Islam: Its History, Sects, And Pillars

3586 words - 14 pages

Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion alongside Judaism and Christianity. It is currently the second largest religion in the world today. Its beliefs come from the Qur'an which literally means "the recitation" which is believed to be a literal transcription of the word of God. Its main prophet is named Muhammad who began Islam by speaking with the angel Gabriel in a cave during his meditation and then acting as an instrument of God to help write the Qur’an. Muhammad then spread Islam to the scattered tribes of Arabia by becoming the leader of Yathrib and using his wonderful leadership abilities to then grow his influence over virtually all of Arabia. Muhammad is known by Muslims to be the seal of the profits because no profits after Muhammad should be considered legitimate. Muhammad also left behind the Hadith or “tradition” which is a collection of writings compiled of reports of Muhammad’s actions as leader of Yathrib. These reports are used as a more specific code of ethics in day to day life and from these reports the 5 Pillars of Islam are derived (Smith 160). Although Islam shares many similarities to Judaism and Christianity it is often viewed in the US with hate derived from preconceived notions following the attack on September 11th 2001. This paper seeks to provide an overview of Islam’s history as well as its two major sects and 5 main pillars to remove preconceived notions and provide a glance into the minds of the Islamic people.
Islam has a deep history, beginning with ideas originating before Muhammad and spanning to the present day. Before Islam, the Bedouin people’s faith contained a belief in supreme beings alongside animism. They also put a large emphasis on ancestor worship (Swartz 15). Some groups abandoned polytheism to adopt a monotheistic god. This is thought to be a Jewish influence or as an independent counter movement to paganism (Rippin 11). Although there were many tribes speaking many dialects of Arabic, each used the same poetic language and engaged in ample trade (Bloom & Blair 25). In 610 C.E a businessman named Muhammad ibn Abdallah retired to a cave in Mount Hira to fast, pray, and give alms to the poor. He was very upset with the current situation of his tribe, who he believed had lost its moral way in its search for growing trade. He was also upset with the spiritual restlessness of Mecca and the surrounding peninsula as Judaism and Christianity rubbed up against each tribe’s native beliefs (Armstrong 2). Inside the cave he was met by an angel named Gabriel who told him to proclaim the word of Allah. Though completely illiterate, it is believed that Allah himself spoke though Muhammad and allowed him to write the holiest book, the Qur’an (Smith 149). The Qur’an was not written all at once, however. Only the first surah was written that night and was kept a secret by Muhammad until his wife Khadijah accepted his ministry and became his first convert (Horrie & Chippindale 21). Muhammad would have...

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