The Rise and Spread of Islam
The rise of the religion of Islam can be traced to the seventh century. In its usual view Islam is often seen solely in terms of its origins in the barren peninsula of Arabia. It is true that Islam can be traced to the Arabian city of Mecca, where it was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad, during the years 610 to 632 AD. Prophet Muhammad was born in the city of Mecca in Arabia around 570 A. D. in the Qureshi tribe.
Mohammed not only established a new religion, he would establish a complete new system of government, one that would eventually spread to every corner of the globe, usually through military conquest, especially in the years following Mohammed’s death. The rise of Islam is truly a religion revolution. Muhammad, an orphan from the merchant class of Mecca, was raised by his grandfather and uncle. He married a wealthy local widow and businesswoman named Khadija.
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About 610, Muhammad experienced the first of a number of revelations that he believed came from the archangel Gabriel. In these revelations he was told that there is only one God, called “Allah” in Arabic. Although the peoples of the Arabian peninsula had already been exposed to monotheism through Jewish traders and Arabic converts to Christianity, Muhammad’s fervent proclamation of the existence of only one god angered the merchants of Mecca, who anticipated decreased profits from pilgrimages if the revelations of Muhammad were widely accepted.
In 622, realizing that his life was in danger, Muhammad and his followers fled to the city of Yathrib (later called Medina), about 200 miles northwest of Mecca. Here Muhammad was allowed to freely exercise his role as prophet of the new faith, and the numbers of believers in the new religion grew. The flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, called the hijrah, became the first year in the Muslim calendar.
In Medina, Muhammad oversaw the daily lives of his followers, organizing them into a community of believers known as the umma. The well-being of the umma included programs concerning all aspects of life, from relief for widows and orphans to campaigns of military defense. In 629, Muhammad and his followers journeyed to Mecca to make a pilgrimage to the Ka’aba, now incorporated as a shrine in the Islamic faith. The following year they returned as successful conquerors of the city, and in 632, they again participated in the hajj.
In 632, Muhammad died without appointing a successor, an omission that would have a profound effect on the future of Islam. The Islamic state expanded very rapidly after the death of Muhammad through remarkable successes both at converting unbelievers to Islam and by military conquests of the Islamic community’s opponents. Expansion of the Islamic state was an understandable development, since Muhammad himself had successfully established the new faith through conversion and conquest of those who stood against him.
Islam were soon established empires the Abbasids, Fatimids, Almoravids, Seljukids, Ajuuraan, Adal andWarsangali in Somalia, Mughals in India and Safavids in Persia and Ottomans were among the largest and most powerful in the world. The people of the Islamic world created numerous sophisticated centers of culture and science with far-reaching mercantile networks, travelers, scientists, hunters, mathematicians, doctors and philosophers, all of whom contributed to the Golden Age of Islam.
The term Islam means “submission,” while the name Muslim, applied to the followers of Islam, means “one who submits. ” Muhammad viewed his revelations as a completion of those of Judaism and Christianity and perceived himself not as a deity but as the last in a series of prophets of the one god, Allah. He considered Abraham, Moses, and Jesus also among the prophets of Allah. According to the teachings of Islam, the faithful must follow a set of regulations known as the Five Pillars. They include: Faith, Prayer, Fasting, Alms-giving, and The hajj. Islam was