called against opponents of King Henry III of England enjoying the same privileges as those given to crusaders on the Fifth Crusade.[16]
  • The term widely used for Muslim was Saracen as before the 16th century the words “Muslim” and “Islam” were very rarely used by Europeans.[17] In Greek and Latin this term had a longer evolution from the beginning of the first millennium, where it referred to a people who lived in desert areas around the Roman province of Arabia who were distinguished from Arabs.[18][19] The term developed to include Arab tribes and by the 12th century had become an ethnic and religious marker synonymous with “Muslim” in Medieval Latin literature.[20][21]
  • The terms Frank and Latin given from the period of the Crusades to persons belonging to any of the Western nations of Europe, in contradistinction to the Greeks.[22][23]


During the Reformation and Counter-Reformation of the 16th century, historians saw the Crusades through the prism of their own religious beliefs. Protestants saw them as a manifestation of the evils of the Papacy, while Catholics viewed the movement as a force for good.[24] During the Enlightenment, historians tended to view both the Crusades and the entire Middle Ages as the efforts of barbarian cultures driven by fanaticism.[25] By the 19th century, with the dawning of Romanticism, this harsh view of the crusades and its time period was mitigated somewhat.[26] with later 19th-century crusade scholarship focusing on increasing specialization of study and more detailed works on subjects.[27]

Enlightenment scholars in the 18th century and modern historians in the West have expressed moral outrage at the conduct of the crusaders. In the 1950s, Sir Steven Runciman wrote that “High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed … the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God” .[28] In the 20th century, three important works covering the entire history of the crusades have been published, those of Rene Grousset, Runciman and the multi-author work edited by K. M. Stetton.[29] A pluralist view of the crusades has developed in the 20th century inclusive of all papal-led efforts, whether in the Middle East or in Europe[11] Historian Thomas Madden has made the contrary argument that “[t]he crusade, first and foremost, was a war against Muslims for the defense of the Christian faith…. They began as a result of a Muslim conquest of Christian territories.” Madden says the goal of Pope Urban was that “[t]he Christians of the East must be free from the brutal and humiliating conditions of Muslim rule.”[13]

After the fall of Acre in 1291, European support for the Crusades remained despite criticism by contemporaries such as Roger Bacon who felt the Crusades were ineffective since “those who survive, together with their children, are more and more embittered against the Christian faith.”[30] The historian Norman Davies summarised the case against the crusades as running counter to the Peace and Truce of God that Urban had promoted; instead they reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism. The formation of military religious orders scandalised the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Greeks. Crusaders pillaged the countries they transited on their journey east. Rather than keeping their oath to restore lands to the Byzantines, they often kept the land for themselves.[3][31][32] The Peoples’ Crusade instigated the Rhineland massacres and the massacre of thousands of Jews. In the late 19th century this episode was used by Jewish historians to support Zionism.[33] The Fourth Crusade resulted in the sacking of Constantinople, effectively ending the chance of reuniting the Christian church by reconciling the East–West Schism and leading to the weakening and eventual fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans. Historians of the Enlightenment criticized the misdirection of the crusades. In particular they pointed to the Fourth Crusade which instead of attacking Islam attacked another Christian power—the (Eastern) Roman Empire. David Nicolle says the Fourth Crusade has always been controversial in terms of the “betrayal” of Byzantium.[34] Edward Gibbon in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire said the crusaders efforts would have been more profitably employed in the improvement of their native country[3]


The Great Seljuk Empire at its largest extent, in 1092

In the Eastern Mediterranean after Muslim forces defeated the Eastern Roman/Byzantines at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, the control of Palestine passed through the Umayyad Dynasty, the Abbasid Dynasty. and the Fatimids.[35][36][37] Toleration, trade, and political relationships between the Arabs and the Christian states of Europe ebbed and flowed until 1072 when the Fatimids lost control of Palestine to the rapidly expanding Great Seljuk Empire.[38] For example, the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, only to have his successor allow the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it.[39] The Muslim rulers allowed pilgrimages by Catholics to the holy sites. Resident Christians were considered people of the book and so were tolerated as Dhimmi or “subjugated people” accorded a second-class status, and inter-marriage was not uncommon.[40] Cultures and creeds coexisted as much as competed, but the frontier conditions were not conducive to Latin Catholic pilgrims and merchants.[41] The disruption of pilgrimages by conquering Seljuk Turks prompted support for the Crusades in Western Europe.[42]

Image of Seljuk emperor Alp Arslan humiliating Romanos IV in 1071 after Manzikert. Alp Arslan actually treated Romanos IV well and let him return to Constantinople, where he was killed by the Byzantines. Image from a 15th-century illustrated French translation of Boccaccio‘s De Casibus Virorum Illustrium.

The Byzantine Empire was resurgent from the end of the 10th century, with Basil II spending most of his 50-year reign on campaign, conquering a great amount of territory. He left a growing treasury, at the expense of neglecting domestic affairs and also ignoring the cost of incorporating his conquests into the Byzantine Ecumene. None of Basil’s successors had any particular military or political talent, and governing the Empire increasingly fell into the hands of the civil service. Their efforts to spend the Byzantine economy back into prosperity only resulted in burgeoning inflation. To balance the increasingly unstable budget, Basil’s large standing army was dismissed as unnecessary, and native thematic troops were cashiered and replaced by foreign mercenaries. Following the defeat of the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks had taken over almost all of Anatolia, and the Empire descended into frequent civil wars.[43] In the Western Mediterranean the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslims began in the 8th century and reached its turning point with the recapture of Toledo in 1085.[44] At the subsequent Council of Clermont in 1095.[45] Urban II tied the ongoing wars in Iberia to his preaching of the First Crusade and the crusading effort but it was not until the papal encyclical in 1123 by Pope Calixtus II that these wars attained the status of crusades.[46] After this, the papacy declared Iberian crusades in 1147, 1193, 1197, 1210, 1212, 1221 and 1229. Crusading privileges were also given to those people who were helping the military orders – both the traditional Templars and Hospitallers as well as the specifically Iberian orders that were founded and eventually merged into two main orders – that of the Order of Calatrava and the Order of Santiago. From 1212 to 1265, the Christian kingdoms of Iberia drove Muslim rule into the far south of the Iberian Peninsula, confined to the small Emirate of Granada. In 1492, this remnant was conquered and Muslims and Jews were expelled from the peninsula.[47]

In Western Europe an aggressive and reformist papacy came into conflict with both the Eastern Empire and Western secular monarchs, leading to the East-West Schism in 1054,[48] and the Investiture Controversy, which had started around 1075 and was still on-going during the First Crusade. The papacy began to assert its independence from secular rulers, marshaling arguments for the proper use of armed force by Catholics. The result was intense Catholic piety, interest in religious affairs, and religious propaganda advocating “Just War” in order to retake Palestine from the Muslims. The majority view was that non-Christians could not be forced to accept Christian baptism or should not be physically assaulted for having a different faith as opposed to a less common opinion that vengeance was a response to injuries such as the denial of Christian faith, government or the opportunity for justified forcible conversion.[49] Taking part in such a war was seen as a form of penance, which could remit sins.[50] Meanwhile, in Europe, the Germans were expanding at the expense of the Slavs .[51] While Sicily was conquered by the Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard in 1072.[52]

Illumination from the Livre des Passages d’Outre-mer (c. 1490) of Urban II at the Council of Clermont (Bibliothèque Nationale)

Emperor Alexios I Komnenos requested military assistance from Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza to fight the Seljuqs in 1095, probably envisaging this in the form of mercenaries to reinforce his tagmata and exaggerating the dangers facing the Eastern Empire in order to secure the needed troops[53] On the penultimate day of the subsequent council at Clermont, attended by nearly 300 clerics from throughout France from 19 to 28 November, Urban raised the problems in the Εast and the struggle of the Eastern Roman Empire against Muslims. There are six main sources of information on the Council: the anonymous Gesta Francorum (“The Deeds of the Franks”) dated c. 1100/1101, by Fulcher of Chartres who was present at the council; Robert the Monk, who may have been present; as well as Baldric, archbishop of Dol, and Guibert de Nogent, who were not. All the accounts were written retrsopectively and differ greatly.[54] Robert the Monk—Historia Iherosolimitana, written in 1106/7— writes that the pope asked western Christians, poor and rich, to come to the aid of the Byzantine Empire because “Deus vult,” (“God wills it”) adding that Urban promised Absolution for those who took part, although other sources claim instead, it was remission of all penance due from sins, later called an indulgence. In the accounts Urban emphasizes reconquering the Holy Land more than aiding the Emperor, listing gruesome offences committed by Muslims and focussing on the reconquest of the Holy Land. The propogand for this call to arms was preached across France with Urban himself writing those “waiting in Flanders” lamenting that Turks, in addition to ravaging the “churches of God in the eastern regions,” have seized “the Holy City of Christ, embellished by his passion and resurrection—and blasphemy to say it—have sold her and her churches into abominable slavery.” While not explicitly calling for the reconquest of Jerusalem he does call for the military “liberation” of the Eastern Churches and appoints Adhemar of Le Puy to lead the Crusade, commencing on the day of the Assumption of Mary, 15 August.[55]


First Crusade (1096–1099) and immediate aftermath


The Dark Ages: Life, War and Death – Crusades


Route of the First Crusade through Asia

Inspired by Pope Urban II‘s preaching, Peter the Hermit led as many as 20,000 people, mostly peasants, to the Holy Land shortly after Easter 1096.[56] When they arrived in Germany in spring 1096, units of crusaders commenced the Rhineland massacres in the cities of Speyer, Worms, Mainz and Cologne, despite the efforts by Catholic bishops to protect the Jews. Major leaders included Emicho and Peter the Hermit. The range of anti-Jewish activity was broad, extending from limited, spontaneous violence to full-scale military attacks on the Jewish communities of Mainz and Cologne.[57] This was the first major outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in Europe and was cited by 19th-century Zionists as showing the need for a Jewish state.[58] When the group finally reached the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Alexios urged them to wait for the western nobles, but they insisted upon proceeding and fell to a Turkish ambush outside Nicaea, from which only about 3,000 people escaped.[59]

The official crusader armies departed from France and Italy in August and September 1096. The bulk of the army divided into four parts, which travelled separately to Constantinople.[60][61] With non-combatants included, the western forces may have contained as many as 100,000 people.[62] The armies journeyed eastward by land toward Constantinople, where they received a wary welcome from the Byzantine Emperor.[63] The main army, mostly comprising French and Norman knights under baronial leadership, pledged to restore lost territories to the empire and marched south through Anatolia.[64][65][66] The leaders of the First Crusade included Godfrey of Bouillon, Robert Curthose, Hugh of Vermandois, Baldwin of Bouillon, Tancred de Hauteville, Raymond of Toulouse, Bohemond of Taranto, Robert II, Count of Flanders, and Stephen, Count of Blois. The king of France and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, were in conflict with the Pope and did not participate.[67]

The crusader armies initially fought the Turks at the lengthy Siege of Antioch, which began in October 1097 and lasted until June 1098. When they entered Antioch, the crusaders massacred the Muslim inhabitants and pillaged the city. However, a large Muslim army led by Kerbogha immediately besieged the victorious crusaders, who were now inside Antioch. Bohemond of Taranto successfully rallied the crusader army and defeated Kerbogha on 28 June.[68] Bohemond and his men retained control of the city, despite his pledge to Alexios.[69] Most of the remaining crusader army marched south, moving from town to town along the coast, finally reaching Jerusalem on 7 June 1099 with only a fraction of their original forces.[70]

Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the invading Franks, but the crusaders entered the city on 15 July 1099 . They proceeded to massacre the remaining Jewish and Muslim civilians and also pillaged or destroyed mosques or the city itself.[71] In his Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem, Raymond D’Aguilers exalted actions which would be considered atrocities from a modern viewpoint.[72] As a result of the First Crusade, four primary crusader states were created: Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli, and Jerusalem.[73]

On a popular level, the preaching of the First Crusade unleashed a wave of impassioned, personally felt pious Catholic fury that was expressed in the massacres of Jews that accompanied and preceded the movement of the crusaders through Europe,[74] as well as the violent treatment of the “schismatic” Orthodox Christians of the east.[75]

Following this crusade was a second, less successful wave of crusaders, known as the Crusade of 1101, in which Turks led by Kilij Arslan defeated the crusaders in three separate battles in a response to the First Crusade.[76] Sigurd I of Norway was the first European king to visit the crusading states, as well as the first European king to take part in a crusading campaign, although his expedition was as much pilgrimage as crusade. His fleet helped at the Siege of Sidon. Also in 1107, Bohemond I of Antioch attacked the Byzantines at Avlona and Dyrrachium, in what is occasionally called Bohemond’s Crusade, which ended in September 1108 with a defeat for Bohemond and his retiring to Italy.

