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The Prophet Muhammad

The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570 C. E. , both his parents died when he was very young and was left to be raised by his paternal grandfather (‘Abd al Muttalib) and later on by his paternal uncle (Abu Talib). Muhammad joined his uncle and became a merchant and trader. At the age of twenty five he married a rich merchant widow, named Khadijah, who proposed marriage to him. Muhammad and Khadijah had six children together four daughters and two sons but both sons died early in their infancy.

During the month of Ramadan he would often retreat to Mount Hira to meditate, it was during one of his many retreats that Muhammad received the first revelation from the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel); Muhammad was forty at the time. The Archangel Gabriel came and visited the Prophet Muhammad upon Allah’s command to reveal to him the Ayat (in English the term is best rendered as ‘verses’); these Ayat were revealed to the Prophet over a period of twenty-three years.

The revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad were never one continuous text, they were sometimes just a few verses, other times he would receive only part of a chapter and at other times he would be given a complete chapter. Some revelations were given to the Prophet in response to an inquiry made by the non-believers. Since the Prophet could not write he memorized the verses as soon as they were revealed to him and he would later recite the verses in the daily prayers performed by the Muslims.

The order and arrangement of the verses were done in accordance with the instruction given to Muhammad by the and in turn the Prophet guided the scribes in ordering the written text, which would later be referred to as the holy Qur’an. The last revelation came in 632 C. E. and all the revealed verses were compiled together into the Qur’an. The Qur’an speaks in the first person, thus Allah speaks to its creation, and does not contain a words or statements made by the Prophet. The sayings, actions, statements or interpretations spoken by the Prophet have been recorded separately in collections known as the Hadiths.

The foundation of Muslim life is based upon what is known as the “five pillars of Islam”. The first pillar is referred to in Arabic as the Shahadah, it is the sermon of faith in the Oneness of God and “messengership” of Muhammad (Fisher, 2008, p. 353). The second pillar consist of performing the daily prayers (five times), which involves the believer having to execute the ritual act of ablution with water, face Mecca and recite a series of prayers and passages from the Qur’an (Fisher, 2008, p. 353). The third pillar is in relation to the month of Ramadan which requires that every believer to fast for a period of approximately thirty days.

Usually the fasting entails no eating, no drinking and no sexual relations during the daylight hours until the end of the month of Ramadan. The fourth pillar is referred to in Arabic as Zakat and is normally understood as almsgiving. Here the believer is required to give to those who are in need; almsgiving is considered a form of worship to Allah. The fifth and last pillar requires that all believers perform a pilgrimage to Mecca as long as it is physically and financially possible for the individual. The pilgrimage is performed on the first half of the last lunar month.

Islamic resurgence connotes a revival in the Islamic religion throughout the Muslim world. It began in the 70’s and is marked by an increase in religious piety, and thus in an evident display of Islamic culture, garments, gender separation and values. The two major events which are believed to have been the catalyst for the Islamic revival are the Arab oil embargo of the mid 1970’s and the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Muslim resurgence is understood a form of opposition to Westernization which many Muslims believe to be plaguing the development of their country.

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