Islam is an Abrahamic-monotheistic religion based on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah (570–632 AD), after whom Muslims traditionally add “peace be upon him” or in writing, PBUH). As with Christianity and Judaism, it is a continuation of the teachings of Abraham (depicted in both Jewish and Christian scriptures, considered a prophet in Islam, after whose name Muslims say, “Peace be upon him also”, although this There is some respect for these two. Followers of Islam are referred to as Muslims, of whom there are about two billion in the world today, second only to Christians in numbers.
Taking root from humble beginnings in the Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad’s followers managed to conquer the superpowers of the time: the Sasanian Empire and the Byzantine Empire. At its peak (750 CE), the Islamic empire extended to parts of modern-day Pakistan in the east and Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula in the west. Although initially spread by conquest, Islam later flourished through trade to expand beyond its initial borders and around the world. In today’s time, it is the fastest-growing religion in the world.
The Prophet – Muhammad ibn Abdullah – was born in 570 CE. He was a member of the Qureshi clan of Banu Hashim, a highly respected faction despite his dwindling wealth. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, who is said to have loved him more than his sons.
Muhammad became a merchant and was famous for his honesty (as it was a rare trait in Arabia in those days), and this honesty attracted the attention of a wealthy widow named Khadijah, who sent a marriage proposal, which she accepted. took, although she was 15 years old. more than that (he was 25 years old at that time). Khadija’s support for Muhammad was instrumental in the Prophet’s pursuit of his mission.
Muhammad began preaching the oneness of God to his family and close friends and later to the general public.
As he reached his late thirties, he began to worship in solitude in a cave called Hira in Mount Jabal Al-Noor (“Mountain of Light”) near Mecca. One day in 610 AD, the Angel Gabriel is said to have approached him with the first revelation from God – Allah (meaning “God”). Muhammad is said to have initially reacted negatively to the revelation—he was shocked and frightened, and he ran back home trembling with fear—but later, he realized that he was God’s prophet.
Muhammad began preaching the oneness of God to his family and close friends and later to the general public. Arabia was polytheistic at the time and so Muhammad’s teaching of a single god brought them into conflict with Mecca, whose economy favored polytheism (merchants sold idols, idols, and charms of various gods) and social stratification.
The Meccans took serious steps to stop him but he continued to preach this new faith because he felt that he was indebted to God for doing so. In the year 619 AD, he lost both his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Khadija (a date known as the Year of Sorrow for Muslims) and now he feels alone in the world and very sad, his Mecca. The situation is made worse by the harassment experienced by them.
Help came in 621 CE, however, when some citizens of Yathrib (later known as Medina), who had accepted Islam, invited the prophet and his companions to visit their city. In 622 AD, Muhammad fled to Mecca to escape plots on his life (a flight known as the Hegira, which marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar) and went to Yathrib.
The city praised his teachings and wanted the prophet to act as the city’s ruler and manage its affairs. Muhammad encouraged his followers in Mecca to immigrate to Yathrib, and they did so in batches. After most of his companions had left, he emigrated to Abu Bakr (573–634 AD) with a trusted friend of his (and future father-in-law).
With their new base, the Muslims now wanted to strike back against those who persecuted them. Muslims began to conduct regular raids or “razzias” on the Mecca trade caravans. These raids were technically an act of war; The economy of Mecca suffered and now they got angry and decided to eliminate the Muslims forever. Muslims faced attack from Mecca at the Battle of Badr (624 AD) were 313 Muslim soldiers defeated an army of about 1,000 Meccans; Some attribute this victory to divine power while others to the military genius of Muhammad.
After the victory at Badr, the Muslims became more than a group of followers of a new religion, they became a military force to be counted. There were many associations between the Muslims and other Arab tribes, which brought great success to the Muslims. In the year 630 AD, the gates of Mecca, the city from which they had fled in a panic a decade earlier, were opened to the Muslim army. Mecca was now in the hands of Muslims and against all expectations, Muhammad offered pardon to all who surrendered and accepted Islam.
By the time of his death in 632 AD, Muhammad was the most powerful religious and political leader in all of Arabia. Most of the tribes converted to Islam and took an oath of allegiance to it. He died in his own home in Medina and was buried there as well. This place has now been converted into a mausoleum called “Roza-e-Rasool” (Tomb of the Prophet), which is located adjacent to the famous “Masjid al-Nabawi” (Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina and is visited by Muslim followers every year. the tour is done. In his book, A History of Medieval Islam, scholar JJ Saunders comments on the prophet of Islam:
“His piety was honest and uncompromising, and his sincere belief in the reality of his call can only be denied by those who are prepared to claim that a conscious fraudster has endured ten or twelve years of ridicule, abuse, and deprivation. endured, received the trust and affection of honest and wise men, and has since been revered by millions as the principal vehicle of God’s revelation to man.”
