Memoirs of the Man
All we know of Muhammad comes from Muslim sources which were written 150 to 200 years after his death. He died in 632 AD. In comparison, the earliest biographies of Jesus (Gospels) were written 30 to 60 years later by his contemporaries.
The Four Principles sources of information are:
1. Quran: provides some historical information about Muhammad’s life. Fuller accounts are available in the…….
2. Earliest Biography (Sira) by Ibn Ishaq (765 AD – 160 years too old).
3. The authentic (Sahih) Hadith collections of Words and works of Muhammad (870 AD). The two important collections are by Bukhari and Muslim. Both over 200 years too old.
4. Earliest Commentary (Tafsir) by AL Tabari (923AD nearly 400 years – late)
Muhammad the MAN
Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttali
The Qur’an teaches that Muhammad was an ordinary man (43:31).
Muhammad means “highly praised”. He was sincere, honest and trustworthy. Because of the honesty in his conduct and dealings, he was referred to as al- Sadiq (The Truthful One) and al-Amin (The Trustworthy One) before Prophethood according to his biographer Ibn Ishaq in Sirat Rasulullah Pg 86.
Born in Mecca 570 AD, to a family of the Quraysh tribe and the Hāshim clan a sub-tribe. At Mecca the Quraysh tribe was dominant. Mecca was the religious and commercial hub of Arabia.
It is not known for certain when Muhammad was actually born. According to tradition, he was born in the Year of the Elephant (570 AD).
Year of the Elephant
When the army of elephants, under the leadership of Abrahah, the Christian Ethiopian commander, came to Mecca to destroy the Kaaba, it was defeated. The Arabs would refer to events as being either before ‘The Year of the Elephant’ or after it. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was born in that year.
The Qur’an refers to the event in the chapter “The Elephant” Surah 105
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? Did He not bring their stratagem to naught; And send against them swarms of flying creatures, Which pelted them with stones of baked clay, And made them like green crops devoured (by cattle). (Surah 105: 1-5)
Mecca a city in present-day Saudi Arabia. Most tribes were polytheistic with 360 idols in a shrine called the Kaaba, (meaning cube in Arabic). Muhammad’s families were the guardians and caretakers of the Kaaba. Mecca was a center of pilgrimage and trade.
Father Abdullah died before he was born.
He was taken care of by Halima a nurse for about 5 years. (See Appendix)
Mother, Amina died when he was 6 yrs old. Grandfather Abdul-mutlib took care of him.
His grandfather was as an influential leader of the Arab tribe ‘Quraish’ and took care of the Kaaba. When he died, his Uncle Aboo Talib took care of him.
Muhammad the Orphan
The Qur’an says…..
“Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter; and find you lost (i.e. unrecognized by men) and guide them to you; and find you in want and make you to be free from want? (Surah 93:6-8)
At the age of nine, he went on business trips with his uncle.
The experience that Muhammad held working with caravans in his uncle Abu Talib’s family business had earned him the honorific titles Al-Sadiq (“the Truthful”) and Al-Amin (“the Trustworthy” or “Honest”).
And verily, you have an exalted standard of character…” (Surah 68:4)
Khadija a widow ( known among the Arabs as the “Princess of the Merchants”) hired Muhammad (who was 25 years of age), as business manager, to oversee the transportation of her merchandise to Syria.
She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Upon returning, Maysarah gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadijah had expected.
The Merchant Marries
Khadijah, therefore, proposed to marry Muhammad. Khadijah was 40 years old when she married Muhammad, who was 25 years old. She was widowed twice before her Marriage to Muhammad
The Monogamous Marriage
Muhammad was monogamously married to Khadijah for 25 years until her death.
Multiple Marriages (Polygamy)
After the death of Khadijah, Muhammad married many other women.
Only one year after Khadijah’s death he married Sawda bint Zamʿa and Aisha.
“Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (Qur’an: Surah 2:187)
The motivation for Muhammad marrying many wives after the death of Khadijah
We don’t know why Muhammad remained monogamous with Khadija. It does not say why, in the traditions. But it is stated that he always did what she told him.
1. Probably she did not want him to marry another woman, though polygamy was practiced at the time. It was not obligatory to have more than one wife. It was only permissible and an option not a command.
2. He loved her dearly. Even after her death and many marriages he spoke about her.
Aisha said: “I was jealous of the Prophet’s wives (my co-wives) but not like my jealousy toward Khadija….. The Prophet remembered her a lot. He sometimes sacrificed a lamb and sent it to Khadija’s friends.” ( Sahih Muslim, v.7, p. 133). See also Sahih Bukhari, Vol.4, p.231; & Vol.6, p.158; Sahih Muslim, Vol 7, p.133)
3. He was financially dependent on Khadijah. He at first refused Khadijah’s proposal to marry because he was not in a position to marry financially support a wife.
