History of Islam

Islam is the religion of the Arabic and Iranian world of which Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was the prophet. He lived from 570A.D to 632A.D.

The word Islam is derived from ‘silm’ which means peace, obedience and submission. It signifies submission to the will of God. Islam is one of the few great and wide-spread religions of the world. The adherents of Islam are called as Muslims.

Islam came later than the other great monotheistic religions, like Judaism and Christianity. It drew its inspiration mainly from Judaism and Nestorianism. Muhammad (P.B.U.H) accepted the inspiration of the Old Testament and claimed to be a successor to Moses, and although he did no recognize Jesus as God, he did recognize Him as a prophet sent by God to guide the humanity on the path of spirituality.
The sacred book of Islam is called as Quran. This book is written in Arabic and Muslims memorize the whole or part of it. Like Orthodox Judaism Islam is a literal-minded religion lived in everyday life. No Muslim is in any doubt as to exactly how he should carry on in the events of his day.
Muhammad’s (P.BU.H) main achievements were the destruction of idolatry, the welding of warring tribes into one community, the progress of a conquest which led after his death to the great and cultured empire which spread throughout the Middle East into North Africa, north India, and ultimately to Spain. That it did not spread all over Europe was due to the Muslim defeat by Charles Martel at Tours in 732.
After the death of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) the reigns of govt come into the hands of his successors called as ‘Khalifas”. The first four caliphs are declared as the pious caliphs or ‘Khulfa-e-Rashideen’. The first one among them was Abu Bakr Siddique (R.A). He remained khalifa of Muslims from 632A.D to 634A.D. He on his taking the charge of govt in his own hands fought wars of apostasy (the Battle of Yamama 633A.D).
These wars were fought against people who declare themselves as prophets and those who refuse to pay ‘Zakat’. The next in line were Umar (Aug 634-Nov 644), Usman (644-656A.D) and Ali(656-661A.D). These four rulers were selected to govern by four different selection processes. They established a system of government which is monarchical and ruled a vast empire according to the rules and regulations set by Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and the holy Quran.
During the reign of these four caliphs the Islamic state extended its borders extensively. Slowly this system of Government degenerated into a worldly empire which becomes power-hungry and corrupted. Though, physically the Islamic empire was spreading vast but politically there were many fissures in it. That corrupted it a lot.
After the death of Umar, Usman succeed the throne but he was accused of favoritism and nepotism. He was murdered and succeeded by Ali. But the Muslims had been divided by then into groups and factions that were at daggers drawn towards each other because of political and ideological differences and a civil war(657-659A.D) started between them that was also declared as the ‘first Fitna’ in Islam.
The civil war was fought between Ali on one side and Amir Muawiyah on the other. In reality the jealousy and rivalry between the two tribes, banu Hashim (the tribe to which Hazrat Muhammad P.B.U.H and Ali belongs) and banu Ummayah (the tribe of Usman, Abu Safiyan and Muawiyah), had been going on for the long time even before the birth of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H).
‘The battle of Camel’ between Ali and Muawiyah remained indecisive and Ali was murdered by a Hwariji. After his death Muawiyah succeeded the throne (661-680A.D). Thus lay down the foundation of the hereditary Umayyad caliphate.
Amir Muawiyah extends further the boundaries of Muslim state with the help of an able Muslim general Uqba bin Nafi. When he nominated his son Yazid (680-683A.D) as his successor he gave birth to the second Fitna (683-685A.D) in Islamic empire. Imam Hussain, the grandson of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) also laid claim on the ruler ship of the Islamic empire. His revolt failed to succeed and the clan of banu Ummayah ruled for another seventy years.
During their reign Muslim world extended to North Africa and Central Asia as well as to many other places. There economic position improved greatly. There religion got recognition all over the world as Muslims spread themselves in far and wide of the globe. This new empire was tolerant towards the religious freedom of its non-Muslim subjects though a tax called ‘jizyah’ was imposed on them. With the introduction of non-Arab Muslims into the Islamic empire the tension grew within the state.

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New York University

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