“Read! Read in the name of thy Lord who created. Created man from a clot of blood. Read in the name of thy Lord who taught by the pen. Taught man what he did not Know.” With these words begin the career of Muhammad, a poor orphan from Mecca, as a prophet whose followers would go on to change the world. Prophet Muhammad is said to have been born in the year 571CE, also called The Year of the Elephant but that’s probably not true. 571CE was probably, neither, the year of Muhammad’s.birth nor, The Year of the Elephant which was, most likely, two or three decades earlier and Muhammad’s birth can’t be accurately known because there are no historic records for it. There were less than a dozen people who read and write at the time of Muhammad’s birth so no one noted anything down. Most of his childhood comes from tradition and I’m gonna avoid Historic Facts because they are manipulated these days and just focus on the traditional facts. Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was born in the Quraysh tribe, his house was called the house of Hashim, named after his great grandfather. It was a well-respected house with most men being merchants, his father Abdullah died because he did not comply with the request of the Jews to marry a Jewish woman so that prophet Muhammad should be from Jewish Background- Note: He was killed before Prophet Muhammad was born, unknown to the fact that Prophet of Islam was already 2 months olds in the womb of Aminah. Aminah, His wife had to send Muhammad(PBUH) in the middle of the desert for his protection with a woman called Halima. She died when he was just a little boy. He went into his grandfather Abdul Muttalib’s care but he too died a few years later.Muhammad grew up in the care of his uncle Abu Talib. He grew up to be a merchant and a good one at that. He bought things or found a patron to invest. He went up to Palestine and the Levant to sell these things for a profit.According to tradition, he had quite a reputation for being truthful and honest hence earning the titles of As-Sadiq (The Truthful) and Al-Amin (The Honest). He even served as arbitrator ina tribal dispute in Mecca, stopping it from escalating into a bloodbath.Here’s something that I find interesting, mostly Muslims claim that Muhammad couldn’t read or write but I don’t think that that’s true. It can’t be. Logically, Muhammad was a merchant and so he must know how to write read and write a few things. He must even know some basic Arithmetic. He definitely didn’t get a formal education but it’s possible that he had learned over the years. At the age of 25 or so, he married a rich widow named Khadija who is said to have been really impressed by his honesty and kindheartedness during a business trip to Syria. She sent HIM a Marriage Proposal. She became his companion and he didn’t marry another woman for as long as she lived, which was very strange at that time in Arabia. They are known to have had four daughters and two or three sons, sources disagree. None of the sons, unfortunately, lived long. Khadija is such an important woman in Islam that she’s often called Khadija-tul-Kubra meaning Khadija the Great. At the age of 40 or so in the year of610CE or 611CE, Muhammad went up to the cave of Hira, in a mountain outside Mecca to meditate. There he was visited by the angel Jibril or Gabriel who told him that he was chosen by Allah to preach Tauheed, the oneness of God. Muhammad was as shocked as any man would be. After some time, however, he accepted his fate and began preaching the Word of God. This was met with a lot of resistance. Meccansbelieved in many gods as we have discussed in the previous episode and this belief was of economic benefit to Them. If they were to renounce all their gods in the favour of this one God that Muhammad was talking about, they’d no longer have a sacred city and the trading hub that came with it.They’d starve. And as I always say the most powerful god throughout history was economics. So the Meccans wanted Mohammed to stop preaching his ideas but Muhammad was nothing if not persistent. He kept on preaching his message to anyone who would listen. He would preach it to the merchants who came to Mecca. He would preach it to the pilgrims who came to Mecca. Basically, anybody, he could preach to. Eventually, he gained some followers. Some of the early followers were his wife Khadijah, his cousin Ali, his friend Abu Bakr, and his adopted son Zaid.Muhammad’s message of equality was really attractive to the people with nothing to their names; the poor, the helpless, the Slaves, the orphans, were coming to Mohammed’s side quickly. This was met with fierce resistance.Meccans would torture anyone they could to make them denounce the heresy that Muhammad was preaching. This even led to Meccans killing their own slaves who had turned to Islam. In 613CE, three to four years after Muhammad received his first revelation in the cave of Hira, Muhammad told some of his followers to leave Mecca and go to Abyssinia. Muhammad had heard that the monarch was a good man and would surely be good to his people.He, himself, didn’t go, though. He stayed in Mecca to keep to his mission. Up to this point, Muhammad’s house, the House of Hashim, had been held under the command of his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib. Abu