The Rise of Islam in Arabia

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Islam, in Arabic, means “submission.” Islam teaches submission to God, or “Allah” in Arabic. Before Islam began and revolutionized the Arab world, Arabia was a tribal, desert environment with no single political organization or faith. The majority of its inhabitants were pastoral nomads organized by tribe and clan, who fought with one another for access to precious resources such as water, herds, and land. Before the advent of Islam, most Arabs worshipped a variety of male and female deities. Only a minority, who were neither Christians nor Jews, were monotheists. Between the 600 and 700 centuries Islam emerged and became a major turning point in world history. Before Muslims inhabited the Middle East, it was dominated by the Sassanian and Byzantine empires. The Byzantine Empire was centered in Constantinople and controlled the lands of the eastern Mediterranean. The Sassanian Empire was centered at Ctesiphon and ruled over the Tigris-Euphrasian valleys. According to Conwell and Livingston, the two states had hostility towards one another because one was Christian with a Greco-Roman culture, and the other Zoroastrian with Peso-Mesopotamian traditions. Between A.D 603 and 629 these empires fought many wars and were left vulnerable to an approaching storm in the desert . The tribes inhabiting the desert lacked many sources of water that would allow for bigger cities and civilizations. One city Mecca flourished as a trading center in the seventh century, but the region generally lacked the governmental institutions and the powerful emperors that supported emergence of major religions1. Arabia during this time was still religiously polytheistic, worshipping many Gods and Deities. The city of Mecca housed the Ka’ aba, which was a rectangular building, that was home to the sacred tokens of the Meccan and surrounding clans. Mecca was also a central trade and pilgrimage point in the area, which brought enormous economic benefits to the controlling Quraysh tribes. The

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