• Arab comes from the Hebrew word abhar which means to move or
• The majority of Arabia’s first inhabitants were Bedouins- nomadic
Arabs who roamed the deserts in search of grass and water for
• They valued camels and swords above everything else.
• They had no single religion. Tribes worshipped many gods but
offered no guidance for moral conduct.
• There is controversy over their origins:
•Biblical tradition holds that Arabs are Semites - the descendants
of Noah’s son, Shem.
•The Qur’anic tradition believes they are descendants of
Abraham’s son, Ishmael.
• Important trade stop and religious
center of Arabia
• People settled there because of the fresh
• Location of Kaaba ( shrine with 300
• population as very diverse: Arabs,
Christians, Jews, etc.
• A powerful local tribe of Arabs
• They negotiated treaties with people
in neighboring areas guaranteeing
that trade caravans would be safe
traveling through the robber-infested
• They also encouraged tribes to
deposit their idols in the Kaaba and
promised to protect them.
Muhammad’s Early Life
• He was born into the Hashim family of the powerful
Quraysh tribe sometime between 570 - 580 A.D.
• Angels told his mother to name him Muhammad, which
means ” worthy of praise.”
• His father, Abdallah, died before he was born; his mother,
Amina, died when he was six.
• He was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib .
• He worked tending sheep and buying and selling goods
for a wealthy widow named Khadija.
• He married her and had seven children. (Only one
daughter - Fatima - survived.
• He had a reputation as a seeker of solitude.
The Divine Revelations
• He received his first revelations while on one of his retreats
to Mt. Hira.
• His neighbor convinced Muhammad that he had been
chosen as God’s (called Allah in Arabic) prophet.
• In another revelation he learned that sinners must submit to
the mercy of God. This submission (islam) gave its name to
• His first converts were his wife, cousin, slave,and respected
friend, Abu Bakr.
• He is usually not pictured in artwork. This is so Muslims
will worship Allah alone.
• He was described as a convincing speaker.
• Muhammad’s preaching angered many of the
people of Makkah.
• He wanted to abolish idolatry and pagan
• He was very critical of the wealthy merchants
who controlled most of the money and power in
Makkah because Islam teaches the rich should
share their wealth with the poor.
• He was able to remain in Makkah only because
his powerful and respected family protected him.
Muhammad’s public teaching stressed five main
1. Allah was the one and only God and all should
submit and be thankful to Him.
2. All believers in Allah were equal under Him.
3. The rich should share their wealth with the poor.
4. Although Allah knows every person’s destiny,
people should strive to live righteously and avoid
5. All people would be subjected to Judgement Day.
• Muhammad decided to leave Makkah after his wife
and uncle died.
• He traveled to the oasis city of Yathrib.
• Tradition holds that Makkan soldiers pursued him
but never searched a cave he spent the night in
because Allah caused a spider web to be spun a a
dove’s nest to be built at the entrance to indicate that
no one was hiding within.
• This journey, known as the hijrah, marks the
beginning of the Muslim calendar.
• Both the Jews and Arabs welcomed
Muhammad and his followers.
• The city was about to erupt in civil war, and the
people looked to Muhammad to unite them.
• They renamed Yahtrib Madinaht unNabit,
which means “City of the Prophet.”
• Muhammad remained in Madinah to lead the
new Islamic community there. Followers of
Muhammad who believed in Islam were called
Muslims, meaning “those who submit to the
will of God.”
• Muhammad hoped all the different people living in
Madinah would convert and become believers of
• He named Jerusalem (the sacred city of Jews and
Christians) as Qiblah, the direction of prayer.
• Some Jewish leaders did not accept Muhammad as
• Muhammad expelled Jews who opposed him from
• He changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem
to the Kaaba, in Makkah.
• As more people accepted Islam, Makkans, led by
the Quraysh and other pagan tribes, became
hostile towards Muslims inflicting torture on them.
• Muhammad led an army of 300 followers to attack
and capture a Makkan caravan.
• Muhammad’s army won the Battle of Badr even
though they were tremendously outnumbered.
• The success was a great spiritual victory for Islam.
It led to Islam gaining more followers and fostered
the belief that God would fight on the side of the
• More battles were fought in the years that followed
the Battle of Badr.
• In 630 A.D., Muhammad and his supporters captured
• Muhammad destroyed the idols and other pagan
relics and rededicated the Kaaba to God. It became
the religious center for all Muslims.
• In 632 A.D. Muhammad led the hajj, or greater
pilgrimage, to Makkah. It is commonly called the
“pilgrimage of Farewell” because it was his last.
• The rites and ceremonies of the hajj became standard
practices for all Muslims.
• Muhammad’s followers desired to
maintain an Islamic community.
• They recorded his revelations into a
book called the Qur’an.
• It provides the guiding rules and
principles for all Muslims.
• The most basic of these rules is
summarized in the Five Pillars of
• The first pillar is the profession
• A Muslim demonstrates his
belief in one God and the
importance of Muhammad by
“There is only one true God
(Allah) and Muhammad is his
• The second pillar is the daily
• A Muslim prays five times a day: at
dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset
• It is an important part of Islam
because it is the worshipping and
thanking of God.
• Muslims are encouraged to spread
their prayer rug wherever they
find themselves at the appointed
• The third pillar is almsgiving.
• Islam recognizes that material
things are important to life and
some people have more than
• To help lift the burden of those
who are less fortunate,
Muhammad set a figure of two and
one-half percent of each person’s
• People must annually distribute
among the poor one-fortieth of the
value of all they possess.
• The fourth pillar is the fast (from
sunrise to sunset) during the holy
time of Ramadan.
• Ramadan is Islam’s holy month
because during it Muhammad
received his initial commission as a
• Ramadan rotates around the year.
• The fifth pillar is the pilgrimage
to Makkah, which is to be taken
once in a lifetime.
• The basic principle of the
pilgrimage is to bring the Muslim
spiritually closer to God.
• It brings together people from
various countries, showing that
they have in common a loyalty
that is more important than the
loyalties of earthly kingdoms
created by humans.
• Sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar, the
jihad or “struggle” is another important
concept in Islam.
• The jihad is a multi-faceted concept that can
have a variety of applications, a concept that
is often misunderstood in the West.
• Muslims believe that jihad must conform to
the guidelines of the Qur’an
The Prophet Muhammad MATRIX
Word of Allah
The Return to
Islam as a Way