The revelations that were given to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel are said to have been memorized by his followers and, within a few years of his death, were written down in the Qur’an (“teaching” or “recitation”), sacred. Book of Islam.
Quran, Sunna,h and Hadith
According to Muslims, the verses of the Qur’an, as directed by the angel to Muhammad, are the words of Allah and the final revelation of divine truth to humanity. After Muhammad’s death, these revelations were compiled as a book by his father-in-law, Abu Bakr (632–634 AD as Caliph – heir to the Prophet’s mission and empire) in order to preserve them for future generations. Can go
In the life of the Prophet, these revelations were personally written on parchment or other materials, and these isolated revelations were later arranged in the order prescribed by the Prophet to form the Quran. Muslims would memorize and recite the verses (hence one of the translations of the Qur’an is called “recitation”). It was later noted that different Muslims were reciting verses in different dialects and therefore a standardization project was initiated to preserve the words of the Prophet’s message.
Extreme care was taken to prevent any tampering with the text. This task was started reluctantly by the immediate successor of Muhammad’s empire – Caliph Abu Bakr (who was afraid to do something the Prophet had not done) and was finalized in the reign of the third caliph – Osman ibn Affan ( 644-656 AD) The Quran can be properly understood for Muslims only when it is read or recited in the original language. Although precise translations are considered acceptable by some denominations, adherents are encouraged to learn the Qur’an in the original.
After the Qur’an, an important source of guidance for Muslims is the life of the Prophet: his ways (sunna) and his sayings (hadith); Both of these serve as complements to the recitation of the Quran. As mentioned earlier, the Qur’an is considered to be the word of God (Allah), but Muslims also find reassurance and guidance in learning how Muhammad may have behaved in certain situations, and for this the Sunnah and Hadith are important. Huh.
Abu Bakr’s Calligraphy
For example, the Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes “setting up prayer and giving alms”, but one may wonder how? The answer is how in the Sunna and Hadith which clarifies that one has to do it only as the Prophet did and act according to the Prophet’s instruction. In fact, in many instances, the Qur’an says: “Obey Allah (God) and obey His Prophet” (which emphasizes the importance of Sunna and Hadith). The hadith is compiled in the same way as the verses of the Qur’an, but once again kept separate from the Qur’an to prevent any tampering with divine revelations. Scholar Tamara Son explains the importance of these elements in her book Islam – A Brief History:
“As the Word of God, (the Qur’an) is co-eternal with God … the overall audience for scripture is the whole of humanity … Muslims believe that the Qur’an repeats, affirms, and Completes these first (Torah, Psalms, and Gospel) texts, calling on all people to remember and respect the truths instilled in them… Together, the Qur’an and the example set by the Prophet Muhammad (called the Sunna) is) contains the guidance that Muslims need for their collective responsibility to establish justice.”
The Quran, then, provides the Word of God to the followers, while the Sunna and Hadith provide guidance on how one view that word and incorporates its precepts into one’s daily life.
Rules of Islam
Acts of worship in Islam, or “pillars” on which the foundation of Islam rests, are ceremonial duties that must be accepted and followed by all who choose Islam as their path. The five pillars of Islam are:
- Shahada (testimony)
- Salat (Prayer five times a day)
- Zakat (alms/taxes paid to help others)
- Som (fasting during Ramadan)
- Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime)
The first pillar – the Shahada – is required for anyone to become a Muslim; It is an acknowledgment of the unity of Allah (God) in all virtues and is usually expressed in the phrase: “There is no one worthy of worship but Allah (God) and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.”
The concept of God in Islam states that He is beyond all imagination (the pronoun “he” is only a convenience for our use, in no way does it determine any of his attributes) and supreme; Whatever He is in the universe, and everything is subject to His will; Therefore, man ought to live in peace. In fact, the word “Islam” literally means “submission” as being subject to the will of God.
The second pillar is the daily prayer – Salah – which is to be performed five times a day. Men are required to offer these prayers in congregation in special Muslim places of worship called mosques (mosques), while women can pray at home. The basic design of mosques varies from place to place and in most cases, many elements of vernacular architecture have been incorporated into them (i.e. the Blue Mosque of Istanbul is based on many architectural features of the famous Hagia Sophia cathedral). The areas of a mosque are divided between male and female worshipers and the imam leading the worship service.
