Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Overview the background of Paul’s idea of the life to come. Does Paul give any details about heaven or hell? What role does the resurrection from the dead play in Paul’s view of the life to come? What role does the bodily resurrection of Christ play in the Christian’s hope of participation in the life to come?
Paul’s view of the life to come is inconclusive prior to his conversion. Nevertheless, his views were more than likely based on that of the Pharisees who did believe in a resurrection, judgment and rewards for evil and good which distinguished them from the Sadducees who did not believe that there was a resurrection but that death was the end. Paul, however, did believe in the resurrection of the dead which he made evident when he was on trial before the Sanhedrin and Pharisees. Paul believed that there was no intermission between the departure of the person on earth and being united with Christ upon death, but there would be a continual relationship. To not believe in the resurrection would have made Jesus’ sacrifice null and void with regards to his faith in the resurrected Savior.
When Paul talked about death, he spoke of us leaving our earthly bodies in order to put on new ones to be in the presence of the Lord. He also spoke of those who had been turned over to a delusion because they rejected the truth but preferred a lie and in so doing, they would be condemned. Therefore, Paul believed that there were either one of two places a person would go when they departed this life. Paul had a strong belief that those who died in Christ would immediately see Jesus upon departing this body and coming into their new ones. They first had to shed one in order to come into the other. 
As a Christian, we can have faith in knowing that because Christ died and was resurrected, He conquered death and was victorious. Therefore, because He lives, we will live. If Christ had not been resurrected, our faith would be in vain and we would be eternally lost. This is the reason for our belief and confidence for Christ did what the original Adam could not do. We can look forward into having a newness in Christ either upon His return or at the moment of our deaths, whichever comes first. Death is not the end for those who believe in Christ. It is merely stepping from mortality to immortality. This is why we can comfort those who have lost loved ones as well as keep this in mind ourselves should we be faced with persecution as Christians are in other parts of the world. Jesus said to not fear those who can destroy the body because this is just a vessel, but we are to fear the one who can destroy both the body and soul for all of eternity. There is clearly a distinguishing factor between this mortal body and the immortal one when it comes to the One who made it and who looks forward to His children uniting with Him.
 Ibid., 301.
 Acts 23:6 (New International Version).
 Bruce and Bruce, Paul, 312-313.
 1 Cor. 15:14 (New International Version).
 2 Thess. 2:11-12 (New International Version).
 Bruce and Bruce, Paul, 311-313.
 1 Cor. 15:19. (New International Version).
 Matt. 10:28 (New International Version).
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Saturday, March 10, 2018
In March of 2017, the BBC News put out an article that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It is the second largest religion with Christianity being ahead at present. Those numbers, however, is projected to change by the year 2070 and as a result, Islam will become the world’s largest religion. A census done in 2010 showed that Indonesia had the world’s largest Islamic population but by 2050, the numbers are projected to shift, and India will become home to the largest Muslim population. Christianity in the United Kingdom and France are projected to drop by 50% during that same period, and 10% of people in Europe will be of the Muslim faith. In 2050, one out of every fifty citizens within the United States will be of the Islamic faith. This religion has taken the world by storm but what exactly is Islam? Where did it begin? Who was its founder? What major impact did it have on the world and why? The answer to this and many other unanswered questions can be found through thorough research into the history and rise of Islam.
Origin of Islam
The Life of Muhammad
Islam is divided into two major sects –Sunni Muslims making up 80% and the Shia comprised of 10%. The remaining 10% is divided into even smaller sects. Islam shares a few beliefs taken from Judaism and Christianity such as believing in some of the prophets of old like Abraham, Moses, and Noah who are found in both the Torah and the Holy Bible as well as their belief in the story of creation. Muslims, however, have their texts that they consider as sacred called the Qu’ran. Their beliefs differ greatly about the divinity of Jesus. While Muslims agree that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, they do not believe Him to be the Son of God, but a greatly respected prophet mentioned numerous times in their Qu’ran for they believe Allah has no son. Islamic belief also differs greatly with Christians in that they do not believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. They believe that Allah spared him and took him up to Heaven instead.
Abraham is greatly regarded in the Islamic faith for they believe the Ishmael is the chosen one with the promise instead of Isaac. They believe that Ishmael helped Abraham build a temple at the site of the well that God provided for Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, while she and Ishmael were living in the desert. Muslims believe this spot to be holy and for this reason, a pilgrimage to this site is to be made by all capable Muslims – the city is called Mecca. Arabs did a lot of trading during this part of the world and felt a connection with their heritage there. One tribe, the Quraysh, made provisions for the many visitors that traveled there during their trades. The Quraysh once held a belief in Allah, but they fell away from worshipping Allah and began worshiping other gods.
