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Portal:Islam/Selected article/1

An Iranian depiction of the Muslim pursuit following the battle

The Battle of Badr was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's war against his Quraish opponents in Mecca. The battle has been passed down in Islamic history as a decisive victory ascribed to either divine intervention or the genius of Muhammad. Although it is one of the few battles mentioned by name in the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, virtually all contemporary knowledge of the battle at Badr comes from traditional Islamic accounts, both hadiths and biographies of Muhammad, written down decades after the battle. Prior to the battle, the Muslims and Meccans had fought several smaller skirmishes in late 623 and early 624, as the Muslim ghazawāt plundering raids grew increasingly commonplace, but this was their first large-scale battle. Muhammad was leading a raiding party against a caravan when he was surprised by a much larger Quraishi army. Advancing to a strong defensive position, Muhammad's well-disciplined men managed to shatter the Meccan lines, killing several important leaders including Muhammad's chief opponent, Amr ibn Hishām. For the early Muslims, the battle was extremely significant because it was the first sign that they might eventually overcome their enemies in Mecca, one of the richest and most powerful pagan cities in pre-Islamic Arabia.

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The Badshahi Masjid in Lahore, Pakistan with an iwan at center

A mosque is a place of worship for followers of the Islamic faith. The primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer. Mosques are widely recognized for their importance in the Muslim community and in Islamic architecture. They have evolved significantly from the open-air spaces of the Quba Mosque and Masjid al-Nabawi of the 7th century, and most modern mosques have elaborate domes, minarets, and prayer halls. Mosques originated on the Arabian Peninsula, but can now be found on all six inhabited continents. They are not only places for worship and prayer, but also places for believers to interact and to learn about Islam. Other faiths' places of worship, such as synagogues and churches, have often been converted into mosques.

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A painting by Edward Hicks showing the animals boarding Noah's Ark two by two

According to the Bible, Noah's Ark was a massive vessel built at God's command to save Noah, his family, and a core stock of the world's animals from the Great Flood. The story is contained in the Hebrew Bible's book of Genesis, chapters 6 to 9. According to one school of modern textual criticism — the documentary hypothesis — the Ark story told in Genesis is based on two originally quasi-independent sources, and did not reach its present form until the 5th century BC. Nevertheless, many Orthodox Jews and traditional Christians reject this analysis, holding that the Ark story is true, and that any perceived inadequacies can be rationally explained. The Ark story told in Genesis has extensive and striking parallels in the Sumerian myth of Utnapishtim, which tells how an ancient king was warned by his personal god to build a vessel in which to escape a flood sent by the higher council of gods. By the beginning of the 18th century, the growth of biogeography as a science meant that few natural historians felt able to justify a literal interpretation of the Ark story. Nevertheless, Biblical literalists continue to explore the region of the mountains of Ararat, in northeastern Turkey, where the Bible says Noah's Ark came to rest.

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Conrad III of Germany personally led the crusade

The Second Crusade was the second major crusade launched from Europe, called in 1145 in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year. Edessa was the first of the Crusader states to have been founded during the First Crusade, and was the first to fall. The Second Crusade was announced by Pope Eugenius III, and was the first of the crusades to be led by European kings, namely Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany. The armies of the two kings marched separately across Europe and were separately defeated by the Seljuk Turks. Louis and Conrad and the remnants of their armies reached Jerusalem and in 1148 participated in an ill-advised attack on Damascus. The crusade in the east was a failure for the crusaders and a great victory for the Muslims. It would ultimately lead to the fall of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade at the end of the 12th century. The only success came on the opposite end of the Mediterranean, where English crusaders, on the way by ship to the Holy Land, fortuitously stopped and helped capture Lisbon in 1147.

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Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq, where the Battle of Karbala took place

The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver or Ithna-‘ashariyyah branch of Shī‘ah Islam. According to the theology of Twelvers, the successor of Muhammad is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, but also is able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric meaning. The Prophet and Imams' words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through the Prophet. Imamate, or belief in the divine guide is a fundamental belief in the Twelver and Ismaili Shī‘ī branches and is based on the concept that God would not leave humanity without access to divine guidance. According to Twelvers, there is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. ‘Alī was the first Imam of this line, and in the Twelvers' view, the rightful successor to the Prophet of Islam, followed by male descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah Zahra. Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the brother of Hasan ibn Ali. The twelfth and final Imam is Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed by the Twelvers to be currently alive, and hidden till he returns to bring justice to the world.

