Islam is regarded as one of the major religions of the world. Its founder was Prophet Muhammad. Islam originated in Arab.
In later times, it was regarded as a great religion of the world. Islam travelled from country to country and carved out a special position of its own in the religious domain.
Prophet Muhammad created a new awakening among the Muslims by preaching Islam. His teachings have been codified in Koran which is regarded as the sacred book of Islam.
Life of Prophet Muhammad:
Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. at Mecca in Arab. His father was Abdullah and mother Amina. Muhammad lost both of them in his Childhood days. He was brought up by his grandfather Abu Talib who was the chief of Quaraish tribe. Infact, he had given the name Muhammad to him which means ‘Worthy of Praise’.
In his childhood Muhammad came under the tender care of a woman named Halima who was uneducated. She told short but religious stories to Muhammad which cast deep impact on him. Often Muhammad contemplated and looked the pilgrims who came to visit Kaaba.
He did not like image worship. He went with his grandfather to countries like Egypt, Syria and other places. By his travel in the foreign countries, he was able to learn Beduin and other languages. This enhanced his experience. He was regarded as a saint in the Arab countries.
At his youth, Muhammad looked after the business of a rich widow named Khadija. Due to his honesty and sincerity he was liked by Khadija who married him inspite of the difference of age, she being forty and Muhammad twenty five years old. In due course of time, the natural phenomena like sun rise, sunset etc. cast deep impact on his mind.
Muhammad went to Mount Hira and confined inside a cave. He sat on meditation. Once Angel Gabriel appeared before him and asked him to recite in the name of ‘Allah’-the only true God. From that day, Muhammad devoted his life in the worship of ‘Allah’ and the religion which he preached became famous as ‘Islam’ which means “absolute submission to God”.
After returning from Mount Hira, Muhammad conveyed this message to his wife. Khadija first accepted ‘Islam’. Then his adopted son Ali, friend Abu Bakar and the freed slave of Muhammad named Zaid accepted Islam from him.
Thus, Islam began to gain momentum in Mecca. The Muslim nobles of Mecca became envious and wanted to take revenge of Muhammad. They tortured him and his followers. They also confiscated the property of Muhammad’s followers. Still then, Muhammad continued to preach his religion.
Muhammad did not like idol worship. Once he entered Kaaba and denounced all the Gods of the Arabs. He advised the people to surrender before Allah. The people of Medina were largely attracted towards Muhammad and invited him to Medina. When the tyranny of the Muslim nobles became intolerable, Muhammad left Mecca on 22 September 622 A.D. and reached Medina. This event is known as Hijrat (Flight) and the Islamic Calendar or Hegira began from this date.
Muhammad reached Medina. He formed his own organisation and preached Islam. He then attacked Mecca and occupied it in 630 A.D. He broke 360 idols at Mecca and forced the people Mecca to accept Islam. He died in Medina on 8 June 632 A.D. in the arms of his another favourite wife Ayesha.
Teachings of Prophet Muhammad:
The religion preached by Muhammad became famous as ‘Islam’. The followers of Islam are known as Muslims. A Muslim is he who surrenders before Allah. The teachings of Muhammad are found in ‘Koran’ which is the sacred book of the Muslims. It is divided into 114 ‘Sura’ or Chapter. The ‘Hadith’ or ‘Hadis’ is also another sacred book of Islam which also contains the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
The root of Islam is Monotheism. God or Allah is one and there is no second to him. He is self-exalted. He is ‘Rob’ or the preservor of the world. He shows way to the people who have lost their path. Muhammad said that he was simply a preacher and he was sent by Allah to do that. Thus, Islam puts emphasis on Monotheism.
Prophet Muhammad sowed the seeds of fraternity among men. He reposes firm faith on Allah. The rope that connects man with Allah is a rope of love which binds all. Man forgets his enemy and fraternity grows. The medium for this fraternity is only Allah who binds mankind with the rope of love.
Immortality of Soul:
Muhammad puts emphasis on the future life and immortality of soul. According to him those who believe in Allah and follow the right path, they go to heaven. This shows the immortality of soul. Similarly, those who worship many gods and goddesses and do not follow the right path, they go to hell or ‘Jahannam’.
Azan and Namaz:
Prophet Muhammad advised to follow certain principles to purify the religious life. He advised to practise ‘Namaz’ for five times in a day during morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night. Before Namaz, the work of ‘Azan’ (calling of people) is performed. Here Muazzin (the man who performs Azan) twice calls the people for prayer with pure mind chanting ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ (God is great). He also charts, ‘Haya ya allal Phalaha’ (proceed for Success and Welfare) and ‘La Illaha-Illallaha’ (There is no great master than Allah or God).
