Monday, July 22, 2019
Islam - The Life of Muhammad Essay Example for Free
Islam The Life of Muhammad Essay A prophet is someone through whom Allah speaks. The Quran names 25 prophets, but tradition says there have been 124,000 in all. For Muslims, Muhammad in Allahs last prophet, known as the seal of the Prophets. The exact date of Muhammads birth in Mecca is unknown, but it is thought to have been no later than 570 AD. His father was called Abdullah, which means servant of God and his mother Aminah- peaceful. Both were members of the Hashim clan, a sub-division of the Quraysh tribe which had lately abandoned its nomadic life as desert Bedouins and risen to dominate the trading city of Mecca. Muhammad had a sorrowful early childhood. The name Muhammad is said to have been given to him as a result of a dream his grandfather had. He is also said to have had other names, such as Abul-Qasim, Ahmad, and Mustafa. There were many legends about Muhammad. One said that before his birth his mother Aminah heard a voice telling her the child would be a great leader. Another told of a heavy shower of rain, a blessing that ended a long drought. Yet another legend was that two angels removed Muhammads heart, washed it clean, then weighed it against first one man, then ten, then a hundred , then a thousand. Finally they said Let it be. Even if you set the whole community in the scale, he would still outweigh it. These stories show that Allah was preparing Muhammad for his prohetetic mission in future. His father was dead by the time of his birth and his mother died before he was six, meaning he was raised as an orphan. According to Quraysh law he was to be given to a Bedouin foster mother and sent of into the desert, and would be unable to inherit from his fathers estate. So almost from the beginning of his life he was both poor and something of an outcast from Meccan society. This shows that muslims are taught to trust in Allahs goodness, and to accept death as a stage in their life and not the end of it. It is, however, known for certain that when he was eight Muhammad was sent to live with his uncle, a merchant called Abu Talib. From the age of 12 Abu Talib took him with him on his long trading trips, which sometimes lasted for many months. A number of stories surround Muhammad in this period of his life. One tells how he and his uncle stopped at a Christian monastery on their travels, and a monk named Bahira recognised the mark of a prophet on Muhammads shoulder.His future prophetic status was indicated by certain marks on his body and by miraculous signs in nature. Muhammad first worked as a camel driver, but as both his horizons and business acumen expanded, he became known as The Trusted One (al-Amin) for being fair in his dealings and honoring his obligations. The most important hadith about his early life, and the ones with some of the largest degree of unanimity, are about a trip to Syria, where he was recognised by a Christian monk as Shiloh the non-Jewish Prophet whose coming was foretold in the book of Genesis. It seems that Muhammad, from an early age, believed himself to be Shiloh, the first and last non-Jewish Prophet who would bring the final message and warning to mankind in the last days before the end of the world. It may have been for this reason that he became something of a mystic, spending long periods of isolated meditation in the desert. From his early twenties onwards he began to have religious experiences and visions of various sorts, but was on the whole confused by their significance. He is also reported to have become a expert on the Jewish and Christian religions and to have engaged in long religious debates with both monotheists and pagans. At the age of 25 Muhammads social status changed markedly. He had been employed by a wealthy widow, Khadijah, to run her trading interests and, after they had prospered, she asked him to marry her. He accepted, even though she was to prove faithful, understanding and supportive wife and the marriage was happy. They had six children-two sons, Qusim and Abdullah, and four daughters, Zainab, Ruqaiyyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. The two boys died in infancy. The couple had only one surviving child, a daughter called Fatima who in later life became a fanatical Muslim. After her death he had several others, perhaps the best known of whom was the young Aisha. Muhammads uncle Abu Talib fell on hard times, and Muhammad repaid his kindness by taking responsibility for his little son Ali. Another child in the house was Zaid ibn Haritha, a slave boy given to Khadijah as a present. One day Zaids father, who had been searching for him for years, discovered where he was and offered to buy him back. Zaid was asked what he wished to do and chose to stay with Muhammad. Muhammad was so moved that he freed the boy instantly, and raised him as his own son. At that time Mecca was tumultuous melting pot of Christianity, Judaism, and the various pagan religions practiced by the desert tribes and Meccan clans. Khadijahs family had been exposed to monotheism, which was growing in popularity in its various forms and it is known that her uncle was a practicing Christian. In contrast, the pagan clan cults of the Qursysh in the city had become decadent, especially in their shameless worship of material goods and worldly wealth and the consequent huge disparities between rich and poor, which Muhammad, with his varied