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The Iranian peoples are a collection of ethnic groups defined by their usage of Iranian languages and discernible descent from ancient Iranian peoples. The Iranian peoples live chiefly in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of South Asia, though speakers of Iranian languages were once found throughout Eurasia, from the Balkans to western China. The Iranian peoples have played an important role throughout history: the Achaemenid Persians established the world's first multi-national state, and the Scythian-Sarmatian nomads dominated the vast expanses of Russia and western Siberia for centuries with a group of Sarmatian warrior women possibly being the inspiration for the Greek legend of the Amazons. In addition, the various religions of the Iranian peoples, including Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, were important early philosophical influences on Judeo-Christianity. Early Iranian tribes were the precursors to many diverse modern peoples, including the Persians, the Kurds, the Pashtuns, and many other, smaller groups.

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The Azerbaijani people are an ethnic group mainly found in northwestern Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis, commonly referred to as Azeris, live in a wider area from the Caucasus to the Iranian plateau. The Azeris are typically at least nominally Muslim and have a mixed cultural heritage of Turkic, Iranian, and Caucasian elements. Despite living on both sides of an international border, the Azeris form a single group. However, northerners and southerners differ due to nearly two centuries of separate social evolution in Russian/Soviet-influenced Azerbaijan and Iranian Azarbaijan. The Azerbaijani language unifies Azeris and is mutually intelligible with Turkmen and Turkish. As a result of this separate existence, the Azeris are mainly secularists in Azerbaijan and religious Muslims in Iranian Azarbaijan. Since Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been renewed interest in religion and cross-border ethnic ties.

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The world's first Swaminarayan Temple

Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat and the seventh largest urban agglomeration in India, with a population of almost 5.1 million. Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, the city is the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district, and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970; the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. The city was founded in 1411 to serve as the capital of the Sultanate of Gujarat, by its namesake, Sultan Ahmed Shah. Under British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernised and expanded. The city was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century. It was the epicentre of many campaigns of civil disobedience to promote workers' rights, civil rights and political independence. With the creation of the state of Gujarat in 1960, Ahmedabad gained prominence as the political and commercial capital of the state. Once characterised by dusty roads and bungalows, the city is witnessing a major construction boom and population increase. A rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmedabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat, and much of western India.

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The Flag of Chad

Chad is a landlocked country in central Africa. It borders Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. Due to its distance from the sea and its largely desert climate, the country is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa". Chad is divided into three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanian savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest wetland in Chad and the second largest in Africa. Chad's highest peak is the Emi Koussi in the Sahara, and the largest city by far is N'Djamena, the capital. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. French and Arabic are the official languages. Islam is the most practised religion. While many political parties are active, power lies firmly in the hands of President Idriss Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted coups d'état. Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Africa; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry.

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Flag of Turkey

Turkey is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in southwestern Asia and the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. The region comprising modern Turkey has seen the birth of major civilisations including the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Owing to its strategic location at the intersection of two continents, Turkey's culture is a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition, often described as a bridge between the two civilisations. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic whose political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Since then, Turkey has increasingly integrated with the West while continuing to foster relations with the Eastern world. It is a founding member of the United Nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a member state of the Council of Europe since 1949 and of NATO since 1952. Since 2005, Turkey has been in accession negotiations with the European Union, having been an associate member since 1963. Turkey is also a member of the G20 which brings together the 20 largest economies of the world.

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The hijab was the center of most debate about the law

The French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools is an amendment to the French Code of Education banning students from wearing conspicuous religious symbols in French public primary and secondary schools. The law expands principles founded in existing French law, especially the constitutional requirement of laïcité: the separation of state and religious activities. The bill passed France's national legislature and was signed into law by President Jacques Chirac on March 15, 2004 and came into effect on September 2, 2004, at the beginning of the new school year. The law does not mention any particular symbol, though it is considered by many to specifically target the wearing of headscarves (hijab) by Muslim schoolgirls. The law was controversial: while its proponents contended that it protected young Muslim women from peer pressure to wear the veil, critics claimed that it infringed on religious freedom.

