What Are the Roots of Islam?

by Timothy Peckinpaugh
Islamic rule in Spain influenced much of its architecture, especially in Granada.

Islamic rule in Spain influenced much of its architecture, especially in Granada.

Islam's roots are in the earlier two Abrahamic religions; Muslims freely recognize their faith was born from the Judeo-Christian tradition of worshiping a single deity. Many Jewish and Christian figures, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus appear in Islam. However Islam, which began in the seventh century in Arabia, sees itself as the last, final and most accurate version of the other two.

Judeo-Christian Roots

Islam views the Prophet Abraham, called Ibrahim, as the ancestor of the Jewish and Arab people. Muslims believe that his sons Isaac and Ishmael became the ancestors of Judaism and Islam, respectively. When Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca, they slaughter an animal in observance of the story of Abraham, who is on the verge of sacrificing his son before God intervenes. Jesus, called Isa, is an essential prophet in Islam, second only to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that Islam did not begin with Muhammad, but that it has always existed. Muslims believes they worship the same deity as Jews and Christians but that that their practice is more correct than Judaism or Christianity.

Muhammad

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad is God's final messenger and that Muhammad, born in Mecca, received a visit from the angel Jibreal (Gabriel) while he meditated in a cave. He began to recite words that came from God; these later became the Quran, the sacred Islamic text. Muhammad and his followers left Mecca for Medina in 622 due to political threats; the year marks the start of the Muslim calendar. A decade later, the number of his followers increased, and they returned to Mecca to overtake it.

Spread of Islam After Muhammad's Death

When Muhammad went to Medina he created a city-state that welcomed all believers of the faith. After Muhammad's death came the rule of the Rightly Guided Caliphate. The caliphs were people that were close to Muhammad, but that were not prophets. Four caliphs guided the religion after Muhammad's death, and Islam began to spread during the period. Muhammad's city-state was located in Arabia, but subsequent Muslims conquered land from Africa to Asia, including the Persian Empire, Syria, and parts of the Byzantine Empire, beginning to spread the faith throughout the world.

Later Spread of Islam

Islam spread to Spain in the year 711, when Muslims conquered the area and ruled the Ibarian Peninsula until 1492. However, when Islam spread to other places, such as Saharan Africa and Central Asia, most of the time it did so through cross-cultural contact, not through force. During Muslim rule of Spain, Jews and Christians could practice their faiths, though they had to pay fees to do so. Muslim rule of Spain lasted until Christian states began to unite and reduced the political power of Muslims. The three Abrahamic religions coexisted peacefully for the majority of the time, but when Christians took over they forced Muslims and Jews to leave Spain.

About the Author

A resident of Riverside, California, Timothy Peckinpaugh began writing in 2006 for U.S. History Publishers, based in Temecula, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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