Birth of Islam and Muhammad's essay

Download this essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from essay:

Hence, the message contained in the holy book -- the Qur'an -- which is supposed to be the word of God Himself, is of great importance to the Muslims.

The book itself consists of the revelations made to Muhammad over a number of years, following the first revelation made to him while he was meditating in a cave near Mecca. It is divided into 114 chapters (called suras) that have been assembled in a descending order from the longest to the shortest chapter. The book is believed to be the word of God (as revealed to Prophet Muhammad) by the Muslims and sets forth the basic requirements of Muslim life, including spiritual, social, and legal codes of conduct. The Qur'an is written in the Arabic language and has a lyrical beauty that is difficult to translate into other languages. Like all profound works of literature, the verses of the Qur'an are thought to carry several layers of meaning. This may be one of the reasons why the verses have been given various interpretations by different scholars over the centuries.

Some non-Muslims and critics of Islam blame the Qur'an for the wave of mindless terrorism perpetrated by the 'Islamic terrorists' in recent times and have even termed it as a 'terror manual.' (Kamat, 2008). They point to certain verses in the Qur'an in which the Muslims have been urged to fight and kill the 'non-believers.' This criticism, of course, is grossly unfair since there are various other passages in the Qur'an as well, which extol the virtues of peace and tolerance. For example, in Chapter 109:6, the Qur'an dismisses the notion of compulsion in religion by stating: "To you be your way, and to me mine." (Ali, 2000, p. 167). It must be remembered that at various times during Muhammad's lifetime, the newly formed religion was threatened with extinction, and the verses that exhort the Muslims to fight must be seen in that context.


The concept of 'Jihad' in Islam has come under much scrutiny of late due to the activities of various so-called "Jihadi" organizations, which have carried out terrorist activities around the world in the name of Islam. The general impression about jihad in the West is that it is Islam's "holy war" and justifies the wanton killing of non-Muslims, including women and children. The literal meaning of the word 'jihad' in Arabic is "to struggle." Physical jihad, i.e., fighting against the enemies of Islam is only a small part of the wider context of jihad. The more profound form of Jihad in Islam is the "personal jihad" or the struggle to conquer the forces of evil in oneself on one's society. Prophet Muhammad, on his return from a battle is reported to have remarked, "We return from the little jihad to the greater jihad." And another of his hadith (saying) quotes him as saying: "The best jihad [struggle] is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, the Mighty and Majestic," (Quoted by Robinson, 2003). The Qur'an itself describes Jihad as a defensive war by declaring, "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors." (Chapter 2, verse 190) the concept of 'Jihad' in Islam, therefore, is not such a monstrous notion after all.

The Sects in Islam

Despite the emphasis on "oneness" and the struggle by Muhammad for unity among all Muslims, irrespective of caste, color, or creed, serious differences arose among the Muslims after Muhammad's death in 632 CE on the issue of his succession, eventually leading to the formation of different sects. Since Muhammad did not designate his successor, Abu-Bakr -- his old friend and companion -- was named as the first Caliph. Supporters of Ali -- Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law (he was married to Muhammad's daughter, Fatima) believed that Ali was his rightful successor and had been unfairly deprived of his right by Abu-Bakr and others. This gave rise to a permanent split in Islam and the Shi'ite sect.

Currently, there are three main factions among Muslims: the Sunnis, the Shi'ites and the followers of Sufism. Sunnis are the mainstream Muslims and form the vast majority. Literally, the word Sunni means the followers of the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (the "Sunnah"). The Sunni doctrine places strong emphasis on the all-encompassing nature of God's (Allah's) power and the importance of human fate. Sunnis believe that the succession of the Caliphate to Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmann, and Ali (in that order) after the Prophet's death was correct. The Shiites, on the other hand believe that Prophet Muhammad's true successor was his son-in-law, Ali, whose right of succession was usurped by Abu Bakr et al. This difference was the bone of contention between the Sunnis and Shi'ites that became more pronounced after the tragic death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussain (Ali's son) at the hands of the Caliph's army in the 9th century. The Shiites later developed a doctrine of divine right of authority and infallibility to the descendants of Ali, whom they call "Imams." They believe in 12 Imams, the last of whom is said to have disappeared in 880 AD, but who is expected to return some day to restore justice in the world, according to the Shi'ite belief. (Fisher, 2008, pp. 399-401)

Sufism developed out of the strain of mysticism in the teachings of Muhammad. The Sufis emphasize spirituality as a way of knowing God. By practicing repentance, abstinence, poverty, and meditation, the Sufi attempts to achieve a higher level of consciousness -- the ultimate aim being a state of ecstatic union with God himself. This aspect of Sufism differs with the legalistic interpretation of Islam by the Sunnis and Shias and outrages the orthodox Muslims. The message of mysticism, unbounded love and an emotional relationship with God, however, had a special appeal for the masses and contributed greatly to the spread of Islam beyond Arabia to Western Asia (Dallal, 2008).