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The new Abbey Mills pumping station, which is adjacent to the proposed site of the Mosque

The Abbey Mills Mosque, also known as the London Markaz or Masjid-e-Ilyas, is a proposed mosque and Islamic centre to be built on an 7.3-hectare (18-acre) site in Stratford, east London. It was originally reported that the structure, if built, would have been the largest religious building in Britain and the largest mosque in Europe. For this reason it is often informally referred to in the press as the "mega-mosque". The mosque would be built by Tablighi Jamaat (a Muslim missionary movement) near the site of the London 2012 Olympic Park. Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen is Tablighi Jamaat's charitable trust and has been the owner of the site since 1996. The Tablighi Jamaat website devoted to the mosque places the maximum capacity at 12,000 worshipers. The plan has sparked controversy for various reasons including its initially reported size, the possible chemical contamination risk associated with the site, the uncertainty as to the sources of funding that will be used by Tablighi Jamaat, and alleged links between Tablighi Jamaat and Islamic terrorism. Mosque officials are engaged in resolving the controversies, as well as countering the perception implied by the term "mega-mosque". Public response to the mosque and associated controversies has included on-line petitions, various public talks, debates, speeches, and websites, and even apparent threats against people opposing the mosque. With the expiration of the permit to use the site, and neither a current plan permission nor application for a mosque, the building's future remains uncertain.

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Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic holy place in the Old City of Jerusalem. The mosque itself forms part of the al-Haram ash-Sharif or "Sacred Noble Sanctuary", a site also known as the Temple Mount and considered the holiest site in Judaism, since it is believed to be where the Temple in Jerusalem once stood. Widely considered, mainly by Sunni Muslims, as the third holiest site in Islam, Muslims believe that prophet Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey. Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when he turned towards the Ka'aba. The al-Aqsa Mosque was originally a small prayer house built by the Rashidun caliph Umar, but was rebuilt and expanded by the Ummayad caliph Abd al-Malik and finished by his son al-Walid in 705 CE. After an earthquake in 746, the mosque was completely destroyed and rebuilt by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 754, and again rebuilt by his successor al-Mahdi in 780. Another earthquake destroyed most of al-Aqsa in 1033, but two years later the Fatimid caliph Ali az-Zahir built another mosque which has stood to the present-day. When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they used the mosque as a palace and church, but its function as a mosque was restored after its recapture by Saladin. Today, the Old City is under Israeli sovereignty, but the mosque remains under the administration of the Palestinian-led Islamic waqf.

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An example of "Allāh" written in simple Arabic calligraphy.

Allah (/ˈæl.lə, ˈɑːl.lə, əˈl.lɑː/; Arabic: اللَّٰه, romanizedAllāh, IPA: [ʔaɫ.ɫaːh] (listen)) is the common Arabic word for God. In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The word is thought to be derived by contraction from al-ilāh, which means "the god", and is linguistically related to the Aramaic words Elah and Syriac ܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ (ʼAlāhā) and the Hebrew word El (Elohim) for God.

The word Allah has been used by Arabic people of different religions since pre-Islamic times. The pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped a supreme deity whom they called Allah, alongside other lesser deities. Muhammad used the word Allah to indicate the Islamic conception of God. Allah has been used as a term for God by Muslims (both Arab and non-Arab) and even Arab Christians after the term "al-ilāh" and "Allah" were used interchangeably in Classical Arabic by the majority of Arabs who had become Muslims. It is also often, albeit not exclusively, used in this way by Bábists, Baháʼís, Mandaeans, Indonesian and Maltese Christians, and Sephardi Jews. Similar usage by Christians and Sikhs in West Malaysia has recently led to political and legal controversies. (Full article...)

