Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq
(Copyright 1990, 1997, 1998 All Rights Reserved)
Prophet Muhammad (s) was born in 570 CE in Makkah (Bakka, Baca, Mecca). His
father, Abdullah, died several weeks before his birth in Yathrib (Medinah) where
he went to visit his father's maternal relatives. His mother died while on the
return journey from Medinah at a place called ‘Abwa’ when he was six years old.
He was raised by his paternal grandfather 'Abd al Muttalib (Shaybah) until the
age of eight, and after his grandfather’s death by Abu Talib, his paternal
uncle. 'Abd al Muttalib's mother, Salma, was a native of Medinah and he was born
and raised as a young boy in Medinah before his uncle Muttalib brought him to
Makkah to succeed him. Many years before Muhammad's birth, 'Abd al Muttalib had
established himself as an influential leader of the Arab tribe ‘Quraish’ in
Makkah and took care of the Holy sanctuary ‘Ka’bah’. Makkah was a city state
well connected to the caravan routes to Syria and Egypt in the north and
northwest and Yemen in the south. Muhammad was a descendant of Prophet Ismail
through the lineage of his second son Kedar.
Ka'bah is the first house of worship built on earth for the worship of Allah,
the One True God. It was re-built (raised from the existing foundation) by
Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael). Allah is the proper name of the
One True God, creator and sustainer of the universe, who does not have a partner
or associate, and He did not beget nor was He begotten. Unlike the word god, the
word Allah does not have a plural or gender.
Under the guardianship of Abu Talib, Muhammad (s) began to earn a living as a
businessman and a trader. At the age of twelve, he accompanied Abu Talib with a
merchant caravan as far as Bostra in Syria. Muhammad was popularly known as
‘al-Ameen’ for his unimpeachable character by the Makkans and visitors alike.
The title Al-Ameen means the Honest, the Reliable and the Trustworthy, and it
signified the highest standard of moral and public life.
Upon hearing of Muhammad’s impressive credentials, Khadijah, a rich merchant
widow, asked Muhammad (s) to take some merchandise for trade to Syria. Soon
after this trip when he was twenty-five, Khadijah proposed marriage to Muhammad
through a relative. Muhammad accepted the proposal. At that time, Khadijah was
twice widowed and forty years old. Khadijah (ra) and Muhammad (s) were the
parents of six children - four daughters and two sons. His first son Qasim died
at the age of two. He was nicknamed Abul Qasim, meaning the father of Qasim. His
second son Abdullah died in infancy. Abdullah was also called affectionately as
‘Tayyab’ and ‘Tahir’ because he was born after Muhammad’s prophethood. The four
daughters were: Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum, and Fatimah (ra).
The Holy sanctuary Ka’bah was now filled with three hundred sixty idols. The
original, pristine message of Prophet Ibrahim was lost, and it was mixed with
superstitions and traditions of pilgrims and visitors from distant places, who
were used to idol worship and myths. In every generation, a small group of men
and women detested the pollution of Ka’bah and kept pure their practice of the
religion taught by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. They used to spend some of their
time away from this polluted environment in retreats to nearby hills.
Muhammad (s) was forty when, during his one of many retreats to Mount Hira for
meditation during the month of Ramadan, he received the first revelation from
the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel). On this first appearance, Gabriel (as) said to
Muhammad: "Iqraa," meaning Read or Recite. Muhammad replied, "I cannot read," as
he had not received any formal education and did not know how to read or write.
The Angel Gabriel then embraced him until he reached the limit of his endurance
and after releasing said: "Iqraa." Muhammad’s answer was the same as before.
Gabriel repeated the embrace for the third time, asked him to repeat after him
"Recite in the name of your Lord who created! He created man from that which
clings. Recite; and thy Lord is most Bountiful, He who has taught by the pen,
taught man what he knew not."
These revelations are the first five verses of Surah (chapter) 96 of the Qur’an.
Thus it was in the year 610 CE the revelation began.
