Monday, 19 January 2015

Christianity Before Islam in Arabia, Persia and Beyond

Christianity in Arabia and beyond before Islam

Within 30-40 years after Jesus p, there were three major strands of Christianity:

Jewish Christians
Pauline Christians

Jewish Christians believed they had to follow the laws of Moses and that Jesus (p) was the Messiah.

Paul, who was not a disciple (though he claimed to have seen Jesus p in a vision) started a new theology in which Jesus p was believed to be divine and the law of Moses was no longer required to be practiced.

For 300 years Christian groups debated over the nature of Jesus, the Bible and Christianity itself. Christians were persecuted by the Romans until Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. In 325 CE, Pauline Christianity was recognised as the official form of Christianity. Thus the other Christian groups were persecuted - many of these Christians emigrated to other lands including Arabia and Persia.

Salman Al-Farsi, the son of a Zoroastrian priest, met a Christian monk in Persia and converted to Christianity at the hands of the monk. Salman Al-Farsi ran away to Syria and joined the monk's Christian sect which was dying sect. Salman Al-Farsi learned, from his Christian sect, of a Prophet to come who was predicted by Jesus (p). He was told of three signs the Prophet would meet:

He shall appear in a land full of dates.
He will have a physical mark on his back.
This man will accept gifts but never accept charity.

From Syria, Salman Al-Farsi ended up in Yathrib after being enslaved. He wound up toiling away as a slave for decades. A time came when talk spread about Prophet Muhammad (p) emigrating to Medina. Salman Al-Farsi heard of this talk and came to Prophet Muhammad (p), he soon realised Prophet Muhammad (p) fulfilled all three signs and converted to Islam.

Salman's story indicated how few real Christians were left at the time of Prophet Muhammad (p). Another story illustrating this was that of the Emperor Heraclius, who received a letter from Prophet Muhammad (p). In the account, Heraclius mentions that there are Scriptures in which a Prophet is predicted to come after Jesus (p) and that Prophet Muhammad (p) fits the description.

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