background, was able to appreciate. These problems, springing from the difficult transition of the Quraysh from nomadic poverty to sedentary merchant wealth, concerned him greatly, and social injustice-especially the treatment of orphans like himself-is the theme of many of the early surahs of the Quran. The cults of the pagan desert Bedouin clans, who visited Mecca only occasionally, were equally divisive, degenerate and cruel. Human sacrifice and female infanticide were widely practiced. Each Arab tribe had its own gods and worshiped idols. The most important of these was the House of God (Kabah), located in Mecca itself. When Muhammad was a young man it contained 360 pagan idols, worshipped by dozens of separate tribes and clans. His clan, the Hashemites, had the honour of guarding it, through tradition which held that the monument had been re-built by their ancestors Ibrahim and Ismail after the original- believed to have been built by Adam at the beginning of time- had fallen into disrepair. The Quyrashs wealth was based on the dozens of pagan cults who used the Kabah as their central shrine. They sold idols, and Meccas position as a trading city was largely based on contacts made with the visiting tribes. New religions were welcomed as good for business. At first Islam was seen as just another money-making cult and Muhammad was encouraged to use the Kaba alongside the others in a spirit of fair and toleration. But in 613 Muhammad began preaching to the public at large, rejecting all other religions, demanding the removal of idols from the Kaba and therefore threatening trade. As Quyrash hostility grew Muhammad showed himself to be skillful politician as well as a learned theologian. Steadily he gathered around him the elders of minor clans and middle ranking merchants through preaching a return to the religion of Ibrahim. Whilst the Quyrash continued to ridicule him, called him a madman and an impostor. Muhammad had begun to receive Allahs final message to mankind in the form of the Quran through miraculous revelations which did not come until he was by the standards of the time- already an old man. The Quran Muhammad received his first revelation during the month of Ramadan in the year 610 AD when he was about 40 years old. He was engaged in one of his regular periods of solitary meditation in a cave known as Hira near the top of Mount Jabal Nur, near Mecca, when he received a visitation from the angel Gabriel(Jibreel). Muhammad had experienced religious visions before, but this was quite different. Angel Gabriel (Jibreel) commanded him to Recite in the name of your Lord, and the Prophet lost control of himself and, Muslims believe, began to speak the actual words of Allah. Eventually he was told to recite what is now the beginning of Chapter 96 of the Koran: Recite in the name of your Lord who created, created man from blood congealed. Recite! Your Lord is the most beneficent, who taught by the pen, taught men that which they did not know. After a short period during which he received no further revelations, they then began again and continued until the end of his life. In the 23 remaining years of his life Muhammad received a total of 114 separate revelations which were compiled as the Quran after his death. Muhammad was illiterate so he would repeat each revelation afterwards. Some were written down on whatever was available, from parchment to palm leaves and animals bones, but the majority, in the tradition of the times, were memorized. A year after Muhammads death they were collected together by his secretary, Zayd, under the supervision of a committee, shown to many of the Prophets companions, and agreed to be accurate. But by about thirty years after his death a number of different versions were circulating and being recited, so a definitive canonical version was issued and sent to the four main Islam cities of Basra, Damascus, Kufh and Medina. Two of these original copies still exist today. One is in Tashkent in Soviet Uzbekistan and other is in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, Turkey. The text is divided into 114 surahs, each containing the words of one revelation. The number of verses, or ayahs, in each surah varies from three to 286 and totals 6,239. Each has a title, and 86 have sub-headings indicating they were received in Mecca, whilst another 28 were received in Medina. The Meccan surahs are shorter, more mystical and warn about the dangers of paganism, marked by vigorous semi-poetic language, and concerned with warnings that men would inevitably be judged by God for their behaviour in this world and severely punished if they did not mend their ways. The Medinan surahs are in general longer, less urgent in tone, and deal in great detail with aspects of Allahs law such as the rules for declaring war, accepting converts, divorce proceedings and the mandatory punishments for various crimes more concerned with the solut ion of practical problems facing him and his followers. The structure of the Quran is unusual and, apparently, illogical. In general the longer Medinan surahs, given last, are at the front of the Book and shorter Meccan surahs, the earliest, at the back. There is no logical explanation for their order but at the same time Western scholars, attempting to reorganise them on this basis, have found that no other order works without splitting the surahs up into scattered verses. Sunni Muslims hold that the order was dictated