His name Muhammad (mu-hum-mad) was given to him on his birth in the month of Rabi Ul Awwal 570, by his mother Amina (A-mi-na) who was inspired through a vision from Allah the child she was bearing should be so named. He was raised by God Almighty in one of the most backward and uncivilized nation of the world, the Quraish of Makkah. Orphaned at an early age, when his father died six months before his birth and his mother passed away when he was six years old, he developed the pristine habits of truthfulness, trustworthiness and kindness, which were extremely rare qualities found in the people of his tribe, in fact in the entire Arab world of his time, to the extent that his people conferred on his two outstanding titles i.e. “Al Amin” – the trustworthy and “As Siddique” – the Truthful. He cared particularly for the widows, orphans, downtrodden and the wayfarers. In short, he cared for the poor, needy and the underprivileged. Those were indeed hard times and this was a man of saintly qualities born in their midst.
He learned the art of trading from his paternal uncle Abu Talib who was also his guardian, after his grandfather Abdul Mutalib who cared for him after he was orphaned passed away. It was during this period of his life that he travelled with his uncle to neighboring countries on trading trips. He became famous in Makkah as an astute and wise merchant. He was subsequently employed by a rich widow of Makkah, Khadija bint Khuwaylid. He was so successful in her employ that she proposed marriage to him. She was forty years of age, twice widowed, whereas he was twenty five years and never married before. He consulted with his uncle Abu Talib and consequently was married to Khadija. Muhammad took permission from Khaidja and freed all of her slaves and distributed most of her wealth to the poor and needy.This union with Khaidja bore him two sons and four daughters, the sons having died in infancy.
Call to Prophethood
Muhammad habitually would seclude himself from his people and stay in the cave “Hira” which was situated in the mountains just two miles outside of Makkah. He was wont to meditate and contemplate during these periods of seclusions. He had just turned forty years when the archangel Gabriel appeared to him during the last ten days of ninth month of Ramadan, addressing him
to which he replied:
‘I am not able to recite’.
Thereupon the angel seized him and, clasping him to its bosom, squeezed him hard and then, releasing him, directed him again,
and received the same reply as the first time. The angel did this three times and after the third embrace, Gabriel released Muhammad and directed him:
‘Recite in the name of thy Lord Who created. He created man from a clot of blood. Recite, for thy Lord is Most Beneficent, Who has taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not’ (Holy Qur’an chapter 96: verses 2-6).
The Holy Prophet was so terrified that he ran home and explained the entire ordeal to his beloved wife Khaidja, shivering and asking her to cover him up. He expressed his concern that this new experience of his would be most unbecoming for him. Khadija replied in the negative, saying:
‘Surely, Allah will not humiliate you. You fulfilled all your obligations of kinship, you are truthful, relieve people’s burdens, possess high moral qualities which have become rare, you honor your guests and help the the distressed.’
Khadija took him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal, who after listening to the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) description of the incident replied,
‘The angel who frequently descended upon Moses has descended upon you. Had I been younger and stronger and could survive till your people will expel you from your home.’
Muhammad was astonished and exclaimed,
‘Will they indeed expel me?’
‘There has been no messenger of God who has not been opposed by his own people. If I survive till that time, I shall help you with all my strength.’
But he lived only a short time thereafter.
Life in Makkah
After this incident and on the declaration that he was chosen by Allah as His Prophet and Messenger, admonishing the Quraish to cleanse the Ka’bah of the numerous idols and to mend their ways, he faced stern opposition from the members of his tribe and he and his followers were severely persecuted. The elders of his tribe offered him the most beautiful woman he desires, limitless wealth and ever to become their leader but he refused saying that if they were to put the sun in his right hand and the moon in his left, he would never fail in his mission ordained by Allah.
In the meantime the Holy Quran was revealed in piecemeal and the poor and slaves joined the faithful in following the command of God under Muhammad (PBUH). The Holy Prophet and his companions memorized the verses of the Holy Qur’an as they were revealed. Noteworthy early converts were the four faithful who became his successors, namely, Abu Bakr, Umr, Uthman and Ali. In fact Ali was the first to accept this message after Khadija. He even ventured out of Makkah to Tai’f where he was stoned and bled profusely from head to foot. This suffering continued for thirteen long years until he was permitted by Allah to Migrate.
He sent some of his companions to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) where they were given refuge by the Coptic King and he himself eventually migrated to Madina which was known as Yathrib in those days. During his sojourn here for the next ten years, he was forced to fight eight defensive wars. It was during this time that his message spread rapidly to different parts of the Arab world and beyond.
Invitation to Kings and rulers of neighboring states.
He sent ambassadors with his letters to Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, to Khusro Parviz Il, the Kisra of Persia, to the kings of Egypt and Abyssinia, the chiefs of Yemen and Syria. Some of the kings treated his invitation with reverence, particularly in the case of Heraclius and one ruler in particular showed disrespect, Kusro Parvaiz II, the Kisra of Persia.
Conquest of Makkah
A few months before his demise the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) marched to Makkah with ten thousand of his companions after the Makkans had violated the treaty of Hudaibiyyah. He promised than not a single person would be touched if they did not take up arms against him and his companions and he forgave all the Makkans of all the wrongdoings against the Muslims. The people, of Makkah could not believe that the Prophet had forgiven them all of the cruelties the meted out to the Muslims.
Pilgrimage and demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
In the tenth year after the migration the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed his only pilgrimage to the Ka’bah in Makkah, where incidentally he was born and grew up and where he was prevented from performing pilgrimage, on which occasion he delivered his farewell address. A few months after the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died on Monday, 8 June 632, in Medina, at the age of 63, in the house of his wife Aisha, where he was buried in his mosque.
Characteristics of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
He lost both of his parents by the age of six, grew in the care of his grandfather and uncle. He exhibited profound truthfulness and honest, thus he was known as “As Siddique” – the Truthful and “Al Ameen” – the Trustworthy. He organized for the care of the orphans and widows in Makkah during the prime of his youth. He liberated all slaves and never craved for worldly objects and wealth. He raised the status of women and empowered them with rights almost equal with men, at a time when women were considered mere objects and possession of men and were used and abused as chattels. He practiced absolute justice in all respects and under all circumstances and emphasized on absolutely justice as a basic practice in Islam. His high resolve and tolerance under adverse circumstances is well documented. He was the perfect example of a son, grandson, nephew, husband, father, grandfather, in short a perfect family man. He treated all races as equal and showed respect to people of other religions. Though others blasphemed and abused him, he never sought to punish them or seek revenge. He lived a simple and humble life, without pride or arrogance. He sought only to please Allah and serve mankind. He was declared “A Mercy unto the worlds” by Allah in the Holy Quran. He was the prince of peace and encouraged all to live in peace and harmony. To love one another for the sake of Allah. To protect God’s creatures, plant life and nature as a whole. In short, he was, he was the perfect exemplar for humanity in every respect.