ISLAM

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ISLAM, or, as it is pronounced in Syria, Eslam, signifies an entire submission or devotion to the will of another, and especially of God, and thence the attaining of security, peace and salvation. This act is performed, and these blessings are oltained, according to the doctrine of the Every man who makes this profession (aslama) is a Moslem, i. e. has entirely given himself up to the will of God, and is, on that account, in a state of salvation (salam). But as Muslimani, the dual of Muslim, is commonly substituted for the singular by the Persians and Turks, the word Musulman, or Musselman, has in those, as we'll as in the European languages, now nearly superseded the shorter and more correct term.As Islam comprehends the practical as well as the doctrinal tenets of the Mohammedan religion every thing which Moslems must believe and practiseit embraces the whole of their civil and religious polity ; for the system of Mohammed relates more to this world than the next, and was designed, like the law of Moses, for the secular as well as the spiritual direction of his followers. But, taken in its more common and direct sense, it signifies the profession of the five fundamental doctrines, on which, according to a traditional declaration of the prophet (Reland, ReL Moh. 1.1. p. 5.) the whole edifice of the faith is built. Those five points are1. the acknowledgment of the Divine Unity and of the prophetic mission of Mohammed ; 2. observance of prayer; 3. giving of alms ; 4. keeping the fast of Ramadan ; and 5. the performance, if possible, of the pilgrimage to Mecca. They are often, also, subdivided and enlarged, in order to arrange them more conveniently into the two classes of belief (iman) and practice (din). The former relates to1. God ; 2. the angels; 3. the Sacred Book; 4. the prophets; 5. the last day; and, 6. the divine decrees: the latter, to1. purification; 2. prayer ; 3. alms; 4. fasting; and 5. the pilgrimage. To the first article of this creed, the Persians and other adherents of Ali add, " Ali is the vicar of God ;" and that is the only essential point in which they differ from the Sunnites, or orthodox Musselmans,who acknowledge the authority of the four first khalifs. The disputes concerning the succession to the khalifate, or supremacy of the prophet, spiritual and civil,which arose immediately after his death, split his followers, as is well known, into two distinct sects, the Sunnites and the Shiites, who have never since ceased to hate each other with a cordial animosity ; but they differ more in the degree of veneration paid to Ali, than in any other point; and, professing the same creed, with the exception of one article, they derive their doctrines from the same sources. In their respective rituals, and their interpretation of particular texts, there are many minor differences; but both agree in superadding a traditional to the written law of Mohammed, and both have sanctioned that departure from the original simplicity of his doctrine, the re establishment of which was the professed object of the Wahabees. (See Mohammed.)