The Beginnings of Islam: From Muhammad to the Spread of Empire

In Arabia, in the 7th century CE, after a visitation from the Angel Gabriel, Muhammad, a trader, founded a religion which within 200 years grew to become a great empire.

His teachings are called ‘the Quran’, and the religion, Islam. Its two chief principles:

1. As in Judaism and Christianity, there is only one god.

2. You must give a proportion of your income to the poor.

Women’s and orphans’ rights are also very important.

Each Muslim (follower of Islam) has five sacred responsibilities, called the 5 pillars of Islam.

Local tribes disliked Muhammad’s assumption of power, and in 622 AD expelled him and his followers from Mecca. They went to Medina and reestablished Islam; so 622 is the first year of the Muslim calendar. Muhammad also became a great general.

After his death, dissension arose between those who favoured different successors. Two sects developed, Sunni and Shia. Despite this dissension, the empire thrived, growing fourfold within 200 years, and gave much to the world in terms of knowledge, technology and high culture.

I graduated in English language and literature with Latin subsidiary. I write poetry, act, and have worked in reference and educational publishing for decades. I was commissioned in 1994 to write The Ladybird Book of Kings and Queens, did extensive editing and writing for Harraps 20th-century History series, and was one of the contributors to Helicon's Book of the Millennium, a 4-volume children's world history book.