Islam (Arabic: الإسلام, al-’islām) is a religion founded by Muhammad (Mohammed) in AD 622 during the Umayyad aristocracy (a golden age for the Islamic Ummah in which it was specifically Arab). Islam practices a theology based in the Qur’an, and an individual who follows Islam is called a Muslim. According to traditional Islamic belief, Isa or Jesus was sent by Allah to pave the road for Islam revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel revealed Allah’s last message, the Qur’an to the utmost and final prophet, Muhammad. The word Allah (الله) is the name of God predominately used by Muslims and the word Islam means “submission” or total surrender to the will of Allah.
Fundamentals of Islam
First and foremost a Muslim must practice Islam’s five pillars of faith. 
- Profession of Faith in the oneness of Allah and Muhammad being the last prophet (شهادة, Shahāda).
- Ritual prayers (صلاة, Salāh).
- Alms giving (زكاة, Zakāt).
- Fasting (صوم, Sawm).
- Pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able (حج, Ḥajj).
According to Islamic teaching, the Qur’an (Arabic: القرآن, al-qur’ān) came down as a series of revelations from Allah by way of the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel gave this message from Allah to the Prophet Muhammad who then later dictated it to his followers. The length is about that of the New Testament and these dictations from Gabriel began in 610 AD and according to Islamic tradition continued for twelve years in a cave near Mecca (Modern day southwest Saudi Arabia).
Translations of the Qur’an are generally not accepted by Islam because Arabic is considered the original and purest form. It is through this hermeneutic assumption that Islamic apologists often use as a way to deflect criticism based in an English translation of the text, stating that only those who are fluent in Arabic may understand their beloved holy book.
The way of Muhammad
Muhammad was the son of a merchant and orphaned at age six eventually marrying a rich widow Khadijah and having six children. Born in 570 AD, Muhammad (Arabic: محمد, Muḥammad) himself is considered an ideal man, al-Insān al-Kāmil (الإنسان الكامل) in Arabic. By 630 AD all of Arabia was under his control. He is not considered divine nor is he to be worshiped. He is humbly a messenger of Allah and a model in how a Muslim should live his or her life. As the Qur’an declares, Muhammad is a; “… beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” 
Muslims discern the sunnah (سنة) or “way” of the prophet through Muhammad’s non-Quranic utterances to his personal habits, all ways should be mirrored. Attaining these insights into his life are done primarily by way of hadiths or reports of his life passed down orally until finally written down in the eighth century AD. The hadiths are considered to originate from contemporaries and eyewitnesses to Muhammad. There are thousands of hadiths with some very lengthy while others are only a few sentences. Many were considered fakes, not what they claimed to be. There are six major Hadith collections and through Islamic scholars during the time (from about 870 to 920 AD) those that were not real were found out.
Muhammad’s life as a prophet can be separated into two epochs although not necessarily completely unique. First is his time in Mecca, where he received revelation for twelve years from the angel Gabriel and painstakingly tried to convert others, of the Quraish (Quraysh) tribe of the region of Mecca from which he grew up in, for fourteen. The Quraish being a branch of the Arab Banu Kinanah tribe, after Muhammad’s death, lead the Ummayad Caliphate, Abbasid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate. Frequent ghazi (plural ghazawāt) or raids however upon the Quraish by Muhammad and his followers over the years erupted into the Battle of Badr (624 AD), one of the few directly participated in by Muhammad and mentioned in the Qur’an. A tentative Hudaybiyya (or peace agreement) in 628 is enforced only to be broken by Muhammad at the slightest provocation in 629 AD. The second epoch division, after Mecca, takes place primarily within the city of Medina, The City of the Prophet. This time can be defined as, not a new peaceful life trajectory, but continuation and indeed maturity within the infantile actions of war he entertained in Mecca. The time in Medina gains mass converts to Islam, then through further leadership by Muhammad a strong national (or regional) political and military foundation is constructed to further the religion of Islam.