12th century

In the early 12th-century, smaller scale crusading continued: Pope Calixtus II promoted the Venetian Crusade of 1122–1124;[77] Count Fulk V of Anjou visited in 1120; Conrad III of Germany in 1124 and Fulk V again in 1129 leading to recognition of the Knights Templar by Pope Honorius II. In 1135 Pope Innocent II‘s grant of crusading indulgences to those who opposed papal enemies is seen by some historians as the beginning of politically motivated crusades.[78] The crusader states were initially secure, but Imad ad-Din Zengi, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1127, captured Aleppo in 1128 and Edessa (Urfa) in 1144.[79] These defeats led Pope Eugenius III to call for another crusade on 1 March 1145.[80] The new crusade was called for by various preachers, most notably by Bernard of Clairvaux .[81] French and South German armies, under the Kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories, launching a failed pre-emptive siege of Damascus.[82] On the other side of the Mediterranean a group of Northern European crusaders stopped in Portugal, allied with the Portuguese King, Afonso I of Portugal, and retook Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147.[83] A detachment from this group of crusaders helped Count Raymond Berenguer IV of Barcelona conquer the city of Tortosa the following year.[84] In the Holy Land by 1150, both the kings of France and Germany had returned to their countries without any result. Bernard of Clairvaux, who in his preachings had encouraged the Second Crusade, was upset with the amount of misdirected violence and slaughter of the Jewish population of the Rhineland[85] A followup to this crusade was the pilgrimage of Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, in 1172 that is sometimes labelled a crusade.[86] At the same time Saxons and Danes fought against Polabian Slavs in the Wendish Crusade or First Northern Crusade. The Wends defeated the Danes and the Saxons did not contribute much to the crusade.[87] The Wends did acknowledge the rule of Henry the Lion. Further crusading actions continued although no papal bulls were issued calling new crusades.[88] Henry restarted efforst to conquer the Wends in 1160 and in 1162 the Wends were defeated.[89]

Detail of a miniature of Philip II of France arriving in the Holy Land

Saladin created a single powerful state, uniting opposition and providing a new threat to the Latin states.[90] Following his victory at the Battle of Hattin he easily overwhelmed the disunited crusaders in 1187 and retook Jerusalem on 29 September 1187. Terms were arranged and the city surrendered, with Saladin entering the city on 2 October 1187.[91] Saladin’s victories shocked Europe. On hearing news of the Siege of Jerusalem (1187), Pope Urban III died of a heart attack on 19 October 1187.[92] On 29 October Pope Gregory VIII issued a papal bull, Audita tremendi, proposing the Third Crusade. To reverse the loss of Jerusalem, Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (r. 1152–1190) of Germany, King Philip II of France (r. 1180–1223), and King Richard I (The Lionheart) of England (r. 1189–1199) all organized forces. Frederick died en route, and few of his men reached the Holy Land. The other two armies arrived but were beset by political quarrels. Philip returned to France, leaving most of his forces behind. Richard captured the island of Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191. He then recaptured the city of Acre after a long siege. The crusader army headed south along the Mediterranean coast, defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of Jaffa, and was in sight of Jerusalem, but supply problems forced them to end the crusade without taking Jerusalem.[93] Richard left the following year after negotiating a treaty with Saladin. The terms allowed trade for merchants and unarmed Catholic pilgrims to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, while it remained under Muslim control.[94] Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor initiated a German Crusade in 1197 to fulfil the promises made by his father, Frederick. Led by Conrad of Wittelsbach, Archbishop of Mainz the army landed at Acre and captured the cities of Sidon and Beirut before Henry died and most of the crusaders returned to Germany.[95]

13th century

Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe in 1193 resulting in Bishop Berthold of Hanover leading a large army of crusaders to defeat and his death in 1198. In response to this defeat Innocent III issued a papal bull declaring a crusade against the mostly pagan Livonians.[96] Albrecht von Buxthoeven, consecrated as bishop in 1199, arrived the following year with a large force and established Riga as the seat of his bishopric in 1201. In 1202 he formed the Livonian Brothers of the Sword to aid in the conversion of the pagans to Catholicism and, more importantly, to protect German trade and secure German control over commerce. The Livonians were conquered and converted between 1202 and 1209.[97] In 1217 Pope Honorius III called a crusade against the Prussians.[98] Konrad of Masovia gave Chelmno to the Teutonic Knights in 1226 to serve as a base for the Prussian crusade.[99] In 1236 the Livonian Sword Brothers were defeated by the Lithuanians at Saule, and in 1237 Pope Gregory IX merged the remaining Sword Brothers into the Teutonic Knights.[100] By 1249, the Teutonic Knights had completed their conquest of the Old Prussians, which they ruled as a fief of the German emperor. The Knights then moved on to conquer and convert the pagan Lithuanians, a process that lasted into the 1380s.[101] The Teutonic Order attempted but failed to conquer Orthodox Russia (particularly the Republics of Pskov and Novgorod), an enterprise endorsed by Pope Gregory IX, as part of the Northern Crusades. In 1240 the Novgorod army defeated the Swedes in the Battle of the Neva.[102] and in 1242 they defeated the Livonian knights in the Battle on the Ice.[103] Innocent III initiated recruitment for what became known as the Forth crusade in 1200 with preaching taking place in France, England, and Germany, although the bulk of the efforts were in France.[104] This became a vehicle for the political ambitions of Doge Enrico Dandolo and the German King Philip of Swabia who was married to Irene of Byzantium. Dandolo saw an opportunity to expand Venice’s possessions in the near east, while Philip saw the crusade as a chance to restore his exiled nephew, Alexios IV Angelos, to the throne of Byzantium.[105] The crusaders contracted with the Venetians for a fleet and provisions to transport them to the Holy Land, but they lacked the funds to pay when too few knights arrived in Venice. They agreed to divert the crusade to Constantinople and share what could be looted as payment. As collateral the crusaders seized the Christian city of Zara on 24 November 1202. Innocent was appalled and excommunicated the crusaders.[106] The crusaders met with limited resistance in their initial siege of Constantinople, sailing down the Dardanelles and breaching the sea walls. However, Alexios was strangled after a palace coup, robbing them of their success, and they had to repeat the siege in April 1204. This time the city was sacked, churches pillaged, and large numbers of the citizens butchered. The crusaders took their rewards, dividing the Empire into Latin fiefs and Venetian colonies. In the Venetian period, there was particular attention to improving defences of La Cava and Nicosia.[107] In April 1205, the crusaders were largely annihilated by Bulgars and remaining Greeks at Adrianople, where Kaloyan of Bulgaria captured and imprisoned the new Latin emperor Baldwin of Flanders.[108][109] While deploring the means, the papacy initially supported this apparent forced reunion between the Eastern and Western churches.[110] The Fourth Crusade effectively left two Roman Empires in the East: a Latin “Empire of the Straits”, existing until 1261, and a Byzantine enclave ruled from Nicea, which later regained control in the absence of the Venetian fleet. Venice was the sole beneficiary in the long run.[111]

Pope Innocent III excommunicating the Albigensians (left), Massacre against the Albigensians by the crusaders (right)

The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1208 to eliminate the heretical Cathars of Occitania (modern-day southern France). It was a decades-long struggle that had as much to do with the desire of northern France to extend its control southwards as it did with battling heresy. In the end, the Cathars were driven underground, and the independence of southern France was eliminated.[112] In 1221 Honorius III called on King Andrew II to crusade against heretics in Bosnia and Hungarian forces responded to further papal calls in both 1234 and 1241. The later conflict ended because of the Mongol invasion of Hungary in 1241. The Bosnian church was Catholic in theology, but continued to be in schism with the Roman Catholic Church well past the end of the Middle Ages.[113] Pope Innocent III declared a new crusade to commence in 1217, along with his summoning of the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215. The majority of the crusaders came from Germany, Flanders, and Frisia, along with a large army from Hungary led by King Andrew II and other forces led by Duke Leopold VI. The forces of Andrew and Leopold arrived in Acre in October 1217 but little was accomplished and Andrew returned to Hungary in January 1218. After the arrival of more crusaders, Leopold and the king of Jerusalem, John of Brienne, laid siege to Damietta, Egypt.[114] which they captured finally in November 1219. Further efforts by the papal legate, Pelagius, to invade further into Egypt led to no gains.[115] Blocked by forces of the Ayyubid Sultan Al-Kamil, the crusaders were forced to surrender. Al-Kamil forced the return of Damietta and agreed to an eight-year truce and the crusaders left Egypt.[116]

Emperor Frederick II (left) meets al-Kamil (right), from a manuscript of the Nuova Cronica by Giovanni Villani

Emperor Frederick II repeatedly failed to fulfill his vows to crusade for which he was excommunicated.[117] Finally he sailed from Brindisi, landing at Acre in September 1228 via Cyprus.[118] There were no battles as Frederick made a peace treaty with Al-Kamil that allowed Latin Christians to rule over most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory from Acre to Jerusalem, while the Muslims were given control of their sacred areas in Jerusalem. In return, Frederick pledged to protect Al-Kamil against all his enemies, even if they were Christian.[119] A followup to this crusade was the effort by King Theobald I of Navarre in 1239 and 1240 that had originally been called in 1234 by Gregory IX to assemble in July 1239 at the end of a truce. Besides Theobald, Peter of Dreux and Hugh, Duke of Burgundy and other French nobles took part. They arrived in Acre in September 1239 and after a defeat in November, Theobald arranged a treaty with the Muslims that returned territory to the crusading states, but caused much disaffection within the crusaders. Theobald returned to Europe in September 1240. Also in 1240, Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of King Henry III of England, took the cross and arrived in Acre in October. He then secured the ratification of Theobald’s treaty and left the Holy Land in May 1241 for Europe.[120]

In the summer of 1244, a Khwarezmian force summoned by the son of al-Kamil, al-Salih Ayyub, stormed and took Jerusalem. The Franks allied with Ayyub’s uncle Ismail and the emir of Homs and their combined forces were drawn into battle at La Forbie in Gaza. The crusader army and its allies were defeated within forty-eight hours by the Khwarezmian tribesmen.[121] King Louis IX of France organized a crusade after taking the cross in December 1244, preaching and recruiting from 1245 through 1248.[122] Louis’ forces set sail from France in May 1249 and landed near Damietta in Egypt on 5 June 1249. Waiting until the end of the Nile flood, the army marched into the interior in November and by February were near Mansura. They were defeated near there, however, and King Louis was captured while retreating towards Damietta.[123] Louis was ransomed for 800,000 bezants and a ten-year truce was agreed. Louis then went to Syria, where he remained until 1254 working to solidify the kingdom of Jerusalem and constructing fortifications.[124]

In 1256, the Venetians were evicted from Tyre, prompting the War of Saint Sabas over territory in Acre claimed by both Genoa and Venice.[125] Venice conquered the disputed property, destroying Saint Sabas’ fortifications, but was unable to expel the Genoese. During a blockade of 14 months Genoa allied with Philip of Monfort, John of Arsuf and the Knights Hospitaller while Venice was supported by the Count of Jaffa and the Knights Templar,[126] By 1261, the Genoese were expelled, but Pope Urban IV, concerned about the impact of the war on the defences against the Mongols, organised a peace council.[127] The conflict resumed in 1264 when the Genoese received aid from Michael VIII Palaiologos, Emperor of Nicaea and Venice failed in an attempt to conquer Tyre. Both sides employed Muslim soldiers, mostly Turcopoles, against their Christian foes and the Genoese had made an alliance with Baybars.[128] The warfare between Genoa and Venice had a significant negative impact on the Kingdom’s ability to withstand external threats to its existence. Except for the religious buildings, most of the fortified buildings in Acre had been destroyed at one point and it looked like it had been ravaged by a Muslim army. According to Rothelin, the continuator of William of Tyre’s History, 20,000 men had lost their lives in the conflict at a time when the crusader states were chronically short on soldiery. The war ended in 1270 and in 1288 Genoa finally received its quarter in Acre back.[129]