Portal:Islam/Selected article/15

Azophi's Book of Fixed Stars

In the history of astronomy, Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy refers to the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age (8th-16th centuries), and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, North Africa, and later in China and India. It closely parallels the genesis of other Islamic sciences in its assimilation of foreign material and the amalgamation of the disparate elements of that material to create a science. These included Indian, Sassanid and Hellenistic works in particular, which were translated and built upon. In turn, Islamic astronomy later had a significant influence on Indian and European astronomy (see Latin translations of the 12th century) as well as Chinese astronomy. A significant number of stars in the sky, such as Aldebaran and Altair, and astronomical terms such as alhidade, azimuth, and almucantar, are still today recognized with their Arabic names. A large corpus of literature from Islamic astronomy remains today, numbering approximately 10,000 manuscripts scattered throughout the world, many of which have not been read or catalogued. Even so, a reasonably accurate picture of Islamic activity in the field of astronomy can be reconstructed.

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The Battle of Uhud was fought on 23 March, 625 (3 Shawwal 3 AH in the Islamic calendar) at Mount Uhud, in what is now north-western Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan from Mecca, the town from which many of the Muslims had previously emigrated (hijra). The Battle of Uhud was the second military encounter between the Meccans and the Muslims, preceded by the Battle of Badr in 624, where a small Muslim army had defeated the larger Meccan army. Marching out from Mecca towards Medina on 11 March, 625, the Meccans desired to avenge their losses at Badr and strike back at Muhammad. The Muslims readied for war soon afterwards and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Uhud. Whilst heavily outnumbered, the Muslims gained the early initiative and forced the Meccan lines back, thus leaving much of the Meccan camp unprotected. As the Muslims left their assigned posts to despoil the Meccan camp, a surprise attack from the Meccan cavalry brought chaos to the Muslim ranks. Many Muslims were killed, and they withdrew up the slopes of Uhud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory. For the Muslims, the battle was a significant setback: although they had been close to routing the Meccans a second time, their desire for the Meccan spoils reaped severe consequences. The two armies would meet again in 627, at the Battle of the Trench.

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Battle of Khandaq (Battle of the Trench)

The Battle of the Trench also known as Battle of the Confederates, was a fortnight-long siege of Yathrib (now Medina) by Arab and Jewish tribes. The strength of the confederate armies is estimated around 10,000 men with six hundred horses and some camels, while the Medinan numbered 3000. The battle began on March 31, 627. The outnumbered defenders of Medina, mainly Muslims led by Islamic prophet Muhammad, opted to dig and fight from a trench rather than face the tribes in the open. The trench together with Medina's natural fortifications rendered the confederate cavalry (consisting of horses and camels) useless, locking the two sides in a stalemate. Hoping to make several attacks at once, the confederates persuaded the Banu Qurayza to attack the city from the south. However, Muhammad's diplomacy derailed the negotiations, and broke up the confederacy against him. The well-organized defenders, the sinking of confederate morale, and poor weather conditions caused the siege to end in a fiasco. The siege was a "battle of wits", in which Muslims diplomatically overcame their opponents with very few casualties. Efforts to defeat the Muslims failed, and Islam became influential in the region. As a consequence, the Muslims besieged the Qurayza, and upon the latter's unconditional surrender. The defeat also caused the Meccans to lose their trade and much of their prestige.

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Greek fire, first used by the Byzantine Navy during the Byzantine-Arab Wars

The Byzantine–Arab Wars were a series of wars between the Arab Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire between the 7th and 12th centuries AD. These started during the initial Muslim conquests under the Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs and continued in the form of an enduring border tussle until the beginning of the Crusades. As a result, the Byzantines, also called the Romans ("Rûm" in Muslim historical chronicles; the Byzantine Empire was formerly the Eastern half of the Roman Empire), saw an extensive loss of territory. The initial conflict lasted from 634 to 717, ending with the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople that halted the rapid expansion of the Arab Empire into Anatolia. Conflicts however continued between the 800s and 1169. The occupation of southern Italian territories by the Abbasid forces in the 9th and 10th centuries were not as successful as in Sicily. However, under the Macedonian dynasty, the Byzantines recaptured territory in the Levant with the Byzantines armies' advance even threatening Jerusalem to the south. The Emirate of Aleppo and its neighbours became vassals of the Byzantines in the east, where the greatest threat was the Egyptian Fatimid kingdom, until the rise of the Seljuk dynasty reversed all gains and pushed Abbasid territorial gains deep into Anatolia. This resulted in the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus' request for military aid from Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza; one of the events often attributed as precursors to the First Crusade.

