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World Religion
The History of Islam



The History of Islam
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.96

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    desert-dwelling, dhimmis, hadith, metalwork, spirituality, well-disciplined, wherein, affinity, caliph, well-equipped, calligraphers, calligraphy, writing, script, modern-day, successor
     content words:    Archangel Gabriel, Mount Hira, Ali Baba, Abu Bakr, Sunni Muslims, Shi'i Muslims, Rightly Guided Caliphs, Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Muslim Mughal


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The History of Islam
By Colleen Messina
  

1     The history of Islam is colorful, at times violent, and always complex. It began in 610 A.D. when it is believed that Archangel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad on Mount Hira. The angel revealed the words of Allah to Muhammad, and this later became the holy Qur'an. Muhammad was a quiet man, but three years after his vision, he boldly preached about Allah. His message would change the world!
 
2     Islam spread all over the world by military conquest, through peaceful nomads and Sufi mystics, and through merchants on their trade routes. Trying to summarize its history in a few words is like trying to pour a steaming vat of Arabian coffee for Ali Baba and the forty thieves into a single teacup!
 
3     Muslims began their vast military conquests during Muhammad's life. Their first battles were against locals who were angry with Muhammad because he spoke against their many gods. In 624 A.D., several hundred poorly armed Muslims defeated 1,000 well-equipped Meccan soldiers! The Meccans tried to get rid of Muhammad again in 625 A.D. with 3,000 soldiers, but the battle was a draw. A movie made in 1976 called The Message chronicles these dramatic episodes in Islamic history.
 
4     Islam faced other challenges after the death of Muhammad. Muslims had trouble deciding upon a leader when their founder died, and they split into two groups. One group elected one of Muhammad's closest friends, Abu Bakr, and gave him the title of caliph, which means "successor." This group became the Sunni Muslims. A second group thought that the Prophet's cousin should be the leader. This group became the Shi'i Muslims. These two groups still exist today.

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