According to Gregory M. Davis, author of “Islam 101” published on Jihad Watch, Muhammad during his life can be characterized as:
… a quasi-Biblical figure, preaching repentance and charity, harassed and rejected by those around him; later, in Medina, we see an able commander and strategist who systematically conquered and killed those who opposed him. It is the later years of Muhammad’s life, from 622 AD to his death in 632, that are rarely broached in polite company. In 622, when the Prophet was better than fifty years old, he and his followers made the Hijra (emigration or flight), from Mecca to the oasis of Yathrib—later renamed Medina—some 200 miles to the north. Muhammad’s new monotheism had angered the pagan leaders of Mecca, and the flight to Medina was precipitated by a probable attempt on Muhammad’s life. Muhammad had sent emissaries to Medina to ensure his welcome. He was accepted by the Medinan tribes as the leader of the Muslims and as arbiter of inter-tribal disputes.
Along with the reliable hadiths, a further source of accepted knowledge about Muhammad comes from the Sira (life) of the Prophet, composed by one of Islam’s great scholars, Muhammad bin Ishaq, in the eighth century AD.
Shortly before Muhammad fled the hostility of Mecca, a new batch of Muslim converts pledged their loyalty to him on a hill outside Mecca called Aqaba. Ishaq here conveys in the Sira the significance of this event:
- Sira, p208: When God gave permission to his Apostle to fight, the second [oath of allegiance at] Aqaba contained conditions involving war which were not in the first act of fealty. Now they [Muhammad’s followers] bound themselves to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle, while he promised them for faithful service thus the reward of paradise.
That Muhammad’s nascent religion underwent a significant change at this point is plain. The scholarly Ishaq clearly intends to impress on his (Muslim) readers that, while in its early years, Islam was a relatively tolerant creed that would “endure insult and forgive the ignorant,” Allah soon required Muslims “to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle.” The Islamic calendar testifies to the paramouncy of the Hijra by setting year one from the date of its occurrence. The year of the Hijra, 622 AD, is considered more significant than the year of Muhammad’s birth or death or that of the first Quranic revelation because Islam is first and foremost a political-military enterprise. It was only when Muhammad left Mecca with his paramilitary band that Islam achieved its proper political-military articulation. The years of the Islamic calendar (which employs lunar months) are designated in English “AH” or “After Hijra.” 
Or in Latin, Anno Hegiræ.
The word jihad (Arabic: جهاد, jihād) or “struggle”, has carried two mutually inclusive meanings over the centuries. By one meaning, jihad is the rejection of worldly ways to achieve spiritual depth, an individual struggle to attain righteousness in the eyes of Allah. This rejection inevitably reflects and encourages the alternative meaning of jihad that is the duty of all Muslims to aid their faith through armed conflict. It is carried out by Muslims in an effort to expand territory at the expense of territories not ruled by Muslims in which they see as unjust regimes. This is not counter to Islamic teaching, it is a mirror of Muhammad, living just as he had done during his lifetime. Within this facet of Islam anyone who is not a Muslim is called kuffar, or “foreigner.”
Muslim clerics (imams), tribal chiefs (sheiks), and political leaders have portrayed jihad as a natural progression of a Muslim’s life for the sake of the global Ummah (community or nation). The ummat al-mu’minin (community of believers) under a type of theological-political (Wahhabi Islam-Shari’a law) structure is used to bring the world under one Islamic banner transforming it into truly Ummah Wahida (One Community).
Islam has mandatory highly specific legal and political principles for political governance of an Islamic society, called Shari’a (Arabic: شريعة, Sharīʿa) which means “way” or “path.” Shari’a is the vital component that enables successful jihad within the cultural context, attempting to transform a secular based country from within by setting up a dueling legal system. The specifics of Shari’a law are understood by way of the Qu’ran, the Sunnah and Sira of the Prophet Muhammad as well as the major schools of jurisprudence over the centuries that have developed law precedent. There is no separation between the religious and political within Islam; Shari’a law effectively becomes the legal code, or what can be called the constitution of the worldwide Islamic caliphate, ordained by Allah for all mankind. To deviate from, to not of ever had, or to be in support for government reform against Shari’a law is to blatantly dismiss Allah, which causes adherents to attain this change not only through politics but combat.
Abrogation is followed by the majority of Muslims through four schools of thought of Islamic jurisprudence called the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Shafi’i and the Hanbali. The jurisprudence of Shari’a law reaches a conclusion based upon Muhammad’s life and interaction with Allah as all Islamic teachings should. Essentially laying out a principle that allows harmony through chronology among contradictory verses within the Qur’an.
106. None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
Imran Ahsam Khan Nyazee explains abrogation as follows;
The Law was laid down in the period of the Prophet (peace be unto him) gradually and in stages. The aim was to bring a society steeped in immorality to observe the highest standards of morality. This could not be done abruptly. It was done in stages, and doing so necessitated repeal and abrogation of certain laws.
In other words, later more violent Qur’anic verses annul earlier contradictory peaceful verses. It is this that gives rise to an overall radical tone in interpretation of the Qur’an, and via application an individuals actions, that is of special concern to many Western commentators.
The first wave
The first major jihad was by the Arabs in 622-750 AD. The culmination, after many years of ghazi infiltration into France the Muslims mounted a large force and headed toward the French city of Tours. The Battle of Tours in October of 732 AD in modern north-central France follows a history of the Umayyad Dynasty’s expansive victories in Europe beginning with the Visigoth Christian Kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula, modern day Spain and Portugal, in 711 AD. Charles Martel (of the Franks) ultimately defeated the Muslim army that had invaded France.
Counter-Jihad: the Crusades
The Crusades for the Holy Land by Christian kings, knights, and soldiers was to reverse Muslim empire expansion and lasted 200 years (1095-1291 AD).
The second wave
The second major wave of jihad was by the Turks from 1071-1683 AD. It ended at the Battle of Vienna (September 1683) against the Ottoman Empire when once again a Christian army stopped Muslim expansion.
A third wave?
Multiple Western commentators allege that a third wave of jihad is now under way. If so, it does not involve mass armies. Instead, individuals or groups are perpetrating acts of sabotage and/or murder. Roots can be seen even in this “third wave” as far back as Muhammad’s time in Medina. A modern understanding of the United States being targeted for the support of Israel can be attributed to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, United States Senator and candidate for the Presidency of the United States. This event took place on June 5, 1968, one year to the day following the Six-day War between Israel and various members of the Arab League. The perpetrator of this act, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, is now serving a sentence of life imprisonment in the State Prison at San Quentin, California.
The next three decades saw more acts of this kind. The targets of these acts have been either citizens or soldiers of the Republic of Israel, or citizens and lawful residents of other Western countries, especially the United States.
At present, Islam has no speaker-for-all who is universally respected and acknowledged as the most authoritative interpreter of the Qu’ran, or commander-in-chief of any “army of Allah.” Yet at least two men now pretend to be that speaker-for-all. One, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is, to be sure, a head of state. Some military analysts have alleged that he is conducting jihad by proxy, against forces of the United States and its allies within Iraq and providing technical support for Al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan.
The other, Osama bin Laden, is the founder and presumably still the head of a secret network of irregular combatants, or “terrorists,” known by its Arabic name of Al-Qa’ida (literally, “The Base”). He was trained specifically during his involvement with the combatants Mujahideen of Afghanistan that managed to repel a Soviet military lacking guerrilla training for 10 years (1979-1989). Through tribal lines Tajiks (from Tajikistan), Uzbek’s (from Uzbekistan) and Pashtun’s (from Eastern Iran) formed the Northern Alliance with a capital being Mazar-i Sharif (north-west) while the Taliban, a mostly Pashtun Sunni Islamist political movement based on Shari’a Law concentrated power in Kabul with its capture in 1996. Later recruiting and more financing by Bin Laden developed Al-Qa’ida, in which found safe haven in Afghanistan, enabling it to perpetrate a number of acts of sabotage and mass-murder in the last decade of the twentieth century. It then opened the twenty-first century with a spectacular and shocking incident of hijacking multiple American airplanes, four in total and crashing them into specific targets killing mostly civilians. This happened on September 11, 2001 in New York at the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and in a field near Shanksville rural Pennsylvania where passengers fought back crashing the plane in the aftermath.
What shocked the world was that it occurred in American territory. Western forces, mostly American, have sought to hunt Bin Laden and frustrate his operations throughout the world ever since. Rumors have Bin Laden ill or dead of end-stage kidney disease.
Cultural Jihad and Shari’a
A cultural jihad is the act of disseminating propaganda and Qur’anic support for a specific, violent type of Islamic theological and legal or political domination. It has created a need for a type of reformation within the global Muslim community.
They ensure jihad by molding the education of young Muslims with Wahhabism, originating and propagating from the funds of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through primarily oil. The Tawhid, a major tenet of Wahhabi defines all that a man should believe such that Allah is a unique and singular God. Secondly there is Shari’a, which is a legal framework to dictate all he or she should do in their public and/or private life. Also chief among radical modern Wahhabists is the encouraging of infiltration and destruction of the Jews, specifically of the present Republic of Israel, or “Palestine” as they insist on calling it today. The other objective is the destruction of the United States and other countries that embrace freedom and a representative republic rather then a totalitarian Islamic rule. Those for which Islam is a religious and political system superior to that of, and should replace already established, legal systems in non-Muslim majority countries have been termed Islamists. 
Brave reformers of Islam try to make themselves heard to denounce the acts and objectives of specific terrorist organizations and the extreme version of Islam they propagate. The Western civilization rights of human freedom, specifically religious freedom and woman’s rights within Muslim majority countries are routinely violated in which reformers often speak out against as well.
Islam as a religion began in 622 AD and continues today. Its immediate and overall history is marked with significant battles among and against peoples living in lands that became the targets of the Caliphate or the overall Dar al-Islam (House of Islam). The theological beliefs of Islam that support the desire to establish a worldwide Caliphate ruled by Shari’a law are still a potent force within Islam today, and some suggest that it has become as dominant as it was in the days of the first and second waves of jihad.
After the time of Muhammad, the Umma (Muslim community) leadership came from four Rightly Guided Caliphs for about 30 years: Abu Bakr from 632-634, Umar from 634-644, Uthman from 644-656 and Ali from 656 to 661 AD who was the closest blood relative of Muhammad. By 650 AD Islam and its military campaigns had brought most of Syria, Palestine, Egypt (642) and the Persian Empire (643) under their control, capturing Jerusalem in 638, North Africa in 647 and Cyprus in 649. Some of the nations invaded and now controlled were considered the richest nations in the world at the time and were guarded to the teeth by powerful militarism, yet they all fell into Islamic hands.
During the time of Ali, the last Rightly Guided Caliph in 656 AD, he moved the Arab capital from Medina to Kufa in southern Iraq. As the closest blood relative to Muhammad he was extremely revered and followers were given a special name called the Shia or, “party” of Ali. During this time Arab exclusiveness within Islam was broken and all were considered equal when converted to Islam to become Muslim.
Ali was later assassinated in 661 by Muawiyah, the founder of the Umayyad Caliphate, who took his place as leader of the Umma. This triggered a split in loyalty from Muslims. Today almost 1500 years later these loyal groups still rule the majority of Islam. After the assassination two paths of loyalty within Islam became prominent: the Shia which follow Ali and the Sunni which pledged loyalty to Muhammad. During this time however Muslims continued to dominate the middle-east, eastern and southern Europe, as well as north African and Asian regions. From 650 to 732 AD massive expansion was taking place that ended up with eastern Turkey, India and China adding to the Umma’s influence.