by Jibree to give the Quran an esoteric inner meaning reflecting the Divine rather than human order of things. Acceptance of every word of the Quran as the literal word of Allah is a binding obligation on all Muslims. The idea that Muhammad was the author of the Quran, or any part of it, is rejected absolutely. At the heart of the Quran is the simple, repetitive warning that mankind must renounce paganism, accept Allah as the one God of all mankind and live according to his laws. The message is directly addressed to the pa gans, Jews and Christians of Mecca, amongst whom Muhammad lived, complete with threats of dire consequences if they failed to mend their polytheistic ways. The first revelation received by Muhammad deals with this very theme. In another early revelation Allah openly threatens Muhammads brother-in-law Abu Lahab, who, as head of his Hashemite clan, had disowned Muhammad and annulled the marriage between his son and Muhammads daughter Fatima. Allah also shows himself to be equally angry with Abu Lahabs wife, who had ridiculed the idea of Muhammads Prophethood. The Hijah Muhammads flight into exile is the most significant episode in the Prophets life apart from the revelations he received which made up the Quran. It marks the point in the Prophecy when Allah demanded not just a reform of the religious life of Mecca, but a total break with it. It also marks the start of jihad (Holy War both spiritual and physical) against the pagan Quyrash and, ultimately, all those oppressing Muslims and opposing by force the spread of Allahs word. The date of this declaration of war was later chosen as the first day of the Muslim calendar, with 622 the first year of the Age of Hijrah. By this time most of Medinas population regarded themselves as his followers. Many, in addition, had signed military treaties with his followers in Mecca promising military aid. They now eagerly awaited Muhammads declaring of war. But instead, after receiving fresh revelations, he decided to first convert the nomadic Bedouins in the surrounding desert. Between 622 and 628 Muhammad set in motion the biggest tribal avalanche Arabia had ever seen. The tribal chieftains rapidly converted to Islam and joined Muhammads army. The process was helped by Islams being an entirely new religion free from the feuding assocations of both the localised pagan cults and the foreign monotheist doctrines of Judaism and Christainity. Muhammad showed himself to be a brilliant military leader in early skirmishes with the Quyrash and this, along with further revelations promising Allahs support and certain victory, is likely to have persuaded yet more shayks to join. In just six years Muhammad assembled an army of 10,000 Arabs a huge force for those times and marched with the people of Medina against Mecca. The force was so overwhelming the city was taken without resistance. Muhammad issued a general amnesty to the Quyrash and urged them, without pressure, to convert to Islam, which they slowly did. The conquest of Mecca also gave him control of the Kabah and he resumed his preaching to pagan pilgrims as they visited the shrine. Conversion was rapid and only nine months after the occupation of Mecca his army had grown to 30,000. More clans and tribes converted to Islam. Muhammad died at Mecca on June 8th 11 AH/632 AD. Respect is shown towards Muhammad by saying peace be upon him (PBUH). He was respected as a man who was close to God, who thought deeply and was kind and wise. Muhammad had known the Kaba all his life, with its many shines. He had also known the greed, exploitation, lack of compassion of the rich merchants. Muhammad spent his life searching for spiritual guidance, drawing ever closer to God. Islam is not just a matter of ritual prayers or fasting or feasts. It is the conscious bringing of every moment of the day, every decision, every detail of the muslims thoughts and actions, into deliberate line with what they accept as being the will of Allah. How is the will of Allah known? The muslim bases all decisions on the revealed words of the Holy Quran, the messages that were delivered, over a period of 23 years, to the inspired prophet Muhammad. Not one word in the Quran is believed by muslims to be the thought or teaching of Muhammad himself- although he is refered above all human beings as one od the most perfect of Allahs messengers. Other messengers were Abraham, Moses, Jesus and, in fact, at least 24,000 prohets. Muhammads ministry was not based on any mircles other than the receiving of the Quran. Muhammad is so important to muslims because be was the last prophet, the seal of all that was revealed to the prophets before him. Muslims family life The Quran speaks about the family more than any other topic and deals with the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives, divorce, orphans, inheritance and so on. The Sunnah also deals with relationships within the family: in one tradition, the Prophet says that a man is the guardian of his family and a women is guardian of her husbands home and children. Two particular Quranic verses underline the Islamic view of the family: . . . he created for you mates that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and he has put love and mercy between your hearts . . . 