Statue of Charles of Anjou in Hyeres

In 1266, Saint Louis’ brother Charles had seized, with Sicily, parts of the eastern Adriatic it had previously controlled as well as Corfu, Butrinto, Avlona and Suboto. The Treaty of Viterbo was agreed with the exiled Baldwin II of Constantinople and William II Villehardouin that the heirs of both Latin princes were to marry children of Charles, and Charles was to have the reversion of the Empire and principality should the couples have no heirs. He also turned his brother’s crusade to his own advantage, persuading Louis to direct the Eighth Crusade against his rebel vassals in Tunis. Louis’s death, illness among the crusaders and a storm that devastated his fleet forced Charles to postpone his designs against Constantinople. Michael VIII Palaeologus was alarmed by Charles’s planned crusade to restore the Latin Empire that had fallen in 1261 and Charles’ expansion in the Mediterranean. Palaeologus delayed Charles by beginning negotiations with Pope Gregory X for a union between the Greek and the Latin churches. At the Council of Lyon, a Union of Churches was declared; Charles and Philip of Courtenay were compelled to extend a truce with Byzantium. The union would later prove to be unacceptable to the Greeks. Palaeologus also provided Genoa with funds to encourage the revolts in Charles’s northern Italian territories.[130] In 1268 Charles executed Conradin — a great-grandson of Isabella I of Jerusalem, principal pretender to the throne of Jerusalem — when seizing Sicily from the Holy Roman Empire. Charles went on to purchase the rights to Jerusalem from Maria of Antioch — the only remaining grandchild of Queen Isabella— creating a rival claim to that of Hugh III of Cyprus, who was a great grandson of Queen Isabella. Charles spent his life striving to assemble a Mediterranean empire. He and Louis regarded themselves as God’s instruments to uphold the Papacy.[131] Ignoring his advisers, in 1270 Louis IX again attacked the Arabs in Tunis in North Africa. He picked the hottest season of the year for campaigning and his army was devastated by disease. The king himself died, ending the last major attempt to take the Holy Land.[132] The Mamluks, led by Baibars, eventually drove the Franks from the Holy Land. From 1265 through 1271, Baibars drove the Franks to a few small coastal outposts.[133] The future Edward I of England undertook to crusade with Louis IX, but he was delayed and did not arrive in North Africa until November 1270. After the death of Louis, Edward went to Sicily and then on to Acre in May 1271. His forces were too small to make much difference, though, and he was upset at the conclusion of a truce between Baibars and the king of Jerusalem, Hugh. Although Edward learned of his father’s death and his succession to the throne in December 1272, he did not return to England until 1274, although he accomplished little in the Holy Land.[134] The accession of a French pope, Martin IV, in 1281 brought the full power of the Papacy into line behind Charles’ plans. He campaigned unsuccessfully in Albania and Achaea before preparing to launch the body of his Crusade (400 ships carrying 27,000 mounted knights) against Constantinople. However, Palaeologus allied with Peter III of Aragon to encourage an uprising known as the Sicilian Vespers in which the crusader fleet was abandoned and burnt. The Sicilians appealed to King Peter, who was proclaimed king with the Angevin house exiled forever from Sicily. Pope Martin excommunicated Peter and called a crusade against Aragon before, in 1287, Charles died, allowing Henry II of Cyprus to reclaim Jerusalem. One factor in the eventual decline and fall was the disunity and conflict that were endemic between the various Latin Christian interests of the Eastern Mediterranean. Pope Martin IV hopelessly compromised the Papacy supporting Charles of Anjou; and the botched secular “crusades” against Sicily and Aragon greatly tarnished its spiritual power. The collapse of its moral authority and the rise of nationalism rang the death knell for crusading, and would ultimately lead to the Avignon Papacy and the Western Schism. The Crusade of Aragón was declared by Martin IV against Peter III in 1284 and 1285. Peter was supporting the anti-Angevin forces in Sicily following the Sicilian Vespers, and the papacy supported Charles of Anjou. Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed a crusade against Frederick III of Sicily, the younger brother of Peter, in 1298, but was unable to prevent Frederick’s crowning and recognition as King of Sicily.

The mainland Crusading states of the middle eastern Outremer were extinguished with the fall of Tripoli in 1289, and Acre in 1291.[136] The remaining Latin Christians largely left for various destinations in the Frankokratia, were killed or enslaved.[137] Minor crusading efforts lingered into the 14th century. Peter I of Cyprus captured and sacked Alexandria in 1365 in what became known as the Alexandrian Crusade though his motivation was as much commercial as it was religious.[138] Louis II, Duke of Bourbon led a French-Genoese campaign in 1390 against Muslim pirates in North Africa and based in Mahdia called the Mahdian Crusade. After a ten-week siege, the crusaders lifted their siege with the signing of a ten-year truce.[139]

Crusades of the 14th and 15th centuries

Execution of Christian prisoners after the Battle of Nicopolis (1396) in retaliation for the Rahovo massacre of Ottoman prisoners

Various crusades were launched in the 14th and 15th centuries to counter the expansion of the Ottoman Empire starting in 1396 with Sigismund of Luxemburg, king of Hungary. Many French nobles joined Sigismund’s forces, including John the Fearless, son of the Duke of Burgundy, who was appointed military leader of the crusade. Although Sigismund advised the crusaders to adopt a defensive posture once they reached the Danube, the crusaders instead besieged the city of Nicopolis. The Ottomans defeated the crusaders in the Battle of Nicopolis on 25 September 1396 capturing 3,000 prisoners.[140]

The battle between the Hussite warriors and the Crusaders, Jena Codex, 15th century

The Hussite Crusade(s), also known as the “Hussite Wars,” or the “Bohemian Wars,” involved the military actions against the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1420 to around 1431. Crusades were declared five times in that period – in 1420, 1421, 1422, 1427 and in 1431. The net effect of these expeditions was to force the Hussite forces, which disagreed on many doctrinal points, to unite to drive out the invaders. The wars were brought to a conclusion in 1436 with the ratification of the Compactata of Iglau by the Church.[141] In April 1487, Pope Innocent VIII called a crusade against the Waldensian heretics of Savoy, the Piedmont, and the Dauphiné in southern France and northern Italy. The only efforts actually undertaken were against heretics in the Dauphiné, and resulted in little change.[142]

The Polish-Hungarian king, Władysław Warneńczyk invaded the recently conquered Ottoman territory and reached Belgrade in January 1444. Negotiations over a truce eventually led to an agreement, that was repudiated by Sultan Murad II within days of its ratification. Further efforts by the crusaders ended in the Battle of Varna on 10 November 1444, which was a decisive Ottoman victory, led to the crusaders withdrawing. This withdrawal led to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, as it was the last Western attempt to help the Byzantine Empire.

In 1456, John Hunyadi and Giovanni da Capistrano organized a crusade to lift the Ottomon siege of Belgrade.[143]

Crusader states

Main article: Outremer

Latin and Byzantine Empires in 1205

The First Crusade established the first four crusader states in the Eastern Mediterranean: the County of Edessa (1098 until 1149), the Principality of Antioch (1098 until 1268), Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099 until 1291) and the County of Tripoli (1104, although Tripoli itself was not conquered until 1109, to 1289). The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia had its origins before the Crusades, but was granted the status of a kingdom by Pope Innocent III, and later became fully westernized by the (French) Lusignan dynasty. These states were recognised by Jonathan Riley-Smith as the first experiments in “Europe Overseas”. The general name given to them is Outremer (French: outre-mer) for “overseas”.[144]

The fourth crusade established a Latin Empire in the East and arranged the partition of the Byzantine territory among the participants. The Latin Emperor had direct control of one fourth of the Byzantine territory, Venice three eighths including three eighths of the city of Constantinople and the remainder was divided among the other crusader leaders. Thus began the period of the history of Greece known as Frankokratia or Latinokratia (“Frankish/Latin rule”), where Catholic West European nobles, mostly from France and Italy, established states on former Byzantine territory and ruled over the mostly Orthodox native Byzantine Greeks. The Partitio Romànie is a valuable document for the administrative divisions (episkepseis) and estates of the various Byzantine magnate families ca. 1203, as well as the areas still controlled by the Byzantine central government at the time.[28]


Christian Dirham with Arabic inscriptions from between 1216 and 1241

Crusades were expensive and as the wars increased, the costs also escalated. Pope Urban II called upon the rich to help those who were “less well-off” and lords on the First Crusade such as Duke Robert of Normandy and Count Raymond of St. Gilles, who had subsidized knights in their own contingents. The total cost of the crusades of 1284–1285 to King Louis IX of France was at about 1,537,570 livres, which was six times his annual income. This may be an underestimation because there are records that show he spent 1,000,000 livres in Palestine after his campaign in Egypt was over. Furthermore, rulers had demanded subsidies from their subjects.[145] Eventually, alms and legacies from the outburst of enthusiasm in the conquest of Palestine were another source of finance. The popes had ordered chests to be placed in churches for their collection and from the middle of the twelfth century, they granted indulgences, to those who contributed to the movement this way, while also encouraging the faithful to make bequests to the Holy Land in their own wills.[146]

Military orders

Central to the debate on crusading ethics are the military orders, particularly the Hospitallers and the Templars. To a modern sensibility it is strange that the church could reconcile monasticism with soldiering. Both the Hospitallers and the Templars became international organisations with depots located across the countries of Western Europe as well as in the East. In contrast the Teutonic knights successfully moved their attentions to the Baltic and the Spanish military orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcantara and Montesa concentrated on the Iberian Peninsula. The Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem were founded in 1099 in the aftermath of the first crusade. The order included military, medical and pastoral brothers. Following the fall of Acre they escaped to Cyprus and successively conquered and ruled both Rhodes (1309–1522) and Malta (1530–1801). The Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon were founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims en route to Jerusalem. However, they quickly became immensely rich and powerful through banking and real estate. In 1322 the King of France suppressed the order on spurious charges of sodomy, magic and heresy but more probably for financial and political reasons.[147]

Role of women, children, and class

Illustration of the Children’s Crusade by Gustave Doré, 1892

Women were intricately connected with the Crusades, aiding the recruitment of crusading men, taking on responsibility in their absence, and providing financial and moral support.[148][149] Historians argue that the most significant role played by women in the West was maintaining the status quo.[150] Landholders left for the Holy Land, leaving control of their estates with regents, often wives or mothers. The Church recognized that risk to families and estates might discourage crusaders, so special papal protection formed part of the crusading privilege.[151] A number of aristocratic women went on crusade such as Eleanor of Aquitaine who joined her husband, Louis VII.[152] Some non-aristocratic women were also served by undertaking tasks considered suitable such as working as washerwoman.[150] More controversial was women taking an active part, which threatened their femininity, with accounts of women fighting coming mostly from Muslim historians with the aim of portraying Christian women as barbaric and ungodly due to their acts of killing.[153]

Less historically certain was a Children’s Crusade Catholic movement in France and Germany in 1212 that attracted large numbers of peasant teenagers and young people, with some under the age of 15. They were convinced that they could succeed where older and more sinful crusaders had failed: the miraculous power of their faith would triumph where the force of arms had not. Many parish priests and parents encouraged such religious fervor and urged them on. The pope and bishops opposed the attempt but failed to stop it entirely. A band of several thousand youth and young men, led by a German named Nicholas, set out for Italy. About a third survived the march over the Alps and got as far as Genoa; another group went to Marseilles. The luckier ones eventually managed to return home, but many others were sold as lifetime slaves on the auction blocks of Marseilles slave dealers.[154]

Three crusading efforts among the peasants occurred in the middle 1250s and again in the early 1300s. The first, the Shepherds’ Crusade of 1251, was preached in northern France. After meeting with Blanche of Castile, however, it became disorganized and had to be disbanded by the government.[155] The second, in 1309, occurred in England, northeastern France, and Germany, and had as many as 30,000 peasants arriving at Avignon before being disbanded[156] The last one, in 1320, had similar origins as the first shepherds’ crusade but quickly turned into a series of attacks on clergy and Jews, and was forcibly dispersed.[157]


20th-century depiction of a victorious Saladin

Western Europeans in the East adopted native customs, saw themselves as citizens and intermarried.[158] This led to a people and culture descended from remaining European inhabitants of the crusader states — especially French Levantines in Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey — and of traders from the maritime republics of the MediterraneanVenice, Genoa and Ragusa, continued to live in Constantinople/Istanbul, Smyrna/Izmir and other parts of Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean coast throughout the middle Byzantine and Ottoman eras. These people are known as Levantines or Franco-Levantines (pr:”Frankolevantini”)—French: Levantins, Italian: Levantini, Greek: Φραγκολεβαντίνοι, Turkish: Levantenler or Tatlısu Frenkleri—and are Roman Catholic. They are now mainly concentrated in Istanbul, in the districts of Galata, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı; İzmir, in the districts of Karşıyaka, Bornova and Buca; and Mersin, where they had been influential for creating and reviving a tradition of opera. After the British occupied parts of Ottoman Syria in the aftermath of the First World War the term “Levantine” has been used pejoratively for inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and for Europeans — usually French, Italian or Greek — who adopted local dress and customs.

The crusades influenced the attitude of the western Church and people towards warfare. The frequent calling of crusades habituated the clergy to the use of violence. The crusades also sparked debate about the legitimacy of taking lands and possessions from pagans on purely religious grounds that would arise again in the 15th and 16th centuries with the Age of Discovery.[159] The needs of crusading warfare also stimulated secular governmental developments, although these were not necessarily positive. The resources collected for crusading could have been used by the developing states for local and regional needs instead of in far away lands.[160]

With its power and prestige raised by the crusades, the papal curia had greater control over the entire western Church and extended the system of papal taxation throughout the whole ecclesiastical structure of the West. The indulgence system grew significantly in late medieval Europe, later to spark the Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s.[161]

The Albigensian Crusade was designed to eliminate the Cathar heresy in Languedoc. One result was France’s acquisition of lands with closer cultural and linguistic ties to Catalonia. The Albigensian Crusade also had a role in the creation and institutionalization of both the Dominican Order and the Medieval Inquisition.[162] The Persecution of Jews in the First Crusade is part of the long history of anti-Semitism in Europe.[163] The need to raise, transport and supply large armies led to a flourishing of trade throughout Europe between Europe and the Outremer. Genoa and Venice flourished through profitable trading colonies in the crusader states, both in the Holy Land and later in captured Byzantine territory.[164]

Sharia Law- Islamic Justice – What’s it all about ?

Sharia Law

34 Things About Sharia Law That You may not  Know


The views and opinions expressed in this page and  documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in Sharia Law

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.


1- Jihad, defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion,” is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (Caliph). Muslim Caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Sharia and unfit to rule.

2- A Caliph can hold office through seizure of power meaning through force.

3- A Caliph is exempt from being charged with serious crimes such as murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.

4- A percentage of Zakat (charity money) must go towards jihad.

5- It is obligatory to obey the commands of the Caliph, even if he is unjust.

A Muslim woman receiving Sharia justice. She is about to be stoned to death.

6- A caliph must be a Muslim, a non-slave and a male.

