What Do You Know?

I. Exploring Islam the Fastest Growing Religion on Earth
      What is Islam? It is a major world religion (one of the 5 largest and the fastest growing in the world), founded in Saudi Arabia, based on the teachings of the Koran or Qur'an which Muslims believe to be the direct word of God. The Arabic word Islam comes from "s-l-m" which primarily means "peace" but in a secondary sense means, "surrender". The word ISLAM in its full meaning is "the peace that comes when ones life is surrendered to Allah", and the religious term as used in the Muslim holy book, the Koran, means, " to surrender to the will of Allah (or God)". A person who practices Islam is known as a Muslim.



     Before we begin this unit, I must apologize for any errors that I will make. I recently, through teaching this course, have discovered more about the world and richness and diversity of world cultures.  Our goal in this unit is to understand our world and what drives it.  One religion that has greatly changed history and how everyone views the world today is the Muslim religion. First, I must tell you, the reader, that there is no standardized English spelling for many of the words you will see in this paper, and your book. In a later article, I will show you several.


    Middle Eastern culture is built on tribal culture. This means that family comes 1st, then tribe. Government and everything else is down on the list. The family and the tribal leaders had to make the rules for the tribe. All justice is carried out by the family or tribe, not the government. Tribes usually were blood relatives.  Many of the tribes had to travel to find water for their livestock or to protect what little water they had to water plants to feed their family. There was very little water in the desert and dry areas of much of the Arabian Peninsula. Many of the tribes had blood feuds that lasted generation after generation over one water well that might mean the difference between life and death. So tribal members learned to abide by tribal rules, and to protect those in their family and tribe. Unless they worked together, and fought off other

tribes and other families, all in their family or tribe might die.

A village culture (one that was ruled by one person or government) did not work for tribal (modern day example is Afghanistan and Somalia). To village cultures like Ancient Rome or America today, allegiance to government is usually at the top of list. Tribal cultures had their own rules. To follow one set of rules set up by a government was unheard of, and how could different tribes learn to cooperate without offending someone? Punishment from government was not often swift or just. Some cities sprouted up on ancient sites but were still ruled by strong tribes, not strong central government. There was often a gang-like atmosphere living inside these cities.

The Arabians were polytheists, and worshiped as many gods as there were days of the lunar year. They never wanted to offend these gods. They felt that man was put on earth to serve the gods, or entertain them, and that any infraction by any tribal member endangered the entire tribe. The gods would punish them all. Usually polytheists had gods that had no moral code. So if the tribe would not punish you for doing something wrong, neither would the gods (or so they thought). So murder, torture, theft, and all different kinds of cruelty were an everyday occurrence for those without strong tribal protection.

Muhammad puts forth a very strange idea to the Arabian people: that there is only one Allah (Arabian word for God), that all people rich or poor, of every tribe, or even those without a tribe or family, are a part of Allah's tribe, and that only Allah (God) makes the rules. The Koran (Qur'an) said that every person shall be judged whether or not they have abided by the rules. Those that did not, will be placed in a hell-like place. Those that do follow Allah's commands shall go to a paradise- a garden like place filled with water, This was totally foreign to the Arabian Bedouin. Did the body not decay and crumble after death? How would all these people learn to live together as one when they had always lived as separate families and tribes?

 The WORD was magical to the Arab Bedouin. Oral tradition was EXTREMELY important. Many could not read and write and these skills were not important in the dry harsh landscape.  The most venerated or important person of a tribe was the poet or storyteller. They kept the traditions and stories alive. So when the Koran became the holy book of Islam, it was considered a miracle.

What is Islam?  

It is a major world religion (one of the 5 largest and the fastest growing in the world), founded in Arabia, based on the teachings of the Koran or Quran. The Arabic word Islam comes from
s-l-m which primarily means peace but in a secondary sense means surrender
. The religion was founded in Saudi Arabia, based on the teachings of Muhammad, the Prophet. The Arabic word Islam means to surrender, and the religious term as used in the Muslim holy book, the Koran,  means to surrender to the will of Allah (or God). A person who practices Islam is known as a Muslim.  

