What is Islam? Who is Muhammad? When and How it came into existence! A brief storyWe are going to discuss a few topics like, What is ISLAM? Who is Muhammad? When and How Islam came into existence? What do Muslims believe is the Quran? The inspired Word of God Christianity and Islam compatible. Can they agree? Can they coincide and coexist these are some of the questions that we will explore in this post but let's begin by talking for just a moment about the worldwide impact of Islam. Here we are going to discuss a short story of Islam.
|What is Islam? Who is Muhammad? When and How it came into existence!|
In this post, we will discuss a short story of Islam. A few topics like What is this ISLAM? Who is Muhammad? When and How Islam came into existence! You realize that Islam is expanding and impacting the world and it might surprise you to learn that the largest Muslim populations on the planet are not in the Middle East, in fact, the most populated Muslim country is Indonesia. That's Southeast Asia and that's followed by Pakistan which at one time was part of India.
If we were to look at a chart showing the religious complexion of the world we would find that Christianity continues to be the number one religion of the world with over two billion adherents keeping in mind that term Christian applies to a wide range of those who profess belief in Christ in the Christian religion. About half of those being Catholic notice that we have about a billion Hindus on the planet and that's followed by about a billion atheists unbeliever secular its humanists those who claim to be irreligious they have no religion what so ever a little over another billion consisting of Buddhism and other oriental type religions that makes Islam the number two religion on the planet with about 1.3 billion adherents. If you were to take a look at the ethnicity of Muslims in the United States, you would find that only about 25% are Arab with the majority being of South-Central Asian origin.
Well, some have suggested that this is one of the fastest if not the fastest-growing religions in the United States indeed Islam is making extensive encroachments into American culture. Are you aware of the fact that the US post office over a decade ago designed and implemented a postage stamp that is designed to commemorate two different aspects of an Islamic celebration?
Are you aware of the fact that mosques for several decades now have been springing up all over the United States from the East Coast all the way to the West Coast. These mosques include of course the one that is planned and in the process in New York City at Ground Zero so well over a thousand mosques have been built in the United States. Just within the last shall we say thirty to forty years interesting concept. Why suddenly now and I believe the answer to that is because for the first hundred and fifty-two hundred and seventy years of America’s existence.
American values were in fact based upon the Bible and the Christian world view but post-world War two years have been turbulent morally, spiritually, culturally, socially and consequently, there's been an upheaval as many Americans are jettisoning their values. What we're called traditional American values that were rooted in and based upon a Christian worldview and notice as you shove away from your society from your population.
Bible values then certainly there is a void created and there will be those who will rush in order to fill that void and consequently Islam and other world religions that are non-Christian and orientation have infiltrated American civilization. Think! in the news how often you are hearing of these encroachments. For example, New York Public Schools made room for Ramadan celebration among many of their students. Ramadan is being taught in public schools all over our country recognized and actually incorporated into the curriculum.
There have been major universities across the country that have installed prayer rooms for Muslim students they wouldn't do anything like that for Christian students. The Kansas City Airports some time ago installed afoot baths for Muslim cabbies and there's even been a Muslim public school that has been funded by taxpayer money so this infiltration this alteration of the complexion of American civilization is taking place before our very eyes on September 25th, 2009 several thousand Muslims gathered on the lawn of our Capitol in order to engage in Islamic prayers so massive expansion of Islam into American civilization.
What is this religion that has become essentially the second largest religion in the world? Well to answer that question you will have to go back to the 6th century AD when in the city of Mecca which is in Saudi Arabia. If you were to look at a map of the Arabian Peninsula, you would see along the coast of the Red Sea the town of Mecca Muhammad's birth City there Muhammad was born in 570 AD. You know that his father died actually before he was born and his mother died when he was but six years old. He was turned over to the care of first his grandfather who later died and then passed from an uncle - uncle he grew up in Saudi Arabia like a typical Bedouin child Bedouin boy attending goats and sheep he learned the weapons of war he traveled with kinsmen on trading expeditions which would have exposed him to a broader segment of society even beyond the borders of the Arabian society.
