What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

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What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Muhammad created the Quran later on in his life. So what did he read and go by before then?

Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

I would assume Christian? It was the heretical monk Bahira who ended up telling Muhammad that he would be God's Prophet after all.

That would also be the event that would later inspire the Qur'an.

I cannot say for certain about Muhammad in particular. But the predominant religions in the region were a mix of various forms of Judaism and Christianity. There were even a few surviving groups of Gnostic Christians around. Some traces of Buddhism and Hinduism, but that was fairly rare.

Good question.

Jesus was Jewish, right?

Since Muhammad talks about the teachings of the prophet Jesus, I would assume he was Christian.

Interesting that the story I read say he met this monk at around age 12. Pretty Young, but also very long time period between then and the time he created Islam and the Qur'an. Did He know this monk during that long time gap?

Mohammed wouldn't have been Christian- before Islam Arab's on the whole worshiped their own pantheon of god's like we had in Europe before Christanity. There would of course been a number of Christians and Jews around, but also a lot of pagans.

In Mecca, Medina and the Arabic Peninsula as a whole, the dominant religion was a local polytheism, based around the worship of a pantheon of gods (famously, they had a number of images stored in the Kaaba in Mecca, which Muhammad destroyed when he took the city). The Byzantine and Sasanian Empires had brought in a measure of Christianity (Orthodox and Coptic from Ethiopia) and Zoroastrianism. There was also some Judaic groups.

As for what religion Muhammad was, history is uncertain. His family was known to have connections with the sanctuary of the Kaaba which, combined with what we know of demographics, means he was probably a polytheist.

Kopikatsu:
I would assume Christian? It was the heretical monk Bahira who ended up telling Muhammad that he would be God's Prophet after all.

Grandcrusader:
Since Muhammad talks about the teachings of the prophet Jesus, I would assume he was Christian.

Interesting that the story I read say he met this monk at around age 12. Pretty Young, but also very long time period between then and the time he created Islam and the Qur'an. Did He know this monk during that long time gap?

There were a number of people at the time who predicted the coming of a prophet, including Jewish Rabbis, Christian monks and Arab soothsayers. Muhammad seems to have been a religious seeker; in his young life, he is recorded as having said, "Oh God, if I knew how you wished to be worshipped I would so worship you, but I do not know." As he was wealthy and well-traveled (a merchant from a family of merchants) he was probably versed in at least the basics of Judaism and Christianity, if he wasn't a member of the faiths.

Source: A History of the Arab Peoples, Albert Hourani; 3/4 of a double degree in Medieval Studies and Religious Studies

Batou667:
Good question.

Jesus was Jewish, right?

Born and circumcised. There's plenty of debate about what he was at the end of his life, though.

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Muhammad created the Quran later on in his life. So what did he read and go by before then?

Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

Most likely a pagan worshiping one of the local deities, judging by pagan references in the Qura'an such as:

I swear by the moon, And the night when it departs, And the daybreak when it shines..

The moon deity or worship was called Al'illah(The Crescent Moon) which is most likely the etymological source for Allah and reason for the crescent moon being an important symbol in Islamic tradition.

But non-the-less Judaism(although in heavy decline since the Hellenic period) and early Christianity(still heavily tied with Judaism e.g. Jewish prayers, holidays, and even circumcision are still in practice) had a very big presence in the area with many communities worshiping those faiths exclusively or in tandem with local deities.

Sorry to double-post, but I realised I only addressed half the OP.

Grandcrusader:
Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

During adulthood, Muhammad periodically retreated into a series of caves in the mountains surrounding Mecca for days of prayer and seclusion. When he was around 40 years old, he recieved his first visit from the Angel Gabriel, who called on Muhammad to be a messenger of God, and gave unto him a verse of the Qur'an. Over the next several years, Muhammad had several more revelations during which he gathered followers and miraculously copied down the Qur'an as it was recited to him by Gabriel (he was unable to write before). This led to the leading families of the city turning on him, forcing him to flee Mecca to the city of Medina in the Hijra (which marks the first year of the Muslim calendar).

