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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Islam in Saudi Arabia and the History of Islam in Arabia

Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 1 Comment

Question: Discuss the religion Islam in Saudi Arabia, describe the history of Islam in Arabia.

Religion Islam in Arabia:
Islam is the country’s official religion. An estimated 89 percent of Saudis are Sunni Muslums, and about 5 percent are Shia Muslims (see Shia Islam). The government employs the Sharia (Islamic law) as a guiding principle of rule. Consequently, Islamic tenets not only govern spirituality and religious practice, but also guide practices of law, business, taxation, and government.
The form of Islam supported by the government is socially and theologically conservative. While Saudis and foreigners may behave as they wish behind closed doors, they must observe many strict religious requirements while in public. These include conservative dress for men and women, segregation of the sexes, mandatory daily prayers for Muslim men, and the closing of offices and business during the five daily prayer times. A government agency called the Committee to prevent Vice and Promote Virtue sends out official enforcers called mutawwa’ in to ensure observance of these rules. Punishments for transgressions can be summary and harsh, including public flogging.
Saudi Arabia’s conservative form of Islam is strongly influenced by a puritanical Islamic movement formed in the 18th century. This movement is often referred to by Westerners and other non-Saudis as Wahhabism, after its founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (see Wahhabis). However, the movement’s adherents have never referred to themselves as Wahhabis, and within Saudi Arabia, Wahhabi is often used by non-Saudis or reform-minded Saudis in reproach to refer to conservative Muslims. In modern-day Saudi Arabia, strong adherents of the movement may call themselves muwahhidun (Unitarians, from al-muwahhid, Arabic for “those who proclaim the unity of God”) or ahl al-tawhid ) people of unity.) Less strident followers – a significant portion of the population, including some members of the royal family – may simply say they are part of the harakat al-salafiyya, roughly translated as “the movement following the ways of the Prophet.”
The country’s Shia Muslims are concentrated around the oases of Al Hasa and Al Qatỉf in eastern Saudi Arabia. Strict muwahhidun do not recognize the Shias as true Muslims. Therefore, historically, Saudi authorities have subjected them to discrimination and oppression, arousing resentment and opposition to the regime among the Shias. Other religions are represented among the expatriate population. However, the government does not allow public practice of non-Islamic religions and prohibits missionary activity.

Geographical Conditions of Arabia the Advent of Islam

Question: What were the Geographical Conditions of Arabia at the advent of Islam?

Introduction: Saudi Arabia monarchy in south western Asia, occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is a land of vast deserts and little rainfall. Huge deposits of oil and natural gas lie beneath the country’s surface. Saudi Arabia was a relatively poor nation before the discover and exploitation of oil, but since the 1950s income from oil has made the country wealthy. The religion of Islam developed in the 7th by Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, and it has been ruled by his descendants ever since.
Saudi Arabia is bounded on the north by Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait; on the east by the Persian Gulf and Qatar; on the south east by the United Arab Emirates and Oman; on the border with the United Arab Emirates is not precisely defined. Saudi Arabia has an area of about 2,240,000 sq km (about 864,900 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Riyadh.

Geography: The Arabian Peninsula is essentially a huge, tilted block of rock, highest in the west and sloping gradually down to the east. Most of this slab of rock is covered with the sand of several large deserts. Saudi Arabia’s landscape also contains mountain ranges, flat coastal plains, and the rocky remains of hardened lava flows. The country’s climate is hot and dry, and there are no permanent rivers or lakes. Saudi Arabia can be divided into four natural regions. These are the mountainous western highlands; the rocky central plateau; the more fertile, eastern low-lying coastal plain; and the sandy desert areas of the north, east, and south. A string of mountain ranges stretches along the western edge of Saudi Arabia. The northern segment of these highlands, known as Al Hijaz (Hejaz), has a general elevation of 600 to 9000 m (2,000 to 3,000 ft), with some mountains exceeding 2,000 m (6,500 ft). Rainfall here is infrequent, but streams flowing down the west side of the highlands allow limited agriculture in valleys and on the narrow coastal plain. On the fields of dark-coloured, broken basaltic stone known as harras. South of Al Hijaz the highlands continue into the region known as ‘Asir. Here, the highlands are rugged and reach considerably higher elevations than in Al Hijaz: Much of ‘Asir lies between 1,500 and 2,000 m (5,000 and 7,000 ft). The highest point in Saudi Arabia, Jabal Sawda’ (3,207 m 10,522 ft), is located in this region, near the border with Yemen. ‘Asir receives more rainfall than Al Hijaz, allowing more widespread farming.
Considerably more than half the area of Saudi Arabia is desert. Some desert areas are covered with shifting sand dunes, while others are more stable flat or rippled expanses of sand. Shaped and moved by winds, sand dunes take the form of long ridges or tall hills. Sand, gravel, or bare rock basins lie between the dunes. Few plants grow in these arid deserts, except in scattered oases supported by springs or wells. Three large deserts lie on three sides of the country’s central plateau: An Nafud to the north, the Rub’ al Khali to the south, and the narrow Ad Dahna’ connecting these two on the east. The Rub’ al Khali, one of the largest deserts in the world, has an area of about 650,000 sq km (about 250,000 sq mi), nearly as large as the U.S. state of Texas.
An Nafud is characterized by parallel sand ridges, most 6 to 15 m (20 to 50 ft) high, but some sand hills rise as high as 30 m (100 ft). In some areas, wind has stripped the bedrock surface clean of loose material.

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