Islam Part 1: The Prophet Mohammed

       Islam is an Arabic word that means submission or surrender.  The word Muslim means one who submits.  Islam is one of the three largest religions in the world.  It revolves around a prophet named Mohammed.  Mohammed was born in 570 AD in the city of Mecca in Arabia, into the Hashemite tribe of the Al Qu’raysh tribe.  His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was 6 years old.  His was then raised by his uncle.  When he was a child of approximately 12 years old, a Christian monk supposedly  told Mohammed that he would be a prophet of God.  As he got older he became a merchant.  He gained a good reputation and was well known for his honesty and integrity.  This attracted the attention of a 40 year old, wealthy widow named Khadijah.  At 25 years old Mohammed married Khadijah. 

      As an adult Mohammed spent a lot of time in caves outside of Mecca, in seclusion, meditating and fasting.  Alfred Guillaume and Islam and Arabic scholar tells of Mohammed’s first vision when he says, “One night as he was asleep, the angel Gabriel came to him with a piece of silk brocade whereupon words were written and said, “recite”.  He answered, “what shall I recite.”  The order was repeated  3 times while he felt continually increasing physical pressure, until the angel said, “recite in the name of the Lord who created man from blood coagulated.  Recite thy Lord is wondrous kind, who by the pen has taught mankind, things we knew not being blind.”  Sir Norman Anderson, an English missionary who did extensive research on Islamic Law, tells that Mohammed first thought that he was possessed by a demon.  Sir Norman Anderson says, “It seems however that Mohammed himself was at first doubtful of the source of these revelations, fearing that he was possessed by one of the Jin or sprites, as was commonly believed t be the case with Arab poets and soothsayers.  But Khadijah and others reassured him and soon he began to propound divine revelations with increasing frequency.”  After the initial revelation, Mohammed had no more for 3 years.  When they did resume the revelations were accompanied with seizures.  The Cambridge History of Islam states, “Either in the course of the vision or shortly afterward, Mohammed began to receive messages or revelations from God.  Sometimes he may have heard the words being spoken to him but for the most part he seems simply to have found them in his heart.” 

      In 619 Khadijah died.  After her death Mohammed married 2 wives one of which was Aisha.  Aisha was 6 years old when Mohammed married her.  Mohammed waited until she was 9 years old, to have sex with her.  Mohammed had as many as 13 wives  He is said to have had conversations with them, listen to their advice and do chores around the house.  .  In 620, Mohammed reportedly had a journey.  On this journey he toured heaven and hell and spoke to former prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus.  This journey is called the Isra and Mi’raj.  While still living in Mecca, Mohammed and his followers, were rejected and ostracized.  At this point Mohammed and his followers withdrew from Mecca and went to Medina.  This is called the Hirjira.  It is marked on the Muslim calendar as July 16, 622.  He decided on Mecca as the center of worship because the Jews and Christians rejected him and so as a result he turned away from Jerusalem.  While in Medina he amassed a following of 10,000 people. 

      Meccans began seizing the property of Muslims.  As a result Muslims began initiating armed conflict.  Mohammed then gave  Quranic verses permitting the fighting with Mecca.  The ultimate goal of this was to pressure Mecca into accepting Islam, by interfering with trade.  It also helped Muslims acquire wealth and power.  Mecca was ultimately conquered by the Muslims in 630 AD.  Many other groups would try to fight and attack Mohammed and his followers but when he found out about these groups he acted violently, even going so far one time as to assassinate  the ruler of a Jewish tribe in Arabia. 

      Shortly before his death, Mohammed took his first real pilgrimage.  When he returned, he gave a sermon.  In this sermon, he addressed many things.  He told men to. “Be good to women for they are powerless captives in your households.  You took them in God’s trust and legitimated your sexual relations with the word of God.”  He also told them that they were entitled to discipline to their women as long as it was done in kindness.  A few months later he died with severe head pain and weakness. This was in 63 AD.

      About Mohammed’s personality Sir Norman Anderson says, “He was generous, resolute, genial and astute:  a shrewd judge and a born leader of men.  He could however be cruel and vindictive to his enemies; he could stoop to assassination and was undeniably sensual.”  Robert Payne says, “violence and gentleness were at war within him.  Sometimes he gives the appearance of living simultaneously in 2 worlds, at one in the same moment seeing the world about to be destroyed by the flame of God and in a divine peace; and he seems to hold these opposing visions only at the cost of an overwhelming sense of strain.”

      The differences between Jesus and Mohammed are many.  First, Jesus was God in the flesh, born of a virgin.  Mohammed was a man, orphaned and raised by his uncle.  Mohammed’s revelations came mainly from his heart.  The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? “  Jesus spoke to God and was God.  Mohammed also, was not sure at first that it was God who was speaking to Him.  Jesus had a close relationship with God and God was His Father.  Jesus was not a politician or political leader.  Many thought He was and tried to make Him one but He was not.  Mohammed was a ruler and a politician.  He established governments and laws and raised armies to conquer cities.  Jesus did get angry at times but it was out of love and He taught to love your enemies.  Jesus gave Himself to die for His enemies.  Mohammed was kind to some people but was violent toward anyone who threatened him and toward those who were his enemies.  Those who claim that Islam and Christianity are the same or similar are either deceived or ignorant.  It is important that we know and understand the truth so that we do not get led astray and accept false prophets as acceptable.

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