We trace the shocking and rapid rise of Islam in the 600s, as a confederation of desert towns and tribes unite around Muhammad and his prophesies from the Abrahamic god, then swiftly launch a stunning campaign of conquests against the major empires of the age. We consider the roots of the basic teachings and practices of the new religion, including the Qur'an, the hadiths, the Five Pillars, jihad, shariah, the divide between Sunni and Shiah, and Islamic laws regarding the status of women and of Jews and Christians or "people of the Book."
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Suggested further reading: Karen Armstrong, "Islam: A Short History"; Michael Cook, "Past Masters: Muhammad."