Ten things people should know about islam and muslims

1. Allah is God. The great majority of the non-Muslims I meet believe that Allah is a kind of personal name for some kind of small-"g" god, perhaps like Jupiter or Vulcan (gods of the Roman pantheon). I've even heard people refer contemptuously to the God of Islam as a "desert god," as if Judaism and Christianity originated in Yankee Stadium or something. The fact is that Allah is simply a compound word made from the Arabic words al (the) and lah, (god): the God. Monotheism -- the belief in a single, supreme, divine creator -- is the central and most important aspect of Islam. (And it's pronounced uh-LAH, not "Al, uh?") Even most English translations of the Qur'an I've seen do not translate the word. I believe it is really problematic and misleading not to translate such a key word for which there is an exact English equivalent.

Along these lines, I've taken several Muslims to task for using the Arabic term for God when they're speaking in English: all it does it serve to confuse those for whom it's never been made clear that Allah is the same God worshipped by Jews and Christians. Muslims may differ on various points with Jews and Christians, but this is not one of them. You'd never know, though, from the way these groups act with each other much of the time, that they each hold dear the same belief in the God of Abraham, Moses, and of Jesus (for Christians and Muslims) and, for Muslims, of Muhammad. (Muslims accept all the prophets prior to Muhammad, including Jesus. More on Jesus shortly.)

2. The biggest sin is Islam is shirk: "associating partners with God." Shirk may be generally defined as polytheism, but also includes such things as the Christian concept of a triune God, or the worshipping of anything other than God, whether it's a human being, any natural/human creation or phenomenon. This tends to create quite a theological abyss between Muslims and polytheists, but also with Christians and certain other religious groups.

You can imagine from this that expressions such as "Holy Mother of God!" give most observant Muslims the theological willies.

3. Muslims don't believe that Jesus was the son of God. As mentioned in 1, Muslims accept Jesus (in Arabic, "Isa") as a prophet, and an extremely important one at that. Following from 2, however, they do not accept the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God (literally or ****phorically), although they do believe he is the son of Mary (in Arabic, "Maryam"). They further believe that at the time of the Crucifixion, another man was substituted for Jesus and made to look like him. Jesus was then raised up, "body and soul" by God into heaven.

This is probably the most significant point of difference between Christians and Muslims. Some Christian theologians and clergy believe that Christians err by placing too much emphasis on Jesus and elevating him to God's level, but that's an argument for another time and place.

4. Muslims don't worship the Prophet Muhammad. This naturally follows from 2, but, I suspect because of the extreme emphasis on Jesus in much of Christian practice, many assume that Islam parallels this with Muhammad and Muslims. While the Prophet is considered by Muslims to have been the human being with the best character, he is still regarded as a human being, albeit an exceptional one. And while he is regarded as the final prophet of God, he is not the only one. He does not have divine status, although Muslims hold him in the highest regard and are expected and encouraged to try to emulate his habits and characteristics, those being of the highest quality.

Muslims were for years incorrectly referred to as Mohammedans (spelled variously). This has generally become archaic, but you still see it now and then. It's actually profoundly offensive, since it implies shirk. (And while we're on it, it's Muslim, not Moslem, and Qur'an or Quran, not Koran.)

5. Translations of the Qur'an are not the Qur'an. It's well-known that something is always lost in translation. For those English speakers who don't ever expect to read the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and whatever other languages in which its component texts originally appeared, it seems to be accepted that translations of the Bible are all more or less equally valid, although one may have a preferred translation. But only the Qur'an in its original Arabic is considered to be the Qur'an; translations are treated with great respect but are simply not equally valid. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad (who was completely illiterate) by God through the angel Jibril (Gabriel). Muhammad memorized the passages as they were revealed and recited them and shared them with his family and followers. Pre-Islamic Arab culture was predominantly oral, and others ultimately learned and memorized the entire Qur'an; it was not completely written down until after the Prophet's death.

