All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.Muhammad's final sermon
Muhammad is the central prophet of the Muslim faith and author of the Qur'an.
Muhammad was a merchant living in Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia when he communed with God. Muhammad wished to find the true religious path to Allah, God. Muhammad would retreat to a cave in the mountains outside Mecca to pray and meditate to become closer to God. At the age of 40 Muhammad was said to be visited by the messengers of god Gabriel and Al-Burāq. Gabriel revealed the true nature of Allah's plans to Muhammad and Al-Burāq would carry Muhammad into heaven to commune with the souls of the departed prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Abraham. When Muhammad returned to earth he was a wiser and enlightened man and made it his mission to spread the true word of God which he felt had been lost to the world through the translations of present day man.
Through serendipitous circumstance, Muhammad would be approached by a rich Jewish widowed merchant named Khadija who wished to marry him. Muhammad refused the marriage at first feeling romantic companionship would be out of place for him. Khadija stated she would gladly support Muhammad in any pursuits he had for his company if his pride would allow it, Muhammad took the attentions of the generous merchant as a sign and agreed to the marriage. Muhammad revealed to Khadija his communion with Gabriel on behalf of Allah, Khadija would be the first convert to Islam. Soon Muhammad would ask Khadija for the money to sponsor a pilgrimage. Muhammad wished to publish a book, a book he would call the Qur'an. With the enlightenment of Allah, the wings of Al-Burāq as his transport and the financial support of Khadija, Muhammad journeyed around the Arab and Jewish world to spread the true message of Allah through the Qur'an - One of devotion and humility. While little is known as to Muhammad's precise view into the imperfections of Christianity and Judaism, he stressed that the message of God had become lost in the texts and claims to still view prophets such as Jesus and Moses as holy figures whom he consulted with in heaven.
Muhammad spread Islam as an "umma" - a community. Muhammad wanted the Muslim umma to break apart all barriers of race, class and nationality. While somewhat appealing to the people in the lands he visited, especially ones with oppressive social structures, the concept made him the enemy of many tribe leaders who gained political power from such systems. Ironically Islam made Muhammad an enemy first and foremost with his birth clan, the Banu Qaynuqa of the Quraysh tribe. The, Quraysh were the most powerful tribe in Mecca and saw Islam as a splitting off of their tribe and competing tribe which made Muhammad a hated radical in their eyes. The Quraysh leaders were merchant lords, most of their power came from managing tourism and trade in Mecca. As Mecca had many different polytheistic religions in it at the time Muhammad was alive, the Quraysh believed that claiming there was only one god would drive away their customers. The Quraysh would force Muhammd and his followers out of Mecca in 622 AD to minimize the impact of Islam on local economics. Muhammad re-established a home for his followers in Ythrab/Madina. The event the Muslim expulsion from Mecca to Madina is called the Hijra is important to Muslim culture, so important it is the marking of the year 0 on the Muslim calendar.
Muhammad would not only be a prophet in his time, but after the Hijra he was in essence a theocratic king of his own country and commanding general. Muhammad, unlike other prophets, -did- approve of warfare and violence, however only as a means of recovering freedom and even then only where no other methods are available. Muhammad had tried to mediate the return of the Muslim people to Mecca however the Quraysh would never acknowledge the Muslim nation, let alone negotiate with it. In the year 630/8 AD/CE Muhammad lead his army to reclaim Mecca. Though there was much enmity between Islam and Judaism, Muhammad was more concerned with reclaiming Mecca than Jerusalem and had no quarrels with Judaism as a way of life. Muhammad's confrontation with Judaism began and ended with the Quraysh which happened to be Jewish and even then, only because they were prepared to kill his people out of competing prestige, not over any religious difference.
Muhammad did not force non-Muslims to convert to Islam once he had established the first Muslim Empire, rather he simply granted mosques massive tax breaks while non-Muslim temples had moderate taxes. The easier economic burdens of Islam in combination with just seeing how much prosperity Allah afforded Muhammad was the main thing to convert non-Muslims within the empire to Islam. One of Muhammad's primary concerns outside of reclaiming Mecca, was the gathering and protecting of knowledge. He asked Muslims from across his empire to save any and all writing they could of history to be cataloged within his palace's ever expanding library. Because of this, many invaluable writings otherwise lost to history, such as Roman historical records still floating around in the middle-east, were saved and would be re-spread to Europe in the Renaissance when literacy started to become common place. Great Greek works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Nordic Poetic Edda, and records confirming Italian birth, death and tax records would be kept alive thanks to Muhammad's reverence for ancient writings and keeping them safe. Among these otherwise seemingly benign records is follow-up birth, death, and tax records that confirm the historical existence of the man Joshua Joseph - AKA Jesus Christ, records which matched, until then secret, Roman archives, seemingly confirming the real-life existence of one of Muhammad's primary heavenly consults.
As Muhammad was not only a prophet but a self-made king, there is little to no division between religious ethics and political ones in Islam. As such the naming of Muhammad's heir was the first great division of Islam. Officially Abu Bakr - one of Muhammad's first father-in-laws, was named his caliph - political heir, however many thought the position should go to his son-in-law, Ali. The sect of Sunni accept that Abu Bakr was the first caliph, while the sect of Shi'a believe the position was meant for Ali. There is much debate even among Sunnis if Muhammad really appointed Abu Bakr, or if he was just stepping in. Abu Bakr, spread Islam both the religion and the empire from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Uae Iraq Syria, Jordan and Israel/Palestine to nearly all of what is now considered the "Middle-East" and northern Africa. Ali would eventually become the forth caliph but with the movement behind him Sunni Muslims became suspicious of him as leader and caused greater division. Sunni is largely the sect of conservative Islam, where Shi'a Islam is more about liberal ideals. Sunni tries to recapture the glory days of Islam as it spread across the middle-east while Shi'a focuses on the ideal of Muhammad - where incorporating other cultures into one tribe is more important than expanding boarders. Both Sunni and Shi'a recognize Muhammad himself stated Islam should not be a compulsion, which is why the initial Muslim empire did not expand beyond the lands of tribes that would have otherwise killed Muslims had he not been in control of them.
Muhammad was quite charismatic and able to inspire whole crowds of strangers. One of Muhammad's greatest feats was establishment of a treaty between Muslims and the tribe of Quraysh. Muhammad had tremendous endurance and made many pilgrimages on foot by himself. To those that would follow him he asked only that they pack well and travel with perseverance as he did. Muhammad journeyed across the land not only spreading the word of Allah but helping those plagued by evil and pain. Muhammad was said to preform rites upon flames that sanctified them to burn away evil and sickness, without causing those burdened by them, harm or pain.
- "Islam" means "submission", so called by Muhammad as it represented complete submission to God.
- Hadiths are ancillary writings about Muhammad and Islam put together after his death, thus they are less first, person accounts from Muhammad than anecdotes about him from a long chain of people said to be around him. Hadiths are kept around as references but most Muslims do not take them as any sort of solid fact. One of the most infamous, and poorly sourced, hadiths is that 72 virgins await all Muslims who die in service to Allah in the afterlife.
- One of the tenets of Islam is that the faces of human holy figures never be recreated. This includes not only Muhammad but Jesus, Moses and Abraham. It however technically only applies to the face, not the form as a whole. There is much debate on the source of this but a primary reason sited is Muhammad saw the way Christianity morphed from Jesus's original intent to what it was in his life-time so he wanted to minimize exaggerations. Others say it has more to do with Jesus himself, often being portrayed as Caucasian, despite being born in the Arabic world at a time of low immigration and thus Muhammad's desire was against prophets being white-washed.