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The Moslems Contribute to Civilization

Thirteen and a half centuries ago a new religion began in Arabia. Today millions of people are followers of this religion. It is called Islam and its followers, Moslems. All their lives long, Moslems must pray, in ways clearly prescribed, five times every day. No ordinary event must be allowed to interfere with these moments of prayer. Moslems must learn to recite their creed — a long statement of their religious belief. For one month each year they must fast all of every day from sunrise to sunset. They must give generously to charity. They should, if at all possible, go at least once during their lives to the holy city of Mecca, where Mohammed, the founder of Islam, began this new religion. People of other faiths are forbidden to enter Mecca. A few miles outside of Mecca, Moslems must change to pilgrims’ dress and proceed barefoot when they enter this city, high up in west-central Arabia. Mohammed and his first followers were Arabs. Arab merchants and Arab warriors, influenced the history of other peoples. United by loyalty to their religious faith, Arabs created a large empire. Arab rulers occupied positions of great influence and were keenly interested in advancing learning. How did all this come about? 1. How did the religion of Mohammed create a powerful Moslem world? 2. What kind of civilization developed in the Moslem world? 1. How did the Religion of Mohammed Create a Powerful Moslem World? Arab civilization started later than other great civilizations. The story of the Moslem world began about 600 A.D. in Arabia, a huge peninsula covered for the most part with burning desert. Arabia is separated from Africa by the Red Sea and from Iran (Persia) by the Persian Gulf. To the north and west of the Arabian peninsula is the …

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Mohammed, Prophet of Allah A. D. 571 – 632


IN THE year 571, in Mecca, a boy was born in a humble household of the Quraysh. No one knows what name he was given. His father died before his birth and his mother when he was six. The orphan, boy now called Mohammed, was brought up by his grandfather. When his grandfather also died, he came into the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. Nothing definite is known about his early life. As a boy, he may have tended sheep at the edge of the desert outside the city. When he was old enough to ride a camel, he probably traveled with caravans to Syria and Yemen. Later, he worked for a woman named Khadijah, the wealthy widow of two merchants. When he was twenty-five, he married her. Khadijah, who was forty, was still quite beautiful and had a fine mind. Mohamed himself was a handsome young man with broad shoulders and a curly black beard. His speech was musical, rolling from his tongue with the rhythm of poetry. In spite of the difference in their ages, their marriage was a happy one. Most men in those days kept as many wives as they could afford, but Mohammed refused to take any wife but Khadijah as long as she lived. Like most people of his time, Mohammed could not read or write. Even so, he was a thoughtful person, eager for knowledge. He listened to Jews and Christians tell about their beliefs and heard some of his pagan neighbours make fun of the gods their fathers had worshiped. Slowly he came to believe that there was really only one true God. He called him Allah, after Allah Taala, the Most High God of the Kaaba. During his travels he had seen much that troubled him. The half-wild Bedouins drank …

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