Islam – The Religion of Mohammed
Islam or Mohammedanism is the third of the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Mohammed Abdullah was the originator of the Qurʾān and founded Islam in the year 630 A.D. Muhammad is traditionally said to have been born in 570 A.D. in Mecca and to have died in 632 A.D.
His father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was about six years old.
His Wife Khadijah
Mohammed was employed by a rich widow named Khadija.
Khadija, was the daughter of Khuwaylid, was a resident of Makkah. She also belonged to the tribe of Quraysh. Khuwaylid ibn Asad was a merchant and a leader of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca. She was a successful businesswoman in her own right. She asked him to marry her, and Muhammad accepted. He was twenty-five years old. And Khadija was forty years old.
Judaism was already well established in Medina two centuries before Muhammad’s birth. Although influential, the Jews did not rule the oasis. Instead, they were clients of two large Arab tribes there, the Khazraj and the Aws Allah, who protected them in return for feudal loyalty. Medina’s Jews were expert jewelers, and weapons and armor makers. There were many Jewish clans-some records indicate more than twenty, of which three were prominent-the Banu Nadir, the Banu Qaynuqa, and the Banu Qurayza.
Mohammed got from his beloved Jewish wife Khadija an introduction and a deeper understanding of Judaism, for much of Judaism is contained in Islam. The ultimate goal was to unite Arab and Jew, Semitic brothers joined together, against a common foe — the encroaching Christians.
Mohammed learned Judaism from his wife and her family. That is how he came to know about the ‘prophets’ and the Torah, stories about Adam, Noah, Abraham and all the patriarchs of Israel. Before Mohammed, there were no prophets among the Arab tribes. All the recorded prophets were Jews of the Old Testament or Tanakh. Prophethood was restricted to Jews. He embraced Judaism and began to aspire to be a prophet. Soon he proclaimed himself a prophet.
Khadija is said to have confirmed and supported his prophethood and to have been the first person to believe in his message.
It is interesting to note that both his first wife Khadija and following her death, the 9-year-old wife Aisha, were both Jewish.
Naturally, Jews who knew his background as a non-Jew questioned his Prophethood. Many challenged him on his credentials. Failing to prove his genealogy to Jewishness, he would resort to force to compel acceptance as a prophet.
Relationship with Christians and Jews
In the course of Muhammad’s proselytizing in Mecca, he viewed Christians and Jews, both of whom he referred to as “People of the Book”, as natural allies, sharing the core principles of his teachings, and anticipated their acceptance and support. Muslims, like Jews, were at that time praying towards Jerusalem. During the height of Muslim persecution in Mecca, Muhammad was offered the position of the arbitrator in the highly diverse Medina, which had a large Jewish community.
Various traditions uphold different views, and it is unclear whether Medina’s Jewish clans were Arabized Jews or Arabs who practiced Jewish monotheism. Certainly they were Arabic speakers with Arab names. They followed the fundamental precepts of the Torah, though scholars question their familiarity with the Talmud and Jewish scholarship, and there is a suggestion in the Qur’an that they may have embraced unorthodox beliefs, such as considering the Prophet Ezra, the son of God.
There were rabbis among the Jews of Medina, who appear in Muslim sources soon after Muhammad proclaimed himself a prophet. At that time, the quizzical Meccans, knowing little about monotheism, are said to have consulted the Medinan rabbis in an attempt to put Muhammad to the test. The rabbis posed three theological questions for the Meccans to ask Muhammad, asserting that they would know, by his answers, whether or not he spoke the truth. According to later reports, Muhammad replied to the rabbis’ satisfaction, but the Meccans remained unconvinced.
Muhammad arrived in Medina in 622, believing the Jewish tribes would welcome him. Contrary to expectation, his relations with several of the Jewish tribes in Medina were uneasy almost from the start.
Use of Terrorism for Conversion
Muhammad began robbing caravans after leaving Mecca. As a result, greed soon became one of the primary factors in people’s rapid conversion to Islam. Indeed, Muhammad deliberately used the spoils of war to lure people to Islam. When he was criticized for the way he distributed his newfound wealth, he replied, “Are you disturbed in mind because of the good things of this life by which I win over a people that they may become Muslims while I entrust you to your Islam?”
He was an ardent monotheist, and despised idolatry. He told his followers to heed God’s prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. These are areas where even non-Muslims would agree that Muhammad exhibited positive traits.
Abu Afak—who was more than a hundred years old—wrote a poem criticizing people for converting to Islam. Muhammad demanded he is killed, and Abu Afak was murdered in his sleep. When a woman named Asma heard that Muslims had killed such an older man, she wrote a poem calling for people to take a stand against Islam. Ibn Ishaq relates what happened next:
When the apostle heard what she had said he said, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” Umayr bin Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him, heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning, he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, “You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!” When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences, the apostle said, “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her,” so Umayr went back to his people.v
Muhammad’s violence was directed towards groups as well. Muhammad once said to his followers, “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims.” The Jews of Qurayza resisted Muhammad and attempted to ally against him. When the alliance faltered, Muhammad acted quickly. His armies surrounded them and “besieged them for twenty-five nights until they were sorely pressed, and God cast terror into their hearts.”
Then they surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina.Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. . . . There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.
Every male who had reached puberty was killed. Muhammad divided the women, children, and property among his men (taking a fifth of the spoils for himself).
The Quran (“Recitation”) is the main Religious Text of Islam. The Quran, also romanized Qur’an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). Slightly shorter than the New Testament, it is organized in 114 chapters — not according to chronology or subject matter, but according to the length of surahs. It lays down for them the law and commandments, codes for their social and moral behavior, and contains a comprehensive religious philosophy.
It was written in the 7th century C.E. The Quran is divided into chapters (called surah) and verses (ayat) of differing lengths and topics.