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Islam: The Religion and the People by Buntzie Ellis Churchill, Bernard Lewis

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Chapter 15: Radical Islam

In earlier times, the religious definition of Islam was clear and simple, and Muslims did not go through the agonizing struggles of the early Christians to define and agree on formulations of the finer points of doctrine and belief. For Muslims, the task of definition was much easier and was classically formulated by an early authority: “All those are Muslims who testify that God is one and Muhammad is his Prophet, and who pray towards Mecca.”

Later, of course, theologians and jurists sought to refine the creed and interpret the law, and in doing so, to specify other obligations, but all agreed on this basic minimum. Islam, far more than Christianity, allowed a considerable diversity of both belief and practice within ...

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