The starting point to one of the most successful religions took place in an arid desert with scorching hot temperatures. This peninsula, in the Middle East, known as Arabia was located between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. This desert is where a prophet would emerge and create an everlasting impact on a civilization known as Islam. Through multiple conquests the Islamic religion, politics, and culture spread like wildfire. Islam grew throughout parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, changing their government, religion, culture, economics, and military forever. This paper will discuss in depth the origins and rise of Islamic civilization.
Muhammad, a spiritual and political leader, was born to a prominent family in 570 CE. In 610 CE “Muhammad received his first revelation while meditating in a cave at Mount Hira,” as recorded in the Qu’ran, “from the angel Gabriel declaring him a prophet and to spread the message of God.”
Concerned for his sanity after this revelation, he kept this message to himself. After a few years Muhammad eventually started to preach the message of God and started building an army of followers. The new religion wasn’t popular in Mecca and it became dangerous for Muhammad and his followers to stay. They then took a “Hijra,” into a nearby city called Medina. By the year, 627 CE Medina had been converted to Islam.
In the 7th century, Islam was expanding its political and religious power at a rapid pace due to the war between the Byzantine and Persian Empires. Due to their constant battles between each other, it was easy for the Muslim army to take control over the empires. The Muslims capitalized on the weakening of the empires and eventually took control over Syria, Persia, Egypt and eventually parts of Africa. Islam was taking over the Arabian peninsula due to Arab-Muslim conquests and it was happening at a very fast pace.
The death of Muhammad in 632 CE brought on new controversies. The problem during this time is the argument of who will succeed Muhammad. Some people believed in order to be Muhammad’s replacement he should be a spiritual leader, and a descended from Muhammad’s bloodline. This political argument created the Caliphate and because Muhammad did not have a successor Abu Bakr became the first Caliph.
Two years later, Umar took over, and then Uthman and Ali, but they were all assassinated. According to our book, In God’s Path, “most conquests happened during the Umar reign.” During his reign, a pact was created allowing Christians to practice their religion without fear of being executed and did not force religious conversion as long as non-Muslims continued to pay taxes. This pact allowed military protection.
In 661 CE, under Mu’awiya, the Umayyad dynasty seized the Caliphate. The Umayyad dynasty was responsible for several civil wars and expanding Muslim territories further north into Byzantine territory. Mu’awiya followed a laissez-faire policy toward the conquered people “he allowed everyone to live as they wanted and reassured them he was not hostile towards their religions”.
It was under their rule that Arabic culture started to emerge and spread. Between 661 CE and 750 CE, the empire continued to grow, and in order to sustain such a large empire, the Umayyads had to create a more powerful political structure. “Islamic rule was non-centralized until the military was organized under the Umayyads, who mostly kept the existing governments and cultures how they were and controlled through financial officers to collect taxes”.
As a result of the events mentioned above, Islamic civilization was on its way to creating a lasting impression and massive impact on history. Distinguishing one civilization from another is the strength of its foundation to its belief system. Government, religion, culture, economics, and military are simply a few factors that contributed in establishing the Islamic civilization. Like life, faith, along with history has a journey that goes through many ups and downs and is not easy. Through the development of Islamic civilization, I have learned the life of Muhammad and the Qu’ran brought the people peace and understanding of the world around them.