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Religious History of Islam


Early in the seventh century, of the Common Era (CE), a new religion began on the Arabian peninsula through the revelations of the angle Gabriel to Mohammad the prophet. This religion was, and is, called Islam which means "acceptance", "surrender", "submission", or "commitment" in the Arabic language. The practitioners of Islam are called Muslims meaning those who make or do Islam. Muslims are the followers of "The One True God", called Allah, who is the all-powerful Creator. Mohammed is the last of the prophets of God, Allah,  that include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. Mohammed declared that Islamism was not a new religion, but a restoration to its original purity of the ancient religion, taught and practiced by the prophets.

To become a Muslim the only profession necessary to be one of his disciples consist of these two articles:

1. “There is no God but one”
2. “Mohammed is his prophet”

This is usually combined into one proclamation of “There is no God but God; Mohammed is the Apostle of God.”
The chief points of the religion which, besides some moral duties, Mohammed first insisted upon were the unity of God, a resurrection, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

However, to make his new system the more acceptable to his countrymen, he retained several of their old services such as frequent washing, the pilgrimage to Mecca including going seven times round the Ka aba, throwing stones to drive away the devil, &ac.
Mohammed declared that when they prayed, Muslims must turn towards Mecca. He appointed the fast of the month of Ramadan and that the people should be summoned to prayers 5 times a day by a crier calling out, “Allah ac bar, Allah ac bar,” &ac.; “God is great, God is great, there is but one God, Mohammed is his prophet. This message was to be delivered to all the Arabians, and barbarians, and genii, and men; and abrogated by the Muslim religion all other religions; and gave Mohammed the pre-eminence over all the rest of the prophets.  Mohammed proclaimed, “He that shall desire any other religion but Islamism, it shall not be accepted of him (Allah).”

Islam is the second most populace religion, today, and the fastest growing major religious group. The majority of Muslims live in countries stretching from Morocco to the Philippine Islands. There are small communities in most countries but the majority live in Near East, Arabia, Turkey, and in the Persian-speaking countries. There are large contingents of Muslims on the Indian sub-continent and the majority of the population of the Indonesian archipelago.



Name of God




Arabic: Allah (God)

Islam forbids pictures of
God or Mohammad


Angel Gabriel




Islam Prays

Muslim Prays

The time line for our discussion of Islam and the rapid spread of Islamic religion is as follows:
  Years CE (AD) Hijra
Birth of Mohammad  570  
The first of the revelations from the Angle Gabriel  610  
The first calendar year, “el-Hijrah,” or “The Emigration,” 622 1
The death of Mohammad   632 11
The death of  Abu Bakr, the first caliph died 634 13
Umar (Omar) the second Caliph 634-643 13-23
Muslims Conquer Jerusalem  638 16
Conquest of Iberian Peninsula; Spain, Portugal 711-1492 89-870
Abbasid caliphate; High point, Islamic art, culture, law, trade, etc. 750-1258 128-636
Crusades, Christians capture Jerusalem   1099 477
Saladin recovers Jerusalem for Muslims 1187 565
Ottoman Empire  1281-1924 659-1302
Suleyman (Suleiman); Ottoman Turkish, expanded empire 1494-1566 872-944
Islamic modernism develops  19th Century 13th Century

The Hijra (Hejira) or the Flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, is the date from which the Mohammedan's date their calendar. The second column of dates, above, are calculated to conform to this calendar.


Mohammad was born about the year 570. His birthday is usually celebrated by Muslims in the month of Rabbi' al-awwal that is the third month in the Islamic calendar and the beginning of spring. It is related that four miraculous events happened at the birth of Mohammed:

1. That the palace of Cosroes, king of Persia, was so shaken, that fourteen of its towers fell to the ground
2. That the sacred fires of the Persians, which had been kept incessantly burning for 1000 years, went out all at once
3. That the lake Sawa sank
4. That the river Tigris overflowed its banks
By these prodigies, and by a dream of the high-priest of Persia, seemed to forebode some impending calamity from Arabia.
Mohammed's father died almost six months before Muhammad was born. At the age of six his mother, Amina, also died due to illness and he became fully orphaned. After being shuffled around for a couple years, he then came under the protective care of his uncle Abu Talib at the age of eight. While still in his teens, Mohammad accompanied his uncle on trading journeys to Syria gaining experience in commercial trade, the only career open to Muhammad as an orphan.