In 570 A.D. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was born. There are no images that can be found of him because this was forbidden. Muslims believe that a star pointed towards his birth and that his umbilical cord was severed without the help of a midwife or physician. His father died before he was born but his mother, Aminah bint Wahb, took him to live with his grandfather, Wahb ibn Abd Manaf who was an elder in the Quraysh tribe. Muhammad was later sent on a journey to prepare him for life as an Arab that was customary in the Quraysh tribe. Legend has it that two angels appeared to Muhammad and removed a dark spot from his heart that made him free from sin. Muhammad began traveling with his uncle to learn about trade as a profession with the Meccan tribes. At age 20, he became a trusted caravan leader and met his first wife, Khadija, who was wealthy widow and businesswoman fifteen years his senior.
At the age of 30, Muhammad spent time alone in the hills near Mecca, but around age 40, he was believed to have experienced a series of visions over a three-night span. After which, he claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel and was commanded to teach about the goodness of Allah. Muhammad had various visitations and revelations, given to him by Gabriel, over a span of 23 years which were written down with the help of others that became known as the Qu’ran. The word Qu’ran means recitation (read aloud). Within the text, Muhammad was directed to resurrect the monotheism of Abraham, prayer, charity, fasting, and the pilgrimage to Mecca which became known as the Five Pillars of Islam.
Muhammad’s teachings did not sit well with many in his clan, and it brought civil war amongst the Arabs. He eventually succeeded in establishing a community based on his beliefs. By 622 A.D. Muhammad and Muslim followers were preaching all throughout Mecca. This, however, angered the Quraysh elders who worshiped other gods and held festivals in their honor along with having trade with those who made a pilgrimage there. The Quraysh began a campaign of rebellion against Muhammad and his followers. Both his wife and uncle died leaving Muhammad vulnerable and unprotected. Despite the troubles that he encountered in Mecca, tribes from other areas wanted his assistance in settling matters of dispute about their trading due to his reputation of being an honest caravan leader. This opened the door for Muhammad to be able to relocate to an area of acceptance where he could freely preach his message to those receptive to him.
Muhammad made the journey to Yathrib which is commemorated by the Islamic world as being the year (Hijri) Muhammad started the first Muslim community. He went about making peace among the tribes which was a huge success and in so doing, the tribes change the name of Yathrib to Medina (city of the prophet). Peace in Medina was temporary as the Quraysh came against the Muslims once again to destroy them in 624 A.D. The Muslims, although fewer in number, was triumphant over the Meccan army. The conflict did not end, however, and during one of the conflicts, Muhammad was severely wounded. In 630 A.D., the Muslims captured Mecca and Muhammad was able to return to his hometown along with his 10,000 warriors finally. Muhammad went on a mission to cleanse the idols from the Meccan temple upon his victory. The Meccans who were left were offered their freedom if they would discontinue their fighting against him. This olive branch impressed the Meccans and caused them to accept Islam.
June 8, 632 A.D., at the age of 62, Muhammad died of a fever. During that time, Muslims had control over the Arabian Peninsula. Within 100, Muslims had made numerous conquests where they had large amounts of territory and were a force to be reckoned with. They had conquered a large territory which was under the control of the Umayyad dynasty that included Syria with Damascus being their capital from 661 A.D. to 750 A.D. They ruled over Morocco to China and India where many they conquered were either forced to convert to Islam or some converted through the generations. During this time, Jews and Christians were not forced to convert to Islam since they believed in the God of Abraham.
In 680 A.D., at the death of Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein ibn Ali, who died in the Battle of Karbala, the Shia broke away Sunni Muslims. This was due to a difference of beliefs in whom they felt should succeed Muhammad as the Muslim leader. The Sunnis believe that the leader of the Muslims should be elected amongst the Muslim community whereas the Shias maintain that it should be a descendant of Muhammad. In 750 A.D., there was a massive downfall in the Islamic world, but they returned strong under the Abbasid dynasty in the eight-century building a beautiful city called Bagdad. During this time, they were accredited to having acquired scrolls from the library of Alexandria and Pergamum as well as texts by ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia which were translated into Arabic.
The First Crusade
By the end of the eleventh-century, tensions rose between Muslims and Christians. This began with the Seljuk Turks taking Anatolia igniting the Battle of Dorylaeum that took place July 1, 1097, which was the First Crusade. This cut off the routes that Christians took to get to Jerusalem which they held of great importance because of Jesus death and resurrection that took place there. Pope Urban II called on all Christians in Europe to go to war against the Turks to reclaim the Holy Land which had been in Muslim control for over 400 years. Jerusalem was the third holiest place to the Muslims because Muhammad was believed to have been transported there from Mecca on a creature called Buraq. At the Dome of the Rock, Muhammad is believed to have ascended to Heaven.
