Chapter 1: The Wider Picture: Creation from a Muslim Perspective



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Understanding Islam: An Introduction (C. T. R. Hewer)

Prepared by Robert O. Smith

Chapter 1: The Wider Picture: Creation from a Muslim Perspective



Identification Terms
1. Allah

2. zakat

3. Muslim

4. Hadith

5. taqwa

6. ‘abd

7. Qur’an

8. khalifa

9. din al-fitra

10. shahada


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. What is the root concept of the word “Islam”?

2. According to Islam, what is the primary difference between human beings and the rest of creation?


Essay Questions
1. From a Muslim perspective, describe the proper relationship between human beings, God, and Creation.

2. What is the basic shape of Islamic life? How are Muslim commitments shaped by the Qur’an?



Chapter 2: Muhammad, the Last in the Chain of Prophets
Identification Terms
1. Isra

2. Mi’raj

3. Khadija

4. Umma


5. Muhammad

6. Nabi


7. Sunni

8. Shi’a


9. Rashidun

10. Hijra


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Describe the Muslim understanding of Muhammad’s importance.

2. Why was the Hajj described in a chapter dealing with Muhammad?


Essay Questions
1. What events led to and characterized the building of the Ka’ba?

2. Why did Muhammad experience such opposition to his teachings? Focus on events in Makka.



Chapter 3: The Qur’an, the Revealed Word of God
Identification Terms
1. tajwid

2. Kalam Allah

3. tafsir

4. asbab an-nuzul

5. Aya

6. Taurat

7. Injil

8. Sura

9. hafiz / hafizah

10. Suhuf


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Why would Muslims object to calling Muhammad the author of the Qur’an?

2. For Muslims, why are earlier scriptural revelations accepted but held in suspicion?


Essay Questions
1. Compare and contrast how Christians and Muslims approach and understand their holy books.

2. Describe why and how Muslims reverence and use the Qur’an in daily life.



Chapter 4: An Overview of Islamic History
Identification Terms
1. ridda

2. Salah al-Din

3. al-Azhar University

4. ilm al-kalam

5. jizya

6. reconquista

7. dhimmi

8. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

9. Ibn Rushd

10. Bayt al-Hikma


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Briefly explain dhimmi status.

2. Name and briefly describe two Islamic dynasties.


Essay Questions
1. Describe the situation leading up to and during the First Crusade.

2. What factors contributed to the burst of knowledge and academic creativity in the Golden Age of Spain? How did Aristotle contribute to the relationship between Christians, Muslims and Jews?




Chapter 5: The Central Beliefs of Islam
Identification Terms
1. Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names

2. shari’a

3. shirk

4. Munkar and Nakir

5. tawhid

6. jinn

7. akhira

8. tasbih

9. Iblis

10. Bism’ Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. How are the Names of God used in Muslim piety?

2. What is one tension between modernity and Islamic concepts of free will?


Essay Questions
1. Describe Islamic beliefs regarding the Last Days and Judgment. Compare these beliefs to what you know of Jewish and/or Christian beliefs regarding the last days.

2. How have various Muslim thinkers sought to address the problem of free will for Islam? What potential problems must such efforts address?


Chapter 6: The Principal Practices of Islam
1. ghusl

2. Zakat

3. minaret

4. iftar

5. dhikr

6. Sawm

7. shaykh / shaykha

8. muezzin

9. minbar

10. da’wa


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Why might one speak of “reverting” rather than “converting” to Islam?

2. What are the regular times for performing salat?


Essay Questions
1. Why does the interest-based economic system of the West create such difficulties for Muslims? How have some Muslims negotiated these issues?

2. Describe the three different forms of Islamic prayer. How do these practices compare to your understanding of Christian practice?




Chapter 7: A Muslim Life
Identification Terms
1. halal

2. madrasa

3. tajwid

4. sayyid

5. haram

6. khitan

7. salat al-janaza

8. hafiz / hafizah

9. hijab

10. nikah


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Describe three aspects of naming in Islamic traditions.

2. What are the conditions for a “temporary marriage”?


Essay Questions
1. What is the role of extended families in traditional Islamic culture? Compare this description to contemporary western society.

2. Describe, according to this chapter, the status of women in Islam. Focus on the institution of marriage.



Chapter 8: Living Constantly Remembering God
Identification Terms
1. fatwa

2. tafsir

3. Hanafi

4. fiqh / usul al-fiqh

5. ijma

6. makruh

7. ijtihad

8. al-Hallaj

9. isnad

10. kafir


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. What is the most important tool for engaging in responsible tafsir?

2. How does one most often come to be associated with a school of legal interpretation?


Essay Questions
1. What are the classifications of human actions in Islamic law? Why is it important for Muslims to understand these classifications?

2. Compare and contrast the theory of defensive fighting in Islam to the Christian tradition of just war theory. How have these traditions been challenged by modern realities?


Chapter 9: Islam and Other Faiths
Identification Terms
1. Ahl al-Kitab

2. Mosque of the Two Qiblas

3. shirk

4. Nicene Creed

5. Injil

6. Qurayza

7. periclytos

8. Constitution of Madina

9. Theotokos

10. apostasy


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1. Why do Muslims object to anyone being called a “son of God”?

2. Through what lenses do Muslims approach and analyze other religions?


Essay Questions
1. Describe Muslim perspectives regarding the reliability of Jewish and Christian scriptures. How do these differences complicate Muslim-Jewish and Muslim-Christian theological conversations?

2. This chapter introduced readers to some approaches to interreligious dialogue among the Abrahamic traditions. What are some of the things that divide Jews, Christians and Muslims? In your perspective, how might we best foster interreligious understanding to nurture peace rather than hostile division?



Chapter 10: Muslims in Britain, Western Europe, and the United States
Identification Terms
1. Nation of Islam

2. Yusuf Islam

3. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

4. Muslim Student Association

5. Ottoman Empire

6. Tariq Ramadan

7. Warith Deen Mohammed

8. Great Expulsion

9. Gastarbeiter

10. Muhammad Iqbal


Short Answer (2–3 sentences)
1.Briefly describe the history of East Pakistan.

2. Name three institutional needs required for developing immigrant communities.


Essay Questions
1. Much of the immigrant population in Western Europe is the result of colonial and imperial pasts. How does this historical reality complicate or simplify the European context of Islam?

2. Recount the history and development of African American Islam. Reflect on the reality of Islam as an American religion.

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