Islam believes in the Torah as revealed to Moses, in the Psalms of David and the New Testament. The Koran repeats many sacred stories from the Old and the New Testament, such as that of Adam and Eve, the adventures of Joseph, and accounts concerning Abraham and Ishmael.
Islam acknowledges all the prophets who appeared prior to Mohammed, of whom twenty-five are mentioned in the Koran. These include Moses, David, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary. 10 pages are devoted each to Adam, to Abraham, to Shit, and 30 to Idris. The Virgin Mary appears in the Koran much more often than she does in the New Testament. According to Islamic doctrine, all the prophets, including Jesus, were human. In the Koran, Jesus does not claim to be divine, but anticipates the advent of God’s ultimate messenger. Concerning Jesus, the Koran states, “They (the Jews) did not kill Him or crucify Him, as it appeared so to them… but God raised Him to Himself” (Sura 4 .157-8).
The fifth element of the Muslim faith is the belief that after death, the soul lives on in another state of being. The Day of Judgment marks the end of the world, when all deeds will be reviewed and judged. Their position in the next world will be determined by the verdict regarding their deeds in this world, according to which they will either enter paradise or be condemned to hell. According to Muslim belief, only those who deny the existence and unity of God, those not of the Islamic faith will remain for ever in hell, while believers who have sinned will be taken up into heaven once they have served out their punishment. It is an obligation for Muslims who have sufficient wealth to sacrifice an animal at the Festival of Sacrifice.
During the development of Islamic dogma, belief in God’s predetermination of good and evil was added. This is the topic of most discussion in the world of Islam and does not derive from the Koran. While Muslims preserve the concept of God’s absolute omnipotence by claiming that He is the progenitor of good and evil, disputes concerning the role of fate began early in the development of Islamic doctrine. There are many who strive for a compromise between the two opposing views: “Humanity has no freedom of choice, fate is supreme” and “Humanity is free to choose but has responsibility.”
The Prophet Mohammed, born circa 570 CE in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia), was a member of the Hashimi branch of the Quraysh tribe. Orphaned at the age of six, He was brought up by His grandfather and paternal uncle. At the age of 25 He found employment with a 40-year-old wealthy widow, Khadija, who was engaged in trade. Later He married her. In 610 when He was 40, He received the call to prophethood. At Mount Hira He was called to proclaim the worship of the one God, and the first of His revelations was brought to Him from God by the angel Jibra’il.
At first He spoke of His experience only to a few close friends, but from 613 onwards He preached to all the people of Mecca. He and His followers were persecuted but in 619 He was taken by the angel Jibra’il on the Night Journey to Jerusalem, from where He ascended to the throne of God,
(Mi’raj) from the rock on the Temple Mount, now notable for the sacred shrine of the Dome of the Rock, which is said to contain the Prophet’s footprint. From this Rock, the angel Israfil will blow the trumpet announcing the Day of Judgment and, according to some traditions, the Ka’ba will come there like a bride. It is believed that He ascended at night to the heights of Allah on His horse, Buraq, and returned to Mecca by morning. In 622 still suffering from persecution and now a widower, Mohammed was obliged to flee from Mecca to Medina. This journey is known as the Hecira (the migration) and marks the beginning of the Islamic era. The Islamic calendar, which is lunar, dates its Years from the Hecira.
The Muslims of the time who followed Mohammed are known as Muhajirun and those who supported Him in Medina are called Ansar (the helpers). The descendants of both these groups are honored in Islam. It was in Medina that Mohammed established himself as a religious and political leader, and it was there that in 630 He defeated the opposing forces of Mecca. The ancient sanctuary there was purified, rededicated to God, and became the central shrine of Islamic pilgrimage. At the age of 62, Mohammed went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where He died after having organized His many followers and Arab tribes as an Islamic community. He chose to be buried in Medina where the wives He had married after the death of Khadija lived. He left no male successor, it was not clear who was to succeed Him.