The word Islam
comes from the
Arabic words
meaning “obedience
and peace through
submission to the
one God.”
 Muslim means “one
who submits to the
will of Allah.”
Today there are over 1.3 billion Muslims
throughout the world, concentrated in the
Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Islam is the world’s second largest religion
after Christianity and it is the fastest
Arabia before Islam:
Before the advent of Islam, the Arab
civilization had little impact on neighboring
Roman, Persian, or Abyssinian empires.
Traditionally, the Arabs were two distinct
peoples: one, the nomadic Bedouins who
roamed the desert plains and were loosely
held together by tribal codes; and two,
the urban dwellers, whose tribal divisions
were mostly social, not geographic.
In pre-Islamic Arabia,
the life of the
Bedouins was
romanticized by the
urban Arabs as pure,
chivalrous, and
They were considered
to embody all the
noble characteristics
of the Arab peoples.
Children of Arab towns
were often temporarily
sent to live with the
nomads to learn
traditional Arab culture,
such as desert living,
camel rearing, goat
herding, and pure
Arabic language.
Antar, a 6th century
Arabian poet and warrior.
Arabia was on the periphery of two
established and rival civilizations of the
time—the Byzantine Empire (heir to Rome)
and the Sassanid Empire (heir to the
imperial traditions of Persia).
Because of its location and long-distance
trade, Arabs were familiar with the larger
world, including the monotheism of
Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.
By the time of Muhammad, most of the
urban Arabs had acknowledged the
preeminent position of Allah, the supreme
god of the Arab pantheon (there were
many gods, including Allah’s three
Many Arabs increasingly identified Allah
with Judaism’s Yahweh, and regarded
themselves also as the “children of
By 600 CE, many Arabs were religiously
moving towards Judaism or that of
Christianity, the most rapidly growing religion
in western Asia.
As many Arabs were beginning to explore the
possibility that Allah/Yahweh was the only
God, the many other gods residing in the
Ka’aba and in shrines across the peninsula
were considered nothing more than “helpless
and harmless idols.”
Even though Arab cities were widely
scattered, the city of Makkah (Mecca) had
long been established as a trading center
between Arabia and Africa to the west,
Yemen and India to the south, and Egypt and
Syria to the north.
Mecca was also
important because it
was the site of the
Ka’aba, the most
important religious
shrine in Arabia and a
destination for
thousands of pilgrims.
During this period, every Arab tribe had its
own (pagan) idol placed inside the Ka’aba
(when Muhammad conquered Mecca in 630
CE, the city had over 360 idols, statues,
and other pieces of devotion to various
The leading tribe of Mecca were the
Quraysh, whose bloodline stretched back
to the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).
However for most (but not all), the
religion taught and practiced by Abraham
had long since been replaced by
polytheism and/or animism.
The Quraysh controlled access to the
Ka’aba and were able to grow extremely
wealthy taxing pilgrims wishing to see it.
Superstitions [omens, amulets, astrology,
and divination (by the casting of arrows)]
were important in deciding serious matters
like when to travel, marry, or go to war.
In Islam, this pre-Islamic polytheistic
period is known as jahiliyyah, or ‘the days
of ignorance.’
Social and tribal hierarchies also meant
the pre-Islamic period was marked by
oppression, tyranny, and conflict.
There was constant strife and hostility
between various tribes (wars between
clans was a continuous problem).
Slavery was a common practice (seen as a
sign of wealth and power).
Female infanticide was also common, as
daughters were considered an expensive
Women, whether married or not, like
slaves, were often considered personal
property that could be sold or exchanged.
Polygamy was a common practice, and
some tribes allowed women to have
several husbands.
It is believed women had more freedom
than their counterparts in most of the
“civilized” world.
Women did not wear veils and were not
Some tribes traced ancestry through the
mother (matrilineal), not the father.
Changes were coming, as a result of
The Arab Oral tradition:
From as early as the 5th century BCE, the
Arabs, originally a largely illiterate people
who were proud of their tribal genealogies
and histories, developed an incredibly
descriptive and rhythmic language.
This was achieved mostly through the
custom of memorizing oral narratives and
poetry from generation to generation.
Here is the tradition of the birth of Islam:
In the year 570 CE, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah
(which means “Praiseworthy”) was born in the
city of Mecca.
Muhammad was born into a family of noble
lineage that belonged to the Quraysh.
Orphaned at a young age (6), he would be
raised mostly by his uncle (his father’s
younger brother).
As a young man, he became a merchant.
Being a merchant enabled him to travel
throughout the Arabian Peninsula, where
he would come into contact with several
cultures and religions (including Judaism
and Christianity).
He married Khadijah (known as the
“Pure”), an older woman (15 years older),
and had six children (2 boys/4 girls). But
both sons died in infancy (which will be
important later).
Muhammad lived the life of
a wealthy merchant.
But he was a highly
reflective man who was
constantly troubled with
religious and moral issues,
as he disapproved of the
lawlessness of his
countrymen and was
troubled because many
were polytheistic and
Muhammad was a hanif (one who followed
the monotheistic teachings of Ibrahim).
As a hanif, he would spend weeks at a time
in the caves in the mountains outside
Mecca, fasting, praying, deep in
contemplation, grieving over what he saw
as social injustices; infant daughters buried
alive; women traded and bartered like
chattel; and slaves were treated no better
than livestock.
So Muhammad would often retreat into the
mountains outside Mecca to pray and
contemplate the meaning and purpose of
existence (Buddha and Jesus had similar
Then in the year 610 CE (around his 40th
birthday), while praying in a cave on Mount
Hira, Muhammad believed that he began to
receive revelations from the archangel Jibril
Convinced after
some initial self
doubt that he was
chosen to be a
prophet, he
committed his life
to fulfilling the
divine commands
he thought he
Muhammad was told by Jibril (Gabriel) he
was to be the Rasulillah (the Messenger of
God), a prophet charged with delivering a
message that would set straight
misinterpretations of earlier revelations
given through the Jewish or Christian
These revelations would continue over the
next 22 years.
The archangel Gabriel instructing Muhammad
(Persian manuscript).
Here Muhammad leads Abraham, Moses, and
Jesus in prayer (from a medieval Persian
The revelations from Gabriel to Muhammad,
recorded in the Quran, became the sacred
scriptures of Islam, which to this day Muslims
everywhere regard as the very words of God
and the core of their faith.
Intended to be recited rather than simply
read for information, the Quran, Muslims
claim, when heard in its original Arabic,
conveys nothing less than the very presence
of the divine.
In its Arabian setting, the Quran’s message,
delivered through Muhammad, was
Religiously, it was radically monotheistic,
presenting Allah as the only God, the allpowerful Creator, good, just, and merciful;
rejecting as utterly false and useless the
many gods housed in the Ka’aba; and
scorning the Christian notion of the Trinity.
Muhammad was not trying to create a new
faith…he wanted to return to the old and
pure religion of Abraham from which the
Arabs, Jews, and Christians had deviated.
According to the Quran, submission to Allah
(Muslim means “one who submits”) wasn’t
just an individual or spiritual act, it involved
the creation of a whole new society.
Over and over the Quran denounced the
prevailing social practices of Mecca; the
hoarding of wealth, the exploitation of the
poor, corrupt business deals, usury, abuse
of women, and the neglect of widows and
Like the Jewish prophets of the Old
Testament, the Quran demanded social
It sought to return to the older values of Arab
tribal life—solidarity, equality, concern for the
poor—which had been undermined in Mecca
by its growing wealth and commercialism.
The Quran also challenged the entire tribal
and clan structure of Arab society, which was
prone to feuding and violence.
The just and moral society of Islam was the
umma, the community of all believers, which
replaced tribal, ethnic, or racial identities.
Such a society would be a “witness over the
nations,” for according to the Quran, “You are
the best community evolved for mankind,
enjoining what is right and forbidding what is
In this community, women had an honored
and spiritually equal place.
The umma was to be a new and just
community, bound by a common belief, rather
than by territory, language, or tribe.
Muhammad began
preaching to his
fellow Meccans that
there was no god
but Allah, that they
must submit to God’s
will, and he pointed
out their unjust and
evil ways.
He warned them of the impending judgment
of Allah (God).
His early preaching called for social justice
and equality and condemned the oppression
of the poor by the wealthy and powerful
(ideals also common in Judaism and
At first, some of the people of Mecca were
amused by Muhammad while others
scorned him. Eventually many became
interested in his words.
As his popularity and power grew, the
political leaders of Mecca began a hostile
campaign against him (because his
popularity threatened their power).
Muhammad’s message of absolute
monotheism and social equality was against
the Meccan establishment (of his own
Quraysh clansmen).
Fearing that their pagan beliefs and tribal
social hierarchies were threatened by Islam,
tribal elders began to persecute and torture
Muslims and plotted Muhammad’s
assassination (his arch enemy was one of his
own uncles).
In 615, Muhammad
sanctioned the
migration of 80
Muslims to
Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
where they were
welcomed and
protected by the
Christian king and
his subjects.
The year 619 is known as the ‘Year of Grief’
for Muhammad. His uncle and protector,
Abu Talib died, and a few months later, his
beloved wife and spiritual companion,
Khadijah, passed away.
Adding to his humiliation, he visited a
nearby village to invite its people to Islam
and its people set their children upon him,
chasing him from the city and pelting him
with stones.
In 621, Muhammad came upon some
pilgrims from the city of Medina. They had
heard of Muhammad and were aware of
the Judeo-Christian claims of a “promised
Muhammad explained Islam and these
pilgrims converted.
A year later, they invited Muhammad and
his followers to settle in Medina (Al
Madinah-which means “the city” in Arabic).
Still fearing for his life, in 622 he and
several followers secretly fled from Mecca
(he barely escaped assassination) to the
safer haven of Medina about 200 miles
north, where Muhammad established an
Islamic community in the city.
It is in Medina that Islam became the
foundation for an entire way of life.
This moment, known
as the Hijira
(“migration”), was so
important, it marks the
starting date of the
Muslim era, Year 1 on
Islam’s calendar
(meaning we’re now in
1392 of the Islamic
In the early seventh century Arab society
was in social and cultural disarray, but
Muhammad forcefully taught Allah’s
lessons and began to transform his
He assumed full leadership of the city of
Medina—reorganizing and reforming the
city politically, religiously, and militarily.
Muhammad became the Prophet-ruler of a
virtual Islamic state within the heartlands
of pagan Arabia.
He was so successful that Muslims look
back to this time as the creation of the
standard or model for Muslim society to
One of the key ideas was that of equality
among Muslims (in the sight of Allah,
there were no differences among
That meant in theory, no racism. In
reality though, this only applied to
Muslims. Others were considered inferior.
The ancient tradition of slavery continued,
but one Muslim could not enslave another.
In the Muslim world it was considered a
good deed to free a slave, just not the
slave (s) of a good friend or relative.
Muhammad was
particularly successful in
military affairs (followers
believed he was led and
protected by “the will of
He planned and led
many successful military
campaigns, and in 630
he led his followers to
victory over Mecca.
Muhammad was a compassionate
conqueror, granting mercy to all who
submitted to Islam.
He became known throughout the land as
the Prophet of God.
Muhammad provided such a powerful
stimulus that Arab society was mobilized
almost overnight.
Even though he died in 632 CE, his faith and
fame spread like wildfire.
Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam
invaded, conquered, and converted wherever
they went.
By 715 CE, Islam reached far into North
Africa, into Spain, through the Transcaucasia,
and into most of Southwest Asia.
By 1000 CE, Islam had penetrated Southern
and Eastern Europe, Central Asia (even
reaching China), West Africa, East Africa, and
Southeast Asia.
By 1000 CE, Islam had become the world’s
first truly global religion, stretching half
way across the world (Iberia to
Muslims hold that the only genuine
explanation for the rapid Islamic conquest
of the Middle East outward was Divine
Providence, Allah’s help to those who
worked/fought for the faith.
While the spiritual capital remained in
Mecca, as the Arab-Islamic Empire
expanded, the political/administrative
capital went from its original location in
Medina to Damascus (Syria) and then to
Baghdad (Iraq).
While the empire expanded, it matured and
In architecture, mathematics, medicine, and
science the Arab/Islamic world far outpaced
their European contemporaries.
The Arabs established great universities and
libraries in many cities, including Baghdad,
Cairo, Timbuktu, and Toledo.
Cathedral of Seville. It
used to be a mosque.
The Alhambra Palace
in Grenada.
The Umayyad Great
Mosque of Damascus.
Interior of the Great
Mosque of Cordoba.
How do Muslims
regard Muhammad?
Muslims believe
Muhammad was
singled out for his
natural virtue and
integrity to fulfill the
role as the final
intermediary of divine
As a human (he was never considered
divine), Muhammad naturally had his
faults, but Muslims regard him as the finest
our species has produced, the ideal family
man and leader of humanity.
Throughout his married life with Khadijah,
Muhammad stayed away from adultery,
drinking alcohol, gambling, and the rivalries
which plagued pre-Islamic Mecca.
He was known for his compassion and care
towards orphans and the poor.
So what is Islam?
The precepts of Islam in many ways are a
revision and embellishment of Judaic and
Christian beliefs and traditions.
All three faiths trace their origins to
Abraham (in Hebrew Abraham means
‘Father of Nations’ ).
faiths followed
his son Isaac
while Islam
traced itself to
Abraham’s first
son Ishmael.
All three faiths believe in the same God, who
occasionally communicated to humankind
through prophets.
Islam believes that God spoke to humankind
beginning with Adam and continued through
Abraham, Moses and Jesus, (and several
others), but considered Muhammad as “the
seal,” the final and greatest of the prophets.
Muslims believe Muhammad’s mission was to
bring God’s final revelation to humankind.
The Five Pillars
What are some of the fundamental beliefs?
Islam brought to the Arab world not only a
unifying religious faith it had lacked but also
a new set of values, a new way of life, a
new individual and collective dignity.
The core message of the Quran—following
the law of God—was summarized as a set of
requirements for believers, known as the
Pillars of Islam.
The Five Pillars
Islam dictated the observance of what
became known as the Five Pillars…they
are how the beliefs of Islam are to be put
into action every day.
The first pillar is the confession of faith—
the repeated expression of the basic
creed (belief in one God and the prophet
hood of Muhammad)—known as the
The second pillar is the daily prayer –five
times a day facing Mecca –known as the
Prayer times are dawn, just after noon,
mid-afternoon, just after sunset, and after
The third pillar is daytime fasting called
This occurs during the ninth month of the
Muslim calendar (lunar not solar) which is
called Ramadan (it is considered the
holiest month of the Islamic year).
In 2014, Ramadan was June 28 to July 28.
From sun-up to sun-down, Muslims are
not supposed to eat or drink anything.
After sun-down Muslims usually eat a light
meal filled with sweets.
The evening is spent in spiritual reflection and
This daily sacrifice shows equality with the
poor and it reminds Muslims that the good
things in life are to be enjoyed but not to be
overindulged in.
Ramadan ends with the three day holiday
known as Eid-al-Fitr (Festival of FastBreaking)
The fourth pillar is
the giving of alms
(charity) to the
poor—known as
If you can afford it,
you are to give
2.5% of your
savings to the poor
every year.
The Hajj
The final pillar is at least one pilgrimage in
each Muslim’s lifetime to Mecca –known as
the Hajj to see the Ka’aba (Ka’ba,
Ka’abah). This is one of the prerequisites
for entering Heaven.
The Ka’aba
According to
tradition, Abraham
and Ishmael built a
simple cube-like
structure in what
came to be the
center of the city of
Mecca (a large
mosque has been
built around the
The Ka’aba
In Muhammad’s
time, the Ka’aba
was about 15 feet
tall with a black
stone about the size
of a bowling ball in
one corner (believed
to be a meteor of
divine origin from
the time of Adam
and Eve).
The Ka’aba
This miniature (c. 1315)
shows Muhammad
rededicating the stone at
the Ka’aba.
The meteor is framed in
silver, and pilgrims
attempt to kiss it like
Muhammad supposedly
The Ka’aba
Since this isn’t
always possible
because of the
crowds, you are to
point to the stone
and bow every time
you make a circuit
around the Ka’aba.
You are to make
seven circuits.
The Ka’aba
The Ka’aba was
thought to be at
the center of the
world with the
Gate of Heaven
directly above it.
The Ka’aba
The Ka’aba marked the
location where the
divine world intersected
with the mortal.
The embedded Black
Stone was a symbol of
this intersection (as a
meteorite that had fallen
from the sky, it linked
heaven and earth).
The Ka’aba
Today the Ka’aba is about 43 feet high
and about 40 feet wide.
Its holiness as a divine presence comes
mainly from its association with the lives
of Abraham and Muhammad.
It is covered by a black silk curtain made
in Egypt, decorated with gold-embroidered
calligraphy. This cloth is known as the
kiswah; and it is replaced yearly.
The Hajj
When performing the Salat (prayer 5 times
a day), you are to face towards Mecca
(because that’s where the Ka’aba is).
The Hajj
Since Islam teaches that all people are
equal before God, Muslims are required to
shed any symbols of their social status
when making the Hajj.
The same ihram (Hajj clothing) is worn by
all: men wear two white, unsewn pieces of
cloth (which represents the shroud);
Women wear any plain, simple clothing
that covers them fully.
No jewelry or perfume is to be worn.
The Hajj
Ihram clothing:
The Hajj
The Hajj occurs during the last month of
the Islamic year (known as the Month of
the Hajj).
The pilgrimage rites occur during a 5-day
period, between the 8th - 12th days of
this lunar month.
In 2014, the Hajj was between October
The Hajj
Over three million pilgrims attend the Hajj
every year. Most stay in the “white tents at
Mina” where they are arranged by nationality.
The Hajj
Muslims believe that performing the Hajj
purifies them from sin, and when they
return home, there are usually great
celebrations of their “sinless” status.
The majority of Muslims do not manage to
perform the Hajj, so during the Hajj
period, they fast and pray at home.
To the five pillars, many Muslims would
add a sixth, jihad, which means a
person’s inner struggle to live a good life.
Muhammad believed jihad to be the
personal effort each devout Muslim must
make against greed and selfishness, a
spiritual striving toward living a “Godconscious” life.
Today, many see jihad to mean either
“holy war” or “spiritual struggle against
the adversaries of Islam.”
In its lesser form, the “jihad of the sword”
was to mean the armed struggle against
the forces of evil and defending the umma
from threats of infidel aggressors.
Like the
heritage, Islam
believes in angels
(several are the
same), the devil,
and a Judgment
Day for all
Those who have been faithful and have
done Allah’s will, will be rewarded in
Paradise (Heaven).
For Muslims, death is not seen as the end
but merely as a transition from one state
of being into another as the soul journeys
back to the creator.
But those who have rejected faith and
commit sins and grave injustices are
condemned to the fires of Hell.
Muslims, like many Christians and Jews,
also believe in predestination…that your life
is predetermined and that God controls
everything that happens.
Muslims, like Christians and Jews, also have
a code of behavior that stresses correct
social behavior like respecting your parents,
your neighbors, and your community; and
being honest, trustworthy, and patient.
Islam forbids alcohol, smoking, eating pork ,
and gambling.
It tolerated polygamy (you could have up to 4
wives because Muhammad had 4), although it
spoke of the virtues of monogamy.
Mosques (Muslim churches) were not only for
prayer, but they became social gathering
centers which knit the Arab religious
community (umma) closer together.
Mecca became the spiritual center for a
divided, widely dispersed people for whom
a collective focus was something new.
Yet for all its vigor and success, Islam still
fragmented into two theological sects.
The earliest and most consequential
division came about after the death of
Muhammad (632 CE).
Who should be his legitimate successor?
The Quran dictated a democratic system
for choosing the successor (or caliph).
Muslims were free to debate, have
differences about successors, and elect a
new leader.
No one could have predicted the
consequences of this would lead to the
most serious divide in the Islamic
A few believed that it should be a blood
relative of the prophet who led Islam.
Others felt that any truly devout follower
of Muhammad was qualified to lead the
The first chosen successor (known as the
caliph) was a Muhammad’s closest friend
(since childhood) and the father of one of
Muhammad’s four wives (and thus not a
blood relative). His name was Abu Bakr.
Abu Bakr was also a
merchant and from
the Quraysh tribe.
He was the fourth
person to convert to
Islam, and the first
outside Muhammad’s
own family.
His principal
achievement was
consolidating power and
spreading Muslim control
over the entire Arabian
His forces put down
several rebel uprisings in
what were known as the
Ridda wars, where rebel
leaders declared
themselves prophets to
rival Muhammad.
Under Bakr, Muslims won their first
victories over the Persians and Byzantines
in what is today Iraq and Syria.
These raids showed the weakness and
vulnerability of the post-Classical Byzantine
and Sassanid (Persian) Empires.
Bakr fell ill and died after serving only 27
months as caliph (August 624 CE).
Before he died, he appointed Umar ibn alKhattab to succeed him as caliph.
The next two caliphs,
Umar, who ruled 10
years until 644 CE,
and Uthman, who
ruled 12 years until
656 CE, were also
close friends and
associates of
Muhammad, but not
Umar’s Arab armies attacked the Byzantines in
Syria and captured Damascus in 635.
Further south, they captured Jerusalem from
the Byzantines in 638.
They also moved against the Byzantines in
Egypt, capturing Alexandria.
In 637, Umar’s forces captured the Persian
capital of Ctesiphon, forcing the Sassanid king
to flee (they eventually killed him several years
later, ending the Sassanid dynasty).
Ctesiphon (about 20 miles SE of Baghdad)
had been a major city for over 700 years
when it was captured by Arab troops in 637
under Umar. This was the imperial palace.
With victories came the problem of how to
divide the spoils of conquest among the
In 644, Umar was assassinated by a slave
from rival clan in the mosque of Medina.
He had just returned from a Hajj.
Since he hadn’t chosen a successor, a
council of elders chose the third caliph,
Uthman ibn-Affan.
Uthman, the first caliph of the Umayyad
clan, ruled for 12 years.
He was an unpopular choice when made
caliph and was eventually assassinated by
rebels from a rival clan, run through with a
sword while in prayer at home (at the age
of 84).
His death sparked a civil war between the
Umayyad clans and those that supported
Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin, Ali.
These three caliphs didn’t satisfy a faction
of Muslims who wanted to see Ali, a blood
relative and married to Muhammad’s
daughter Fatima, named caliph.
Tradition states that Ali was the first person
who converted to Islam.
Ali had been previously passed over
because the tribes didn’t think he was old
enough or experienced enough to lead the
When Uthman died, Ali
assumed the position of caliph
(and he became the fourth
one 24 years after
Muhammad’s death).
His followers, known as the
Shiat Ali (the followers of Ali)
or the Shi’ites, proclaimed
that Muhammad finally had a
legitimate successor.
The Shi’ites believed that
Ali should have been the
first caliph and that the
caliphate should pass
down only to direct
descendants of
Muhammad via Ali and
The “Holy Family” of Shia:
Muhammad (center),
Fatima (veiled), Ali, and
grandsons Hassan (green)
and Husayn (red).
Entirely rejecting the authority of the first
three caliphs, the Shiah Muslims regarded
Ali as the first in a line of infallible
religious leaders called imams.
But Ali moved the capital of the Islamic
community from Medina to Kufa (now in
Iraq) where he had more support.
This made him unpopular and many
Muslims refused to accept his authority.
Even though he was a skilled soldier, Ali lost
the backing of powerful clans and a new
Umayyad chieftain, named Mu’awiyah was
proclaimed caliph in Jerusalem.
This directly challenged Ali’s position and in
657, both men led armies into a three day
battle to decide who was the legitimate
The battle was inconclusive and both agreed
to a six-month truce and arbitration.
However when the time came, neither man
backed down and the stand-off continued.
Some Muslims hatched a plot to end what
they saw as a damaging conflict: on the
19th day of Ramadan in 661, both men
were stabbed with poisoned swords while
at prayers.
Mu’awiyah recovered, but Ali died two days
Ali’s eldest son, Hassan, agreed to
Umayyad demands not to make a claim on
the caliphate in return for his life and a
pension. He died less than a year later
(allegedly poisoned).
Those who backed Mu’awiyah and the
Umayyads against Ali and the Shi’ites were
known as the Sunni (which means “the
path” or “example shown by Muhammad”).
Mu’awiyah ruled as caliph with no further
challenges until his death in 680.
He governed from Damascus, and his rule
was notable for his liberal and tolerant
policies towards Christians and Jews, who
came to occupy many prominent
government positions.
In 680 when Mu’awiyah died, Muhammad’s
grandson Hussain claimed the caliphate.
He and his army of 72 men were marching
from Mecca to his father Ali’s power base in
Kufa (Iraq) when they were intercepted by
Mu’awiyah’s son Yazid (who also claimed to
be caliph).
Yazid had a force of over 40,000 (so at 550
to 1 odds, take a guess who won the battle).
Hopelessly outnumbered,
Hussein’s army was
slaughtered at the Battle
of Karbala.
The only survivor was
Hussain’s son Ali, who
was too sick to fight. He
was taken prisoner and
sent to Damascus, where
he was freed several
years later.
He became the fourth
imam of Shia.
The Battle of Karbala (680 CE).
Hussein’s head was sent to Yazid in Damascus.
The division between those who were Shi’ites
and those who were Sunnis was set.
Hussein’s death (or martyrdom) is
commemorated annually with intense
processions during which the marchers beat
themselves bloody with chains (flagellation)
and cut themselves with sharp metal
instruments. This is known as the day of
Ashura for Shi’ites:
The date of Ashura is also said to be the
day Noah left the Ark and the Israelites
began their Exodus from Egypt.
Sunni’s also commemorate Ashura, but it
is a solemn occasion…a day of Atonement.
Tradition states that Muhammad observed
Jews fasting for two days on their day of
atonement and he followed that practice.
The Sunni’s did not see a blood
relationship as necessary for succession.
From the beginning of this disagreement,
the vast majority of Muslims took the
Sunni position.
The Sunni’s believed all the early caliphs
(including Ali) were legitimate.
There were two Islamic dynasties during the
post-Classical period: the Umayyad Dynasty
(661-750) and the Abbasid Dynasty (7501258).
The great expansion of Islam was propelled
by Sunnis; the Shi’ites survived as a small
minority scattered throughout the empire
(today mainly in Iran and Iraq).
Today, about 85-90% of Muslims are Sunnis.
Since Ali’s last descendent died in the 9th
century (and thus the blood line of
Muhammad), Shi’ites created a council of
12 scholars called the ulema to elect a
Supreme Imam.
Shi’ites believe their Supreme Imam is a
fully spiritual guide, and the sole source of
true knowledge, inheriting some of
Muhammad's inspiration.
The Shia Imam has come to be imbued
with Pope-like infallibility and the Shia
religious hierarchy is not dissimilar in
structure and religious power to that of
the Catholic Church.
Sunnis and Shi’ites agree on the
fundamentals of Islam, like the Five
Pillars, and they recognize each other as
Muslims, but they have some deep
divisions (like in Christianity).
Mu’awiya moved the political capital from
Medina to Damascus (Syria) where it was
more centrally located in the growing empire.
From Damascus, the Umayyads built a
bureaucracy to govern their vast lands
(which would become the largest empire
since the Romans).
The caliphs were more secular than
religious and they differed from the simple
lifestyle of Muhammad and his early
The caliph became more powerful and
imperial, living in lavish desert palaces and
conducting court against an exotic
background of wild birds and beasts and
dancing girls.
Under the Umayyads, a distinctive Islamic
culture began to take shape, influenced
largely by their Arab background.
Arabic became the official language of the
administration, replacing Greek and Persian,
which had been used in the conquered
An extensive communications system was
established, with horseback postal routes and
staging points for official use.
The first currency—gold dinars and silver
dirhams bearing Quranic texts—were
minted to replace standard Byzantine or
Persian coins stamped with the images of
The core of the caliph’s government and
army officers were Arabs who lived in the
urban centers and shared in the rewards
of conquest.
Towards the end of his reign, Mu’awiya
made sure that his son Yazid was made
his successor, setting the precedence for
the next 13 caliphs.
The Umayyads were talented military leaders,
and under their rule Islam’s second great
wave of conquests took place (early Eighth
The Muslim banner was carried from Central
Asia to the Indus River (today’s Afghanistan
and Pakistan), west through North Africa and
into Spain/Portugal.
For seven years, the Islamic armies of the
Umayyads battled for the Iberian Peninsula.
Landing at Gibraltar in 711, a Muslim leader
had his boats burned, then told his men “The
sea is behind you and the enemy is in front of
you. By God, there is no escape for you save
in valor and determination.”
The Umayyads were
pressing northward
when they were
finally turned back in
central France at the
Battle of Tours (732
The Franks were led
by Charles Martel
(known as the
Rural areas held mostly non-Arab subject
peoples, who paid taxes to support the
government (unlike Arab Muslims who were
only taxed for Zakat—charity).
The Umayyads tried to keep interactions
between the Arab Muslims and subject
peoples to a minimum to prevent the loss
of badly needed tax revenue.
Non Muslim converts (known as the mawali)
received few social or financial benefits, so
conversions were not very common, yet.
The Arabs denied them equality, considering
them inferior; to marry a non-Arab convert
was considered social suicide.
Even though many of these newcomers to
Islam fought in its armies, they usually had
to fight as foot soldiers rather than in the
elite cavalry, and they received less pay.
They still had to pay land taxes and special
head taxes, and they were not considered
to be a part of the umma.
Often non-Muslims were discouraged from
converting so that they would have to
continue to pay higher taxes.
Realizing the explosiveness of these
inequalities, the Umayyads repeatedly tried
to institute new reforms.
The most famous reformer was Umar II.
During his reign (717-720), Umar II called
for an end to all foreign campaigns and
devoted himself to tax reform.
He revived the rule of exempting all
Muslims from all taxes except the
compulsory religious tax.
However well intentioned, this had a
disastrous effect on Islam’s economy.
The “People of the Book,” as Jews and
Christians were known, were considerably
better treated than most subject peoples,
even though they had to pay the same
However, Jews and Christians were
allowed to worship as they pleased and
their communities and legal systems
remained intact.
The name Jews and Christians were given,
the dhimmis (or “People of the Book”)
explains why: Muslims respected Jews
and Christians because they were also
governed by holy scriptures and they had
shared beliefs and common roots.
Jews and Christians had received “part”
(but not all) of God’s revelations.
The Umayyad exclusion of non-Arab
Muslims (mawali) proved to be
problematic as Arab administrative centers
became increasingly far-flung.
In the 740’s, rebel mawali forces
demanded social and religious equality
with Arab Muslims and eventually brought
down the Umayyad Dynasty.
Recapping the early expansion of Islam:
Shortly after the death of Muhammad,
Islam began a rapid drive for expansion.
Unlike Buddhism or Christianity, which
expanded through missionary or
commercial activity, Islam initially extended
its influence by military conquest.
Islam spread quickly throughout portions of
Africa and Eurasia.
Within a year of Muhammad’s death, most of
the Arabian Peninsula was united under
Persia was conquered in 651 when the
Sassanid Dynasty was overthrown.
By the end of the seventh century, Islam had
reached Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and
Also by the end of the seventh century Islam
extended into Central Asia east of the Caspian
Sea, where it competed with Buddhism.
During the eighth century, Muslim armies
reached present-day Tunisia, Algeria, and
Morocco; Hindu-dominated northwest India;
and the Iberian peninsula (Spain and
The earliest Muslim conquerors were less
concerned with spreading religion and more
concerned with the extension of Arab power.
