Definitions

Moslem

Moslem

[moz-luhm, mos-]
Moslem: see Muslim.
or Black Muslims

African American religious movement that mingles elements of Islam and black nationalism. It was founded in 1931 by Wallace D. Fard, who established its first mosque in Detroit, Mich. Fard retired into obscurity and his assistant Elijah Muhammad, who founded a second temple in Chicago, took over in 1934. He asserted the moral and cultural superiority of Africans over whites and urged African Americans to renounce Christianity as a tool of the oppressors. His teachings also included the traditional Islamic tenets of monotheism, submission to God, and strong family life. The Nation of Islam grew quickly after World War II, and in the early 1960s it achieved national prominence through the work of Malcolm X. Leadership disputes led Malcolm to form a separate organization and finally to his assassination in 1965. In the 1970s Elijah Muhammad was succeeded by his son, Wallace D. Muhammad (b. 1933), who renamed the organization the American Muslim Mission. In 1985 he dissolved the Mission, urging its members to become orthodox Muslims. A splinter group headed by Louis Farrakhan retains the movement's original name and principles. In the early 21st century there were approximately 10,000 members of the Nation of Islam.

Learn more about Nation of Islam with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Major world religion founded by Muhammad in Arabia in the early 7th century AD. The Arabic word islam means “submission”—specifically, submission to the will of the one God, called Allah in Arabic. Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion, and its adherents, called Muslims, regard the Prophet Muhammad as the last and most perfect of God's messengers, who include Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others. The sacred scripture of Islam is the Qurhamzahān, which contains God's revelations to Muhammad. The sayings and deeds of the Prophet recounted in the sunna are also an important source of belief and practice in Islam. The religious obligations of all Muslims are summed up in the Five Pillars of Islam, which include belief in God and his Prophet and obligations of prayer, charity, pilgrimage, and fasting. The fundamental concept in Islam is the Sharīaynāh, or Law, which embraces the total way of life commanded by God. Observant Muslims pray five times a day and join in community worship on Fridays at the mosque, where worship is led by an imam. Every believer is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city, at least once in a lifetime, barring poverty or physical incapacity. The month of Ramadan is set aside for fasting. Alcohol and pork are always forbidden, as are gambling, usury, fraud, slander, and the making of images. In addition to celebrating the breaking of the fast of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Muhammad's birthday (see mawlid) and his ascension into heaven (see miaynrāj). The aynImacrd al-Adsubdothsubdotā festival inaugurates the season of pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims are enjoined to defend Islam against unbelievers through jihad. Divisions occurred early in Islam, brought about by disputes over the succession to the caliphate (see caliph). About 90percnt of Muslims belong to the Sunnite branch. The Shīaynites broke away in the 7th century and later gave rise to other sects, including the Ismāaynīlīs. Another significant element in Islam is the mysticism known as Sufism. Since the 19th century the concept of the Islamic community has inspired Muslim peoples to cast off Western colonial rule, and in the late 20th century fundamentalist movements (see Islamic fundamentalism) threatened or toppled a number of secular Middle Eastern governments. In the early 21st century, there were more than 1.2 billion Muslims in the world.

Learn more about Islam with a free trial on Britannica.com.

See Muslim
Search another word or see moslemon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature