Friday, April 17, 2009

A Brief outline of Islamic History

"I have been given the authority over you, and I am not best of you. If I do well, help me, and if I do wrong, set me right. Sincere regard for truth is loyalty and disregard for truth is treachery".


Few people understand that Islam has a glorious history. It was the center of a great civilization at a time when Europe lived in the "Dark Ages". This civilization produced great military leaders who conquered most of the old world- from Spain in the west to China in the East. It also produced great Philosophers and Scientists.
It is the purpose to educate our young children about their history and heritage and also to educate those who not aware of this great history.

Egyptian History
- Pre-Dynastic history.
- The early Dynastic or Archaic period (3100- 2688 B. C.).
- The old kingdom (2686- 2181 BC).
- The first intermediate period (2181- 2050 BC).
- The middle kingdom (2050- 1786 BC).
- The second intermediate period (1786- 1567 B. C.).
- The late period (1085 – 322 BC).
- Greek Rule (322- 30 BC).
- Roman & Byzantine Rule (30 BC- 640 AD).
- The early Islamic period (64- 969 AD).
- The Fatimid Period (969- 1171 AD).
- Ayyubid Rule (1171- 1250 AD).
- The Mamluk Period (1250- 1517 AD).
- Ottoman Rule (1517- 1798 AD).
- European Conquest (1798- 1802 AD) – Napoleon's Expedition to Egypt.
- The Dynasty of Mohammad Ali Pasha (1802- 1892).
- British Occupation (1882- 1952 AD).
- Egyptian Revolution – the Rule of Naguib (1952- 1956).
- The Rule of Nasser (1956- 1970 AD).
- The Rule of Sadat (1970- 1981).
- The Rule of Mubarak (1981- Present).

Arabia Before Islam
• Nomads inhabited the majority of the Arabian Peninsula- and they were constantly engaged in feudal battles.
• They lived in tents- and each tent represented an entire family.
A tribe was an independent community, which consisted of a large number of families who were inter-related by marriage, and there was a strong bondage.
A Sheikh was the leader of each tribe and he was selected by such considerations as age, personality, character, wisdom and courage. Blood and family bonds were determining factors in his selection.
Agriculture: the Bedouins needed water fro growing wheat and barley, and grazing camel and sheep. Palm trees grew in Oman and Hijaz, wheat in Yemen, fruit in Medina (Yathrib) and Taif Gum and Acacia trees in Dhufar and Asir.
• Trade: the Arabs were famed traders. Their trade routes extended from north to south with two main extensions- one to Egypt, and the other to Syria and Palestine.
The Arab caravans were well organized. All men and women, rich and poor, contributed to the caravan's financing. Te caravans were well guarded since they were frequently attacked by Bedouins tribes.
• The caravans carried Indian spices, swords, Persians pearls, and Chinese skill, Slaves, ivory, gold and ostrich feathers were brought from East Africa.
• Journey: Mecca was the most important trading post. There were two major annual journeys – one in winter to Yemen and the other in the summer to Syria and Egypt.
Markets: the most important markets were "Ukazh and Dhi-Majaz" they were also used as a forum for literary competition in poetry and oratory.
Arab Traditions: Arabs were brought up in strict tribal traditions. Some of their traits were, by present standards, cruel and unjust.
o They buried their newborn girls (believing that females were a source of shame).
o They indulged in whine and gambling.
o They had many wives and concubines.
o Arab Religion: There were some Christians and Jews in the Arab Peninsula, but most were a minority. Most of the Arabs were pagan and worshipped different gods or idols. These idols were made of stone or wood. They Ka'bah was the center of worship where the main idols. Hubal, Allat and Al-Uzza were venerated. Each tribe had its own idol. Some Arabs (Sabians) worshipped stairs and planets.
o Islam came to eradicate idolatry and teach the Arabs monotheism.
o Poetry: The Arabs were talented in poetry and they had special celebrations during which poetic competitions were held. The best poems were mounted on the walls of the K'abah and known as Mu'allakat (that which is hung). An Arabic alphabet was created using Al-Musnad calligraphy (Southern Arabian dialect) and Nebtic calligraphy (Northern Arabian dialect). The latter was the dialect of the Holy Qur'an.

The Tribe of Quraish
belonged to the tribe of Quraish which was one of the noblest and wealthiest arab tribes. They tribe of Quraish would offer food and water to pilgrims, and were used to settle tribal conflicts. They resided in Mecca, and were custodians of the Ka'abah.
When Mohammad began to preach the teachings of Islam, this tribe opposed him. They were mainly concerned about the loss of revenue of the pilgrimage to the Ka'abah and the economic impact this might have on them. At the time the Ka'abah was used for the worship of idols. They feared that the spread of Islam would put their idols and traditions in jeopardy. They therefore persecuted Mohammad and tried to kill. For this reason, he escaped to Yathrib (Medina). This escape is known as the Hijra (immigration) and it occurred in 622 AD. This year is the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
The most important people in history
• when one looks at world history and asks the question – who are the most important people? A difficult question – and it depends on what one consider important. If we can consider that it is the people who have done the most good for the most number of people then the answer may be a little simpler.
• One would say that the religious leaders are most important (Moses, Jesus and Mohammad) followed by the philosophers (Aristotle Plato, Socrates). Both these groups taught people the essence of the good life and the value of ethics.
• Another group of people would be the scientists and scholars who have invented things which have made our life better, simpler and longer. This would include Bacon, Descartes, Einstein, Salk. And other people who invented the wheel the plough, the clock, the calendar.
• Of less importance are the military leaders. They are viewed as a "passing phenomenon" and all their conquests return back to the original people.
• How much of Persia, Egypt and Afghanistan is still Greek (Alexander)?
• How much France (Gaul) is Roman (Julius Caesar)?
• Which part of Russia or Austria is still French (Napoleon)?
Biography of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)?
• Mohammad is the last of the prophets. Since his history is more recent, much is known about hum.
• He was born in Mecca 570 CE. His father, Abdullah, died several weeks before his birth in Yathrib (Medina).
• His mother died when he was six years old and he was raised by his paternal grandfather Abdel Muttalib until the age of eight. His paternal uncle, raised him.
• Mohammad was literate, but began to earn a living as a trader in the merchant caravans.
• Mohammad was given the nickname "Al-Ameen" for his impeccable character. "Al-Amin" means honest.
Khadijah, a rich widow, employed Mohammad as a caravan merchant. Soon after the trip, khadijah (40 years old) and Mohamed (PBUH) "PBUH" (25 years old) were married.
They had 6 children, 4 daughters (Zeinab, Raqayyah, Umm Kalthoum and Fatma) and 2 sons (Qasim and Abdullah).
• When Mohammad (PBUH) was 40, he would meditate in a retreat at Mount Hira. During the month of Ramadan he was visited by the angel Gabriel and received revelations. It was through these revelations that the Holy Book (The Qur'an) was revealed to Mohammad. These revelations continued for 23 years.
• The Prophet's saying are recorded separately in collection known as the "Hadith".
• This mission of the prophet Mohammad was to restore the worship of one true God as taught by Abraham (Ibrahim) and all God's Prophets.
• The Qur'an also sets laws: "Sharia" governing moral, ethical, legal and social conduct.
The first converts to Islam were his cousin Ali, his servant Zayd Ibn Harithah, his friend AbuBakr, his wife and daughters. In the three years of his mission 40 people accepted Islam.
• The tribe of Quraish were guardians to the K'aban which was used for trade and idolatry worship. There were 360 different idols. They felt threatened by this new movement and began to prosecute Mohammad (PBUH) and his followers.
In 622 CE. The leaders of Quraish decided to kill the Prophet. He learned of the plan and escaped with his friend AbuBakr to Yathrib (Medina). This event is known as the Hijra (migration). The Islamic calendar begins with this event.
• In Medina,
the prophet proposed a treaty defining terms of conduct for Moslems. Non-Moslem Arabs and Jews. This treaty was ratified by all. The Moslems, under the leadership of the prophet fought several battles including Badr. Uhud, and (Allies) Trenches. These battles continued until 627 CE.
In 628 CE, the prophet with fifteen hundred of his companions of his companions left for Mecca to perform the annual pilgrims.
• They were barred from approaching the city at Hudaybiyah, where, after negotiations, a treaty was signed allowing them to come next year.
• In 629 CE, the prophet entered Mecca with ten thousand Moslems. The army entered the city without fighting. Mohammad (PBUH) went directly to the Ka'abah received his last revelations, and to months later he fell ill, and after several days died on June 8 (632 CE) in Medina. He is buried in the same place where he died.
• Mohammad lived a simple, austere and modest life. He played many roles including, head of state, chief of justice, commander-in chief, arbitrator and negotiator and family man.
• At the time of his death, he had some simple possessions (mats, blankets, jugs), a mule, and a piece of land that he had gifted during his lifetime.
• Among his last words were "We the community of Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity".
So, strong was his message of faith that within 90 years the light of Islam reached Spain. North Africa, Asia Minor, India and Northeast China.
Major events in the life of prophet Mohammad
The final messenger of Allah (The one true God)
Event Date A. H. Date C. E.
* Birth of prophet Mohammad 570
* Death of Aminah (Prophet's Mother) 576
* Death of Abd Al-Muttalib (prophet's Grandfather). 578

