The Holy Prophet Muhammad Pbuh Essay

This article is from the second edition of Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source. The book is now in its third edition.

Prophet Muhammad was born in 570 CE (Common Era) in the city of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula, part of modern day Saudi Arabia. As his father had died shortly after marriage, his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib became his guardian. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was the respected head of the clan of Hashim and the tribe of Quraysh, to which his clan belonged. With the Quraysh being the biggest and most influential tribe in Mecca, ‘Abd al-Muttalib was seen as the master of all of Mecca. The Quraysh had a special status in Mecca because they used to be in charge of the sacred Ka’ba. The Qur’an tells us that this holy edifice was built by Prophets Abraham and his son Ishmael:

And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House [Abraham prayed]: “Our Lord! Accept from us; surely You are the Hearing, the Knowing (2.127). Our Lord! Make us Muslims and raise from our offspring a nation of Muslims. Show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Surely, Your are the Relenting, the Merciful” (2.128).

This means that the Ka’ba was built around 1900 BCE, which is when Abraham is thought to have lived. The Ka’ba maintained its venerable status as the destination of pilgrimage in the eyes of the pilgrims and the Arab population of the Arabian Peninsula down the centuries. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was personally in charge of the Ka’ba.

The Prophet was only about five to six years old when he lost his mother. Orphan Muhammad then lost his grandfather and custodian ‘Abd al-Muttalib at the age of eight. Now one of ‘Abd al-Muttalib’s sons, AbuTalib, became the guardian of his orphan nephew. Though respected by the clan of Hashim and the people of Mecca in general, AbuTalib did not possess the high status and influence of his father. Had he been more fortunate financially, he might have aspired to acquire that special leadership status.

When Muhammad was twenty five years old, he was hired by a woman called Khadija to take her merchandize to Syria. Khadija, a widow fifteen years Muhammad’s senior, later proposed marriage to him, which he agreed to. They lived together for almost a quarter of a century, until the death of Khadija about 8-9 years after the revelation of the Qur’an.

It is interesting to note that Muhammad did not get married to any other woman during Khadija’s life, despite the fact that polygamy was common practice in that society. Living out his youth with only one woman in that highly polygamous environment contradicts Muhammad’s lecherous image in the Western mind.

Muhammad was deeply interested in matters beyond this mundane life. He used to frequent a cave that became known as “Hira‘” on the Mountain of “Nur” (light) for contemplation. The cave itself, which survived the times, gives a very vivid image of Muhammad’s spiritual inclinations. Resting on the top of one of the mountains north of Mecca, the cave is completely isolated from the rest of the world. In fact, it is not easy to find at all even if one knew it existed. After visiting the cave, I found myself concluding that Muhammad must have been divinely guided to that hideaway, even if he had chosen it consciously. Once inside the cave, it is a total isolation. Nothing can be seen other than the clear, beautiful sky above and the many surrounding mountains. Very little of this world can be seen or heard from inside the cave. The inhabitant of that cave was obviously interested in things beyond this world and its material riches.

It was in that cave in 610 CE, i.e. at the age of forty, that Prophet Muhammad received from Allah the first verses of the Qur’an. Then and there, history changed.

The Qur’an continued to be revealed in fragments to Prophet Muhammad over the following twenty two years. The last words of the Book were revealed to the Prophet shortly before his death in 632 CE. We will read more about the Qur’an in section 2.2.

In the first two to three years after the revelation, the Prophet preached Islam secretly to individuals whom he trusted. When he started calling people to Islam publicly, the new religion gradually attracted more people but, not surprisingly, also increasing hostility from the idol worshipping population of Mecca. The Prophet was subjected to harassment and abuse. However, armed with patience, resilience, and determination, and protected by his uncle AbuTalib and the clan of Hashim, the Prophet was able to carry on preaching the new faith to people.

Converts to Islam, some of whom were slaves, had to suffer all kinds of persecution, including brutal torture and murder, at the hands of the enemies of the new religion in Mecca. In 614 CE, the Prophet had to instruct a group of Muslims to escape the persecution to Abyssinia and seek the protection of its just Christian king. The Quraysh then sent a delegation to the king, carrying precious gifts, to secure the extradition of the Muslim refugees. The king, however, rejected the bribe and let the Muslims stay in Abyssinia.

One year later, the Quraysh imposed economic and social sanctions on the Prophet, his followers, and his clan. As a result, the Muslims withdrew to a mountain in Mecca. The sanctions lasted about three years before collapsing in 618/619 CE without achieving their goals.

Soon afterward, the Prophet lost his wife Khadija. Matters got worse quickly with the death of his uncle and protector. Prophet Muhammad started to suffer more from the disbelievers’ relentless attempts to uproot Islam and destroy its followers. During the pilgrimage season in 622 CE, Muhammad met in Mecca with a number of chiefs from the city of Yathrib, where he had previously sent some Muslims to settle in. Having converted to Islam, the chiefs made a secret pledge to protect the Prophet should the Quraysh try to kill him.

