Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Posted on November 17, 2011

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The Prophet Muhammad was the son of Abdullah, whose ancestry reaches the Prophet Ismael son of the Prophet Abraham, peace be upon them. Muhammad was born in the city of Mecca into a noble family whose fathers and ancestors were amongst the chiefs of the Quraysh tribe, and the Bani-Hashim clan.

He was raised by his paternal grandfather ‘Abd al Muttalib (Shaybah) until the age of eight, and after his grandfather’s death by Abu Talib, his paternal uncle.

Muhammad (PBUH) was forty when, during his one of many retreats to Mount Hira for meditation during the month of Ramadan, he received the first revelation from the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel). On this first appearance, Gabriel (as) said to Muhammad: “qraa,” meaning Read or Recite. Muhammad replied, “I cannot read,” as he had not received any formal education and did not know how to read or write. The Angel Gabriel then embraced him until he reached the limit of his endurance and after releasing said: “Iqraa.” Muhammad’s answer was the same as before. Gabriel repeated the embrace for the third time, asked him to repeat after him and said:

“Recite in the name of your Lord who created! He created man from that which clings. Recite; and thy Lord is most Bountiful, He who has taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not.”

Thus it was in the year 610 CE the revelation began.

Muhammad (s) was terrified by the whole experience of the revelation and fled the cave of Mt. Hira [Qur’an 81:19-29]. When he reached his home, tired and frightened, he asked his wife: ‘cover me, cover me,’ in a blanket. After his awe had somewhat abated, his wife Khadijah asked him about the reason of his great anxiety and fear. She then assured him by saying: “Allah (The One God) will not let you down because you are kind to relatives, you speak only the truth, you help the poor, the orphan and the needy, and you are an honest man.” Khadijah then consulted with her cousin Waraqa who was an old, saintly man possessing knowledge of previous revelations and scriptures. Waraqa confirmed to her that the visitor was none other than the Angel Gabriel who had come to Moses. He then added that Muhammad was the expected prophet. Khadijah accepted the revelation as truth and was the first person to accept Islam. She supported her husband in every hardship, most notably during the three-year ‘boycott’ of the Prophet’s clan by the pagan Quraish. She died at the age of sixty-five in the month of Ramadan soon after the lifting of the boycott in 620 CE.

Gabriel (as) visited the Prophet as commanded by Allah revealing Ayat (meaning signs, loosely referred to as verses) in Arabic over a period of twenty-three years. The revelations that he received were sometimes a few verses, a part of a chapter or the whole chapter. Some revelations came down in response to an inquiry by the nonbelievers. The revealed verses were recorded on a variety of available materials (leather, palm leaves, bark, shoulder bones of animals), memorized as soon as they were revealed, and were recited in daily prayers by Muslims [Qur’an 80:13-16]. Angel Gabriel taught the order and arrangement of verses, and the Prophet instructed his several scribes to record verses in that order [Qur’an 75:16-19 and 41:41-42]. Once a year, the Prophet used to recite all the verses revealed to him up to that time to Gabriel to authenticate the accuracy of recitation and the order of verses [Qur’an 17:106]. All the revealed verses (over a period of 23 years and ending in 632 CE) were compiled in the book known as Qur’an. The name Qur’an appears in the revealed verses. The Qur’andoes not contain even a word from the Prophet. The Qur’an speaks in the first person, i.e., Allah’s commandments to His creation. Gabriel also visited the Prophet throughout his mission informing and teaching him of events and strategy as needed to help in the completion of the prophetic mission. The Prophet’s sayings, actions, and approvals are recorded separately in collections known as Hadith.

The mission of Prophet Muhammad (s) was to restore the worship of the One True God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, as taught by Prophet Ibrahim and all prophets of Allah, and to demonstrate and complete the laws of moral, ethical, legal, and social conduct and all other matters of significance for the humanity at large.

The first few people who followed this message were: his cousin Ali, his servant Zayd ibn Harithah, his friend Abu Bakr and his wife and daughters. They accepted Islam by testifying that:

“There is no Deity (worthy of worship) except Allah (The One True God) and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Islam means peace by submission and obedience to the Will and Commandments of God and those who accept Islam are called Muslims, meaning those who have accepted the message of peace by submission to God.

The Quraish began to persecute Muslims by beating, torture and boycott of their businesses. Those who were weak, poor or slaves were publicly tortured. The first person to die by this means was a Muslim women by the name Umm Ammar (the mother of Ammar Ibn Yasir). The Muslims from well-to-do families were physically restrained in their homes with the condition that if they recant they will be allowed freedom of movement. The Prophet was publicly ridiculed and humiliated including frequent throwing of filth on him in the street and while he prayed in the Ka’bah. In spite of great hardships and no apparent support, the message of Islam kept all Muslims firm in their belief. The Prophet was asked by God to be patient and to preach the message of Qur’an. He advised Muslims to remain patient because he did not receive any revelation yet to retaliate against their persecutors.

When the persecution became unbearable for most Muslims, the Prophet advised them in the fifth year of his mission (615 CE) to emigrate to Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) where Ashabah (Negus, a Christian) was the ruler. Eighty people, not counting the small children, emigrated in small groups to avoid detection. No sooner had they left the Arabian coastline, the leaders of Quraish discovered their flight. They decided to not leave these Muslims in peace, and immediately sent two of their envoys to Negus to bring all of them back. The emigrants were allowed freedom of worship in Abyssinia.