30:21 We created you from a simple pair of a male and a female. . . that you may know each other (not that you may dispise each other) 49:13 This declares the essential equality between men and women but Islam does not see this as contradicting different roles played by men and women. For example, muslim men carry the heavy burden of family maintenance and are supposed to be the only, or the main, breadwinners supporting not only their wives and children but other married or widowed women in the family. If a mans wife does not wish to live with his family or anyone else, he must respect her wishes. The major responsibility which falls to the woman is creating a harmonious family atmosphere and bringing up the children. Women may kake up paid work outside the home but it is not expect ed of them as part of the equal partnership and many muslims feel women should only do so if there is a real need for the money. Mature muslim men and women are allowed to mix at work, in public places and social gatherings. Divorce Islam allows divorce if circumstances warrant or necessitate it. Islam has permitted divorce reluctantly, neither liking nor recommending it. The Prophet of Islam has said: Among lawful things, divorce is most disliked by Allah Islam has not made it necessary that the grounds of divorce should be publicized. It, however; does not mean that Islam views divorce lightly. In fact, publicity of grounds may not be of any positive consequence. The grounds may not be pronounced but genuine. On the other hand, the grounds may be stated and may in reality be false. Islam does not also want washing dirty linen of private affairs in public or in the court except in exceptional circumstances. It is for this reason that court comes in as a last resort in the Islamic scheme of separation of husband and wife. The Quran states as regards grounds of divorce in very general terms: And if you fear that the two (i.e husband and wife) may not be able to keep the limits ordered by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she redeems herself (from the marriage tie) (2 : 229). The general ground of divorce in the Quran, therefore, is hopeless failure of one or both parties to discharge their marital duties and to consort with each other in kindness, peace and compassion. Long absence of husband without any information, long imprisonment, refusal to provide for wife, impotence etc. are some of the grounds on which wife can ask for divorce. Either party may take steps to divorce in case of chronicle disease, insanity, deceptive misrepresentation during marriage contract, desertion etc. A Muslim male is allowed three chances, that is to say, acts of divorce on three different occasions provided that each divorce is pronounced during the time when the wife is in the period of purity. A husband may divorce his wife once and let the Iddat (the period of waiting after divorce) pass. During the waiting period the two have the option of being reconciled. If however the waiting period passes without reconciliation, they stand fully divorced. If after the first divorce the husband is reconciled with his wife but the hostility and conflict begins all over again, he may divorce her a second time in the same manner as stated above. In this case also he can return to her during the Iddat (or waiting period). If however, after second reconciliation, he divorces the wife the third time, he can not take back the wife during the Iddat. She is totally prohibited for him. The lady, thereafter can marry any person she likes according to her choice. The wife can divorce her husband if this condition is stipulated in the marriage contract. This kind of divorce is called Delegated Divorce (Talaq Taffiz). Marriage can also be dissolved through mutual consent. This is called Khula in the technical language of Islamic law. Marriage can also be dissolved by judicial process through the court on complaint of the wife on the grounds explained before. One of the consequences of the divorce is the commencement of waiting period for the wife. This usually lasts three months. If there is a pregnancy, it lasts as long as pregnancy lasts. The waiting period is basically a term of probation during which reconciliation can be attempted. It is also required to establish whether the wife has conceived. It also allows time for planning the future. Maintenance of wife during the waiting period is on husband. The wife can not be expelled from her place of residence and he can not in any way harass her. These will constitute moral as well as criminal offence. In case of divorce, the young children remain in the custody of their divorced mother. However, the father has to provide the cost of maintenance of young children though they remain under the custody of mother. Islamic law of divorce is based on practical considerations. The process of separation is basically a matter of husband and wife. However; when conflict arises, attempts should be made for reconciliation. It has not made judicial process obligatory in divorce for reasons explained earlier. The intervention of court has nowhere reduced the number of divorce. Judicial process in Islam is the last resort in so far as divorce is concerned. Islamic law on divorce if followed in true spirit will enhance the dignity of man and woman, reduce conflict and ensure justice. The Holy Quran explicitly prohibits the divorcing husbands from taking back their marriage gifts no matter how expensive or valuable these gifts might be In the case of the wife choosing to end the marriage, she has to return the marriage gifts or money to her husband. Returning