Important Events: The Death of the Prophet

Prophet Muhammad's Tomb in Medina

In the history of Islam, there have been many events that have defined the faith, exemplified the character of the Prophet Muhammad, and determined the future of the Muslim community. I have written in previous posts about a few: the Night of Power, the hijra, the Battle of Badr, the conquest of Mecca, and the Farewell Sermon. However, the most trying event for the the nascent Muslim community was the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 C.E. Over 23 year, the Prophet established Islam in Arabia and founded a community of believers whose ties transcended tribal bonds and were based on a shared faith. He was the center of the Muslim community, the ummah, and served as the religious, political, and military leader. When he died, the Muslims were utterly shocked by the loss of this central figure and had to figure out a way to move forward so that this new faith would continue to grow. Continue reading

Important Figures: Ali ibn Abi Talib

Ali in Arabic

One figure who has occupied a central role in the history of Islam almost from its beginnings is Ali. Like the 3 caliphs before him, Ali left an imprint on the faith that can be seen until the present day, which is why I am focusing on him as the fourth in our series on central figures. While Ali himself was not controversial and is held in high esteem by all Muslims, he is central to the question of succession after the Prophet’s death and the eventual Sunni/Shia division that resulted.

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Important Figures: Uthman ibn Affan

Uthman in Arabic

Like Abu Bakr and Umar, Uthman is a very common name among Muslims. The name is chosen to commemorate Uthman ibn Affan, the third of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs, according to Sunnis. The focus of this post, the third in a series of important figures in Islamic history, is Uthman. His life and death left an imprint on the history of the faith.

Uthman was born to the powerful Banu Umayya clan in the Quraysh tribe. His father, Affan ibn Abi al-As, died as a young man and left a large inheritance for Uthman. Following in his father’s footsteps, Uthman was a successful buisnessman and became one of the wealthiest men in Quraysh. Continue reading

Important Figures: Umar ibn al-Khattab

Umar ibn al-Khattab in Arabic

Umar is probably one of the most common Muslim names. Many choose this name because it commemorates an important figure in Islamic history. The focus of this post, the second in a series on central figures in Islam, is Umar ibn al-Khattab. Umar went from being one of the strongest opponents of Islam to one of its staunchest believers.

There is not much information about Umar’s early life. He was born to an average family and as a youth tended to his father’s camels. As a young man, Umar learned martial arts, horseback riding, and wrestling. He was also described as being tall and physically strong, and it’s for this reason that many people feared him. Continue reading