There have been many, many translations over the 1400-odd years since it was first written down; plenty of them are bad -- a few of them deliberately so in order to discredit Islam. Many poor translations offer little more than the bias and ignorance of the translator. But it's imperative to remember that any translation is at best an approximation, and it can be very dangerous to make sweeping judgments based on translated verses, especially in isolation.

6. Not all Muslims are Arabs; not all Arabs are Muslims. There seems to be widespread confusion about this. I suppose that, on some level, it's understandable: the Qur'an was revealed to an Arab speaker in Arabia, and two of Islam's holiest sites (the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah) are in what is now Saudi Arabia. But Arab people live in many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, and subscribe to many different religions, not just Islam: Christianity, Judaism, and Druze among them. The most populous Muslim country in the world is not even an Arab country: it's Indonesia. Only about twelve percent of the world's Muslims are Arabs. Muslims are nationals of many countries, from India to Sweden to Australia. Anyone who wants to can convert to Islam, and it's actually only a minority of Muslims who are also of Arab heritage. Also, not all Arab customs are Muslim. All Muslims do not speak Arabic, although prayers are to be said in Arabic, and Muslims are encouraged to learn to read Arabic so that they can understand the Qur'an. And while I would really, really like to believe this doesn't even need to be said, recent events have proved me wrong: not everyone with brown skin or wearing a turban is a Muslim or an Arab.

7. Culture is not religion. So much of the oppression and misogyny (female illiteracy, "honor" killing, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, physical abuse, etc.) we hear about in quasi- and pseudo-Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran stems from patriarchal cultural customs and baggage and not from Islam, although it's always "justified" sixty ways to Sunday with supposed religious dictates and self-serving interpretations of ******ure.

If any of these countries actually thoroughly implemented Islam as intended and honored the spirit as well as the letter of the "law," women, for example, would not only have far more rights and freedoms than they currently do in any of these countries, but the behavior of men and the actions of governments would have to change so radically that you would probably not recognize these countries at all. Islamic concepts and requirements are that different from how these countries currently operate.

8. Islam is not a monolith. It is a large, widespread, rich, and complex religion, with an extremely intricate and sometimes enigmatic ******ure, and an estimated 1.2 billion followers worldwide. There is overwhelming diversity within the Islamic world, beginning with the major Islamic subgroups: Sunni Muslims (accounting for around 85-90% of Muslims), Shi'ite Muslims, Sufis, Ismailis, and other small splinter groups. Within these groups there are schools of legal thought; there are four major ones within Sunni Islam alone. Muslims might be born into the religion or convert to it, and this contributes to the diversity within its adherents. It's absolutely essential not to see any one Muslim, genuine or otherwise, as representative of all Muslims.

The very diversity of Muslims worldwide is one reason the annual pilgrimage (hajj) to Makkah, the birthplace of Islam, is so compelling: every year for over fourteen hundred years, millions of Muslims have united for a few days, putting aside all differences of race, ethnic background, class, gender and language, to participate in a ritual established by the Prophet Muhammad.

9. Jihad does not mean "holy war." This has to be one of the most damaging, most persistent myths about Islam. The Western media have helped perpetuate this, but there are plenty of benighted Muslims who insist on misapprehending and incorrectly using this term. Jihad, (which comes from the Arabic root word jahada, meaning "to toil, to exert oneself, to strive for a better way of life") is correctly translated as "struggle" or "endeavour," and can easily apply to such things as a student working to earn a medical degree or a group of people raising money to build a mosque. It can apply to the struggle to control one's temper, or to learn to read and write. Part of my husband's jihad as a Muslim is the effort it takes for him to get up in time to offer the first prayers of the day, which occur before dawn. It encompasses the idea of struggling or fighting for good or against evil, but that does not necessarily mean with violence, and it certainly does not mean that any crackpot claiming to be Muslim and waving a Qur'an around can decide who is good and who is evil, and start killing people.