   What does the Quran say about being a Muslim? The Koran  (Qur'an) says that Islam is the universal religion and nature

itself is Islam, because it practices the laws of Allah (or God).

    Nature has a set of rules that it follows so that the conditions are right for survival. A human, however, has free will and he must choose to accept the commandments of Allah. One who follows the natural commandments of Allah is then a Muslim.

     How large is the Muslim faith today? Estimates say that there are approximately 1.2 billion followers and growing. Major groups of Muslims live in Arabic Middle East, Turks, and Turkish peoples, parts of the former USSR, Central Asia, Iranians, Afghans, Pakistan, Southeast Asians (Malaysia, and the Philippines), and a small  percentage of China. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity. WE will work together to discover what contributions this religion has given the world and how it has changed the lives of modern man.

READING DAY 2   Islam-Religions that Change the World


Introduction-Why is this religion important and how did it start?

    What is in a name? Do you know why your parents gave you the name that you have? Does your name have a meaning? Do you know what is the most popular and used name in the world? You may be surprised! Muhammad is it. And what does Muhammad mean? This name means highly praised.

     Muhammad is also a very famous name in history, perhaps as famous as Jesus and Buddha. Muhammad played a key role in the formation of a new religion in the 600's AD, named Islam. He was and is considered by many in the Middle East to be

the last prophet (someone who receives the message or messages of the gods or God) of God or Allah.

     Islam is a religion that is highly misunderstood by the West (Americas, Western Europe).  The tribe usually associated with the Arabs of the Middle East, the Bedouins or nomadic tribes were the first to adopt Islam. The use of Arabic words and phrases  (major language of the religion and the Middle East) leads to misunderstanding by those that do not speak Arabic or do not know much about Middle Eastern cultures. 

     Looking at the the Middle East culture, let us go back to the early 600's  (late 500's) AD.  There we would see young Muhammad who was orphaned at six years old. In the Middle East, the family, the tribe (usually blood relatives) protected and cared for you. Without a strong tribe or family unit, one was enslaved or dead. Luckily, the young boy, Muhammad, had a powerful uncle who was the head of the tribe. He was raised as the uncle's own son, educated and protected. Muhammad then became a caravan driver carrying his uncle's goods between different parts of the Middle East.  During his trips, he got to see many other cultures, including two, which upheld a monotheistic God.  They were Christianity, and Judaism.  He listened to the ideas and discussions among the traders. These ideas were so different from his home, a place with polytheistic gods. These two religions had a moral basis. In other words, there were rules about how a person should behave with each other and what would be pleasing to their god. In Muhammad's culture, there were 360 deities and one had to be careful not to anger them by not making appropriate sacrifices. 

     Muhammad's hometown was in Makkah or Mecca, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. It became a rich trading center, selling religious souvenirs to the pilgrims as they came to worship at a holy shrine called the Kaaba. Around the large shrine that held the black rock, were peaceful trade centers and markets, and inside, 360 idols were  enshrined in the a holy place (the only place of peace in the city walls) were each adored by one tribe or another. Religious pilgrims came to this place to ask for help from the gods, and to trade and sell their goods. 
     Mecca itself, was dangerous and wild with blood feuds and tribes fighting for power.  Muhammad did not want to be part of this world. He did not like the injustice he saw. Huge questions bothered him about what he saw here.
     Later, something happened to him that would change him, and the world forever. It would bring at times justice, social justice and hope to the hopeless. This "change" would lead to Islam, and the followers of this religion would be called Muslims.

