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Origins of Islam

The foundation of Islam can be traced back to 6th century Saudi Arabia. Islam is the youngest of the enormous world religions. Islam is the religion of loyalty to God, or Allah, and his prophet Muhammad. The word "Islam" itself means obedience to Allah. Muhammad is the central prophet of the Islamic faith. He was born into a noble Quraish clan, and he was orphaned at an early age. Mohammed lived from around 570C.-632C. He also grew up to be a successful merchant in his home town Mecca. The prophet Muhammad introduced Islam in 610 A.D. after experiencing what he declared to be an angelic visitation, which consisted of the angel's command from God for Muhammad. Muhammad dictated the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, which Muslims believe to be the perfect words of Allah, their God. It is said, that beginning when he was around 40 years old, Muhammad was commanded by Allah to recite the words that would later become Islam's book and Holy Scripture, the Qur'an. Mohammed is also said to have received all of his revelations over a period of around 23 years from the angel Gabriel, who was repeating the word of God to Muhammad. However, to a spiritual Muslim, Islam began long before Muhammad ever walked the earth.

Early Growth and Development:

After Muhammud completed the Qur'an, he traveled back to his hometown to spread the news of his new religion. Soon, Arab conquests outside of Arabia began under the second caliph, Umar. The religion of Islam and the Muslim community began to stretch through the Middle East through invasion and the result in growth of the Muslim state offered the ground in which the newly exposed faith could thrive. The military occupation was encouraged by religion, but it was also motivated by gluttony and politics. But this combination of motives united to form a procedure that created Islamic and Arab ideals, and societies into a fast-growing spiritual and political uniqueness. The early progress of Islam quickly started with military expansion. Abbasid decline became evident in the second half of the ninth century as the conversion to Islam accelerated.

Transition Period:

After the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, the youthful Muslim alliance came under tension. Some of the tribes determined that their loyalty to Islam had been principally to Muhammad himself. His death approved them to conclude their faithfulness to Mecca and to Islam. This began to cause many new problems in the Muslim community because many had become sincere Muslim believers and began to fight amongst themselves over who should take control now that Muhammad had passed away. To make things more difficult, Muhammad had not left clear directions as to who should lead and take power of the society. Fortunately, the community immediately choose Muhammad's close friend and father-in-law, Abu Bakr, as his heir.

Abu Bakr was famous as the first caliph and a innovative monarch of the society. The title of caliph gave Abu the status of a spiritual leader, in addition to his political power. This can be seen as a similar role as the Judaic priest. Abu Bakr took hasty military feat in opposition to the communities that sought to break away. These campaigns, identified as the apostasy or ridda wars, effectively consolidated Arabia into a single nation under Muslim rule within two years. The political position of Islam, and the task Muhammad had given it as a political and religious strength was toughened in the military conquests. Within half a century of the prophet's death, Islam had spread to more than three continents. By the 8th century, Africa, western Asia and even Europe had been influenced and conquered, in several regions, by the Muslim conquests. The original Islamic doctrine was not a faith of war nor did it multiply primarily by means of invasion. The wars and battles that took place around Saudi Arabia were targeted at controlling and correcting the many communities of people that worshiped false idols, in contrast to the real God, or Allah. Islam was spread by declaring war against those clans which did not accept the message of God. At first, Christians and Jews were not required to convert or were treated with disrespect. In addition to the region around Saudi Arabia, the vast lands of the Middle East dominated by the Arab armies in a small period were ultimately converted to Muslim by the appeal of the latest religion, instead of by the sword. It was faith in one God and stressed the importance of his mercy that brought immense numbers of people into the religion of Islam. The new faith did not oblige people to convert to Islam. Many continued to remain Jews and Christians and to this day, significant communities of the supporters of these faiths are found in Muslim lands. The expansion of Islam was not restricted to its astonishing early growth outside of Arabia. During later centuries the Turks accepted Islam calmly as did a great number of the citizens of the Indian subcontinent. Islam has stretched during the past two centuries even under the potent authority of European colonial monarch.

