To purchase the entire DVD set of the Summit Lecture Series, visit summit.org. If Islam is divinely inspired, and then, since then it has been corrupted and now we have a “crazy religion”, then the question rests not on the corruptions, but on the original religion. Is it truly divinely inspired? How do we know? That’s what I’m interested in. What did Muhammad originally teach? Did he teach peace? Did he teach violence? Does what he originally taught have anything to do with what Muslims are doing today? To get to the bottom of all this, we need to go to Islam’s origin story. Muhammad was born in 570 AD. He announced his prophethood and established Islam in 610. After he died in 632, there was an early caliphate period until 661. Until the end of this period, Sunni Muslims believe that the first four leaders of Islam were divinely guided. So, pretty much anything that they said or did was legit and in line with God’s commission. After the fourth leader, Ali, there were sultans and other caliphs who Muslims don’t believe were guided by God. Therefore, I am interested in learning what those first Islamic leaders taught and how they interpreted Muhammad. These Later Caliphs and sultans ruled until 1258; and not too far later came the Spanish Inquisition (1492) which radically changed the face of Islam in Europe. Today, it is crystal clear that the Spanish Inquisition was completely unchristian in its intentions and methods. Regardless of its character, the Inquisition brought about tremendous tension between Christians and Muslims that lasted through and beyond the Crusades. Then there was the Ottoman Empire, lasting from 1453-1924, which was the last major Muslim Empire on the planet. It dissolved after World War I. Regarding Islam’s early timeline, by the time Muhammad – an illiterate, uneducated man – died, nearly the entire Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam. By the time the early caliphs died, the empire had grown by over double its size; and by the end of the first part of early caliphate, Islam had spread from the Atlantic Ocean to India. Many Muslims, even today, believe that this is a sign that God was behind the formation and expansion of Islam.
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