To understand Islam we must first understand its founder, Muhammad. It is believed that he was born April 26, 570 AD. He was a descendant of Ishmael, which makes him an Arab. He started his new religion about 600 years after Christ. He tried to convince people that he was a prophet, and that his message was a continuation of the message of the Bible. He died June 8, 632. His father died before his birth. His mother either died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. He grandfather took care of him, but he died before Muhammad was a year old. He was raised by his uncle and who trained Muhammad to be a caravan trader.
As a trader he went to Syria, which at the time was a strong Christian nation. The first language that the New Testament was translated into was Syriac. After the destruction of Israel by the Romans, Syria had pretty much taken over the land of Israel. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch of Syria.
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
These trips into Syria exposed Muhammad to Christian doctrine.
Muhammad was born into the Quraysh tribe, a mercantile tribe that historically inhabited and controlled Mecca and its Ka’aba. He was a descendant of a famous a pagan priest Quasayy,, who lived about four generations before him. The fact that he was of the priestly line influenced greatly his thoughts on religion. It was a major reason he sought to be a prophet himself.
During one of Muhammad’s trips, he did a job for a wealthy widow named Khadijah. On this business trip to Syria, he doubled Khadijah’s money. She realized the talent of Muhammad and wanted to get a hold of his services. She was about 20 years older than Muhammad, but she married him. They were married for about 20 years. It was a monogamous marriage, there were no extra wives at this time.
Because of this marriage, Muhammad became very wealthy. He no longer had to work so he turned his attention to spiritual things. Because he was in the line of pagan priests, he involved himself in religious activities.
There were four major sources of religious influence on Muhammad, his being of a the priestly line was the first. Khadijah was the second influence in his religious life. I’ll say more about this in a moment. She had an uncle who was an Ebionite priest and he was the third religious influence. The Ebionites were a sect of Christianity that practiced the Old Testament rituals. They spread into Arabia and down to Alexandria, in Egypt. They also rejected all of the writings of the Apostle Paul.
The fourth religious influence was an experience Muhammad had when he went to meditate in a cave. He went to this cave often to try to hear from God. While there, he had a visit from a jinn, which is the Arabic word for a spirit. It is from this Arabic word that we get our English word “genie.” This jinn started to squeeze Muhammad, and told him to write what he had to say. Muhammad could neither read nor write. Being illiterate was not uncommon for Arabs because they were basically a nomadic people, and there were no books in the Arabic language at that time. It is believed that the first book ever written in Arabic was the Qur’an.
He thought he was demon possessed, and I agree with him. It was is wife, Khadijah, that convinced him that it was an angel, not a demon. In the biographies of Muhammad he said the following:
“I thought, Woe is me POET OR POSSESSED – Never shall Quraysh say this of me! I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest.”
A poet would have been a prophet. He did not want his tribe to think that he was possessed of a demon. He was ready to kill himself rather than have others think that he was possessed. He felt that this was the only way he could find rest.
While the “great prophet” Muhammad couldn’t figure this out, his wife was able to do so. She is the one that convinced him that all the revelations that came from this jinn, were, in fact, from the Angle Gabriel.
Muhammad started preaching the new message that came from this jinn. The Arabs at that time were polytheistic, they had over 360 gods. There was one god for every tribe. He started telling people that there is only one god. Of course it was the moon god, Allah, the god of his tribe. He said that this was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Ishmael. He said that it was Allah who gave the revelation of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as well. He taught that Allah was now giving new revelation through the seed of Ishmael. When he started preaching monotheism, it was not well received by the Arabic tribes.
After his uncle died, about 10 years after he started his new religion, Muhammad was thrown out of Mecca. At this time he only had about 120 followers. This happened in the year 622. The Islamic dating system starts on this date. This was called the Hijrah, where they migrated from Mecca to Medina. There were four Jewish tribes in Medina, and he tried to convince them that he was a new prophet. They rejected him because his message did not agree with the Jewish Scriptures.
This upset Muhammad and his message began to change. For the next 10 years, he ruled by the sword, He annihilated or banished just about every Jew. He started raiding caravans, and Islam started growing by about 10,000 a year.
After this, he returned to Mecca with his army. He threw out 359 of the 360 idols in the Ka’aba, all except his tribal god, Allah. He established his religion, Islam, in Mecca by the sword.
Muhammad had at least 18 wives and countless numbers of sex slaves. The Qur’an teaches that a man can have up to four wives, and when they conquer people they can take however many sex slaves as they want. Muhammad was always immune to the laws given to everyone else so he could have as many wives as he wanted.
It turns out that he took one wife too many. He took a Jewish wife, Rayhana, and she is the one that killed him. He had killed her husband in the battle of the ditch, where he beheaded between 600 and 900 Jewish men. He took their women as his war booty. He got one fifth of all of the booty, and his followers divided up the rest. They then had to pay him one fifth of their booty.
Rayhana poisoned Muhammad, which led to his death. It was a fairly long, slow death. It was during this time that he gave the ninth chapter in the Qur’an. It is poetic justice that the great Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, died at the hand of a Jewish woman.
Muhammad also married a six year old girl by the name of Aisha, but he did not consummate the marriage until she was nine years old. She became his most popular wife, and he died in her arms.
This is but a quick overview of the Prophet Muhammad. As we look Islam in future articles, this will help us understand why Islam is what it is.
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