For the next 15 years, Muhammad made his living as a merchant. Although he enjoyed success in business, he also cared about spiritual matter. He often spent time at prayer and meditation in the mountains around Makkah. He was concerned about the effects of wealth and the worship of idols on his city.
In about 610 C.E, Muhammad went to meditate in a cave in the mountains. There, according to Islamic teaching, Muhammad received the call to be a prophet, or messenger of Allah. Allah is the Arabic word for God. The same word for God, Allah, is used by the arabs, jews, Arab Christians.
Muhammad later described the remarkable events of that night. He told being visited by the angel Gabriel who brought revelations, or revealed teaching, from. Gabriel told Muhammad, "You are the messenger of God."
According to Islamic tradition, at first MUhammad feared that he might be going mad. But Khadijah consoled Muhammad and expressed her faith that God had chosen him as a prophet to spread his words to the people. Khadijah became the first convert to Islam.
Islam is based on monotheism, or the belief in a singleGod. This God, Muhammad taught, was the same God of Abraham, Moses, and jesus. Through Gabriel, God told Muhammad to teach other to practice compassion, honesty, and justice.
According to Muslim tradition, the angel Gabriel continued to reveal messages over the next 22 years. At first, Muhammad confided these messages only to family and friend, including his cousinly and a close friend, Abu Bak'r. Gradually, a small group of followers developed at Makkah. They were called Muslims, which means "those who surrender to God." For Muslims, Islam was a way of life and the basis for creating a just society. For example, at the time women had few rights. Muslims granted more rights to women and ensured their equality before God.
Though Muhammad apparently could neither read nor write, he said that the messages from Gabriel were imprinted on his mind and heart. His...
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