Archive for Prophet Muhammad

Islamic Articles of Faith

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A Muslim believes in the following 6 articles of Faith:

1. Oneness of God

A Muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has no father or mother, no son or daughter. None is equal to Him. He is God of all humankind, not of a special tribe or race.

God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. Many of these attributes of God are mentioned in the Quran.

God creates in humans the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count His favors upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return for all the great favors and mercy, God does not need anything from us, because He is Needless and Independent. God asks us to know Him, to love Him and to enforce His law for our benefit and our own good.

2. Messengers and Prophets of God

A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include Adam, the first Prophet, along with Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the last of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). The key message brought by all Prophets was the same: to believe in One God and not to associate partners with Him, to stay away from sins and to lead a life devoted to earning God’s pleasure.

3. Revelations and the Quran

A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Muslims believe in the original scriptures that were given to previous messengers; for example David received the Psalms (Zabur), Moses the Torah (Taurat) and Jesus the Gospel (Injeel). However, the previous scriptures do not exist today in the original form in which they were revealed.

The Quran is the last testament in the series of divine revelations from God, and Muslims recite and turn to it for guidance in all aspects of their life. It comprises the unaltered and direct words of God, revealed through the Angel Gabriel, to the final Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), some 1400 years ago. The Quran is unique because it is the only revealed book that exists today in the precise form and content in which it was originally revealed.

The Quran is unrivaled in its recording and preservation. The astonishing fact about this scripture is that it has remained completely unchanged over the past fourteen centuries, a fact that is attested to by both non-Muslim and Muslim scholars alike. There are no versions of the Quran and every copy in the world remains identical, word for word in its original language Arabic. Muslims to this day continue to emphasize the importance of memorizing the Quran word by word, as a whole or in part, recognizing that it is the Speech of God and not a book written by Muhammad (pbuh), as sometimes erroneously thought.
4. Angels

Angels are a creation of God. They are purely spiritual and splendid beings that require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires or material needs. Like other creations of God, Angels spend their time worshiping God. In contrast to human beings, Angels do not have free Will – they can only obey God and do not have the ability to disobey Him. Each Angel is charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eyes.

5. Day of Judgment

A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgment. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgment.

One who believes in life after death is not expected to disobey God. They will be ever-conscious that God is watching all their actions and the angels are recording them.

People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Paradise. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to God only, but they are described by God in familiar terms in the Quran.

If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgment. If some people who commit sins, neglect God and indulge in immoral activities seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgment. The time of the Day of Judgment is known by God alone.

6. Predestination

A Muslim believes in the ultimate Knowledge and Power of God to plan and execute His plans. God is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. The believer should have strong faith in God, recognizing that their own knowledge is limited and their thinking is based on individual consideration. In contrast, the Knowledge of God is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Humans should think, plan and make sound choices and then put their trust in God. If things happen as they want they should praise God. If things do not happen as they want they should still praise God, recognizing that He knows best what is good for the affairs of mankind.

The Essence of Islam: Are We missing the Point?

To some, a Monet is only a collection of dots. To others, it is a perfect masterpiece. To some, Islam is nothing but a code of rules and regulations. But, to those who understand, it is a perfect vision of life.

As Muslims, we often focus so much on Islam’s dos and don’ts that we miss the bigger picture. Islam came to perfect our manners, and yet we are willing to scream and shout to win an argument about zabiha meat. Islam came to build our bond with our Creator, and while we wear our hijabs and kufis, we delay our prayers.

Islam came to establish a community of believers, but while we decorate our masjids with gold and silver, our prayer rows remain empty. Islam came to teach us about God, and despite wearing His words on our necklaces and decorating our houses with them, when those verses are recited to us, our hearts remain unmoved and our lives unchanged.

And Islam came to make us one brotherhood, yet we divide ourselves and alienate one another over issues like moon sighting and voting.

This is not to say, of course, that the dos and don’ts in Islam are not important. They are crucial. The problem is that we have forgotten what they stand for. For example, the wearing of Islamic dress should never be minimized. But we have forgotten that that hijab and that beard are only symbols of our greater devotion to God. For us to wear that hijab and that beard while it has no bearing on our character means we have missed the point.

If we spend thousands of dollars decorating our masjids but then use that masjid only to display status and win arguments, we have lost its intended purpose. And if we have memorized every haram and halal ingredient of facial soap, but we own businesses that are based on interest and sell alcohol, have we not made a mockery of Allah’s deen?

