History (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Islam began with the Prophet Muḥammad, born in Mecca in 570 c.e. Believed to be a descendant of the Jewish patriarch Abraham, the Prophet is said to have received visitations from the archangel Gabriel in 610 after becoming a successful merchant. During these sessions, Gabriel dictated the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, and gave instructions on how the faith should be spread through the world. After the death of the Prophet, Islam began an electrifying expansion, usually but not always peaceful, which would eventually place Muslims in nearly every corner of the world. Muslim armies conquered Syria, the Persian Empire, and Egypt in the twelve years after the Prophet’s death. Between the seventh and eighteenth centuries, Muslims had established cities, centers of Islamic thought, and powerful dynasties in Spain, much of France, Turkey, Central Asia, Austria, Hungary, eastern Europe, most of India, parts of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, southern Thailand, and much of Africa. Muslims have played a significant role in the histories of almost every country on earth, including the United States, where Muslims were first brought as African slaves but now play a prominent role in the cultural and political life of the nation.
Despite its global prevalence, Islam remains generally poorly understood in the West, even by many prominent intellectuals and leaders. There are many reasons for this lack of understanding,...
(The entire section is 336 words.)
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