reply to post by butcherguy
I am studying Islam and learning about Mohammad. I have a final on it next week.
Mohammad was born in Mecca 570 CE. He was orphaned at an early age and raised by his uncle. Mohammad grew up poor and knew the value of compassion and
humility from an early age. He had a mostly unsuccessful career as a merchant and would be easily relatable to most men of his day. Mohammad’s habit
of disappearing into caves for days at a time to meditate led to his incredible tale of being given the word of god by the angel Gabriel in 610 CE.
After being given this message, which was to become the Islam holy book called the Quran, he was told to spread the message among the people. There
were several features of Islam which led to its rapid expansion, even after the death of the religion’s first and only prophet.
Mohammad just happened to be a brilliant tactician and military leader, despite the fact he had no formal training. While it isn't accurate to say
that Islam spread at the point of a sword, Mohammad was definitely not a prophet of peace. He personally led 20 battles resulting in 20 victories. His
military experiences would make the religion much easier to spread amongst soldiers.
One reason Islam was able to spread so quickly was its simplicity. At its core are five straightforward pillars, which every Muslim must follow.
First, the only thing required to convert to Islam is to acknowledge that there is only one god, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet. Second, one must
pray five times daily while facing Mecca. Muslims are also required to give charity to the poor. Fourth is a fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Finally, the only pillar which is optional, everyone who is financially and physically able must make at least one pilgrimage to the holy city of
Islam was outwardly very similar to the other main religions of the day, Christianity and Judaism. This made it easy for people to convert to Islam,
since they were already familiar with the Muslim concepts of one god, a Day of Judgment, and forgiveness of sins. Also, by converting, new Muslims
would be exempted from the jizya, or a non-believer tax.
Islam professes a unity of the faithful called the umma. The umma is a family to which every Muslim belongs. A Muslim in need can always count on the
umma for support in rough times.
Islam is a religion of the book. The Quran is every Muslim’s guide to the religion. While Mohammad was not divine, the Quran is since it is the
direct word of Allah. Muslims have no sense of humor about this issue.
Islam is a universal faith and makes no discrimination against who can and cannot convert. It is a religion open to all regardless of nationality or
When Mohammad created the first Muslim community, called an umma, in Medina, he set up an ethical code which emphasized equality, truth, honor, and
A major part of the religion is a pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj. It is closely associated with Mohammad; however its actual roots back two
millennia before Mohammad’s birth to Abraham. The hajj is the largest pilgrimage in the world thus it is a powerful tool in conversion. While making
the journey, pilgrims are apt to spread the faith along their route. While performing the rituals, everyone is in a state of ihram, which means
patience and compassion. No anger is allowed while on the journey. Ihram also refers to the simple robes worn by pilgrims. This helps to bring
everyone, rich and poor, to the same outward level. The hajj allows every Muslim to connect with Mohammad on a personal level, while the rituals
performed give real world substance to the faith.
In Islam there is no separation of church and state. Sharia law is law which comes directly from the Quran. Its appeal lies in how it protects the
family, including women and children. Sharia borrows heavily from Hammurabi’s Law Code and relies on the principle of fitting the punishment to the
crime. This leads to very orderly societies, since, for example, a thief if caught would have his hand chopped off. The status of women is slightly
elevated under Sharia law, as opposed to women living in a completely anarchistic society. They are given mild protection in cases of divorce and
adultery, but are still placed directly under the authority of men. Sharia specifically outlaws female infanticide, which had been a common practice
before since women were seen as a burden on the family by many cultures. Men were allowed to take up to four wives, but only if they could financially
and physically support each one without neglecting the others. Unfortunately the Quran is very specific on the proper method for a man to beat his
wife, and the protection given women in cases of adultery is laughable at best.