Islam as a Cultural and Historical Phenomenon
The history of Islam, the world’s second-largest religion, began in the 7th century, when the Arabs were facing one of its hardest times. Some inhabitants of the Arabia practiced Judaism and Christianity; however, these two religions were not destined to bring peace to the local population.
Islam ingeniously united in itself preexistent fundamental principles of other religions transforming them in the manner acceptable for Arab traditions. Unlike Judaism, Islam approached not only the selected few but everyone. In comparison to Christianity, Islam regulated routine for Muslims by some rituals and rites which were said to open the path to the paradise. Being open for everybody and easy to apply in everyday life, Islam was fast to spread around Arabs who believed Muhammad to bring back to life al-huda, lost truly belief of Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The prophet revealed the existence of one and only almighty and merciful God. Muhammed knew that faith alone would be insufficient to change the lives of Arabs, so he declared some other principles of Islam which turned out to be crucial for reverts: from that moment, they were to regard the human kind as their big family protected by God. The only way to live a decent life was to have faith in Allah and to follow his injunctions written by Muhammed. He also presented five pillars of faith for Muslims as follows: belief in Allah as the only God, belief in angels and djinns as God’s creatures, belief in prophets, belief in divine messages by way of Quran, belief in forthcoming Final Judgement and the existence of heaven and hell as well as in human fate determination by God. Only faith backed by regular rituals and rites could speak for officiation of a Muslim before the God. For that to happen special routine was created including shahadah, praying, Ramadan, helping those in need and a pilgrim’s journey to Mecca. Quran became basis for regulating political, economic and social spheres. Even law, advocacy and international relations fell within the scope of Quran constituting, therefore, a constitution of a new state. By and large, Muhammed’s ideas had the edge for Arabs compared to principles of Christianity or Zoroastrianism, uniting warring tribes into one solid state and directing their energy into conquest of other territories.
In uniting Arabs Muhammed achieved great political and economic success which could be explained due to several circumstances. Early in the 7th century Arabs were in difficult times because of incessant conflicts among tribes aggravated by the fact that trade routes more and more often were passing by Arabia, so that local people earning their living on transit trade found themselves without any means of support. Thus, the Arabia happened to be the breeding grounds for a new religion promulgating principles of universal brotherhood and human equality in rights despite race, sex and age. Muhammad affronted the system both in religious and political way advocating for cancelling the hierarchy of age and belonging to a certain …