The Umayyad Caliphate
Under the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750):
The office of caliph united both secular
and religious authority in the person of
one leader.
After the assassination of Ali in 661, the
Umayyad family came to power.
Establishing their political capital in
Damascus, the Umayyad were noted for
the following:
The Umayyad Caliphate
An empire that emphasized Arab ethnicity
over adherence to Islam.
Thousands of non-Arab converts (mawali)
seethed at discriminatory taxes and
Respect for Jews and Christians as “People of
the Book.” Even though required to pay taxes
on property and for charity, Jews and
Christians were allowed freedom of worship
and self-rule within their communities.
The Umayyad Caliphate
They created a unified state, a vigorous
commerce, and a resolute military based
upon Arab tribes.
But by 740 Umayyad policies had severely
polarized their subjects and generated
widespread hostility to their authority.
Arab armies on the frontiers resented their
low pay, constant campaigning, and the
privileges of more favored tribes.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The Umayyad ruling family lived lives of
luxury, which prompted riots and instability
among the general population.
These riots led to the overthrow of the
Umayyad Dynasty by a group known as the
Abbasids in 750.
The Abbasids were formed by a ruthless
Muslim named Abbas, a descendant of an
uncle of Muhammad (named al-Abbas).
This blood relationship carried favor with
the Shi’ites.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The center of the Abbasid movement was
in Persia where there was much resentment
against the Umayyads.
The Persians considered themselves heirs
to a higher culture than their Arab
conquerors who treated them as inferiors.
The Abbasid Caliphate
To undermine the Umayyads, the Abbasids
waged an effective propaganda campaign
proclaiming the Umayyads were not true
caliphs, that they lived worldly and
decedent lives, and promised that they, the
Abbasids, would again make Islam a true
theocracy in the tradition of the “rightly
guided” caliphs.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The mawali also supported the Abbasids
(they never liked the Umayyads) because
they hoped the Abbasids would accept
them as members of the Islamic
community of believers (the umma).
In 749, Abbas was acclaimed caliph by his
In 750, Umayyad forces met Abbasid
forces at the Battle of the Great Zab
(northern Iraq) and the Abbasids were
The Abbasid Caliphate
Led by a brilliant Persian general named Abu
Muslim, the Abbasid victory ended the
Umayyad Empire.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The deposed caliph (Marwan II) fled to
Egypt but was caught there and killed, his
head sent to the new caliph (Abbas) as a
Settling into power, the new rulers of
Islam began wiping out the rest of the
Umayyads with systematic thoroughness
to eliminate the possibility of future
Umayyad challenges.
The Abbasid Caliphate
At one epic slaughter, a Persian general
named Abdullah invited 80 of the remaining
members of the Umayyad clan to a banquet
of “reconciliation.”
At the height of the festivities he had all of
them murdered, then ordered the bodies
covered while he and his aides resumed
their meal.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Those Umayyad not attending the banquet
were hunted down and killed.
Only one of the Umayyads escaped the
banquet, Abd al-Rahman, known as the “Falcon
of the Quraysh.” He managed to flee across
Africa and escaped to Spain, where he
established the Caliphate of Cordoba, a dynasty
that flourished for 300 years.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The Abbasids carried their revenge even
to Umayyad caliphs who were already
dead, exhuming their corpses and
desecrating their graves.
Only one tomb was not violated—that of
Umar II, considered the only pious caliph
among the Umayyads.
The Abbasid Caliphate
In an effort to assure a stable government, the
Abbasids tried to eliminate all dissidents who might
undermine their rule—even those who had
supported them.
The Shi’ites were quickly betrayed.
The new rulers even ruthlessly executed the men
who helped them gain office.
General Abu Muslim was hacked to pieces while
meeting with the Caliph, and his head was thrown to
his followers who waited outside the palace gates
(the rest of him was tossed into the Tigris).
The Abbasid Caliphate
General Abdullah was imprisoned for
seven years—then taken from prison and
led with great pomp to a house especially
built for him.
But the dwelling, unknown to him, had
foundations of salt, which gradually
At last the house crashed down on the
unsuspecting general, becoming his tomb.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate
was a true revolution, not just a change of
They ended the ethnic and economic
discrimination against non-Arab Muslims
(mawali) and they established the
fundamental principle that all Muslims were
equal before the state as well as before God.
Freed of Umayyad elitism, Islam experienced
a dramatic surge in conversions.
The Abbasid Caliphate
To dramatize the newness and purity of their
government, Abbas abandoned the Umayyad
capital of Damascus and moved his capital to
Hashimiya, Iraq (where Abbas received his
early support).
When he died in 754 after only four years in
office (from smallpox), he was succeeded by
his brother Mansur.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Mansur realized Hashimiya had two major
drawbacks: it was not strategically
located, and the area around it had long
been a center of rebellion.
He wanted to establish a new capital that
would be a magnificent symbol of Abbasid
power, so he journeyed throughout Iraq
looking for a suitable location.
He chose an ancient village named Baghdad,
about 20 miles northwest of the former
Persian capital of Ctesiphon.
Baghdad is situated on the west bank of the
Tigris, in the midst of a fertile plain, with a
canal linking the Tigris with the Euphrates.
The site was excellently situated to serve
commerce, dominating the crossroads of the
great trade routes, both land and water, that
went from the Far East to the Mediterranean.
To Mansur, the new city that would rise in
this “island” between the Tigris and
Euphrates would be a “market place for the
Mansur said, “Praise be to God who preserved it for me
and caused all those who came before me to neglect it. By
God I shall build it. Then I shall dwell in it as long as I live
and my descendents after me. It will surely be the most
flourishing city in the world.”
Besides Baghdad’s agricultural, commercial,
and military advantages, Mansur was
impressed by its cool nights and freedom
from mosquitoes.
Mansur named his capital city Madinat alSalam (“The City of Peace”), but everyone still
called it Baghdad.
The first stones of the new buildings were laid
in August 762, the time picked by a court
astrologer as auspicious to begin construction
(Mansur was the first caliph who kept an
astrologer at court).
Baghdad was built in the form of a circle
nearly two miles across (it was known as
the “round city.”)
At the very center of the round city was the
caliph’s palace, a magnificent edifice built of
marble and stone said to have carried from
the old Persian capital of Ctesiphon.
The palace had two striking features: a
golden gate and a green dome that rose to
120 feet over the caliph’s main audience hall.
The round city was divided into four pieshaped quadrants by two highways that cut
across it at right angles, linking the gates and
running through them.
