Prophet Muhammed (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) was born in 570A.D. in the town of Mecca. His father was Abdullah bin Al Muttalib and his mother was Amina bint Wahb. He was their only son. His father died before Muhammed was born, whilst on a trade mission to the north in the region of Shams. He was from the clan of Banu Hashim, from the tribe of Quraish, the rulers of Mecca.
When he was about 5 years old, his mother took him on a journey north to Yathrib, later called Medinah, to visit his father’s grave. On the return journey, his mother became sick and died, leaving Muhammed an orphan. His upbringing was entrusted to his grandfather, Abdul Al Muttalib, one of the leaders of the Quraish.
When he died about 3 years later, Muhammed was taken in by his uncle, Abu Talib. Whilst he commanded a good deal of respect, Abu Talib was not a wealthy man, so Muhammed, still quite young, worked as a shepherd to help the family. His uncle was a trader and Muhammed would sometimes accompany his uncle, one time as far as Syria. It was at this time that Muhammed earned the name of Al Ameen, the one who can be trusted, due to his honesty and truthfulness.
At the age of about 24, he started to work for a wealthy trader, leading the trade caravans north. The trader was a widow called Khadija, a distant cousin of Muhammed. His trade trips were successful and he made a good profit for Khadija, who was very impressed by his character.
After a while, she proposed marriage to him and they were married. He was 25 and she was 40. He continued to lead the trade caravans after their marriage. They had 6 children, 2 boys who died in infancy and 4 daughters. Their life was comfortable at this time, but Muhammed became very disillusioned with the way of life in Mecca.
The Quraish were pagans, idol worshippers. Mecca was at a crossroads of several trade routes and the traders who passed through were pagans as well. They brought their idols with them and left them in the Kaabah, the house of God in the centre of Mecca. The Quraish were happy with this state of affairs as they were profiting greatly in trading with the merchants from other countries. Muhammed, however, rejected this materialistic, idol-worshipping way of life. He had received no proper education and could neither read nor write, so he was unable to think, in concrete form, of what should take its place. He began to go to a cave in a mountain outside Mecca, where he would spend days at a time in contemplation, Thinking about God and His uniqueness and how worshipping idols made out of stone or wood and believing that these stones and wood had some kind of power, was obviously wrong.
These retreats to the cave carried on for some time, until, one day, what happened to him changed his life and indeed changed the world forever.
When he was 40 years old, Muhammed received the first revelation from God through the archangel Gabriel. These revelations were to continue for 23 years until shortly before his death. One night towards the end of the month of Ramadan, Gabriel came to him in the guise of a human.
He said to Muhammed ‘Recite’ When Muhammed said, in his own words ‘I am not a reciter’, the angel took me and whelmed me in his embrace until he had reached the limit of mine endurance. He released me and repeated ‘Recite’. I said ‘I am not a reciter’ whereupon he took me in his embrace again until he had reached the limit of mine endurance. The angel did this a third time, released me and recited five verses which were the first five verses of the Quran. He repeated the verses to Gabriel, who then left. Muhammed could not understand what had happened and he feared he might be possessed by a Jinn, so he fled from the cave and started to go down the mountain.
On the way down, he heard a voice say, ‘O Muhammed, you are the Messenger of God and I am Gabriel. He looked up to see Gabriel as an angel filling the whole of the horizon. In whichever direction he looked, the vision of Gabriel filled the horizon. He hurried back to his house and said to Khadijah,’Cover me, cover me, as he was trembling with fear. He then told Khadijah what had happened. She realised the importance of this revelation and tried to comfort him.
For some time after this, Muhammed was so shaken by what he had experienced that he only s[pke about it to members of his family and his closest friends. For a year or so it continued like this, Gabriel came to him with more revelations and also with instruction in how to pray and how to make the ablition before praying. Eventually, he decided the time had come to show his belief in one God in public.
This was the beginning of a period of enormous hardship and difficulty for him and anyone who declared belief in what Muhammed was preaching. He and his followers were abused both verbally and physically. He was accused of being a madman, possessed by jinn, the entrails of animals were put on him whilst he prayed. For those of his followers who did not enjoy the protection of their clan or family and particularly for slaves who believed in Muhammed, life was much harder. They were attacked in public, beaten, tortured and very often martyred. The pagan Quraish offered Muhammed anything and everything that he might desire if he would stop calling the people to worship the one, God. They were afraid that the idol-worshipping traders who came to Mecca would stop coming if Muhammed continued with his mission.
Eventually, the leaders of Quraish banned Muhammed and his followers from Mecca and forced them to live in the desert. The people of Mecca were forbidden to trade with the outcasts or to help them in any way. They suffered near starvation and complete isolation from the rest of society. Before the end of this period, before 620, his wife Khadijah and his uncle were both dead. Subsequently, the leaders of Quraish made several attempts to kill Muhammed
In 622, the people of a town called Yathrib, afterwards known as Medina, a town to the north about 400 kms. away, invited Muhammed and his followers to move there to live in peace and security. A few at a time, all his followers emigrated north until only Prophet Muhammed and his closest friend Abu Bakr were left. Having foiled a plot to kill him, Muhammed and Abu Bakr took a circuitous route to arrive in Medina. There he built the first mosque and set about establishing a Muslim community During the next six years, there were three important battles against the Quraish, who were not at all pleased with the growing popularity and power of Muhammed
In January 630, Muhammed and his followers left Medina and marched south to Mecca. En route, they were joined by thousands more until the army reached an enormous number. The leaders in Mecca realised that they could not hold out against such a huge force, so they surrendered. Not one drop of blood was spilt. Muhammed and his followers were allowed to practise their faith openly and their numbers increased. Afte r a while, Muhammed returned to Medina and strengthened the position of the Muslims in virtually the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.
In March 632 he returned to Mecca to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, wherein his famous farewell speech, he suggested that he would be dead before the next pilgrimage. He died three months later, June 8th 632. He is buried in his mosque in Medina, where millions of Muslims visit his tomb to send their salutations and blessings upon him every year.