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Analysis of the Historical Foundation of Islam

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Analysis of the Historical Foundation of Islam

Analysis of the Historical Foundation of Islam

Before bursting into a Brief discussion and analysis of the historical foundation of Islam, including why its followers believe it to be true, one needs to understand what Islam means. According to the online Encyclopedia Britannica 2009, Islam is an Arabic word that literally means to surrender (Islam, 2009). Islam is a "major world religion belonging to the Semitic (a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic) family", that usually consists of descendants "of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia" (Islam, 2009). A follower of Islam is called a Muslim and so to be Islamic, is to be Muslim (Islam, 2009). Despite several parochial divides, all Muslims are bound by a common faith and they are to surrender to the will of one true God (called Allah) making them a monotheistic religion (Islam, 2009).

According to Muslim belief, Allah is the all powerful creator of all things and he sustains life and he gave his followers his will as written in the Koran (aka Qu'ran) when it was revealed to Muhammad his prophet and most famous messenger back in the 7th century AD (Islam, 2009). One now should have a clear basic understanding of what Islam means, next let us discuss the historical foundation of Islam.

Islamists, or Muslims if you will, believe that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, were all prophets along with others up to Muhammad being the last to complete the revelations of all the prophets (Islamic World, 2009). Islam caught on quickly thanks to Muhammad and his teachings starting back in the 7th century A.D. to today (Islamic World, 2009). Islam is currently found in over 30 countries mainly in the Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, the Malay Peninsula, China or the Middle East (Islamic World, 2009). Actually, Muslims can be found spread all over the world including such western cultures as the USA, Canada, and South America to name a few (Islamic World, 2009).

Islam originated geographically in the "Nile-to-Oxus region which stretched across Afro-Eurasia from the Sahara to the Gobi" although it was not called Islam just yet (Islamic World, 2009). During 800-200 B.C.E (Axial Age), religion developed into four main groups called Judaism, Mazdeism, Buddhism, and Confucianism that derived all later forms of Christianity and Islam (Islamic World, 2009). During the Axial Age when the Muslim empire was just getting started, two notable religions formed namely the Abrahamic(focused on hebrew Abraham) in the west and the Mazdean (focused on the Iranian deity Ahura Mazdah) in the east" (Islamic World, 2009). Later, thanks to Alexander the Great's conquests in 4 BCE, the Irano-Semitic cultures of the Nile-to-Oxus region were forcefully replaced by Hellenistic or Greek elements (Islamic World, 2009). By the 3rd century CE, people were transplanted into other cultures that included Gnosticism and Manichaeism strangling the Islamic religion (Islamic World, 2009).

Fast forward to One Common Era and the Muslim people left in the Nile-to-Oxus region are now known as Arabs (Islamic World, 2009). Arabs were Semitic-speaking tribes that commonly spoke three languages who drew the name Arab along with the identity from the camel-herding Bedouin pastoralists called themselves: 'arab (Islamic World, 2009).

Jump forward again to the year 400 CE and we find Mecca under the control of a group of Arabs known as Quraysh (Islamic World, 2009). During the generations before Muhammad's birth in about 570, In a very important and intelligent move, "Mecca was designated as a quarterly haram, a safe haven from the intertribal warfare and raiding" (Islamic World, 2009). "Thus Mecca became an attractive site for large trade fairs that coincided with pilgrimage (hajj) to a local shrine, the Ka'bah" (Islamic World, 2009). The Ka'bah contained gods of visitors and the Meccans' God called Allah (Islamic World, 2009).

Muhammad (born in 570 in Arabia) will become most influential figure of Islam and Muslim religion grew up a smart and charming man. He was very successful but even more so in his marriage to a Quraysh. She was the key to his connection to the Meccan Quraysh people (Islamic World, 2009). "In 628 he and his followers tried to make an Islamized hajj but were" denied by the Meccan's (Islamic World, 2009). The smart man that Muhammad was "granted a 10-year truce on the condition that the Meccan's would allow a Muslim pilgrimage the next year" (Islamic World, 2009). When the next year arrived, "the Meccan's allowed a Muslim hajj but more importantly by 630, the Muslims occupied Mecca without a struggle" (Islamic World, 2009). The people favored Muhammad so much that they deputized him in many parts of Arabia and when he died in 632, he ruled the majority of Mecca (Islamic World, 2009).

Another smart play by Muhammad was allowing all Meccan Quraysh people to become Muslims without shame and that is when Islam began (Islamic World, 2009). In fact, they quickly became assimilated to the actual muhajirun, even though they did not migrate there like the others (Islamic World, 2009). This centralized all of Arabia and purified the Ka'Bah by removing all other deities allowing it to be filled with an infinitely greater invisible power (Islamic World, 2009).

Islam was created essentially by Muhammad and his successors continued his legacy. Muhammad's first successor "Abu Bakr took the title khalifah (caliph) meaning deputy or successor" (Islamic World, 2009). Abu Bakr was followed by 'Umar I and "between 634 and 870 Islam transformed from a small group of Arabs to the dominant faith of a vast empire that stretched from the western Mediterranean into Central Asia" (Islamic World, 2009). "The Arabic language and culture became main stream for the first time in the history of the Nile-to-Oxus region and replaced all previous languages of high culture" (Islamic World, 2009).

Some of the Muslim rituals, practices, key beliefs, and holy days started with Muhammad himself. His example was written down and called the Sunnah (Islamic World, 2009). "Taken together, Muhammad's revelations from God and his sunnah (precedent-setting example) defined the cultic and personal practices that distinguished Muslims from others" Those very distinguishable rituals, practices, and holy days still practiced today such as: "prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, charity, avoidance of pork and intoxicants, membership in one community centered at Mecca, and activism (jihad) in the community's



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