Archives For Religion


Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

”Allah, (Arabic: “God”), the one and only God in ISLAM. Etymologically, the name Allah is probably a contraction of the Arabic al-llah, “the God.” Allah is the standard Arabic word for “God” and is used by Arabic-speaking Christians as well as Muslims.

Allah is the pivot of the Muslim faith. The QUR’AN constantly preaches Allahs reality, his inaccessible mystery, his”beautiful” names, and his actions on behalf of his creatures. Three themes preponderate: (1) Allah is creator, judge, and rewarder; (2) he is unique: (wahid) and inherently one (ahad); and (3) he is omnipotent and all-merciful. God is the “Lord of the Worlds,” the most high, “nothing is like unto him,” and this in itself is to the believer a request to adore Allah as protector and to glorify his powers. God, moreover, is most compassionate, the originator of what is good and beautiful in the world; he “loves those who do good” (Qur’an 2:195), and is “closer than the jugular vein” (Qur’an 50:16). In SUFISM, he is the beloved with whom the mystic seeks union.

Muslim piety has collected, in the Qur’an and in HADITH, the 99 “most beautiful names” (al-asma al-husna) of God, and these names have become objects of devoted recitation and meditation. Among the names of Allah are the One and Only, the Living One, the Subsisting (al-Hayy al-Qayyum), the Real Truth (al-Haqq), the Sublime (al-‘Asim), The Wise (al-Hakim), the Omnipotent (al-‘Aziz), the Hearer (al-Sami), the Seer (al-Basir), the Omniscient (al-‘Alim), the Witness (al-Shahid), the Protector (al-Wakil), the Benefactor (al-Rahman), the Merciful (al-Rahim), and the Constant Forgiver (Ghafur, Ghaffar)

The profession of faith (SHAHADA) by which a person is introduced into the Muslim community consists of the affirmation that there is no god but Allah and that MUHAMMAD is his prophet. For pious Muslims, every action is opened by an invocation of the divine name (basmala). The formula in sha’a Allah. “if God wills,” appears frequently in daily speech. This formula is the reminder of an ever-preset divine intervention in the order of the world and the actions of human beings. Muslims believe that nothing happens and nothing is performed unless it is by the will or commandment of Allah. The personal attitude of a Muslim believer, therefore, is a complete submission to God, “whom one does not question” but whom one knows according to his (Qur’anic) word to be fair judge, at once formidable and benevolent, and the supreme help. In essence, the surrender to God (islam) is the religion itself.

(Comeback on 8/24/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Allegory”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

”Judah Ben Solomon Hai Alkalai, (b. 1798, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Ottoman Empire [now Bosnia and Herzegovin]—d. 1878, Jerusalem, Palestine), Sephardic RABBI and an advocate]—d. 1878, Jerusalem, Palestine0, Sephardic RABBI and an advocate of Jewish colonization of Palestine.

Alkalai was taken to Jerusalem at an early age, and there he was reared and educated for the rabbinate. At 25 he became rabbi of a congregation of SEPHARDI in Semlin (now Zemun, Yugos.), a border town of the Austrian Empire across the Sava River from Belgrade. There he wrote a book arguing that a physical “return to Israel” (i.e., to Eretz Yisra’el, the Holy Land in Palestine) was a precondition for redemption (salvation), instead of the symbolic “return to Israel” by means of repentance and resuming the ways of God. This doctrine was unacceptable in ORTHODOX JUDAISM and generated much controversy. His second book was a reply to heated attacks on his proto-Zionist views.

After the Damascus Affair, and anti-Semitic outburst of 1840, Alkalai took to admonishing Jews that the event was part of a divine design to awaken Jews to the reality of their condition in exile. Believing that Jews should migrate nowhere but the Palestine, he traveled in England and about Europe seeking support, but his efforts came to naught. Finally in 1871 he left his congregation at Semlin and went to Palestine, where he created a society for settlement. It too failed. But Alkalai’s writings did have some effect, particularly one book, Goral Ladonai (1857; “A Lot for the Lord”). These and his personal migration helped pave the way for the ZIONISM of THEODOR HERZL and others.

(Comeback on 8/23/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Allah”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

”Alka, also called alkas, in ancient BALTIC RELIGION, an open-air religious site—forest, hill, river—that was sacred. Trees could not be cut in such forests, sacred fields could not be plowed and fishing was not allowed in the holy waters. The rituals of various religious cults, involving animal sacrifice and human CREMATION, took place at the alkas. The sense of the ancient alka is preserved in the modern Lithuanian word alkviete, meaning any holy place or site of worship.