If I recall correctly he was an idol worshiper as most of the area were.

Christian.

Their were not many religions in the area, and the Koran states that Jesus was a messenger of God, not just the Messiah.

Thunderous Cacophony:
Sorry to double-post, but I realised I only addressed half the OP.

Grandcrusader:
Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

During adulthood, Muhammad periodically retreated into a series of caves in the mountains surrounding Mecca for days of prayer and seclusion. When he was around 40 years old, he recieved his first visit from the Angel Gabriel, who called on Muhammad to be a messenger of God, and gave unto him a verse of the Qur'an. Over the next several years, Muhammad had several more revelations during which he gathered followers and miraculously copied down the Qur'an as it was recited to him by Gabriel (he was unable to write before). This led to the leading families of the city turning on him, forcing him to flee Mecca to the city of Medina in the Hijra (which marks the first year of the Muslim calendar).

That doesn't sound too unlike how Mormons got started. o_O

Not G. Ivingname:
Christian.

Their were not many religions in the area, and the Koran states that Jesus was a messenger of God, not just the Messiah.

There were plenty of religions running around. If memory serves I believe that he was a polytheist. The key command in Islam decrying the worship of Idols is directly related to the common practice of pagan idol worship at the time.

Mohammed called the Christians and Jewish peoples "The People of the Book" in reference to what we now call the Torah, Old Testament, and New Testament. As "People of the Book" they were to be accorded a degree of tolerance and respect that was not extended to pagans.

Thunderous Cacophony:
Sorry to double-post, but I realised I only addressed half the OP.

Grandcrusader:
Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

During adulthood, Muhammad periodically retreated into a series of caves in the mountains surrounding Mecca for days of prayer and seclusion. When he was around 40 years old, he recieved his first visit from the Angel Gabriel, who called on Muhammad to be a messenger of God, and gave unto him a verse of the Qur'an. Over the next several years, Muhammad had several more revelations during which he gathered followers and miraculously copied down the Qur'an as it was recited to him by Gabriel (he was unable to write before). This led to the leading families of the city turning on him, forcing him to flee Mecca to the city of Medina in the Hijra (which marks the first year of the Muslim calendar).

I thought that the Koran was written down only after he had died and that up to that point his teachings had been handed down via oral tradition as was typical for that era.

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Muhammad created the Quran later on in his life. So what did he read and go by before then?

Also what made him recondition from any previous religious views to change and create islam? By this I mean, what events did Muhammad note of that made him do this reconditioning from previous judeo-christianity religions?

From what I understand, Muhammad didn't seem to be of any "set" religion, at least from what I read he spent a good deal of time traveling and learning about/possibly practicing other religions.

Though Arabia especially the province in which he was born was apparently a melting pot of multiple polytheistic cultures, so I don't think it's that odd to say he was most likely polytheistic of some kind.

Copper Zen:

Mohammed called the Christians and Jewish peoples "The People of the Book" in reference to what we now call the Torah, Old Testament, and New Testament. As "People of the Book" they were to be accorded a degree of tolerance and respect that was not extended to pagans. [quote="Thunderous Cacophony" post="528.406396.16912660"]Sorry to double-post, but I realised I only addressed half the OP.

Fun fact, the status as "People of The Book" was extended to the persian Zoroastrians as well, mostly because the Zoroastrians had a huge influence on Abrahamic faiths (in fact it's generally assumed they inspired the whole "pray 5 times a day" thing in islam) and they were also monotheistic.

Thunderous Cacophony:

Kopikatsu:

[quote="Batou667" post="528.406396.16911825"]Good question.

Jesus was Jewish, right?

Born and circumcised. There's plenty of debate about what he was at the end of his life, though.

thats another good thing to discuss.

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Historical records of the era are considered unreliable due to bias and revisionism, but there is at least some evidence to suggest he spent most of his life as a Scientologist before experiencing a crisis of faith when he realized e-meters hadn't been invented yet.