When Mohammed PBUH was 25 years old he met a woman who invited him to take responsibility for one of her Caravan. She was a wealthy widow woman which he agreed to do and He so conducted himself in such a fine trustworthy fashion that ultimately she offered herself in marriage to Mohammed. Her name was Cod Josh. He was 15 years his senior 40 years old at the time he was 25 and consequently this kind of opened up a new life for Mohammed PBUH. He had more leisure time he was able to engage in activities that enabled him to be more contemplative and to enjoy there spite of vacation time looking at a NASA satellite view of Mecca. You can see that this is a very rugged desert area of the earth and we are informed by historians that in the year 610 AD age of 40 years old.
Muhammad PBUH was out away from Mecca up in a mountain range kind of getting away from public life and he was actually at Mount Hira and while he was there he noticed a sort of an opening in the rock a cave that he decided to go into in order to escape the intense heat of the desert and he claims that while he was in that cave the angel Gabriel appeared to him and delivered to him a revelation from God. The first of 114 revelations over the next 23 years which then were assembled together after his death to formal Quran which in Arabic means the reading or their citation that which is recited orally and that is, in fact, the origin of the Quran.
According to Islamic history if you were to take the Koran and begin reading it and work your way through these separate and distinct revelations called in the Quran Saurus. One of the first things you would notice especially in the early ones that the subject matter seems to be primarily focused upon denouncing. Arab idolatry and condemning Arab polytheism you see you have to know something of Arab tribal life at this point in history. Most of the Arab tribal groups a very tribal oriented very blood kin oriented, they were very polytheist he believed in many gods consequently. The Quran stressed the concept of monotheism and condemned the belief in many gods.
Well as soon as Mohammed PBUH began to express those views to his fellow Meccans. I assure you hostilities commenced you see his hometown tribal group of which he was a member known as the Quraish were known Peninsula wide as the keepers of the Kaaba. What is the Kaaba if you were to go to Mecca today you would see this amazing cube-like structure that Muslims claim though it existed at the very beginning of time built by Adam was later destroyed in the flood and then they believe that God commissioned Abraham and his son Ishmael to rebuild the Kaaba together and then God ordered pilgrimage to be made to Mecca and to that location a minimum of annually by those who believed in Islam.
Muslims believe that since Abraham's day over the centuries the kebab became corrupted in its use and began to be used for idolatrous purposes. In fact, there were idols that were literally placed there and consequently, Muhammad PBUH saw himself as having the responsibility to condemn this idolatry and to try to put a stop to poly the ISM.
Well, his insistence upon monotheism placed him in direct conflict with the very foundation of the local economy which depended heavily upon polytheism because the Quraish were the ones who were responsible for drawing Arabs from all over the peninsula to Mecca in order to engage in these idolatrous observances so hostilities began to be directed against Muhammad PBUH and they began to intensify as he began to have some success. For example, he began to make converts initially primarily among young people and slaves and yet with that kind of growing influence. He was perceived as a greater threat than he had been initially and this opposition to Mohammed PBUH continued to intensify and grow until he was eventually forced to flee for his life from his hometown of Mecca.
Consequently, He fled to the north where a group of individuals had embraced his thinking a little band of Muslims they had already embraced Islam and so they invited him to come and to live with him and so he took about a 12-day camel ride to the north to the city of Medina again. Looking at a NASA satellite photo you can see also a very desert II rugged part of the world but notice from the air how you can see this very visible, very obvious object that appears in the very center of Medina.
In fact, at night time it stands out well this is, in fact, the mosque of the Prophet it is called it is the mosque that Muhammad began to have built during his lifetime. In fact, there is a portion there that has a green dome where he has actually buried this amazing mosque, of course, has been built in added to and developed over the centuries and it continues to be a very prominent site for Muslims to attend to because this is, in fact, the location where Mohammed fled from Mecca and became his adopted City.
