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BANKS AND BANKING. Modern banking was first established in the Islamic world in the mid-nineteenth century. Financial intermediaries of course were not new to the region, as the sophisticated Moslem trading economies had long used specie as a means of exchange, and money changers and moneylenders carried out their business in most urban centers. Money changers were especially active in the cities of the Hejaz, such as Mecca and Medina, catering for needs of the pilgrims, demonstrating that there ...more


The identity of Bangladesh as a modern nation-state is derived from a cohesive ethnic and regional base in which Islam has long been a key element. Nearly all of the country's 114 million people are speakers of the Bengali language, and, minor sectarian variation aside, some 85 percent are also Sunni Muslims governed by the Hanafi school of Islamic law. Most of the remaining 15 percent are Hindus. Islam in Bengal dates from the arrival of Turkic invaders in 1200 CE. In 1576 the region was inc ...more


The Islamic communities of the Balkan states and southeastern Europe in general (all Sunnis of the Hanafi school) comprise a relatively large number of ethnic groups speaking about ten different languages. They have lived and continue to live under social and political conditions that vary widely from one state to another, according to their numbers on the one hand and according to the ideology professed by the successive regimes of each state on the other. Despite these differences, the Balkan ...more


BAKKA'I AL-KUNTI, AHMAD AL- (c. 1803-1865), Sudanese religious and political leader. Ahmad al-Bakka'i inherited the religious and economic influence of the Kunta confederation in the Timbuktu region of the West African Sudan in the years 1847-1865 and was titular head of the Qadiriyah tariqah in West Africa during that period. He was a grandson of Sidi al-Mukhtar al-Kunti (d. 1811), patriarch of the Kunta Awlad Sidi al-Wafi to whom most strains of the Qadiriyah in West Africa are traced. He work ...more


BAHRAIN. See Gulf States. ...more


BAHA'I. The word baha'i is the adjectival form of the Arabic word baha', which means "glory" or "splendor." From early times this was recognized as one of the extra-Qur'anic attributes of God, as is evident, for example, in a tafsir attributed to the sixth Shi'i Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (d. 765) in which the ba' of the basmalah is glossed as standing for the glory of God (baha' Allah), or in a hadith of the prophet Muhammad: "The red rose is of the glory of God (al-ward min baha' Allah)." At present ...more


BAHA' ALLAH (1817-1892), title by which Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, the prophet-founder of the Baha'i faith is best known. It is from the title Baha' Allah (often seen as Baha'u'llah, "Glory of God") that the religion takes its name (Baha'i means "follower of Baha'," or "of Baha' Allah"). Other titles by which he is frequently referred are Jamal-i Mubarak ("the Blessed Beauty") and Jamal-i Qidam ("the Ancient Beauty"). He was born into a well ...more


BABISM. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, several important revivalist movements appeared throughout the Islamic world. Only one of these-but by no means the least important-emerged within the confines of Twelver Shiism. This was a militant messianic movement centered around the person of a young Iranian merchant, Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-1850), the Bab, which was at its height during the late 1840s. Nowadays, it is possible to consider Babism from two distinct perspective ...more


BAB. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Iranian Shiism underwent radical changes. Among these was a marked improvement in the status and power of the clerical leadership-a development which began in the late eighteenth century and culminated in recent times with the Islamic Revolution, which placed full political authority in the hands of the clergy. Shi'i Islam has always emphasized the superiority of individual, "inspired" leadership over political power or consensus and has, througho ...more

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