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Posted on April 20th, 2012, by

In this paper we are going to investigate the start and development of Confucianism in China along with start and development of Islam religion in Arab countries. We will stop at historical development of the religions up to the moment, when they had sufficiently strong influence upon the social life in the countries. We are going to prove, that both religions were very closely related to the social order of the country, where they were developed, however the degree of involvement of the Islam religion into social life was much higher.

The name Confucianism developed from Kung Fu Tzu, who was a well-known Chinese philosopher, and whose ideas were popular for many centuries in China. During his lifetime, however these ideas were not appreciated and he himself was not employed by any of the lords. This is one of the reasons, why people don’t have direct access to his works and writings, mostly these are recollections of his students and other people. Besides in two centuries after the death of Confucius, during reign time of Qin dynasty books of scholars were burnt, but however some of his ideas remained. The next dynasty  – Han  – accepted the doctrines of Confucianism and even made it the official religion of the state.

Confucius himself stated, that his ideas are not new, but taken from ancient times – in reality this was not quite correct. Really well known is his idea for example about replacing nobility of blood with one of virtue. Confucius was against the division of the society into classes, thus he allowed any students to be his disciplines in order to prove it.

Confucius also introduced the idea of meritocracy  – on the basis of which soon there appeared Imperial examination, allowing the persons, who passed it, to take a good positions, thus having honor and money for their families.

Confucius is also known for establishing a school for states people Rujia  – The School of the Literari. With the Han dynasty China started to rapidly develop, as a result there was a strong need for government people, who would be able to read and write administrative documents.

There are four books, which are considered to reflect the ideas and rules of Confucianism, namely: The Confucian Analects these twenty books are written by the pupils of Confucius and present the Bible of Confucianism; Lun Yu, and Meng Tzu a book written by a passionate supporter of Confucianism, it deals with issues of psychology, government and economics; Ta-Hsueh  – or the Great Learning  – a book about politics and ethics; Chung Yung a book written by grandson of Confucius mostly about philosophical issues.

There are several main themes in Confucianism, one of them being relationships, and thus also duties that people have to keep towards each other. There is a kind of subdivision of people, for junior and senior for example meaning parents and children. While juniors are considered in Confucianism to owe strong duties of reverence and service to their seniors, seniors also have duties of benevolence and concern toward juniors. This theme consistently manifests itself in many aspects of East Asian culture even to this day, with extensive filial duties on the part of children toward parents and elders, and great concern of parents toward their children (Yang, 19).

The five types of important relations were named: ruler and subject, father and son, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, friendship.

Ritual was earlier supposed to mean a sacrifice during some religious ceremony. However in Confucianism the same word soon started to mean also ceremonial behavior or even polite attitude from everyday life. So rituals practically turned into a system of behavior norms. Confucius did his best to bring back the rules of etiquette of old dynasties, but in reality, even when he was already dead, he was considered to present a separate example of ritual behavior.

The two above discussed issues rituals and relationships were considered in the context of humaneness (ren). The main idea is expressed by the Golden Rule do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you. Ren can be also viewed in relation to politics, in this case this means that a ruler should have ren, otherwise it is not possible for the subjects of him to behave humanely. In this case also the ruler can lose his right to rule Mandate of Heaven, thus there will be no necessity for the people to obey him, in case the ruler treats people humanely, it is strictly prohibited to disobey. Classical Confucianism uses also the term Junzi son of the ruler or prince, perfect or proper person; the ideal for all people. A succinct description of the “perfect man” is one who “combine[s] the qualities of saint, scholar, and gentleman” (Yang, 22).

Thus the whole learning of Confucianism – this is a system of social and ethical philosophical issues and ideas not however quite the same as religion.Confucianism was not simply a religious trend, it influenced the Chinese attitude to life, the standards of social values and was the basis for political theories developed. Chinese civilization was under a very strong influence of Confucius.

Islam nowadays is considered to be one of the most popular and accepted religions in the whole world. There is no wonder, because this religion has a rather long and interesting history. Islam believers are often referred to as Muslims also.