By the Tenth Century, it is estimated the
capital had over 1.5 million residents
(potentially making it the world’s largest city).
Under the Abbasids, the empire retained the
religion and language of the Arabs, but in
most other areas, it was not dominated by
In Baghdad, the Abbasid state took on an
international character it had never known
With the end of their wars of conquest, the
Arab aristocracy lost their monopoly on
high offices and Arab warriors were
replaced by Persian soldiers.
Officials and administrators were drawn
from the many peoples making up the
empire; they achieved social position by
their ability and the caliph’s favor rather
than by fortune of birth, as in the past.
Persian and other non-Arab influences
entered Islam through intermarriage within
the Abbasid family; although the family
was originally Arabian, of the 37 caliphs in
the dynasty, only a few had Arab mothers.
Abbasid caliphs were autocratic rulers who had
absolute power like the Persian kings of
To emphasize the idea of their omnipotence,
Abbasid caliphs sequestered themselves behind
the walls of their palace in the heart of
Baghdad, living in awesome splendor.
Mansur commanded that his family was never
to be seen in public unless they were dressed
in costly silks and luxuriously perfumed.
The caliph himself was inaccessible to all
but a privileged few, who had to make their
way past a multitude of guards and
chamberlains to reach his presence.
Upon at last reaching the caliph’s throne,
concealed by a resplendent curtain, one had
to prostrate oneself and kiss the floor—a
custom alien to the rude democracy of
A more grisly reminder of the caliph’s
absolute power was a leather carpet spread
out from in front of the caliph’s throne for
the use of the executioner (who stood
behind the caliph, sword drawn, ready to
lop off the head from any luckless person
who displeased his emperor).
The Abbasid Caliphate
Here the Abbasid
court welcomed
Muslims of all ethnic
backgrounds, laying
the foundations of
an intellectual,
philosophical, and
The Abbasid Caliphate
Under the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258):
The mawali (converts) experienced new
opportunities for advancement in education,
government, and the military.
Trade became increasingly important and
routes stretched from the western
Mediterranean to China.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The learning of the ancient Greeks, Romans,
and Persians was preserved.
Between the 9th-14th centuries, Abbasid
chemists, mathematicians, geographers,
physicians, and astronomers not only
extended ancient knowledge, Greek logic,
especially that of Aristotle, permeated Muslim
The Abbasid Caliphate
Scholars were drawn to Baghdad, where the
Caliph Ma’mun (r. 813-833) created the
“House of Wisdom.”
According to legend, Ma’mun was worried
about applying reason to God’s universe until
one night when he had a dream where he
was visited by the ghost of Aristotle.
Aristotle assured him that there was no
conflict between reason and religion and the
next day the ordered the “House” to be built.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Within 75 years, the greatest works of the
Western tradition had been translated into
Arabic (Aristotle, Plato, Ptolemy, Euclid,
Archimedes, Hippocrates, Galen among
them)…important Persian and Indian
scientific works were also housed here.
The Abbasid Caliphate
In mathematics, the
fields of algebra,
geometry, and
trigonometry were
further refined.
The astrolabe, which
measured the
position of the stars,
was improved.
The Abbasid Caliphate
The study of astronomy produced maps of
the stars.
Optic surgery became a specialty, and
human anatomy was studied in detail.
Muslim cartographers produced the world’s
most detailed maps (including the maps
that guided Columbus).
Some of the world’s first universities and
largest libraries were built in Cairo,
Baghdad, Timbuktu, and Cordoba.
In the arts, calligraphy
and designs called
arabesques adorned
writing, pottery, and
The art of calligraphy was so important,
Islamic calligraphers enjoyed a more
exalted status than visual artists until the
late Middle Ages.
Elaborate calligraphy owed much to the
religion because early on, literacy was
scarce. The written word assumed a
mysterious, almost magical aura.
So elaborate scripts were created to
beautify the sacred word.
However it was forbidden to draw,
engrave, or paint any animate object
(humans, animals, birds, etc) because
according to Muhammad, only Allah can
“breathe life” into such beings.
The only way around this rule was to
draw/paint etc without complete features
(eyes, nose, etc). That way the artist
wasn’t imitating Allah.
The Abbasid Caliphate
In architecture, new
styles were developed.
Buildings were
commonly centered
around a patio area.
Minarets, towers from
which the faithful were
called to prayer,
topped or surrounded
The Abbasid Caliphate
This is the minaret
tower of the Great
Mosque of Samarra
(Iraq), built 847-851.
It is 164 feet high.
Samarra is 75 miles
north of Baghdad and
was for a short time the
center of the caliphate.
The mosque was the
world’s largest until
destroyed by the
Mongols in 1278.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Great pieces of poetry
and literature,
including The Arabian
Nights and the
Rubaiyat, enriched
Muslim culture.
“A jug of wine, a loaf
of bread, and thou
besides me singing in
the Wilderness…”
The Abbasid Caliphate
The Persians introduced to the Abbasids
(i.e. Islam) pastimes such as polo,
backgammon, and chess.
From the Far East they brought paper and
porcelain; their cooks created exotic new
dishes and served them on tables—an
innovation to Arabs accustomed to eating
cross-legged on the floor.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Baghdad’s tailors
popularized trousers, in
place of the traditional
Arab robe.
Persia also introduced
several household
items: mattresses and
cushions, kitchen
utensils like frying pans
and ovens; even silks
and linens.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Because of all the international trade in
Baghdad (and within the empire), a new
profession—banking, emerged and would be
well established by the Abbasids more than
300 years before reaching the West.
The modern word “check” came from the
Abbasid Arabic word sakk.
They had central banks with branch
offices…it was possible for a check written
on a bank in one part of the empire to be
cashed in a distant city.
The Abbasid Caliphate
Although responsible for much of the
advancement of Islamic culture, the
Abbasids found their vast empire
increasingly hard to manage and
effectively govern.
The dynasty failed to address the problem
of succession, and high taxes made the
leaders less and less popular.
A Man’s World
Muslim society was a man’s world. While his
women stayed behind closed doors, the man
of the house spent most of his non-working
hours on the town—gossiping, bathing,
playing chess (which the Arabs introduced to
the Europeans), meeting at a local tavern.
A Man’s World
Although Muhammad had forbidden the
consumption of wine, the Prophet himself
drank nabidh, a mild fermented beverage
made of raisins or dates mixed with water
an allowed to sit in earthenware jugs.
Legal nabidh was two days old; illegal
nabidh was a good deal older and stronger.