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Byzantine–Ottoman Wars

The Byzantine-Ottoman Wars were a series of decisive conflicts between the Ottoman Turks and the Byzantine Greeks that led to the final destruction of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. After the loss of Constantinople in 1204 the Byzantine Empire was left divided and in chaos; taking advantage of the situation the Sultanate of Rum began seizing territory in Western Asia Minor until the Nicaean Empire was able to repulse the Seljuk Turks against the remaining territories still under Greek rule. Eventually Constantinople was re-taken from the hated Latin Empire in 1261 by the Nicaean Empire. However the position of the Byzantine Empire in the European continent remained uncertain due to the presence of the rival kingdoms of the Despotate of Epirus, Serbia and the Second Bulgarian Empire. This, combined with the reduced power of the Sultanate of Rum (Byzantium's chief rival in Asia) led to the removal of troops from Asia Minor to maintain Byzantium's grip on Thrace. However the weakening of the Sultanate of Rum was by no means a blessing to the Empire as fanatical ghazis began setting up their fiefdoms, at the expense of the Byzantine Empire. Whilst many Turkic Beys participated in the conquest of Byzantine and Seljuk territory, the territories under the control of the Bey Osman I poses the greatest threat to Nicaea and to Constantinople. By 1299, Osman I felt assured of his position to declare himself Sultan and there after his territories became known as the Ottoman Empire. Within 50 years of Osman I's establishment of the Ottoman beylik, Byzantine Asia Minor had ceased to exist and by ca. 1380, Byzantine Thrace was lost to the Ottomans. By ca. 1400, the once mighty Byzantine Empire was nothing more than a collection of the Despotate of Morea, a few Aegean islands and a strip of land in Thrace in the immediate vicinity of the Capital. The Crusade of Nicopolis in 1396, Timur's invasion in 1402 and the final Crusade of Varna in 1444 allowed a ruined Constantinople to stave off defeat until 1453. With the conclusion of the war Ottoman supremacy became established in the eastern Mediterranean.

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Byzantine territory in red, and the Sultanate of Iconium and Four Emirates in 1180 A.D.

The Byzantine-Seljuk Wars were a series of decisive battles that shifted the balance of power in Asia Minor and Syria from the Byzantine Empire to the Seljuk Turks. Riding from the steppes of Central Asia, the Seljuk Turks replicated tactics practiced by the Huns hundreds of years earlier against a similar Roman opponent but now combining it with new-found Islamic zeal; in many ways, the Seljuk Turks resumed the conquests of the Muslims in the Byzantine-Arab Wars initiated by the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphate in the Levant, North Africa and Asia Minor. Today, the Battle of Manzikert is widely seen as the moment when the Byzantines lost the war against the Turks; however the Byzantine military was of questionable quality before 1071 with regular Turkish incursions overrunning the failing theme system. Even after Manzikert, Byzantine rule over Asia Minor did not end immediately, nor were any heavy concessions levied by the Turks on their opponents — it took another 20 years before the Turks were in control of the entire Anatolian peninsula and not for long either. During the course of the war, the Seljuk Turks and their allies attacked the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt, capturing Jerusalem and catalyzing the call for the First Crusade. Crusader assistance to Byzantium was mixed with treachery and looting, although substantial gains were made in the First Crusade. Within a hundred years of Manzikert, the Byzantines had (with Crusader assistance) successfully driven back the Turks from the coasts of Asia Minor and extended their influence right down to Palestine and even Egypt. Later, the Byzantines were unable to extract any more assistance, and the Fourth Crusade even led to the sack of Constantinople. Before the conflict petered out, the Seljuks managed to take more territory from the weakened Empire of Nicaea until the Sultanate itself was taken over by the Mongols, leading to the rise of the ghazis and the conclusive Byzantine-Ottoman wars.

