History of Islam
The history of Islam is one that is fascinating with its extraordinary growth that it experienced in the years following the prophet Muhammad. Let’s take a look at the prophet and the history of Islam up to the 20th century.
Muhammad the prophet of Islam is believed to be the final prophet sent by Allah to bring true Islam back. Islam is taught as the original faith that Allah (God) gave to Adam as His first prophet. Noah, Abraham, Noah, Solomon, and Jesus are listed as prophets of Islam. None is greater than Muhammad according to the teachings of the Qur’an (Koran).
Found in the chapters named Surahs, which are arranged from the longest surah to the shortest. Muhammad is named as “…the Seal of the Prophets…” (Surah 33:40)
Guidelines of a Prophet
Read Deuteronomy 18:9-22. In these verses is found the test for a prophet. It is prophecy that sets the bible apart from all other religious writings. All other sacred scriptures are man made and fail the test of the prophets.
In Isaiah 44:6-8, the LORD makes a declaration to the all peoples by showing Himself that He is the only God and there is no other!
Note in 1 Samuel 3:1-20 the process in which Samuel is called to the office of prophet vs.1 & 3. In these verses it is the Word of the Lord that was revealed to him. In verses 17 to 19 Samuel did not withhold anything that the Lord had said and established the office of a prophet. “None of his words fall to the ground.” Vs.19
We must first go back to Muhammad and his early life before the revelations that he received.
Muhammad was born what most believe about A.D. 570 in Mecca. I have read some reports that his father was dead or died shortly after his birth. His fathers name was Abdollah (slave of Allah). This Allah predates Muhammad and was the chief deity in the Kaba, which had 360 deities. One deity for each day of the year.
Muhammad early years where filled with tragic losses have loved ones. His mother Amina died when he was only six. Grandfather, Abdol Mottaleb, who soon died, then cared for him. Then his uncle Abu Talib took him into his care.
Muhammad was part of a very powerful tribe called the Quraish in Mecca. Mecca is in Modern day Saudi Arabia.
At 25 Muhammad married a wealthy, influential, and older woman (40) named Khadijeh. This union of his tribal status and a well-placed wife made for all the right connections of who is who in Mecca.
At was at this time period that the people of the nation worshiped many deities in the Kaba in Mecca. The Kaba, literally “cube” was a cube shaped building that held 360 idols that hosted deity of the day. The Kaba is believed by Muslims to have been originally erected by Adam the first prophet. Yes the Adam of the Garden of Eden. The pilgrims would march to Mecca and walk around the Kaba seven times, kissing and touching the Black Stone. The black stone is a meteorite to which religious meaning is given. This pagan custom of pilgrimage has been adopted by the Muslims in the pilgrimage of (hajj ).
Muhammad questioned the worship of his day and found discussion with Jews and Christians local to his area. They however preached of the One true God. These meetings and dialogue with these people gave Muhammad much information of the Old Testament figures, the apostles, and prophets and of Jesus. It is believed that Muhammad was illiterate and this may well be true. The accounts of the Adam and Eve, the flood, various prophets show that Muhammad was not in possession of all the facts.
The call to be a Prophet
When Muhammad was 40 he was in a cave as was the custom of other religious seekers on the side of Mount Hira, some three miles north of Mecca. It was around the year 610 that Muhammad received a visitation from which he believed to be the angel Gabriel. The angel told him to recite, “Recite, in the name of the Lord who has created, created man fro the clots of blood. Recite, seeing that the Lord is the most generous, who has taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.” (Surah 96:1-5)
Interestingly enough I found in two separate sources that Muhammad doubted the authenticity of this encounter. It is recorded that the angel had to tell the prophet three times finally choking Muhammad before he began to recite the verse given. Still not sure he shared this revelation to his wife who assured him that the call to be a prophet was indeed genuine. When he received these revelations he sometimes saw and angel, sometimes only heard a voice and as he recited these versed others would write them down on virtually anything that was available. Parchments, leather, leaves, bones and scraps where used to write down the verses.
Muhammad presented himself as a prophet to the Christian and Jews of his time and was found to be a false prophet according to the test of a prophet. See Deuteronomy 8:22 and also 1 Corinthians 14:29. Up to that point the revelations of the prophet were quite favorable “to the people of the book”.
This is a good place to emphasize the significance that both angels and prophets hold to Islam. Muslims believe that since Adam there has been a prophet to every people to keep them on the road to true Islam. That there is one God and that is Allah and lastly that Muhammad is his prophet. All the ancient prophets preached the same message from Adam, Moses, Noah, Jesus and Muhammad all were in fact Muslims. Angels are given a high profile but not worshipped, as Gabriel was the messenger to call Muhammad to his office.
The bible warns us of false prophets, false gospels, another Jesus and angels who preach not the truth. We are warned that “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself in an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 With any knowledge at all these early believers where able to reject Muhammad’s claim. Revelations about his encounters with the Jews and Christians are found in (Surah 6:154,156), (Surah 5:68,70), and the belief in the same God. (Surah 10:90,94). These verses from the Qur’an state that the gospel and the Jewish scriptures are to be followed yet they contradict the sayings of both. Later revelations call these scriptures to be followed are later told to be corrupt. Probably due to the many contradictions between Allah and the God of the bible.
Other revelations came to Muhammad as he fell on tough times early in his ministry. While being rejected as a prophet to the Jews and Christians he also rejected by the people of Mecca with his preaching of the One true God. With the loss of his wife and uncle who raised him and rejection everywhere, Muhammad decided to move to Yathrib a city 280 miles north of Mecca. This would become the Medina (city of the Prophet). This migration also holds significance to the Muslim. On September 24, 622 is the beginning of the Muslim Calendar, and the migration is called Hijra.
Two years into his stay in Medina tough financial times fell on Muhammad and his followers. Then another revelation: “O Prophet, strive hard against unbelievers and be firm against them.” (Surah 9:73). Muhammad made his first military campaign against a caravan of his enemies taking 350 men against 1000 men. Laying ambush against them in the battle of Badr he defeated his enemies and this solidified his belief that Allah was indeed with him.
He began to persecute the Jews who knew that the prophet was to come from the lineage of David. As tension increased he assassinated some of the Jews and they attacked several Jewish villages. This has set the table for those who follow the teachings and his life decisions. The Qur’an is the very word of God to a Muslim and the Hadith is the teachings and sayings of Muhammad written by his contemporaries. The very actions whether we agree or not to the Muslim who adheres to the teachings found in their books will strive to accomplish the same way the prophet did. In the battle of Banu Quraiza, Muslim forces massacred some 1000 Jewish men. Women and children were sold into slavery and the spoils divided among the soldiers.
On the year 628, in the sixth year of Hijra. A treaty between Muhammad and the Quraish tribe back in Mecca his hometown where he made pilgrimage to the Kaba as was already the custom of the people. However Muhammad insistence of one true God was not very well accepted and tensions grew over those pilgrimages. A ten-year peace treaty was brokered between the two groups. After only two years however Muhammad attacked a people he had made peace with and took the city and purged the Kaba of all the idols and established himself as political, religious, and economic force in Arabia. Mecca became and is still the center of Islam.
Another revelation came to Muhammad. “Let there be no compulsion in religion”, (Surah 2:256) to “kill those who join other gods” (Surah 9:5). Many tribes in Arabia were forced to convert to Islam (which means submission to Allah) and to Muhammad.
Only four years later the tenth year of Hijra, Muhammad died in 632 after and illness without leaving a successor. This vacuum brought a violent struggle for power and leadership of the way, which this new religion should go.
Muhammad’s successors are called Caliphs (kind of like popes). They historically are more political in nature that spiritual. It was the first caliph, Abu Bakr, by military conquest brought all of the Arabian Peninsula under the rule of Islam. These tribes had divided and many saw the death of Muhammad as a way of escaping the submissive nature of the religion and political system that came from it.
The second caliph, Omar (633-644) was a great military man defeating the empires around and beginning the great expansion of Islam. For about 100 years Islam expanded under the sword of submission. Islam spread to Asian across Arabia into northern Africa and was spreading into Europe. Spain was mostly under Islamic rule until in France under Charles Martel stopped the spread of Islam at the battle of Tours in 732. Within 100 years of Muhammad death Islam and its ruling law had spread over the Middle East, Egypt, Africa, and in Asia.
Division occurred within Islam at the assassination of Othman the third caliph in 656. Civil war and tension that is still with them today over the direction and leadership of Islam is marked right here.
A Sunni Muslim (represent about 80% of Muslims) accepts the principle of the elected leadership after the death of Muhammad and accepts the first three caliphs, rather than the blood descent that the Shiite Muslim holds to. This has been cause for much division and bloodshed. The claim is made by the Shiites that the first three caliphs had cheated the rightful successor, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali was the first imam (leader or successor) who married Muhammad’s favorite daughter, Fatimah. This marriage brought Muhammad’s grandson Hasan and Husayn. During Ali’s rule as the fourth caliph entered into a struggle over rule and was eventually murdered by followers who felt alienated by political dealings over power. Ali’s son Hasan was chosen by the Shiites and the Sunni branch of Islam chose a wealthy leader of the Umayyads outside the prophet’s family.
Hasan the Shiites successor was the grandson of Muhammad, but he resigned and was then actually murdered. His brother Husayn became the new leader (Imam), but the other Sunni Umayyads Muslims killed him too. His death is seen as martyrdom to the Shiites. The Shiites see the imams as infallible teachers with “the divine gift of impeccability. Most adhere that there were only 12 true imams. Every year the Shiite Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn with processions and even inflict themselves with swords. Reminds me of the Baal priests cutting themselves when confronted by Elijah. Shiites comprise only 20% of Muslims in the world. Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini was a Shiite and began a fundamental revival of Islam in Iran in the 1980’s.
With this brief history of the spread and origin of the Islamic faith one can see the bloody hand of double-dealing and treachery at every turn. We have noted that history shows a pattern of false peace treaties, murder and invasions. Division and wars still seen in Afghanistan and many of the Islamic nations is a powder keg of internal feuding over political and religious ideology.