The Prophet Muhammad (570-632) was an Arab prophet who founded Islam, today the religion of a fifth of mankind. He wrote its holy book, the Koran. Islam says he is the Final Prophet and the Perfect Man, but he is in no way divine. He is the Paraclete promised by Jesus Christ in the Bible.
Unlike the founders of world religions, he fought battles and founded an empire. This has made Islam a very political religion.
He worked no miracles, but God spoke to him through the angel Gabriel. He wrote it all down word for word. That became the Koran. It is itself a miracle: no mere man could have written it. The Hadith has the sayings and deeds of Muhammad.
Islam says he is the Final Prophet and the Koran the perfect Word of God. The prophets that came before, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jesus, had their prophecies put in the Bible. But the Bible has been corrupted by men who, for example, made Jesus into the Son of God.
So Islam is not so much a new religion, but religion purified. It is Christianity, for example, without the priests, holy bread or Jesus as one of three gods.
Yet Muhammad did keep some of the old Arab religion, like the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muhammad was a businessman from Mecca. Every year during the month of Ramadan (then always in summer) he went to the mountain to pray and fast. In 610 the angel Gabriel began to speak to him. It sounded at first like ringing, but in time he heard the words. Gabriel spoke to him till his death. Gabriel’s words have become the Koran.
When Muhammad got back to Mecca he told people what happened and gathered followers. They became the first Muslims.
In those days Arabs fought each other in an endless this for that. Arabs were divided by bloodlines into tribes and worshipped many gods. The Muslims were something new: a community based not on kin but on faith. They seemed like strange sort of tribe.
The Muslims soon became a threat to Mecca and its old ways of tribes and gods. They had to leave. Their flight to Medina, in the following summer in 622 is called the Hegira. This began the Muslim calendar. In Medina they built the first mosque, where they could pray.
In Medina the Muslims attacked traders on the way to Mecca. This led to war, which Muhammad won. By 630 Muhammad ruled Mecca and Medina.
Because Muslims promised not to fight each other, the Muslim part of Arabia was a region of peace. This made it stronger than the rest of Arabia, which was divided and consumed by countless little wars. So in time all of Arabia became Muslim and by Muhammad’s death it was united into one country.
In the hundred years after his death, Arabs went on to conquer lands from Spain to India. It was the start of the Arab Empire and the Muslim world.
– Abagond, 2006.