There are certain extreme circumstances under which the notion of jihad might encompass aggression or armed conflict, but these are only to be engaged in as a last resort, when all legal, political, economic, social, and diplomatic attempts to defend Muslims and their right to worship, or to combat other severe oppression (and not only against Muslims), have failed. Any kind of military action is, at best, a subset of the concept of jihad. In fact, there is a well-known Islamic saying indicating that any kind of military conflict is the "minor jihad"; the "major jihad" is the struggle to control and improve oneself. Some of the passages in the Qur'an describing battle and aggression (the passages militants often quote out of context to support their agendas) are narrating actual historical events, not advising them as a course of action or a religious duty. They are also offset by many other passages enjoining peace, mercy, goodness, tolerance, patience, forgiveness, compassion, restrictions in warfare, etc. It seems the bin Ladens and "Muslim" militants of the world just haven't gotten to those parts of the Qur'an yet.

10. Islam does not promote, sponsor, condone or encourage terrorism or murder. The smear campaign against Islam (during the twentieth century in particular) has been extremely thorough and successful

Moral System of Islam

Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad.

Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it discourages against excessive formalism. We read in the Quran:

"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the ransom of slaves to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made: and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic.

Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing." (2:1 77)....
We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing man in these verses. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow-men. We are given four heads:

a) Our faith should be true and sincere....
b) We must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men....
c) We must be good citizens, supporting social organisations and....
d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.....

This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgment provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions Islam seeks to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings are with God who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself from the whole world but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from the clutches of anyone else but not from God's.

Thus, by setting God's pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge it gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations though not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure or supervision. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgement it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul. It does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues nor does it seek to minimise the importance of the well known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause. It takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of man's individual and collective life -his domestic associations, his civic conduct, legal, educational, and social realms. It covers his life from home to society, from the dining table to the battlefield and peace conferences, literally from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of dominated by selfish desires and petty interests, should be regulated by norms of morality.

It stipulates for man a system of life which is based on all good and is free from all evil. It invokes the people, not only to practise virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate vice, to bid good and to forbid wrong. It wants that the verdict of conscience should prevail and virtue must not be subdued to play second fiddle to evil. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into a community and given the name Muslim. And the singular object underlying the formation of this community (Ummah) is that it should make an organised effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.

Here we furnish some basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Muslim's life. They cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct of a Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.

God-Consciousness The Quran mentions it as the highest quality of a Muslim:....
" The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is most God-conscious." (49:13)....

Humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one's promises are moral values which are emphasised again and again in the Quran. We read in the Quran:....
"And God loves those who are firm and steadfast." (3:146)"....

"And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer's forgiveness and to a ..Paradise.. as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God-conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and restrain their anger, and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good." (3:133- 134)....

"Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear patiently whatever may befall you; for this is true constancy. And do not swell your cheek (with pride) at men. nor walk in insolence on the earth, for God does not love any man proud and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds, indeed, is the braying of the ass." (31:18-19)....

In a way which summarises the moral behaviour of a Muslim, the prophet (PBUH) said:....
" My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of God, whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich; to reunite friendship with those who have broken it off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right."

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES The teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations. Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness and defines the responsibilities and rights of various relationships. In a widening circle of relationship, then our first obligation is to our immediate family - parents, husband or wife and children, then to other relatives, neighbours, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Muslims, all our fellow human beings and animals.

Parents Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching and is a very important part of a Muslim's expression of faith.

"Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life-time, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (..17:23..-24) Other Relatives u And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveller; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift." (..17:26..)....

Neighbours The Prophet (PBUH) has said: "....
He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry; and He does not believe whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct."

Actually, according to the Quran and Sunnah a Muslim has to discharge his moral responsibility not only to his parents, relatives and neighbours but to the entire mankind, animals and useful trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly cutting trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden unless there is a very pressing need for it.....

Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realise its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-fearing men, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence and uncompromising with falsehood. It induces feelings of moral responsibility and fosters the capacity for self-control. Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.....