Let me give you just a little bit of information that'll kind of scope for you very briefly the life of Mohammed in AD 619 his wife Khadija died up to this point. Muhammad had been purely monogamous. He had only one wife and yet within about a year of this event the death of his wife he claims to have made a trip to heaven and we'll talk about that a little bit later and again within a year of the death of his wife, he claims that he was ordered by God to marry the daughter of his best friend Abu Baqir at the time that daughter Ayesha.
Islamic sources say was six years old within another couple of years his raw occurred that is his flight from Mecca to Medina because of the persecutions that were levied against him by his hometown tribe of the Quraish consequently the year AD 622 is a very critical very prominent event in Islamic history. In fact, all of Islamic history and therefore to a Muslim all of world history is dated from the Hegira the flight from Mecca to Medina in fact as you read through the Quran.
There are clearly surahs that pertain to events preceding the hijra so these are sewers that pertain to events in Mecca and then you have other surahs that clearly indicate a post his raw circumstance or context and these are those that were given during the period that Muhammad was in Medina so the Quran has making surahs and Medinan source for the most part.
Now once Muhammad shifted from Mecca to Medina let me give you a very brief scoping of history at this in the engaged in armed with Jewish tribal groups that were living in Medina fascinating concept that is the Jews all the way back in Babylonian times. Babylonian captivity was dispersed and right on down to the time of Christ centuries later there's an indication in Acts chapter 2, for example, the Jews that came for Pentecost in the year AD 30 came from nations all over the world and that included Arabia. According to Acts chapter 2 so these Jewish tribal groups were living in various parts and there were a number of them living right there in Medina probably been there for four centuries four generations who therefore they were Arabic in the sense that they had enculturated but they were still a very Jewish, very monotheistic well.
When Muhammad PBUH presented himself to these Jewish individuals in hopes that they would understand that he saw himself as the logical sequel or the logical continuation of Judaism and Christianity and kind of the post occurrence of proper religion. He hoped that the Jews would accept him as another prophet in this long line of prophets going all the way back to Adam. However, that was not to be and consequently, conflict emerged and hostilities commenced between Muhammad and his followers and the Jewish tribal groups.
In the meantime, there were other Arab groups that he had conflicts with because they were polytheistic he was wanting them to submit to the notion of monotheism and then you have the fact that his hometown tribe of Quraish we're not willing to allow him to leave unscathed that's true that he had fled from their grasp but they wanted to rid themselves of him they still had issues with him and consequently they would literally launch attempts to assassinate Muhammad also during this period.
Islam continued to expand more conversions were made Muhammad's military strength was likewise increasing and also I might point out that during this period Muhammad began to add wives add women to his harem and consequently he would have other living quarters constructed adjacent to the mosque that was being built in Medina and he claims during this period that he continued to receive revelations from Allah the Arabic word for God moving down to AD 630 about eight years after his having fled from his home town of Mecca.
We find that He had achieved sufficient military strength that he was able to gather his military forces and march on his hometown of Mecca at this point he subjugated essentially the entire population he purged the Kaaba of all of its polytheism and engaged in some other actions but for all practical purposes brought in under submission which by the way is the meaning of the word Islam. Submission notices the form of the same word Islam Muslim. Muslim one who submits so he brought under submission the population of Mecca but He did not move in and begin to live there.
He went back home to Medina back to his adopted City within two years of his bringing Mecca under control. He returned for another pilgrimage that turned out to be the farewell the final pilgrimage trip to Mecca that was AD 632 and later that year June 8 at the age of 62 Muhammad died of what is essentially an unknown illness. Now that is a very brief recapping of the life of Muhammad to help us to be somewhat acquainted with this individual that has occupied so much attention over the last fourteen or fifteen hundred years now.
Let me give you a very brief thumbnail sketch of Islam as it has manifested itself since the death of Muhammad remembers now Muhammad claimed to be a prophet of God and therefore he claims and Muslims claimed that he was the quintessential prophet of God. He was the ultimate and final prophet of God and so when he died in AD 632 the Islamic community was momentary. Shall we say disoriented it was quite a blow to them that the Prophet would die so unexpectedly and they were initially kind of uncertain as to what they were doing?