Talib, even though he did not convert to Muhammad’s message, loved his nephew very much and protected him from the Quraysh.However, that changed in the year 619CE. 619CE is often called The Year of Sorrow in Islam because, during this year, Muhammad lost his beloved wife Khadijah and his protector and father figure, Abu Talib. The House of Hashim went to another one of Muhammad’s uncles, Abu Lahab and Abu Lahab didn’t share Abu Talib’slove for Muhammad. He soon withdrew his protection and even joined the Meccans in trying to stop Muhammad. Muhammad knew he couldn’t stay there for long, so he started looking for a new home. He found his new home, north ofMecca, in a small town called Yathrib. Some pilgrims from Yathrib had heard Muhammad’s message and it clicked with them. They knew about the problems Mohammed was facing and so they convinced their people to let Muhammadcome to their city. Yathrib was no different than most Arab cities except that it was an agricultural oasis. The same tribal warfare that was destroying the rest of Arabia was also destroying Yathrib. A delegation of 12 tribal heads invited Muhammad to move to their city as chief arbitrator of all of them, So, he as a neutral party could resolve their issues without war. Muhammad, Finally, had a shelter. in 622CE, 12 or 13 years after the first revelation, Muhammad moved to Yathrib. The Meccan followers who had moved there are calledMuhajiroun. The Yathribites who helped the Muhajirounare called the Ansaar. Muhammad had gone from a preacher to a leader. He now had a community he had to feed, protect, and grow.See you next time. Read Part Two of this Sequel in the Next Articles.

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  1. […] It was a period of time roughly around 500 years when scientific studies and research in fields like medicine, economics, mathematics geography, astronomy, and many more were flourishing in the Islamic World. Muslims contributed greatly to science, culture, and literature. One of the most famous and scary examples is Algebra which was founded by Al-Khwarizmi, a Persian polymath. Here’s another question, what was Islamic about it? When we call it the Islamic Golden Age, the idea comes to mind that it was just Muslims but it really wasn’t. For instance, many personal Physicians to the Abbasid Caliphs themselves were Christians. A Christian called Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi was the head of the House of Wisdom for a long period of time, he was given that position by Al-Ma’mun. Jews and Zoroastrians played a huge role in translating old works of Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, and Hindu origin into Arabic. People of all religions and cultures came together in Baghdad to fuel the Islamic Golden Age. So, from this point on, when I use the term Islamic Scholars, I don’t mean necessarily Muslim Scholars but also, Scholars from other faiths and cultures. I mean all scholars who worked under the patronage of a Muslim ruler or a state that had Islam as its state religion. So, when did the Golden Age start? A lot of people put the starting date around 786CE when caliph Harun al-Rashid ascended to the throne. Some Muslims tend to put it around 610CE when Muhammad received his revelation because well, of course, they do. I personally put it around 25th of January, 750 CE because, well, that’s the year that the Abbasids came to power. All of them together made the conditions that made a Golden Age even possible. For instance, Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad, the center of the Golden Age, and paper was made famous during Al-Mahdi’s reign. As you might expect, paper played a huge role in the Golden Age. It was taken from the Chinese in 751CE, during As-Saffah’s reign so you know, all of the caliphs before Harun al-Rashid played some role in bringing the Golden Age. The most important thing, I think during the Golden Age, was the Translation Movement. Muslims were in control of many important centers of learning of the ancient world. Cities like Alexandria, once home to the great library, now a mere shadow of its former self. Gondishapur, which was home to a great academy. Many alumni of this academy went on to work at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. From these old cities, Muslims inherited a massive collection of books and manuscripts written primarily in Greek, Persian, Hebrew, Aramaic, and to some extent, Latin. Scholars went on to translate these books to preserve their knowledge. They translated these books into Arabic. A huge number of ancient Greek works only exist today because of this movement. I’ve even read somewhere that a scribe who translated a book was given the book’s weight in Gold. The Christian physician I mentioned before Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi was known as the Sheikh of the Translators because he translated many books from Greek to Arabic including Plato’s Republic. Islamic Scholars didn’t only take and translate works, they also contributed to them. They learned from them and did further research on them. Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi famously founded the basis of Algebra. He also made commentary and improved upon Ptolemy’s works on Geography. Ibn Mua’dh al-Jiyyani, inspired by Euclid’s work, wrote the earliest known treatise on spherical trigonometry. Ibn al-Haytham did groundbreaking work on optics. He was also the first known scholar to suggest the use of experimentation to prove the hypothesis. I like to think of him as the first scientist. Ibn al-Nafis made commentaries on Hippocrates’ work and he also described the pulmonary circulation of blood. First known person to do so. I’ll go into more detail about the contributions of the Islamic Scholars in future videos about the Golden Age. Now, why Baghdad? In one word, I think, Geography. Baghdad was founded in Mesopotamia, which was rich in agriculture, so the city had the right conditions to grow, become a metropolitan city, one big enough to be rich, and to house all the immigrants it needed and it did need a lot of immigrants. Educated people from throughout the empire or even beyond the empire were given the incentive to move to Baghdad. This made sure all the smart people were attracted to Baghdad. In addition to that, many centers of learning from the ancient world were under Islamic Control now, thanks to more than a century of conquests. All these cities contributed their knowledge to the House of Wisdom. Persia, for instance, played a huge role. The academy mentioned earlier was home to thousands of manuscripts and hundreds of scholars. All of which were moved to Baghdad. Together these factors created an intellectual revolution. The most important edge that the Abbasids had was that they controlled a significant portion of the Silk Road. The Silk Road, if you don’t know, was an old network of trade routes that were used to trade goods between China, India, the Middle East and Europe. Along with goods, ideas travelled on this road. Also, to some extent, disease but let’s not discuss that. Let say that the Indians invent something, if it looks like it’ll be profitable, some merchants will buy it from India and sell it in the Levant, maybe in Damascus or Jerusalem. From there, if it looks like it’ll sell in the European market, some merchants will take it to Europe. This way the world was very connected and the cities that were on the Silk Road were some of the most important cities in history. The Abbasid Empire was controlling a significant portion of those cities so any ideas that traveled down the Silk Road, found its way to Baghdad. Now, when I was younger and I first read about the Golden Age, what came to my mind was that the Muslims just took works from other and made some improvements, that’s not a big deal but well, that’s one of the reasons I wanna kill my younger self. As I grew up, I realized that you have to build upon the works of others. You can’t do anything without those who came before. “Our life is made by the death of others”, as Leonardo Da Vinci said. If you’re a writer, you probably read a lot. If you’re an artist, you look at other artists’ artworks a lot. When you’re new to a field, you look at and learn from others who have been there before you and over time, you mix their style with your own unique style and make something new. Sort of a remix and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m going to link a great video by Nerd Sync here. So, that’s why in this video, I keep talking about the importance of the older works that Baghdad had access to. Without them, there could never have been an Islamic Golden Age. Muslims took works from the people who had been there before and remixed them to make something new. Then, the Europeans during the Renaissance took those works and remixed them to make something newer. The device that you’re watching this video on, for instance, has a microprocessor in it that runs on programming, an extension of the concepts proposed by the goddess Ada Lovelace. The program uses binary. Binary is made of two numbers, 1 and 0. 0 was popularized by the Islamic Scholars. Those Islamic Scholars took it from the Indians. The device you’re watching it on, might look like magic to those Indians but for us, it was sort of a natural progression over things that came before it. The end of the Golden Age is said to be in 1258 CE when Hulagu Khan sacked Baghdad. It’s said that the Tigris river ran black with ink from the books and manuscripts flung into the river. The leather covers of those books were used to make shoes by the Barbarians. For the Muslim world, the shock of this event was unparalleled. Baghdad was an important center of learning. It was a hub of international trade. It was the home to the Caliph. Anywhere from 200,000 to a million people were slaughtered. The Mongols killed so many people that Hulagu himself couldn’t stay in the city because of the stench of the dead bodies. However, I don’t believethat this was the end of the Golden Age. It didn’t end as much as it dispersed. Islamic Scholars still continued to do scientific work in other places like Cordoba and Cairo. Scholars like Ibn Khaldun continuedto do great work away from Baghdad. All of this kinda makes you wonder what happened to the Muslims, how’d they go from pioneers ofscience and culture to well, today. See you next time. Read also about The Life of Prophet Muhammad, The Last Messenger Of God. […]

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