How did the Muslim religion get its start?
The religion was started by Mohammed. He claims to have had a vision and a series of visitations by the angel Gabriel. He began his ministry in AD 610, at the age of 40. Mohammed created a religion fashioned after Judaism, about which he had a moderate knowledge. He rejected the polytheism of Mecca in favor of a monotheism which involved worship of one of the five chief gods of Western Arabia: Allah. His was a religion of simple worship involving prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the first few years he had very few converts to his religion. Eventually, to escape persecution, Mohammed moved to Medina. Here he gained a degree of political power and began to make a number of converts. Through political intrigue he eventually became master of the city of Medina. In order to complete his dominance of the city he had hundreds of Jewish men slaughtered. He began a series of caravan raids which eventually turned into a series of three battles with allies of the city of Mecca. Victory in the third battle led to his dominance over Mecca, to which he returned in triumph. At this point, thousands converted to his new monotheism. Upon his death in AD 632, much of Arabia had been conquered by his Muslim soldiers. Within two generations, most of Palestine, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia had fallen to the Muslim armies, the Caliphate was established and the rest, as they say, is history.
John Oakes, PhD