7- The Muslim public must remove the Caliph if he rejects Islam.

8- A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.


Shariah Law – Islamic Justice – Pure Evil.


9- A Muslim will be forgiven for murder of: 1) an apostate 2) an adulterer 3) a highway robber. Vigilante street justice and honor killing is acceptable.

10- A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim, but will get it for killing a Muslim.


Muslims Enforcing Sharia Law on the streets of London


11- Sharia never abolished slavery, sexual slavery and highly regulates it. A master will not be punished for killing his slave.

12- Sharia dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging even for crimes of sin such as adultery.

A Muslim man receiving Sharia justice – a public flogging which more than likely killed him.

13- Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims under the law.

They must comply to Islamic law if they are to remain safe. They are forbidden to marry Muslim women, publicly display wine or pork, recite their scriptures or openly celebrate their religious holidays or funerals. They are forbidden from building new churches or building them higher than mosques. They may not enter a mosque without permission. A non-Muslim is no longer protected if he leads a Muslim away from Islam.

14- It is a crime for a non-Muslim to sell weapons to someone who will use them against Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot curse a Muslim, say anything derogatory about Allah, the Prophet, or Islam, or expose the weak points of Muslims. But Muslims can curse non-Muslims.


London’s Holy Turf War


15- A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

16- Banks must be Sharia compliant and interest is not allowed.

A young boy in Iran got caught stealing bread in a market, and this was his punishment…
…having his hand crushed under the wheel of a moving truck….
Is this “justice” to you? Or is it barbaric cruelty? You will notice the man with the microphone on the right, holding the boy’s arm in place while the truck rides over it.

17- No testimony in court is acceptable from people of low-level jobs, such as street sweepers or bathhouse attendants. Women in low level jobs such as professional funeral mourners cannot keep custody of their children in case of divorce.

18- A non-Muslim cannot rule — even over a non-Muslim minority.

19- Homosexuality is punishable by death.

A series of photos from 2005 shows the hanging of two terrified teenage Iranian boys, allegedly for their “crime” of homosexuality. The photos are of Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni,

20- There is no age limit for marriage of girls. The marriage contract can take place anytime after birth and can be consummated at age 8 or 9.

21- Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.




Women who live under Sharia law are not much more than a possession, bound and hidden behind a head to toe mask.

22- Divorce is only in the hands of the husband and is as easy as saying: “I divorce you” and becomes effective even if the husband did not intend it.


American Student Brutally Beaten by Muslim Sharia Gang in London


23- There is no community property between husband and wife and the husband’s property does not automatically go to the wife after his death.

24- A woman inherits half what a man inherits.

25- A man has the right to have up to 4 wives and none of them have a right to divorce him — even if he is polygamous.

26- The dowry is given in exchange for the woman’s sexual organs.

27- A man is allowed to have sex with slave women and women captured in battle, and if the enslaved woman is married her marriage is annulled.

28- The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.

29- A woman loses custody if she remarries.

30- To prove rape, a woman must have 4 male witnesses.

31- A rapist may only be required to pay the bride-money (dowry) without marrying the rape victim.

32- A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body, which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Not all Sharia schools allow the face of a woman exposed.

33- A Muslim man is forgiven if he kills his wife at the time he caught her in the act of adultery. However, the opposite is not true for women, since the man “could be married to the woman he was caught with.”

34-It is obligatory for a Muslim to lie if the purpose is obligatory. That means that for the sake of abiding with Islam’s commandments, such as jihad, a Muslim is obliged to lie and should not have any feelings of guilt or shame associated with this kind of lying. source – WND – Nonie Darwish


Sharia Law

There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws that can be called Sharia. It is more like a system of several laws, based on the Qur’an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.

Sharia Law

Shariah law

Sharia law is the law of Islam. The Sharia (also spelled Shariah or Shari’a) law is cast from the actions and words of Muhammad, which are called “Sunnah,” and the Quran, which he authored.

The Sharia law itself cannot be altered, but the interpretation of the Sharia law, called “figh,” by imams is given some leeway.

As a legal system, the Sharia law covers a very wide range of topics. While other legal codes deal primarily with public behavior, Sharia law covers public behavior, private behavior and private beliefs. Of all legal systems in the world today, Islam’s Sharia law is the most intrusive and strict, especially against women.

According to the Sharia law:

•  Theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand (above).
•  Criticizing or denying any part of the Quran is punishable by death.
•  Criticizing or denying Muhammad is a prophet is punishable by death.
•  Criticizing or denying Allah, the moon god of Islam is punishable by death.
•  A Muslim who becomes a non-Muslim is punishable by death.
•  A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.
•  A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
•  A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
•  Girls’ clitoris should be cut (per Muhammad‘s words in Book 41, Kitab Al-Adab, Hadith 5251).
•  A woman can have 1 husband, but a man can have up to 4 wives; Muhammad can have more.
•  A man can unilaterally divorce his wife but a woman needs her husband’s consent to divorce.
•  A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
•  Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.
•  A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).
•  A woman’s testimony in court, allowed only in property cases, carries half the weight of a man’s.
•  A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits.
•  A woman cannot drive a car, as it leads to fitnah (upheaval).
•  A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.
•  Meat to be eaten must come from animals that have been sacrificed to Allah – i.e., be Halal.
•  Muslims should engage in Taqiyya and lie to non-Muslims to advance Islam.
•  The list goes on.

Which countries use the Sharia law?

Muslims’ aspired Sharia state is Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Muhammad that has no legal code other than the Sharia and enforces it without mercy (see Sharia law in Saudi Arabia). But as detailed herewith, the Sharia law is also used in full or in part, nationally or regionally in:

•  United States of America*
•  United Kingdom*
•  Canada*

•  Afghanistan (89%)**
•  Algeria
•  Austria*
•  Bahrain
•  Bangladesh (82%)**
•  Brunei
•  Comoros
•  Djibouti (82%)**
•  Egypt (74%)**
•  Eritrea
•  Ethiopia
•  France*
•  Gambia
•  Germany*
•  Ghana
•  India
•  Indonesia (72%)**
•  Iran
•  Iraq (91%)**
•  Jordan (71%)**
•  Kenya
•  Kuwait
•  Libya
•  Lebanon
•  Malaysia (86%)**
•  Maldives
•  Mauritania
•  Morocco (83%)**
•  The Netherlands*
•  Nigeria
•  Oman
•  Pakistan (84%)**
•  Palestinian territories (Gaza strip & the West Bank – 89%)**
•  Qatar
•  Saudi Arabia
•  Somalia
•  Spain*
•  Sudan
•  Sri Lanka
•  Syria
•  Tanzania
•  Thailand (77%)**
•  Uganda
•  United Arab Emirates (UAE)
•  Yemen

* In the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, and other European countries that resist the penetration of Sharia law, it has proven adept at infiltrating elements of the society that are left vulnerable (see Sharia law in America and the Islamization of America).

** Percent of Muslims who favor making Sharia the official law in their country (source: Pew Forum Research, 2013). In many countries where an official secular legal system exists alongside Sharia, the vast majority of their Muslim citizens favor making Sharia the official law. For example, while the Egyptian military may have blocked the Muslim Brotherhood‘s efforts in this direction, 74% of Egypt’s Muslims still favor it. Even in Jordan, Indonesia and Malaysia – Muslim countries with progressive images – the relatively secular ruling elite sit atop Muslim masses, 71%, 72% and 86% respectively of whom want their countries to be ruled by Sharia. And in Iraq, where the United States shed blood and money for over a decade to try to plant democracy, 91% of its Muslims want to live under Sharia.

The number of countries that adopt (elements of) the Sharia law continues to grow around the world, as does the depth of its penetration in the countries that already use it. This penetration is not by happenstance; it is managed to occur in five phases: see Spread of Islam and how to Stop Islam.

Escape from Isis: The brutal treatment of women in Raqqa

Escape from Isis: the brutal treatment of women in Raqqa

Four million women live under the rule of Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria. Tonight, Channel 4 screens an important and troubling documentary showing just how hellish that life is.



Al-Raqqah Al-Raqqah skyline • The Euphratesal-Raqqah city walls • Baghdad gateQasr al-Banat Castle • Uwais al-Qarni Mosque


Al-Raqqah skyline • The Euphrates
al-Raqqah city walls • Baghdad gate
Qasr al-Banat Castle • Uwais al-Qarni Mosque

Al-Raqqah is located in Syria


Location in Syria

Coordinates: 35°57′N 39°1′E / 35.950°N 39.017°E / 35.950; 39.017
Country  Syria
Governorate Al-Raqqah
District Al-Raqqah
Subdistrict Al-Raqqah
Founded 244-242 BC
Occupation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
 • City 1,962 km2 (758 sq mi)
Elevation 245 m (804 ft)
Population (2004)
 • City 220,268
 • Density 110/km2 (290/sq mi)
 • Metro 338,773
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) +3 (UTC)
Area code(s) 22
Website http://www.esyria.sy/eraqqa/(Arabic)

Al-Raqqah (Arabic: الرقةar-Raqqah), also called Rakka and Raqqa, is a city in Syria located on the north bank of the Euphrates River, about 160 kilometres (99 miles) east of Aleppo. It is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the Tabqa Dam, Syria’s largest dam. The city was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate between 796 and 809 under the reign of CaliphHarun al-Rashid. With a population of 220,488 based on the 2004 official census, al-Raqqah was the sixth largest city in Syria.

During the Syrian Civil War, the city was captured by terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which made it its headquarters in Syria. As a result, the city has been hit by Syrian government, US and Arab nation airstrikes. Most non-Sunni structures in the city have been destroyed by ISIL, most notably the Uwais al-Qarni Mosque which was Shiite.


Hellenistic and Byzantine Kallinikos

The area of al-Raqqah has been inhabited since remote antiquity, as attested by the mounds (tell) of Tall Zaydan and Tall al-Bi’a, the latter identified with the Babylonian city Tuttul.[1]

The modern city traces its history to the Hellenistic period, with the foundation of the city of Nikephorion (Greek: Νικηφόριον) by the Seleucid kingSeleucus I Nicator (reigned 301–281 BC). His successor, Seleucus II Callinicus (r. 246–225 BC) enlarged the city and renamed it after himself as Kallinikos (Καλλίνικος, Latinized as Callinicum).[1]

In Roman times, it was part of the province of Osrhoene, but had declined by the 4th century. Rebuilt by the Byzantine emperorLeo I (r. 457–474 AD) in 466, it was named Leontopolis (Λεοντόπολις or “city of Leon”) after him, but the name Kallinikos prevailed.[2] The city played an important role in the Byzantine Empire’s relation with Sassanid Persia and the wars fought between two states. By treaty, it was recognized as one of the few official cross-border trading posts between the two empires (along with Nisibis and Artaxata). In 542, the city was destroyed by the Persian ruler Khusrau I (r. 531–579), who razed its fortifications and deported its population to Persia, but it was subsequently rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565). In 580, during another war with Persia, the future emperor Maurice scored a victory over the Persians near the city, during his retreat from an abortive expedition to capture Ctesiphon.[2]

In the 6th century, Kallinikos became a center of Assyrian monasticism. Dayra d’Mār Zakkā, or the Saint Zacchaeus Monastery, situated on Tall al-Bi’a, became renowned. A mosaic inscription there is dated to the year 509, presumably from the period of the foundation of the monastery. Daira d’Mār Zakkā is mentioned by various sources up to the 10th century. The second important monastery in the area was the Bīzūnā monastery or ‘Dairā d-Esţunā’, the ‘monastery of the column’. The city became one of the main cities of the historical Diyār Muḍar, the western part of the Jazīra.[citation needed] In the 9th century, when al-Raqqah served as capital of the western half of the Abbasid Caliphate, this monastery became the seat of the Syriac Patriarch of Antioch.


Callinicum early became the seat of a Christian diocese. In 388, Emperor Theodosius the Great was informed that a crowd of Christians, led by their bishop, had destroyed the synagogue. He ordered the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the bishop. Ambrose wrote to Theodosius, pointing out he was thereby “exposing the bishop to the danger of either acting against the truth or of death”,[3] and Theodosius rescinded his decree.[4]

Bishop of Damianus of Callinicum took part in the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and in 458 was a signatory of the letter that the bishops of the province wrote to Emperor Leo I the Thracian after the death of Proterius of Alexandria. In 518 Paulus was deposed for having joined the anti-Chalcedonian Severus of Antioch. Callinicum had a Bishop Ioannes in the mid-6th century.[5][6] In the same century, a Notitia Episcopatuum lists the diocese as a suffragan of Edessa, the capital and metropolitan see of Osrhoene.[7]

No longer a residential bishopric, Callinicum is today listed by the Catholic Church as an archiepiscopaltitular see of the Maronite Church.[8]

Early Islamic period

The remains of the historic Baghdad gate

In the year 639 or 640, the city fell to the Muslim conqueror Iyad ibn Ghanm. Since then it has figured in Arabic sources as al-Raqqah.[1] At the surrender of the city, the Christian inhabitants concluded a treaty with Ibn Ghanm, quoted by al-Baladhuri. This allowed them freedom of worship in their existing churches, but forbade the construction of new ones. The city retained an active Christian community well into the Middle Ages—Michael the Syrian records twenty Jacobite bishops from the 8th to the 12th centuries[9]—and had at least four monasteries, of which the Saint Zaccheus Monastery remained the most prominent.[1] The city’s Jewish community also survived until at least the 12th century, when the traveller Benjamin of Tudela visited it and attended its synagogue.[1]

Ibn Ghanm’s successor as governor of al-Raqqah and the Jazira, Sa’id ibn Amir ibn Hidhyam, built the city’s first mosque. This building was later enlarged to monumental proportions, measuring some 73×108 metres, with a square brick minaret added later, allegedly in the mid-10th century. The mosque survived until the early 20th century, being described by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1907, but has since vanished.[1] Many companions of Muhammad lived in al-Raqqah.