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Cologne, Germany

The Cologne Mosque project (German: DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln, Turkish: Merkez-Camii) is a project by German Muslims of the Organization DITIB to build a large, representative Zentralmoschee (central mosque) in Cologne, Germany. After some controversy, the project won the approval of Cologne's city council. The project drew a negative response from Ralph Giordano, Cologne's Roman Catholic archbishop, and German, Austrian, and Belgian right-wing groups. This opposition was in turn criticized by DITIB, and the project is supported by many Catholic and German churches, as well as Cologne's mayor, Fritz Schramma. Opponents see mosques as an expression of Islamization and accuse them of inhibiting integration. Supporters have countered that Muslims should be allowed to have mosques, as Christians have churches and Jews have synagogues. The mosque is designed in Ottoman architectural style, with glass walls, two minarets and a dome. The mosque is proposed to have a bazaar as well as other secular areas intended for interfaith interactions. As the mosque will be one of Europe's biggest, it has been criticized for its size, particularly the height of the minarets.

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The hajj to the Kaaba, in Mecca, is an important practice in Islam.

In Sunni Islam, the Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic: أركان الإسلام) is the term given to the five duties incumbent on every Muslim. These duties are Shahadah (profession of faith), Salat (ritual prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). These five practices are essential to Sunni Islam; Shi'a Muslims subscribe to eight ritual practices which substantially overlap with the five Pillars. Twelvers have five fundamental beliefs which relates to Aqidah. The concept of five pillars is taken from the Hadith collections, notably those of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. The Quran reveals the "five pillars" of Islam, the five ritual expressions that define orthodox Muslim religious belief and practice.

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The percentage of people in European countries who said in 2005 that they "believe there is a God".

God is a deity in theist and deist religions and other belief systems, representing either the sole deity in monotheism, or a principal deity in polytheism. God is most often conceived of as the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, jealousy, and eternal and necessary existence. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal, a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologian philosophers, including Maimonides, Augustine of Hippo, and Al-Ghazali, respectively. Many notable medieval philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God, attempting to wrestle with the apparent contradictions implied by many of these attributes.

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The Great Mosque of Gaza (Arabic: جامع غزة الكبير, transliteration: Jama'a al-Kabir) also known as the Great Omari Mosque (Arabic: المسجد العمري الكبير, transliteration: Jama'a al-Omari al-Kabir) is the largest and oldest mosque in the Gaza Strip, located in Gaza's old city. Believed to stand on the site of an ancient Philistine temple, the site was used by the Byzantines to erect a church in the 5th century, but after the Muslim conquest in the late 7th century, it was transformed into a mosque. Described as "beautiful" by an Arab geographer in the 10th century, the Great Mosque's minaret was toppled in an earthquake in 1033. In 1149, the Crusaders built a cathedral dedicated to John the Baptist, but it was mostly destroyed by the Ayyubids in 1187, and then rebuilt as a mosque by the Mamluks in the early 13th century. It was destroyed by the Mongols in 1260, then soon restored only for it to be destroyed by an earthquake at the end of the century. The Great Mosque was finally rebuilt by the Ottomans roughly 300 years later, and was described by travelers as the only "historically important" structure in Gaza. The mosque was severely damaged during World War I, after British bombardment ignited Ottoman munitions stored inside it. Restored in 1925, the Great Mosque is still active today.

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Dec 10 2006 pro-Hezbollah rally in Beirut

Hezbollah (Arabic: حزب الله ḥizbu-'llāh(i), literally "party of God") is a Shi'a Islamic political and paramilitary organisation based in Lebanon. It is a significant force in Lebanese politics, providing social services, which operate schools, hospitals, and agricultural services for thousands of Lebanese Shiites. It is regarded as a legitimate resistance movement throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world. However the group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Canada, and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom has placed its military wing on its list of proscribed terrorist organisations, while Australia considers part of its military structure, the External Security Organisation, a terrorist organization. Hezbollah receives its financial support from Iran, Syria, and the donations of Lebanese and other Shi'a. It has also gained significantly in military strength the last few years. Despite a June 2008 certification by the United Nations that Israel had withdrawn from all Lebanese territory, in August of that year, Lebanon's new Cabinet unanimously approved a draft policy statement which secures Hezbollah's existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to "liberate or recover occupied lands." Since 1992, the organization has been headed by Hassan Nasrallah, its Secretary-General.

