Time in Islam

  • M. S. Stern
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8899

Islam is now a major global religion. It has its roots, however, in the Arabian Peninsula of the early seventh century. Its core elements were implanted in the early years and all later developments relate, one way or another, to that core.

In pre‐Islamic Arabia some elements seem to have related to time (dahr) as fate, an underlying force directing human and natural destiny. It was conceived as a power existing eternally and responsible for the happiness or agony of humanity. Thus the Qur˒ān refers to those who “say… ‘nothing but time can destroy us’.” [45:24/23]

While time was generally seen as an impersonal force, some people sought to identify God with time or, worse still by Islamic standards, to use this concept to deny God's existence. The Apostolic Tradition (ḥadīth) records Muḥammad's saying that Allah commanded men not to blame dahr “for I [God] am dahr.” Later there were various groups of radical thinkers, often only vaguely defined and known primarily from polemic...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • M. S. Stern

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