Further ....Readings.... On Islam o T.B. Irving, et al.: The Quran: Basic Teachings o Hamuda Abdulati: Islam in Focus o M. Qutb: Islam: The Misunderstood Religion o Maurice Bucaille: The Bible, The Quran and Science.

History of Islam

The Rightly guided Caliphs
Upon the death of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, the friend of the Prophet and the first adult male to embrace Islam, became caliph. Abu Bakr ruled for two years to be succeeded by 'Umar who was caliph for a decade and during whose rule Islam spread extensively east and west conquering the Persian empire, Syria and Egypt. It was 'Umar who marched on foot at the end of the Muslim army into Jerusalem and ordered the protection of Christian sites. 'Umar also established the first public treasury and a sophisticated financial administration. He established many of the basic practices of Islamic government.
'Umar was succeeded by 'Uthman who ruled for some twelve years during which time the Islamic expansion continued. He is also known as the caliph who had the definitive text of the Noble Quran copied and sent to the four corners of the Islamic world. He was in turn succeeded by 'Ali who is known to this day for his eloquent sermons and letters, and also for his bravery. With his death the rule of the "rightly guided" caliphs, who hold a special place of respect in the hearts of Muslims, came to an end.

The Caliphate
The Umayyad caliphate established in 661 was to last for about a century. During this time Damascus became the capital of an Islamic world which stretched from the western borders of China to southern France. Not only did the Islamic conquests continue during this period through North Africa to Spain and France in the West and to Sind, Central Asia and Transoxiana in the East, but the basic social and legal institutions of the newly founded Islamic world were established.
The Abbasids, who succeeded the Umayyads, shifted the capital to Baghdad which soon developed into an incomparable center of learning and culture as well as the administrative and political heart of a vast world.
They ruled for over 500 years but gradually their power waned and they remained only symbolic rulers bestowing legitimacy upon various sultans and princes who wielded actual military power. The Abbasid caliphate was finally abolished when Hulagu, the Mongol ruler, captured Baghdad in 1258, destroying much of the city including its incomparable libraries.

While the Abbasids ruled in Baghdad, a number of powerful dynasties such as the Fatimids, Ayyubids and Mamluks held power in Egypt, Syria and Palestine. The most important event in this area as far as the relation between Islam and the Western world was concerned was the series of Crusades declared by the Pope and espoused by various European kings. The purpose, although political, was outwardly to recapture the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem for Christianity. Although there was at the beginning some success and local European rule was set up in parts of Syria and Palestine, Muslims finally prevailed and in 1187 Saladin, the great Muslim leader, recaptured Jerusalem and defeated the Crusaders.

Islam in North Africa and Spain

When the Abbasids captured Damascus, one of the Umayyad princes escaped and made the long journey from there to Spain to found Umayyad rule there, thus beginning the golden age of Islam in Spain. Cordoba was established as the capital and soon became Europe's greatest city not only in population but from the point of view of its cultural and intellectual life. The Umayyads ruled over two centuries until they weakened and were replaced by local rulers.
Meanwhile in North Africa, various local dynasties held sway until two powerful Berber dynasties succeeded in uniting much of North Africa and also Spain in the 12th and 13th centuries. After them this area was ruled once again by local dynasties such as the Sharifids of Morocco who still rule in that country. As for Spain itself, Muslim power continued to wane until the last Muslim dynasty was defeated in Granada in 1492 thus bringing nearly eight hundred years of Muslim rule in Spain to an end.

