Read the two responses to the question 'How far was Muhammad influenced by his background?'. Discuss why response A is a non-evaluative answer while response B is an evaluative answer?

Response A

1Some argue that Muhammad was influenced by, and accepted some of his context and background

2For example he came into contact with the idea of absolute monotheism through his contact with Judaism and his awareness of Christianity. In addition, the existing tribal moral codes and social values that were positive became a model for the Ummah. As did the idea of support for the weak in society

3Others argue that Muhammad also rejected some of his context and background. For example, he rejected anything short of absolute monotheism. He was also critical of the immoral behavior of the time and in particular protected women. Finally, he also rejected the cruelty and neglect of the weak in society.

4In conclusion I think that Muhammad was influenced by his background because a person always accepts and takes things for granted because of their upbringing.

Response B

5It can be argued that whoever we are we are influenced by our context and background; Muhammad was no different. The point is that we are all influenced to different extents. Therefore, in relation to Muhammad we need to to discover which aspects of his background influenced him the most and also the extent of this; in addition, we can attempt to establish which aspects of his background were rejected and the clear reasons why this was so

6The message that Muhammad brought was one of absolute monotheism; whilst this was not totally new, due to his contact with Judaism and his awareness of Christianity, it can be seen it was certainly new to the Arab tribes and people in Makkah who were polythiestic. 7This, then, appears to be one factor of major influence but at the same time an innovation for Makkans as it was an outright rejection of his immediate religious context.

8It is also evident from the existence of a tight tribal network based upon specific codes of behavior, that Muhammad did not just accept everything he encountered. Immorality was rejected outright, as was the neglect of both women and the poor. This was certainly a brave move away from his own social background; however, he also did recognize that there were certain values in tribal society that were valuable such as ‘honour’ and the idea of a close knit community who supported one another. These ideas can clearly be seem in the later development of the Ummah

9Overall, Muhammad was influenced, there is no doubt of this; however, at a closer look we can argue that he was not controlled by this influence and this is the crucial difference. This enabled him to use his immediate context and relate to it in order develop his own innovative and introduce the message revealed to him into society.