(Comeback on 8/22/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Judah Ben Solomon Hai Alkalai”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

”Aligarh Muslim University, also known as Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College, or Anglo-Muhammadan Oriental College, the first center of Islamic and Western higher education in India. Located in Aligarh, southeast of Delhi, it was founded as a school in May 1875 by the Muslim educator, jurist, and author AHMAD KHAN out of his desire to found “a Muslim Cambridge.” After his retirement in 1876, Ahmad Khan devoted himself to enlarging it into a college. Raised to university status in 1920, partly through the efforts of Aga Khan III, the university became the intellectual cradle of the Muslim League and the Muslim state of Pakistan. A separate women’s college was added in 1926. Aligarh’s curriculum encompasses modern humanities and sciences as well as traditional Islamic learning.

(Comeback on 8/21/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Alka”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

”Ali Al-Rida, in full Abu al-Hasan ibn Musa ibn Ja’far ‘Ali al-Rida (b. 765/768/770, Medina, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia]—d. 818, Tus, Iran), eighth IMAM of the Twelver SHI’ITES, noted for his piety and learning until 817, when the CALIPH al-Ma’mun, in an attempt to heal the division between the majority SUNNIS and the Shi’ites, appointed him his successor. The appointment aroused varying reactions—few of them, even among the Shi’ites, wholly favorable—and Iraq rose up in rebellion. Al-Ma’mun gradually changed his policy. The court party set out form Merv for Baghdad, and on the way ‘Ali al-Rida died, after a brief illness, at Tus. Shi’ite historians attribute his death to poison, possibly administered by the caliph himself. His shrine (MASHHAD) at Tus became a PILGRIMAGE place and gave its name to the city (Mashhad, or Meshed, in Iran). Many miracles are attributed to ‘Ali al-Rida by the Shi’ites.

(Comeback on 8/20/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Aligarh Muslim University”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

‘Ali, in full ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (b. c. 600, Meca—d. January 661, Kufa, Iraq), cousin and son-in-law of MUHAMMAD, and fourth CALIPH (successor to Muhammad), reigning from 656-661. The question of his right to the caliphate resulted in the split in ISLAM into SUNNI and SHI’ITE branches. He is revered by the Shi’ites as the first IMAM, the true successor to the Prophet.

‘Ali was the son of Abu Talib, chief of clan of the QURAYSH. When his father became impoverished, ‘Ali was taken under the care of his cousin Muhammad, then still a businessman in MECCA, who himself had been cared for by ‘Ali’s father as a child. When Muhammad began his career as a prophet, ‘Ali, though only 10 years old, became one of the first converts to Islam. Later, he married Muhammad’s daughter FATIMA, who bore him two sons, HASAN and HUSAYN.

‘Ali is said to have been a courageous fighter in the expeditions Muhammad conducted to consolidate Islam. He was also one of Muhammad’s scribes and led several important missions. When the inhabitants of Mecca finally accepted Islam without a battle, it was ‘Ali who smashed their idols in the KA’BA (holy shrine).

Muhammad died on June 8. 632 . Some say he had nominated ‘Ali as hi successor while he was returning from his “farewell pilgrimage” to Mecca. Others maintain that Muhammad died without naming a successor. ‘Ali while attending the last rites of the Prophet, was confronted by the fact that Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s closest friend and the father of ‘A’ISHA, one of the Prophet’s wives, had been chosen as caliph. ‘Ali did not submit to Abu Bakr’s authority for some time, but neither did he actively assert his own rights, possibly in order to prevent bloody tribal strife. He retired and let a quiet life in which religious works became his chief occupation. The first chronologically arranged version of the QUR’AN is attributed to him, and his knowledge of HADITH aided the caliphs in various legal problems.