A General Explanation of Islam
      In comparison to many other world religions that were started in this part of the world, Islam was similar in many ways. Like the Jews, followers of Islam who are called Muslims believe that they are descendants of Abraham. Abraham's first son, Ishmael born to Hagar the slave of Abraham's wife, and said to be the Patriarch of the Arab world. The followers of Islam worship the monotheistic god of the Jew and Christian, but call him Allah, the Arab word for GOD. The word Allah comes from "al", which means "the", and "llah" means "God". At the time the new religion started, the area was extremely polytheistic. 
       Like Christianity, Muhammad did not start the religion. Muslims say that Allah started it and Muhammad was just Allah's/God's mouthpiece.  And like the early Christians, the people of the Middle East needed something to deliver them from the constant warfare, blood feuds and wickedness of the world. Muhammad would be their man. He wanted to create a new tribal society, one tribe and one society based in faith.  Every Muslim would become part of this tribe.

What was the Middle East like in the 6-7th century AD?

    By 600 AD, the western Romans were gone from the Middle East.  The tribes or individual family groups of the Middle East returned to everyday life of warfare, and quarreling. They fought for the little goods that existed in the desert including water, grazing land, and the riches. The strongest ruled and there seemed to little or no morality or rules. Women were like prized breeding stock and were often stolen by opposing tribes. They often veiled not only to protect their skin from the unrelenting sun and wind, but to indicate that they were protected by a husband, father or tribal leader.

     Their many gods became important to protect the tribe.  There were 360 such gods at the time of Muhammad, one for every day of the lunar year.  These gods were big business for the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Every year, thousands of religious pilgrims made their way to Mecca to pray and sacrifice at the shrines set up to these gods in Mecca. There were idols to buy and religious artifacts, as well as animals to be sacrificed. One had to pay for the privilege of sacrificing at the shrines. 

     There were no moral rules associated with these gods. These gods sometimes were beastly spirits called jinn or demons. People sacrificed to keep the jinn from bringing evil to their lives.  People were not frightened of consequences for they felt that the only time that jinn would visit them is if they had failed to sacrifice sufficiently to these gods of the desert. So terror, murder, theft, and abuse were part of the everyday life of the people of the Middle East. 

 What happened to Muhammad? Why is he important in this story? 

     Muhammad, orphaned at an early age,  although protected by his tribe, knew what it was like to be marginalized or an outsider. He knew that there were many outsiders in his world. His message would one day be a source of hope.
     He entered the caravan business at age 25 at first working for his uncle and then a rich a 40 year- old widow, Khadija. She was stricken with this upstanding young man and ask him to marry her.  He married her. Khadija proved to be a good match, and their marriage proved to be happy.  Muhammad believed that when times became difficult, God or Allah comforted him through her, for she made his burden light.
    Quite often, Muhammad was known as the trusted one because he believed in doing above all what was morally right (social justice). Muhammad was known for his sense of fairness, and often settled feuds between warring tribes. 
      He began to isolate himself more and more from his world. Muhammad began to feel that there was something very important that he was to do.  He often retreated to the cave on Mount Hira.  He would sometimes meditate for days.  He believed that during this time, Allah burned more and more into his heart what his purpose was on earth.  According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad was visited in the cave by the angel, Gabriel, an angel of Allah who told Muhammad that he was to be God's prophet. You are the appointed one, the angel said. Muhammad found that he was to follow God's other prophets, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and Jesus. The angel gave Muhammad one order. "Recite".   "I am not the Reciter", Muhammad would reply. Three times the order came forth from the angel spoken by Allah. And there was a feeling that gripped Muhammad as though he was being squeezed. Finally, the third time, Muhammad arose from his trance. At first, he thought he was going crazy; hearing voices.  

   Khadija, his wife, believed in him. She went to see a holy man and then a Christian cousin who knew about prophets, and returned to say, Rejoice, O dear husband, and be of good cheer," she said. "You will be a prophet of this people."  And the call kept returning. Muhammad was at first hesitant.To a Bedouin, the worst thing that could happen was not death, but shame.Muhammad at first was frightened that he would be shamed.    