In 656, during the First Fitna, the Battle of Siffin, the decisive clash between Ali and the UmayyadMu’awiya took place ca. 45 kilometres (28 mi) west of al-Raqqah, and the tombs of several of Ali’s followers (such as Ammar ibn Yasir and Uwais al-Qarani) are located in al-Raqqah and became a site of pilgrimage.[1] The city also contained a column with Ali’s autograph, but this was removed in the 12th century and taken to Aleppo‘s Ghawth Mosque.[1]

The strategic importance of al-Raqqah grew during the wars at the end of the Umayyad period and the beginning of the Abbasid regime. Al-Raqqah lay on the crossroads between Syria and Iraq and the road between Damascus, Palmyra, and the temporary seat of the caliphate Resafa, al-Ruha’.

Between 771 and 772, the Abbasid caliphal-Mansur built a garrison city about 200 metres to the west of al-Raqqah for a detachment of his Khorasanian Persian army. It was named al-Rāfiqah, “the companion”. The strength of the Abbasid imperial military is still visible in the impressive city wall of al-Rāfiqah.

Al-Raqqah and al-Rāfiqah merged into one urban complex, together larger than the former Umayyad capital Damascus. In 796, the caliph Harun al-Rashid chose al-Raqqah/al-Rafiqah as his imperial residence. For about thirteen years al-Raqqah was the capital of the Abbasid empire stretching from Northern Africa to Central Asia, while the main administrative body remained in Baghdad. The palace area of al-Raqqah covered an area of about 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi) north of the twin cities. One of the founding fathers of the Hanafi school of law, Muḥammad ash-Shaibānī, was chief qadi (judge) in al-Raqqah. The splendour of the court in al-Raqqah is documented in several poems, collected by Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahāni in his “Book of Songs” (Kitāb al-Aghāni). Only the small, restored so called Eastern Palace at the fringes of the palace district gives an impression of Abbasid architecture. Some of the palace complexes dating to this period have been excavated by a German team on behalf of the Director General of Antiquities. During this period there was also a thriving industrial complex located between the twin cities. Both German and English teams have excavated parts of the industrial complex revealing comprehensive evidence for pottery and glass production. Apart from large dumps of debris the evidence consisted of pottery and glass workshops containing the remains of pottery kilns and glass furnaces.[10]

Approximately 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of al-Raqqah lay the unfinished victory monument called Heraqla from the period of Harun al-Rashid. It is said to commemorate the conquest of the Byzantine city of Herakleia in Asia Minor in 806. Other theories connect it with cosmological events. The monument is preserved in a substructure of a square building in the centre of a circular walled enclosure, 500 metres (1,600 ft) in diameter. However, the upper part was never finished, because of the sudden death of Harun al-Rashid in Khurasan.

After the return of the court to Baghdad in 809, al-Raqqah remained the capital of the western part of the empire including Egypt.

Decline and period of Bedouin domination

Al-Raqqah’s fortunes declined in the late 9th century because of the continuous warfare between the Abbasids and the Tulunids and then with the Shii movement of the Qarmatians. During the period of the Hamdānids in the 940s the city declined rapidly. At the end of the 10th century until the beginning of the 12th century, al-Raqqah was controlled by Bedouin dynasties. The Banu Numayr had their pasture in the Diyār Muḍar and the ‘Uqailids had their center in Qal’at Ja’bar.

Second blossoming

Al-Raqqah experienced a second blossoming, based on agriculture and industrial production, during the Zangid and Ayyubid period in the 12th and first half of the 13th century. Most famous is the blue-glazed so-called Raqqa ware. The still visible Bāb Baghdād (Baghdad Gate) and the so-called Qasr al-Banāt (Castle of the Ladies) are notable buildings from this period. The famous ruler ‘Imād ad-Dīn Zangī who was killed in 1146 was buried here initially. Al-Raqqah was destroyed during the Mongol wars in the 1260s. There is a report about the killing of the last inhabitants of the urban ruin in 1288.

Ottoman period

In the 16th century, al-Raqqah again entered the historical record as an Ottoman customs post on the Euphrates. The Eyalet of al-Raqqah (Ottoman form sometimes spelled as Rakka) was created. However, the capital of this eyalet and seat of the vali was not al-Raqqah but ar-Ruhā’ about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of al-Raqqah. In the 17th century the famous Ottoman traveller and author Evliya Çelebi only noticed Arab and Turkoman nomad tents in the vicinity of the ruins. The citadel was partially restored in 1683 and again housed a Janissary detachment; over the next decades the province of al-Raqqah became the centre of the Ottoman Empire’s tribal settlement (iskân) policy.[11]

The city of al-Raqqah was resettled from 1864 onwards, first as a military outpost, then as a settlement for former Bedouin Arabs and for Chechens, who came as refugees from the Caucasian war theaters in the middle of the 19th century.

20th century

In the 1950s, in the wake of the Korean War, the worldwide cotton boom stimulated an unpreceded growth of the city, and the re-cultivation of this part of the middle Euphrates area. Cotton is still the main agricultural product of the region.

The growth of the city meant on the other hand a removal of the archaeological remains of the city’s great past. The palace area is now almost covered with settlements, as well as the former area of the ancient al-Raqqa (today Mishlab) and the former Abbasid industrial district (today al-Mukhtalţa). Only parts were archaeologically explored. The 12th-century citadel was removed in the 1950s (today Dawwār as-Sā’a, the clock-tower circle). In the 1980s rescue excavations in the palace area began as well as the conservation of the Abbasid city walls with the Bāb Baghdād and the two main monuments intra muros, the Abbasid mosque and the Qasr al-Banāt.

There is a museum, known as the Al-Raqqah Museum, housed in an administration-building erected during the French Mandate period.

Civil war

Main article: Battle of Ar-Raqqah

In March 2013, during the Syrian civil war, Islamistjihadist militants from Al-Nusra Front and other groups overran the government loyalists in the city and declared it under their control after seizing the central square and pulling down the statue of the former president of Syria Hafez al-Assad.[12]

The Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front set up a sharia court at the sports centre[13] and in early June 2013 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant said they were open to receive complaints at their Raqqa headquarters.[14]

Since May 2013, ISIL has been increasing its control over the city, at the expense of the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front. ISIL has executed Alawites and suspected supporters of Bashar al-Assad in the city and attacked the city’s Shia mosques and Christian churches[15] such as the Armenian CatholicChurch of the Martyrs, which has since been converted into an ISIL headquarters. The Christian population of Al-Raqqah, which was estimated to be as many as 10% of the total population before the civil war began, has largely fled the city.[16][17][18]

In January 2014 it was reported that ISIL militants in the city gained control of the western part of a Syrian army base. The group closed all educational institutions in the city.[19]

On 25 July 2014, ISIL captured the Syrian Army base in Raqqah which garrisoned the 17th Division, and beheaded many soldiers.

During the night of 22–23 September 2014, the United States and Arab partner nations started to conduct airstrikes against ISIL in and around Raqqah and Aleppo, with continued regular airstrikes into 2015.[20][21] Coalition partners in the strikes included Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with Qatar in a supporting role.[21] The USS Arleigh Burke in the Red Sea and the USS Philippine Sea in the northern Persian Gulf launched more than 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles into eastern and northern Syria.[21] A second wave consisted of F-22 Raptors in their first combat role, F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16s, B-1 bombers and drones which launched from bases in the region.[21] 96 percent of all delivered munitions were precision-guided.[21]

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10 Misconceptions About Islam & Background Info on Islamic Faith

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in Islam

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.



Islam (/ˈɪslɑːm/;[note 1] Arabic: الإسلام‎, al-ʾIslām IPA: [ælʔɪsˈlæːm][note 2]) is a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a religious text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allāh), and, for the vast majority of adherents, by the teachings and normative example (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570–8 June 632 CE), considered by most of them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim (sometimes spelled “Moslem”).[1]

Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable[2] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.[3] Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.[4] They maintain that the previous messages and revelations have been partially misinterpreted or altered over time,[5] but consider the Arabic Qur’an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God.[6] Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to family life and the environment.[7][8]

Most Muslims are of two denominations: Sunni (75–90%)[9] or Shia (10–20%).[10] About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia,[11] the largest Muslim-majority country, 25% in South Asia,[11] 20% in the Middle East,[12] and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa.[13] Sizable Muslim communities are also found in Europe, China, Russia, and the Americas. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.62 billion followers or 23% of the global population,[14][15] Islam is the second-largest religion by number of adherents and, according to many sources, the fastest-growing major religion in the world.[16][17][18

Etymology and meaning

The dome of the Carol I Mosque in Constanța, Romania, topped by the Islamic crescent

Islam is a verbal noun originating from the triliteral root s-l-m which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, safeness and peace.[19] In a religious context it means “voluntary submission to God”.[20][21] Muslim, the word for an adherent of Islam, is the active participle of the same verb of which Islām is the infinitive. Believers demonstrate submission to God by serving God, following his commands, and rejecting polytheism. The word sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Qur’an. In some verses, there is stress on the quality of Islam as an internal conviction: “Whomsoever God desires to guide, He opens his heart to Islam.”[22] Islam, by its own inner logic, embraces every possible facet of existence, for God has named Himself al-Muḥīṭ, the All-Embracing.[23]

Other verses connect Islām and dīn (usually translated as “religion”): “Today, I have perfected your religion (dīn) for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion.”[24] Still others describe Islam as an action of returning to God—more than just a verbal affirmation of faith.[25] In the Hadith of Gabriel, islām is presented as one part of a triad that includes imān (faith), and ihsān (excellence), where islām is defined theologically as Tawhid, historically by asserting that Muhammad is messenger of God, and doctrinally by mandating five basic and fundamental pillars of practice.[26][27]

Articles of faith


Medallion showing “Allah” (God) in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey.

Main articles: God in Islam and Allah

Islam’s most fundamental concept is a rigorous monotheism, called tawḥīd (Arabic: توحيد‎). God is described in chapter 112 of the Qur’an as:[28] “Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”(112:1-4) Muslims and Jews repudiate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension and Muslims are not expected to visualize God.[29][30][31][32] God is described and referred to by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahmān, meaning “The Compassionate” and Al-Rahīm, meaning “The Merciful” (See Names of God in Islam).[33]

Muslims believe that the creation of everything in the universe was brought into being by God’s sheer command, “‘Be’ and so it is,”[34] and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.[35] He is viewed as a personal god who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls him.[36] There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states, “I am nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.”[37] The reciprocal nature is mentioned in the hadith qudsi, “I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am.”[38]

Allāh is the term with no plural or gender used by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews to reference God, while ʾilāh (Arabic: إله‎) is the term used for a deity or a god in general.[39] Other non-Arab Muslims might use different names as much as Allah, for instance “Tanrı” in Turkish, “Khodā” in Persian or Ḵẖudā in Urdu.



Belief in angels is fundamental to the faith of Islam. The Arabic word for angel (Arabic: ملكmalak) means “messenger“, like its counterparts in Hebrew (malʾákh) and Greek (angelos). According to the Qur’an, angels do not possess free will, and therefore worship and obey God in total obedience. Angels’ duties include communicating revelations from God, glorifying God, recording every person’s actions, and taking a person’s soul at the time of death. Muslims believe that angels are made of light. They are described as “messengers with wings—two, or three, or four (pairs): He [God] adds to Creation as He pleases…”[40]


11th-century Qur’anic manuscript with vocalization marks.

Main articles: Islamic holy books, Quran and Wahy

The Islamic holy books are the records which most Muslims believe were dictated by God to various prophets. Muslims believe that parts of the previously revealed scriptures, the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospels), had become distorted—either in interpretation, in text, or both.[5] The Qur’an (literally, “Reading” or “Recitation”) is viewed by Muslims as the final revelation and literal word of God and is widely regarded as the finest literary work in the Arabic language.[41][42]

Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel (Jibrīl) on many occasions between 610 CE until his death on June 8, 632.[43] While Muhammad was alive, all of these revelations were written down by his companions (sahabah), although the prime method of transmission was orally through memorization.[44]

The Qur’an is divided into 114 suras, or chapters, which combined, contain 6,236 āyāt, or verses. The chronologically earlier suras, revealed at Mecca, are primarily concerned with ethical and spiritual topics. The later Medinan suras mostly discuss social and moral issues relevant to the Muslim community.[45]

The Qur’an is more concerned with moral guidance than legal instruction, and is considered the “sourcebook of Islamic principles and values”.[46] Muslim jurists consult the hadith (“reports”), or the written record of Prophet Muhammad’s life, to both supplement the Qur’an and assist with its interpretation. The science of Qur’anic commentary and exegesis is known as tafsir.[47] Rules governing proper pronunciation is called tajwid.

