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Hotword: Islam...




Islam is one of the three “Abrahamic” religions, sharing with Judaism and Christianity a descent form the religious tradition of Abraham, the biblical patriarch. Islam means peace and submission to God. It was founded by Arabs in the seventh Christian century (or CE – Common Era), under the leadership of Muhammad. He taught that he had received a revelation from God about the true religion, that he was the last Prophet and Messenger of God. Followers of Muhammad are known as “Muslims”. Muhammad was a military as well as religious leader, and led his forces to victories over the tribes of the Arabian peninsula. His teachings were recorded by scribes. They were produced as the Sunnah, his teachings, and the Hadith, his sayings and traditions. The revelations from God were recorded in the holy book of Islam, known as the Qur’an (Koran).

Islam teaches that God sent down three books in addition to the Qur’an (Koran) – the Law of Moses (the Torah), the Psalms of David (the Zabur) and the Gospel of Jesus. The Qur’an describes Jews and Christians as “people of the book”, cousins in the family of believers and encourages Muslims to live on peaceful terms with them.

Islam is an evangelical religion (it seeks converts from other religions), and spread rapidly from its birth in Arabia. Soon after the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, the followers split into two major factions – the Sunni (the majority, who accept the communal identification of the successor to Muhammad, and who accept a rather diverse and multiplicity of religious leaders) and Shi’ite (who trace the legitimacy of leadership only through descendants of the Prophet, and who have a very structured and organised clergy).

Islam provided the philosophical basis for a number of elaborate and highly developed civilisations that were dominant for over a thousand years from the Atlantic Ocean through North Africa, through Asia to Indonesia and to the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. There are now over 1.3 billion followers of Islam, 22% of the world’s population, the majority of whom are not Arabs. The 2001 Census indicated that there were 281,578 Muslims living in Australia, 1.4% of the population.

What makes it hot?

Islam can be a hot word in Australia when used by people who view it as a competing religion, foreign to the traditions of a Christian Australia. The apparent Islamic rhetoric of terrorist organisations has added heat to the word. The proximity to Australia of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, adds fuel to the fears of many who hold these negative views. The bombings in Bali in 2002 have reinforced these fears.

Date Added:

10 March 2002