The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) was ousted from Damascus and replaced by the Abbasid Caliphate with its capital in modern day Baghdad, Iraq in 755 AD. A different Umayyad line continued in Spain, beginning with the Umayyad prince Abd Ar-Rahman, until 1492 and the Battle of Andalusia. In the 730’s Charles Martel and Charlemagne fought back Muslim expansion into France. The Battle of Tours is still seen today as an important historical event that stopped Islamization of Western Europe. The lack of ability by the Muslims to scout Europe accurately and set up defensive positions is known to have been a vital component in their ultimate defeat. During the time of the Empire in Cordoba in Spain there were two capitals of rival caliphates, the Abbasid Baghdad and Umayyad Cordoba. Cordoba was probably the greater influence because of its geographical location.
There is also another dynasty or caliphate called the the Fatimid Caliphate which started in Tunisia in 909 AD. Later the army of the Fatimid Caliphate conquered Egypt, Cairo in 969 becoming their capital. The caliphate lasted until its fall in 1171 AD because of a few reasons. The Zirids, or collection of governors declared independence inevitably declaring loyalty to the Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate in the 1040’s. Also the Fatimid empire was seriously challenged by Turkic invaders as well as Crusaders in the Levant.
The spread of Islam beyond its traditional boundaries in the Great Arid Zone was enabled by the actions of regional rulers; the Fatimids and Berbers in North Africa made inroads into sub-Saharan Africa, just as the Ghaznavids did in India, with the sultan Mahmud (r. 997–1030) launching no fewer than 17 raids into the subcontinent. Africa, India, and Southeast Asia were thus softened up for the large-scale conversion of their populations to Islam that would take place in subsequent centuries.
The Ottoman Empire, founded by Osthman or Osman I (born within the dominate tribe Oguz, forefathers of the Osmanli or Ottoman Turks) was born in 1258 and died in 1326, lasted from 1299 AD until November 1, 1922 being succeeded by the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923 until present day. Mongols stretched from Eastern Europe across Asia dominate from the unification of the Mongol and Turkic tribes in modern day Mongolia. The Genghis Khan invasions make him ruler of all Mongols in 1206 but with the breakup of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 AD dissolution of the entirety was inevitable. Following the defeat of the Seljuk tribes (a branch of the Oguz ) from the Sunni Seljuk Empire, which stretched from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, by the Mongols in 1293 Osman I took lead of the Turks in an already fractured Mongol Empire. This gave way to the Ottoman Empire as influence spread and Muslims continue their fight against an ever-weakening Byzantine Empire.
Distribution of Islam, Sunni (green) and Shi’a (blue).
Those that make up the majority of the worlds Muslim population (80-85%) strictly follow only Muhammad and are called Sunni, while those who also follow the teachings of Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, are called Shia and make up about 10-15%. There are few fringe minority groups or divisions which include Sufi, a mystical tradition.
Sunni Islam is derived from the word Sunnah which means “example” or “way”, from that of Muhammad. They maintain a huge majority overall but especially in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya and Egypt. The Shia being considered the minority within Islam can also be referred to as the Shiites maintain healthy majorities in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Syria and Bahrain.
The Sunni and Shia follow the same holy book (Qur’an), they follow the teachings of Muhammad, offer prayers to Allah five times a day, fast in the month of Ramadan and both support visiting Mecca once in the follower’s lifetime as an essential part of gaining salvation (the hajj). They differ however in adherence and loyalty because the Shia follow Ali and Muhammad.
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam founded in 1930’s Detroit, Michigan by W. D. Fard Muhammad (1877-1934) precedes contemporary black liberation theology and maintains a more explicit form within the many declarations of W. D. Fard Muhammad and his first disciple Elijah Muhammad (1897 to 1975). It is related to Christianity and Islam because the NOI teaches that W. D. Fard Muhammad is both the Messiah of Christianity and the Mahdi of Islam. It is based around white oppression and the NOI teaches that the Jewish history presented within the Biblical record, specifically within Genesis 15:13-14 as mere symbolism to describe and validate the black African struggle with slavery. It is the same eisegesis of the Jews from the Bible that run common between the NOI and the black liberation theology movement.