Muslims usually view “the Qur’an” as the original scripture as revealed in Arabic and that any translations are necessarily deficient, which are regarded only as commentaries on the Qur’an.[48]


Anbiya are considered prophets of the past in Islam.[49]

Main article: Prophets in Islam

Muslims identify the prophets of Islam (Arabic: أنۢبياءanbiyāʾ ) as those humans chosen by God to be his messengers. According to the Qurʼan, the prophets were instructed by God to bring the “will of God” to the peoples of the nations. Muslims believe that prophets are human and not divine, though some are able to perform miracles to prove their claim. Islamic theology says that all of God’s messengers preached the message of Islam—submission to the will of God. The Qurʼan mentions the names of numerous figures considered prophets in Islam, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others.[50]

Muslims believe that God finally sent Muhammad as the last law bearing prophet (Seal of the Prophets) to convey the divine message to the whole world (to sum up and to finalize the word of God). In Islam, the “normative” example of Muhammad’s life is called the Sunnah (literally “trodden path”). This example is preserved in traditions known as hadith, which recount his words, his actions, and his personal characteristics. Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, regarded as the words of God repeated by Muhammad differing from the Quran in that they are expressed in Muhammad’s words, whereas the Qur’an is understood as the direct words of God. The classical Muslim jurist ash-Shafi’i (d. 820) emphasized the importance of the Sunnah in Islamic law, and Muslims are encouraged to emulate Muhammad’s actions in their daily lives. The Sunnah is seen as crucial to guiding interpretation of the Qur’an.[51]

Resurrection and judgment

Main article: Qiyama

Belief in the “Day of Resurrection”, Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة‎) is also crucial for Muslims. They believe the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God but unknown to man. The trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah are described in the Qur’an and the hadith, and also in the commentaries of scholars. The Qur’an emphasizes bodily resurrection, a break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death.[52]

On Yawm al-Qiyāmah, Muslims believe all mankind will be judged on their good and bad deeds and consigned to Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell). The Qurʼan in Surat al-Zalzalah describes this as, “So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it (99:7) and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it (99:8).” The Qurʼan lists several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as disbelief in God (Arabic: كفرkufr), and dishonesty; however, the Qurʼan makes it clear God will forgive the sins of those who repent if he so wills. Good deeds, such as charity, prayer and compassion towards animals,[53][54] will be rewarded with entry to heaven. Muslims view heaven as a place of joy and bliss, with Qurʼanic references describing its features and the physical pleasures to come. Mystical traditions in Islam place these heavenly delights in the context of an ecstatic awareness of God.[55]

Yawm al-Qiyāmah is also identified in the Qur’an as Yawm ad-Dīn (Arabic: يوم الدين‎), “Day of Religion”;[56] as-sāʿah (Arabic: الساعة‎), “the Last Hour”;[57] and al-Qāriʿah (Arabic: القارعة‎), “The Clatterer”.[58]


In accordance with the Islamic belief in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa’l-qadar), God has full knowledge and control over all that occurs. This is explained in Qur’anic verses such as “Say: ‘Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector’…”[59] For Muslims, everything in the world that occurs, good or bad, has been preordained and nothing can happen unless permitted by God. According to Muslim theologians, although events are pre-ordained, man possesses free will in that he or she has the faculty to choose between right and wrong, and is thus responsible for his actions. According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfūz, the “Preserved Tablet”.[60]

Five pillars

Main article: Five Pillars of Islam

The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, “pillars of religion”) are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the creed (shahadah), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime. Both Shia and Sunni sects agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.[61]


Silver coin of the Mughal Emperor Akbar with inscriptions of the Islamic declaration of faith

Main article: Shahadah

The Shahadah,[62] which is the basic creed of Islam that must be recited under oath with the specific statement: “‘ašhadu ‘al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa ‘ašhadu ‘anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh“, or “I testify that there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”[63] This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.[64]


Main article: Salat
See also: Mosque and Jumu’ah

Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة), must be performed five times a day. Salat is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salat is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Qur’an.[65] The prayers are done with the chest in direction of the kaaba though in the early days of Islam, they were done in direction of Jerusalem.

A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name, masjid. The word mosque in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated to Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, “collective” mosque (masjid jāmi’).[66] Although the primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer, it is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study. Al-Masjid al-Nabawi the Prophets Mosque in Madina was also a place of refuge for the poor.[67] Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century, and contain a variety of architectural elements such as minarets.[68]


Main articles: Zakat and Sadaqah

“Zakāt” (Arabic: زكاةzakāhalms“) is giving a fixed portion of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy and for those employed to collect Zakat; also, for bringing hearts together, freeing captives, for those in debt (or bonded labour) and for the (stranded) traveller.[69][70] It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a “trust from God’s bounty”. Conservative estimates of annual zakat is estimated to be 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions.[71] The amount of zakat to be paid on capital assets (e.g. money) is 2.5% (1/40) per year,[72] for people who are not poor. The Qur’an and the hadith also urge a Muslim to give even more as an act of voluntary alms-giving called Sadaqah.[73]


Main article: Sawm
Further information: Sawm of Ramadan

Fasting, (Arabic: صومṣawm), from food and drink (among other things) must be performed from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadhan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts usually must be made up quickly.[74]


Pilgrims at the Masjid al-Haram on Hajj

Main article: Hajj

The pilgrimage, called the ḥajj (Arabic: حج‎), has to be done during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include: spending a day and a night in the tents in the desert plain of Mina, then a day in the desert plain of Arafat praying and worshiping God, following the foot steps of Abraham. Then spending a night out in the open, sleeping on the desert sand in the desert plain of Muzdalifah, then moving to Jamarat, symbolically stoning the Devil recounting Abraham’s actions.[75][76][77] Then going to Mecca and walking seven times around the Kaaba which Muslims believe was built as a place of worship by Abraham. Then walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah recounting the steps of Abraham’s wife, while she was looking for water for her son Ismael in the desert before Mecca developed into a settlement.


Law and jurisprudence

Main articles: Sharia, Fiqh and Early scholars of Islam

The Shariʻah (literally “the path leading to the watering place”) is Islamic law formed by traditional Islamic scholarship, which most Muslim groups adhere to. Shariʻah “constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his or her religious belief”.[79]

The Quran set the rights, the responsibilities and the rules for people and for societies to adhere to. Muhammad provided an example, which is recorded in the hadith books, showing how he practically implemented those rules in a society.

Many of the Sharia laws that differ are devised through Ijtihad where there is no such ruling in the Quran or the Hadiths of Islamic prophet Muhammad regarding a similar case.[80][81] As Muhammad’s companions went to new areas,[82] they were pragmatic and in some cases continued to use the same ruling as was given in that area during pre-Islamic times. If the population felt comfortable with it, it was just and they used Ijtihad to deduce that it did not conflict with the Quran or the Hadith. This made it easier for the different communities to integrate into the Islamic State and that assisted in the quick expansion of the Islamic State. Since the Constitution of Medina, was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad the Jews and the Christians continued to use their own laws in the Islamic State and had their own judges.[83][84][85]

Much of the knowledge we have about Muhammad is narrated through Aisha, the wife of Muhammad. Aisha raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr the grandson of Abu Bakr and the grandfather of Ja’far al-Sadiq. Aisha also taught her nephew Urwah ibn Zubayr. He then taught his son Hisham ibn Urwah, who was the main teacher of Malik ibn Anas.

When Umar bin Abdul Azeez became a Caliph in 717[86][87] he appointed a committee of jurist in Madina headed by Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr and it included Urwah ibn Zubayr to advise on legal matters[88] The work of Malik ibn Anas and successive jurists is based on the work of this early committee in Madina. Muwatta[89] by Malik ibn Anas was written as a consensus of the opinion, of these scholars.[90][91][92] The Muwatta[89] by Malik ibn Anas also quotes 13 hadith narrated through Imam Jafar al-Sadiq.[93]

The early scholars of Islam including, imam Abu Hanifa, imam Malik ibn Anas and imam Jafar al-Sadiq worked together in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina along with over 70 other leading jurists and scholars. They did not distinguish between each other or classify them selves as Sunni or Shiʻah. They felt that they were following the religion of Abraham.[94] In the books actually written by these original jurists and scholars, there are very few theological and judicial differences between them.

Fiqh, or “jurisprudence”, is defined as the knowledge of the practical rules of the religion. Much of it has evolved to prevent innovation or alteration in the original religion, known as bid‘ah.

The method Islamic jurists use to derive rulings is known as usul al-fiqh (“legal theory”, or “principles of jurisprudence”). To reduce the divergence, in the 9th century, a student of Malik ibn Anas, the jurist ash-Shafi’i provided a theoretical basis for Islamic law by codifying the principles of jurisprudence (including the four fundamental roots) in his book ar-Risālah.[95] According to ash-Shafi’i, law has four fundamental roots, which are given precedence in this order: the Qur’an, the Hadith (the practice of Muhammad), the consensus of the Muslim jurists (ijma), and analogical reasoning (qiyas). Al-Shafi’i also codified a method to establish the reliability of hadith. Muhammad al-Bukhari[96] then travelled around and collected over 300,000 hadith, but only included 2,602 distinct hadith in his book Sahih al-Bukhari,[96] that passed these tests and he codified as authentic and correct. Sahih al-Bukhari is therefore considered by many to be the most authentic book after the Quran.[97][98] The Arabic word sahih translates as authentic or correct.

They all gave priority to the Qur’an and the Hadith and felt that Islam was completed during the time of Muhammad and they wanted people to refer to the Quran.[99] Ahmad ibn Hanbal rejected the writing down and codifying of the religious rulings he gave. They knew that they might have fallen into error in some of their judgements and stated this clearly. They never introduced their rulings by saying, “This is the judgement of God and His prophet.”[100] There is also very little text actually written down by Jafar al-Sadiq himself. Since Jafar al-Sadiq (702-765) did not write any books, the books followed by the Twelver Shi’a were written by Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (864- 941), Ibn Babawayh (923-991), and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274).[101][102] Since Jafar al-Sadiq and Zayd ibn Ali did not them selves write any books. But they worked closely with imam Abu Hanifa and imam Malik ibn Anas and the views of imam Jafar al-Sadiq and imam Zayd ibn Ali are in the early Hadith books written by imam Abu Hanifa and imam Malik ibn Anas,[93] the oldest branch of the Shia, the Zaydis to this day and originally the Fatamids, use the Hanafi jurisprudence, as do most Sunnis.[100][103][104]

Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from matters of state, like governance and foreign relations, to issues of daily living. The Qur’an defines hudud as the punishments for five specific crimes: unlawful intercourse, false accusation of unlawful intercourse, consumption of alcohol, theft, and highway robbery. The Qur’an and Sunnah also contain laws of inheritance, marriage, and restitution for injuries and murder, as well as rules for fasting, charity, and prayer.

The differences between the denominations in Islam are primarily political and amplified after the Safavid invasion of Persia in the 1500s and the subsequent Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam due to the politics between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire.[105] After the demise of the Safavid dynasty, the new ruler of Persia, Nader Shah (1698 to 1747) himself a Sunni attempted to improve relations with Sunni nations by propagating the integration of Shiism by calling it Jaafari Madh’hab.[106] Since Jafar al-Sadiq himself disapproved of people who disapproved of his great grand father Abu Bakr the first caliph.