A Rapid Review of Muhammad's Biography before Commissioning of the Prophethood from "The sealed nectar"

He shunned superstitious practices but took an active part in constructive and useful dealings, otherwise, he would have recourse to his self-consecrated solitude. He kept himself aloof from drinking wine, eating meat slaughtered on stone altars, or attending idolatrous festivals. He held the idols in extreme aversion and most abhorrence. He could never tolerate someone swearing by Al-Lat and Al-'Uzza. Allâh's providence, no doubts, detached him from all abominable or evil practices.

The authorities agree in ascribing to the youth of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) modesty of deportment, virtuous behaviour and graceful manners. He proved himself to be the ideal of manhood, and to possess a spotless character. He was the most obliging to his compatriots, the most honest in his talk and the mildest in temper. He was the most gentle-hearted, chaste, hospitable and always impressed people by his piety-inspiring countenance. He was the most truthful and the best to keep covenant. His fellow-citizens, by common consent, gave him the title of Al-'Ameen (trustworthy). The Mother of believers, Khadijah [R], once said: He unites uterine relations, he helps the poor and the needy, he entertains the guests and endures hardships in the path of truthfulness. [Bukhari 1/3]

Thunderous Cacophony:

Batou667:
Good question.

Jesus was Jewish, right?

Born and circumcised. There's plenty of debate about what he was at the end of his life, though.

BUT DID THE FORESKIN GO TO HEAVEN?
Of course we could not discuss that here, talking about the topic is still technically punishable by excommunication so keep yourselves together guys.

OT: According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad was a Hanif. But I'm probably not the best source on this.

JimB:

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Historical records of the era are considered unreliable due to bias and revisionism, but there is at least some evidence to suggest he spent most of his life as a Scientologist before experiencing a crisis of faith when he realized e-meters hadn't been invented yet.

Oh, you!

I was under the impression that Muhammad was illiterate, and that he relayed the teachings he espoused to his close followers, not unlike Jesus. I seem to remember something about him being a student of some religious teacher's, though.

Kaulen Fuhs:

JimB:

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

Historical records of the era are considered unreliable due to bias and revisionism, but there is at least some evidence to suggest he spent most of his life as a Scientologist before experiencing a crisis of faith when he realized e-meters hadn't been invented yet.

Oh, you!

I was under the impression that Muhammad was illiterate, and that he relayed the teachings he espoused to his close followers, not unlike Jesus. I seem to remember something about him being a student of some religious teacher's, though.

Muhammad was illiterate, and so were many other students like him, heck. Many teachers of Islam in the past and even today are illiterate, merely repeating the lessons they learned throughout their lives from memory. True stuff.

Grandcrusader:
What religion was Muhammad before Islam was created?

The predominant "religion" of Mecca (and Arabia in general) at the time was a polytheistic belief system based primarily around the worship of idols. Muslims often call this period and the religious culture which dominated it Jahiliyyah, or "Ignorance".

Arabs at the time were, however, often quite familiar with Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The former because many Jewish communities had moved to Arabia, and the latter two because they were the dominant religions of the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire respectively, so Arabia at the time was quite a religiously diverse society. Tribal loyalties and bonds of family were far more important to most people than religious loyalties.

It seems most probable that, like many people of his time, Muhammad did not subscribe to the tenets of any "official" religion and was a religious non-conformist. The only really clear things about him are that he prayed to a monotheistic God (the God of Abraham) and he disliked idol worship (and yes, this probably excludes him from being a Christian).

As for why he founded Islam. He had a divine revelation in which the angel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic) appeared to him and taught him the Quran. This is why Muslims believe that the Quran is the literal word of God rather than just the collected sayings of Muhammad. Muslims believe that Muhammad did not "create" the Quran at all, he was simply the messenger.

Arabic culture at the time was not very literate, and "literature" was usually based on oral recitation passed down between people, so the idea that the angel could sit down with Muhammad and teach him to recite long passages word for word is actually pretty reasonable, almost all Arabic literature at the time was oral, and the ability to memorize and recite was commonplace and trained into people from a very young age. Even today, it's common for children in Islamic societies worldwide to learn how to recite the Quran from memory.

If you're interested in a really detailed and contextualized account of Muhammad's life, I'd recommend Martin Lings' Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. It's been consistently recommended to me as the best English language book on the subject by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Witty Name Here:

Fun fact, the status as "People of The Book" was extended to the persian Zoroastrians as well, mostly because the Zoroastrians had a huge influence on Abrahamic faiths (in fact it's generally assumed they inspired the whole "pray 5 times a day" thing in islam) and they were also monotheistic.

Oh, its greater than that. From dating various Old Testament/Torah manuscripts, it seems that the idea of a messiah only entered Judaism after the Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians were Zorastrian at the time, and had a messianic figure in their belief.

Most likely he was a polytheist (worshiping multiple deities) as that was what his Arabian tribe was before he converted them to his 'updated' version of monotheism. Christianity/Judaism stretched to the West and around the upper Nile area and Zoroastrianism was far to the North in the Sassanid Empire but Muhammad was far South in the Arabian peninsular in Mecca only moving around to preach his new Islam a bit before he died, his converted tribe(s) did the majority of the work but they usually didn't force conversion, i guess it just caught on.

Its funny the extremists claim that Christians and Jews are infidels but all Muhammad thought was that the one God that they all worshiped had given him orders to update the existing religion. Then again I guess no-one ever cared what God wanted as long as it suits someone's agenda on this earth.

Copper Zen:

There were plenty of religions running around. If memory serves I believe that he was a polytheist. The key command in Islam decrying the worship of Idols is directly related to the common practice of pagan idol worship at the time.

I thought it was less reaction, and more following the traditions of the hebrews.

evilthecat:

(and yes, this probably excludes him from being a Christian).

Christianity has a long history of iconoclasm, don't even get those protestants started.

Hafrael:

evilthecat:

(and yes, this probably excludes him from being a Christian).

Christianity has a long history of iconoclasm, don't even get those protestants started.

While it does have a history with it, to my understanding Christian iconoclasm never really existed in any prominent form until Byzantine emperor Leo III in the 700s got the idea of it as a response to tremendous Islamic successes against them, which he attributed to the Islamic strict ban of images and the misuse of icons by Christians. Then there were those awkward moments with Christian soldiers destroying images of Jesus.

Scde2:

Hafrael:

evilthecat:

(and yes, this probably excludes him from being a Christian).

Christianity has a long history of iconoclasm, don't even get those protestants started.

While it does have a history with it, to my understanding Christian iconoclasm never really existed in any prominent form until Byzantine emperor Leo III in the 700s got the idea of it as a response to tremendous Islamic successes against them, which he attributed to the Islamic strict ban of images and the misuse of icons by Christians. Then there were those awkward moments with Christian soldiers destroying images of Jesus.

That was generally the start of iconoclasm within the Orthodox Church, but Christians in Rome had been destroying the "false" idols as early as Constantine in the 300s.

wasn't Muhammad a merchant or something? Isn't it weird that a merchant would be illiterate, considering it is important to be able to read documents and other important stuff?

Marik2:
wasn't Muhammad a merchant or something? Isn't it weird that a merchant would be illiterate, considering it is important to be able to read documents and other important stuff?

By todays standards maybe but back then? Not so much. If you had a deal with someone 9 times out of 10 it would be purely verbal, the concept of contracts wouldn't be as important as they are today. Maybe if you were the 6th century equivalent of Richard Branson who dealt with government officials (who love written records) then it's reasonable to assume you'd be able to read and write but if you're a small time merchant who only deals with farmers and fishermen (who definitely wouldn't be able to read) what would be the point?

You could spend a fortune teaching you or your children how to read and then never use it or you could hire a scribe on the few occasions you do.

