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p. 584. Islam

Religion, politics, and the state (600–1258)locked

  • Charles L. Cohen


“Islam” looks at the origins of this religion. Islam arose in an area contested by empires and populated by diverse religious groups. Muhammad’s revelations, recorded in the Quran, drew loosely on Jewish and Christian ideas, but they pointedly situated him within the biblical prophetic tradition, and Muslims asserted that they had recovered the original religion of Abraham. At its inception, the umma (Muslim religious community) was also a political body, but the difficulties inherent in investing spiritual and civil headship in one person manifested themselves quickly. Clashes about who should guide the umma inflected Islamic religious identity—particularly its division into two major sects: Sunnis and Shiites.

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