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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Islam

HISTORY

Islam is a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a religious text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allah). Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel (Jibrīl) on many occasions between 610 AD until his death twenty two years later.

In 605 The Black Stone, which was said to have been given by Archangel Gabriel to Abraham, was standing in a shrine called the Kaabi. The Kaabi flooded and the 35-year-old Muhammad was entrusted the job of setting the Black Stone back in it's place. After successfully doing this he started going out into the desert to meditate about God. Muhammad prayed much in solitude and fell into trances and heard voices. He  met some heretical Arab Christians whose hypocrisy put him off Christianity but encouraged his belief in Monotheism. All he saw was crucifixions and priests and vestments and images and he said that it was as adulterous as the then Arab religion.

Muhammad is said to have received the first verses of the Quran in a cave on the Jabal-al-Nour mountain (see below). It is believed that Muhammad experienced his first revelations from the Archangel Gabriel on August, 10, 610.

   "Jabal Nur" by Adiput Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
                     
Muhammad started teaching that God had revealed himself to Christians and Jews but both had misinterpreted his word. He advised his followers to respect Jews and Christians because they too were “people of the book”.

Muhammad's preaching met with much opposition and at times he was stoned, so he concluded that Allah intended the divine message and call to be vindicated by political means. Muhammad moved his base from Mecca to Medina, arriving there on September 20, 622.

The Islamic calendar began on July 16, 622  during the year in which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred.

At Medina, Muhammad taught Islam must be spread if necessary by Holy War. His victory at the Battle of Badr, on March 13, 624 with a mere 300 men aided by a sandstorm, enabled the Prophet to reach a wider area with his new religion.

Scene from the Turkish epic Siyer-i Nebi, Hamza and Ali leading the Muslim armies at Badr. 

On December 11, 630 Muhammad entered Mecca with a force of 10,000 and the city submitted to him. Within two years all of Arabia was united under Islam.

Muhammad's entry into Mecca . He is shown as a flame in this manuscript. Bazil's Hamla-i Haydari.

Islam was rapidly spreading through military expeditions, or Jihads. Within twelve years after Muhammad's death, that strategy had resulted in the occupation of Egypt, Syria, and parts of the Persian and Byzantine territories and by 678 all North Africa had succumbed to the Islam military might. In 714, Spain fell to the Muslim Moors.

By the late fifteenth century, the Moorish caliphate in Spain was evaporating as Christian armies pushed the borders of Moorish Spain southwards.

BELIEFS

The prophet Muhammad's teachings were recorded by his followers on stones, bits of leather and camel’s shoulder bones or memorized  as he uttered them. In 650 Othman, the second Islamic leader after the death of Muhammad, saw the need for a single Islam text so he assembled a committee headed by one of Muhammad's old secretaries to assemble the scattered texts. By the following year, the Qur'an had come into being.

The Qur'an is the size of a New Testament, consists of 114 chapters called Suras, each shorter than the one before it.

The Five Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. The five obligations are:
To offer seventeen cycles of prayer each day, usually spread out over five periods of time.
Charitable giving of at least 2.5% of one's income.
The reciting of the "Shahadah," which is when you say "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet."
Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, from Sunrise to Sunset
To make the pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca.

Muslims face in the direction of Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba in Mecca, during their prayers.

On one occasion in his younger pre-revelation days Mohammed drank too much and made a fool of himself. Later he decided that Allah prohibited the consumption of alcohol because it distracts the believer from focusing on God and causes medical and social problems. As a result the Qur'an forbids Muslims to drink alcohol.

The Muslims declared the Saluki dog sacred and believe this breed was given to them by Allah for their amusement and benefit, permitting Muslims to eat the meat of the game. It is the only dog allowed to sleep on the carpet of a sheikh's tent.

In 1947, Pakistan was created an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of the Subcontinent where there was a Muslim majority. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution nine years later. On March 23, 1956 it became the first country in the world to declare itself an Islamic Republic.


DEMOGRAPHICS

A comprehensive 2009 demographic study of 232 countries and territories reported that 23% of the global population, or 1.57 billion people, are Muslim.

Most Muslims are of two denominations: Sunni (75–90%) or Shia (10–20%). About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 25% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc


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