Muhammad (s) was terrified by the whole experience of the revelation and fled
the cave of Mt. Hira [Qur'an 81:19-29]. When he reached his home, tired and
frightened, he asked his wife: ‘cover me, cover me,’ in a blanket. After his awe
had somewhat abated, his wife Khadijah asked him about the reason of his great
anxiety and fear. She then assured him by saying: "Allah (The One God) will not
let you down because you are kind to relatives, you speak only the truth, you
help the poor, the orphan and the needy, and you are an honest man. Khadijah
then consulted with her cousin Waraqa who was an old, saintly man possessing
knowledge of previous revelations and scriptures. Waraqa confirmed to her that
the visitor was none other than the Angel Gabriel who had come to Moses. He then
added that Muhammad is the expected Prophet. Khadijah accepted the revelation as
truth and was the first person to accept Islam. She supported her husband in
every hardship, most notably during the three-year ‘boycott’ of the Prophet’s
clan by the pagan Quraish. She died at the age of sixty-five in the month of
Ramadan soon after the lifting of the boycott in 620 CE.
Gabriel (as) visited the Prophet as commanded by Allah revealing Ayat (meaning
signs, loosely referred to as verses) in Arabic over a period of twenty-three
years. The revelations that he received were sometimes a few verses, a part of a
chapter or the whole chapter. Some revelations came down in response to an
inquiry by the nonbelievers. The revealed verses were recorded on a variety of
available materials (leather, palm leaves, bark, shoulder bones of animals),
memorized as soon as they were revealed, and were recited in daily prayers by
Muslims [Qur'an 80:13-16]. Angel Gabriel taught the order and arrangement of
verses, and the Prophet instructed his several scribes to record verses in that
order [Qur'an 75:16-19 and 41:41-42]. Once a year, the Prophet used to recite
all the verses revealed to him up to that time to Gabriel to authenticate the
accuracy of recitation and the order of verses [Qur'an 17:106]. All the revealed
verses (over a period of 23 years and ending in 632 CE) were compiled in the
book known as Qur’an. The name Qur’an appears in the revealed verses. The Qur’an
does not contain even a word from the Prophet. The Qur'an speaks in the first
person, i.e., Allah's commandments to His creation. Gabriel also visited the
Prophet throughout his mission informing and teaching him of events and strategy
as needed to help in the completion of the prophetic mission. The Prophet’s
sayings, actions, and approvals are recorded separately in collections known as
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (s) was to restore the worship of the One True
God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, as taught by Prophet Ibrahim and
all Prophets of God, and to demonstrate and complete the laws of moral, ethical,
legal, and social conduct and all other matters of significance for the humanity
The first few people who followed this message were: his cousin Ali, his servant
Zayd ibn Harithah, his friend Abu Bakr and his wife and daughters. They accepted
Islam by testifying that:
"There is no Deity (worthy of worship) except Allah (The One True God) and
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
Islam means peace by submission and obedience to the Will and Commandments of
God and those who accept Islam are called Muslims, meaning those who have
accepted the message of peace by submission to God.
In the first three years of his mission forty people (men and women) accepted
Islam. This small group comprised of youth as well as older people from a wide
range of economic and social background. The Prophet was directed by a recent
revelation to start preaching Islam to everyone. He then began to recite
revelations to people in public and invite them to Islam. The Quraish, leaders
of Makkah, took his preaching with hostility. The most hostile and closest to
the prophet was his uncle Abu Lahab and his wife. Initially, they and other
leaders of Quraish tried to bribe him with money and power including an offer to
make him king if he were to abandon his message. When this did not work, they
tried to convince his uncle Abu Talib to accept the best young man of Makkah in
place of Muhammad and to allow them to kill Muhammad. His uncle tried to
persuade the Prophet to stop preaching but the Prophet said: "O uncle, if they
were to put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to stop me
from preaching Islam, I would never stop. I will keep preaching until Allah
makes Islam prevail or I die."
The Quraish began to persecute Muslims by beating, torture and boycott of their
businesses. Those who were weak, poor or slaves were publicly tortured. The
first person to die by this means was a Muslim women by the name Umm Ammar (the
mother of Ammar Ibn Yasir). The Muslims from well-to-do families were physically
restrained in their homes with the condition that if they recant they will be
allowed freedom of movement. The Prophet was publicly ridiculed and humiliated
including frequent throwing of filth on him in the street and while he prayed in
the Ka’bah. In spite of great hardships and no apparent support, the message of
Islam kept all Muslims firm in their belief. The Prophet was asked by God to be
patient and to preach the message of Qur’an. He advised Muslims to remain
patient because he did not receive any revelation yet to retaliate against their
When the persecution became unbearable for most Muslims, the Prophet advised
them in the fifth year of his mission (615 CE) to emigrate to Abyssinia (modern
Ethiopia) where Ashabah (Negus, a Christian) was the ruler. Eighty people, not
counting the small children, emigrated in small groups to avoid detection. No
sooner had they left the Arabian coastline, the leaders of Quraish discovered
their flight. They decided to not leave these Muslims in peace, and immediately
sent two of their envoys to Negus to bring all of them back. However, Negus
allowed them to stay under his protection after he investigated Muslim belief
and heard the revelations about Jesus and Mary (peace be upon them both), which
appears in Chapter 19, entitled Mary, of the Qur’an. The emigrants were allowed
freedom of worship in Abyssinia.
The Quraish then made life even more difficult for the Prophet by implementing
total ban on contact with the Prophet’s family (Bani Hashim and Muttalib). The
ban lasted for three years without the desired effect. Just before the ban was
lifted, the Prophet was contacted by the leaders of Quraish to agree to a
compromise under which they should all practice both religions (i.e., Islam and
Idolatry). Upon hearing this, the Prophet recited a revelation (Chapter 109) he
had just received and which ends with the words: "... For you your religion and
for me mine." The ban was lifted when leaders of Quraish discovered that their
secret document on the terms of ban, which they had stored in Ka’bah, was eaten
by worms and all that was left were the opening words ‘In Your name, O Allah.’
The effects of the three-year boycott left the Prophet with more personal sorrow
when he lost his beloved wife Khadijah (ra) and uncle Abu Talib soon after the
ban was lifted.
After Khadijah's death in 620 CE, the Prophet married a widowed Muslim woman,
Sawdah (ra) who was fifty years old. She and her husband had emigrated to
Abyssinia in the early years of persecution. After her husband died, she came
back to Makkah and sought Prophet’s shelter. The Prophet, recognizing her
sacrifices for Islam, extended his shelter by marrying her. Later in the same
year, the Prophet upon receiving the divine command in a dream, after approval
of Sawdah, contracted marriage to A’ishah, the daughter of his dear companion
Abu Bakr. She joined the Prophet in Medinah, completing the marriage contract.
Sawdah and A’ishah (ra) were the only wives until he was fifty-six years old.
After the death of his uncle Abu Talib, the Prophet went to Taif (about 50 miles
east, southeast of Makkah) to seek their protection. They flatly refused and
mocked at him, and severely injured him by inciting their children to throw
stones at him. Gabriel (as) visited the Prophet here suggesting that the angels
were ready to destroy the town if he were to ask Allah for the punishment.
Nevertheless, the Prophet declined and prayed for future generations of Taif to
accept Islam [Taif]. It was on the return journey from Taif that the verses from
Surah Al Jinn (Chapter 72) were revealed. It indicated that the Qur’an is a book
of guidance to both the Jinns and Humankind.
Soon after the terrible disappointment at Ta’if, the prophet experienced the
events of al-Israa and al-Miraaj (621 CE). In the Al-Israa, Gabriel (as) took
the Prophet from the sacred Mosque near Ka’bah to the furthest (al-Aqsa) mosque
in Jerusalem in a very short time in the latter part of a night. Here, Prophet
Muhammad met with previous Prophets (Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others) and he
led them in prayer. After this, in Al-Miraj, the Prophet was taken up to heavens
to show the signs of God [More... The Dome of the Rock]. It was on this journey
that five daily prayers were prescribed. He was then taken back to Ka’bah, the
whole experience lasting a few hours of a night. Upon hearing this, the people
of Makkah mocked at him. However, when his specific description of Jerusalem,
other things on the way, and the caravan that he saw on this journey including
its expected arrival in Makkah turned out to be true, the ridicule of the
nonbelievers stopped. The event of Israa and Miraaj is mentioned in the Qur’an -
the first verse of Chapter 17 entitled ‘The Children of Israel.’
