is believed by Muslims to be the prophet of Allah. He was born in Mecca,
and lived from about 570 to 632. In 622, he and his followers migrated
to Medina. This is called the hijra. This literally means withdrawal.
The most important historical significance of this is that this marks
year one of the Islamic calendar. This calendar is used by Muslims to
know when to celebrate festivals and holidays important to their culture
such as Ramadan.
Muslims follow the religion Islam. This word literally means
submission, as it is a principal belief to completely give oneself to
God, or Allah.
Though throughout history Christians, Jews and Muslims have not always
been peaceful with each other, these religions share many similarities.
Christians and Jews are called by Muslims "people of the book"
because they also believe in one god (monotheism), believe in some of
the same prophets, have a belief in afterlife and similar creation beliefs.
This grants them a degree of respect in Islamic culture, though Muslims
do believe that Christians and Jews have wrong or partially wrong beliefs.
These disagreements come from some important differences, such as very
different views on Jesus, different views on the afterlife, and very
different traditions. And though Muslims have some respect for the other
Abrahamic religions, Christians believe Muslims to have wholly false
beliefs. As for non-abrahamic religions, or pagan ones, Muslims were
more accepting of them than Christians were. This is not to say that
it was completely accepting, just moreso than Christians.
Within 12 years, the Arabian peninsula was converted to Islam and after
100 years, the Atlantic to China was Muslim. This was due to extensive
After Mohammed's death, not only did Islam spread extensively, but a
very important split took place. The new leader of the Muslim faith,
Abu Bakr, was elected from a small group of important Muslims. Sunni
Muslims believe that this was the correct choice. Shia Muslims,
on the other hand, feel that the position should have either stayed
within Mohammed's family, been appointed by him or appointed by Allah.
Thus, they believe the right man for the job would have been Mohammed's
cousin, Ali. Though this split is more political than religious, these
two groups have faced conflicts. In modern times, it continues to be
an issue with about 85% of Muslims being Sunni and about 15% Shia. An
excellent example of this conflict's modern relevance is Pakistan. Since
the 1980's, there have been varying degrees of violence plaging the