The Beginning of Islam

Once there was a man named Mohammad who lived in the crowded city of Mecca. He did not like living in Mecca with its dusty, crowded, fetid streets. It was a big city, with people always coming to trade, and worship at the Black Stone. The poor of the city were often mistreated, and the tribes which made up the city battled constantly. Mohammad often traveled to a vacant cave in the desert. In the cave he was alone, and would sit for hours, enjoying the peaceful calm and the silence.

One day, as he was sitting in the dark cave, he heard beautiful music playing. Then as Mohammad sat trembling, the angel Gabriel appeared in front of him. “Who are you?” Mohammad asked, “Why are you here?” But the only reply he received was “Read!” The massive angel was holding out a scroll, which Mohammad took. Even though he had never learned to read or write, he instantly understood. The angel Gabriel had come to tell him that he was to be the messenger of Allah.

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He hurried home to tell his wife what had happened to him in the cave. The whole time he was walking home he was thinking, “It must have been a strange dream. I can’t be the messenger of Allah.” But his wife convinced him that he was really a prophet. He anxiously waited for years for a revelation to appear to him, but none did.

Finally, he was visited again by the angel Gabriel, who told him to preach to the people of Mecca. And so Mohammad followed his orders, and told the people about Allah. “Stop worshiping idols,” he told the people of the city, “Commit your life to serving Allah. If you do so you shall be rewarded, if not you shall be punished. One thing you should do is give money to the poor.” The poor liked what Mohammad was saying but the rich did not think it was very credible.

Eventually, the rich people of Mecca pursued Mohammad and his followers out of the city. Many people became enemies of Mohammad’s preaching. Soon after he began preaching, his wife died and he was left to live with his one good friend, Abu Bakr. One night, as the friends sat eating their dinner, they heard the footsteps of soldiers approaching the house. Mohammad and Abu Bakr fled from the house and into the desert. Behind them they could hear the soldier’s pounding footsteps.

They found a deserted cave, and ran in. The friends sat trembling as they listened to the footsteps coming closer. Suddenly, just before the soldiers came to the cave, a huge spider web appeared in the cave entrance. “They can’t be hiding in here,” came the irritated voice of one of the soldiers, “Look at that spider’s web, it looks at least a few days old. They couldn’t have gotten in without breaking it.” And so the soldiers headed off and Mohammad and Abu Bakr were able to travel to Medina, where they were safe.