The Quraish then made life even more difficult for the Prophet by implementing total ban on contact with the Prophet’s family (Bani Hashim and Muttalib). The ban lasted for three years without the desired effect. Just before the ban was lifted, the Prophet was contacted by the leaders of Quraish to agree to a compromise under which they should all practice both religions (i.e., Islam and Idolatry). Upon hearing this, the Prophet recited a revelation (Chapter 109) he had just received and which ends with the words: “… For you your religion and for me mine.” The ban was lifted when leaders of Quraish discovered that their secret document on the terms of ban, which they had stored in Ka’bah, was eaten by worms and all that was left were the opening words ‘In Your name, O Allah.’ The effects of the three-year boycott left the Prophet with more personal sorrow when he lost his beloved wife Khadijah (ra) and uncle Abu Talib soon after the ban was lifted.

After Khadijah’s death in 620 CE, the Prophet married a widowed Muslim woman, Sawdah (ra) who was fifty years old. She and her husband had emigrated to Abyssinia in the early years of persecution. After her husband died, she came back to Makkah and sought Prophet’s shelter. The Prophet, recognizing her sacrifices for Islam, extended his shelter by marrying her. Later in the same year, the Prophet upon receiving the divine command in a dream, after approval of Sawdah, contracted marriage to A’ishah, the daughter of his dear companion Abu Bakr She joined the Prophet in Medinah, completing the marriage contract. Sawdah and A’ishah (ra) were the only wives until he was fifty-six years old.

In 622 CE, the leaders of the Quraish decided to kill the Prophet and they developed a plan in which one man was chosen from each of the Quraish tribes and they were to attack the Prophet simultaneously. Gabriel informed the Prophet of the plan and instructed him to leave Makkah immediately. The Prophet, after making arrangements to return the properties entrusted to him by several nonbelievers, left with Abu Bakr in the night he was to be assassinated. They went south of Makkah to a mountain cave of Thawr [see Qur’an 9:40], and after staying three nights they traveled north to Yathrib (Medinah) about two hundred fifty miles from Makkah. Upon discovery of his escape, the leaders of Quraish put up a reward of one hundred camels on him, dead or alive. In spite of all their best scouts and search parties, Allah protected the Prophet and he arrived safely in Quba, a suburb of Medinah [Qur’an 28:85]. This event is known as the ‘Hijra’ (migration) and the Islamic calendar begins with this event. The people of Aws and Khazraj in Medinah greeted him with great enthusiasm in accordance with their pledge made at Aqaba less than a year ago during the annual pilgrimage. One by one those Muslims (men and women) of Makkah who were not physically restrained, and who could make a secret exit, left for Medinah leaving behind their properties and homes.

To insure the peace and tranquility, the Prophet proposed a treaty defining terms of conduct for all inhabitants of Medinah. It was ratified by all – Muslims, non-Muslim Arabs and Jews.

The Prophet performed his first and last pilgrimage in 632 CE. One hundred twenty-thousand men and women performed pilgrimage that year with him. The Prophet received the last revelation during this pilgrimage. Two months later, Prophet Muhammad (s) fell ill and after several days died on Monday, 12 Rabi al-Awwal, the eleventh year after Hijra (June 8, 632 CE) in Medinah. He is buried in the same place where he died.

Prophet Muhammad lived a most simple, austere and modest life. He and his family used to go without cooked meal several days at a time, relying only on dates, dried bread and water. During the day he was the busiest man, as he performed his duties in many roles all at once as head of state, chief justice, commander-in-chief, arbitrator, instructor and family man. He was the most devoted man at night. He used to spend one- to two-thirds of every night in prayer and meditation. The Prophet’s possession consisted of mats, blankets, jugs and other simple things even when he was the virtual ruler of Arabia. He left nothing to be inherited except a white mule few ammunition and a piece of land that he had made a gift during his life time. Among his last words were: “We the community of Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity.”

Muhammad was a man and a messenger of Allah (The One God). He is the last of the prophets [Qur’an 33:40] sent by Allah to guide man to the right path; Adam was the first Prophet. The Qur’an mentions 25 prophets by name. and provides a great insight of their mission, struggle and their communities. The Qur’an exonerates prophets from charges leveled against them in previous Scriptures. The Qur’an also mentions four previously revealed scripture, Suhoof (Pages) of Ibrahim (Abraham), Taurat (‘Torah’) as revealed to Prophet Moses, Zuboor (‘Psalms’) as revealed to Prophet David, and Injeel (‘Evangel’) as revealed to Prophet Jesus (pbuh). Islam requires belief in all prophets and revealed scriptures (original, non-corrupted) as part of the Articles of Faith. Muhammad (s) is greatly respected as the model of Qur’anic behavior. Muslims mention his name by adding “peace be upon him,” a phrase used with the name of all prophets [e.g., Qur’an Surah 37: verses 79, 109, 120 and 130; also 33:56]. All sincere Muslims try to follow the Qur’an and the Prophet’s example to minute details. The account of every aspect of his life has been preserved (numerous daily accounts including his family life). Prophet Muhammad (s) has served as an example for all Muslims in all periods to modern times. He will remain a model example for all of humanity.

At the end of his mission, the Prophet was blessed with several hundred thousand followers (men and women) of Islam. Thousands prayed with him at the mosque and listened to his sermon. Hundreds of sincere Muslims would find every opportunity to be with him following five daily prayers and at other times. They used to seek his advice for their everyday problems, and listened attentively to the interpretation and application of revealed verses to their situation. They followed the message of the Qur’an and the Messenger of Allah with utmost sincerity, and supported him with every thing they had.

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