The enigma of Islam’s advent in the 7th Century Arabian Peninsula and its relevance to contemporary and polarised world

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Islam emerged in the 7th century C.E. in the Arabian Peninsula. Prophet Muhammad was sent to a region that lacked centralised authority, primarily characterised by tribal customs as a way of life, distant from major civilizations. Islam not only introduced a monotheistic religion but also a core set of laws and ethical standards as encapsulated in the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet. The story of the emergence of Islam holds crucial significance and raises the burning question of "why." Why was the last prophet sent to Arabia, and why during that particular time frame? What was the situation like before and after the arrival of the Prophet in that region? And, of course, how does this time frame and context relate to different periods and the challenges that emerged in later centuries? This historical backdrop has led to differences of opinion regarding the interpretation of certain Islamic teachings, with some attributing them solely to that historical context without necessarily extending the rules to later periods. This article addresses these questions by exploring the social, geographical, historical, and religious context in which Islam emerged. The article argues that there are two main perspectives explaining the emergence of Islam and the Prophet in that era and region. One takes a skeptical approach, associating the message with the local context, sometimes portraying it polemically as a departure from the Judeo-Christian tradition. The second perspective, predominantly upheld by Muslim scholars, places it within a global and universal context, emphasising the multiple dimensions of Divine will and wisdom in selecting that time and location. This second approach has the potential to address contemporary challenges, historical contextual interpretations, and much of the polarisation emanating from these perceptions in modern times.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023
EventAAIMS Fourth Annual Conference 2023: Islam in A Polarised World - The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 21 Nov 202322 Nov 2023 (Conference program)


ConferenceAAIMS Fourth Annual Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleIslam in A Polarised World
OtherThe University of Western Australia's Centre for Muslim States and Societies is pleased to host the National Conference of Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS). AAIMS' flagship annual conference will be held on 21-22 November 2023 at the University Club of Western Australia, The University of Western Australia, Perth.

AAIMS is Australia’s leading academic association for scholars engaged in research and the dissemination of knowledge about Islam and Muslim societies. The Association is interdisciplinary and fosters a network of academics based at Australian universities to generate opportunities for joint scholarly research across disciplines and institutions, disseminate research by its members, and promote national and international collaborations.

The central theme of the conference, 'Islam in a Polarised World', draws attention to the roles, contemporary place, and future of Islam in the emerging multipolarity in global politics, with its accompanying shifting power relations and turbulences. It also draws attention to the multiple forms of cultural, political and religious ‘polarisations’ in both local and global contexts and what these mean not just for peaceful co-existence but also for Islam and Muslims in both Muslim majority and Muslim minority contexts.
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