That deen is what transforms humanity from the lowest of the low to the representatives of God on earth. The Qur’an tells us: “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth…’” (Qur’an, 2:30)

As a representative of God on earth, we are given a very great responsibility. It is a trust so heavy that even the mountains rejected it. Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “We did indeed offer the trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it; he was indeed unjust and foolish.” (Qur’an, 33:72)

As believers, we should never lose sight of this responsibility. It is the fulfillment of that mission that transforms us from ‘asfala safileen’ - the lowest of the low (Qur’an, 95:5), into ‘khaira ummatin ukhrijat linnaas’ – the best of people arisen for mankind. (Qur’an, 3:110)

But how can we be that “best of people”? Allah describes how in His book: “Ye are the best of peoples, risen up for mankind, commanding what is right, forbidding what is evil, and believing in Allah…”  (Qur’an, 3:110).

The essence of that struggle is to believe, to fight for Truth and to strive against evil. And as soon as we give up that noble struggle, we will become among those people who Allah describes in surat Al-Asr as being in an utter state of loss. Allah also describes the ones who will be saved from that state: “Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy.” (Qur’an, 103:3)

And, so, if we continue to abandon this greater mission and purpose, we will have transformed the perfect vision of existence into nothing more than a collection of dots.


 Originally published by InFocus

What They Say About Muhammad (pbuh)

Muhammad written in Arabic calligraphyAs you will see, many famous historians and thinkers have spoken of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in glowing terms. They have attempted to nullify the prevalent negative stereotypes, and they have depicted the Prophet Muhammad accurately as a moral reformer, a great soul, and a courageous campaigner against primitive superstitions.

(Please note that in the quotations below, some Western writers have used the word Muhammadanism for Islam. The word Muhammadanism was commonly used by Western writers in previous centuries, but it is rejected by Muslims, as it connotes worship of Muhammad, which is incorrect. The Prophet Muhammad’s mission was to propagate the worship of the One and Only God (in Arabic Allah), the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe).

Michael Hart in ‘The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons In History,’ New York, 1978.

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the secular and religious level. …It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. …It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.

Thomas Carlyle in ‘Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History,’ 1840

“The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only.”
“A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world, the world’s Maker had ordered so.”

A. S. Tritton in ‘Islam,’ 1951

The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur’an in the other is quite false.

De Lacy O’Leary in ‘Islam at the Crossroads,’ London, 1923.

History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.

Gibbon in ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ 1823

The good sense of Muhammad despised the pomp of royalty. The Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family; he kindled the fire; swept the floor; milked the ewes; and mended with his own hands his shoes and garments. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit, he observed without effort of vanity the abstemious diet of an Arab.

Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley in ‘History of the Saracen Empire,’ London, 1870

Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume

Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume

“The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force.”
“It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran….The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. ‘I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”

Reverend Bosworth Smith in ‘Muhammad and Muhammadanism,’ London, 1874.

“Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”

“In Mohammadanism every thing is different here. Instead of the shadowy and the mysterious, we have history….We know of the external history of Muhammad….while for his internal history after his mission had been proclaimed, we have a book absolutely unique in its origin, in its preservation….on the Substantial authority of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt.”

Edward Montet, ‘La Propagande Chretienne et ses Adversaries Musulmans,’ Paris 1890. (Also in T.W. Arnold in ‘The Preaching of Islam,’ London 1913.)

“Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically….the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur’an has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam….A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.”

Alphonse de LaMartaine in ‘Historie de la Turquie,’ Paris, 1854.

“Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim was superhuman; to subvert superstitions which had been imposed between man and his Creator, to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore the rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry, then existing. Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design, no other instrument than himself and no other aid except a handful of men living in a corner of the desert. Finally, never has a man accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and in arms, reigned over the whole of Arabia, and conquered, in God’s name, Persia Khorasan, Transoxania, Western India, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and part of Gaul.

“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.

“On the basis of a Book, every letter which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blend together peoples of every tongue and race. He has left the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and Immaterial God. This avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followers of Muhammad; the conquest of one-third the earth to the dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of man but that of reason.

“The idea of the unity of God, proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of the fabulous theogonies, was in itself such a miracle that upon it’s utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and set on fire one-third of the world. His life, his meditations, his heroic revelings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen years in Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being a victim of his fellow countrymen… This dogma was twofold the unity of God and the immateriality of God: the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words.

“Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs…. The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”

Mahatma Gandhi, statement published in ‘Young India,’1924.

Desert oasis

The Prophet Muhammad established an oasis of faith and spiritual purity in a desert of ignorance

I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life.

Sir George Bernard Shaw in ‘The Genuine Islam,’ Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.

“If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.”

“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.”

“I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

Dr. William Draper in ‘History of Intellectual Development of Europe’

Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born in Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race… To be the religious head of many empires, to guide the daily life of one-third of the human race, may perhaps justify the title of a Messenger of God.