It is known that he became a merchant and was involved in trade in a wide area from the Indian ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Due to his upright character that included being faithful, trustworthy, he was sought out as an impartial arbitrator. His reputation attracted a proposal of marriage in 595 from Khadijah, a 40-year-old widow who was 15 years older than he. She was a merchant trader as well. Muhammad consented to the marriage, which by all accounts was a happy one that produced several children.

Muhammad was known to practice praying alone for several weeks every year in a cave on Mount Hira near Mecca. It is related that during one of his visits to Mount Hira, the angel Gabriel appeared to him in the year 610 and commanded Muhammad to recite the following verses:
Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:

Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not. —Quran, sura 96 (Al-Alag), ayat 1-5. After three years the revelations resumed and he was reassured and commanded to begin preaching: "Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased." Muhammad described the revelations as, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell" and Aisha reported, "I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over)."

Through these revelations, Muhammad not only a warns those who reject God's revelation, but also a bearer of good news for those who abandon evil, listen to the divine word and serve God. Muhammad's mission involved preaching monotheism while proclaiming and praising the name of his Lord and that instructs him not to worship idols or associate other deities with Allah.

Around 613, Muhammad began his public preaching. Most Meccans ignored him and mocked him, while a few others became his followers. As more people joined the Muslim faith, Mohammed was harassed by the Meccans hierarchy for fear he would disrupt trade.  In September 622, warned of a plot to assassinate him, Muhammad secretly slipped out of Mecca, moving with his followers to Medina, 200 miles north of Mecca. This is known as the Hijra, that is the migration of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina. The Hijra is celebrated annually as the first day of the Muslim year.

Following the emigration, the Meccans seized the properties of the Muslim emigrants in Mecca. Economically uprooted and with no available profession, the Muslim migrants turned to raiding Meccans caravans, initiating armed conflict with Mecca. Muhammad, then, delivered Quranic verses permitting the Muslims to fight the Meccans. These attacks allowed the migrants to acquire wealth, power and prestige while working towards their ultimate goal of conquering Mecca. This precipitated a set of armed conflicts that initially were won by the Muslims even though they were heavily outnumbered.

Muhammad and his followers saw in the victory a confirmation of their faith as Muhammad ascribed the victory to the assistance of an invisible host of angels. In 630, Muhammad marched on Mecca with an enormous force, said to number more than ten thousand men. With minimal casualties, Muhammad took control of Mecca. He declared an amnesty for past offences, except for ten men and women who were "guilty of murder or other offences or had sparked off the war and disrupted the peace". Some of these were later pardoned. Most Meccans converted to Islam and Muhammad subsequently had destroyed all the statues of Arabian gods in and around the Ka aba. The Muslims, under Mohammed's leadership, conquered all of Eastern Arabia and required the tribes to convert to Islam. He also had their idols and statues destroyed.

Islamic tradition relates that in 620, Muhammad experienced a miraculous journey said to have occurred with the angel Gabriel in part of one night. The author of Mohammed's first biography presents this event as a spiritual experience whereas later historians present it as a physical journey.

In the first part of the journey he is said to have traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem on a winged steed. In the second part he ascended into the 7 levels of heaven escorted by the angle Gabriel. In the lower levels of heaven spoke with earlier prophets, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Ascending still higher, he came into a place of such exceeding brightness that his eyes could not bear it. Here was placed before the throne of the Almighty, on the right side there was written “There is no God but God, Mohammed is the prophet of God.” In token of his favor, God put forth his hand and laid it on him, which was of such exceeding coldness as to pierce to the very marrow of his back. After this, God talked familiarly with him, taught him many mysteries, instructed him in the whole of his law, gave him many things in charge concerning his teaching. Moreover, He bestowed upon him several privileges, as that he should be the most perfect of all creatures. These included the stipulation that at the day of judgment, he should be advanced above all the rest of mankind and that he should be the redeemer of all who believed in him.