In 622 CE, the leaders of the Quraish decided to kill the Prophet and they
developed a plan in which one man was chosen from each of the Quraish tribes and
they were to attack the Prophet simultaneously. Gabriel informed the Prophet of
the plan and instructed him to leave Makkah immediately. The Prophet, after
making arrangements to return the properties entrusted to him by several
nonbelievers, left with Abu Bakr in the night he was to be assassinated. They
went south of Makkah to a mountain cave of Thawr [see Qur'an 9:40], and after
staying three nights they traveled north to Yathrib (Medinah) about two hundred
fifty miles from Makkah. Upon discovery of his escape, the leaders of Quraish
put up a reward of one hundred camels on him, dead or alive. In spite of all
their best scouts and search parties, Allah protected the Prophet and he arrived
safely in Quba, a suburb of Medinah [Qur'an 28:85]. This event is known as the
‘Hijra’ (migration) and the Islamic calendar begins with this event. The people
of Aws and Khazraj in Medinah greeted him with great enthusiasm in accordance
with their pledge made at Aqaba less than a year ago during the annual
pilgrimage. One by one those Muslims (men and women) of Makkah who were not
physically restrained, and who could make a secret exit, left for Medinah
leaving behind their properties and homes.
To insure the peace and tranquility, the Prophet proposed a treaty defining
terms of conduct for all inhabitants of Medinah. It was ratified by all -
Muslims, non-Muslim Arabs and Jews. After his emigration to Medinah, the enemies
of Islam increased their assault from all sides. The Battles of Badr, Uhud and
Allies (Trench) were fought near or around Medinah. In these battles until the
year 627 CE, the nonbelievers with encouragement from Jews and other Arabian
tribes attacked the Prophet and Muslim community. The Muslims while defending
their city and religion lost many men, which resulted in many widowed Muslim
women and numerous orphaned children. In these circumstances, Prophet Muhammad
(s) married several women during fifty-sixth year up to the sixtieth year of his
life. He did not contract any marriage in the last three years of his life,
following the revelation limiting the number of wives up to a maximum of four.
This is the first time in the history of revealed scriptures that a limit on the
number of wives was imposed and the terms of conduct were specified. The Prophet
was instructed not to divorce any of his wives after this revelation [Qur'an
33:52]. All of the ladies he took as wives were either widowed or divorced,
The Prophet married Umm Salamah (ra) in 626 CE. Her husband had died of wounds
inflicted in the Battle of Uhud (625 CE). When the Prophet asked her for
marriage, she replied: "O Messenger of God, I suffer from three shortcomings. I
am a very jealous woman, and I am afraid this might cause me to do things that
you dislike. Secondly, I am an old woman. Finally, I have many children." The
Prophet answered: "Regarding your jealousy, I pray to God to remove it from you.
As for your age, we are similar in age. As for the children, your children are
mine." Thus it was that she agreed to marry the Prophet. The Prophet’s marriage
contract with Umm Habibah (ra) was solemnized, by proxy, by Negus, King of
Abyssinia, in 628 CE.
Two of his wives, Juwayriah and Safiyah, were prisoners of war. Both belonged to
the family of the chief of their tribes and were set free by the Prophet; they
then gladly accepted Islam and were pleased to become the Prophet’s wives. The
Prophet’s marriages provided security to women who would have otherwise remained
unmarried, unprotected, or felt humiliated. His marriages were also a means of
transmitting important teachings of Islam. The Prophet's wives, called the
"Mothers of the Believers,"[Qur'an Surah 33, Verse 6 and the last part of Verse
53] showed themselves as examples of proper Muslim womanhood. All his wives,
especially 'Aishah, transmitted many ahadith (sayings, deeds, and actions) from
Prophet Muhammad (s).
