Father John Hardon, S.J.: A Primer On Islam

Doctrine and worship in the Koran

Islam is a glomeration of sects and traditions that bewilder the Western mind. Yet after thirteen centuries, the followers of Mohammed are somehow united and their unity traceable to a common devotion to the Koran. It is the duty of every Moslem, man, woman, or child, to read the Koran and understand it according to his capacity. There runs through the book a consistent body of doctrine and of practical obligations which has remained in all ages the inspiration of the Muslim religion.

Unexpectedly, the famous Shahada or profession of faith, “There is but one God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God,” nowhere occurs as such in the Koran. The nearest equivalent, often called the Islamic Credo, is found in the surah of Women: “You who believe, believe in God and His apostle, and the Book which He revealed to His apostle, and the Book which he revealed to those before him. Whoever denies God and His angels and His books and His apostle and the day of judgment has strayed far away from the truth.”1

While the Koran itself is central, three other sources of Islamic doctrine and practice are recognized by orthodox Moslems: tradition or Qunnah, community agreement or igmah, and the principle of analogy called gijas.

Tradition as a source of revelation is co-equal with the Koran in binding power and authority. It consists of all the sayings, explicit or implicit, of Mohammed, which he did not personally set down in the Koran.

Consensus of believers is more difficult to define and has occasioned endless dispute and schism. But in theory it means that whenever a sizeable portion of the Moslem faithful agrees on some cardinal issue of doctrine or ritual, this becomes part of the creedal structure of Islam.

The method of analogy finds special application in the field of morals and conduct, where a new situation is evaluated by comparison with a similar one in the past. Understandably the principle of gijas lends itself to arbitrary interpretation and, in fact, has been the cause of grave tension and conflict in Moslem jurisprudence.

Read more

Additional articles on Islam

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s