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16. Who Started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs?
Chapter 4. Who were the Arabs that started Islam?

4.1. Introduction

Most people agree that the Islam of our world today was started by the Arab man Muhammad and his Arab followers in the early years of the seventh century AD. The process of how this Islam started is very complex and it took several centuries until Islam assumed the form it has today, but it all started out with the Arabs after the year 610 AD.

There are only few atheists or rationalists who in recent years have begun questioning this Muslim faith and who have invented alternative narratives, according to which Muhammad never existed but was thought up by people in Western Asia after the Abbasids took over the rule of the Arab empire in 750 AD. A famous, and for Muslims infamous, project following this type of extreme historical criticism of Muhammad, the Koran and early Islam is the International Inarah Collaboration, which has published their findings in nine volumes since 2005 (each volume between 400 and 930 pages long). We will not follow these deliberations, which its proponents try to make plausible on the basis of scant archeological and paleographical observations.

Here we focus on the standard Muslim dogma about the genesis of Islam. To unfold some of the intricacies and resulting problems, which this standard Muslim dogma entails, we will let our search for an answer as to who started Islam be guided in this chapter by the following questions:

a) Were all Arabians Arabs?
b) How Arabic is the Koran?
c) Who were the first ancestors of the Arabs?
d) Were Abraham and Ishmael Arabs?
e) How did Islam start among the Arabs?

Let us look at each one of these questions separately to see the problems involved.

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