A gentleman always held an embroidered
napkin in one hand while he drank in
Domestic Life
For every Muslim male, marriage was not only
a custom but a duty.
Usually a man took his first wife at age 20, and
was permitted to take three more—but only if
he could provide each wife with her own
quarters, her own conveniences for cooking
and sleeping, and her own household slaves.
Domestic Life
A number of formalities preceded a Muslim
marriage, but the girl was never a direct
party to these, nor did the marriage need
her consent.
The preliminary arrangements were made
by the respective mothers; then the suitor
approached the girl’s father.
Finally a contract was drawn up, affirming
the girl’s age (usually 12 to 20) and her
virginity, as well as the purchase price that
the man paid to his bride (which remained
hers in the event of a divorce).
When a Muslim gentleman died, his funeral
followed a carefully prescribed ritual that
included the lamentations of women and
readings from the Quran.
Washed and wrapped in a seamless white
shroud, his body was laid to rest on its side,
facing the holy city of Mecca.
The Role of Women
The role of women in Islam went through
several changes from the time of
Muhammad through the Abbasids.
In the early days of Islam, women were
not required to wear the veil and were not
secluded from public.
These customs were adopted by Islam
after later contact with Middle Eastern
The Role of Women
The Quran urges modesty in both men
and women, no particular cultural dress
was stipulated.
Men could have up to four wives, provided
they could afford to treat them equally (an
exception was made for Muhammad who
actually had nine wives after Khadija’s
The Role of Women
Most of Muhammad’s marriages were
motivated by political or humane reasons;
some of his wives were the widows of his
lieutenants killed fighting for Islam, while
others were the daughters of important
Arab leaders.
One of them was A’isha, the daughter of
Abu Bakr (Muhammad’s dearest friend and
closest advisor).
The Role of Women
Muhammad’s wives lived in separate rooms
around the courtyard of his house, and he
took turns staying with them.
The Qur’an gave husbands the right to
chastise “unruly” wives, but Muhammad
was said to be a very kind and indulgent
The Role of Women
Women, by contrast, could have only one
But Islamic women could initiate divorce
and could remarry if divorced by their
To be divorced, a man only had to repeat
three times: “I dismiss thee.”
The Role of Women
Women in Islam, in many ways, had more
privileges than women in other societies at
the time:
Both men and women were equal before
Female infanticide was forbidden.
Women could own property both before
and after marriage.
The Role of Women
But the legal privileges enjoyed by women
were eventually counterbalanced by their
seclusion from public life to prevent the
gaze of men (women weren’t even
supposed to go to the market if men were
there—in larger cities, separate markets
just for women developed).
The Role of Women
Women of the Quran
include Eve (who
represented domestic
harmony and bliss; the
other half of Adam;
and not solely
responsible for the
couple’s descent from
Heaven), and Mary.
The Role of Women
Mary (the mother of Jesus) is
the figure many Muslim
women aspire to be like; she
is pious, sincere in her
worship of God, and
innocent—the perfect image
of femininity and tenderness
(there is even a chapter
devoted to her in the Quran).
The Role of Women
Only Abraham, Moses,
and Noah are mentioned
in the Qur’an more than
Muhammad once
declared that his
daughter Fatima would
have the highest place in
Heaven after the Virgin
Islamic law forbade enslaving other
Muslims, except in the case of prisoners of
Slavery was not hereditary…children of a
slave woman and a Muslim man were
considered free.
Muslims were frequently known to free
their slaves, especially if they converted to
Islam during their servitude.
Within the Abbasid social system, most
unskilled labor was performed by slaves
(usually, but not always, as domestic
Slaves also served as soldiers, clerks, and
These slaves lived both in urban and rural
areas of the empire.
The revelations and teachings of
Muhammad were not compiled into a
single document until several years after
his death.
Islamic holy scriptures (the messages
Muhammad received that are believed to
be God’s final revelations to humankind)
are contained in the Quran.
Unlike the holy scriptures of the Jews and
Christians, which are religious narratives,
laws, poems, proverbs, prophecies and
prayers dating from different time periods
and written by different men, every word
of the Qur’an was delivered to the world
from the lips of a single man (Muhammad)
over a 22 year period in the Seventh
Some of the Qur’an’s chapters, or suras,
are short fiery warnings of doom,
proclaiming a Day of Judgment and
demanding the worship of one God.
Others discuss the Biblical prophets and
the lessons of their lives; others lay down
detailed regulations concerning the family,
property, and justice.
In the Quran,
everything in life is
regulated, going
from absolutely
forbidden to what’s
absolutely required
to lead a good,
peaceful, and moral
life and create a
harmonious society.
Besides the Quran is the
Hadith (literally means
“speech” or “saying”).
The Hadith refers to
anything Muhammad is
thought to have said;
remembered and
recorded and passed
down by his early
Besides the Quran, Islam is held
together by very strict moral laws (called
the Sharia (or Shariah)—which in Arabic
means “the clear, straight path”).
Over centuries, the Sharia became very
rigid, and by 1200 C.E. it was thought to
be perfect (which meant there was little
room for interpretation).
Having sacred laws created a strong bond
among Muslims (which was important
since they lived in so many areas).
From India to North Africa, despite
different cultures and languages, people
had common threads of faith (in Islam)
which united much of the world.
The End
Belief in the hereafter is fundamental to
Islam, and according to the Hadiths, the
afterlife will be preceded by the Day of
Judgment, a final reckoning of all souls,
who will collectively stand before God.
Islamic tradition believes that this last day
will follow a series of apocalyptic events
that will center around two main figures in
Hadith literature: the Mahdi (a
descendant of Muhammad) and Jesus.
The End
According to the Hadiths, preceding the end
of days the sun will rise in the West,
devastating earthquakes will happen more
frequently, time will pass more quickly, and
terrible afflictions will come from the East.
Dijjal, the Antichrist, will come to power in
The End
the world there will be widespread
moral decadence, oppressive rulers, sexual
immorality, greed and avariciousness, and
The End
At this dire point, the Mahdi (means “the
guided one”) will appear followed by Jesus,
and together through them, the final battle of
good versus evil will take place.
The Mahdi and Jesus will vanquish the
Antichrist, and Islam and peace will be reestablished on earth.
The End
Jesus will marry, have children, die a
natural death, and be buried in Medina
next to Muhammad.
After this “second coming,” life as we
know it will end, and God’s final judgment
of humanity will take place.

Islam - Hempfield Area School District