Allah (Arabic: الله, Allāh, IPA: [ʔalˤːɑːh] ) is the standard Arabic word for 'God.' While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, in reference to "God". The term was also used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia.
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh (Arabic: محمّد; Transliteration: Muḥammad;IPA: [mʊħɑmmæd̪]; ; also spelled Mohammed or Muhammed) (ca. 570 Mecca – June 8, 632 Medina) is the central human figure of the religion of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the messenger and prophet of God (Arabic: الله Allāh), the last and the greatest law-bearer in a series of prophets of Islam. Muslims consider him the restorer of the uncorrupted original monotheistic faith (islām) of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus (Isa) and other prophets of Islam. He was also active as a diplomat, merchant, philosopher, orator, legislator, reformer, military general, and, for Muslims and followers of several other religions, an agent of divine action.
Born in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, he was orphaned at a young age and was brought up under the care of his uncle. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was first married by age 25. Discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islām) is the only way (dīn) acceptable to God, and that he himself was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and other prophets in Islam.
Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was met with hostility from some tribes of Mecca; he was treated harshly and so were his followers. To escape persecution Muhammad and his followers migrated to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in the year 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad managed to unite the conflicting tribes, and after eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, his followers, who by then had grown to ten thousand, conquered Mecca. In 632 a few months after returning to Medina from his Farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam and he united the tribes of Arabia into a singular Muslim religious polity.
The revelations (or Ayats, lit. "Signs of God"), which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Qur'an, regarded by Muslims as the “word of God”, around which his religion is based. Besides the Qur'an, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims. They discuss Muhammad and other prophets of Islam with reverence, adding the phrase peace be upon him whenever their names are mentionedWhile conceptions of Muhammad in medieval Christendom and premodern times were largely negative, appraisals in modern times have been far less so. Besides this, his life and deeds have been debated by followers and opponents over the centuries.
Al-Aqsa Mosque (Arabic:المسجد الاقصى, [IPA /æl'mæsʒɪd æl'ɑqsˁɑ/, al-Masjid al-Aqsa (help·info) translit: "the Farthest Mosque"), also known as al-Aqsa, is an Islamic holy place in the Old City of Jerusalem. The mosque itself forms part of the al-Haram ash-Sharif or "Sacred Noble Sanctuary" (along with the Dome of the Rock), a site also known as the Temple Mount in English and Har HaBayit in Hebrew, and considered the holiest site in Judaism since it is the site of the Temple in Jerusalem (Beit HaMikdash) destroyed by the Romans. Widely considered as the third holiest site in Islam, Muslims believe that prophet Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey. Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when God ordered him to turn towards the Ka'aba?
Mecca IPA: /ˈmɛkə/, also spelled Makkah IPA: [ˈmækə], Arabic: مكة Makka (in full: Makka al-Mukarrama IPA: [(Arabic) mækːæ(t) ælmʊkarˑamæ]; Arabic: مكّة المكرمة, literally: Honored Mecca) is a city in Saudi Arabia. Home to the Masjid al-Haram, it is the holiest city in Islam and plays an important role in the faith. As of 2008 the annual Hajj pilgrimage attracts two to three million pilgrims to the city, and presents both opportunities for the city's economy, and challenges for its infrastructure. Culturally, the city is modern, cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse
Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael's descendants. In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city, by then an important trading center, and the city played an important role in the early history of Islam. After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs, until 1924, when it came under the rule of the Saudis In its modern period, Mecca has seen a great expansion in size and infrastructure.
The modern day city is located in and is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah, in a narrow valley, and 277 m (910 ft) above sea level.
The Battle of Uhud (Arabic: غزوة أحد Ġazwat ʾUḥud) was fought on 23 March, 625 (3 Shawwal 3 AH in the Islamic calendar) at Mount Uhud, in what is now north-western Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan from Mecca, the town from which many of the Muslims had previously emigrated (hijra). The Battle of Uhud was the second military encounter between the Meccans and the Muslims, preceded by the Battle of Badr in 624, where a small Muslim army had defeated the larger Meccan army. Marching out from Mecca towards Medina on 11 March, 625, the Meccans desired to avenge their losses at Badr and strike back at Muhammad. The Muslims readied for war soon afterwards and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Uhud.
