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The life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Muhammad was the Last Messenger of God, sent to complete the religion of Abraham. He was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in the year 570 C.E., during the period of history Europeans call the Middle Ages. Makkah was, and still is, a very important city. About four thousand years ago, God asked Abraham and his son Ishmael to construct a building for His worship in Makkah. This building is called the Kaaba.

As time passed, people forgot the teachings of Abraham and other prophets. They started worshipping idols and some even made statues and pictures of prophets and worshipped them as God. They filled the Kaaba with such idols and images. The Kaaba became the center of idol worshipping for the Arabs who came from all over Arabia to worship the idols. They also forgot the good teachings of Abraham. They mistreated their slaves, widows, and orphans. Women did not have any rights and respect. They cheated each other in business. They fought and killed each other.

Then God raised Muhammad, a direct descendant of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, as His Last Messenger to teach the religion of Abraham once again. His father, Abdullah, died before he was born. His mother, Aminah, had a dream. An angel told her, "Aminah! Your baby will be a great man. You will name him Muhammad." She died when Muhammad was very young, so he was an orphan. He was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib. He never had a chance to go to school to learn to read and write.

When Muhammad grew old enough to work, he became a merchant like his uncle. He was so honest and hard working that he was nicknamed Al-Amin, which meant, the trust-worthy one.

A rich widow named, Khadija, heard about Muhammad’s honesty and hired him. He took a caravan of goods to Syria for her. Khadija sent her slave, Maisarah, with Muhammad. Although no one treated slaves kindly, Muhammad treated Maisarah as if he was his own brother. He returned to Makkah with a big profit. Maisarah told Khadija how kind and gentle he was. Khadija was very impressed by Muhammad and wanted to marry this noble man and they both got married.

Muhammad was not interested in making money. He was concerned with other matters. He loved to do good and to help other people. For example, Khadija had given him a slave named Zaid. Muhammad freed Zaid and treated him like a son. Zaid loved Muhammad so much that he never left him and Muhammad adopted him.

Muhammad hated the idol worshipping and was very unhappy about the evil ways of the Arabs. He wondered a lot about God and the meaning of life. He used to go to a cave, called Hira, near Makkah to be alone to think and pray, sometimes for days at a time. He often thought about the religious ideas he had heard from the Christian and Jewish merchants, and the Arabs from the desert. It was here in the cave, he had an experience that changed his life forever. He was forty years old at that time.

Once, in the month of Ramadan, Muhammad was praying in the cave when Angel Gabriel appeared. The Angel greeted him and commanded, "READ!"

As Muhammad did not know how to read he replied, "I cannot read."

Angel Gabriel squeezed his arm and embraced him tightly and commanded him again, "Read!" Muhammad felt exhausted but his heart was now ready to receive the word of God. The Angel recited the first verses of the Qur’an and Muhammad repeated after him,

Read! In the name of your Lord,
Who created -
Created mankind out of
A leech-like clot of blood.
Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.
The one who taught with the pen.
He taught man what he did not know.
Qur'an (96:1-5)
This was the beginning of the revelations of the Qur’an from God to His Last Prophet. This was the start of Prophet Muhammad’s mission as a Messenger of God. Gradually, in the next twenty-three years, God completed the revelation of His last book, the Qur’an, to teach humanity His religion, Islam. The year was 610 C.E.

Since the Prophet did not know how to read or write, whenever Angel Gabriel brought the messages, the Prophet memorized them, then dictated it to his companions, and were written down by scribes. Not one word of the Qur’an has been changed over the centuries.

At first Muhammad was frightened. He thought that he might be going crazy. His wife, Khadija, had faith that he really had been chosen by God to preach what God wanted people to know, and so she encouraged him.

The Prophet began to preach the message of Islam that there is only One God, whom he called Allah, which is the Arabic word for God. He told people that Allah had no son, no partners, and no parents. Allah is the Ruler and Master, and people must be ready to obey Him.

The leading men of Makkah did not like this, because they loved their idols and made money from all the Arabs who came to Makkah to worship many different gods at the Kaaba. They would lose money if people stopped worshipping idols. They became his enemy.

As the Prophet invited everyone to accept Islam, the non-believers began opposing him more vigorously. The message of Islam was simple and the Prophet did not show any miracles on demand. But God had given him the miracle of the Qur’an.