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Ascension of Jesus in old Turkish painting.

Jesus in Islam (Arabic: عيسى `Īsā) is a messenger of God who had been sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl (gospel). The Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be God's final revelation, states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid him in his quest, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles, all by the permission of God. According to Islamic texts, Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, but rather he was raised alive up to heaven. Islamic traditions narrate that he will return to earth near the day of judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl (lit. "the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist). Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim, as he preached for people to adopt the straight path in submission to God's will. Islam rejects that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, stating that he was an ordinary man who, like other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing the notion of God's divine oneness (tawhīd). Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Qur'an, such as al-Masīḥ ("the messiah; the anointed one" i.e. by means of blessings), although it does not correspond with the meaning accrued in Christian belief. Jesus is seen in Islam as a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming.

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Map shows colored matrix of republication (blue) & violence (red)

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005. The newspaper announced that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. Danish Muslim organizations, who objected to the depictions, responded by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-Posten's publication. The controversy deepened when further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries. This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with police firing on the crowds (resulting in more than 100 deaths, altogether), including setting fire to the Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Syria, storming European buildings, and desecrating the Danish, Norwegian and German flags in Gaza City. While a number of Muslim leaders called for protesters to remain peaceful, other Muslim leaders across the globe, including Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas, issued death threats. Various groups, primarily in the Western world, responded by endorsing the Danish policies, including "Buy Danish" campaigns and other displays of support for free speech in Denmark. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark's worst international crisis since World War II.

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The siege of Lal Masjid (Urdu: لال مسجد محاصرہ, codenamed Operation Sunrise,) was a confrontation in July 2007 centered around the Lal Masjid ("Red Mosque") and Jamia Hafsa madrasah complex in Islamabad, Pakistan between Islamic militants and the government of Pakistan. Since in January 2006, Lal Masjid and adjacent Jamia Hafsa seminary had been run by Islamic militants led by the brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi. This group supported the imposition of Sharia (Islamic religious law) in Pakistan, and openly called for the overthrow of the Pakistani government under President Pervez Musharraf. Lal Masjid came into constant conflict with authorities in Islamabad over a period of 18 months, engaging in violent demonstrations, hate speech, destruction of property, kidnapping, arson, and armed clashes with authorities. After Lal Masjid militants set fire to the Ministry of Environment building and engaged in an armed clash with Army Rangers who were guarding it, a siege of the complex Lal Masjid began. The complex was besieged from July 3 to July 11, 2007. After negotiations failed, it was stormed by the Pakistan Army and members of the Special Service Group and re-taken. The conflict resulted in 154 deaths, and 50 militants were captured. The assault prompted pro-Taliban rebels along the border with Afghanistan to scrap a 10-month-old peace agreement with the Pakistani government. This event triggered the Third Waziristan War which has killed over 3,000 people and marked another surge in militancy and violence in Pakistan.

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A copy of the Qur'an, one of the primary sources of Islamic law.

Various sources of Islamic law are used by Islamic jurisprudence to elucidate the Sharia, the body of Islamic law. The primary sources, accepted universally by all Muslims, are the Qur'an and Sunnah. The Qur'an is the holy scripture of Islam, believed by Muslims to be the direct and unaltered word of Allah. The Sunnah consists of the religious actions and quotations of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and narrated through his Companions and Shia Imams. However, some schools of jurisprudence use different methods to judge the source's level of authenticity. As Islamic regulations stated in the primary sources do not explicitly deal with every conceivable eventuality, jurisprudence must refer to resources and authentic documents to find the correct course of action. According to Sunni schools of law, secondary sources of Islamic law are consensus among Muslims jurists, analogical deduction, al-Ra'y; independent reasoning, benefit for the Community and Custom. Hanafi school frequently relies on analogical deduction and independent reasoning, and Maliki and Hanbali generally use the Hadith instead. Shafi'i school uses Sunnah more than Hanafi and analogy more than two others. Among Shia, Usuli school of Ja'fari jurisprudence uses four sources, which are Qur'an, Sunnah, consensus and aql. They use ijma under special conditions and rely on aql (intellect) to find general principles based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, and use usul al-fiqh as methodology to interpret the Qur'an and Sunnah in different circumstances, and Akhbari Jafaris rely more on Hadith and reject ijtihad. According to Momen, despite considerable differences in the principles of jurisprudence between Shia and the four Sunni schools of law, there are fewer differences in the practical application of jurisprudence to ritual observances and social transactions.