Main articles: Ulama, Sheikh and Imam

There are many terms in Islam to refer to religiously sanctioned positions of Islam, but “jurist” generally refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in several fields of Islamic studies. In a broader sense, the term ulema is used to describe the body of Muslim clergy who have completed several years of training and study of Islamic sciences, such as a mufti, qadi, faqih, or muhaddith. Some Muslims include under this term the village mullahs, imams, and maulvis—who have attained only the lowest rungs on the ladder of Islamic scholarship; other Muslims would say that clerics must meet higher standards to be considered ulama (singular Aalim). Some Muslims practise ijtihad whereby they do not accept the authority of clergy.[107] Education is considered very important to Muslims, so that they could distinguish between right and wrong, but when it comes to entry into heaven, the most noble in the sight of God are the most righteous and they may be honest, compassionate and helpful to others but not necessarily very educated.[108]

Etiquette and diet

Many practices fall in the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with “as-salamu `alaykum” (“peace be unto you”), saying bismillah (“in the name of God“) before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking. Islamic hygienic practices mainly fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health. Circumcision of male offspring is also practiced in Islam. Islamic burial rituals include saying the Salat al-Janazah (“funeral prayer”) over the bathed and enshrouded dead body, and burying it in a grave. Muslims are restricted in their diet. Prohibited foods include pork products, blood, carrion, and alcohol. All meat must come from a herbivorous animal slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, with the exception of game that one has hunted or fished for oneself. Food permissible for Muslims is known as halal food.[109]

Family life

See also: Women in Islam

The basic unit of Islamic society is the family, and Islam defines the obligations and legal rights of family members. The father is seen as financially responsible for his family, and is obliged to cater for their well-being. The division of inheritance is specified in the Qur’an, which states that most of it is to pass to the immediate family, while a portion is set aside for the payment of debts and the making of bequests. With some exceptions, the woman’s share of inheritance is generally half of that of a man with the same rights of succession.[110] Marriage in Islam is a civil contract which consists of an offer and acceptance between two qualified parties in the presence of two witnesses. The groom is required to pay a bridal gift (mahr) to the bride, as stipulated in the contract.[111]

The Quran (verse 4:3)[Quran 4:3] limits the number of wives to four and only if a man could treat them with fairness and equity. Most families in the Islamic world are monogamous as the rule is a conditional permission not a recommendation.[112][113]

In case of family disputes, the Quran[Quran 4:34] directs the husband to treat his spouse kindly and not to overlook her positive aspects, and exhort and appeal for reason. If this fails, the husband may express his displeasure by sleeping in a separate bed. As a last retort, the husband may tap or lightly strike her in a manner which causes no pain and leaves no mark on the body. This has been interpreted by early jurists as a symbolic use of the miswak. Even this measure has been discouraged in several hadeeth, and the prophet never retorted to that measure.[114][115][116] A minority of Islamic scholars contest this interpretation and state that even tapping or striking is not allowed.[117] The man of the house is allowed to beat young children; but not adult children.[118]


To reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, Islamic economic jurisprudence encourages trade,[119] discourages the hoarding of wealth and outlaws interest-bearing loans (usury; the term is riba in Arabic).[120][121] Therefore, wealth is taxed through Zakat, but trade is not taxed. Usury, which allows the rich to get richer without sharing in the risk, is forbidden in Islam. Profit sharing and venture capital where the lender is also exposed to risk is acceptable.[122] Hoarding of food for speculation is also discouraged.[123]

Grabbing other people’s land is also prohibited. The prohibition of usury has resulted in the development of Islamic banking. During the time of Muhammad, any money that went to the state, was immediately used to help the poor. Then in 634, Umar formally established the welfare state Bayt al-mal. The Bayt al-mal or the welfare state was for the Muslim and Non-Muslim poor, needy, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. The Bayt al-mal ran for hundreds of years under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century and continued through the Umayyad period and well into the Abbasid era. Umar also introduced Child Benefit and Pensions for the children and the elderly.[124][125][126][127]


Mainstream Islamic law does not distinguish between “matters of church” and “matters of state”; the scholars function as both jurists and theologians. Currently no government conforms to Islamic economic jurisprudence, but steps have been taken to implement some of its tenets.[128][129][130]


Jihad means “to strive or struggle” (in the way of God). Jihad, in its broadest sense, is “exerting one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation“. Depending on the object being a visible enemy, the Devil, and aspects of one’s own self (such as sinful desires), different categories of jihad are defined.[131] Jihad, when used without any qualifier, is understood in its military aspect.[132][133] Jihad also refers to one’s striving to attain religious and moral perfection.[134] Some Muslim authorities, especially among the Shi’a and Sufis, distinguish between the “greater jihad”, which pertains to spiritual self-perfection, and the “lesser jihad”, defined as warfare.[135]

Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-believer/non-Muslim/Muslim combatants who insulted Islam. The ultimate purpose of military jihad is debated, both within the Islamic community and without. Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law and may be declared against illegal works, terrorists, criminal groups, rebels, apostates, and leaders or states who oppress Muslims.[136][137] Most Muslims today interpret Jihad as only a defensive form of warfare.[138] Jihad only becomes an individual duty for those vested with authority. For the rest of the populace, this happens only in the case of a general mobilization.[137] For most Twelver Shias, offensive jihad can only be declared by a divinely appointed leader of the Muslim community, and as such is suspended since Muhammad al-Mahdi‘s[139] occultation in 868 AD.[140]


A panoramic view of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina, Hejaz region, today’s Saudi Arabia, the second most sacred Mosque in Islam

Muhammad (610–632)

Main articles: Muhammad and Muhammad in Islam

The calligraphic representation of Muhammad in Islam.

Muslim tradition views Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) as the seal of the prophets.[141] During the last 22 years of his life, beginning at age 40 in 610 CE, according to the earliest surviving biographies, Muhammad reported revelations that he believed to be from God conveyed to him through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril). Muhammad’s companions memorized and recorded the content of these revelations, known as the Qur’an.[142]

During this time, Muhammad in Mecca preached to the people, imploring them to abandon polytheism and to worship one God. Although some converted to Islam, the leading Meccan authorities persecuted Muhammad and his followers. This resulted in the Migration to Abyssinia of some Muslims (to the Aksumite Empire). Many early converts to Islam were the poor and former slaves like Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi. The Meccan élite felt that Muhammad was destabilising their social order by preaching about one God and about racial equality, and that in the process he gave ideas to the poor and to their slaves.[143][144][145][146]

After 12 years of the persecution of Muslims by the Meccans and the Meccan boycott of the Hashemites, Muhammad’s relatives, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra (“emigration”) to the city of Medina (formerly known as Yathrib) in 622. There, with the Medinan converts (Ansar) and the Meccan migrants (Muhajirun), Muhammad in Medina established his political and religious authority. A state was established[by whom?] in accordance with Islamic economic jurisprudence. The Constitution of Medina was formulated, instituting a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan communities of Medina, bringing them within the fold of one community — the Ummah.[147][148]

The Constitution established:

  • the security of the community
  • religious freedoms
  • the role of Medina as a sacred place (barring all violence and weapons)
  • the security of women
  • stable tribal relations within Medina
  • a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict
  • parameters for exogenous political alliances
  • a system for granting protection of individuals
  • a judicial system for resolving disputes where non-Muslims could also use their own laws

All the tribes signed the agreement to defend Medina from all external threats and to live in harmony amongst themselves. Within a few years, two battles took place against the Meccan forces: first, the Battle of Badr in 624 – a Muslim victory, and then a year later, when the Meccans returned to Medina, the Battle of Uhud, which ended inconclusively.

The Arab tribes in the rest of Arabia then formed a confederation and during the Battle of the Trench (March-April 627) besieged Medina, intent on finishing off Islam. In 628, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed between Mecca and the Muslims and was broken by Mecca two years later. After the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah many more people converted to Islam. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control.[149] By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 (at the age of 62) he had united the tribes of Arabia into a single religious polity.[150]

Caliphate and civil strife (632–750)

Dome of the Rock built by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan; completed at the end of the Second Fitna.

Further information: Muslim conquests, First Fitna and Second Fitna

With Muhammad’s death in 632, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Abu Bakr, a companion and close friend of Muhammad, was made the first caliph. Under Abu Bakr the Muslims expanded into Syria after putting down a rebellion by Arab tribes in an episode known as the Ridda wars, or “Wars of Apostasy”.[151] The Quran was compiled into a single volume at this time.

His death in 634 resulted in the succession of Umar ibn al-Khattab as the caliph, followed by Uthman ibn al-Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hasan ibn Ali. The first caliphs are known as al-khulafā’ ar-rāshidūn (“Rightly Guided Caliphs“). Under them, the territory under Muslim rule expanded deeply into the parts of the Persian and Byzantine territories.[152]

When Umar was assassinated by Persians in 644, the election of Uthman as successor was met with increasing opposition. The standard copies of the Quran were also distributed throughout the Islamic State. In 656, Uthman was also killed, and Ali assumed the position of caliph. After the first civil war (the “First Fitna”), Ali was assassinated by Kharijites in 661. Following a peace treaty, Mu’awiyah came to power and began the Umayyad dynasty.[153]

These disputes over religious and political leadership would give rise to schism in the Muslim community. The majority accepted the legitimacy of the three rulers prior to Ali, and became known as Sunnis. A minority disagreed, and believed that only Ali and some of his descendants should rule; they became known as the Shia.[154] After Mu’awiyah‘s death in 680, conflict over succession broke out again in a civil war known as the “Second Fitna“.

The Umayyad dynasty conquered the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Narbonnese Gaul and Sindh.[155] Local populations of Jews and indigenous Christians, persecuted as religious minorities and taxed heavily to finance the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars, often aided Muslims to take over their lands from the Byzantines and Persians, resulting in exceptionally speedy conquests.[156][157] Since the Constitution of Medina, Jews and Christians continued to use their own laws in the Islamic State and had their own judges.[83][84][85]

The descendants of Muhammad’s uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib rallied discontented non-Arab converts (mawali), poor Arabs, and some Shi’a against the Umayyads and overthrew them with the help of the general Abu Muslim, inaugurating the Abbasid dynasty in 750.[158]

Classical era (750–1258)

During this time, the Delhi Sultanate took over the Indian subcontinent. Religious missions converted Volga Bulgaria to Islam. Many Muslims also went to China to trade, virtually dominating the import and export industry of the Song Dynasty.[159]

The major hadith collections were compiled during the early Abbasid era. The Ja’fari jurisprudence was formed from the teachings of Ja’far al-Sadiq while the four Sunni Madh’habs, the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i, were established around the teachings of Abū Ḥanīfa, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Malik ibn Anas and al-Shafi’i respectively. Al-Shafi’i also codified a method to establish the reliability of hadith.[160] Al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir completed the most commonly cited commentaries on the Quran, the Tafsir al-Tabari in the 9th century and the Tafsir ibn Kathir in the 14th century, respectively. Philosophers Al-Farabi and Avicenna sought to incorporate Greek principles into Islamic theology, while others like Al-Ghazali argued against them and ultimately prevailed.[161]

Caliphs such as Mamun al Rashid and Al-Mu’tasim made the mutazilite philosophy an official creed and imposed it upon Muslims to follow. Mu’tazila was a Greek influenced school of speculative theology called kalam, which refers to dialectic.[162] Many orthodox Muslims rejected mutazilite doctrines and condemned their idea of the creation of the Quran. In inquisitions, Imam Hanbal refused to conform and was tortured and sent to an unlit Baghdad prison cell for nearly thirty months.[163]

The other branch of kalam was the Ash’ari school founded by Al-Ash’ari. Some Muslims began to question the piety of indulgence in a worldly life and emphasized poverty, humility and avoidance of sin based on renunciation of bodily desires. Ascetics such as Hasan al-Basri would inspire a movement that would evolve into Tasawwuf (Sufism).[164] Beginning in the 13th century, Sufism underwent a transformation, largely because of efforts to legitimize and reorganize the movement by Al-Ghazali, who developed the model of the Sufi order—a community of spiritual teachers and students.[165]

The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by Al-Idrisi in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Al-Idrisi also wrote about the diverse Muslim communities found in various lands.

This era is sometimes called the “Islamic Golden Age“.[166] Public hospitals established during this time (called Bimaristan hospitals), are considered “the first hospitals” in the modern sense of the word,[167][168] and issued the first medical diplomas to license doctors.[169][170] The Guinness World Records recognizes the University of Al Karaouine, founded in 859, as the world’s oldest degree-granting university.[171] The doctorate is argued to date back to the licenses to teach in Muslim law schools.[172] Standards of experimental and quantification techniques, as well as the tradition of citation,[173] were introduced. An important pioneer in this, Ibn Al-Haytham is regarded as the father of the modern scientific method and often referred to as the “world’s first true scientist”.[174][175] The government paid scientists the equivalent salary of professional athletes today.[173] The data used by Copernicus for his heliocentric conclusions was gathered and Al-Jahiz proposed a theory of natural selection.[176][177] Rumi wrote some of the finest Persian poetry and is still one of the best selling poets in America.[178][179] Legal institutions introduced include the trust and charitable trust (Waqf).[180][181]

The first Muslims states independent of a unified Muslim state emerged from the Berber Revolt (739/740-743). In 930, the Ismaili group known as the Qarmatians unsuccessfully rebelled against the Abbassids, sacked Mecca and stole the Black Stone, which was eventually retrieved.[182] The Mongol Empire put an end to the Abbassid dynasty in 1258.[183]

Pre-Modern era (1258–20th century)

By the medieval era most of the countries on the Silk Road were Muslim majority.

Islam spread with Muslim trade networks and Sufi orders activity that extended into Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Malay archipelago.[184][185] The Ottomans challenged European powers on land and sea, and reached deep into Central Europe at the Siege of Vienna (1529). Under the Ottoman Empire, Islam spread to Southeast Europe, Crimea, and the Caucasus.[186] The Muslims in China who were descended from earlier immigration began to assimilate by adopting Chinese names and culture while Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study.[187][188]

The Muslim world was generally in serious political decline starting the 1800s, especially relative to the non-Muslim European powers. This decline was evident culturally; while Taqi al-Din founded an observatory in Istanbul and the Jai Singh Observatory was built in the 18th century, there was not a single Muslim country with a major observatory by the twentieth century.[189] The Reconquista, launched against Muslim principalities in Iberia, succeeded in 1492 and Muslim Sicily was lost to the Normans. By the 19th century the British Empire had formally ended the last Mughal dynasty in India.[190] The Ottoman Empire disintegrated after World War I and the Caliphate was abolished in 1924.[191][192]

The majority Shia group at that time, the Zaydis, used the Hanafi jurisprudence, as did most Sunnis.[100][103][104] The Shia Safavid dynasty rose to power in 1501 and later conquered all of Iran.[193] The ensuing mandatory conversion of Iran to Twelver Shia Islam for the largely Sunni population also ensured the final dominance of the Twelver sect within Shiism over the Zaidi sect, the largest group amongst the Shia before the Safavid Dynasty, and the Ismaili sect.[194]

A revival movement during this period an 18th-century Salafi movement led by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab in today’s Saudi Arabia. Referred to as Wahhabi, their self designation is Muwahiddun (unitarians). Building upon earlier efforts such as those by Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim, the movement allegedly seeks to uphold monotheism and purify Islam of what they see as later innovations. Their zeal against idolatrous shrines led to the desecration of shrines around the world, including that of Muhammad and his companions in Mecca and Medina.[195][196] In the 19th century, the Deobandi and Barelwi movements were initiated.