Challenges for Islam and the Muslims in the Modern World

The current state of conflict between the militant Islam and the West, which has been termed as the "Clash of Civilizations" by some analysts, has its roots in history. As we saw in parts of this paper, Islam is one of the great monotheistic religions of the world and has always taught respect for other religions, especially Christianity and Judaism as it recognizes their founders (Moses, Jesus et. al.) as prophets and due for great respect. Throughout Islam's ascendancy and conquest that followed in the centuries after Muhammad's death and through to the Middle Ages, it tolerated other faiths and did not prosecute adherents of Judaism and Christianity since Muhammad considered them as 'people of the book' (Fisher, 408). Why then this clash between militant Islam and non-Muslims in the 21st century? One of the reasons for the simmering conflict lies in the 11th and 12th century crusades: the declaration of 'holy war' by the Christians and their attempts to capture the holy land of Jerusalem from the Muslims; the dreaded Inquisition carried out by the Christians after retaking Spain from the Muslims in the 13th century during which 3 million Muslims were killed or driven out of the country (Ibid.) in more recent times, the colonial dominance of the Imperial west over much of the Muslim world after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War and the creation of Israel in the largely Muslim Palestine has further fanned the flames of hatred among the Muslims against the West. This resentment among the Muslims has been transformed into a burning rage among the extremist elements of the Muslim society. It is important, however, to remember that such extremists form a small minority among the Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving and moderate as they follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad who was a gentle soul and preached a message of love and tolerance. The challenge for Islam and its followers in the 21st century is, therefore, to bring to the fore this peaceful message of Islam in the society. The West, too, needs to overcome its age-old prejudice against the religion of Islam and try to heal the festering wounds around the world, like the Palestine or Kashmir problems, which provide reasons for the extremists among Muslims to exploit their religion and put it on the path of violence.


Ali, a.Y. (2000). "The Holy Qur'an." Translation in English. Wordsworth Classic of World Literature. Wordsworth Edition Limited: UK

Al-Muhajabah (2008). Al-Muhajabah's Islamic Pages. Retrieved on December 10, 2008 at

Dallal, a.S. (2008). "Islam." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved on December 10, 2008 at

Fisher, M.P. (2008). Living Religions. Seventh Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall: NJ

Hajj and Eidul-Azha" (2001). Retrieved on December 10, 2008 at

Kamat, D. (2008). "Terrorists do have a Religions: It's Islam." Great Hindu. Retrieved on December 10, 2008 at…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:


Cite This Essay:

"Birth Of Islam And Muhammad's" (2008, December 10) Retrieved December 8, 2016, from

"Birth Of Islam And Muhammad's" 10 December 2008. Web.8 December. 2016. <>

"Birth Of Islam And Muhammad's", 10 December 2008, Accessed.8 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Muhammad as a Prophet

    Muhammad as a Prophet According to Shepard (2005) in Islam, there is something like more than one hundred and twenty four thousand prophets who were supposed to have been taught by God to teach men. Shepard makes the point that every prophet came on the scene with his own rules and regulations but shadowed the rules which had been put together by the prophets that had come before him. Shepard goes

  • Islamic Right and Left Any

    More recently, reports have begun coming from the Middle East that women will no longer be "expected" to participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca, thereby eliminating women from the holiest rite associated with Islam. Having once done that, it would then be easy to keep women physically, mentally, emotionally isolated within any Muslim society. Of equal concern is the way in which the Koran is interpreted to facilitate and carry

  • Islam and Modern Science Islam

    His knowledge was not limited to the time or space during which Quran was revealed; it was far more encompassing and this is revealed in the Quran for those who wish to reflect and connect the dots. In Dr. Maurice Bucaille's writings on the subject, there are countless examples of the way Quran and modern science compare. The author offers valuable analysis and explanation of the terms used by the

  • Islam Attempting to Summarize the

    The groom is required to pay a dowry to the bride, as a form of consideration, and the amount is stipulated to within the marital contract. Interestingly, a man may marry up to four women so long as he can treat them all equally. However, a woman may only marry one man. Divorces are allowed, but are easier for a man to initiate than the female. Popular media portrays Islam

  • Islamic Extremism in Britain How

    In 2006 the government of Great Britain is stated to have: "...toughened anti-terrorism laws, making it a crime to 'glorify' terrorism and easing procedures for deporting clerics and others who advocate violence. There are presently approximately 2 million plus Muslims residing in Britain's Muslim community. In August 2006 a plot to bomb jumbo jets from the skies of Great Britain, jets that were headed to major U.S. cities was

  • Islam Rise of Islam An

    It was their right and duty as loyal followers, a way they could prove their faith and their commitment to God. This mindset is one reason the Muslims under Mohammed's leadership during his conquests were so successful, as described below. Reasons for Success Mohammed and his followers defeated migrants and other raiding parties in part because they decided to attack and defend their holy place during the holy month of Ramadan,

  • Islam Author David Shasha Writes

    Initially, there was no separation between religious and civil law within Islamic countries, however Turkey became a secular state during the twentieth century (Introduction). Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus' birth was miraculous, that he was the Messiah, that he performed miraculous healings, and resurrected the dead (Introduction). However Muslims do not believe in original sin, that Jesus was killed during a crucifixion (but rather escaped and reappeared to

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved