Muhammad the Historical Importance Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2173 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

MUHAMMAD

THE HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE of MUHAMMAD

In today's world, Islam is the third of the major Semitic monotheistic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism. In general terms, the word Semitic "refers to those people and religions of Middle Eastern origin that practice monotheism which is the belief in worship of only one God" as opposed to polytheism or the belief in more than one God" as practiced by the ancient Egyptians. 1 Those who are followers of Islam are known as Muslims or those who submit to the will of Allah, the Arabic name for God. In the past, Muslims were referred to as Muhammadans which is now considered by Muslims as quite offensive, due to being followers of Allah and not of Muhammad. This religious figure of Muhammad, born about 570 a.D. In the city of Mecca in present-day Saudi Arabia, is viewed by all Muslims as the "Seal of the Prophets," meaning that Muhammad is "the last and final prophet in a long line of such leaders sent by Allah to bring God's truth to mankind." 2

Thus, as an historical figure, Muhammad stands as one of the greatest religious leaders of all time and is comparable to Jesus Christ, Buddha and Zoroaster, an earlier Arabic entity some two hundred years before Muhammad. His role in world history is very apparent, for his teachings based on "the will of Allah" are now widespread and practiced by more than a billion people all over the globe.

Although the life of Muhammad has been recorded many times over the last century or so by Islamic and religious scholars of all denominations, there are several areas of his biography

Adil, Hajjah Amina. Muhammad: The Messenger of Islam. NY: Islamic Supreme Council of America, 1985, 178.

A that deserve to be minutely examined -- first, his role in the creation of the Holy Quran; second, his influence related to Muslim beliefs and practices, and third, his role in the creation and dissemination of the Five Pillars of Islam, namely, faith, daily prayer, the giving of alms, fasting during the month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

In 610 a.D., while meditating alone in his humble home, Muhammad allegedly had an experience in which he believed that "the angel Gabriel had spoken to him in such a way that the angel's words were the actual words of Allah himself." 3 This angel also told Muhammad that he had been chosen by God to be a prophet for his people and that he must repeat all of the words spoken by this angel to anyone who would listen. In essence, Muhammad was much like Jesus Christ, for he too was allegedly given directions by God (i.e. The Hebrew Jehovah) to spread His message among the people of the world as a prophet. For Muhammad, these supernatural revelations from Allah continued until shortly before his death in 632 a.D. Thus, the religion of Islam, beginning as an oral tradition, passed from Muhammad to a few close associates who managed to spread Islam all over the world.

As an historical figure and a human being, Muhammad was not some unearthly spirit from another domain, for he was simply a man who wished to help his people by spreading the message of Allah. To all Muslims, the Christian identification of the person of Jesus Christ with God (i.e., as the Son of God), is blasphemous, due to believing that "making a human being the equal of God removes His eternal authority and greatness." 4 in essence, Muhammad is regarded by all Muslims as the only true model or paradigm for what an ideal person should be and the Kelen, Betty. Muhammad: The Messenger of God. TN: Thomas Nelson, 1975, 172.

Armstrong, Karen. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. NY: HarperCollins, 1992, 89.

A events of his life are a continuing source of inspiration for all his adherents. Exactly what Muhammad said and did during his lifetime was recorded by his companions in the traditional

Hadith which basically is "a blueprint for the interpretation and application of the Holy Quran to the various situations one often finds in life." 5

In today's world, Muslims use poetry to praise the life of Muhammad and to express their individual love for him and his family, two important traits of Muslim devotion. Therefore, as an historical figure, Muhammad provided the standards for Muslim belief and action in the real world, standards that come not only from the Holy Quran but also as they were exemplified in the life and sayings of Muhammad.

The sacred scripture known as the Holy Quran was originally written in Arabic and most Muslims firmly believe that it is only fully authentic and accurate when written or spoken in Arabic, the ancient language of Muhammad. Since the Holy Quran was in some sense of the word dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, the first chapter is always recited at the beginning of prayers, usually done while in a group setting inside of a mosque or simply at home. The first seven lines of the Holy Quran "are viewed as the words of Gabriel and the words of Muhammad as they fell from his tongue while under the influence of the spirit of Allah." 6 These lines truly summarize how Muhammad felt about his mission given to him by Allah to spread His word amongst all Arabs:

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee we do serve and Thee we do beseech for help. Keep us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou has bestowed favors, not the path of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor or those who go astray." 7

Obviously, these powerful words reflect the very soul of Muhammad, a soul drenched with love for his fellow man and overflowing with love for Allah and His creations here on earth.

Thus, it is not surprising that many, if not all, Muslim devotees believe with much earnest that Allah commanded Muhammad to recite the Holy Quran practically every waking hour. And as time passed, this tradition of recitation filtered down through the centuries and is now considered by all Muslims as a very important part of their daily devotions to Allah. The words themselves that appear in the Holy Quran are also believed to be the very words of Allah and contain the power to alter minds and hearts, much as they did for Muhammad.

It should be noted that before he was "commanded by Allah" to recite the words of the Holy Quran, Muhammad was a non-religious person, as were most of his fellow Arabs with the possible exception of some that had converted to Christianity two hundred years earlier. To say that Muhammad was an atheist is not correct, for he did believe in one God as a monotheist, yet during his early life, there was no Arabic name or term for God outside of the Hebrew religion.

Therefore, if it was not for the person of Muhammad, there would be no Islam nor any belief system. But since Muhammad was indeed responsible for the spread of the words in the Holy Quran, he is now seen as the foundation for all of the core beliefs of Islam, the core "from which all others arise, the bedrock of the oneness and unity of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad." 8 in the teachings of Muhammad, it is stressed that a person must believe in the Kelen, 175.

A oneness of Allah, meaning that Allah is the one and only true God and that there is nothing in the universe as great as Allah. Overall, Muhammad was attempting to show that a person must trust in Allah, be submissive to his powerful will and rely upon Allah for everything in life, a situation which Muhammad experienced and supported with unwavering devotion.

And since the angle Gabriel is seen as the conduit for the words of Allah as they are found in the Holy Quran, Muhammad firmly believed that angels were "spiritual beings whose entire role is to serve Allah." For Muhammad, it was clear that all of man's knowledge could not be limited to what can be perceived with the human senses, meaning that "there are things that we cannot know through the senses, the very idea expressed by Muhammad in the Holy

Quran." 9 However, Muhammad also mandated that all Muslims must believe in all of the Books of Allah which includes the sacred writings found in Judaism and Christianity, such as the Talmud and the Old Testament, culminating in the Holy Quran.

As a human being, Muhammad considered marriage and family as the foundation for all things related to man's existence on earth. When Muhammad was about twenty-five years old, he married a woman named Khadija who owned a trading caravan in which the young Muhammad was hired to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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