* Journey to Syria (with his uncle Abu Talib) 582
* Marriage to Khadijah 595
* First Revelation 610
EmigrationMoslems to Abyssinia 615
of * Embargo and Boycott of Banu Hashim family) by Quraish 617-620
* eath of Abu Talib (Prophets uncle) 620
* Death of Khadija 620
* Mir'aj (Ascension) 621
* Prophet's emigration to Yathrib 12th Rabi'al Awwal, 1AH Sept. 24, 622
* treaty with Jews and Non Moslems in Medina 1AH 622
* The change of Qiblah Rajab, 2AH January 624
* Battle of Badr 17th Ramadan 2AH March 13, 624
* Battle of Uhud 15th, Shawwal, 3AH March, 625
* Battle of Ahzab Shawwal & Dhul Qa'dah 5AH Feb.-Mar, 627
* Treaty of Hudaibiyah Dhul Qa'dah 6AH March, 628
* invitation of kings & world leaders Dhul Hijjah, 6AH Apr.-MAY, 628
* Performance of Missed Umrah Dhul Qa'dah, 7AH March, 629
* Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed & Amr al-'As join Islam. Safar, 8AH June, 629
* Opening of Mecca Ramadan, 8AH Dec. 629, Jan. 630
* Last Revelation Dhul Hijja, 10AH Feb.-Mar, 632
* Hajjat al-Wada (farewell Pilgrimage) Dhul Hijjah,
10AH June 8, 632
* Death of Prophet Mohammad Monday 12th Rabi'al-Awwal, 11AH June 8, 632

Comments about the prophet Mohammad (PBUH)
Michael Hart. "The 10-A Ranking of the most influence persons in history". (1978, 1992- Carol Publishing Group).
Mohammad was born in 570 AD in Southern Arabia, at that time backward area of the world. He was orphaned and uneducated (illiterate). The Arab Bedouins were disunited and constantly at war with each other. However, unified by Mohammad for the first time in history, and inspired by their belief in the one true God (Allah), this small army now embarked upon one of the most astonishing series of conquests in human history. To the Northeast lay the Persian empire (Sessanid), to the Northwest lay the Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire, centered in Constantinople). Numerically, the Arabs were no match for their opponents, on the field of battle it was a different story. Within a few short years the Arabs had conquered Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa and most of Iberia (Spain).
- "Further, these conquests are permanent, all countries (with the exception of Spain) have Islam as their main religion and speak Arabic.
- Mohammad was responsible to a large extent for the moral and ethical principles of this new religion. It is probable that the relative influence of Mohammad (PBUH) on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity".

The Holy Qur'an
- In Moslem belief, the Holy Qur'an (al'qur'an al-karim) is the undisputed word of God. Himself is the Author.
- In the Qur'an, God is responsible for all things- man is insignificant- and therefore submission to the Will of God- Islam= submission – is paramount. Everyone follows his own destiny.
- The Qur'an was revealed to Mohammad (PBUH) in the year 610AD, while meditating in the cave of Hira. This occurred in the last nights of the month of Ramadan (27th Ramadan)- and is called Laylat Al-Kadr. On that night, the Angle Gabeirl descended upon the Prophet (PBUH) while he was asleep- and the recitation began.
- Today Ihave perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessings upon you, and have approved yourreligion". e recitation continued until March 632AD- a few months before the prophet's death (PBUH) on June 8, 632AD. The revelations ended with these words
- The Qur'an is part prose and part poetry, unique in its structure, it consists of 114 chapters (Surah) Each surah is composed of cerses (Ayat).
- The Qur'an was written down in part during its revelations, but above all it was committed to memory. It was collected from the chance surfaces on which it had been inscribed" "from pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades, and ribs of animals, pieces of leather, wooden boards, and the hearts of men".
- A definitive editing was carried out by the Caliph Osman Ibn Affan (3rd, Caliph).
- The Qur'an defines Moslems as descendants of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ismael). It contains laws for society, commandments descriptions of judgment day, and Heaven and Hell.
- It contains stories of Biblical figures but often surprisingly different from that of the Hebrew Scriptures, as if the same events were being witnessed from a different point of view. It also contains stories of figures unknown to the Bible.
- The revelations in the Qur'an are identified as having been revealed either at Mecca, or at Medina. The earlier Meccan revelation have a more poetic, forceful and enthusiastic character, throwing forth powerful images, of the world's end.
- The Medina revelations are more like the calm after the storm, and deal mainly with the giving of laws.
- The Qur'an is difficult to translate because of the nature of Arabic as the sacred language. The spiritual character, or blessing- Barakah- is lost in the translation. Translations are therefore not usable for ritual purposes.
- The Qur'an is the foundation and primary source of Islam. It is followed by the Hadith (tradition and sayings of the prophet) andf Sunnah (Prophet's example).

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