Crash Course in Islam — Holy Man
>>STEVE ST. GEORGE: Hello. I'm Steve St. George. And this is your crash course in Islam. The topic today, the Muslim holy man - in the news we hear a lot about imams, men who lead specific mosques or Muslim communities. But unlike other faiths there is no hierarchical structure in Islam. There is no one religious authority who can pass judgments on what is and what is not good Muslim practice. An imam in the most common sense of the word is simply the person who leads prayer at mosque. He might also be a person members of the community turned to with questions of faith. There are also sheikhs in Islam. A sheikh is simply an elder in the community, typically someone who is an Islamic scholar who spent much of his life studying the Quran as well as the Hadith, the oral traditions surrounding the Prophet Mohammed's life. This is of course the most basic explanation. Because Islam is divided along the Sunni Shia line and further divided by cultural practice, there are really no hard and fast rules for who is qualified to be a religious leader and who is not. For Crash Course in Islam, I'm Steve St. George.