RELS 131 Study Guide - Final Guide: Quraysh, Medina, Al-Ghazali
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5 pages of notes- rels exam #3
Muhammad: He was born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) into a tribal/polytheistic society (Quraysh tribe) circa
570CE. Pre-Islamic setting (aka age of ignorance). He was orphaned at a young age- grandfather (chief of the
clan) took care of him. He became the manager of trade for a wealthy widow (Khadija) whom he married in
595. He had a long dislike for polytheism- perhaps influenced by Judaism or Chrisitainty. He went on a
spiritual retreat (first revelation**see below) near the base of Mount Hira, during which the angel Gabriel
came to him and insisted that he recite (3 times) the first verse of the Qur’an. He was declared to be a
prophet—he went on to preach the new faith in the One God to his people, his message was moral and social.
First to accept the new faith were the prophet’s wife, his cousin/son in law Ali bin Abi Talib, his slave Zayd
bin Harithah and his faithful companion Abu Bakr.
First Revelation: in 610, in a cave on Mount Hira, Muhammad is believed to see a vision before him the
Angel Gabriel, the messenger of God (Allah). Significance of the first revelation: signifies the beginning of
prophetic call, the beginning of a scripture (Qur’an) and the beginning of the first Muslim community (first
The Mi’rajj (night journey/ascension): After losing his wife and uncle in 619, he experienced the mi’raj
(night journey), where he travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in the course of one night and then ascended to
heaven; there, he met some earlier prophets and was granted an audience with God.
Muhammad is said to have ascended through 7 heavens and there he met former prophets from Adam to
Jesus, saw paradise and hell and received the Divine presence. Here, he received the commandment to pray 5
times a day. Significance is that after two losses (Khadija and his uncle), as well as the condition in Mecca
(persecution, economic boycott by the Quraysh) this confirmed that God still supports him.
Migration to Medina (Hijra): took place in 622 and is known as Hijra. Pilgrims from Medina (Yathrib)
invited Muhammad to come to their city to help solve their social and political problems. Muhammad and his
followers left Mecca for Media. The Muslim Era is calculated from the beginning of the year 622 since it
marked the change from persecution (which took place in Mecca due to opposition from the polytheistic
Quraysh tribe) to the acceptance of the prophet’s message. Significance is this was the birth of Islam as a
social and political community—persecuted followers found a new/safe home. Muhammad began to become
a serious alternative political power in Arabian Peninsula. Also eventually became the beginning of the
Covenant of Medina: drawn up as a constitution for the city of Medina by Muhammad. It stated that
Medinan people should form a Muslim community (single Muslim commonwealth) and Jews were granted
religious freedom and equality (if the Jews support the state and refrain from alliance w/ the Quraysh and
any other tribes). Muhammad even adopted a number of Jewish practices (fasting on the day of Atonement-
Yom Kippur). But the Medinan Jews rejected many of Muhammad’s claims (didn’t believe he was a prophet)
this resulted in tension between the two communities, which is reflected in the Qur’an’s treatment of the
Jews (both positive and negative).
Distinguishing Islam: Islam distinguished itself from Judaism between 622-624, two years after arriving in
Medina. The fast of Ramadan replaced the fast of Yom Kippur and the direction of prayer was changed from
Jerusalem to the Kaba in Mecca. These two changes are strategic in terms of becoming an independent
Confrontations with Mecca: in 624, Medinans began raiding Meccan caravans, which resulted in the Battle
of Badr (won by Muhammad and his communities, fought against the Meccans). In 625, Meccans took
revenge in the Battle of Uhud – following this battle, the Jews of Medina were expelled b/c they formed
alliances with the Meccans. In 627, Muslims were growing in numbers in Medina and they continued to raid
the caravans of the Quraysh. In response, the Quraysh invaded Medina in 627 in the Battle of the Trench.
This led to a peace agreement in 628, which was broken by the Quraysh in 629. The Prophet Muhammad and
the Muslims capture Mecca.
Muhammad: he was born in mecca (saudi arabia) into a tribal/polytheistic society (quraysh tribe) circa. He was orphaned at a young age- grandfather (chief of the clan) took care of him. He became the manager of trade for a wealthy widow (khadija) whom he married in: he had a long dislike for polytheism- perhaps influenced by judaism or chrisitainty. He went on a spiritual retreat (first revelation**see below) near the base of mount hira, during which the angel gabriel came to him and insisted that he recite (3 times) the first verse of the qur"an. He was declared to be a prophet he went on to preach the new faith in the one god to his people, his message was moral and social. First to accept the new faith were the prophet"s wife, his cousin/son in law ali bin abi talib, his slave zayd bin harithah and his faithful companion abu bakr.