Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Qur'an

  The Qur'an
 



It is significant that Muslims believe that what Gabriel told Muhammad came directly from God, and that Muhammad was simply God's messenger. Muslims do not believe that Muhammad himself was divine in any way, an important distinction that sets Islam apart from Christianity, which does believe in the divinity of Jesus. Muslims believe that Gabriel continued to send Muhammad messages from God until the prophet's death. Muhammad immediately began preaching the message he had received; his wife, Khadija, was his first convert, soon followed by his cousin and future successor, Ali. Islam says that the message was similar to those received by the early Hebrew prophets: that God is one, he is all-powerful, he is the creator of the universe, and that there will be a Judgement Day when those who have carried out God's commands will enjoy paradise in heaven, and those who have not will be condemned to hell. As we have seen, these ideas were also part of the Zoroastrian religion.

By 615, Muhammad had gained several converts. These early Muslims were persecuted in Mecca, mainly by wealthy merchants who controlled the city and feared that the new faith would challenge their economic monopoly. That year, about 80 Muslims fled from Mecca to Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) to take refuge with Christians there, who were enemies of the polytheistic Meccans. Muhammad's daughter, Ruqayya, and her husband, Uthman, were among those who fled, although Muhammad himself stayed in Mecca. The Abyssinian Christians treated the Muslims well, helping to form Muhammad's positive view of Christians. He labelled both Jews and Christians "People of the Book," because their religion had a holy scripture. For this reason, Muhammad considered Judaism and Christianity to be superior to the polytheistic, humanist Arab religions. Islam also had several beliefs in common with the two older religions, and today calls itself the third "Abrahamic" religion because of what it sees as common roots between the three.

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