The Beginnings of Islam

I am not promoting Islam, but I think that it is important to understand the different religions of the world and the effect that they have on the world.

Islam was founded by a man named Muhammad. He was born in Mecca in 570 AD. His father died shortly after his birth, and his mother died as well when Muhammad was six, so he was raised by his uncle. He married at 24 to a widow and became a wealthy merchant. At 40, he had, what is called, his first “revelation”. It happened in a cave outside of Mecca, he explained it to have been like “the ringing of a bell”. He began to sense messages and was told that he was a prophet of a new religion and that he needed to prophesy to the world. These messages make up the first passages of the Qu’ran, which is the holy book of Islam. He wrote the rest of the Qu’ran, as he had further visions. He tried to convert people in the streets of Mecca, but the people did not like it. They were polytheistic, and since Islam was monotheistic, the others did not like this new religion. Many people rejected him, including his family, and some even tried to assassinate him. So, after twelve years, he moved to Madina.

Madina welcomed him quite well, and his religion did well, as many people accepted it. Madina became the first Islamic community, and Muhammad soon became the leader of Madina. Once he became the leader, he led several battles against Mecca and eventually won control of it. He made Islam its religion, and in 632, he led the first pilgrimage from Madina to Mecca, to visit the Ka’ba shrine. At the end of the pilgrimage, he gave what is known as his “farewell” sermon. Though at the time he did not know that it would be his last. He fell ill and died a few months later. That pilgrimage is now supposed to be done by every Muslim.

Some basics of Islam!

Islam’s god is “Allah” which very simply means “god”.

It is a monotheistic religion which means that they only have one god.

Allah has several prophets, the last of which is Muhammad.

Islam has two holy books, the Qu’ran, which consists of the word of Allah, and the exact words that Muhammad prophesied. Then they also have the Hadith, which is a report of the words and deeds of Muhammad and is a good tool to understand the Qu’ran.

Muslims are to live by the five pillars of Islam.
-Shahadah
It is the basic oath of Muslims.
-Salat
The five daily prayers that are required by every Muslim.
-Zakat
That is the name of “the giving of alms”. In Christianity, it is known as offerings or tithes.
-The Fast of Ramadan
It is a month-long fast during the day
Hajj
That is a journey that all Muslims are supposed to take, and it follows the Pilgrimage that Muhammad did from Madina to Mecca.

Another area of their religion is the Jihad, which is a name for “holy war”. It can be either an inner war or an outer war. The inner can be a struggle to follow the five pillars of Islam, and the outer can be either violent or non-violent, it is the attempt to convert everyone to Islam.

There are four men that succeeded Muhammad as leaders of Islam, the position is that of the Caliphs. The first four made the Rashidun Dynasty. Abu Baker was the first, then Umar, then Uthman, and lastly Ali. They were the ones that launched Islam to the large scale that it was in at the time.

Islam is divided into three sects; the Sunni, the Shia, and the Sufi.

The Sunni’ are the largest group, consisting of about 75 % of all Islams. They believe that Abu Baker was the right choice for the first leader after Muhammad. They also believe that any righteous individual could have been a legitimate successor.

The Shia take up around 10-20 %, and they believe that Ali was the first legitimate caliph, and do not acknowledge the three others that came before him.

The Sufi’ is a small group that are like early Roman Catholic Monks, they lead a life of devotion. They believe in self-examination, to become a better Muslim. They often came up with revolutionary ideas about the religion and were persecuted for it.

Islam is now the second-largest religion in the world, behind Christianity, and it is the primary religion of most of the Middle East and some parts of Africa.

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