The Crusaders vowed to reclaim Jerusalem in the name of Jesus Christ and traveled over 3000 miles fighting Muslims enroute to do so. In 1099, the Crusaders successfully penetrated Jerusalem’s walls, and no one was spared as they killed approximately 30,000 Muslims and fellow citizens. The Muslims, however, did not lie down in defeat as they strategically planned their next move under the leadership of Saladin, a Muslim and political leader, who fought for their Jihad.
The Second Crusade
The Crusaders took down the Islamic symbols off of the Dome of the Rock and replaced them with crosses to let the Muslims know that Jerusalem was a Christian city. The Muslims came together after Jerusalem was taken over to mourn its loss. They were divided but knew that they would need one leader to bring them all together to reclaim Jerusalem that was being resettled by Christians at the request of the Pope to move there. Jerusalem grew into a city of around 30,000 citizens. The Crusaders set up four powerful states, Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Antioch, the Tripoli, and Edessa. Pilgrims from all around the world flocked to Jerusalem not that the Crusaders had taken over and reestablished its Christian roots.
The Knights Templar came to power to protect the Pilgrims from the bandits who would threaten their lives during the pilgrimage to and from the Holy City. The Muslims despised both the Crusaders and the Knights who aided in what they considered as the Christian occupation. Jihad (struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam) was once again in the minds of the Muslims who were disgusted by the Crusader's reign of authority over what they considered to be theirs. In the twelfth-century, the Muslims decided to take action. Seljuk general Zangi, governor of Mosul offered to protect Aleppo from the Christians, and in 1128, an agreement was reached, and he gained control over northern Syria after 20 years of working to unite the Muslims. He led a successful Jihad against the Crusaders with the help of 30,000 men and expert miners to weaken the walls captured Edessa which led to the Crusaders losing the northern part of the state. Thousands of Christian men, women, and children were killed during this siege. Two years later, their leader was killed, but his son, Nur al-Din, took his place.
In 1145, Pope Eugenius III received word of Edessa’s fall and initiated the second crusade. This call was answered by Louis VII of France who had a deep Christian faith but had minimal military experience. In May 1147, he set off for the second crusade with an army of over 30,000 soldiers and 300 Knights Templar. Things did not go as planned for King Louis VII as they battled the cold weather, loss formation of their forces, and was exposed giving open access for the Turks to come up against them. Reduced to 20,000 troops, King Louis VII abandoned his plans for Edessa and looked towards Damascus. The Muslims in Damascus was forced to call on Nur al-Din for assistance who then dealt a humiliating blow to King Louis VII and the Crusaders consequently ending the Second Crusade.
The Third Crusade
Nur al-Din ran a campaign to have Muslims unite under him to regain control over the Crusade states. In 1154, the Muslims welcomed him with high hopes that they would be able finally to be united under one ruler to drive the Crusaders out. Nur al-Din had a master plan, and that was to take control of Egypt, and its capital, Cairo which was independently held by Shia Muslims opposed to both Nur al-Din Sunni Muslims and Christians. In 1160, the Muslims had plans to enclose the Crusaders, and they had their sights on taking control of Egypt before the Crusaders could.
In 1168, the Crusaders led a massacre of Sunni Muslims near Cairo which caused Egypt to join forces with Nur al-Din. Nur al-Din welcomed the opportunity and sent in his general, Saladin to help them, and he took control of Egypt. Saladin, however, turned against Nur al-Din who died in 1174 but was not able to succeed Nur al-Din due to his 12-year-old son, Al-Salih Ismail al-Malik, taking his father’s place. Saladin tried on two separate occasions to capture Aleppo but was unsuccessful due to an unsuccessful assassination attempt and a second threat upon his life by hired assassins of Al-Salih Ismail al-Malik. However, he died under uncertain circumstances, and Saladin gained control of both Syria and Egypt.
Saladin was finally ready to reclaim Jerusalem in 1183. Raynald of Châtillon, triggered an attack on a Muslim caravan on their pilgrimage breaking a truce. Saladin marched to Hattin with his troops to do battle. In 1187, Saladin nearly destroyed the Crusaders at the battle of Hattin. The King of Jerusalem, Guy, became a prisoner of Saladin after he killed Raynald. Saladin claimed Jerusalem upon an agreement between the Christians and himself to spare their lives. Once again, Jerusalem was in the hands of the Muslims.
