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  2. Friday essay: how Western attitudes towards Islam have changed
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  4. Origin Of Islam

In Mecca, Mohammed preached to his fellow tribesmen to abandon their gods and accept his. He preached about charity and the conditions of widows and orphans.

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This method of proselytizing or persuasion, called dawa in Arabic, remains an important component of Islam to this day. However, during his time in Mecca, Mohammed and his small band of believers had little success in converting others to this new religion. So, a decade after Mohammed first began preaching, he fled to Medina. Over time he cobbled together a militia and began to wage wars.

Friday essay: how Western attitudes towards Islam have changed

As for the example of Mohammed, Sahih Muslim, one of the six major authoritative Hadith collections, claims the Prophet Mohammed undertook no fewer than 19 military expeditions, personally fighting in eight of them. There lies the duality within Islam. The key question is not whether Islam is a religion of peace, but rather, whether Muslims follow the Mohammed of Medina, regardless of whether they are Sunni or Shiite. Today, the West is still struggling to understand the religious justification for the Medina ideology, which is growing, and the links between nonviolence and violence within it.

Two main viewpoints have emerged in the debate on the causes of violent extremism in Islam. The difference between them is reflected in the different terminology used by proponents of the rival views. If Islam is mentioned at all, it is to say that Islam is being perverted, or hijacked. They are quick to assert that Islam is no different from any other religion, that there are terrible aspects to other religions, and that Islam is in no way unique. All of these terms are designed to convey the religious basis of the phenomenon.

The argument is that an ideological movement to impose sharia law, by force if necessary, is gaining ground across the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and even in Europe. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.

Now it is an exercise in futility to deny that. This school of thought understands that the problem of radicalization begins long before a suicide bomber straps on his vest or a militant picks up his machine gun; it begins in mosques and schools where imams preach hate, intolerance, and adherence to Medina Islam. But this has not amounted to meaningful ideological engagement. These so-called moderate representatives of Islam insist that violence has nothing to do with Islam and as a result the intolerant and violent aspects of the Quran and the Hadith are never acknowledged or rejected.

There is never any discussion about change within Islam to bring the morally outdated parts of the religion in line with modernity or genuine tolerance for those who believe differently. Despotic governments, civil war, anarchy, economic despair — all of these factors doubtless contribute to the spread of the Islamist movement. But it is only after the West and, more importantly, Muslims themselves recognize and defeat the religious ideology on which this movement rests that its spread will be arrested.

And if we are to defeat the ideology we cannot focus only on violent extremism.

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We need to confront the nonviolent preaching of sharia and martyrdom that precedes all acts of jihad. We will not win against the Medina ideology by stopping the suicide bomber just before he detonates himself, wherever he may be; another will soon take his or her place.


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We will not win by stamping out the Islamic State or al Qaeda or Boko Haram or al-Shabab; a new radical group will just pop up somewhere else. We will win only if we engage with the ideology of Islamist extremism, and counter the message of death, intolerance, and the pursuit of the afterlife with our own far preferable message of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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    Because Muhammad was the chosen recipient and messenger of the word of God through the divine revelations, Muslims from all walks of life strive to follow his example. After the holy Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet hadith and descriptions of his way of life sunna are the most important Muslim texts. The power of the Quraish derived from their role as successful merchants. Several trade routes intersected at Mecca, allowing the Quraish to control trade along the west coast of Arabia, north to Syria, and south to Yemen. Mecca was home to two widely venerated polytheistic cults whose gods were thought to protect its lucrative trade.

    After working for several years as a merchant, Muhammad was hired by Khadija, a wealthy widow, to ensure the safe passage of her caravans to Syria. They eventually married. Divine Revelations When he was roughly forty, Muhammad began having visions and hearing voices.

    Origin Of Islam

    Searching for clarity, he would sometimes meditate at Mount Hira, near Mecca. On one of these occasions, the Archangel Gabriel Jibra'il in Arabic appeared to him and instructed him to recite "in the name of [your] lord. These early revelations pointed to the existence of a single God, contradicting the polytheistic beliefs of the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula. Initially overwhelmed by the significance of what was being revealed to him, Muhammad found unflinching support in his wife and slowly began to attract followers.

    His strong monotheistic message angered many of the Meccan merchants. They were afraid that trade, which they believed was protected by the pagan gods, would suffer. From that point forward, Muhammad was ostracized in Mecca. For a time, the influence and status of his wife and his uncle, Abu Talib, the chief of the clan, protected Muhammad from persecution. After they died, however, Muhammad's situation in Mecca became dire. The Hijra Emigration became the only hope for Muhammad and his followers' survival. In , they headed to Medina, another oasis town, where they were promised freedom to practice their religion.

    The move from Mecca to Medina is known as the hijra —the flight—and marks year 1 of the Islamic, or hijri , calendar.

    Sam Harris: Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace

    Spreading the Message of Islam In Medina, Muhammad continued to receive divine revelations and built an ever-expanding community around the new faith. The conflict with the Quraish continued, but after several years of violent clashes, Mecca surrendered.