4. Khadijah was in control (called the shots). He was financially dependent on her.
5. Khadijah supported Muhammad. He did not expect her to take care of his other wives if he married.
6. Further, Khadijah was from a prominent clan.
7. He was dependent on his uncle and her for protection against the Meccans.
8. He decided to leave Mecca only after his uncle Abu Talib and Khadijah, his protectors died.
9. He later received “divine revelations” permitting multiple wives but he was faithful to Khadijah “until death do us part”
Muhammad used to go to meditate in a cave called Hira, located on the mountain Jabal an-Nour, near Mecca.
In 610 he allegedly received his first revelation through angel Gabriel in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It was later named lailatul Qadr or the Night of Power.
Muhammad was forty years old at the time of this first revelation which marked the beginning of his prophethood.
Angel Gabriel asked him to recite (The word “Iqra” in Arabic could be both reading and reciting). He was extremely terrified and thought he was possessed by a jinn. Muhammad’s experience is mentioned in the Quran in Surah (Chapter) 53 Aya (Verse) 4–9. It is recorded in much detail in the traditions eg the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari volume1, book 1, number 3 (see Appendix) He continued to receive revelations until his death. The revelations were memorized and written down by his companions on pieces of sheepskin, bones, and whatever else was at hand.
Mecca Revelations 610 – 622 AD
Medina Revelations 622 – 632 AD
The revelations were compiled into a book after his death. The collection is known as the Quran (the scripture of Islam). Because the angel Gabriel would recite the Quran orally to the Prophet, the Sacred Book of Islam is known as “Al-Quran, The Recitation,”
Muslims worldwide repeat the name of Muhammad 5 times a day in their daily prayers. They repeat in it their confession of faith, the Shahada: There is no God but the God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Monotheism midst the pagans of Arabia who were idol worshippers (Polytheists). Preached Absolute monotheism. There is no God but the God (Allah)(Surah 2:163). Muhammad denied the essential teachings of the Bible. He denied the triunity of God (Surah 4:171, 5:73, 5:116), Jesus is the son of God (Surah 19:35) and Jesus died on the Cross (Surah 4:157-158).
The first convert was his wife Khadija, His old friend Abu Bakr was the first adult male to convert. He becomes the first Caliph, a successor to Muhammad. Muhammad preached against idolatry and pagan worship of the Meccans. This posed a threat both to the religion and the business trade (selling idols) of Mecca.
Miraj 621 AD
Miraj, in Islamic legend, the ascension of the Muhammad into heaven. He was transported in a single night from Mecca by the winged mythical creature Burāq, to the site of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – as referred to in the Quran.
“Holy is He Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque (in Mecca) to the farther Mosque (in Jerusalem) – whose surroundings We have blessed – that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. (Surah 17:1)
According to Hadith as recorded by Sahih Bukhari, Gabriel then took him to the heavens and the Prophet met several great Prophets including Moses and Jesus. He received the directive that prayers were obligatory five times a day. (Volume 5, Book 58, Number 227)
According to most traditions – this event took place one year before he migrated to Medina.
Migration from Mecca to Medina – 622 AD
Muhammad had to go to Medina because of the hostility of the Meccans towards him. This is known as the Hijra. The Muslim year is reckoned from this date. The Muslim calendar, begins the day on which this event took place, 1 Ah (23 September 622 AD).
Muhammad and Miracles
Allah (God) did not send any miracles to Muhammad, and the people wondered:
“Why has no sign been sent down upon him from his Lord?” (Surah 6:37).
Some have even compared Muhammad to Moses, asking “Why has he not been given the like of that Moses was given?” (Surah 28:48). God supports Muhammad in the Quran, saying he is only “a warner” without a sign (Surah 29:50).
“If only a miracle could come down to him from his Lord (we will then believe)” (Surah 29:50).
The response appears in Surah 29:51
Is it not enough of a miracle that we sent down to you this book [the Quran]?” (Surah 29:51).
This was not a Miracle by Muhammad. It is alleged he was illiterate. Further Surah 29:51 says God sent down the Qur’an.
The authentic Hadiths by Bukhari and Muslim record many miracles that Muhammad performed. This is written about 250 yrs after the death of Muhammad. Further it condradicts the Qur’an which says Muhammad did not perform any miracles.
*Merchant to Messenger to his Murder
583–609 CE as a merchant;
609–632 AD as Messenger (Prophet).
632 AD, Demise, after a short illness (allegedly due to poisoning).
*A short chronology of major events in the life of Muhammad:
570 Born in Mecca. His father was already dead when he was born.
575-576 Amina the mother of Muhammad dies.
578 The death of Muhammad’s grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib who was his custodian. Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib became his guardian.
610 The first revelation of the Qur’an.
612-613 Muhammad started publically preaching and inviting people to l Islam.
614 The first immigration of Muslims to Abyssinia escaping the persecution of the Meccans.
619-620 Wife & Uncle die. Faces hostility from the Meccan’s.
622. Migration to Medina to escape persecution.
629 Return to Mecca
632 He Dies.
Issued by Mission 2 Muslims
Article approved and endorsed by Attorney Yusuf Ismail, Official debater for Islamic Propagation Centre International – Durban South Africa.