the marriage gifts in this case is a fair compensation for the husband who is keen to keep his wife while she chooses to leave him. But the majority of ulamma have agreed that to act unfairly against the husband is not allowed and the marriage cannot be annulled by such way. The Holy Quran has instructed Muslim men not to take back any of the gifts they have given to their wives except in the case of the wife choosing to dissolve the marriage. Also, a woman came to the Prophet Muhammad seeking the dissolution of her marriage, she told the Prophet that she did not have any complaints against her husbands character or manners. Her only problem was that she honestly did not like him to the extent of not being ab le to live with him any longer. The Prophet asked her: Would you give him his garden (the marriage gift he had given her) back? she said: Yes. The Prophet then instructed the man to take back his garden and accept the dissolution of the marriage. The children usually stay with their mother unless she is shown to be incapable or unsuitable but she loses the right of custody of her children if she remarries. Marriage The most important ingredients in a Muslim marriage are shared values and beliefs, so that even if a couple come from different cultures and backgrounds they possess the same basic world view, attitudes and habits which will bind them together. Many Muslims seem to marry their cousins, Islam neither encourages nor refuses this practise. The prophets seventh wife, Zaimab bint Jahsh, was his cousin, but he only married her when she was 39 after his foster son Zaid divorced her. Cousin marriages inbreeds genetic disorders, and makes it very hard for a couple to divorce from a failed marriage if other close relatives will be offended. Muslim boys may marry Christians and Jews, but Muslim girls are not permitted to marry non- Muslims because in Islam the children have to take the religion of the father, and so would bec ome non-Muslims. The prohet said : A woman should only be married to a person who is good enough for her or compatible to her. The prophet permitted marriages between people of vastly different social status and financial backgrounds, knowing it was not these factors which made for compatibility, but what they were like in their hearts. Do not marry only for a persons looks, their beauty might become the cause of moral decline. Do not marry for wealth, since this may become the cause of disobedience. Marry rather on the grounds of religious devotion. ( Haddith) Islam sees marriage as the only moral and legal status for a sexual relationship as it provides in public for the security and well being of man and woman. The ceremony itself is extremely simple and takes the form of a basic contract set in a social gathering. It can take place anywhere usually in a home in Muslim countries but in Britain it is most likely to be in a mosque. The imam does not need to be present and there is no fixed formula but it must be clear that both man and woman agree to the marriage and there may be readings from the Quran on the theme of married life. The contract- Aqd nikah- is written, as well as spoken, and bride and groom sign three copies. They keep one each and, in a Muslim country, the third is kept by officials. The Quran requires that the groom give the wife mahr- a sum of money or property or some other gift of value. It remains hers, whatever happens, and they agree between them what it is to be and when it is to be given. Jihad Arabic for exerting ones utmost efforts to a determined objective, such objective normally being the struggle against anything that is not good. Two kinds of jihad traditionally exist for mainstream Muslims: the greater (al-jihad al-akbar) and the lesser ( al-jihad al-asghar). The greater jihad is also known as jihad al-nafs, and is understood as an individuals inner, spiritual struggle against vice, passion, and ignorance. The lesser jihad is defined as meaning holy war against infidel (non-Muslim) lands and subjects. It has both legal and doctrinal significance in that it is prescribed by the Koran and mainstream Muslim hadiths (recorded sayings and actions ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad and accorded a status on a par with revelation). Holy war is the sole form of war that is theoretically permissable in mainstream Islam. Muslim law has traditionally divided up the world into dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) and dar al- harb (abode of war, that is, of non-Muslim rule). As Islam is the last, most superior and universal of mans divinely ordained religions, it is believed that the entire world must ultimately surrender to its r ule and law, if not its faith. Until that time, a jihad against non-Muslim neighbours and neighbouring lands is the duty of all adult, male, and able-bodied Muslims. According to this traditional view, Muslims who die in jihad automatically become martyrs of the faith and are awarded a special place in Paradise. According to the law-books, two kinds of non-Muslim enemies exist, kafir (pagans) and ahl al- kitab (people of the book). The term people of the book originally meant only Jews and Christians, but later on it included other groups such as followers of Zoroastrianism. People of the book need only submit to Muslim political authority to avoid or end jihad and may keep their original faith: their status, defined as dhimmi (a protected non-Muslim), is