Modern times (20th century–present)

Further information: Islamic revival

This map shows the 1979 demographic distribution of Muslims within the former Soviet Union as a percentage of the population by administrative division.

Contact with industrialized nations brought Muslim populations to new areas through economic migration. Many Muslims migrated as indentured servants, from mostly India and Indonesia, to the Caribbean, forming the largest Muslim populations by percentage in the Americas.[197] The resulting urbanization and increase in trade in sub-Saharan Africa brought Muslims to settle in new areas and spread their faith, likely doubling its Muslim population between 1869 and 1914.[198] Muslim immigrants, many as guest workers, began arriving, largely from former colonies, into several Western European nations since the 1960s.

New Muslim intellectuals are beginning to arise, and are increasingly separating perennial Islamic beliefs from archaic cultural traditions.[199] Liberal Islam is a movement that attempts to reconcile religious tradition with modern norms of secular governance and human rights. Its supporters say that there are multiple ways to read Islam’s sacred texts, and stress the need to leave room for “independent thought on religious matters”.[200] Women’s issues receive a significant weight in the modern discourse on Islam.[201]

Secular powers such as Chinese Red Guards closed many mosques and destroyed Qurans and Communist Albania became the first country to ban the practice of every religion.[202][203] About half a million Muslims were killed in Cambodia by communists whom, it is argued, viewed them as their primary enemy and wished to exterminate them since they stood out and worshipped their own god.[204] In Turkey, the military carried out coups to oust Islamist governments and headscarves were, as well as in Tunisia, banned in official buildings.[205][206]

Jamal-al-Din al-Afghani, along with his acolyte Muhammad Abduh, have been credited as forerunners of the Islamic revival.[207] Abul A’la Maududi helped influence modern political Islam.[208] Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood advocate Islam as a comprehensive political solution, often in spite of being banned.[209] In Iran, revolution replaced a secular regime with an Islamic state. In Turkey, the Islamist AK Party has democratically been in power for about a decade, while Islamist parties did well in elections following the Arab Spring.[210] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), consisting of Muslim countries, was established in 1969 after the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.[211]

Piety appears to be deepening worldwide.[212][213][214] In many places, the prevalence of the Islamic veil is growing increasingly common[215] and the percentage of Muslims favoring Sharia laws has increased.[216] With religious guidance increasingly available electronically, Muslims are able to access views that are strict enough for them rather than rely on state clerics who are often seen as stooges.[213] Some organizations began using the media to promote Islam such as the 24-hour TV channel, Peace TV.[217] Perhaps as a result of these efforts, most experts agree that Islam is growing faster than any other faith in East and West Africa.[218][219]


The main Islamic madh’habs (schools of law) of Muslim countries or distributions
An overview of the major schools and branches of Islam.


Main article: Sunni Islam

Friday prayer for Sunni Muslims in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The largest denomination in Islam is Sunni Islam, which makes up 75%–90% of all Muslims.[9] Sunni Muslims also go by the name Ahl as-Sunnah which means “people of the tradition [of Muhammad]”.[220][221] These hadiths, recounting Muhammad’s words, actions, and personal characteristics, are preserved in traditions known as Al-Kutub Al-Sittah (six major books).

Sunnis believe that the first four caliphs were the rightful successors to Muhammad; since God did not specify any particular leaders to succeed him and those leaders were elected. Sunnis believe that anyone who is righteous and just could be a caliph but they have to act according to the Qur’an and the Hadith, the example of Muhammad and give the people their rights.

The Sunnis follow the Quran, then the Hadith. Then for legal matters not found in the Quran or the Hadith, they follow four madh’habs (schools of thought): Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i, established around the teachings of Abū Ḥanīfa, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Malik ibn Anas and al-Shafi’i respectively.

All four accept the validity of the others and a Muslim may choose any one that he or she finds agreeable.[222] The Salafi (also known as Ahl al-Hadith (Arabic: أهل الحديث; The people of hadith), or the pejorative term Wahhabi by its adversaries) is an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement which takes the first generation of Muslims as exemplary models.[223]


Main article: Shia Islam

Bahrain has a majority Shia Muslim population

The Shia constitute 10–20% of Islam and are its second-largest branch.[10]

Maria Massi Dakake argues that Shi’ism as a unique phenomenon within the larger body of Islamic community can not be adequately described as a “sect” or “school”, and it is also wrong to view it as an offshoot or detached community therein. Shiites have always considered themselves an integral part of the Islamic community and, in fact, to represent the elite believers thereof. Additionally, being more than just one of the many schools of Islamic thought, different branches of Shiite scholarship are aspects of a larger and more comprehensive phenomenon, embodying a completely independent system of religious and political authority and historical interpretation that deeply informs its own highly structured intellectual and religious hierarchy. Shiism, as such, despite being a minority, has made remarkable contributions to Islamic civilization that far outweigh its size.[224]

While the Sunnis believe that a Caliph should be elected by the community, Shia’s believe that Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, as his successor and only certain descendants of Ali could be Imams. As a result, they believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim caliphs Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn al-Affan and Umar ibn al-Khattab.

Shia Islam has several branches, the most prominent being the Twelvers (the largest branch), Zaidis and Ismailis. Different branches accept different descendants of Ali as Imams. After the death of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq who is considered the sixth Imam by the Twelvers and the Ismaili‘s, the Ismailis recognized his son Isma’il ibn Jafar as his successor whereas the Twelver Shia’s (Ithna Asheri) followed his other son Musa al-Kadhim as the seventh Imam. The Zaydis consider Zayd ibn Ali, the uncle of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, as their fifth Imam, and follow a different line of succession after him.

Other smaller groups include the Bohra as well as the Alawites and Alevi.[225] Some Shia branches label other Shia branches that do not agree with their doctrine as Ghulat.


Sufi whirling dervishes in Istanbul, Turkey

Main article: Sufism

Sufism (Tasawwuf) is a mystical-ascetic approach to Islam that seeks to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God.[226] By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of “intuitive and emotional faculties” that one must be trained to use.[227] However, Sufism has been criticized by the Salafi sect for what they see as an unjustified religious innovation.[228][229] Hasan al-Basri was inspired by the ideas of piety and condemnation of worldliness preached by Muhammad and these ideas were later further developed by Al-Ghazali in his books on Sufism. Sufi-majority countries include Senegal, Chad and Niger.[230]

Other denominations

  • Ahmadiyya is an Islamic reform movement (with Sunni roots) founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[231] that began in India in 1889 and is practiced by 10 to 20 million[232] Muslims around the world. Ahmad claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies concerning the arrival of the ‘Imam Mahdi’ and the ‘Promised Messiah’.
  • Non-denominational Muslims are Muslims who do not restrict their religious affiliation to any particular branch of Islam.
  • The Ibadi is a sect that dates back to the early days of Islam and is a branch of Kharijite and is practiced by 1.45 million Muslims around the world.[233] Unlike most Kharijite groups, Ibadism does not regard sinful Muslims as unbelievers.
  • Mahdavia is an Islamic sect that believes in a 15th-century Mahdi, Muhammad Jaunpuri
  • The Quranists are Muslims who generally reject the Hadith.
  • Yazdânism is seen as a blend of local Kurdish beliefs and Islamic Sufi doctrine introduced to Kurdistan by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir in the 12th century.
  • There are also black Muslim movements such as the Nation of Islam (NOI), Five-Percent Nation and Moorish scientists.

Non-denominational Muslims

In Arabic, they may be referred to as ghayr muqallids or ghair muqalideen (غير مقلّدين) while they have also been called nonconformists and its doctrine has been termed ghayr muqallidism.[234][235] Such Muslims may defend this stance by pointing to the Quran such as Al Imran verse 103, which asks the Muslims to stay united and not to become divided.[236] The term ghair muqallid literally refers to those who do not use taqlid and by extension do not have a madhab.[237]

At least one in five Muslims in at least 22 countries identify as non-denominational Muslims. According to the Pew Research Center‘s Religion & Public Life Project the country with the highest proportion of nondenominational Muslims is Kazakhstan at 74%. It also reports that non-denominational Muslims make up a majority of the Muslims in seven countries (and a plurality in three others): Albania (65%), Kyrgyzstan (64%), Kosovo (58%), Indonesia (56%), Mali (55%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (54%), Uzbekistan (54%), Azerbaijan (45%), Russia (45%), and Nigeria (42%). Other countries with significant percentages are: Cameroon (40%), Tunisia (40%), Guinea Bissau (36%), Uganda (33%), Morocco (30%), Senegal (27%), Chad (23%), Ethiopia (23%), Liberia (22%), Niger (20%), and Tanzania (20%).[238]


World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014).

Main articles: Muslim world and Ummah

A comprehensive 2009 demographic study of 232 countries and territories reported that 23% of the global population, or 1.57 billion people, are Muslims. Of those, it is estimated that over 75–90% are Sunni and 10–20% are Shia[13][220][239] with a small minority belonging to other sects. Approximately 57 countries are Muslim-majority,[240] and Arabs account for around 20% of all Muslims worldwide.[241] The number of Muslims worldwide increased from 200 million in 1900 to 551 million in 1970,[242] and tripled to 1.57 billion by 2009.[citation needed]

The majority of Muslims live in Asia and Africa.[243] Approximately 62% of the world’s Muslims live in Asia, with over 683 million adherents in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.[244][245] In the Middle East, non-Arab countries such as Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries; in Africa, Egypt and Nigeria have the most populous Muslim communities.[246]

Most estimates indicate that the People’s Republic of China has approximately 20 to 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population).[247][248][249][250] However, data provided by the San Diego State University‘s International Population Center to U.S. News & World Report suggests that China has 65.3 million Muslims.[251] Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity in many European countries,[252] and is slowly catching up to that status in the Americas, with between 2,454,000, according to Pew Forum, and approximately 7 million Muslims, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in the United States.[13][253]


Main article: Islamic culture

Bismallah (“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”) in Islamic calligraphy form.

The term “Islamic culture” could be used to mean aspects of culture that pertain to the religion, such as festivals and dress code. It is also commonly used to denote the cultural aspects of traditionally Muslim people.[254] Finally, “Islamic civilization” may also refer to the aspects of the synthesized culture of the early Caliphates, including that of non-Muslims,[255] sometimes referred to as ‘Islamicate‘.


Main article: Islamic architecture

The front of the Nur-Astana Mosque in Astana, Kazakhstan, the country’s largest mosque.

Perhaps the most important expression of Islamic art is architecture, particularly that of the mosque (four-iwan and hypostyle).[256] Through the edifices, the effect of varying cultures within Islamic civilization can be illustrated. The North African and Spanish Islamic architecture, for example, has RomanByzantine elements, as seen in the Great Mosque of Kairouan which contains marble and porphyry columns from Roman and Byzantine buildings,[257] in the Alhambra palace at Granada, or in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.


Main article: Islamic art

Girih pattern with inlaid floral decoration from Shah-i-Zinda in Semerkand, Uzbekistan

Detail of arabesque decoration at the Alhambra in Spain.

Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people (not necessarily Muslim) who lived within the territory that was inhabited by Muslim populations.[258] It includes fields as varied as architecture, calligraphy, painting, and ceramics, among others.

Making images of human beings and animals is frowned on in many Islamic cultures and connected with laws against idolatry common to all Abrahamic religions, as ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood reported that Muhammad said, “Those who will be most severely punished by Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers” (reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/382). However this rule has been interpreted in different ways by different scholars and in different historical periods, and there are examples of paintings of both animals and humans in Mughal, Persian and Turkish art. The existence of this aversion to creating images of animate beings has been used to explain the prevalence of calligraphy, tessellation and pattern as key aspects of Islamic artistic culture.[citation needed]


Main article: Islamic calendar

The formal beginning of the Muslim era was chosen to be the Hijra in 622 CE, which was an important turning point in Muhammad’s fortunes. The assignment of this year as the year 1 AH (Anno Hegirae) in the Islamic calendar was reportedly made by Caliph Umar. It is a lunar calendar with days lasting from sunset to sunset.[259] Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, which means that they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. The most important Islamic festivals are Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎) on the 1st of Shawwal, marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha (عيد الأضحى) on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, coinciding with the pilgrimage to Mecca.[260]


Main article: Criticism of Islam

Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam’s formative stages. Early written criticism came from Christians, prior to the ninth century, many of whom viewed Islam as a radical Christian heresy.[261] Later there appeared criticism from the Muslim world itself, and also from Jewish writers and from ecclesiastical Christians.[262][263][264]

Objects of criticism include the morality of the life of Muhammad, the last law bearing prophet of Islam, both in his public and personal life.[264][265] Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, are also discussed by critics.[266][267] Other criticisms focus on the question of human rights in modern Islamic nations, and the treatment of women in Islamic law and practice.[268][269] In wake of the recent multiculturalism trend, Islam’s influence on the ability of Muslim immigrants in the West to assimilate has been criticized.[270]

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