Marik2:
wasn't Muhammad a merchant or something? Isn't it weird that a merchant would be illiterate, considering it is important to be able to read documents and other important stuff?

Of course he could read and write, otherwise the Koran wouldn't have been written. Back on topic. Muhammad was a polytheist like most of the Bedouins back then.

Copper Zen:

Mohammed called the Christians and Jewish peoples "The People of the Book" in reference to what we now call the Torah, Old Testament, and New Testament. As "People of the Book" they were to be accorded a degree of tolerance and respect that was not extended to pagans.

Well, those verses was probably written before he was turned away by the Jewish community in Medina (a man not of the line of David could not be a true prophet).

Gorr:

Marik2:
wasn't Muhammad a merchant or something? Isn't it weird that a merchant would be illiterate, considering it is important to be able to read documents and other important stuff?

Of course he could read and write, otherwise the Koran wouldn't have been written.

As stated above, for most of his life he was illiterate. Being illiterate was not as much a handicap as it is now, shoot it wasn't even that much of a handicap 100 years ago.

Gorr:
Of course he could read and write, otherwise the Koran wouldn't have been written.

Muhammad didn't write the Quran. It was originally intended to be memorized and recited, and was only collated as a single written document after Muhammad's death. If you listen to the call to prayer, you're still listening to the oral document which was the original Quran.

Out of basic respect for people's beliefs, I'd really advise people not to say that Muhammad was a pagan or a polytheist. Whatever the specifics of his religious beliefs before the revelation, he was by all accounts a strict monotheist. Also, monotheism is pretty much the central point of Islam.

So it's kind of like suggesting (as a genuine historical theory rather than a joke) that Jesus actually died of auto-erotic asphyxiation and was never crucified. There's no evidence for it, and it could be read as quite insulting..

I'm interested in the secular viewpoint regarding Muhammad and his revelation of the koran

A middle class person being able to recite what is considered the height or Arabic literature was hallucinating?

Have there been cases where people who had hallucinations or schizophrenia make good accomplishments?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Muhammad#Late_20th_century

This whole thing fascinates me

Most likely a pagan of some kind.

evilthecat:

Gorr:
Of course he could read and write, otherwise the Koran wouldn't have been written.

Muhammad didn't write the Quran. It was originally intended to be memorized and recited, and was only collated as a single written document after Muhammad's death. If you listen to the call to prayer, you're still listening to the oral document which was the original Quran.

Evilthecat is correct here. In Arabia, both post and pre Islamic, since literacy was rare even in comparison to Europe, there was a great emphasis on memorisation and recitation. The Koran was only definitively written down during the reign of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, who standardised the Koran by gathering the more definitive copies together and ordering all others to be destroyed.
However, as there are more than a few verses near the end of the Koran that display Muhammad's apparent ability to not only read, but to write, it would be fair to say that he learned at some point even if for most of his life he was indeed illiterate.

Marik2:
I'm interested in the secular viewpoint regarding Muhammad and his revelation of the koran

A middle class person being able to recite what is considered the height or Arabic literature was hallucinating?

Have there been cases where people who had hallucinations or schizophrenia make good accomplishments?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Muhammad#Late_20th_century

This whole thing fascinates me

As I say in the paragraph above, a middle-class person having the ability to memorise and recite like that wasn't a rare thing. One fact that you may like is that there are numerous lines in the Koran that state something along the lines of "Muhammad is not crazy". Even from just using the Koran, its easy to see that a lot of people thought that he had something wrong with him at the time.
As well as that, a Byzantine writer some time later wrote about Muhammad having a form of epilepsy. Though this has usually been considered a simple insult, his seizures do bear similarities to those caused by epilepsy, including hearing voices.

As for accomplished people with schizophrenia, Wikipedia has thoughtfully got a list already.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_schizophrenia

Thunderous Cacophony:

Batou667:
Good question.

Jesus was Jewish, right?

Born and circumcised. There's plenty of debate about what he was at the end of his life, though.

There's now serious debate on weather he even existed as a person, or whether he is just a mythic construct.

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