Pope Gregory VIII made a call for another crusade. In May 1189, 100,000 soldiers from Germany led by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa began their journey to Jerusalem for the third crusade. He, however, drowned on his way there which left King Richard I of England in charge of the army that remained after many lost heart and went back home. He imposed a tax to finance the third crusade and sold his possessions to purchase the best military gear. Fourteen months later, he was ready and began the journey to Jerusalem. Saladin allowed the former king of Jerusalem, Guy free, with the understanding that he would no longer be a threat. Guy, however, had other plans in mind.
Upon his release, Guy gathered military forces composed of a 7,000-man infantry and a 400-man cavalry to take over the city of Acre which caused another battle between him and Saladin – the Muslims and the Christians. Guy, however, still needed help which came through the leadership of King Richard I who eventually arrived with his army of over 17,000 men in 1191. Within five weeks, King Richard I was finally able to break through the walls of Acre and took over 2,000 of Saladin’s men captive earning him the name – Richard the Lionheart. King Richard tried to have to have negotiations between himself and Saladin for a price in exchange for the release of the prisoners, but due to Saladin seemingly dragging his feet, King Richard I had them slaughtered.
In 1191, King Richard I and 12,000 men marched to Jerusalem but changed his mind due to analyzing the possible consequences should he attempt to overtake the city. He was down by 5,000 men from when he first started and did not think that he could keep hold of the city even if he successfully captured it due to Saladin’s force. He returned to Acre to unite the cities that he had already taken. Saladin took the opportunity to capture Jaffa which caused King Richard I to gather an army of men and battled Saladin’s men. After an intense battle, Saladin’s men retreated. In September 1192, Richard and Saladin made a truce where the Kingdom of Jerusalem (from Jaffa to Tyre) would be kept by the Christians, but Muslims would keep control of the city of Jerusalem which ended the Third Crusade.
For 200, Muslims faced six major battles against European Knights. Their greatest challenge, however, came from the Mongolians who lived in the east. In 1258, the Muslims faced the Mongolians who swept through Russia to take their plunder from Bagdad. The Mongolians left the cities of Damascus and Aleppo in flames and continued to move forward towards Palestine. In 1260, a Muslim army from Egypt stopped the Mongolians. The Mongolians continued their conquests as some of them converted to Islam where they conquered where Islam was spread to Afghanistan, China, and India. The city of Mecca was filled with Muslims from various nations, and eventually, Islam was spread to Spain.
In the thirteenth-century Catholic forces began the Christian conquest to recapture Spain. By the 1400s, only the enclave of Granada remained under Muslim rule until 1492 where it fell into the hands of Christians after seven centuries of being ruled by Islam. In other areas of the world, Islam was on the rise. In 1435, Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, to the Muslim Ottoman Empire. After a thousand-year rule by Christians, it became part of the expanding Muslim empire and was renamed Istanbul (Islam in abundance).
In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman armies were considered a threat to western Europe when they conquered the Balkans and a great part of Crimea. They took control of Vienna in 1529 and 1683. That, however, was that last of their control into Europe for they were slowed down by the eighteenth-century due to European powers getting stronger contributed to the rising industrial revolution as the Ottoman’s power decreased.
Muslim Core Beliefs and Values
The Muslims’ fight in the past centuries was due to their deeply held beliefs and values based on their Prophet Muhammad. Five times a day, all around the Islamic world, Muslims hear the Adhan (call to prayer) called out by their muezzin (the person who leads the prayer) from their mosques. He recites the Takbir (Allah is Great) and the Shahada (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah). The word Islam means submission, and through Muslims’ submission, they believe that it is their straight path to Allah and believe in strict monotheism. As-salamu alaykum is a standard Arabic greeting among Muslims meaning peace be unto you or Assalamu alaikum was rahmatullah which means may the peace and mercy of Allah be with you.
The first pillar is the Shahadah (there is only one Allah to be worshiped, and Muhammad is His prophet) which is the Muslims’ declaration of faith. The second pillar is the Selah which is the scheduled prayers that take place five times daily and is to be done facing Mecca with the utterance of Allāhu Akbar (Allah is the greatest). The third pillar is Zakah (almsgiving to the needy). They are to give 2 ½% of what they own directly to the poor or give it in their mosque which in turn, will be given to the poor. The fourth pillar is the requirement to fast during the month of Ramadan. This is believed to be the month the Qu’ran was given to Muhammad and Muslims are to refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn to dusk. The fifth pillar of Islam is the required pilgrimage to Makkah for those who can afford and are able to visit what Muslims believe is a holy land. The beliefs of Muslims are very influential in the world today as they were during the Crusades as they still battle on in their desire for world dominance and power.
