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Islam: Between tradition and modernity

Muslims in the world are currently more than one and a half billion, the majority of whom are not Arabs, and not all Arabs are Muslims, even if Islam sinks its roots in the culture and history of Arabs. The Arabia land was, in fact, the place where Islam started in the seventh century AD.

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At that time, its inhabitants were organized as tribes. Tribes are social structures that mainly rest on horizontal relationships, as far as hierarchies are concerned, with forms of limited authority. The pre-Islamic Arabian religion was a sort of astral-worship. Religious centres were also a place for establishing alliances, to limit tensions and improve cohesion in the community in order to achieve greater prosperity.

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Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca around 570 AD. He brought about a turning point in the history of Arab people by accelerating cohesion dynamics among the Arab tribes. He claimed he was bearer of “revelation” (Koran in Arabic) and led his people to embrace a monotheistic belief, which has some similarities to Judaism and Christianity since the three religions recognise Abraham as the common patriarch in faith.

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Muhammad mainly preached on justice, strict monotheism and eschatology (fate after death).
God, through His envoy, urged men to behave well and not to oppress others (in particular the most vulnerable, such as widows and orphans) and, since Arab people were mainly traders, God demanded that honest business be done. These warnings were connected to the eschatological themes of Resurrection, of the Judgment and reward after death. Muhammad affirmed that God, was One and Only. Muhammad’s attacks against polytheism caused a strong reaction by the guardians of the pantheon of deities, whose function and luck was based on the worship of the various gods venerated by the different tribal groups.
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These tensions sometimes turned into open conflicts where Muhammad played the role of leader, not unlike some biblical characters. The Old Testament and the example of the prophet were essential in reference to the judiciary field, since Islam shares Judaism‘s main religious focus, orthopraxy (which translated means “right action”, that is acting according to rules), and differs from Christianity, whose main focus is orthodoxy (“right belief”, that is acting according to the official doctrine). (P.B.)

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