2nd largest religion • dogmatic • theistic • proselytizing

Lesson Objectives

Define Key Terms

Appreciate the complexity of translating a word like Islam

Appreciate the life and challenges of the Historical Muhammad ﷺ

Appreciate some of the complexity of Islamic identity in a European context

Understand the importance of the Five Pillars of Islam

Understand the vast difference among Sunnis and their differences from Shia

Appreciate the advent and decline of the Islamic Golden Age

Key Terms


Muhammad ﷺ







Sunni Islam

Shia Islam

The Meaning of Islam

Greek & Roman vs. Semitic Languages

• Western languages combine prefixes and suffixes to create meaning

     • astro (star) + logos (study) = astrology: the study of stars

     • bio (life) + logos (study) = biology: the study of life

• Hebrew, Aramaic, & Arabic are Semitic languages — use 3-letter roots

The Semitic Root S-L-M

• S-L-M (س-ل-م) is the root of Islam and Muslim

     Salaam - Arabic for peace (cf. Shalom, Hebrew for peace)

     Salamah - Arabic for refuge/safety

     Salim - Arabic for unbroken/perfect

     Muslim - Arabic for one who submits to “SLM”

• This renders Islam as something like taking refuge in God’s perfection

     • More simply, Islam means submission to God

• Thus, one who submits to God is a 'Muslim'

• As a Semitic langauage, Hebrew uses the SLM root as well

     Shalom – Peace

     Jerusalem – City of Great Peace