Islam






ummah
community


Islam
The Qur'an
   The sacred text of Islam, the Qur'an , uses term, ummah, to refer to the community of believers. The term is used to describe both individual communities, both great and small, of faithful Muslims and to refer to the world-wide community of believers—in the latter sense of the term it is synonymous with dar al-Islam, or "The House of Islam," which refers to the world Islamic community. In its widest sense, however, the term, both in the Qur'an and in Islamic tradition, sometimes refers to all believers in monotheistic religions (including Christians and Jews) and sometimes to the entire human community. Strictly speaking, however, the ummah almost always refers to the Islamic community in either concrete reality or in the abstract. Since Islam was inaugurated by Muhammad, it is Muhammad that is the founder of the ummah .


   Islam is a societistic religion; both the revelations of the Qur'an and Islamic tradition stress the social life of humanity and the ethics and mechanics of human society. This societistic focus is not secular; by ordering society along the ethical lines prescribed in revelation, human beings enter into a more proper relation with God.


Islam Glossary
Shari'ah
   While only believers are necessarily part of the ummah , admission into this community is available to all human beings. Theoretically, then, all human beings are potential members of the community. Admission into the Islamic community carries with it obligations to follow the Islamic sacred law, or Shari'ah, and also confers certain privileges, such as immunity from the tax imposed on non-believers in Islamic states.


   In Islamic social theory, the ummah is formed from the threefold consensus of its members: consensus of the mind, consensus of the heart, and consensus of arms. The ummah is formed from the consensus of minds in that all the members of the society share the same view of reality. It is formed from the consensus of hearts in that all members share the same values. It is formed from the consensus of arms in that all member exert themselves to actualize or realize their values. While Islamic social theory holds that all communities are formed in this way, the Qur'an states clearly that the Islamic ummah is the best of all human communities given to humanity by God.

   The antithesis to the dar al-Islam is the dar al-harb , the "House of Warfare," or the non-Islamic world. This is the world of non-believers and must be struggled against by the faithful until either it is islamicized or it allows for the free practice of Islam and the free commerce in ideas and values.

Richard Hooker



World Cultures

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1998, Richard Hooker
Updated 1-19-98