A year after the Battle of Allies (Trench), the Prophet and fifteen hundred of
his companions left for Makkah to perform the annual pilgrimage (628 CE). They
were barred from approaching the city at Hudaybiyah, where after some
negotiations a treaty was signed allowing for them to come next year. This
treaty facilitated exchange of ideas among the people of the whole region
without interference. Many delegations from all regions of Arabia came to the
Prophet to investigate the teachings of Islam, and a large number of people
accepted Islam within a couple of years. The Prophet sent many of his companions
(who memorized the Qur'an by heart) to new communities to instruct them about
the practice of Islam. More than fifty of them were murdered by non-believers.
A few weeks after Hudaybiyah the Prophet sent letters to several kings and
rulers (including the two superpowers - Byzantines and Persians) inviting them
to Islam. Negus, the king of Abyssinia, and the Ruler of Bahrain accepted Islam,
and Emperor Heraclius acknowledged Muhammad’s Prophethood. Among rulers who
accepted Islam but without any initiative from the Prophet was Chakrawati
Farmas, a Hindu King of Malabar (located on the southwest coast of India).
About two years later at the end of 629 CE, the Quraish violated the terms of
the Treaty of Hudaybiyah by helping Banu Bakr in the surprise attack on Bani
Khuza’ah who were allied with the Prophet. Some of Bani Khuzah’s men escaped and
took shelter in Makkah and they sought redress. However, the leaders of Quraish
did nothing. They then sent a message to the Prophet for help.
The Prophet, after confirming all the reports of the attack and subsequent
events, marched to Makkah with an army consisting of three thousand Muslims of
Medinah and Muslims from other Arab communities that joined him on the way
totaling ten thousand Muslims. Before entering the city he sent word to citizens
of Makkah that anyone who remained in his home, or in Abu Sufyan’s home, or in
the Ka’bah would be safe. The army entered Makkah without fighting and the
Prophet went directly to the Ka’bah. He magnified Allah for the triumphant entry
in the Holy city. The Prophet pointed at each idol with a stick he had in his
hand and said, "Truth has come and Falsehood will neither start nor will it
reappear" [Qur'an 17:81]. And one by one the idols fell down. The Ka’bah was
then cleansed by the removal of all three hundred sixty idols, and it was
restored to its pristine status for the worship of One True God (as built by
Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail).
The people of the city expected general slaughter in view of their persecution
and torture of Muslims for the past twenty years. While standing by the Ka'bah,
the Prophet (s) promised clemency for the Makkans, stating: "O Quraish, what do
you think that I am about to do with you?" They replied, "Good. You are a noble
brother, son of a noble brother." The Prophet forgave them all saying:
"I will treat you as Prophet Yousuf (Joseph) treated his brothers. There is no
reproach against you. Go to your homes, and you are all free."
The Prophet also declared:
Allah made Makkah holy the day He created heavens and earth, and it is the
holy of holies until the Resurrection Day. It is not lawful for anyone who
believes in Allah and the last day to shed blood therein, nor to cut down
trees therein. It was not lawful to anyone before me and it will not be lawful
to anyone after me.
The people of Makkah then accepted Islam including the staunch enemies of the
Prophet. A few of the staunchest enemies and military commanders had fled Makkah
after his entry. However, when they received the Prophet’s assurance of no
retaliation and no compulsion in religion, they came back and gradually the
message of Islam won their hearts. Within a year (630 CE), almost all Arabia
accepted Islam. Among the Prophet’s close companions were Muslims from such
diverse background as Persia, Abyssinia, Syria and Rome. Several prominent
Jewish Rabbis, Christian bishop and clergymen accepted Islam after discussions
with the Prophet.
One night in March 630 CE, Angel Gabriel visited the Prophet and addressed him
as: "O father of Ibrahim." A few hours later, the Prophet received the news of
the birth of his son from his wife Mariah, and the Prophet named him Ibrahim. He
was the only child born after the six children from Prophet’s first wife
Khadijah. Ibrahim died when he was ten months old. On the day of Ibrahim's
death, there was an eclipse of the sun. When some people began to attribute it
to the Prophet's bereavement, he said: "The sun and the moon are two signs of
the signs of God. Their light is not dimmed for any man's death. If you see them
eclipsed, you should pray until they be clear."
The great change in Arabia alarmed the two superpowers, Byzantines and Persians.
