A Short History Of Islam
The doctrines of Islam were passed down to humankind through Mohammed who is widely thought of as the last, so far, in the line of Middle Eastern prophets. The first was Abraham of Judaism renown, then there was Jesus for Christianity and then came Mohammed. Mohammed was born in around 570 AD in Mecca, western Saudi Arabia and died 62 years later in 632 in Medina.
The Koran, or the 'Recitation' in English, consists of 144 chapters and was related to Mohammed by God. These doctrines were written down by his secretaries during the course of 23 years.
Like its predecessor religions, Islam is a monotheistic religion and its narrative includes stories or references to Abraham, Moses (and the Ten Commandments) and Jesus, but does not accept Christianity's declaration of his divinity.
Another major variance from the Middle Eastern religions before it, is that Jews trace their ancestry through Abraham's son Isaac, whereas Muslims trace their history through Abraham's son Ishmael by another wife.
The root of the word Islam - 's-l-m' - means 'peace' and 'submission' (to God). A Muslim's relationship with God is determined by the 'Five Pillars of Islam'. These five pillars are: Shahadah (profession of faith); public and collective prayer five times daily; charity to the poor; fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest of places to Muslims, at least once in their lifetime.
Islam has stringent dietary laws, notably about eating pork, and prohibitions against promiscuity, stealing, gambling and deceit. Muslims worship in Mosques and the services are led by Imams. The most critical time to pray is at midday on a Friday, which is the Muslim Sabbath.
The vast majority of Muslims are Sunnites, who are the traditionalists, and the remainder are Shi'ites or 'partisans'. This could generally be likened to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. The distinctions between the two sects in the both religions have caused untold misery over the centuries and there is no sign of it ceasing any time soon.
There is significantly more known of Mohammed than of Jesus. Mohammed was brought up by his uncle and at the age of 25 he was a trader. At the age of 40, in 610, an angel instructed him to spread the word of God. He was not welcomed in Mecca but the authorities invited him to quell the city of Medina in 622, which he did.
His condition for accepting this quest was that the inhabitants accept the word of God. This they did - this move is called the Hegim and it is the date from which Muslims record contemporary history - like the Western world uses the birth of Jesus.
By 632 Mohammed was dead, but by then the vast majority of Arabs were Muslims. For one reason or another, Islam spread east and west from Saudi Arabia taken mostly by Arab traders almost certainly. Islam never actually got a foothold in Europe (except Spain) but it did move East fairly extensively.