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Muhammad (PBUH) (Blessings and Peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi’ Al-Awwal (2 August C.E). His mother, Aminah was the daughter of Wahb bin Abd Al-Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, Abdullah, was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib. His genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Isma’il, the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) (May Peace be upon him) in about the fortieth descent. Muhammad’s father had died before his birth and his mother died when he was about six years old making him an orphan. In accordance with the tradition of noble families of Makkah, he was taken by a foster mother, Halimah, to her village where he lived for a few years. During these years he was taken to Makkah several times to visit his mother. After the death of his mother, he was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib. When the grandfather died, he was under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. By this time he used to look after sheep around Makkah and used to accompany his uncle on trade journeys to Syria.
In his youth he believed firmly in the Oneness of Allah (God)(SWT). He lived a very simple life and hated vanity and pride. He was compassionate to the poor, widows and orphans and shared their sufferings by helping them. He avoided all vices, which were commonly practiced among young people such as gambling, drinking wine, vulgarity and others. He was well-known as As-Sadiq (the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy). He was always trusted as a mediator between two conflicting parties in his homeland, Makkah.
When he was about 25 years old, his uncle urged him to work with the caravan which belonged to a wealthy widow named Khadijah. He accepted and undertook the journey to Syria. He conducted business with such prudence and sense of duty that he returned with larger profit than usual. Khadijah was so impressed by the honest and attractive personality of Muhammad (PBUH) that she offered to marry him which Muhammad (PBUH) accepted. This marriage was a happy one. They had children. Khadijah was so far his only wife until she died at the age of 51.
Muhammad (PBUH) was born amidst a polytheistic (unbeliever) society. He was saddened and sick of the corrupt society around him. He often went to Hira cave in the mountain near Makkah, later known as Jabal An-nur (the mountain of Light) where he meditated and pondered over the prevailing darkness brought about by ignorance. There he often remained deep in thought in communion with the unseen yet All-Pervading God of the Universe. One night, while he was meditating in the Hira cave, the Angel Gabriel (peace be upon him) came to him. The Angel aroused him and his mighty voice reverberated in his ears. He was perplexed and did not know what to do. He was asked to read. He replied: “I cannot read!” The Angel repeated three times asking Muhammad (PBUH) to read, but he replied the same answer. Finally the Angel asked:
[Read in the name of your Lord , who created man from a clot. Read in the name of your God, the Most Bountiful, who taught by means of the pen, and taught man what he did not know.] (Qur’an 96: 1-5)
This was the first revelation received by Muhammad (PBUH). He was 40 years old at that time. The revelation continued to come to him from time to time in a period of 23 years. These series of revelation were arranged according to the divine guidance given to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and later collected in the form of a Mushaf (book) the Qur’an (Reading). Most of its verses have clear meaning. Some verses are interpreted in conjunction with other verses and some others were interpreted by the Prophet (PBUH) himself through his words, actions and agreements which are known as his Sunnah (Traditions). The Qur’an and the Sunnah together constitute the guidance and way of life for those who submit their life to Allah (God) (SWT). People who follow this guidance and way of life are guaranteed by Allah (SWT) to be saved in this world and the Hereafter.
When the Prophet called the people to the way of God, not many people listened to his call. Most of them were members of his family and from the low class society. Among them were Khadijah, Ali, Zayd and Bilal. When he intensified his mission (da’wah: Call to Islam) by publicly announcing the religion he preached, he won more followers but at the same time had to face many challenges from the nobles and leaders who found their position being threatened and jeopardized. They stood together, under the pretext of defending the religion of their ancestors, to fight the new religion. The morale of the few people who embraced Islam was heightened when a small group of the respected people of Makkah joined the religion. Notable among them were `Uthman bin `Affan, Zubair bin Al-`Awwam, `Abd Ar-Rehman bin `Awf, Talhah bin `Ubaydullah, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Arqam bin Abi Arqam, `Ubaydullah bin Harith, Sa’id bin Zayd, `Amr bin Nufail, Fatimah (the wife of Nufail), Asma binti Abu Bakr, `Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Ja’far bin Abi Thalib (May Allah be pleased with them) and many others. Before this group, Abu Bakr was the first among the earlier followers that impressed the Prophet (PBUH) very much. The Prophet (PBUH) said about him: “I never invited anyone to the faith who did not display any hesitation in embracing it except Abu Bakr. When I had offered Islam, he showed no hesitation at all in accepting it.” As the result of these challenges from the Makkan unbelievers, some Muslims were subjected to torture, persecutions, isolations and boycotts. The Prophet (PBUH) had to be patient and had to look for the protection of Muslims. He asked Negus, King of Ethiopia to allow Muslims to migrate to his country. Negus welcomed the Muslims emigrants in his territory and refused to hand them over to the Makkan unbeliever rulers.
