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Islam Case

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Throughout the semester, we have discussed the basis for which the Islamic culture and civilization was founded and how its origins still have substantial effects on the its culture today. As we know, pre-Islamic Arabia consisted of tribes almost constantly at war with each other that had no central form of leadership. Due to this, the idea of "faith" was somewhat varied amongst groups of people. However, we do know that there were two primary sources of what we would consider to the pre-Islamic faith and religion: the worshipping of rocks and meteorites and pagan idolatry.

This worshipping of rocks was one of the few instances in which the warring tribes would willingly cease fighting: Mecca, the location of the Kaaba, is an area where no violence is allowed out of respect for everyone's religious practices. Apart from myths, not too much is known about how the Kaaba came about, but it is known as the primary shrine in pre-Islamic Arabia where the most revered acts of worship took place. The Kaaba is a cube-shaped structure that is made up of several different materials such as granite, marble, and limestone (inside of it). Several historians have claimed that the Kaaba was brought up to be a prominent place of worship because the surrounding area of it is fairly waterless and at this location the Zamzam spring was found. Regardless of its origins, we do know that it was regarded as a place of worship to at least one pagan deity, which agrees with the original notion that pre-Islamic faith was partially based off pagan idolatry. There are several physical features which are of importance to the rites and rituals carried out at the Kaaba, such as The Black Stone, the Station of Abraham, and Meezab-I Rahmat. Arguably most important, the Black Stone is understood by Muslims to date back to the time of Adam and Eve and was put in place by the prophet Muhammad, who will be discussed later. This stone is kissed by Muslims out of reverence for God when praying there. The accepted origins of the Black Stone also help to solidify the idea that the basis of Islam originates from the previously discussed religions.

Throughout the history of Islam, Mecca has held significant importance to every observer of the Islamic faith. One of the most important reasons for its importance is that Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad, the religious, political, and military leader credited for unifying Arabia into one single lifestyle and religion - Islam. Muhammad chose this place to be the holy city of Islam and has since been revered as the most sacred of all places to a practicing Muslim. To complement this, one requirement of all Muslims (who are able to do so) is that they must gather for Hajj, the major pilgrimage to Mecca, at least one time in their life. Also, Mecca was the place where the first revelation of the Qur'an took place; this is where God spoke through the archangel Gabriel and revealed to Muhammad a reading from the Qur'an.

The respect Muslims have for Mecca is extremely evident given that there have only been a handful of people who have seen what exactly happens during Hajj. Not only is the pilgrimage cut off to all non-Muslims, the entire city of Mecca is virtually on lockdown from all non-Muslims to preserve the holiness and exclusivity of their religious practices.

The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was born at a particularly unfortunate time. He was born into a clan that eventually was one of the most well-respected and wealthy in Mecca, but apparently was not during his lifetime. Previous to his birth, Muhammad's father died, and only a short 6 years after his birth, he lost his mother. Because of this, he was constantly with foster parents/family members such as his grandfather (who also died early in his life) and his uncle. On top of the several losses he's suffered early in life, it wasn't common for guardians to take good care of the people they are left in charge of. It's understood to us that Muhammad didn't ever have things easy: there were no such things as "luxuries" to him in his upbringing. We don't have much information on him as a teenager, but we do know that he worked with his uncle who helped raise him in the caravan trade without much opportunity to change careers.

At this point in his life, Muhammad was well-known and popular because of his personality. He was known to be very faithful and trustworthy. This reputation brought forth his marriage to Khadijah, a widow of many years who originally met him through employing him to trade with Syria. This marriage lasted and resulted in the birth of four children. Despite all this happiness, Muhammad still would often seclude himself in a cave because he felt the world cares too much about material gains and not enough about faith and trust in religion. In the caves, he would meditate and reflect on the world in its current state, and it is here where Muhammad was first indirectly spoken to by God. The archangel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad and commands him to read in the name of his Lord and Creator.

Muhammad was initially unsure as to whether there was something special about him even after the first few revelations. He couldn't decide what the appropriate response to his was and secretly shared these revelations with his family out of fear that he was possessed and even contemplated suicide. However, these revelations continued being revealed to him over time and convinced him that he was a messenger of God. When he finally began spreading God's words to the Meccans, there were fairly negative feelings about what he had to say. Most people were given the impression that God was demanding certain actions of the people and to be revered as a powerful entity which all must recognize. This impression that was given off made it hard to convince others to take up and join him in spreading God's word, so he first converted people close to him such as his friends and family members. Despite converting a leading merchant who was well-respected (Abu Bakr), there was still great opposition to his cause because what he was preaching opposed the commonly accepted beliefs of the people. Specifically, the monotheistic ideas that Muhammad was preaching went against everyone's upbringings and understandings of the world.

Despite an overwhelming failure in converting a large amount of people, Muhammad was able to reach out to select groups such as the siblings of great merchants, people who lost power in their tribes, and unprotected foreigners. This brought about the notion to the wealthy that there may be a social revolution in which they will eventually overthrow those with power. Due to this, there are substantial accounts of mistreatment toward him and his followers. Tensions continued to rise while Muhammad continued to convert others in favor of his mission and eventually his faith



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