Important Events: The Conquest of Mecca

Kaba in Mecca (Source: photography.nationalgeographic.com)

The early history of Islam is important for Muslims even to the present day. The Prophet Muhammad’s life, especially, is considered to be an example for all believers. There are numerous events that exemplify the Prophet Muhammad’s struggles and his character. These events have played a defining role in the formation of the faith and the Muslim community. In earlier posts, I have written about several significant events that include: the Night of Power, the hijra (emigration from Mecca to Medina), the Battle of Badr, and the Farewell Sermon. In this post, the focus will be on the conquest of Mecca, when the Muslims took control of the city after being away from it for 8 years. Continue reading

Important Events: The Battle of Badr

Site of Badr (Source:www.khashram.net)

There are many events in the history of Islam that define it and lay its foundation. In previous posts, I have written about two events that Muslims view as significant to Islamic history: the initial revelations of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad and the hijra or emigration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina. The first revelations established the new faith and the emigration established a new community. The focus of this post is the Battle of Badr, the first major battle between the Muslims and Quraysh, the most powerful tribe in Mecca. Continue reading

Important Events: The Night of Power

Cave of Hira

There are many events that are important in the history of Islam. The most significant, however, is the one that set everything in motion and led to the founding of a major world religion over 1400 years ago. In order to understand Islam, one must reflect on the events that have defined this faith, its community, and its history. The story of the initial revelations are told to young Muslim children throughout the world and is a constant source of inspiration for the Muslim community. The focus of this post, part of a series on important events in the history of Islam, is the first revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad. Continue reading

The Farewell Sermon

Mount Arafat

As I have written in previous posts, the Prophet Muhammad is a central figure for Muslims. Not only is he considered to be the final prophet of a long line of prophets sent to humanity, but he is considered to be the role model that Muslims should emulate. It is for this reason that there is a great deal of emphasis placed on the hadith and the sira, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad. There are many aspects and events in his life that exemplify his character, but one in particular highlights his nature and the way he envisioned Islam. Before his death in 632 C.E., during the final hajj, the Prophet gave what has been called “The Farewell Sermon” or khutbat al-wadaa` in Arabic. In this sermon, he reminded his followers that were with him and also those in the future of the core principles of the faith. Continue reading

How to Think of God

Allah. God in Arabic.

A Muslim’s relationship with God is central to their belief. In Islam, God (or Allah, the Arabic word for God) is beyond human comprehension but is also very close. In other words, there is a sense of both awe and intimacy in the relationship with the divine. Because God is considered to be beyond human comprehension, Muslims do not depict God. Rather, they use calligraphy to write out His name. There are, however, numerous verses from the  Qur’an and hadith that illustrate the closeness of God to humans. Continue reading

Helping Others: A Core Principle of Islam

One of the central principles of Islam is helping others. While some perceive Islam as a faith that encourages violence rather than positive contributions to society, the Qur’an and especially the hadith highlight how helping another human being is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Muslims’ primary goal is to worship God, but this is done not only through rituals like prayer and fasting but also through treatment of other people. Continue reading

The Middle Path

Moderate community in Arabic

As we have pointed out before, Islam is often perceived as a religion of extremists and Muslims are almost as a matter of course portrayed as rigid and fixed in their ways. There are Muslims, certainly, who have a more extreme understanding of the faith and believe that it must be practiced in a particular way; however, the vast majority of Muslims follow the principle of moderation in everything, including their faith. Continue reading

When does hate become terrorism?

One of the major problems Muslims have had to face around the world, especially since the 9/11 attacks, is that Islam is seen as a violent religion associated with terrorism, even though the vast majority of Muslims do not condone violence, much less carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, in some circles, the term “terrorist” itself has almost become synonymous with “Muslim.” Conversely, there seems to be a reluctance to label as terrorism those times when Muslims are the victims of an act of deep hatred. This is the case with the story of Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi-American mother of five who was found beaten in her home in San Diego, California, last Wednesday, March 21st. Alawadi died on Saturday, March 24th. Continue reading

We are all Amina Filali

Protests against Article 475

On March 11th, Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who had been raped, committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Filali killed herself after she was forced to marry the rapist. This was in accordance with a controversial section of the Moroccan penal code called Article 475, which states that a “kidnapper” of a minor can marry the victim to escape persecution. The article has been extended to include rape victims. Many Moroccans are outraged by Filali’s suicide and have begun Facebook petitions to change the article. Twitter has also been used to get Filali’s story out. Continue reading

The Criterion

The Qur’an is one of the most misunderstood texts. It is often considered to be the source of any extremism carried out by Muslims. However, as I have written in previous posts, the Qur’an is not only a complex text that should not be approached in a piecemeal fashion, but it is a book that lays out clear guidelines for believers and outlines the positive role they should have in society. The focus of this post is verses 63 through 76 in chapter 25, which both describe the behaviors of believers and demonstrate Islam’s overall peaceful message. Continue reading