        Muhammad felt that this god, Allah, was greater than anyone could imagine. He was not just a god; he was THE GOD, the only God.  A phrase came into Muhammad's head while in this cave, which is quite often said in the Arab world today, La ilaha illa llah!  Or There is no god but God.

    According to Islam, words poured out of his mouth, as though the most beautiful poetry, the words of Allah. His life now belonged to Allah.   Muhammad continued throughout his life to recite these words to his followers. He confided this to his family, and within 4 years, 40 people converted to these views. He began to openly proclaim (620 AD) in his native city of Mecca (Saudi Arabia). This angered merchants and tribal leaders who made their living selling idols to religious pilgrims.

     Driven out of the city after the death of his uncle, his protector, he fled for his life to Medina (622 AD). He had been invited there a first to settle the warring feuds between the tribes. This is the first year of the Muslim calendar (622 AD). This is called the year of the migration (Hijrab). Here he became a community leader, and the number of followers grew. 

     Finally, the tribes of Mecca found out about the growing Muslim presence. They sent soldiers to kill them. The Muslim soldiers of Medina consisted mainly of old men and young boys, and a few young men, and as the story is told, the presence of Allah. The Muslims defeated the troops of Mecca. Other Bedouin tribes heard of the unlikely victory and came to hear the words recited by Muhammad. Soon the ranks swelled. Those with no tribe also became Muslim or followers of Islam. It was now time to return to Mecca, and recite.    

   When the Muslims came to the gates of Mecca, the city's population cowered. The Arabian world was one of revenge and bloodshed. The people of Mecca expected to be slaughtered. Instead, the Muslims went directly to the Kabbha (the Arabic word for cube), and they destroyed the idols, gods they said were pieces of clay. They said that the large rock inside had been given to Abraham.  The new Muslim rulers said that this place would be dedicated to Allah (and still is considered the holiest place in the Muslim world).

    Soon, Mecca became the center for Islam, and scribes were busy copying on anything they could find to write on the words of Allah so they would not be forgotten. Muhammad ruled the city until his death in 632 AD.


Exploring Islam the Fastest Growing Religion on Earth (continued)



     Now we have read pp. 358-361 in your textbook.  This section of your book tells the rest of the story of Islam's rocky beginning.  Through all of this, Muhammad remained humble and subservient to Allah.  When people ask him for miracles, he noted the stars, heavens, spring, birth, and other aspects of nature as miracles that already exist. He stated that these were Allah's miracles. Because of this attitude, Muslims have always stressed science and math. Unlike Medieval Christians who held the belief that man should never question God (St. Augustine said, Jesus came to make Christians, not mathematicians), Medieval Muslims flourished in reading, writing, medical diagnosis, and charting the stars.

    Muslims took pride and felt they were serving and praising Allah when they worked with science or math or rewriting and translating the ancient Greeks, or as Ar-Razi (born 865 AD), a Medieval Muslim doctor said, "Disease is caused by something we cannot see." He understood "contagious".  He also worked out the first inoculations for Smallpox. 


     The centers of all learning during the Middle Ages were Baghdad and Cordova (in Spain). They were both Muslim centers. In Baghdad alone, there were 100 bookshops on one street alone. Books were scarce in the West at this time. One of the largest libraries at the time in Europe contained 21 books. Libraries in the Muslim world contained many volumes.  Doctors talked about the circulation of the blood, and Arabic numbers. They looked for symptoms and patterns, not curses or sinners. This was the Muslim world after the 600's AD.

What is the Koran, and why is it important?