Then others chant ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ and ‘Amin’ (O. Allah or God! please listen to our prayer). Through Namaz, they surrender before God and pray Him to show them right path. Prophet Muhammad had also advised to go to the mosque once in a week.
Islam puts emphasis on ‘Roja’. It means to observe fasting. The ‘Koran’ emphasis to observe fasting from dawn to dusk in the sacred month or Ramazan. Roja brings purification in the body, mind and soul of a man. It also regulates the mind.
Islam also puts emphasis on Sadaqah. To gain religious merit, one should distribute one portion from his 40% income. This act of charity frees man from sins and shows the right path. This ‘Sadaqah’ brings man nearer to Allah.
Muhammad emphasised on Haj. The word ‘Haj’ means pilgrimage. It has been mentioned in the Koran that a Muslim must visit ‘Kaaba’ in Mecca at least once during his life time. This helps him to attain religious merit. To go on Haj is a sacred duty of a Muslim. During one’s life time he must visit Mecca to see Kaaba. It will bring religious merit for him. The followers of Islam believe that without the visit of Mecca, their life is imperfect.
Another great principle of Islam laid down in Koran in Zakat. This establishes the claim of the poor on the property of a rich man. In this system, a poor man never goes for begging. On the other hand, the ruler collects one portion of voluntary gift of wealth from a rich man and distributes it among the poor.
‘Namaz’, ‘Roja’, ‘Sadaqah’, ‘Haj’ as ‘Zakat’ are regarded as the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’. By following all these five fundamental principles, a Muslim can make his life sublime. Infact by prescribing these five fundamental principles, Muhammad made Islam as a distinct religion.
Koran prescribes paths to lead a Virtuous Life. It is the duty of a true Muslim to offer charity to poor, destitute and invalid man according to his capacity. It says that the duty of a Muslim is not to steal away the properly of others, not to tell lie, not to resort to tyranny, not to be proud etc. All these quantities help a man to lead virtuous life.
Development of Character:
Prophet Muhammad formulated many principles for the Development of Character. All these principles have been embeded in Koran. One must leave drinking alcohol for the development of one’s character. One should show respect to his parents and devote his life for the well being of poor and destitute.
Islam prohibits gambling and lending money on interest. The Koran says that to cheat in weight and to take away the property of a destitute are crimes. It also emphasises that to serve a patient is a noble duty. The Koran vests the right on women to divorce her husband in case he resorts to crime by uttering ‘Talaq’ for three times.
On the other hand, the Koran also prescribes bigamy (a man to marry at best four wives) and slavery. Be that as it may, Prophet Muhammad prescribed ways for the development of human character.
Denial to Idol Worship:
Prophet Muhammad sharply denied idol worship. He completely denounced it. According to him, the presence of God (Allah) is not confined to any image. He advised to worship Allah who is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
Prophet Muhammad was the founder of Islam. He formulated ways to keep man away from falsehood and pursue Islam in true spirit. The result of this was far reaching. Islam received the patronage of Caliphs and Sultans and was spread in different parts of the world.
Spread of Islam:
In 632 A.D. after the death of Muhammad, his friend Abu Dakar was elected as ‘Caliph’, the political and religious head of Islam. After his death, during the period of Omar (the second Caliph), the Muslim army occupied Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, Persia and Egypt and compelled the people of those countries to adopt Islam.
After Omar, Othman, Ali and Muauia became Caliph one after another. After Muauia ‘Yezid became Caliph. Internal rift took place between Yezid and Hussain, the son of Ali. The Islam Community was divided into two, viz.-‘Siha’ and ‘Sunni’. The Sihas accepted Ali and his sons as the heirs of Prophet Mohammad.
On the other hand, the Sunnis accepted Muauia, Umar and Abu Bakar as the successors of Muhammad. In 479 A.D. the last Caliph of Ommayyads was driven away by the followers of Abbas who established Abbasid dynasty and shifted the capital to Baghdad.
After Omar, other Caliphs could reach the border of India. In 8th Century A.D. they preceded upto Spain via North Africa. During the reign of Caliph Harun-al-Rashid of Abbasid dynasty, Baghdad reached the pinnacle of celebrity. He invited many poets, philosophers, physicians etc. from different countries to his court. After his death, the Muslim empire became weak. Many provincial rulers declared their independence.
In 1058 A.D., the Turks snatched away all political rights from the Caliph. In 1258 A.D. the Mongols attacked Baghdad under the leadership of Kularu Khan and destroyed it. In eleventh Century A.D. India was conquered by the Muslims and ruled over the country around five hundred years. In 1453 A.D. the Muslims also brought the downfall of Constantinople. In this way, Islam was spread in the world.
Prophet Muhammad is remembered for his eventual life. He introduced Islam to mankind. Islam grew in due course of time and occupied an august place in the religious domain of the world.”