Their Governors, particularly the Byzantines, reacted with threats to attack
Medinah. Instead of waiting, the prophet sent a small army to defend the
northmost border of Arabia. In the remaining life of the Prophet, all of the
major battles were fought on the northern front. The Prophet did not have a
standing army. Whenever he received a threat, he called the Muslims and
discussed with them the situation and gathered volunteers to fight any
The Prophet performed his first and last pilgrimage in 632 CE. One hundred
twenty-thousand men and women performed pilgrimage that year with him. The
Prophet received the last revelation during this pilgrimage. Two months later,
Prophet Muhammad (s) fell ill and after several days died on Monday, 12 Rabi
al-Awwal, the eleventh year after Hijra (June 8, 632 CE) in Medinah. He is
buried in the same place where he died.
Prophet Muhammad lived a most simple, austere and modest life. He and his family
used to go without cooked meal several days at a time, relying only on dates,
dried bread and water. During the day he was the busiest man, as he performed
his duties in many roles all at once as head of state, chief justice,
commander-in-chief, arbitrator, instructor and family man. He was the most
devoted man at night. He used to spend one- to two-thirds of every night in
prayer and meditation. The Prophet's possession consisted of mats, blankets,
jugs and other simple things even when he was the virtual ruler of Arabia. He
left nothing to be inherited except a white mule (a gift from Muqawqis), few
ammunition and a piece of land that he had made a gift during his life time.
Among his last words were: "We the community of Prophets are not inherited.
Whatever we leave is for charity."
Muhammad (s) was a man and a messenger of Allah (The One God). He is the last of
the prophets [Qur'an 33:40] sent by Allah to guide man to the right path; Adam
was the first Prophet. The Qur’an mentions twenty-five Prophets by name and
provides a great insight of their mission, struggle and their communities. The
Qur’an exonerates prophets from charges leveled against them in previous
Scriptures. The Qur’an also mentions four previously revealed Scriptures: Suhoof
(Pages) of Ibrahim (Abraham), Taurat ('Torah') as revealed to Prophet Moses,
Zuboor ('Psalms') as revealed to Prophet David, and Injeel ('Evangel') as
revealed to Prophet Jesus (pbuh). Islam requires belief in all prophets and
revealed scriptures (original, non-corrupted) as part of the Articles of Faith.
Muhammad (s) is greatly respected as the model of Qur’anic behavior. Muslims
mention his name by adding "peace be upon him," a phrase used with the name of
all prophets [e.g., Qur'an Surah 37: verses 79, 109, 120 and 130; also 33:56].
All sincere Muslims try to follow the Qur’an and the Prophet’s example to minute
details. The account of every aspect of his life has been preserved (numerous
daily accounts including his family life). Prophet Muhammad (s) has served as an
example for all Muslims in all periods to modern times. He will remain a model
example for all of humanity.
At the end of his mission, the Prophet was blessed with several hundred thousand
followers (men and women) of Islam. Thousands prayed with him at the mosque and
listened to his sermon. Hundreds of sincere Muslims would find every opportunity
to be with him following five daily prayers and at other times. They used to
seek his advice for their everyday problems, and listened attentively to the
interpretation and application of revealed verses to their situation. They
followed the message of the Qur’an and the Messenger of Allah with utmost
sincerity, and supported him with every thing they had. The most excellent among
them are Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, Ali, Talha, Zubair, 'Abdur Rahman ibn Auf,
S'ad bin Abi Waqqas, S'ad bin Zaid, Abu 'Ubeidah, Hasan, Hussain, and several
dozen others. They faithfully carried the message of Islam after the Prophet,
and within ninety years the light of Islam reached Spain, North Africa, the
Caucasus, northwest China and India.
Allah: Allah is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The
Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and
Jews for the God (Eloh-im in Hebrew; 'Allaha' in Aramaic, the mother tongue of
Jesus, pbuh). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Allah does not
have any associate or partner, and He does not beget nor was He begotten. SWT
is an abbreviation of Arabic words that mean 'Glory Be To Him.'
s or pbuh: Peace Be Upon Him. This expression is used for all Prophets of
ra: Radiallahu Anha (May Allah be pleased with her).
ra: Radiallahu Anhu (May Allah be pleased with him).