inferior to that of a Muslim and they must pay the prescribed jizya (poll tax). As for pagans, that is, those whom Muslims do not recognize as a people of the book, such as Buddhists and Hindus, they must either convert to Islam or suffer execution. This drastic alternative, however, was rarely enforced in practice. There can be no going back for a convert to Islam-be that person a dhimmi or pagan-since it is a capital offence to abandon Islam, even for a former religion with a recognized revelation. However, ways of avoiding the strict enforcement of the law were often found. Jihad can also be defensive, that is, for the purpose of protecting Muslim lands from non-Muslim incursions such as, for example, the crusades of the Christians in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages or the Spanish Reconquista. Some modern Muslim scholars have stressed the defensive aspect of jihad above others. In contrast to the Sunnis, some Muslim groups like the Imami and Bohora-Ismaili Shiites are forbidden from participating in offensive jihad. This is because for both sects the only person legitimately capable of conducting an offensive jihad is their Imam, and he is presently in occultation (that is, in hiding and incommunicado until the end of time). The two sects, however, are permitted participation in defensive jihad. I have been asked to evaluate the following statement The Quran would be more useful to everyone if it were translated into modern English. Whether the Quran may be translated from its original Arabic into another language, and, if so, under what circumstances a translation may be used, has also been a matter of dispute. Nevertheless, it has been translated by Muslims and non-Muslims into a variety of languages. Today there are many versions available in English and the other major languages of the world. Although it can now be read in at least 40 languages, all translations lose part of the inspiration and meaning, and are not treated with the same respect as the original. Since the Quran is believed to be from Allah, every word, every letter, is sacred to muslims. It is therefore considered very important to keep the Quran in the language in which it was first spoken i.e. Arabic. Muslims were taught to recite it, and it must still be learnt in Arabic. As Islam spread from Arabia, its language was adopted by a number of Islamic countries, and is still spoken in these countries today. Muslims in these countries should find the Quran quite easy to read, even though the style of modern Arabic has naturally changed since Muhammads time. In other countries, muslims need to learn enough Arabic to take part in their worship and to read the Quran. You can find translations of the Quran for people who do not know Arabic, or copies with both Arabic and another language for those who do not have Arabic as their first language, but muslims do not accept these translations as proper Qurans. The main argument used to defend the Divine authorship of the Quran is the incomparable quality of writing. Much of it is composed in rhyming Arabic and the language is particularly beautiful and graceful. The surahs were given in Arabic and, since it would be a sin to alter the word of Allah, Arabic remains the sacred language of Islam. Non- Arabic speaking muslims can use translations but the Quran is so important to them that many learn Arabic just so they can read it in its original form. Muslims and non-believers alike agree the full power and beauty of its writing can only be appreciated in the original. But for muslims it goes further than that. Translations can only be interpretations which cannot truly say what is said in Arabic. The combination of the words and rhythms in the original language- the way the Quran sounds when recited- is also an important part of its power. Muslims think of the Quran as a complete philosophy, a comprehensive description of the universe and the entirety of the law by which people must live. The longer and later Medina surahs stress Allahs merciful nature more fully, with extensive friendly practical advice on personal and family matters. The Quran is also the focus of Islamic art. Many individuals copies of the Book are major works of art in their own right with sublime Arabic calligraphy on superb hand-made paper, and high quality decorative leather and metal work. Figurative art is forbidden by classical Islam, especially the creation of images of Allah and the Prophets, and the astonishingly fine decorative art found in many mosques is largely based on Arabic calligraphy, woven into patterns repeating passages from the Book. Even the most sceptical non-believer, Muslims insist, is forced to admit that the Quran is a book of immense beauty and importance not least because it has now almost certain become the most widely read and memorised book in the world. The preface to one of the most widely available Quran in English, the Tahrike Tarsile translation, puts it like this: The Qurans miracle lies in its ability to offer at least something to non-believers and everything to believers. Learning large parts of the the Quran by heart is an important part of Muslim religious devotion and children start memorising it at an early age. In many Muslim countries learning the Quran by heart forms the basic curriculum of primary school education. Muslims who memorise its contents in their entirety are given the honourable title of al-hafiz.