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(83 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] The Arabic word imām, “leader, master,” is used in Islam as a general term for someone with religious authority on a wide range of levels, from the prayer leader in a mosque to the supreme leader of all Muslims. In the latter sense it is used primarily by the Shi'ites (Šīʿa/Shiʾites), for whose teaching the recognition of twelve imāms as the legitimate successors of the Prophet Muḥammad is constitutive. Heinz Halm Bibliography W. Madelung, “Imāma,” EI 2 III, 1971, 1163–1169.


(164 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] “Sign of God.” In Shihite Islam this is an honorary title for the person with the highest spiritual authority. Since the 14th century it has been documented as an individual surname. The title was defined terminologically for the first time in the 20th century in the context of a self-consolidating hierarchy of spiritual dignitaries. Since then it represents the highest category of the mujtahids, i.e. Islamic scholars ( ʿulamā), who are qualified by means of studies and exams to make decisions independently and on their own responsibility ( ijtihād) on …


(298 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (Arab. ahl as-sunna wal-ǧamāʿa, “people of the tradition and community”), collective term for adherents of mainstream Islam (II, 1), embracing some 90% of all Muslims. The term arose to differentiate the Sunnis from earlier sectarian groups and movements. Their characteristic feature is recognition of the tradition or practice ( sunna) of the prophet Muḥammad and the generation of his companions ( ṣaḥāba), initially transmitted orally in a multitude of anecdotal reports ( ḥadīṯ) and then set down in writing, as binding models for the everyday conduct…

Aga Khan,

(180 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] Turko-Persian title (“lord prince”). In 1848 the shah of Persia bestowed the title on his son-in-law, the 46th imām of the Shiʿite sect of the Ismaʿilites. The title has been borne ever since by the imām of the sect, who are considered direct descendants and legitimate successors of the prophet Muḥammad. The 48th im…


(197 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] Latin “Assissini” or “Heysessini,” from Arabic “al-ḥašīšīya” (“the hashish-eaters”), is the contemptuous designation for the extremist branch of the Shiite sect of Ishmaelites active in the Syrian coastal mountains during the Crusades. Founded in 1094 by the Ishmaelite missionary Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (died 1124) in Castle …


(411 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] a religious community that emerged from Islam, primarily in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, with a strong diaspora in America. Originating in the early 11th century in Cairo as a millennialist, antinomian movement within the Shi'ite sect of the Ismailites (Islam: II, 1), they were expelled as “extremist.” The core of their doctrine is the belief that the creator God appears to his creatures in human form in “periods of revelation” ( daur al-kašf); in these times, the true religion consists in the mere confession of God's oneness ( tauh.īd). In “periods of concealment” ( daur a…


(397 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (Arab. šīʿa, “party,” or šīʿat ʿAlī, “party of ʿAlī”) is a collective name for several Islamic religious communities that regard ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Muḥammad’s cousin and son-in-law, the fourth caliph, and his descendants as the only true heirs of the Prophet and legitimate heads (imams) of the Umma (Community: XI; cf. Islam: II, 1.a). The šīʿa emerged during the civil wars surrounding the caliphate of ʿAlī and the succession of his son al- Ḥusain, who was killed in 680 ¶ near Kerbelāʾ in Iraq. The Shiʿite groups recognize either a series of imams descended …

Ibn Ḫaldūn

(166 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (ʿAbdarraḥmān ibn Muḥammad; May 7, 1332, Tunis – Mar 19, 1406, Cairo), Arab historian. After a varied career in the courts of Fez, Granada and Bougie, Ibn Ḫaldūn arrived in Egypt, taught law in Cairo at the Azhar mosque and other academies ¶ and repeatedly officiated as a judge. His chief work is al-Muqaddima [Introduction], which precedes his universal history compiled from older sources, a theory of civilization and analysis of the origin and collapse of dominion, presented, primarily, using the example of the Moroccan-Andalusian …


