Term Paper: Muhammad and How These Challenges

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We have seen, therefore how Islam can be seen as a pluralist religion, but how did this pluralism originate, through the trials of Mohammad, and how are Mohammad's trials interpreted by Muslims nowadays?

Muhammad's life is uniquely different from those of the founders of the other major world religions, in that he experienced all the trials and ease, hope and despair, near defeat and total victory that any human being can possibly experience (www.ispi-uas.org).Rather than simply expounding theory and laying out principles, Mohammad was able to demonstrate through word and deed how one would act in different situations in life (www.ispi-uas.org).These life experiences can be divided into various "phases," which are quite distinct and different from each other and are therefore clearly demarcated (www.ispi-uas.org).

These phases in the life of Mohammad may be briefly summarized as follows:

First phase. The "seeker of truth" phase, where Mohammad was deeply troubled by the problems facing humanity (www.ispi-uas.org).This phase represents the early part of his life before the initial revelation (Wahy) experience; it is the phase when he was deeply troubled by the status of society and spent much time pondering over it (www.ispi-uas.org).

Second phase: "The recipient of the mantle of prophethood / the warner and the exhorter" phase (www.ispi-uas.org).The revelation to Mohammad, and its immediate aftermath, were a period of both great excitement and torturous self-doubt for Mohammad during this phase of his life (www.ispi-uas.org).

Third phase: "The stoic optimist" phase (www.ispi-uas.org).This was a period of open invitation to Islam, and a period when open hostility was generated (www.ispi-uas.org).He exhibited inspiring optimism during this period, while faced with the great frustrations of an excruciatingly slow progress in the spread of his message (www.ispi-uas.org).This phase with the ascension (Mi'raj) episode that reconfirmed for him the validity of his mission (www.ispi-uas.org).

The fourth phase: "The pluralistic leader" phase (www.ispi-uas.org).An unexpected avenue for the expansion of Islam opened up, with Mohammad's Migration (Hijrah) to Madinah (www.ispi-uas.org).A highlight of this phase was signing the covenant of Madinah, that exemplifies his inimitable statesmanship and set standards for pluralism (www.ispi-uas.org).

The fifth phase: "The courageous yet reluctant warrior" (www.ispi-uas.org).This phase is marked by a clear change in the direction of his mission, both literally and figuratively, through his battles for survival (Badr, Uhud, Khandaq) (www.ispi-uas.org).The local Jewish communities played a crucial and tragic role in this phase (www.ispi-uas.org).

The sixth phase: "The statesman par excellence, and the Teacher" phase (www.ispi-uas.org).In this phase, Mohammad signed a peace treaty with the Quraysh and reaped it's dividend (www.ispi-uas.org).In this phase, he exhibited the foresight and perspective to compromise, and to accept apparently humiliating conditions for peace, which quickly turned into his greatest victory (www.ispi-uas.org).These few years of peace were marked by the largest increase in conversions to Islam (www.ispi-uas.org).Mohammad proved himself as adept at being an administrator and lawmaker in peace as he was a leader and strategist in war (www.ispi-uas.org).

The seventh phase: "The compassionate ruler and spiritual leader" phase of Mohammad's life is the final phase, during which he consolidated the remaining objectives before his death (www.ispi-uas.org).

We have therefore seen that Mohammad's life, divided as it is, usually, by theologians, into seven phases, reflects the very human trails Mohammad faced throughout his life. These trials have been interpreted throughout the Qu'ran, and therefore by Muslims, as allowing for pluralism within the Islamic faith, through Mohammad's understanding of acceptance as he developed this through his life experiences.

Bibliography

Cohen, J. Under Crescent and Cross.

Lewis, The Jews of Islam.

McAuliffe, Quranic Christians.

Rahman, Major Themes of the Qu'ran.

Ridgeon, Islamic Interpretation of Christianity.

Watt, Mohammad: Prophet and Statesman. [END OF PREVIEW]

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