The Arabs were very proud of their language. Poets and speakers were held in high honor. The Qur’an, in the perfection of its language and the purity of its message, was unique and had no equal. Any one who listened to the Qur’an knew it was so perfect that no human being could have written it. In fact, no one could copy its style. Besides, people knew that Prophet Muhammad could not read or write.

The personality of the Prophet also made a deep impression upon people. Anyone who met him immediately recognized that Muhammad was not an ordinary man. Many people who met Muhammad and listened to the Qur’an became Muslims.

The Prophet suffered all kinds of insults. Thorns were placed in his way. Garbage, dirt, and smelly camels’ intestines were thrown at him. People laughed and mocked him. The Prophet and the Muslims remained patient and prayed to God for help. The non-believers thought that the best way to stop the progress of Islam was to kill the Prophet.

God commanded Prophet Muhammad to leave Makkah and go to a city now called Madina, 220 miles away. There he built a place of worship, called a mosque, and he taught the people about Allah. The year was 622 C.E. This is an important date for Muslims, because this marks as the beginning of the New Islamic Era. The Islamic calendar starts with this event of migration and Madina became the first Islamic State and Community. Now, the Prophet was not only the preacher, he was also the head of the State. Muslims were fortunate to have the Prophet as their leader. He not only taught them to share their few things and care for each other, but he also set a noble example for them. For the next ten years, the Prophet was busy in building a Muslim community.

The Prophet however, faced many challenges in Madina, practical difficulties of making one community of different groups. There were Jews in Madina at that time. He made a written agreement with the Jews, defining the rights and duties of both the Jews and Muslims. It was the first Written Constitution of the World, which showed that Muslims respect other people’s religions and their rights.

Prophet Muhammad dictated letters for the kings and rulers of Rome, Persia, Egypt, Ethiopia and several other rulers and chiefs, inviting them to worship none but Allah.

More and more people started accepting Islam. The Muslims loved peace. In Makkah they had been denied even the most basic human rights. There had been constant threats to their life and security. In Madina they were finally with their Muslim community. Their faith had become firm. There was no fear of their turning to idols. Also, the time had come when Muslims should start thinking of cleaning the House of God, the Kaaba from idols. The Prophet desired that the Kaaba be made the direction of prayer for all the Muslims. A revelation from God told the Prophet,

We have seen the turning of your face for guidance to the Heaven, and now we have made you turn your face (in prayer) toward the direction which is dear to you. So from now on turn your face toward the Kaaba. And O Muslims wherever you may be turn your face in prayer toward it .... (Qur’an 2:144) In 630 CE, the Prophet and the Muslims liberated the City of Makkah, purified the Kaaba, which contained 360 statues of gods and goddesses and re-dedicated it for the worship of the One God forever. The non-believers were afraid that the Prophet would take revenge. Instead, he forgave them and told them they were welcome to stay in Makkah. The non-believers were so touched by the Prophet’s kind and generous character that they became Muslims.

Islam was now the dominant power in Arabia. The year was 632 CE and the Prophet was 63 years old. He declared his intention to go on the pilgrimage. The news spread fast throughout Muslim lands and hundreds and thousands of people from far and near started moving toward the Kaaba. Everybody wanted to be blessed by the company of their beloved Prophet. Little did they know that it was a farewell pilgrimage for the Prophet before his final journey to eternal life. He delivered his last sermon, which is truly the first declaration of human rights. He said: "Each one of you should respect the life and property of each other. Everyone is equal. No one has superiority over another human being. You are all one brotherhood.... "

It was at this time that God sent His revelation informing the Prophet about the completion of his mission. "This day I have perfected for you your religion, and completed my favor upon you and have chosen Islam as your way of life." (Qur’an 5:3). God’s complete and final guidance, the Qur’an was completed. Muslims were very happy to receive this verse. But his close friends understood well that the purpose of his prophethood was fulfilled and his physical presence would not remain much longer in this world. This thought made them sad. The Prophet came back to Madina and spent most of his time in prayer. Three months later he died after a brief illness. He is buried in the Mosque in Madina.

May Peace and Blessings of God always be with him.

After the Prophet’s death, within a century, Islam spread from remote corners of Arabia as far east as Indo-China and as far west as Morocco, France and Spain, virtually the entire known world. And, the spread of the faith continues even today. Islam is the second largest religion in the world as well as in the U.S. There are 1.3 billion Muslims across the globe and over 7 million Muslims in the U.S.

Source: The Messenger of Allah, Makkah and Madina Period, by Mr. & Mrs. Abidullah Ghazi.