March 26th 1830: The Book of Mormon is published
On this day in 1830, the Book of Mormon was first published at E.B Grandin’s New York bookstore. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr, claimed that he had been visited by an angel called Moroni who told him of ancient writings on golden plates which described people who God led to the Western hemisphere before the birth of Jesus Christ. Smith said he was told by Moroni to translate the plates into English and publish them. Smith initially struggled to find someone to publish the book as many considered it risky, fraudulent and blasphemous. Smith and his friend Martin Harris began work on translating the Book of Mormon, but when Harris’s wife stole some pages, work halted. Translation recommenced in 1829 and was soon finished and ready for publication in March 1830. It had taken eight men and boys working 12 hours a day, six days a week, for almost eight months to print the 5,000 copies. Upon the book’s publication Smith said he returned the plates to Moroni. The building in New York where the Book of Mormon was first published and sold is now the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.
(map of the religious sites of Mecca from 1787)
On this day in 630 AD the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), founder of Islam, led an army of 10,000 men to conquer Mecca, Saudi Arabia. At the time of Muhammad’s birth in Mecca in 570, the city was ruled by the pagan Quraysh tribe. In 610, Muhammad is said to have begun recieving divine revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel. He then began to preach this new religion which focussed on one god: Allah. This posed a challenge to the paganism of the Quraysh tribe, who persecuted Muhammad and his followers. This conflict lasted for years, with the two frequently clashing in battle, until 628 when they negotiated the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in which the Quraysh promised to cease fighting and to allow the Muslims into Mecca for pilgrimage.
However the Quraysh did not hold to this Treaty and in 630 slaughtered a group of Muslims. Therefore, Muhammad gathered his army of 10,000 and marched to Mecca; the city swiftly surrendered. Muhammad then declared amnesty for the people of Mecca, but destroyed the pagan imagery and ‘Islamized’ the area to devote it to the worship of the one God. He also decreed that no non-Muslim was to be allowed into the city.
Muhammad declared Mecca the holiest site in Islam, and made it the centre of Muslim pilgrimage. A pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muhammad died in 632, but the faith he had begun spread rapidly, and soon became one of the leading world religions.