After the Mangol Invasion - History of Islam

The Mongols devastated the eastern lands of Islam and ruled from the Sinai Desert to India for a century. But they soon converted to Islam and became known as the Il-Khanids. They were in turn succeeded by Timur and his descendents who made Samarqand their capital and ruled from 1369 to 1500. The sudden rise of Timur delayed the formation and expansion of the Ottoman empire but soon the Ottomans became the dominant power in the Islamic world.
Ottoman Empire
From humble origins the Turks rose to dominate over the whole of Anatolia and even parts of Europe. In 1453 Mehmet the Conqueror captured Constantinople and put an end to the Byzantine empire. The Ottomans conquered much of eastem Europe and nearly the whole of the Arab world, only Morocco and Mauritania in the West and Yemen, Hadramaut and parts of the Arabian peninsula remaining beyond their control. They reached their zenith of power with Suleyman the Magnificent whose armies reached Hungary and Austria. From the 17th century onward with the rise of Westem European powers and later Russia, the power of the Ottomans began to wane. But they nevertheless remained a force to be reckoned with until the First World War when they were defeated by the Westem nations. Soon thereafter Kamal Ataturk gained power in Turkey and abolished the six centuries of rule of the Ottomans in 1924.
While the Ottomans were concerned mostly with the westem front of their empire, to the east in Persia a new dynasty called the Safavids came to power in 1502. The Safavids established a powerful state of their own which flourished for over two centuries and became known for the flowering of the arts. Their capital, Isfahan, became one of the most beautiful cities with its blue tiled mosques and exquisite houses. The Afghan invasion of 1736 put an end to Safavid rule and prepared the independence of Afghanistan which occured fommally in the 19th century. Persia itself fell into tummoil until Nader Shah, the last Oriental conqueror, reunited the country and even conquered India. But the rule of the dynasty established by him was short-lived. The Zand dynasty soon took over to be overthrown by the Qajars in 1779 who made Tehran their capital and ruled until 1921 when they were in turn replaced by the Pahlavis.
As for India, Islam entered into the land east of the Indus River peacefully. Gradually Muslims gained political power beginning in the early 13th century. But this period which marked the expansion of both Islam and Islamic culture came to an end with the conquest of much of India in 1526 by Babur, one of the Timurid princes. He established the powerful Mogul empire which produced such famous rulers as Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan and which lasted, despite the gradual rise of British power in India, until 1857 when it was officially abolished.

Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia

Farther east in the Malay world, Islam began to spread in the 12th century in northem Sumatra and soon Muslim kingdoms were establishd in Java, Sumatra and mainland Malaysia. Despite the colonization of the Malay world, Islam spread in that area covering present day Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Phililppines and southern Thailand, and is still continuing in islands farther east.
As far as Africa is concemed, Islam entered into East Africa at the very beginning of the Islamic period but remained confined to the coast for some time, only the Sudan and Somaliland becoming gradually both Arabized and Islamized. West Africa felt the presence of Islam through North African traders who travelled with their camel caravans south of the Sahara. By the 14th century there were already Muslim sultanates in such areas as Mali, and Timbuctu in West Africa and Harar in East Africa had become seats of Islamic leaming.
Gradually Islam penetrated both inland and southward. There also appeared major charismatic figures who inspired intense resistance against European domination. The process of the Islamization of Africa did not cease during the colonial period and continues even today with the result that most Africans are now Muslims carrying on a tradition which has had practically as long a history in certain areas of sub-Saharan Africa as Islam itself.

Islam in the United States - History of Islam

It is almost impossible to generalize about American Muslims: converts, immigrants, factory workers, doctors; all are making their own contribution to America's future. This complex community is unified by a common faith, underpinned by a countrywide network of a thousand mosques.
Muslims were early arrivals in North America. By the eighteenth century there were many thousands of them, working as slaves on plantations. These early communities, cut off from their heritage and families, inevitably lost their Islamic identity as time went by. Today many Afro-American Muslims play an important role in the Islamic community.

The nineteenth century, however, saw the beginnings of an influx of Arab Muslims, most of whom settled in the major industrial centers where they worshipped in hired rooms. The early twentieth century witnessed the arrival of several hundred thousand Muslims from Eastem Europe: the first Albanian mosque was opened in Maine in 1915; others soon followed, and a group of Polish Muslims opened a mosque in Brooklyn in 1928.

