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History of Islam: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenna Conan

Jenna is a fourth grade teacher with a master's degree in instructional design and an undergraduate degree in elementary education.

This lesson will give you an inside look at the history of Islam, a religion practiced by many people in the Middle East and northern Africa. Read on to learn more about the second-largest religion in the world.

All About Islam

Islam is a religion that was founded by the prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. People who follow Islam are known as Muslims and they believe in one god, whom they call Allah. Their main religious book is the Qur'an. Muslims follow the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the profession of faith, prayer, charity (giving money), fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

Muslim followers praying
Muslim Followers Praying

The Birth of Islam

A man named Muhammad was born around 570 CE in the city of Mecca, in what is modern-day Saudi Arabia. Muhammad's parents died when he was young, and as a teenager, he was forced to work as a caravan leader. He was very good at his job; when he was older, the owner of the caravan, an older woman whose husband had died, proposed to him.

Muhammad was now wealthy and had plenty of time to think about his faith. The wickedness and greed of his people worried him. He also didn't like that the people were worshiping idols, or false gods, instead of Allah so he prayed for his people. Muslims believe that Muhammad received a revelation from Allah in 610 telling him to preach to his people. These were the first revelations of the Qur'an.

A painting of what Muhammad was thought to look like
A painting of what Muhammad was thought to look like

Islam Under Muhammad

Muhammad began to preach his message and many people didn't agree. However, people from the poorer classes liked his ideas, like the poor and the rich are equal in the eyes of Allah.

By 622, the treatment of Muhammad and his followers by others in Mecca became worse so they traveled to the town of Medina in a migration called the Hijrah.

A few years later, Medina was attacked but Muhammad's followers defended themselves and took control of Mecca. People throughout the region began to recognize Muhammad as the prophet of Allah and he was able to conquer the area. He set up a strong government and established Mecca as the capital of the Islamic nation. Muhammad died in 632 of an infection; but in a very short amount of time, he had managed to establish a world religion and unite the Arabian tribes.

Islam Spreads

Not long after Muhammad's death, Muslims couldn't agree on who should rightfully replace the prophet Muhammad as the head of Islam. Most people thought a group of Muslims should decide who it would be, but some people thought it needed to be someone from Muhammad's family. The larger group, the Sunnis, ended up electing someone to rule. So, the Islamic government began its rule by ''Caliph.'' Abu Bakr was the first, and he had Muhammad's teachings written down in the Qur'an.

A modern copy of the Quran
A modern copy of the Quran

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