The increased interest manifested in relation to all matters affecting the East, and the great attention now given to the study of comparative religion, seem to indicate that the time has come when an attempt should be made to place before the English-speaking people of the world a systematic exposition of the doctrines of the Muslim Faith. The present work is intended to supply this want, by giving, in a tabulated form, a concise account of the doctrines, rites, ceremonies, and customs, together with the technical and theological terms, of the Muhammadan religion.
Although compiled by a clergyman who has had the privilege of being engaged in missionary work at Peshawar for a period of twenty years, this Dictionary of Islam is not intended to be a controversial attack on the religious system of Muhammad, but rather an exposition of its principles and teachings.
Divided, as the Muslim world is, into numerous sects, it has been found impossible to take into consideration all the minor differences which exist amongst them. The Dictionary is, for the most part, an exposition of the opinions of the Sunni sect, with explanations of the chief points on which the Shiah and Wahhabi schools of thought differ from it. Very special attention has been given to the views of the Wahhabis, as it is the Authors conviction that they represent the earliest teachings of the Muslim Faith as they came from Muhammad and his immediate successors. When it is remembered that, according to Mr. Wilfrid Blunts estimate, the Shiah sect only numbers some ten millions out of the one hundred and seventy-five millions of Muhammadans in the world, it will be seen that, in compiling a Dictionary of Muhammadanism, the Shiah tenets must of necessity occupy a secondary place in the study of the religion. Still, upon all important questions of theology and jurisprudence, these differences have been noticed.
The present book does not profess to be a Biographical Dictionary. The great work of Ibn Khallikan, translated into English by Slane, supplies this. But short biographical notices of persons connected with the early history of Islam have been given, inasmuch as many of these persons are connected with religious dogmas and ceremonies; the martyrdom of Husain, for instance, as being the foundation of the Muharram ceremonies; Abu Hanifah, as connected with a school of jurisprudence; and the Khalifah Umar as the real founder of the religious and political power of Islam. In the biographical notice of Muhammad, the Author has expressed his deep obligations to Sir William Muirs great work, the Life of Mahomet.
It is impossible for anyone to write upon the subject of Muhammadanism without being largely indebted, not only to Sir William Muirs books, but also to the works of the late Mr. Lane, the author of Modern Egyptians, new editions of which have been edited by Mr. Stanley Lane Poole. Numerous quotations from these volumes will be found in the present work.
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