In 632, at the end of the tenth year after the migration to Medina, Muhammad carried through his first truly Islamic pilgrimage, thereby teaching his followers the rites of the annual Great Pilgrimage (Hajj). After completing the pilgrimage, Muhammad delivered a famous speech known as The Farewell Sermon at Mount Arafat east of Mecca. In this sermon, Muhammad advised his followers not to follow certain pre-Islamic customs. He declared that all nationalities are equal with no superiority of Arabs to non-Arabs nor Blacks and Whites.
A few months after the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and suffered for several days with a fever, head pain, and weakness He died on Monday, June 8, 632 (Hijra 11), in Medina, at the age of 63, in the house of his wife Aisha. With his head resting on Aisha's lap, he asked her to dispose of his last worldly goods (seven coins), then murmured his final words:

Rather, God on High and paradise.]
He was buried where he died, in Aisha's house. The miracles recorded of Mohammed are many. Some have computed them at four thousand four hundred and fifty, while others have held that the more remarkable ones were not fewer than a thousand. Some of these that are accredited: as his dividing the moon into two parts; the singing of the gravel in his hand; the flowing of the water from between his fingers; the animals addressing him and complaining before him; his satisfying a great multitude with a small quantity of food, and many others.
Muhammad united the tribes of Arabia into a single Arab Muslim religious polity in the last years of his life. With Muhammad's death, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Abu Bakr, one of his original converts, was nominated, Muhammad's friend and collaborator. Others added their support and Abu Bakr was made the first caliph. This choice was disputed by some of Muhammad's companions, who held that Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, had been designated the successor by Muhammad.














Depiction of Mohammad







Depicts Mohammad with the Angel Gabriel







Temple at Mecca






Muslim Minister







Doom of the Rock

Animals Love Qur'ran







Thought to be
original Quran






Muslim Prayers







Koran or Quran:

The Quran is composed of 114 chapters  of unequal length which are classified either as Meccan or Median  depending upon the place and time of their revelation. Muslims believe the Quran to be verbally revealed through the angel  Gabriel from God to Mohammed gradually over a period of approximately 23 years beginning in 609CE when Muhammad was 40 and concluding in 632 CE, the year he died. These revelations were recorded by Mohammed's followers during his life time.
Shortly after Muhammad's death the Quran was compiled into a single book by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph. Hafsa, Muhammad's widow and Caliph Umar's daughter, was entrusted with that Quranic text after the second Caliph Umar died. When the third Caliph, Uthman, noticed slight differences in pronunciation of the Quranic Arabic he sought Haifa's permission to use her text and commissioned a committee to produce a standard copy of the text of Quran. This version added diacritical marks ensuring correct pronunciation and to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect, now proclaimed the words of God.

Many parts of the Koran Mohammed declared were brought to him by the angel Gabriel, on special occasions. Several instances of this come from his biography with some mentioned above. The Koran is cried up by the Muslims as inimitable and in the seventeenth chapter of the Koran, Mohammed is commanded to say, “Verily if men and genii were purposely assembled, that they might produce anything like the Koran, they could not produce anything like unto it, though they assisted one another.”
On one occasion when a quarrel arose between the helpers and the refugees, to quiet them, the 8th chapter of the Koran was brought from heaven. It begins, “They will ask thee concerning the spoils: say, The spoils belong to God and his apostle.” Also, in the same chapter, “And know that whenever ye gain any, a fifth part belongeth to God, and to the apostle, and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor.”

The Koran is held by Muslims in the greatest veneration. The book must not be touched by anybody but a Muslim, not  even by a believer, except he be free from pollution. A commentator divides the contents of the Koran into three general heads:
1. Precepts or directions, relating either to religion, as prayers, fasting, pilgrimages; or to civil polity, as marriages, inheritances, judicatures.
2. Histories—whereof some are taken from the scriptures, but falsified with fabulous additions; others are wholly false, having no foundation in fact.
3. Admonitions: under which head are comprised exhortations to receive Islamism; to fight for it, to practice its precepts, prayer, alms, &ac.; the moral duties, such as justice, temperance, &ac., promises of everlasting happiness to the obedient, dissuasive from sin, threatening of the punishments of hell to the unbelieving and disobedient.

Many of the threatening are leveled against particular persons, and those sometimes of Mohammed’s own family, who had opposed him in propagating his religion.
There are two chapters in the Koran, which whoever reads shall have everything necessary in this world, and enter into paradise in the life to come: “As for you Mohammed, I have written your name in heaven along with my own: mention is never made of me either in heaven or earth, but you are mentioned also: no crier shall call to prayers without saying, ‘God is but one, and Mohammed is the apostle of God; nor will I accept any prayers if that profession is not made."

The Koran, the Law, the Gospel, and the Psalter, are all books sent down by him to his apostles, and the Koran, indeed, is read with tongues, written in books, and kept in hearts.

Spread of Islam
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