    The Koran or Qur'an is not only important; it is the center of the Muslim faith, for Muslims believe it to be the direct word of God or Allah to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel and should not be changed in any way. The word Koran comes from the Arabic roots al quran that
 means the recitation or that Muhammad was only reciting what Allah had told him. And Muhammad felt that literacy was very important. He wanted all Muslims to be able to read and write so that they could read the Koran in Arabic. Muhammad also knew that translation sometimes
drastically  changes the words that are spoken. If the Koran stays in its original language, it can not be changed by humans.  Therefore, most Muslims view the Koran as the absolute authority.   

    The Koran or Qur'an  is the holy book of the Muslim faith. Many of the stories are similar to those told in the Torah or the Bible, but they appear more like summaries. The details may be left out as these stories appear in the other two holy books. But many of the same names appear. The Koran is written by length of the poetic tales.


     It has 114 sura (about 4/5 the size of the New Testament), and contains the words that Allah burned on Muhammad's soul.  It is not chronological as the New Testament for the Christians. The Suras start with the shortest and #114 is the longest. According to Muslims, Allah who put the words into Muhammad, and ordered him to proclaim, so the Koran is considered to be the absolute authority on God's will. All Muslims are expected to learn Arabic so they can read the Koran in its untranslated form.

     According to legend, Muhammad was illiterate, so he valued education for every follower of Islam and wanted all to read Allah's words. He wanted the Koran to be untranslated so it could not be translated. In the story of Abraham taking his son to be sacrificed on God or Allah's command, the Qur'an -Koran states that the son is Ishmael, whereas the other two holy books, the Torah and Christian Bible, say it is Isaac. Sibling rivalry enters into the picture.

Now read pp.360-361 . Note the 5 duties that every Muslim is to follow.

The Prophets

     Muhammad is or never was worshiped as a god by the followers of Islam. He is considered to be the last of Allah's prophets, or one who talks to Allah (God). Other prophets include Abraham who is considered to be the father three major world faiths (Islam, Christian, and Jewish), Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus.  These are all men who received messages, the Muslims believe, from Allah, and spread his message.

     The Muslim is careful not to make any life reproductions. They believe that men then assume to be God which is wrong. So there are no drawings of the prophets, or of many things in nature for that matter. The prophets stories are remembered through the stories and the Koran, not in drawings and pictures. Many of the Muslim prophets were married, as was Muhammad who had 4 wives, and were ordinary family men who carried the word of Allah for the good of the world. The Prophet's words dictate the laws of daily living for the Muslim. The two major sects of the Muslim faith come from descendants of Muhammad, or are chosen.




There is no god worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple
 formula which all the faithful  pronounce. In Arabic, the first part is la ilaha illa Llah - 'there is no god except God'; ilaha (god) can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God - wealth, power, and the like. Then comes illa Llah: 'except God', the source of all Creation. The second part of the Shahada is Muhammadun rasuluLlah: 'Muhammad is the messenger of God.' A message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves. 

2) PRAYER ( Prayer Performance )

Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one's own language.

Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.


A translation of the Call to Prayer is: God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. I testify that there is no god except God. I testify that there is no god except God. I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. Come to prayer! Come to prayer! Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)! Come to success! God is most great. God is most great. There is no god except God. 

3. THE 'ZAKAT' ( Zakat Information Center )

One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both 'purification' and 'growth'. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.

Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital.

A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as 'voluntary charity' it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said 'even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.'


The Prophet said: 'Charity is a necessity for every Muslim. ' He was asked: 'What if a person has nothing?' The Prophet replied: 'He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.' The Companions asked: 'What if he is not able to work?' The Prophet said: 'He should help poor and needy persons.' The Companions further asked 'What if he cannot do even that?' The Prophet said 'He should urge others to do good.' The Companions said 'What if he lacks that also?' The Prophet said 'He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.'

4) THE FAST ( Ramadan Information Center )

Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from

food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly,

  or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.

Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.

5) PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ) ( Hajj Information Center )

 The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to

perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.

The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment.


In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities. The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, is the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.



