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The Spiritual Background Of Early Islam And The History Of Its Principal Concepts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter treats various concepts typical of early Arab life and connected with early Islamic doctrine. The author presents certain basic notions that illustrate the ideological and psychological background of primitive Islam. According to the accepted view, there exists a sharp contrast between the spiritual and ethical foundations of pre-Islamic Arab life and the religion founded by Muḥammad. It was Goldziher who, in his study &t;Muruwwa und Din&t;, placed this view, which had been current before, on a scientific basis. Goldziher tries to substantiate his viewpoint by certain utterances of Muḥammad's contemporaries, allegedly testifying to the wide gulf between the spiritual and ethical conceptions of pre-Islamic paganism and those of Islam. The chapter illustrates some essential features of the primitive human soul, and analyzes the powerful, spontaneous urge to roam to unknown distances, an attempt involving fighting and danger.

Keywords: early Arab life; early Islamic period; Goldziher; Muḥammad



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