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History of the birth of Islam
Polygamy, murder and under age brides is how many in the western world perceive Islam. This artilcle’s excerpt’s purpose is mainly culturally educative to open our doors of perception. So here some background first to the birth of Islam. Enjoy!
Mohamed was born in the Middle East, about five hundred years after Jesus. Mohamed is not believed to be a divine human, even though his revelations now written in the Quran are considered to be sent from God through him as the messenger. The Muslim calendar begins in 622 and one quarter of the world has grown up in Islamic tradition and culture following the teachings of Mohammad. His messages are considered the final testament or revelation from God and as in most religions, it teaches about the oneness of God.
At the time, in tribal Arabia, Islam began a time of uniting societies, in areas that lived in a pretty much lawless society, previously centered around worshiping various idols of numerous tribes. It had been a culture of surviving through revenge upon one’s neighbor for wrongdoings and advocating oneness was certainly not customary.
Mohammad was an orphan, although born to a wealthy family and tribe. Whereas Jesus was a carpenter, Mohamed became a merchant, learning from his uncle, travelling through Arabia. During this early career, he achieved titles of trustworthiness and truthfulness and when he was twenty-five years old he received his first revelation on a mountain which has similarities to Moses and the sermon on the mount.
However, Mohammad initially did not think of himself as a prophet but through his sharing of future revelations to those close to him, he gained followers, and was encouraged to start teaching publicly. This public demonstrative action threatened the establishment, just as Jesus was seen to do, but Mohamed’s life story is less sad than Jesus and he was not crucified.
As his teachings were so politically different to customary culture, his own tribe began to persecute early Muslims and Mohammad and his following were forced to leave Mecca, fleeing to protected areas where Christian Kings sometimes ruled. This has similarities to how modern-day refugees have to abandon war ridden countries. Unlike Jesus, Mohamed marries, and his wife, the first Muslim, actually proposes to him. She is Khadija and fifteen years his
senior. They have a daughter Fatima, and the marriage lasted twenty-five years. When she dies, Mohammad goes on to have another thirteen wives. It is said by scholars that this was to help widows who were no longer virgins, and could therefore no longer marry. The polygamy incorporated unwanted women into tribes, and as Mohammad only bore two other children with all these wives, it seems a plausible societal kindness at the time to have had these multiple marriages. One side-note here. As much as westerners do not condone multiple marriages, from a cultural perspective one could view polygamy as open infidelity. If we look at westerner infidelity stats, where truth about it is mostly hidden, one has to see that both cultures are far from perfect.
As the persecuted early Muslims began conglomerating outside of Mecca to smaller surrounding Medina’s, which is a word for city, they began to culturally influence society and political life. There were also many significant battles where Muslims were often outnumbered three to one, yet they were victorious time and time again.
Growing from the first three hundred army to ten thousand soldiers, Muslims began to conquer surrounding areas and this is how Islam spread across the North of Africa, into Spain of Southern Europe, and up to Pakistan in the east. It is for this reason perhaps that Islam is understood by many westerners as a militant religion. But one must understand its origins in the context of that historical time which helped to spread its ideology.
With thanks to RK Gregory for the image
Part II to follow…..