By the end of the Makkan period, the Prophet (PBUH) lost two people who were dear to him. They were his most affectionate uncle, Abu Talib, and his faithful and loving wife, Khadijah. After their deaths, the Makkans felt free to do what they wanted to impose to the Prophet and his followers. In many Makkah was the Ka’bah (the Holy Mosque), which was built by Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) centuries before as a holy place to worship Allah (SWT), the One. But in the course of time, the place had been converted by unbelievers to the worship of objects other than Allah (SWT). People added to it many tradition of their own. They used to visit this place for a few months in a year for pilgrimage. They came from all parts of Arabia, representing various famous tribes. The pilgrimage, inspite of its religious bearing, constituted for the Arabs a yearly festival where people met and indulge in their cultural activities. The Prophet (PBUH) took this opportunity to spread Islam. Among those who were interested in his call, were a group of people from Yathrib (Madina) in the North of Arabia. They met secretly with the Prophet (PBUH) and a few Muslims from Makkah in a village called `Aqabah. After becoming Muslims, they took an oath of allegiance to protect Islam, the Prophet and the Makkan Muslims. The following year, the group of Muslims from Yathrib came again to Makkah. They met the Prophet (PBUH) at the same place where they previously met. This time, `Abbas bin Abd Al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle who was himself not a Muslim yet, was present at the meeting. They invited the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims from Makkah to emigrate to Yathrib. They promised to treat them as true brothers and sisters. A long dialogue was held between the Muslims of Yathrib with the Prophet’s uncle to make sure that they really wanted to welcome the Makkan Muslims in their town. The Prophet (PBUH) agreed at the end to emigrate to the new land. Upon knowing that, the Muslims had planned to leave Makkah, the Makkan unbelievers tried to stop the immigration but the first group had already migrated to Yathrib. The Makkans had fear that the movement to Yathrib would give the Muslims a new base to spread Islam. Within two months nearly all Muslims of Makkah, except the Prophet, Abu Bakr, Ali and a few helpless people had migrated. The Makkans then decided to kill the Prophet (PBUH). They made a plan for this purpose, but Allah (SWT) had made another plan over them, to quote the Qur’an. With various tactics and a good planning, the Prophet finally arrived peacefully in Yathrib, which was later known as Madinat Ar-Rasul (The city of the Prophet).
In Madinah the Prophet (PBUH) was able to work freely in spreading Islam. The followers of Islam increased day after day. But the threat by the Makkans did not stop. A few physical confrontations with the Makkans were ensued. Sometimes the battles were won by the Muslims, and sometimes by the Makkans. The Prophet (PBUH) also engaged in battles with the Byzantine and Persian powers that were jeopardizing the existence of Islam from the north and the east. But confrontation with the Makkans stopped for a while after the treaty of Hudaibiyah had been signed between the Muslims and the unbeliever Makkans. During the Madinah period, the Muslims also established treaties with the Jews of Madinah and the tribes around the city. The Jews broke the treaty, which led to their expulsion out of the Arabian peninsula. In Madinah, the Prophet (PBUH) succeeded in establishing Islam as a way of life in its true meaning. He was not only giving guidance on purely religious matters such as salat (prayers), zakat (almsgiving), Saum (fasting) and Hajj (pilgrimage) and examples in these matters, but also provided Muslims with rules and laws covering social, economic, political fields.
Emissaries Entertained in Madinah
It was in Madinah that the Prophet (PBUH) received envoys and emissaries from various tribes and nationals, asking matters of various sorts, demanding dialogues, negotiations etc. Among the emissaries were an envoy representing the Christian community in Najran (South Arabia). The Prophet (PBUH) welcomed them, entertained them as honoured guests and even allowed them to conduct their religious service in his city. It was a good occasion to share each other’s views on matters of religion. Some members of the envoy were deeply impressed by the treatment they received from the Muslims, thus leading them to embrace Islam.
Liberation of Makkah
The treaty of Hudaibiyah gave the Muslims a big opportunity to exemplify the true Islam in personal conduct and in relations with peoples and communities. But the peace did not stay long due to the attitude of the Makkan tribal chiefs who broke the treaty. Soon the Prophet (PBUH) marched very quietly to Makkah in the 8th year of the Hijrah (emigration) to Madinah. The Makkans gave no resistance and by the whole city surrendered to the Prophet (PBUH). He announced a general amnesty for all his enemies and treated all citizens of the city with generosity. A verse of the Qur’an was revealed on the occasion:
[ When the help of Allah and victory comes, and you see the people enter the religion of Allah in crowds. So glorify the Name of your Lord and beg His forgiveness. He, verily accept repentance.] (Qur’an 110: 1-3)
After the liberation of Makkah all the remaining hostile tribes in Arabia began to realize the reality of Islamic faith. People had seen the noble teachings of Islam. Good examples of forgiveness, tolerance, justice, fairness, steadfastness and other qualities as exemplified by the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions had left an impression in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people who became Muslims.
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