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Thread: Good sources on Islam...?

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  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Good sources on Islam...?

    I'm writing a fantasy story set in a very, very fictionalized version of the Middle East, North Africa, and (in some parts) India. There are four characters, two are Islamic, one of the two of them is supposed to be very educated (so he'd have some knowledge about religion, given that this is supposed to sorta be the medieval era. kinda).

    I'm searching for sources on Islam because the characters are Muslim, Jewish and Hindu, they all come from different areas of the world (one from Southern Spain, one from Morocco, one from India, and one from the Arab Peninsula) Their differing points of views would be a cause for some conversation in the story (although it's not the focus). I have a copy of the Quran, but I'm looking for more everyday things - like keeping pets and the proper ways to atone for sins/wrongs, etc...

    All of the geography is vague, though. The map of my world might look like ours, in the most basic of ways, but all of the kingdoms/wars/territorial scuffles are made up. What I really want to get 'right' is the people part of the equation.

    Keep in mind that I'm not trying to write something super philosophical or make a deep statement. I'm hoping the tone for the story will be: adventurous, and 'isn't the world strange and varied?' kind of thing.

    Shortened Version: I want to do good research because I'm writing about a religion I don't follow and I don't want to insult myself or anybody else. If you don't have sources about Islam, but about Judaism and Hinduism in everyday contexts, that's useful, too!

  2. #2
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    You do need to realize that all these major religions are complicated, with a vast spectrum of historical context, and great variation in observance, just as Christianity is. The schism between Sunni and Shi'a branches of Islam is probably greater than that between Roman Catholic and the great pile of Protestant denominations in Christianity. As just one example.

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  3. #3
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    I realize that. I was going to add more, but I felt my post was long winded enough.

    But when did this schism happen? My story takes place in a medieval setting - so how prominent was the rivalry (if there was one at that point), who was in power (religion-wise) and in what places? Would a medieval Muslim actively think about being a Shiite or a Sunni, is what I'm getting at.

    Sorry for the barrage of questions - I'm genuinely curious about the subject.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    Uh. Yes.

    The reason the difference between Sunni and Shiite is so huge, even bigger than between Catholic and Orthodox (let alone Catholic and Protestant) is because the schism happened...

    It was a political schism. The Sunnis wanted a man called Abu Bakr, a trusted adviser to Mohammed, to take over from him. The Shi'ites preferred his son-in-law, Ali. (IOW, the Shi'ites wanted dynastic succession, the Sunnis were more into picking the guy they thought would be best at it).

    So, the schism happened, pretty much, the day the founder of the religion died. The two groups have drifted apart since then. Sunnis are by far the majority, though, so it's more likely your character would be one.

    The two groups don't tend to get on that well.
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  5. #5
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    Well, this is a good enough starting point. I actually didn't think enough about the Sunni and Shiite thing, which is a pretty huge thing to just forget. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by granolaturtle View Post
    I'm searching for sources on Islam because the characters are Muslim, Jewish and Hindu, they all come from different areas of the world (one from Southern Spain, one from Morocco, one from India, and one from the Arab Peninsula) Their differing points of views would be a cause for some conversation in the story (although it's not the focus). I have a copy of the Quran, but I'm looking for more everyday things - like keeping pets and the proper ways to atone for sins/wrongs, etc...
    Looks like you already realize that there are differences. I'm a muslim from Southeast Asia, so I can't help with the characters that you are writing about. Are you a university student? That's the best place I can think of to start looking for specific nationalities. There are usually <insert nationality> student associations. Or maybe find a Morrocan restaurant or something, and start there.

    Pets are a good example. I bet you'll find differences say in... Saudi Arabia vs Iraq, even though they're right next to each other.

    Another difference is... "schools" among Sunnis (don't know about Shia). Kinda like denominations among the Protestants.

    Bed time. Good luck with your book!

  7. #7
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    Read One Thousand and One Nights. Sheherazade has some tales to tell. Not so much about Islamic theology, but it's priceless if your looking for atmosphere.

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