The prophet Muhammad had several wives, as was customary in Arab society and in the religion of Islam (one can have up to 4 if they can afford it). His 3rd wife was Ayesha, the youngest daughter of one of his strongest supporters, Abu Bakr.  Even though marriage was made for political reasons, Ayesha seems to have loved and admired Muhammad. In this section, an Arab writer has recorded an interview with Ayesha, about what Muhammad was like as a person.

Muhammad's Wife Remembers the Prophet

When Ayesha was questioned about Muhammad she used to say:


    He was a man just such as yourselves. He laughed often and smiled much. He would mend his clothes, and cobble his shoes. He used to help me in my household duties; but what he did oftenest was to sew. He never took revenge excepting where

the honor of God was concerned. When angry with anyone, he would say, "What hath taken such a one that he should soil his forehead in the mud!"


     He would sit as one that was always ready to rise.When seated with his followers, he would remain long silent at a time. In the Mosque in Medina, they used to repeat pieces of poetry and tell stories about the "days of ignorance" and laugh; and Muhammad, listening to them, would smile at what they said.

    Muhammad hated nothing more than lying. Whenever he knew that any of his followers had erred in this respect, he would hold himself aloof (apart) from them until he was assured of their repentance.

      He did not speak rapidly, running the words into one another, but enunciated each syllable distinctly, so that what he said was imprinted in the memory of everyone who heard him. When at public prayers, it might be known from a distance that he was reading by the motion of his beard. He used to stand for such a long time at his prayers that his legs would swell. When remonstrated with, he said: "What! Shall I not behave as a thankful servant of Allah should?"

     Muhammad had a special liking for sweetmeats and honey he greatly relished the pumpkin. His servant Anus used to say as he looked at the pumpkin: Dear little plant, how the Prophet loved thee!

      Once a trayful of fresh dates were brought to him. He set it down on his knees and taking them up by the handfuls, sent a handful to each of his wives. Then, taking another handful, he ate it himself. He kept throwing the stones (the pits of the dates) to his left side, and the domestic fowl came and ate them up.

     He never ate reclining for (the Angel) Gabriel had told him that such was the manner of kings; nor had he ever two men to walk behind him when offered by Gabriel the valley of Mecca full of gold, Muhammad preferred to forgo it, saying that when he was hungry he would come before the Lord lowly, and when he was full, with praise 


 Understanding Islamic Culture

In our shrinking world, in which events occurring on one side of the planet affect people on the other side, it is important to understand how religion affects human behavior. Read the following list of religious beliefs and traditions that affect Muslim behavior. Then read the list of behaviors and write the letter of the belief or tradition that would explain the behavior of each situation. (All countries mentioned by name are Muslim.

 BELIEFS (take notes):

1) A Muslim may not eat pork or drink alcoholic beverages.

2) During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must not eat from sunrise to sunset to remember the starving of the world.

3) Women in some Muslim cultures (THIS IS A TRIBAL TRADITION) must dress very modestly, to the point of being completely veiled in public except for their eyes.

4) Traditional Muslims believe a person who creates a likeness of a living creature seeks to rival Allah (God).

5) Jihad is a phrase today used by many to mean holy war. Its original and many Muslims say is still its true meaning is the internal struggle one fights within oneself to become better and be right with Allah. Those that believe jihad is a holy war (and this is fairly recent in history) feel it is their religious duty to fight on behalf of Islam against any who threaten the faith or the faithful. If they should die doing so, they will go to Paradise without waiting for Judgment Day.

6) Muslims believe that the Koran is the absolute word of Allah as delivered to Muhammad in Arabic.

7) Since Muhammad was almost illiterate, and he thought that everything in the wor
ld was a miracle of Allah (such as the budding of flowers in the spring, reading, math and science were encouraged in all Muslim territories so that all Muslims could read the Koran and study Allah's miracles.

8) Many Muslims believe in predestination, that Allah has decreed what is to be and what is to happen.

9) According to the Koran, giving charity to the poor is a religious duty.

