Major Religions & Spiritual Beliefs, Islam
ISLAM, MUSLIM RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
Important Muslims, Islam Religion
MuhammadMuhammad (also transliterated Mohammad, Mohammed, and formerly Mahomet, following the Latin) was the founder of Islam, and is revered by Muslims as the final prophet of God. According to his traditional Muslim biographies (called sirah in Arabic), he was born c. 570 in Mecca (or "Makkah") and died June 8, 632 in Medina (Madinah), both cities in northern Arabia.
Pious Muslims consider that his work merely clarified and finalized the true religion, building on the work of other prophets of monotheism in the Near East, and believe Islam to have existed before Muhammad. They will often give him the title Rasul'ullah, "messenger of God", and follow his name in speech and in writing with the phrase sallallahu aleyhi wasallam, or, if using English, "peace be upon him".
Muhammad is said to have been a merchant who travelled widely. In 610, at the age of 40, he claimed to have been visited by the Angel Gabriel, who commanded him to memorize and recite the verses later collected as the Qur'an. He preached a strict monotheism and predicted a Day of Judgement for sinners and idol-worshippers — such as his tribesmen and neighbors in Mecca. He did not completely reject Judaism and Christianity, two other monotheistic faiths known to the Arabs; he only claimed to complete and perfect their teachings. He soon acquired both a following and the hatred of his neighbors. In 622 he was forced to flee Mecca and settle in Medina with his followers. War between Mecca and Medina followed, in which Muhammad and his followers were eventually victorious. The military organization honed in this struggle was then set to conquering the other pagan tribes of Arabia. By the time of Muhammad's death, he had unified Arabia and launched a few expeditions to the north, towards Syria and Palestine.
Under Muhammad's immediate successors the Islamic empire expanded into Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. Later conquests and missionary activity have spread his faith over much of the globe.
Prophets of IslamThe Prophets of Islam. The Qur'an speaks of God appointing two classes of human servants: messengers (rasul in Arabic), and prophets (nabi in Arabic and Hebrew). In general, messengers are the more elevated rank. All prophets are said to have spoken with divine authority; but only those who have been given a major revelation or message are called messenger. According to the Hadith, there are 124,000 messengers sent by Allah to different nations.
Notable messengers include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, all belonging to a succession of men guided by God. Islam demands that a believer accept all of the Judeo-Christian prophets, making no distinction between them. In the Qur'an, twenty five specific prophets are mentioned.
Mainstream Muslims regard Muhammad as the 'Last Messenger' or the 'Seal of the Prophets' based on the canon. However, there have been a number of sects whose leaders have proclaimed themselves the successors of Muhammad, perfecting and extending Islam, or, whose devotees have made such claims for their leaders.
In Arabic, God is called Allah, a contraction of al-ilah or "the deity". Allah thus translates to "God" in English; it is not grammatically a proper name, unlike the Israelite divine name Yahweh or the Christian usage of Jesus as a personal divine name. The implicit usage of the definite article in Allah linguistically indicates the divine unity. In spite of the different name used for God, Muslims assert that they believe in the same deity as the Judeo-Christian religions. However, Muslims disagree with the Christian theology concerning the unity of God (the doctrine of the Trinity and that Jesus is the eternal Son of God).
Although no Muslim visual images or depictions exist of God (because artistic depictions are considered idolatry), Muslims define God by the many divine attributes mentioned in the Qur'an, also commonly known as the 99 names of Allah. All but one Surah (chapter) of the Qur'an begins with the phrase "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful". These are consequently the most important divine attributes in the sense that Muslims repeat them most frequently during their ritual prayers (called salah in Arabic).
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