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A MSPaint impression of the splitting of moon by Muhammad based on Islamic traditions

The splitting of the Moon (Arabic: انشقاق القمر) is a miracle in Muslim tradition attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is derived from Surah Al-Qamar 54:1–2 and mentioned by Muslim traditions such as the Asbab al-Nuzul (context of revelation). Early traditions supporting a literal interpretation are transmitted on the authority of companions of Muhammad such as ibn Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, Abdullah ibn Masud and others. According to the Indian Muslim scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the Moon will split again when the day of judgment approaches. He says that the verses may also have an allegorical meaning, i.e. the matter has become clear as the Moon. The Qur'anic verses 54:1–2 were part of the debate between medieval Muslim theologians and Muslim philosophers over the issue of the inviolability of heavenly bodies. The philosophers held that nature was composed of four fundamental elements: earth, air, fire, and water. These philosophers however held that the composition of heavenly bodies were different. This belief was based on the observation that the motion of heavenly bodies, unlike that of terrestrial bodies, was circular and without any beginnings or ends.

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The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal /ˌtɑːʒ məˈhɑːl/ (Hindi: ताज महल; Persian/Urdu: تاج محل) is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Ottoman, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen.. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer of the Taj Mahal.

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Battle of Manzikert

The Battle of Manzikert, or Malazgirt, was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq forces led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert (modern Malazgirt, Turkey, in Mus (province)). It resulted in one of the most decisive defeats of the Byzantine Empire and the capture of the Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. The Battle of Manzikert played an important role in breaking the Byzantine resistance and preparing the way for Turkish settlement in Anatolia. The battle marked the high point of the initial Turkish incursions and was followed up two years later with a large influx of Turkish settlers and soldiers, many at the request of the crumbling Byzantine Empire. However, the battle was not the slaughter that many historians, including contemporary writers, have stressed it to be — large numbers of mercenaries and Anatolian levies fled and survived the battle, thanks in part to Alp Arslan's refusal to pursue them. All the Byzantine commanders, including Romanos, survived to participate in the numerous civil conflicts that wrecked Anatolia. Nonetheless, the Byzantine Empire would never again be able to muster a force as large, nor as distantly projected, as that which took part in the fateful battle.

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Areas around the Arabian peninsula according to the Periplus Maris Erythraei.

The Incense Route or the Incense Road was a series of major ancient trading routes stretching across Egypt to India through Arabia. The incense trade flourished from South Arabia to the Mediterranean between roughly the 3rd century BCE to the 2nd century CE. The Incense Route served as a channel for trading of goods such as Arabian frankincense and myrrh; Indian spices, ebony, silk and fine textiles; and East African rare woods, feathers, animal skins and gold.

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Tree of life by Haeckel

History of evolutionary thought traces the history of the idea that species change over time, which has roots in antiquity, in the ideas of the Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Muslims. However, until the 18th century, Western biological thinking was dominated by essentialism, the idea that living forms are unchanging. This started to change when, during the Enlightenment, evolutionary cosmology and the mechanical philosophy spread from the physical sciences to natural history. Naturalists began to focus on the variability of species; the emergence of paleontology with the concept of extinction further undermined the static view of nature. In the early 19th century, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed his theory of the transmutation of species, which was the first fully formed scientific theory of evolution. In 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace published a new evolutionary theory, which was explained in detail in Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859). Unlike Lamarck, Darwin proposed common descent and a branching tree of life. The theory was based on the idea of natural selection, and it synthesized a broad range of evidence from animal husbandry, biogeography, geology, morphology, and embryology. Darwin's work led to the rapid acceptance of evolution, but the mechanism he proposed, natural selection, was not widely accepted until the 1940s.


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