10) Every Muslim is expected to pray 5 times a day and face the east touching one's head to the ground to show humility and devotion to Allah. 


 The Sunni Shi'ite Split in Islam








Good overall source of information.

MAGNIFICENT!! Look in Videos for History.

See some of the buildings of the ancinet world that still stand today.


One of the best sites and videos.


Good overall source of information.

MAGNIFICENT!! Look in Videos for History

See some of the buildings of the ancient world that still stand today.


How did the split between Shi'as and Sunni Muslim split?

Muslim Texts

The Qur'an
The Hadith
From the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement.

Muhammad, The Prophet of Allah
by Philip K. Hitti (from "The Arabs: A Short History")

by Maxime Rodinson (Pantheon Books, 1980)

Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman
by Montgomery Watt (Oxford University Press, 1961)

Meccan trade and the rise of Islam
by Patricia Crone (from "The Rise of Islam", Princeton University Press, 1987)

Islamic expansion

The Battle of Badr 624 CE
This was the first battle between believers and unbelievers, and it is still the most famous in Islamic history.

Battle of Badr(Wikipedia)

The Battle of Yarmuk (636 CE) and after
An account by al-Baladhuri (d. c. 892) of the battle against the Byzantine army which delivered Syria to the Muslim. [
Internet Islamic Sourcebook]

The Arab conquest of Egypt642 CE
Two accounts - a Coptic version from "The History of The Patriarchs of Alexandria" and an Arab version from Al-Baladhuri's "The Conquest of Alexandria" [Internet Medieval Sourcebook]

Tribe and state in Arabia
by Fred Donner (from "The Early Islamic Conquests", Princeton University Press, 1981)

Byzantium confronted by Islam
by Judith Herrin (from "The Formation of Christendom", Princeton University Press, 1987)

Umayyads and Abbasids

The golden age of Arab and Islamic culture
by Gaston Wiet. From "Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate", University of Oklahoma Press

Baghdad under the Abbasids
(c.1000 CE)
A contemporary description of the city in its heyday

Arab-Islamic history

Pre-Islamic Arabia

The original Arab, the Bedouin
by Philip K Hitti (from "The Arabs: A Short History")

Ancient accounts of Arabia
(from the
 Internet Ancient History Sourcebook)

Herodotus, c. 430 BCE

Strabo, c. 22 CE

Dio Cassius, c. 220 CE
Ammianus Marcellinus, c. 380 CE
Procopius of Caesarea, c. 550 CE

Pre-Islamic Arabic culture
The desert origins of the Arabs, by Richard Hooker [
World Cultures website]

Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century
by Irfan Shahid (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington DC)

The "Rightly-Guided" Caliphs
University of Southern California Muslim Students' Association

Abu Bakr (632-634 CE)
'Umar (634-644 CE)
'Uthman (644-656 CE)
'Ali (656-661 CE)

The Shi'a
Origins of the Sunni-Shi'a schism, by Richard Hooker [
World Cultures website]

Islam in

IN 711, Tariq ibn Ziyad, at the head of a mainly Berber army, began the conquest of Spain and, by 733, the Muslims had reached as far north as Poitiers in France. This marked the start of a period of Islamic rule which continued until the fall of Granada in 1492 - the year that Columbus arrived in America. Many reminders of this period can still be found in the Iberian peninsula, including the name of Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq - "the mountain of Tariq").

Chronology of Muslims in Europe(711-1790)

The Islamic conquest of Spain
An account by Ibn Abd al-Hakim, and Egyptian who died in 870 or 871. From "History of the Conquest of Spain", translated by John Harris Jones (Kaestner, Gottingen, 1858)

Islam: A Short HistoryBOOK SOURCES

Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time

By Karen Armstrong 

Islam: A Short History

By Karen Armstrong 


Huston Smith

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Subpages (1): 5B. ISLAMIC WORKBOOK