James Powell: An Overview of Islam

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yz36aIlr0U

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1 Sahil Badruddin = ""According to the Sunni school -- the majority of Muslims -- the Prophet's religious authority came to an end at his death, and he appointed no successor to his secular authority. According to Sunni teaching, the faithful, the companions of the Prophet, the believers, elected Abu Bakr as his successor and his Khalif; but Abu Bakr assumed only the civil and secular power. No one had the authority to succeed to the religious supremacy, which depended on direct Divine inspiration, because the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran declared definitely that he was the final messenger of God, the Absolute. Thus, say the Sunnis, it was impossible to constitute an authority similar to that of the Papacy; it remained for the Faithful to interpret the Koran, the example and the sayings of the Prophet, not only in order to understand Islam but to ensure its development throughout the centuries.Fortunately the Koran has itself made this task easy, for it contains a number of verses which declare that Allah speaks to man in allegory and parable. Thus the Koran leaves the door open for all kinds of possibilities of interpretation so that no one interpreter can accuse another of being non-Muslim. A felicitous effect of this fundamental principle of Islam that the Koran is constantly open to allegorical interpretation has been that our Holy Book has been able to guide and illuminate the thought of believers, century after century, in accordance with the conditions and limitations of intellectual apperception imposed by external influences in the world. It leads also to a greater charity among Muslims, for since there can be no cut-and-dried interpretation, all schools of thought can unite in the prayer that the Almighty in His infinite mercy may forgive any mistaken interpretation of the Faith whose cause is ignorance or misunderstanding.I am trying to put before my Western readers, not the doctrine of the Ismaili sect to which I belong, not Shia doctrine, nor the teachings of the Sufi school of Islamic mysticism, of men such as Jalaleddin Roumi or Bayazid Bostami, nor even the views of certain modern Sunni interpreters who, not unlike certain Christian sects, look for literal guidance in the Koran as Christians of these sects find it in the Old and New Testaments; but the main and central Sunni stream of thought, whose source is in the ideas of the school founded by al-Ghazali and whose influence and teaching have flowed on from century to century." (p.24) Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III's autobiography: 'The Memoirs of Aga Khan III -- World Enough and Time', Chapter 2: Islam, The Religion of My Ancestors, 1954 "