The Islamic religion is one of the three major monotheistic religions of the world. These three are Christianity, Judaism and Islam. According to both Fisher and Bassiouni, these religions all can be traced to the prophet Abraham, and all of them originated in the Middle East (Fisher, 2005; Bassiouni, 1999).
According to Bassiouni (1999), Abraham, who is also known to Islam as “The Patriarch,” was the father of Isma’il (Ishmael) and Ishaq (Isaac). The sons and daughters of Isaac formed what were to become the Hebrew tribes. The sons and daughters of Isma’il formed what were to become the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and were the first people to become Muslims. The term “Islam” comes from the same root words “salaam’ which means peace and “silm” which means the condition of peace. A Muslim is one who is at peace and surrenders himself or herself to God. This surrendering to Islam means that one gives oneself to the belief without reservation, and following the letter and the spirit of the Quar’an’s prescriptions (Bassiouni, 1999).
According to Fisher (2005), Islamic tradition states that the Islamic “region sank into historical oblivion after turning away from Abraham’s monotheism.” Fisher also states that after centuries of oblivion, Muhammad was born around the year 570 CE to a poor clan in a very powerful tribe in the region. His parents and his grandparents died and Muhammad was left to his uncle. His uncle put him to work as a shepherd (Fisher, 2005).
Fisher also mentions that when Muhammad was in his teens and on a trip to Syria with his uncle, they met a Christian monk who said that he had the markings of a prophet. When Muhammad was forty, he went on a spiritual retreat during the month of Ramadan. The angel Gabriel came to him and insisted that he recite, and the angel dictated the words that he should recite which became the beginning of the Qur’an (Fisher, 2005).
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