- ↑ Volume 4, Book 55, Number 652: Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Book 55: Prophets Narrated Abu Huraira
- ↑ Volume 4, Book 55, Number 658: Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Book 55: Prophets Narrated Abu Huraira
- ↑ Five Pillars of Islam by Ishaq Zahid
- ↑ Surah 33, verse 21. The Clans, The Coalition, The Combined Forces
- ↑ Translation of Sahih Bukhari Hadiths By University of Southern California. Center For Muslim-Jewish Engagement
- ↑ Six Major Hadith Collections By Wikipedia
- ↑ Surah 3, verses 123-125. The Family Of ‘Imran, The House Of ‘Imran
- ↑ Ghazi by Wikipedia
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Oxford Islamic History A Very Short Introduction by Adam Silverstein ; pg. 123-124
- ↑ Hamas, Al-Arabiya Seethe Over My Muhammad Bio by Robert Spencer. March 25, 2008
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Davis, Gregory M. “Islam 101.” Jihad Watch. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ “Jihad Watch” home page. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Jihad vs. Crusade A historian’s guide to the new war. BY BERNARD LEWIS. Thursday, September 27, 2001 12:02 a.m. EDT
- ↑ Pipes, Daniel. “What is Jihad?” The New York Post, December 31, 2002. Hosted at <http://www.danielpipes.org/> Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Taher, Abul. “Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts.” The Times (London, UK), September 14, 2008. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Is Newt Gingrich Wrong to Talk About Sharia? Raymond Ibrahim. Pajamas Media. August 24, 2010
- ↑ Obama’s counterterror chief: jihad is “legitimate tenet of Islam” Posted by Robert on May 27, 2010 9:55 AM
- ↑ Surah 2, verse 106. The Cow
- ↑ Freedom Defense Initiative at CPAC: Jihad the Political Third Rail
- ↑ Islamic Legal Theory and Interpretation by Imran Ahsam Khan Nyazee
- ↑ The Battle of Tours By Timotheus, October 2002; Revised
- ↑ The September 11th Sourcebooks ; THE SOVIET EXPERIENCE IN AFGHANISTAN: RUSSIAN DOCUMENTS AND MEMOIRS Edited by Svetlana Savranskaya October 9, 2001
- ↑ Northern Alliance By FAS.org
- ↑ Saudi Arabia: Strategic Center of the Terror Era By Robert E. Heiler ; June 24, 2004
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Wenner, Sara. “Basic Beliefs of Islam.” Minnesota State University, 2001. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Saudi Government Extremism and the U.S. Response From the January 26, 2010 Huffington Post ;January 26, 2010 by Nina Shea , Talal Eid
- ↑ Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques Edited by Nina Shea ; January 2, 2005
- ↑ Wahhabism by Wikipedia
- ↑ “Terrorism:Objectives.” Family Security Matters, n.d. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Oxford Islamic History A Very Short Introduction by Adam Silverstein ; pg. 26
- ↑ Obama Ignores Islamic Violations of Religious Freedom By Robert Spencer ; 05/04/2010
- ↑ 4/29/10: USCIRF Eleventh Annual Report on Religious Freedom in the World Released
- ↑ Charles Martel by Wikipedia
- ↑ “Cordoba: History.”<http://www.islamicity.com/>, n.d. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Oguz (perople) “Oğuz.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 May. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/425909/Oguz>.
- ↑ The Ottoman Empire – All Empires: Online History Community By Spitfire VII
- ↑ Mongol Empire by Wikipeda
- ↑ Tripolitan War, 1801-1805
- ↑ “Islam: Sunnis and Shiites.” CRS, February 23, 2004. Accessed October 13, 2008.
- ↑ Demographics of Islam by Wikipedia