Islam is believed to be one of the oldest religions in the world. It is not clearly how it came into being, but most historians argue that it originated from Christianity and Judaism. It was formed in the 7th century C.E in the Middle East. It was founded on grounds of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad as a manifestation of submission to Allah’s will, whom Muslims believe is the creator and protector of the world. It is imperative to note that Islam has two subdivisions; the Shi’a and Sunni (Goldschmidt and Lawrence, 34-36). Despite the two divisions claiming different approaches of upholding religious authority, they are unified through the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the ultimate practices of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad played a pivotal role in the development and spread of Islam during its early stages of development. Actually, Muhammad is said to be the father of Islam because it is based on his teachings and visions. Muhammad was a poor orphan from the Bedouin tribe, Mecca, which was influenced by Monophysite Christianity and Judaism. At the age of 40, Muhammad claimed to be receiving visions from God, which he revealed to audiences. It is these revelations that later formed the Qu’ran, the holy book of Islam (Goldschmidt and Lawrence, 67). He became appealing to the poor and unfortunate people in the community, but despised among the rich and powerful clans because his revelations were against them. Later on, he moved to Yathrib, a city that was inhabited mainly by the Arabs and few Jewish clans. His teachings appealed to the people of Yathrib, and majority of them became his followers, which led to the city being renamed Medinah (Davidson, 20). Together with is followers, Muhammad embarked on converting more people through his teachings.
The economic conditions of Mecca contributed to the growth of Islam in one way or the other. Unlike in the surrounding cities, agriculture activities in Mecca were not carried out because of its arid conditions. Therefore, trading was the major economic activity in the city. In fact, Mecca became an important trading route because of its strategic location interconnecting the neighboring cities (Davidson, 27). Its advantageous location was also heightened by the Zamzam waterwell, which made the city an appropriate stop in the antiquity trade. As mentioned above, Mecca was the birth-place of Prophet Muhammad. Islam spread to other parts of the Middle East because of the frequent flow of traders. Perhaps, the role that Mecca played in the spread of Islam explains why the city is regarded as the holiest city among the Muslims (Goldschmidt and Lawrence, 77).
The physical landscape of Arabia facilitated the spread of Islam. Generally, Arabia is a mountainous region. In addition, almost have of the land in
Arabia is arid, and there are no rivers. In terms of climate, Arabia experiences intensely hot summers. Structurally, the entire Arabia is a massive stage of antique rocks. This kind of physical landscape, especially the dryness, meant that the inhabitants moved from one place to another from time to time. Therefore, Muslims spread the Islam teaching during these migrations (Goldschmidt and Lawrence, 79).
Finally, the presence of Jews and Christians as well as the Arab culture were crucial factors in the growth of Islam. The cultural practices of Arabs had a close connection with Islamic teachings, which made it appealing to the Arabs. For instance, most traditional communities used the Arabic language; hence communication was easy (Davidson, 31). With regard to the Jews and Christians, as mentioned above, Islam borrowed various teachings from Judaism and Christianity. These three religions are generally referred to as the Abrahamic religions because they have a common origin via Abraham.
Davidson, Lawrence. Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction. , 2013. Print.
Goldschmidt, Arthur, and Lawrence Davidson. A Concise History of the Middle East. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2013. Print.