Today:

Islam is a large and powerful worldwide religion up to this day. Although the religion of Islam has spread to throughout the world, Indonesia is the country which has the largest population of Islamic followers. In addition to Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh each have an grand number of 100 million or more devotees. Today Islam persists to grow not just in Africa, but also in Europe and America where Muslims now encompass a well-known minority of people. Today, Muslims and Islamic followers face many new challenges. One of the biggest problems Muslims and Islamic believers are facing is other people having ignorance towards Islam. This ignorance has begun to lead to stereotyping, fear, and distrust towards the Islamic people. Muslim American citizens' allegiance and loyalty to the United States has grown to be questioned. Muslims are given a bad name and therefore an easy target for prejudice and racism. Another danger resulting from ignorance of the religion of Islam is the omnibus anti-terrorism legislation that, which unfairly targets Muslims as widespread purveyors of terrorism. Although affected by various ideologies such as communism, during much of the twentieth century, the Islamic individuality and the supremacy of Islam on political troubles and arguments have dramatically increased during the early twenty-first century. The quickly expanding Western interests in Islamic regions, international conflicts and globalization have changed the pressure of Islam on the world of the twenty-first century.

Muhammad was born in Mecca just around the time of 570 C.E. and was a affiliate of the Quraysh tribe. As with many famous people, almost nothing is known about his years of adolescence. His parents passed away when he was a juvenile. Something that was quite sad for Muhammad the great prophet was that as a child he was never taught how to read or write. When Muhammad was only twelve years old, he visited Syria and had his first introduction to other religions and other faith groups, Muhammad began to grow respect for these other people. At the age of twenty-five, Muhammad wedded a widow who was called Khadija. Khadija was a merchant, like many people of his time were, and soon enough he began to be a merchant himself. While he left home to go onto a trading expedition, when he was around the age of forty, Muhammad stumbled upon the angel Gabriel. The word of God was discovered to him through the angel Gabriel and Muhammad copied down everything he was told, in Arabic and was later known as the Qur'an. The angel Gabriel began to reveal to him, many special revelations. The revelations which the angel Gabriel revealed to him, said that he was to grow to be the herald of God and he would become a great prophet. Some of the revelations told to Muhammad incorporated that the world would end one day, that God would arbitrator humans fortunately if they gave in to His will, and that people should pray to demonstrate their gratitude to Allah. After his great experience and revelation, he began to follow the path of a prophet. Mohammed hurried to return home to his wife and city where he soon began spreading the teachings he learned. After his teachings began to spread, he started to create a system of conduct that he said had been spoken by Allah himself. The main beliefs of Islam were incorporated over time, as not everyone was eager to believe Muhammad's claim to be God's herald. People who believed in Muhammad's knowledge came to be branded as Muslims. The religion that Muhammad had created became to be known as Islam, which means in Arabic, "surrender (to the will of Allah)." Muhammad was said to be one of the last and most perfectly spiritual prophets. However Muhammad was hated by many people at the time. In addition to having to hear and listen to the criticism of his ideas and what he believed, he also went through a great deal of pain, when his wife and uncle passed away in the same year. In 622, Muhammad left on a journey from Mecca, for an oasis that was known as Yathrib at that time. This trip became known as the hejira, or as the flight from persecution in Mecca. Muhammad soon gained a new home which was renamed Medina, Muhammad became a negotiator, arbitrating arguments and fights between different tribes. Muhammad had respect for the Jews, and his early knowledge appeared to be taken from the Jewish tradition. The Jews started to keep themselves from Muhammad; however, once it was clear that the Jews would not recognize him, Muhammad started to eradicate the Jewish power on his viewpoint. Originally, he said the Arabs were offspring of Abraham through his son Ishmael, but in the Koran Abraham's correlation to the Jews is deprived of, with Muhammad saying that Abraham is only the patriarch of Islam. One of the instant consequences of Muhammad's aggravation was the eviction of two Jewish clans from Medina and the execution of all the associates of a third Jewish clan. But what was even worse, was that for the long-term handling of the Jews were a number of provoking statements about them that Muhammad created that appeared in the Koran. Muhammad gradually began to construct his control by the persuasiveness of his confidence. He came to be in charge of the markets, which forced other traders and tribesmen to negotiate with him. During the two centuries after Muhammad's death, the rules that all believers were to abide by were codified in the Shariah. Muhammad passed away in 632, and it was left to his followers to carry on the customs he had begun. His clique developed Islam, just as the supporters of Moses and Jesus created Judaism and Christianity over time.

  1. http://www.islamfortoday.com/beliefs.htm
  2. The Earth and Its People, Houghton Mifflin, Bulliet Crossley, Headrick Hirsch, Johnson Northup, Third Edition, 2005.
  3. In the Shade of the Qur'an, Sayyid Qutb, Islamic Foundation.
  4. The True Religion, by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips.