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الإسلام‎ ☾ Islam

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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محمد Muhammad's First Revelation, 610 CE
محمد Muhammad was overtaken by a divine presence and he began to utter what would later be compiled into the Quran.

At last God had spoken to the Arabs in their own language and had brought them into the community of true believers. Thus محمد Muhammad did not see his revelations as new; what was revealed through him was simply the old religion of the one God worshipped by the Jews and the Christians. Armstrong, p 217-218

Muslim Era Begins, 622 CE
محمد Muhammad was cast out by the Meccan aristocracy, as the latter was appalled by Islam's rejection of traditional, ancestral idols and devotion to the monotheistic God alone.

محمد Muhammad and about seventy families, the first Muslim community, were forced to leave Mecca. It was blasphemous to eschew tribal affiliation, essential in a hostile world, but Islam nonetheless was founded on ideological ties and did not account for genealogy.

محمد Muhammad believed that the Jews and Christians had belonged to the same faith. He was shocked to discover that they had quarreled about doctrinal matters that nobody could prove one way or the other. ... The Qur'an therefore instructed Muslims to return to the original, pure religion of Abraham, who had lived before either the Torah or the gospel and had, therefore, been neither a Jew nor a Christian. He had simply been a muslim, one who had made a total surrender of his life to god. ... محمد Muhammad learned that the Arabs were thought to be the descendants of Abraham's son Ishmael: they too could call themselves children of Abraham, like the Jews and the Christians. ... Over and over again the Qur'an insists that the revelation to محمد Muhammad did not cancel out the teaching of previous prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. The Qur'an was simply a restatement and a reminder of the single message that God had sent down to all peoples. It was idolatry to prefer a creed or an institution to God himself, who transcends all human systems. By returning to the original faith of Abraham, Muslims would make God, not a religious establishment, the goal of their lives. Armstrong, p 220-221

محمد Muhammad's Death, 632 June 6
Following محمد Muhammad's death, his appointed successor Abu Bakr took over.
Islamic Conquests

Abu Bakr may well engaged in the Muslim Conquests to distract the ever-quibbling Arab tribes and focus external enemies. These were almost certainly not religiously motivated: nothing in the Qur'an suggested a duty to conquer the world. However, amidst the recent power vacuum, the Conquests were wildly successful. Caliph Umar took over after Abu Bakr's death in 634 and swept Muslims into the Levant, taking Jerusalem in 637/638.

Sects of Islam



The أهل السنة‎ sunni subscribe to what is considered an Orthodox Islam, whereby all caliphs are accepted regardless of their method of selection so long as they were able to make their claims effective.


The الشيعة Shi'a favor the fourth caliph, Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, claiming that the leadership of the community should have been his from the first and that only his heirs were legitimate successors. The الشيعة Shi'a began as a political party, gradually became an underground opposition movement, and finally evolved into a distinct religious sect. Eventually the leadership of the الشيعة Shi'a community devolved on religious scholars, known as مجتهد mujatahids. Each individual is expected to follow a leading مجتهد mujtahid, giving the شيعة Shi'a community stronger leadership and a greater sense of cohesion than its الهل السنة Sunni counterpart.

Southern Iraq has been a stronghold of شيعة Shi'a from the start. Various شيعة Shi'a movements either originated or found a firm reception in southern Iraq cities, where شيعة Shi'a Islam established itself so firmly that it could not be dislodged by the اهل الشنة Sunni. As Arab tribes migrated from the Arabian peninsula in the 18th and 19th centuries and settled in the river valleys, they were converted to شيعة Shi'a by religious scholars and their emissaries.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity

تحريف Tahrif means corruption, referring to the Islamic belief that Jewish and Christian scribes corrupted biblical manuscripts. Abraham versus Ishmael and Isaac so Judaism and Christianity trace their origins back through Isaac and Islam does it via Ishmael. God says he would bless Isaac and Ishmael both.

Islam and Judaism

If we follow the chains of transmission (isnad) of these traditions to their first transmitters, who were all either Companions (sahab, pl of sahabi) or companions of the Companions of the Prophet (tabi'in, pl of tabi), we find that most of them were known to have had a first-hand knowledge of the Jewish traditions pertaining to the Holy City. The major role in the transmission process was played by Ka'b al-Ahbar, a Jewish convert to Islam and a tabi' to whom most of the traditions concerning the eschatological attributes of Jerusalem can be traced, perhaps because he was famous for his profound knowledge of the Jewish sacred books. Two other leading transmitters, Ibn-'Abbas and 'Abdallah ibn-'Amru ibn al-'As, who were reputed to be among the most learned and respected of the Companions of the Prophet, were also familiar with Jewish sources. Ibn 'Abbas, the Prophet's cousin, became the patron (mawla) of Ka'b al-Ahbar after his conversion, and he could have acquired his knolwedge of the Jewish traditions concerning Jerusalem directly from his client. 'Abdallah ibn-'Amru was believed to have a deep knowledge of the prophecies of the People of hte Book (ahl al-kitab, Jews and Christians) for he as known to ahve read the Torah and other non-Islamic religious books.

Islam and Christianity

When Mohammed came along, there was fragmentation in the Christian community regarding Jesus' divinity -- Christology, the study of Christ, who he was. Mohammed also lived and began ministering in a context characterized by polarization between Judaism and Christianity. when you look at what Mohammed begins to prechnin the Arabian peninsula then he addressed the corruption and problems that he saw in Judaism and Christianity. He did not intend to create a distinct religion as it is today, but wanted to correct fallacies and bring people back under god. Islam would see Mohammed as the last prophet in the line of Adam Abraham and Jesus. For Islam, Abraham was the first great pure monotheist and Mohammed tried to be in this line.