(712 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] A madrasah (Arab. madrasah, Turkish medrese, “place of learning”) is a college for teaching Islamic jurisprudence ( fiqh). Originating in northeastern Iran or Transoxania, where a madrasah in Bukhara is reported to have burned in 937, a madrasah was originally the lyceum of Muslim private scholar, where he assembled his students. Whether the Buddhist monastery or vihara was the prototype of the madrasah is disputed; it is more likely to be an original Islamic invention. An endowment ( waqf) from private funds could enable the institution to survive the deat…


(6,293 words)

Author(s): Koch, Heidemarie | Shaked, Shaul | Richard, Francis | Halm, Heinz
[German Version] I. Geography – II. History – III. Society – IV. History of Religion I. Geography Iran has a total surface of 1,648,195 km2 and is about the size of the combined area of Germany, France, Great Britain and Spain. Roughly half the country is covered by mountains; the Demāvand, an old volcano in the Elburz mountain range to the north of the capital Tehran, is the country's highest elevation with an altitude of 5,670 m. Some 8% of Iran's total surface is covered with forest, 55% with open steppes, and 2…

North Africa

(3,948 words)

Author(s): Loimeier, Roman | Baumeister, Theofried | Halm, Heinz | Bar-Chen, Eli
[German Version] I. Geography North Africa, from the Atlantic in the west (Arab. Maġrib)to the Sinai Peninsula in the east (Arab. Mašriq), includes the following countries (from east to west): Egypt (1,002,000 km2, population roughly 62 million, capital Cairo), Libya (1,775,000 km2, population roughly 6 million, capital Tripoli), Tunisia (163,000 km2, population roughly 10 million, capital Tunis), Algeria(2,381,000 km2, population roughly 31 million, capital Algiers), and Morocco (459,000 km2 not counting occupied territories in the western Sahara, population ro…

Clergy and Laity

(3,439 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter | Schneider, Johann | Winkler, Eberhard | Guder, Darrell | Denis, Philippe | Et al.
[German Version] I. European Christian Churches – II. Churches Worldwide – III. Islam I. European Christian Churches 1. Catholic Church A division of the church into clergy and laity does not coincide with New Testament evidence. The designation “laity” derives from laikós, the adjective form of λαός/ laós, “people.” In the Septuagint (LXX), this term describes the people of Israel in contrast to the (pagan) nations. In all important passages in the NT, it describes the people of God consisting of believers and dis…

Theological Education

(4,903 words)

Author(s): Meireis, Torsten | Hart, Darryl G. | Huhn, Michael. | Roxborogh, John | Kaufmann, Uri | Et al.
[German Version] I. Christianity 1. Europe a. Concept. Christian theological education is a qualification process that involves many different stages; in general its goal is a paid or volunteer position (Voluntary work and associations) in a church that proclaims the gospel and engages in social service (Diakonia) in various fields. Like the churches’ official ministries (Office), institutional training courses vary regionally and denominationally. Determinants include each church’s understanding of the…


(8,426 words)

Author(s): Filoramo, Giovanni | Markschies, Christoph | Logan, Alastair H.B. | Koslowski, Peter | Leicht, Reimund | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Christianity – III. Philosophy – IV. Judaism – V. Islam I. Religious Studies Gnosis (Gk γνῶσις/ gnṓsis, “knowledge”) is a particular form of religious knowledge that brings salvation per se. It is not dependent on a particular object but has its value and its justification in itself. It is total knowledge, since it overcomes the dichotomy between subject and object – in fact every dichotomy –, because it is absolute knowledge of the absolute. From the point of view of the history o…


(8,720 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Mürmel, Heinz | Halm, Heinz | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Avemarie, Friedrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General Suffering is a concept that needs to be approached constructively in comparative religious study as it takes fundamental negative human experiences to a comparative level. On this interpretive level, suffering is understood as one of the fundamental experiences of human life. What people experience as suffering depends on their particular interpretation of the world and hence on their religious system for interpreting the world. The point at which religi…