Whilst heavily outnumbered, the Muslims gained the early initiative and forced the Meccan lines back, thus leaving much of the Meccan camp unprotected. As the Muslims left their assigned posts to despoil the Meccan camp, a surprise attack from the Meccan cavalry brought chaos to the Muslim ranks. Many Muslims were killed, and they withdrew up the slopes of Uhud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory. For the Muslims, the battle was a significant setback: although they had been close to routing the Meccans a second time, their desire for the Meccan spoils reaped severe consequences. The two armies would meet again in 627, at the Battle of the Trench.
The first Muslims within current Russian territory were the Dagestani people (region of Derbent) after the Arab conquests in the 8th century. The first Muslim state in Russia was Volga Bulgaria (922). The Tatars inherited the religion from that state. Later the most of European and Caucasian Turkic peoples also became followers of Islam. Islam in Russia has had a long presence, extending at least as far back as the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in 1552, which brought the Tatars and Bashkirs on the Middle Volga into Russia. The lower Volga Muslim Astrakhan Khanate was conquered by the Russian empire in 1556. The Siberia Khanate was conquered by the Russian empire in 16th century by defeating the Siberian Tatars which opened Siberia for Russian conquest. The Crimean Khanate was conquered in 1739 by the Russian Empire. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Russian conquests in the North Caucasus brought the Muslim peoples of this region—Dagestanis, Chechens, Ingush, and others—into the Russian state. The conquest of the Circassians and the Ubykhs turned this peoples to muhajirs. Further afield, the independent states of Central Asia and Azerbaijan were brought into the Russian state as part of the same imperialist push that incorporated the North Caucasus. Most Muslims living in Russia were the indigenous people of lands long ago seized by the expanding Russian empire.
Under Communist rule, Islam was oppressed and suppressed, as was any other religion. Many mosques—much like their Christian counterparts, the churches—were closed at that time. For example, the Marcani mosque was the only one acting mosque in Kazan at that time.
Islam was first brought to China by an envoy sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, in 651, less than twenty years after the death of prophet Muhammad. The envoy was led by Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās, the maternal uncle of the Prophet himself. Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country. It was during the Tang Dynasty that China had its golden day of cosmopolitan culture which helped the introduction of Islam. The first major Muslim settlements in China consisted of Arab and Persian merchants. The term Hui originated from the Mandarin word “Huihui,” a term first used in the Yuan dynasty to describe Central Asian, Persian, and Arab residents in China 
By the time of the Song Dynasty, Muslims had come to dominate the import/export industry. The office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period. In 1070, the Song emperor Shenzong invited 5,300 Muslim men from Bukhara, to settle in China in order to create a buffer zone between the Chinese and the Liao empire in the northeast. Later on these men were settled between the Sung capital of Kaifeng and Yenching (modern day Beijing). They were led by Prince Amir Sayyid "So-fei-er" (his Chinese name) who was reputed of being called the "father" of the Muslim community in China. Prior to him Islam was named by the Tang and Song Chinese as Dashi fa ("law of the Arabs") (Tashi or Dashi is the Chinese rendering of Tazi--the name the Persian people used for the Arabs). . He renamed it to Huihui Jiao ("the Religion of the Huihui").
It was during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, (1274 - 1368), that large numbers of Muslims settled in China. The Mongols, a minority in China, gave Muslim immigrants an elevated status over the native Han Chinese as part of their governing strategy, thus giving Muslims a heavy influence. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims immigrants were recruited and forcibly relocated from Western and Central Asia by the Mongols to help them administer their rapidly expanding empire. The Mongols used Persian, Arab and Uyghur administrators to act as officers of taxation and finance. Muslims headed many corporations in China in the early Yuan period. Muslim scholars were brought to work on calendar making and astronomy. The architect Yeheidie'erding (Amir al-Din) learned from Han architecture and helped to design the construction of the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, Khanbaliq, which was in the location of present-day Beijing.
