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Background into Islam

The Messenger and the Message
By Abdullah Al Araby

Jump to:   Mohammed   Islam   Jihad (Holy War)   Mohammed and Jihad

In the year A.D. 610, in a cave near Mecca, while he was spending time in solitary meditation, Mohammed said that he was visited by the Angel Gabriel who in a vision delivered to him the first message of Islam.

  1. MOHAMMED

    Mohammed was born A.D. 570 into a highly regarded family from the respected tribe of Qoraysh.  His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was only six years old. When he was eight, his grandfather Abd Al Muttalib also died, leaving him in the care of his uncle, Abu Talib.

    As a young man, Mohammed was exposed to the various sects of Christianity and Judaism. He observed how they were constantly arguing and debating each other. This may have influenced his disenchantment with the traditional polytheistic religion of the Arabs at the time. Mohammed later referred to Christians and Jews as "People of the Book." (In reference to the Bible)

    At age 25, Mohammed started working for the rich widow Khadija, who later married him. She was 15 years older than he. He then became a successful merchant.

    At age 40, Mohammed spent much time in meditation, and proclaimed that he was selected by God to preach the true religion.

    Mohammed very soon faced harassment and persecution from the tribal chiefs who saw the new religion as a danger to the city's principal source of revenue. They feared that it would eliminate the profitable pilgrimages to the pagan shrine of the Kaaba.

    In the year A.D. 622, after an attempt by his opponents to murder him, Mohammed and his few followers fled to Yathrib (later named Medina) in a migration known as the Hijira.

    In Medina, Mohammed's followers grew in strength and number. From there he began a series of raids on the city of Mecca. Ultimately he subjugated the city and brought all of Arabia under his control.

    Mohammed died in the year A.D. 632.

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  1. ISLAM

    The Arabie word "Islam" means "submission" [to God]. Islam claims that it was never a new religion, but rather a continuation and culmination of God's revelations to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

    To become a Muslim, one must accept and declare the creed of Islam, commonly known as the two professions of the faith. These are, "there is no other God but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah." A Muslim then must believe in six articles of faith: God, the Angels, the Scriptures, the Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and Fatalism.

    A Muslim must perform five religious duties known as "The Pillars of Islam," which are: The Professions, Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting, and Pilgrimage to Mecca. Some have raised the Quranic sanction of Holy War (Jihad) for the spread of Islam to the rank of a sixth religious duty.

    It is interesting to note that much of Islam's practices and rituals were borrowed from the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs. This is the period that Muslims refer to as "al-Jahilyya" (Ignorance Age). Some of these rituals are: exalting the Kaaba and the Black Stone, pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting Ramadan, dedicating Friday for assembling to worship, and adopting the name "Allah" for God.

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  1. JIHAD (HOLY WAR)

    "Jihad" is an Arabic word which means "struggle."

    Jihad can mean striving to be a better Muslim. The most common meaning, however, is fighting for Allah. In this sense Jihad is the struggle for the cause of spreading Islam, using all means available to Muslims, including force. This kind of Jihad is often referred to as "Holy War."

    In resorting to force, Muslims do not have a problem finding passages in the Quran and Hadith that will not only condone violence, but also demand it.

    In the Quran, Allah orders Muslims to terrorize non-Muslims in His behalf:

      "Strike terror (into the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies." Surah 8:60

      "Fight (kill) them (non Muslims) and Allah will punish (torment) them by your hands, cover them with shame." Surah 9:14

      "I will instil terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them. It is not ye who slew them; it was Allah." Surah 8:12-17

      "O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers...let them find firmness (harshness) in you and know that Allah is with those who fear Him." Surah 9:123

In the Hadith (Mohammed's sayings), Mohammed also urges Muslims to practice Jihad.

Mohammed once was asked: what is the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and His Apostle? His answer was: "To participate in Jihad in Allah's cause."Al-Bukhari vol 1:25

Mohammed was also quoted as saying: "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah." Al-Bukhari vol 4:196

It is worth noting here that the words "fight" and "kill" have appeared in the Quran more frequently than the word "pray."

Islam teaches that people are divided into two different camps; Dar al Harb (The abode of war), and Dar al Islam (The abode of Islam). Those who belong to Dar al Islam are the Muslims who are in a constant state of war with Dar al Harb who are the non-Muslims, until such time the non-Muslims convert to Islam. In other words, Muslims can never peacefully co-exist with non-muslims.

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Mohammed and Jihad: an example

The following is just one example of Jihad from the life of the prophet of Islam, Mohammed.

After the war of the trench, in which Mohammed was besieged by the Qurayshites, led by Abu Sofyan, it was alleged that the Jewish tribe Bani Qurayza agreed to provide help from within to Abu Sofyan's forces. Although the alleged help did not materialize and the siege eventually ended, neverthless, Mohammed never forgave them for their willingness to help his enemies.

Muslims turned against Bani Qurayza and blocked their streets for twenty-five days. The Jewish tribe expressed readiness to accept surrender, to give up their belongings, and to depart from their homes.

Mohammed, however, would not consent to this, and instead appointed as an arbiter, Saad iben Moaz, a man who was known to be on bad terms with Bani Qurayza. Saad ruled that all Bani Quaryza's men should be beheaded, that the women and children should be sold as slaves, and that all their property should be divided among the Muslims.

Trenches were dug in the bazaar of Medina for disposal of the eight or nine hundred Jewish bodies whom Mohammed had spent the previous night slaughtering. (See Ibn Hisham: The Prophet's Biography; vol. 2 pages 240 & 241).

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