The founder of Islam is said to be Muhammad, he was the initiator of preaching, worked on converting people to this religion and created an Islamic army. The basis of the Muslims’ belief was the existence of one all-powerful God  – Allah and they considered Muhammad his last prophet. All the rules as dictated by Allah, were written in the holy book the Qur’an. About the life of Muhammad people got to know from some historical records, which however can not be considered for hundred percent true, because some of the descriptions of Muhammad might have been changed by his followers. According to general data, Muhammad was born in Mecca around  570 AD. His family was neither rich nor poor. Muhammad lost his parents at the age of six and moved to live to his relatives. When he was grown up he married a widow, who was much older than he was (Khan, 99).

At the age of 40 Muhammad went to pray in a cave in Mount Hira, there he is said to have met the Angel Gabriel, who dictated him the sacred texts. Based on them he created the holy book of Qur’an and continued to have these visions till the end of his life. The main aim of Muhammad became the transmitting of the God’s messages to people.

This served as a basis for creation of a new religion; Muhammad’s family members were the first people converted to it. This religion got the name of Islam, which means something like ‘submission to the will of God (Khan, 111).

Several years after his first vision Muhammad started preaching. However this was of no interest to ruling classes of the city, mostly due to the core idea of monotheism belief in one god. Authorities offered bribes to Muhammad to make him stop preaching, as he refused they started to threat. In 622 AD Muhammad had to flee from Mecca in order to avoid arrest. He and his disciples had to hide in caves. But soon, the ruling classes of Yathrib, a city not far from Mecca, expressed interest in Muhammad’s work. Muhammad arrived to Yathrib and soon had the possibility to built his first mosque a place for worshiping. During the next decade a lot of people were concerted into Islam and Muhammad became their spiritual leader. This was however not the end of the battle for these religious views, Islam had to overcome further obstacles, however finally it became the key religion for Arab people and for some followers all over the world.

There are five core aspects of Islam. They are usually referred to as five pillars and present main concepts of the Islamic religion.  There are additional practices but they are not as much important as five pillars. These pillars are Shahadah, Salat,  Zakat, Sawn, and Shahadah are the most important pillars, which make the foundation of all religious practices of this religion.  Shahadah is recognition of the only God and his prophet Muhammad. “I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” (Khan, 132) Salat is a rule of praying. Salat requires praying five times a day during the fixed period of time.  This kind of practice is used to remind people about the existence of God and the necessity to worship him. Salat is compulsory for all Islamic people but there can be exceptions. Zakat is the third basic pillar of Islam. Zakat is a practice of giving money for charity in order to support all those, who need help. There are special prescriptions, which tell what portion of money should be given to poor. Sawn is another core concept of Islam. Sawn is the fast during the month of Ramadan. During this period all Muslims should abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations during the daytime. This time should be dedicated to God only and all things, which can distract people’s attention, are prohibited. Only those, who cannot follow the restrictions of Ramadan due to the poor state of health, can be liberated from it.  Hajj is the last pillar of Islamic religion. Hajj is translated like a pilgrimage and means visited sacred for Muslims places, such as Kaaba, Masjid al Haram or Mecca.  All five pillars are important and have special meaning. All of them taken together make the core of Islam and all of them are designed in order to make people closer to God and make them remember about their religious duties.

As we already mentioned Islam religion cannot be separated from social life of Arab people, it is very closely related to it and has particular influence upon the social order. There can be several bright examples of this. The rules of family life are taken from the sacred writings in Qur’an and marriage is seen as an institution founded by God Allah: Omankind, be mindful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a singlesoul and from it created its mate and from the two created many men and women.”(Qur’an 4:1). Thus marriage is considered to play the central role in the Arab society. The Qur’an also identifies the role of a woman: “Paradise lies at the feet of your mothers.” (Khan, 232).

This is evident, that the key ethical rules for conduct and social order are borrowed directly from religious texts in Muslim world. We already mentioned, that Confucianism had a very strong impact upon formation of culture and social order in China, but Islam traditions and social rules still seem to be even more closely related to the teachings of Muhammad.

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