DAVID S. POWERS: Muhammad was born in the year 570 in the city of Mecca, in the region called the Hejaz, along the Western coast of what is today Saudi Arabia. At the age of 40, he had what we would call a peak experience. He was engaged in contemplation in a cave in a mountain outside of the city of Mecca when suddenly, an entity appeared to him, pinned him to the ground, and instructed him to recite. Iqra. Muhammad replied, I'm illiterate and I don't know what to say. The entity tightened its grip on Muhammad, and instructed him again. Recite. Muhammad demurred a second time. The entity tightened its grip. And Muhammad demurred a third time. At which point the entity said, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Recite, in the name of your Lord, who taught man by the pen what he did not know.
This is the first revelation of what would become known as the Quran. It was sent by God, through the agency of the angel Gabriel, to Muhammad God would continue to send Muhammad these revelations over the course of 23 years, from 610 until Mohammed's death in 632.
The primary message of the Quran is the oneness of God. Muhammad addressed this message to the tribesmen of the city of Mecca who, at the time, were mostly polytheists. At first, he attracted a small following, and in the year 622, he sent his small following to the city of Medina, located approximately 200 miles to the north and west of Mecca. This event, known as the hegira or the hegira, is the first year in Islamic history. It's the first year of the Islamic calendar.
The hegira from Mecca to Medina is regarded by the Muslim community as the beginning of Islamic history, and the year 1 of the Islamic calendar. After the hegira, Muhammad had his base in the city of Medina. By the time of his death in 632, Muhammad had succeeded in uniting all of the tribes of Arabia into a new, political, religious community called the oma.
And two years before his death, he had succeeded in taking control of his birthplace, the city of Mecca. Muhammad was an agent of great historical change. Prior to his birth, Arabia had been stateless, nomadic, and polytheistic. By the time of his death, Arabia now constituted a state structure, and most of the Arabs of the peninsula had become Muslims, or believers in one god.
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What is Islamic law? Explore the history as David S. Powers explains the origins, concepts, and misconceptions of Islamic law.
This video is part 2 of 7 in the What is Islamic Law? series.