However, the Quraysh learned about the agreement, so the people from Yathrib had to return quickly to their city. Sensing that the danger to Muslims has increased, Muhammad instructed them to immigrate individually or in small groups to Yathrib. The Qurayshites tried to prevent Muslims from fleeing Mecca to Yathrib, but the converts continued to sneak out gradually.

The continuing immigration of Muslims to Yathrib where they had allies was already very bad news for the Qurayshites. This could yet get much worse if Muhammad also would move to that city. They decided that they had no other option but to kill him.

The various clans of the tribe of Quraysh agreed to act as one and assassinate the Prophet while asleep. The idea behind acting collectively was that no one party could be blamed for the killing and become embroiled in a war of vengeance with the clan of Hashim.

The assassination plan, however, was sabotaged by divine intervention. The night the murder was planned to take place, Allah informed His Prophet of the danger and ordered him to secretly leave Mecca and head to the city of Yathrib. The latter became known as “al-Madina al-Munawwara” (the illuminated city), or “al-Madina” for brief, after the arrival of the Prophet.

This famous event, known as the “Hijra ” (immigration), occurred in 622 CE, about twelve years after the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an. This flight was destined to have far-reaching consequences in establishing the Islamic community, strengthening the position of Islam, and spreading its message.

The Prophet lived in al-Madina for about ten years. By the time of his departure from this world in 632 CE, Islam had become well established as the religion of the Arabian Peninsula and had made inroads in neighboring regions; Muslims had become a major force to be reckoned with in the area.

There are a number of good, detailed English biographies of Prophet Muhammad. One biography written by a non-Muslim is Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (London: Phoenix Press, 2001). Another one written by a Muslim is Martin Lings’ Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Inner Traditions Intl Ltd, 1987).

For easy reference, this is a short chronology of major events in the life of Prophet Muhammad:

Date (CE)

Event

570

Birth of the Prophet in Mecca. His father was already dead when he was born.

575-576

The death of the Prophet’s mother.

578

The death of the Prophet’s grandfather and custodian ‘Abd al-Muttalib. The Prophet’s uncle AbuTalib became his guardian.

610

The first revelation of the Qur’an.

612-613

The Prophet started calling people to Islam publicly.

614

The first immigration of Muslims to Abyssinia escaping the persecution of the idol-worshipping Meccans. They stayed there for three months. A second immigration to Abyssinia, involving more Muslims, took place later on. This time, the immigrants stayed in Abyssinia until 628 CE when they rejoined the Prophet in al-Madina.

615

The tribe of Quraysh imposed economic and social sanctions on Muslims and the clan of Prophet Muhammad, Hashim.

618-619

The collapse of the sanctions.

618-619

The death of AbuTalib, the Prophet’s uncle, triggering increased hostility from the Meccans toward the Prophet.

622

The emigration of the Prophet from Mecca to al-Madina.

624

The first major battle of the Muslims against the disbelievers, known as the battle of Badr.

630

The Muslims conquered Mecca without fighting.

632

The last revelation of the Qur’an.

632

The departure of the Prophet from this world in al-Madina.

Copyright © 2004 Louay Fatoohi
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A prophet means a messenger of God to mankind. The mission of a prophet’s life is to spread the Word of God. The total number of such prophets is one lac and twenty four thousand. The Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) was the last messenger of God to the whole world.

The Holy Prophet was born in Arabia‘ in 571 A. D. He was named Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The Arabs were a race  of wild tribes. They led a cruel life. They burried their newly-born  daughters alive. They ill-treated women, orphans and slaves. They worshipped Idols.  They were addicted to wine, adultery gambling, and bloody quarrels.

The Holy Prophet was sent by God to set these bad people right. He hated their cruel ways. He worked hard to reform them. He changed their habits and manners by his own shinning example.  He taught them to speak the truth, to showed, mercy to the poor and the sufferers to respect women and to be kind to children.

At the age of forty, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had revelations. By dint of this high character, nobility of mind, his truthfulness and broad humanity he gained some disciples. He began his great missionary work and started preaching the gospel of God. His followers grew from day to day. The Holy Prophet was called Sadiq (Truthful) and Ameen (Trustee) even by his enemies because of his honesty and straight-forwardness.

The Prophet married a widow Khadija by name who embraced Islam and stood by the Holy Prophet throughout her life.

The old idol-worshippers tried their best to harm and tease him. They wanted even to kill him. The Prophet fled to Madina in the company of Hazrat Abu Bakar, This day of exodus marks the dawn of the Islamic Hijra (Exodus).

Madina became the centre of the Islamic activity of the Prophet. He gained many followers there. He mobilised them into a small army. He challenged several hundred of thousands of his enemies with the help of that small band and inflicted defeat after defeat upon them. At Iast the Holy Prophet entered Makkah as a victor. He showed grace and mercy to all the Makkans and proclaimed  general amnesty. Thus he set a shining example of humanity and high mindedness before the world.

The Prophet taught his followers a simple code of life. He wanted them to live peacefuly, serve others, speak the truth and help the needy. His life is a living source of inspirations to the world.

Lives of great men all remind us.

We can make our lives subime.

And departing leave behind us.

Footprints on the sands of time.

No life – history of any man has such an inspiring record of the day-to-day events as the simple but stirring story of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

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