Mohammed’s Legacy Spreads
Mohammed established a city-state based on Islam as the number of his disciples grew in Medina. He traveled and sent personal letters to rulers across Arabia telling them about God and Islam. The religion quickly spread, partly because of the charisma of Mohammed himself but also because it gave a sense of cultural identity to people who had been splintered into various ethnic and religious groups for centuries. However, many still felt rejected and threatened by the new religion and sent armies to kill Mohammed and his followers. Only when force was used against Muslims in the name of Islam was it acceptable to fight back. Allah’s proclamations were otherwise of peace. When the people of Mecca attacked, Mohammed’s followers fought back until the surrender of Mecca in 630. It was then that Mecca was declared a Holy City and Mohammed became the most powerful leader in Arabia.
Mohammed continued to hear the voice of God through the angel Gabriel until his death in 632 at the age of 62. He proclaimed it to his people who, in fear of losing the words of Allah forever, recorded God’s proclamations on animal skins. At least a decade passed after Mohammed’s death before the divine revelations were compiled in book form, resulting in Islam’s holy book called the Koran. Muslims believe that the Koran had been kept with God since the beginning of time until he revealed it to his Prophet. Each word in the Koran is believed to be an actual utterance of God. It is not only a source of divine revelation but also a guide to political, social, and cultural matters. This reinforces the concept of Islam not only as a religion, but also a way of life.
When Muslims cannot find clarity in the Koran, they refer to Mohammed’s teachings, which are compiled in the Hadith, or the sayings of the Prophet. This book is considered a guide to living but does not hold the same sacred status as the Holy Koran.