World History Before 1500: the Rise of Islam

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One of the world's popular religions, with an estimated 1.57 billion followers, second to that of Christianity, Islam is also one of the oldest religions. The rise and spread of Islam was started around the early seventh century, C.E., and was founded by the Arab prophet Muhammad. The roots of Islam are that of both Judaic and Christian traditions but there were some changes made. The main change was there were divine revelations proclaimed by Muhammad, who was seen as more than just a religious teacher. He had envisioned the community of believers as a tight-knit movement who were dedicated to propagating the true faith of the religion. His successors aided in the success of the founding by fashioning the religion into a mighty force politically and socially. More than a century after Muhammad's death in 623, an Islamic empire was expanding to the point of reaching Spain in the west and Iran in the east. Following such massive expansion, in the tenth century, the empire divided into independent states and commonwealths. The main cause was because much like early Christianity, tensions were high among both the political rulers and the religious authorities. But despite these tensions, the powerful inspiration of Muhammad's teaching and the radical ideals of early Islam managed to keep things together. There was a strong sense of community among the followers that had transcended both ethical and political boundaries. When Islam began, it was based on Muhammad's early teachings. To understand his teachings, one must take a look at his life, which helped bring about his own interpretation of the way things were and what they meant. Muhammad's life began in a once prominent clan whose fortunes they accumulated were in decline. As a young man, he worked for a woman as a caravaner. The woman, whose name was Khadija, was a wealthy widow who Muhammad married when he twenty-five. After his marriage, he attempted to live an honest life that was gained by a moral...
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