The third pillar – zakat – is to give alms which should be paid by all eligible people (people who have a certain amount of money that is not currently in their use) to fellow disadvantaged Muslims once every year (although there are other forms of charity). Functions are also applicable to non-Muslims, Zakat is reserved for Muslims). Non-Muslims (known as dhimmi – protected people) were long required to participate through a tax known as jizya, although this policy has been in place in many Muslim countries since the early 20th century. has been terminated.
The fourth pillar – Saaw – is fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar). During the fasting period, a believer should abstain from eating, drinking, and all worldly pleasures and should devote time and attention to the Lord. Ramadan encourages believers to draw closer to God and examine their priorities and values in life; Depriving oneself of food and other distractions are supposed to focus solely on the divine.
The fifth pillar – the Hajj – is the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to the Kaaba in Mecca, the Qibla (the direction in which they pray – a sign of unity). Hajj is obligatory only once in a person’s life and only if one can afford it and has the strength to undertake the pilgrimage. If one cannot go, one should at least express a sincere desire to do so and, if possible, contribute to someone else’s pilgrimage.
Spread of Islam
Mecca, as noted, was originally the city that rejected Muhammad and his message, but later, became a stronghold of the faith (as it contains the Kaaba), while Medina, the city that served the Prophet was welcomed, when no one else did became the capital of the empire. Arabia was located at the crossroads of the Persian Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE) and the Byzantine Empire (330–1453 CE). As these two superpowers were at war almost constantly, over time, the peoples of Arabia faced the disintegration of their surrounding region and, once united under Islam, the two kingdoms were completely at war to facilitate rapid expansion. launched a scale attack. Islam. Scholar Robin Doak explains in his book Empire of the Islamic World:
The Byzantines competed for control of the Middle East. The Sasanian, or Persian, empire dominated areas southeast of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul) … These two empires were constantly at war with each other … to pay for these wars, both Empires imposed heavy taxes on citizens under their control. These taxes, along with other restrictions, caused unrest in the Sasanian and Byzantine lands, particularly between Arab tribes living on the fringes of the two empires.
The Arabs were tribal in origin and lacked unity. These tribes needed to unite in the interest of stability and Islam became the means to bind them together. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD, the Muslim ummah (community) was led by Abu Bakr, who assumed the title of caliph (the successor of the prophet).In his brief reign of two years (632–634 CE), he united all of the Arabian Peninsula under the banner of Islam (as most tribes had abandoned the community) and then went on to extend his dominance over other Arab tribes. sent armies.
Lived under Byzantine and Sasanian rule. These campaigns proved to be so swift and successful that by the time of the third caliphate, Osman, the whole of Egypt, Syria, the Levant, and what was once a major part of the Sassanian Persian Empire, was now in Muslim hands, and all of them sought to regain lost territory. The efforts were beaten back with the help of the local people, who accepted mostly Muslim rule.
The fourth and last, “rightly guided caliph” (as referred to by the first four Sunni Muslims), was Ali ibn Abi Talib (r. 656–661 CE). Ali spent most of his tenure in constant civil strife and expansion was stalled. After Ali’s death in 661 AD, he was succeeded by Mu’awiya I (r. 661–680 CE), who founded the Umayyad dynasty. Muawiyah I declared his son, Yazid I (r. 680–683 CE), as his successor, but was opposed by Ali’s son (Muhammad’s grandson) Hussein ibn Ali (l. 626–680 CE). Hussein’s weakened army was defeated by Yazid’s troops at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE, where he was also killed, other rebellions were also crushed one by one, and later the Caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty expanded the military. was continued.
By the end of the Umayyad dynasty (750 CE), Transoxiana, parts of modern-day Pakistan, the entirety of North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula (also known as El Andalus – the Land of the Vandals) had been added to the empire. , During the rule of the Abbasids (750–1258 CE), there were some minor territorial gains, but the earlier rapid conquest through military raids was over. This trend was revived by the Ottoman Sultanate (1299–1922 CE), which later assumed the title of caliphate against the Islamic world.
Anatolia and the heart of the Byzantine Empire – Constantinople – were conquered by the Ottomans in 1453 CE, who closed off the trade routes known as the Silk Road (which they had come to control), allowing goods to European nations. was forced to look for other sources. Were used to the so-called Age of Discovery and were launching, which saw European countries ship around the world, “discovering” the so-called New World. According to some scholars, however, the New World had already been reached by the Chinese Muslim explorer Zheng-he (l. 1371–1435 CE) in 1421 CE (although this claim has been repeatedly challenged). The Age of Discovery (also known as the Age of Exploration) opened up the world for better and for worse, bringing people of different cultures into contact with each other on a larger scale than before.
The military conquest of the Ottomans allowed the expansion of the Islamic empire, but the faith was spread as much by trade as by conquest, as described in the Historical Atlas of Islam by Ruthven and Nanji:
Islam spread through conquest and conversion. Although it was sometimes said that the faith of Islam is spread by the sword, the two are not the same. The Qur’an (the archaic spelling for the Qur’an) clearly states, [in Sura 2:256], “there is no compulsion in religion”. (30)
Although there are many verses in the Quran that advocate against compulsion in conversion, it cannot be denied that Islam was initially spread through military conquest. Most of the local population of the newly conquered lands adhere to their previous beliefs, some converting by free will, but there were also many instances of forced conversions (which is ironically un-Islamic). However, by the time of the Ottomans, it was traded, primarily, that carried the faith across borders, as many missionaries intermingled with local and foreign populations, spreading the faith during travels.
Islamic Controversy: Sunni and Shia
Yet, many years ago, Islam was not a fully unified faith, as far as how it was celebrated. After the death of Prophet Muhammad in AD 632, his followers were confused as to who would be his successor. Soon after the death of Muhammad, it was decided that Abu Bakr should become his successor – his caliph. However, another group insisted that the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Ali should be his successor. Ali’s turn would actually come as the fourth caliph but his followers – Shi’a Alis (Ali’s followers) claimed that Ali was Muhammad’s legitimate successor and, later, would claim that three of his predecessor caliphs were usurers; These followers of Ali are Shia Muslims.
However, most Muslims maintain that Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab (r. 634–644 CE), and Osman as Ali were the legitimate successors of Muhammad and consider them legitimate; These Muslims are known as Sunnis (followers of the Sunnah or the way of Muhammad). Initially, these two were only political groups but then they developed into religious sects.
The core beliefs of these sects are almost identical, with the main exception being the concept of imams. Sunni consider imams to be guides or teachers who guided Muslims on the path of Islam (or the person who leads the congregation during prayer), the most famous imam being Abu Hanifa – the founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic thought. Shias, on the other hand, consider imams to be a connecting link between humans and God (semi-divine) and consider only the descendants of Muhammad through Ali and Fatima (the prophet’s daughter), and the latter only as Ali’s. descendants (from other wives), to be eligible for this title, such as Imam Hussein, Ali’s son, who was killed by the Umayyad army at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.
The loss of Hussein is mourned annually by Shia Muslims on the festival of Ashura, which is denounced by Sunni Muslims, who reject Shia claims about the role of the Imam, and although they respect Hussein and his Seeing death as tragic, they don’t consider it semi-divine as Shia do.
Apart from this controversy, and some other religious differences, the two denominations are almost identical; Nevertheless, their followers have been rivals for almost as long as they have existed as an example of the rivalry between the Sunni Abbasid dynasty and the Shia Fatimids, Sunni Ottomans and Shia Safavids, etc.
Legacy of Islam
Islam has contributed greatly to world culture since its inception, despite the early use of conquest in spreading the faith and continuing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia. The European Renaissance would never have happened if the works of classical Roman and Greek scholars had not been preserved by the Muslims. To cite just one example, Aristotle’s works – fundamental to subsequent developments in so many subjects – would have been lost if they had not been preserved and copied by Muslim scribes. The works of Muslim polymath Avicenna (l.c. 980–1037 CE) and scholar Avros (l. 1126–1198 CE) not only preserved Aristotle’s work, but added to it through his brilliant commentary and, further, to his own works. Through the spread of Aristotelian thought. , Avicenna wrote the first collective book on medicine – al-Qanun fi-al-tib (Canon of Medicine), which was far more accurate than the European texts on the subject at the time.
Al-Khwarizmi (l. c.780–c.850 CE), the prolific astronomer, geographer, and mathematician, developed algebra, and al-Khazini (11th century CE) challenged and encouraged revisions to the Ptolemaic model of the universe. Coffee, arguably the most popular drink in the world today, was invented by Muslim Sufi monks in Yemen in the 15th century BC.
Islamic scholars, poets, writers, and craftsmen have contributed to the development of almost every area of world culture and continue to do so today. It is unfortunate that, in the West, Islam today is often associated with violence and terrorism, because at its heart, Islam is a religion of peace and understanding. Muslims around the world, a third of the world’s population, follow – or at least try to follow – the path of peace revealed by Muhammad 14 centuries ago and his legacy of compassion and dedication continues to grow more and more today. is also continuing. as his followers.
ARTICLE CREDIT- https://www.worldhistory.org