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Islam: The Prophet Mohammad (Part 1, January 31, 2009)

Note: This essay is mainly a historical account of the genesis of Islam and does not intend to delve in any religious belief system,

Mecca at the time of the prophet Muhammad was built four generation ago to cater for desert caravans bringing goods from Zafar and Yemen. After resting in Mecca and delivering the merchandize to the four major clans, fresh new caravans took the relay and headed toward Egypt, Iraq/Iran, or Syria/Turkey and back to Mecca. 

It barely rains in that region and the only potable well was called Zamzam.  The story goes that Abraham abandoned his Egyptian wife Hagar and his son Ismail to their fate in this unforgiving area.  Luckily for Hagar, Angel Gabriel (Gibreel) uncovered for Hagar the well Zamzam and she survived with her newly born son. 

Once a year, the Bedouins of Arabia who adored 360 idols, which are imported from the neighboring countries, to encourage pilgrimage to the Black Stone (Al Ka3ba), celebrated the passage of this same Abraham (Ibraheem) in the vicinity.

Mecca was structured around concentric dwellings starting from the Black Stone and fanning out.  Houses closest to the Black Stone belonged to the most prominent personalities in the city council and their respective clans in the extended Kuraich (Shark) tribe.  There were four main clans and each clan was specialized in one kind of commerce. For example, the Scarlet tents sold spices and scents, the Black tents the cloth and leather, the Silver tents precious metals and swords and the fourth colored tents or the owners of the Dappled Camels specialized in entertainments, wine, hashish, and the slave trade.

Water carriers were despised because any overflowing of water would damage the streets and homes built out of sand.

Around the year 600, the businessmen in Mecca were losing trade to the sea transports.  Worse, another new and famous Temple was built in Sheba in Yemen and pilgrims were investigating these new regions.  Thus, the pilgrims were trickling to Mecca because they realized that they were being milked from every penny they had and young girls were abducted for ransom. 

Consequently, the Kuraich tribe encouraged vile entertainment activities during the pilgrimage season to attract more customers to Mecca.

A climate of uneasiness prevailed among the “puritanical” souls and the majority of the city inhabitants who could not afford to participate in the merriments, luxuries, and the debauch of the festivities.


The Black Stone enshrined about 360 idols brought from around the neighboring civilizations to entice pilgrims in from all around the regions of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and India.  For example, The Black Stone housed the colossus idol Hubal, representing the shepherd, the idol Kain was the patron of musicians and blacksmiths, Astarte (He-of-Shara) of the Nabataen, the saturnine Nakruh; Manaf was the sun god, Nasr of the eagle-form, See Quzah that held the rainbow; Uzza the goddess of beauty and love, and Lat the all powerful mother goddess.  The idol Allah had some sort of overall authority, an all-rounder in an age of specialist idols and thus was not that popular and didn’t generate money.


The all powerful Ummaya clan owned the three most famous goddesses of Al Lat, Manat, and Uzza.  Young Muhammad was an orphan and his clan Abi Taleb, a clan of lower stature and thus was not represented in the city council. The business woman Khadija had hired Muhammad to lead and manage her caravans heading to Damascus.


Mohammad had the opportunity during his commerce ventures around Damascus to meet with many Christian and Jewish sects.  Many Christian sects in Syria were persecuted as heretics by the Byzantium Empire. Their monolithic belief systems were rooted in what we call Christian-Jews religion; they believed that Jesus message was a continuation of the Jewish religion and they abided by the Jewish traditions, customs, and Laws in their daily life.  They were monophysists in the sense that some of these Christian-Jews sects believed that Jesus was spirit and the son of God and others that Jesus was plain human and the last prophet before the end of time. Marie, the mother of Jesus, was not honored as a viable interceder to God via Jesus.

Khadija was barely 10 years older than Mohammad when she married him; she later was the first person to believe in the predication of Muhammad.  By the age of 41 Muhammad message of “no God but Allah” was not making any major breakthrough among the city dwellers.  The young and most prominent poet lampoonist nicknamed Al Aasha (the near sighted) had pinned up all over town his poem “Messenger, do please lend a careful ear.  Your monophilia, your One, One, One, isn’t for Jahilia. Return to sender”.

Beside his uncle Hamza and a few poor fellows not many were paying any attention to Muhammad’s revelations. 

Among those poor individuals who were staunch believers in the new monolithic religion were Khalid the water carrier, Salman from Persia (who later would suggest to dig a wide ditch around Medina to prevent the cavalry of Kuraich to enter the town), and Bilal the mighty slave that Muhammad set free from his owner and would later be appointed the first official “muezzin” calling the believers to the five prayers of the day.


As Muhammad got richer, his message attracted more followers and the squeeze was tightened his followers were harassed on a daily basis. Many had to immigrate to Christian Ethiopia to make a living. The preeminent leaders of the larger tribe tried to strike deals with Mohammad in order to keep the peace for the flourishing industry of the City, and not to alienate Khadija. 

Mohammad could keep preaching his message for 13 years in Mecca without major disturbances. Maybe one of the deals was for the Prophet Mohammad not to focus his attack on the three major idols of the clan of Ummya through the verse “Have you thought upon Lat, Manat, and Uzza, the third, the other?  They are the exalted birds, and their intercession is desired indeed”.


Probably, Muhammad’s found harsh resistance from his devout followers for his concession.  Muhammad hurried to Mount Cone and spent the night in the cave, 500 meters below the top of Cone facing the vast desert.  The Prophet returned with a counter verse and recited it in the House of the Black Stone in front of the praying pilgrims of the three idol female Goddesses and he recanted the previous verse by the verse  “Shall He have daughters and you sons?  That would be a fine division!  These are but names you have dreamed of, you and your fathers.  Allah vests no authority in them.”

It happened that the uncle of Muhammad, Hamza, killed two masked young men during one night of the festivities; they were the brothers of the powerful Hind, the wife of the most powerful Ummaya leader. In the same period his wife Khadija died and Muhamad had no protection anymore in Mecca. The Kuraish tribe decided that it was an excellent timing to eliminate Muhammad.  A new period is beginning and that they would have to leave Mecca pronto.

While Muhammad was mourning Khadija for 40 days in seclusion he ordered his disciples to leave to the northern city of Yathrib in small groups.   The prophet Mohammad managed to flee Mecca and his trip to Yathreb (later named Medina) lasted a month in order to confound the search party of the Kuraich assassins. The satiric poet Al Aasha composed a valedictory ode: “What kind of idea does “Submission” seem today? One full of fear.  An idea that runs away.”

If the Koran can be published in chronological order then the true message of Islam in the first 13 years of proselytizing would be discovered to be a cohesive blend of the monolithic belief system of the “heretic” Christian-Jew sects in Syria.  At that period, the Moslems were to face Jerusalem for prayers.  The next 10 years of Islam were mainly the period of legislating for a community of Moslems.




March 2023

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