In 1947 the Washington Islamic Center was founded during the term of President Truman, and several nationwide organizations were set up in the fifties. The same period saw the establishment of other communities whose lives were in many ways modelled after Islam. More recently, numerous members of these groups have entered the fold of Muslim orthodoxy. Today there are about five million Muslims in America.

Arab - Islamic History

It was only after the Second World War and the dismemberment of the British, French, Dutch and Spanish empires that the rest of the Islamic world gained its independence. In the Arab world, Syria and Lebanon became independent at the end of the war as did Libya and the shaykdoms around the Gulf and the Arabian Sea by the 1960's. The North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria had to fight a difficult and, in the case of Algeria, long and protracted war to gain their freedom which did not come until a decade later for Tunisia and Morocco and two decades later for Algeria. Only Palestine did not become independent but was partitioned in 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel.

Islam in an India

In India Muslims participated in the freedom movement against British rule along with Hindus and when independence finally came in 1947, they were able to create their own homeland, Pakistan, which came into being for the sake of Islam and became the most populated Muslim state although many Muslims remained in India. In 1971, however, the two parts of the state broke up, East Pakistan becoming Bengladesh.
Far East
Farther east still, the Indonesians finally gained their independence from the Dutch and the Malays theirs from Britain. At first Singapore was part of Malaysia but it separated in 1963 to become an independent state. Small colonies still persisted in the area and continued to seek their independence, the kingdom of Brunei becoming independent as recently as 1984.

History of Islam - Africa

In Africa also major countries with large or majority Muslim populations such as Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania began to gain their independence in the 1950's and 1960's with the result that by the end of the decade of the 60's most parts of the Islamic world were formed into independent national states. There were, however, exceptions. The Muslim states in the Soviet Union failed to gain their autonomy or independence. The same holds true for Sinkiang (called Eastem Turkestan by Muslim geographers) while in Eritrea and the southern Philippines Muslim independence movements still continue.

National States - History of Islam

While the world of Islam has entered into the modern world in the form of national states, continuous attempts are made to create closer cooperation within the Islamic world as a whole and to bring about greater unity. This is seen not only in the meetings of the Muslim heads of state and the establishment of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) with its own secretariat, but also in the creation of institutions dealing with the whole of the Islamic world. Among the most important of these is the Muslim World League (Rabitat al-alam al-Islami ) with its headquarters in Makkah. Saudi Arabia has in fact played a pivotal role in the creation and maintenance of such organizations.

Revival and Reassertation of Islam - History of Islam

Muslims did not wish to gain only their political independence. They also wished to assert their own religious and cultural identity. From the 18th century onward Muslim reformers appeared upon the scene who sought to reassert the teachings of Islam and to reform society on the basis of Islamic teachings. One of the first among this group was Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, who hailed from the Arabian peninsula and died there in 1792. This reformer was supported by Muhammad ibn al-Sa'ud, the founder of the first Saudi state. With this support Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab was able to spread his teachings not only in Arabia but even beyond its borders to other Islamic lands where his reforms continue to wield influence to this day.
In the 19th century lslamic assertion took several different forms ranging from the Mahdi movement of the Sudan and the Sanusiyyah in North Africa which fought wars against European colonizers, to educational movements such as that of Aligarh in India aiming to reeducate Muslims. In Egypt which, because of al-Azhar University, remains to this day central to Islamic learning, a number of reformers appear, each addressing some aspect of Islamic thought. Some were concerned more with law, others economics, and yet others the challenges posed by Western civilization with its powerful science and technology. These included Jamal al-Din al-Afghani who hailed originally from Persia but settled in Cairo and who was the great champion of Pan-Islamism, that is the movement to unite the Islamic world politically as well as religiously. His student, Muhammad 'Abduh, who became the rector of al-Azhar. was also very influential in Islamic theology and thought. Also of considerable influence was his Syrian student, Rashid Rida, who held a position closer to that of 'Abd al-Wahhab and stood for the strict application of the Shari'ah. Among the most famous of these thinkers is Muhammad Iqbal, the outstanding poet and philosopher who is considered as the father of Pakistan.