I don't believe there was any concern or thought about appointing a new prophet they believed he was the last prophet but they did feel that there needed to be a community leader somebody who would lead or serve as a proper authority among the Muslims and so there immediately began to be a discussion about well. Who should that be and there was immediately a disagreement of course about who should replace Muhammad but this disagreement was fairly quickly squelched and Abu Bakr was selected close friend of Muhammad PBUH. Muhammad PBUH had married his daughter and consequently, Abu Bakr became the first Khalifa. The first Khalif sort of a deputy viceregent and he served in that capacity from the death of Muhammad to AD 634 at which time he was replaced by Umar who was another very close associate of Muhammad PBUH.
Going back to the very beginning of Muhammad's teaching and promotion of Islam he served in that capacity for about a decade and then at his demise he was replaced by Ruth manow up to this point we have general consensus within the Islamic community on each of these individuals because they went right back to the time of Muhammad PBUH. They were very prominent figures Earthmen served in that capacity for over a decade about 12 years but at this point in Islamic history 656 AD.
The two-division Shiite & Sunni (Sunni & Shia) which occurred right after the death of Muhammad PBUHThe division the seeds of which occurred right after the death of Muhammad PBUH now came to a head and the Islamic community essentially split apart into two primary factions. The first of these factions believed that the successor to Muhammad should be a blood relative somebody directly linked back to Muhammad by blood. These individuals became known as Shiites because of the Arabic word Shia that has to do with being party to or partisan and so they selected Ali who could trace his lineage back to Muhammad and he became the first Shiite Imam that would be one of the terms that are that's used by Shiites to refer to their leaders. His two sons successively succeeded him, Hasan and Husain. All individuals that agreed with that perspective that the leader of the Islamic community should be connected directly to Muhammad they to this day are known as Imams or ayahs and you've heard of the Ayatollah.
For example, now the other element in the Islamic community that disagreed with that view said no the community leader can be someone who is selected by community consent somebody that the community recognizes is a suitable and appropriate leader. These individuals became known as Sunnis and in fact, the majority of Muslims have gone this direction and consequently, they selected.
Their first leader and then over the centuries other caliphs Sultan's sheiks were selected to be the community leader of the Muslims and they sort of set up what we might call dynasties caliphates the Arabs would call it and so there was the Umayyad caliphate and the opposite and this ultimately culminated in what we would call the Ottoman Empire which had its center in Turkey. So the Ottoman Turks were kind of a climaxing of Islamic influence in art and architecture and other areas of development and for all practical purposes, the Ottoman Empire came to a close about. The time of World War one that is a very brief history of Islam in its political manifestations over the centuries.
Now let me comment very quickly on this major split that occurred between the Shiites and the Sunnis. I cannot overstate the significance of this division. It is very prominent in the minds of Muslims worldwide there may be an attempt by the Muslim world to give the impression that overall. We're all united we all agree unlike you Christians and other groups that are all fragmented but the facts of the matter are this is a split of really rather catastrophic proportions.
In fact, many times when you hear even in Iraq in such places of warring and killing going on many and many times. It is a clash between the Shias and the Sunnis even if Westerners have come and somehow gotten involved in the fracas well as it turns out the Shiites went on to split many more times and to divide over various disagreements. The Sunnis have done the same thing there have been many factions and many divisions and disagreements over their thinking fella came about probably a century or so ago by the name of Wahhabi. He was kind of a Puritan in his thinking, he believed that going back to what he called the Golden Age of Islamic history when it was purely Arabic and consequently he advocated war like a jihadi viewpoint that is promulgated and championed by even the Saudi royal family.
If I were to try to give you some sense worldwide of the Muslim population in terms of Shiite versus Sunni here is how that would lay out roughly thirteen to fourteen percent are Shiite whereas the rest are Sunni so if we were to round in round numbers about 90% of the population of Islam is Sunni and therefore about ten percent are Shia.
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