‘Ali became caliph following the murder of ‘Uthman, the third caliph. His brief reign was beset by difficulties due mostly to the corrupt state of affairs he inherited. He based his rule on the Islamic ideals of social justice and equality, but his policy was a blow to the interests of the Quraysh aristocracy of Mecca who had grown rich in the Muslim conquests. In order to embarrass ‘Ali they demanded that he bring the murderers of ‘Uthman to trial; when he refused, a rebellion against him was instigated in which two prominent Meccans along with ‘A’isha took a leading part. This rebellion, known as the Battle of the Camel (the camel ridden by ‘A’isha), was quelled. A second rebellion was on the point of being crushed whe its leader, Mu’awiya, a kinsman of ‘Uthman and the governor of Syria, proposed arbitration. ‘Ali was forced by his army to accept adjudication, greatly  weakening his position. Soon he had to fight some of the very people who had earlier forced him to accept arbitration but now denounced it. Known as Khawarij (Seceders), they were defeated by ‘Ali in the Battle of Nahrawan. Meanwhile, Mu’awiya followed an aggressive policy, and by the end of 660 ‘Ali had lost control of Egypt and of the Hijaz. While praying in a mosque at Kufa in Iraq a Kharijite, intent on avenging the men slain at Nahrawan, struck ‘Ali with a poisoned sword. Two days later ‘Ali died and was buried at Nujaf, near Kufa.. His mausoleum became one of the principal Shi’ite pilgrimage centers. See GHULAT.

‘Ali’s political discourses, sermons, letters, and sayings, collected by ash-Sharif ar-Radi (d. 1015) in a book entitled Nahj al-balaghah (“The Road of Eloquence”) with commentary by Ibn Abi al-Hadid (d. 1258), are well known in Arabic literature. Muslims consider him to be an embodiment of the virtues of justice, learning, and mystical insight. In popular piety he is regarded as an intercessor with God, and certain quasi-gnostic groups maintain that he is the Perfect Man. Some, like the ‘Alawi of Syria, even hold that he is a human incarnation of God.

Muhammad and Ali.jpg

(Comeback on 8/19/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “‘Ali Al-Rida”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

Alha, major oral epic of North India whose principal characters are sometimes claimed to be REINCARNATIONS of the heroes of the MAHABHARATA in the Kali age (the fourth age in Hindu beliefs; see YUGA).

(Comeback on 8/18/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “‘Ali”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

Isaac Ben Jacob Alfasi, Alfasi also spelled Al-Phasi, also called Rabbi Isaac Fasi, or (by acronym) RIF (b. 1013, near Fès, Morocco—d. 1103, Lucena, Spain), Talmudic scholar who wrote a codification of the TALMUD known as Sefer ha-Halakhot (“Book of Laws”), which ranks with the great codes of MOSES MAIMONIDES and KARO.

Alfasi lived most of his life in Fès (from which his surname was derived), where he wrote his digest of the Talmud, the rabbinical compendium of law, lore, and commentary. In 1088, in fear of the local government, he fled to Spain, where, in Lucena, he became head of the Jewish community and established a noted Talmudic academy. Alfasi provoked a rebirth of Talmudic study in Spain, and his influence was instrumental in moving the center of such studies from the Eastern to the Western world.

His codification deals with the Talmud’s legal aspects, or HALAKHAH (Hebrew Law), including civil, criminal, and religious law. It omits all homiletical passages as well as portions relating to religious duties practicable only in Palestine and is unusual for its focus on the actual text. His commentaries summarize the thought of the geonim who presided over the two great Jewish academies in Babylonia between the middle on the 7th and the end of the 13th century. In addition, his work played a major role in establishing the primacy of the BAVLI (the Babylonian Talmud), as edited and revised by three generations of ancient sages, over the YERUSHALMI (the Palestinian Talmud), the final compilation of which had been interrupted by external pressures. Alfasi’s Sefer ha-Halakhot is still important in YESHIVA studies.

(Comeback on 8/16/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Alha”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

Synod of Alexandria, the most important of the meetings of Christian bishops held in Alexandria, Egypt. It was summoned by the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. It was summoned by the bishop of Alexandria, ATHANASIUS. It allowed clergy that were readmitted to communion after making common cause with Arians to return to their former ecclesiastical status, provided they had not themselves subscribed to ARIANISM. The SYNOD stated explicitly that the HOLY SPIRIT, not a created being, is of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father and the son (see HOMOOUSION), and it clearly defined the Christological terms “person” and “substance.”

(Comeback on 8/16/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Isaac Ben Jacob Alfasi“.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

School of Alexandria, first Christian institution of higher learning, founded in the mid-2nd century CE in Alexandria, Egypt. Under its earliest known leaders (Pantaenus, CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, and ORIGEN), it became a center of the allegorical method of biblical interpretation (see ALLEGORY), espoused a rapprochement between Greek culture and Christian faith, and asserted orthodox Christian teachings against heterodox views in an era of doctrinal flux.

(Comeback on 8/15/14 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn about “Alexandria, Synod of“.

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