From the beginning of Islam to the fifteenth-century, Islam has been a prominent force in the Muslim world and beyond. Their Prophet Muhammad believed that he was providing his people with a word from Allah, sent through the angel Gabriel, a message of hope, unity, morality, and monotheism. Sometimes this message caused Muhammad and his followers to rage Jihad both offensively and defensively throughout the centuries. The clash between followers of the cross and the crescent has caused many to die in defense of what they believed to be the true Holy One to be served (God or Allah). The Holy Land was and still is a major cause of conflict between the three major religions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This conflict may never be permanently solved amongst the three religions for each believe that the land is reserved for them as their holy site. Nevertheless, history tends to repeat its same lyrics but to a different tune. What once was may be evident to be repeated between the Crusades and Jihad.
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 Francis Edwards Peters, Allah's Commonwealth: a History of Islam in the Near East, 600-1100 A.D (New York (N.Y.): Simon and Schuster, 1973), 10-25.
 Seyyed Hossein Nasr et al., The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (New York, NY: HarperOne, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015), 4-6.
 Fateh Ullah Khan, God, Universe and Man: The Holy Quran and the Hereafter (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1999), 280-298.
 Scott B. Noegel and Brannon M. Wheeler, The A to Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2010), 152-157.
 Ibid., 5-7.
 Fred M Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982), 22-40.
 Shaykh G. Haddad, "Prophet Muhammad (?): His Birth and Reality," MuslimVillage.com, last modified November 26, 2017, https://muslimvillage.com/2017/11/26/60844/prophet-muhammad-s-birth-real/.
 ʻAbd al-Malik Ibn Hishām, Muḥammad Ibn Isḥāq, and Alfred Guillaume, The life of Muhammad: a translation of Isḥāq's Sīrat rasūl Allāh (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2013), 4-27.
 Shamim Aleem, Prophet Muhammad(S) and His Family: A Sociological Perspective (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2007), 62-89.
 Theodor Nöldeke et al., The history of the Qur'an (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 15-32.
 Nöldeke, Qar’an, 35-52.
 Peters, Allah’s Commonwealth, 155-170.
 Claude Gilliot, "Josef Horovitz, The Earliest Biographies of the Prophet and their Authors, edited by Lawrence I. Conrad," Arabica 54, no. 2 (2007): xx, doi:10.1163/157005807780220576.
 Richard A Gabriel, Muhammad: Islam's First Great General (Norman, Okla: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007), 155-176.
 Reşit Haylamaz, The Luminous Life of Our Prophet (Clifton: Tughra Books, 2015), 5.
 Bernard E. Lewis and Buntzie E. Churchill, Islam: The Religion and the PeopleBy Bernard Ellis Lewis, Buntzie Ellis Churchill (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011), 40-41.
 Bernard Lewis, The Encyclopaedia of Islam Vol. 2 Vol. 2 (Leiden: Brill, 1991), 125-127.
 Lewis, Islam, 126-132.
 Malcolm Barber, The Crusader States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 4-20.
 Thomas F. Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007), 15-29.
 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), 50-75.
 Riley-Smith, The Crusades, 50-75.
 History, "The Crusades - Facts & Summary," History.com, last modified 2018, https://www.history.com/topics/crusades.
 Jonathan Phillips, Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London: Vintage Books, 2010), 104-120.
 Phillips, Holy Warriors, 120-132.
 Ibid., 127-135.
 Ibid., 136-155.
 Phillips, Holy Warriors, 136-156.
 Phillips, Holy Warriors, 136-156.
 John Joseph Sauders, A History of Medieval Islam (London: Routledge, 1996), 170-186.
 Joseph F O'Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 2-19.
 O'Callaghan, Reconquest, 177-201.
 Pnina Werbner, "Rituals of Birth, Circumcision, Marriage and Death among Muslims in the Netherlands," Journal of Islamic Studies 17, no. 1 (2006): 114-115, doi:10.1093/jis/eti197.
 Noor Mohammad, "The Doctrine of Jihad: An Introduction," Journal of Law and Religion 3, no. 2 (1985): 381-397, doi:10.2307/1051182.
 John L Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam (New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1999), 225-230.
 Bernard E. Lewis and Buntzie E. Churchill, Islam: The Religion and the People By Bernard Ellis Lewis, Buntzie Ellis Churchill (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011), 08.
 Frank A Salamone, Encyclopedia of Religious Rites, Rituals, and Festivals (New York, NY: Routledge, 2012), 282-286.
 Salamone, Encyclopedia of Religious Rites, 282-286.