Islam is one of the major religions of the world. Islam originated in the Middle East in the year 570 A.D., when the Last Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, was born. Islam is a monotheistic religion, which means that people of the Islamic faith only worship one God. The name of the Islamic God is Allah.
Muhammad was the Holy Prophet of Islam, and is also considered to have been the last. He was born in the city of Mecca in 570 A.D., to a widowed mother who died when he was six years old. Muhammad got married at 25 to a 40-year-old widow named Khadijah.
Muhammad did not have a religious upbringing. The first time that Allah spoke to him, he was 40 years old, and was alone walking in the mountains.
According to Muslims, the angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad in a cave on that mountain, and commanded him to preach the messages sent to him from Allah.
When Muhammad first began to preach these messages, the people of Mecca disliked what he had to say – however, over time, these revelations garnered him a significant following.
The leaders of Mecca began to punish and torture those who followed Islam. Because of this, Muhammad fled to the city of Medina, in a pilgrimage that became known as the Hijra in the Islamic tradition.
(Nowadays, the Hijra is an important rite of passage for Muslims.) Muhammad’s teachings grew even more popular in Medina, and in the year 630 A.D., he was able to return to Mecca. Using his army of converts, he seized control of the city and ended the persecution of Muslims.
Muhammad ruled Mecca for a short time – however, he soon died from illness, and with his death began the tradition of the Islamic caliphate.
The word caliphate refers to an Islamic state that is ruled by a single leader called a caliph. In Islam, caliphs are the successors to Muhammad – which is why the first four caliphs were Muhammad’s close companions, who were most trusted by the people to continue his life’s work.
The sacred text of the Islamic faith is the Quran. During Muhammad’s lifetime, he was shown visions by Allah, and these visions (referred to as the “revelations” of Muhammad) formed the basis of what would go on to become the Islamic holy text.
Unlike the Christian Bible, the Quran focused more on religious interpretation of the real world instead of moral storytelling. The Quran is one of the most widely distributed books in the world.
According to Islam, the five pillars of Islam are obligations every Muslim must fulfil if they wish to live a good life. The five pillars are:
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. It is the ninth month, and the one in which the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn till dusk as a means of showing their devotion to Allah.
Muslim families may only eat one meal a day during Ramadan, and always after sunset. There are also not allowed to drink water during daylight hours.
The ritualization of daily prayer is the main factor that separates Islam from other major religions.
Where traditions surrounding prayer are much looser in the religions of Christianity and Judaism, Muslims must adopt specific posture and hand placement as they pray – they must always pray facing Mecca, so as to show respect to the origin of their faith, and wash their hands and feet before they begin so that their bodies are pure.
Where Christianity was modernized during the Middle Ages, the practices of Islam haven’t changed much since their conception. This means that they look and feel very different to any other modern religions.
– Islam is one of the major religions of the world.