During the following Ming Dynasty, Muslims continued to be influential around government circles. Six of Ming Dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang's most trusted generals were Muslim, including Lan Yu who, in 1388, led a strong imperial Ming army out of the Great Wall and won a decisive victory over the Mongols in Mongolia, effectively ending the Mongol dream to re-conquer China. Additionally, the Yongle Emperor hired Zheng He, perhaps the most famous Chinese Muslim and China's foremost explorer, to lead seven expeditions to the Indian Ocean, from 1405 and 1433. However, during the Ming Dynasty, new immigration to China from Muslim countries was restricted in an increasingly isolationist nation. The Muslims in China who were descended from earlier immigration began to assimilate by speaking Chinese dialects and by adopting Chinese names and culture. Mosque architecture began to follow traditional Chinese architecture. This era, sometimes considered the Golden Age of Islam in China, also saw Nanjing become an important center of Islamic study.
The rise of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) made relations between the Muslims and Chinese more difficult. The dynasty prohibited ritual slaughtering of animals, followed by forbidding the construction of new mosques and the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Qing rulers belonged to the Manchu, a minority in China, and employed the tactics of divide and conquer to keep the Muslims, Hans, Tibetans and Mongolians in conflict with each other. These repressive policies resulted in five bloody Hui rebellions, most notably the Panthay Rebellion, which occurred in Yunnan province from 1855 to 1873, and the Dungan revolt, which occurred mostly in Xinjiang, Shensi and Gansu, from 1862 to 1877. The Manchu government then committed genocide to suppress these revolts, killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion, several million in the Dungan revolt and five million in the suppression of Miao people in Guizhou. A "washing off the Muslims" (洗回, xi Hui) policy had been long advocated by officials in the Manchu government.
After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat Sen, who established the Republic of China immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. In 1911, the provinces of Qinhai, Gansu and Ningxia fell to Muslim warlords of the family known as the Ma clique. During the Cultural Revolution, mosques were often defaced, destroyed or closed and copies of the Quran were destroyed along with temples, churches, monasteries, and cemeteries by the Red Guards. The government began to relax its policies towards Muslims in 1978. Today, Islam is experiencing a modest revival and there are now many mosques in China. There has been an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nation-wide Islamic associations have been organized to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims.
The hardest thing for Westerners to understand is not that a war with militant Islam is underway but that the nature of the enemy's ultimate goal. That goal is to apply the Islamic law (the Shari‘a) globally. In U.S. terms, it intends to replace the Constitution with the Qur'an.
This aspiration is so remote and far-fetched to many non-Muslims, it elicits more guffaws than apprehension. Of course, that used to be the same reaction in Europe, and now it's become widely accepted that, in Bernard Lewis' words, "Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century."
Because of the American skepticism about Islamist goals, I postponed publishing an article on this subject until immediately after 9/11, when I expected receptivity to the subject would be greater (it was published in November 2001 as "The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America"). I argued there that
The Muslim population in this country is not like any other group, for it includes within it a substantial body of people—many times more numerous than the agents of Osama bin Ladin—who share with the suicide hijackers a hatred of the United States and the desire, ultimately, to transform it into a nation living under the strictures of militant Islam.
The receptivity indeed was greater, but still the idea of an Islamist takeover remains unrecognized in establishment circles – the U.S. government, the old media, the universities, the mainline churches.
Therefore, reading "A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America," in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 19 caused me to startle. It's a long analysis that draws on an exclusive interview with Ahmed Elkadi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader in the United States during 1984-94, plus other interviews and documentation. In it, the authors (Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe, and Laurie Cohen) warily but emphatically acknowledge the Islamists' goal of turning the United States into an Islamic state.
Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to pray, memorize the Koran and discuss events of the day. But they also addressed their ultimate goal, one so controversial that it is a key reason they have operated in secrecy: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well. …
Brotherhood members emphasize that they follow the laws of the nations in which they operate. They stress that they do not believe in overthrowing the U.S. government, but rather that they want as many people as possible to convert to Islam so that one day—perhaps generations from now—a majority of Americans will support a society governed by Islamic law.
This Brotherhood approach is in keeping with my observation that the greater Islamist threat to the West is not violence – flattening buildings, bombing railroad stations and nightclubs, seizing theaters and schools – but the peaceful, legal growth of power through education, the law, the media, and the political system.
The Tribune article explains how, when recruiting new members, the organization does not reveal its identity but invites candidates to small prayer meetings where the prayer leaders focus on the primary goal of the Brotherhood, namely "setting up the rule of God upon the Earth" (i.e., achieving Islamic hegemony). Elkadi describes the organization's strategic, long-term approach: "First you change the person, then the family, then the community, then the nation."
His wife Iman is no less explicit; all who are associated with the Brotherhood, she says, have the same goal, which is "to educate everyone about Islam and to follow the teachings of Islam with the hope of establishing an Islamic state."
In addition to Elkadi, the article features information from Mustafa Saied (about whose Muslim Brotherhood experiences the Wall Street Journal devoted a feature story in December 2003, without mentioning the organization's Islamist goals). Saied, the Tribune informs us, says
he found out that the U.S. Brotherhood had a plan for achieving Islamic rule in America: It would convert Americans to Islam and elect like-minded Muslims to political office. "They're very smart. Everyone else is gullible," Saied says. "If the Brotherhood puts up somebody for an election, Muslims would vote for him not knowing he was with the Brotherhood."
Citing documents and interviews, the Tribune team notes that the secretive Brotherhood, in an effort to acquire more influence, went above ground in Illinois in 1993, incorporating itself as the Muslim American Society. The MAS, headquartered in Alexandria, Va. and claiming 53 chapters across the United States engages in a number of activities. These include summer camps, a large annual conference, websites, and the Islamic American University, a mainly correspondence school in suburban Detroit that trains teachers and imams.
Of course, the MAS denies any intent to take over the country. One of its top officials, Shaker Elsayed, insists that
MAS does not believe in creating an Islamic state in America but supports the establishment of Islamic governments in Muslim lands. The group's goal in the United States, he says, "is to serve and develop the Muslim community and help Muslims to be the best citizens they can be of this country." That includes preserving the Muslim identity, particularly among youths.
Notwithstanding this denial, the Tribune finds MAS goals to be clear enough:
Part of the Chicago chapter's Web site is devoted to teens. It includes reading materials that say Muslims have a duty to help form Islamic governments worldwide and should be prepared to take up arms to do so. One passage states that "until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful." Another one says that Western secularism and materialism are evil and that Muslims should "pursue this evil force to its own lands" and "invade its Western heartland." [links added by me, DP]
In suburban Rosemont, Ill., several thousand people attended MAS' annual conference in 2002 at the village's convention center. One speaker said, "We may all feel emotionally attached to the goal of an Islamic state" in America, but it would have to wait because of the modest Muslim population. "We mustn't cross hurdles we can't jump yet."
These revelations are particularly striking, coming as they do just days after a Washington Post article titled "In Search Of Friends Among The Foes," which reports how some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials believe the Muslim Brotherhood's influence "offers an opportunity for political engagement that could help isolate violent jihadists." Graham Fuller is quoted saying that "It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world. It's something we can work with." Demonizing the Brotherhood, he warns, "would be foolhardy in the extreme." Other analysts, such as Reuel Gerecht, Edward Djerejian, and Leslie Campbell, are quoted as being in agreement with this outlook.
But it is a deeply wrong and dangerous approach. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood is not specifically associated with violence in the United States (as it has been in other countries, including Egypt and Syria), it is deeply hostile to the United States and must be treated as one vital component of the enemy's assault force.