Rise Of Muhammad And Islam Essay, Research Paper
Rise of Muhammad and Islam When Charles Martel defeated the Muslims in Spain and stopped their advance into greaterEurope, he most likely did not know just how much of an effect his victory had on the history of not only Europe, but of the known world. The fact that Islam may have overtaken the rest of the world had it not been for that crucial battle attests to the strength of this relatively new religion. If the strength of the religion is dependent upon those who start it, then it is important to analyze the life of the one key character in history who began it all: Muhammad. Muhammad was born in 570 AD, and was soon an orphan without parents. He was raised by afamily of modest means and was forced to work to support himself at an early age. He worked with atravelling caravan as a driver and at the age of twenty-five, married his employer, a woman by thename of Khadija, by which he had four daughters and no sons. In Mecca, the Ka’ba had long been a pagan pilgrimage site. A black stone which has fallen to theearth was kept in the cube which also held 360 idols representing different gods and prophets, onefor each degree of the earth. The environment in which Muhammad was raised was a polytheisticsociety which had a strong emphasis on religion but not religious purity. This upset Muhammad greatly, and he began to speak out against the idolatry. By this timeMuhammad had gained a large following. By the age of forty, Muhammad began to receive visitsfrom the angel Gabriel, who recited God’s word to him at irregular intervals. These recitations, knownas the Qur’an, were compiled by Muhammad’s followers around 650 or 651. The basic message Muhammad received was that of submission. Islam means “submission”,and Muhammad’s followers became known as Muslims (”submissives” or “those who submit”). So when Muhammad and his followers began to speak out against the pagan and immoralpractices in Mecca, they threatened the trade brought in by the pilgrims, which enraged the localmerchants. Under serious persecution, Muhammad and his followers fled to the town of Medina, 240miles north of Mecca, in 622. This event has become known as the Hegira and marks the beginningof the Islamic calendar. While in Medina, Muhammad and his men trained not only in religious aspects, but also trained tobe mighty warriors. They attacked caravans going to and from Mecca for supplies and new recruits. They gathered more support as the years went on and became a powerful force ready for battle. In630, that battle came. Muhammad and his men attacked and seized Mecca in 630 and destroyed all of the 360 idolswithin the Ka’ba, with the exception of the sacred stone, which is still a revered Muslim artifact. It was during the Medina years that the basics of the Islamic beliefs came into focus. Firstly, allfollowers were to be fair and just in all that they did, including business actions. They were alsoexpected to be completely loyal to the Muslim community of which they were a part and to Muslimseverywhere. They were to abstain from pork and alcohol at all times. Men were allowed to have up tofour wives (provided they loved and treated each one equally) and as many concubines as they
wished. Women, on the other hand, were not allowed the right to polygamy, and could only showtheir faces to their husbands. Whereas men could divorce on demand, women had to provewrongdoing before an elder on the part of the husband. In addition, Muslims were expected to wash and pray toward Mecca five times daily. Muslimswere to contribute to the poor and needy as they may one day be in need themselves. Also, duringthe month of Ramadan, followers of Islam were to fast during daylight hours. They could eat duringnighttime hours, however, and the month was followed by a feast for all who stayed true to the fast ofthe previous month. Another interesting requirement, which rounds out the Pillars of Faith (as they were to becomecalled), requires all followers to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime. While in Mecca,Muslims reenact many scenes from the life of Muhammad, such as the long walk from the Ka’ba to amountain, where they stand in the blistering sun before Allah for hours on end. They also walkaround the Ka’ba (which has been closed since Muhammad purged the idols) seven times, kissingthe sacred stone at each pass (after about 20 billion kisses the stone has become black). Thepilgrimage is known as the hajj, and all those who make the hajj add “Haji” to the end of their namesto signify they have fulfilled this important Pillar. The conquering of Mecca by force shows an interesting precedent: whereas Christianity sought toconvert individuals, Islam began to “evangelize” by violently taking over area governments and purgingany opposition to Muslim conversion. They invaded Spain in 711 and could have possibly drasticallyaltered the history of the Judeo-Christian ethic in Western Europe under the rule of the CatholicChurch had they not been defeated in Gaul. After Muhammad’s death in 632, several caliphs took over control (because Muhammad had nosons), such as Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s second-in-command from the time of Medina, but after theassassination of Ali, leadership broke down into three groups: the Kharijites, who wanted to limit Islamto only the most strict observers of the Pillars of Faith, the Sunnis, which followed tradition todetermine the new caliph, and the Shiites, easily the most radical, who follow the descendants of Alias the caliph. The Shiites most recently have hijacked airplanes and destroyed buildings, as well aspublicly torture themselves annually to mourn for the lost control of the Islamic religion. Muhammad changed the world with roughly twenty-two years of leadership and service. He isconsidered the last and greatest prophet of God by more than a few, and it has been predicted that bythe year 2000, one-fourth of the world’s (by then) six billion people will call themselves Muslims.
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