Arthur Glyn Leonard in ‘Islam, Her Moral and Spiritual Values’

It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad’s deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration.

Philip K. Hitti in ‘History of the Arabs’

Within a brief span of mortal life, Muhammad called forth of unpromising material, a nation, never welded before; in a country that was hitherto but a geographical expression he established a religion which in vast areas suppressed Christianity and Judaism, and laid the basis of an empire that was soon to embrace within its far flung boundaries the fairest provinces the then civilized world.

Rodwell in the Preface to his translation of the Holy Qur’an

Mohammad’s career is a wonderful instance of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense faith in God and in the unseen world. He will always be regarded as one of those who have had that influence over the faith, morals and whole earthly life of their fellow men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can exercise; and whose efforts to propagate a great verity will prosper.

W. Montgomery Watt in ‘Muhammad at Mecca,’ Oxford, 1953.

His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems that it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad…. Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty.

D. G. Hogarth in ‘Arabia’

Serious or trivial, his daily behavior has instituted a canon which millions observe this day with conscious memory. No one regarded by any section of the human race as Perfect Man has ever been imitated so minutely. The conduct of the founder of Christianity has not governed the ordinary life of his followers. Moreover, no founder of a religion has left on so solitary an eminence as the Muslim apostle.

Washington Irving ‘Mahomet and His Successors’

He was sober and abstemious in his diet and a rigorous observer of fasts. He indulged in no magnificence of apparel, the ostentation of a petty mind; neither was his simplicity in dress affected but a result of real disregard for distinction from so trivial a source.
In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints.

His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting a regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonials of respect were shown to him. If he aimed at a universal dominion, it was the dominion of faith; as to the temporal rule which grew up in his hands, as he used it without ostentation, so he took no step to perpetuate it in his family.

James Michener in ‘Islam: The Misunderstood Religion,’ Reader’s Digest, May 1955, pp. 68-70.

“No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Qur’an is explicit in the support of the freedom of conscience.”
“Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word sensing his own inadequacy. But the Angel commanded ‘Read’. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth: “There is one God”.”

“In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred and rumors of God ‘s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being’.”

“At Muhammad’s own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: ‘If there are any among you who worshiped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you Worshiped, He lives for ever’.”

Lawrence E. Browne in ‘The Prospects of Islam,’ 1944

Incidentally these well-established facts dispose of the idea so widely fostered in Christian writings that the Muslims, wherever they went, forced people to accept Islam at the point of the sword.

K. S. Ramakrishna Rao in ‘Mohammed: The Prophet of Islam,’ 1989

My problem to write this monograph is easier, because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam that “there is no compulsion in religion” is well known.

Why did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) marry many wives?

Have you ever wondered why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married many wives? Some anti-Muslim writers claim it was out of lust. In reality, he was monogamous and faithful to one women (Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her) for most of his adult life. After she passed away, he stayed single out of grief for two years. In the last eight years of his life he married several women for social and political reasons, including to cement relationships, unite tribes, and pass on the details of his personal habits. Polygamy was of course a common social practice in those days.

This video explains the marriages of the Prophet in more detail:

A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi ash-Sharīf, The Prophet's Mosque in Madinah

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi ash-Sharīf, The Prophet's Mosque in Madinah

A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)


Muhammad (pbuh) was born in Makkah on 12 Rabi` al-Awwal 570 c.e.

His father, `Abdullah Ibn `Abdul Muttalib of the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, died before his birth. According to the custom of the Quraysh nobility, the infant Muhammad (pbuh), when only eight days old, was handed to a Bedouin wet-nurse to be brought up by her in the healthy atmosphere of the desert.

At the age of five, Muhammad (pbuh) returned to the care of his mother, Aminah bint Wahb, whose father was the chief of the Banu Zahrah clan, but she died a year later. Muhammad (pbuh) then went to his paternal grandfather, `Abdul Muttalib, the chief of Banu Hashim and the leader of the people of Makkah, who gave him loving care. He died when Muhammad (pbuh) was eight, and the boy was then brought up by his uncle Abu Talib, who was to prove his shield and protection when some thirty years later his preaching brought upon him the enmity of the people of Makkah.

Abu Talib was a merchant of modest means, and when Muhammad (pbuh) grew up, he assisted him in his business. At the age of twelve, he accompanied his uncle in a merchant’s caravan to Syria. Muhammad (pbuh) was content with his lot as a shepherd, but his uncle Abu Talib desired something better for him and obtained him employment with a rich widow, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid ibn Asad.

Muhammad’s (pbuh) Marriage and Growing Reputation

Thus Muhammad (pbuh) found himself at the age of twenty-five in charge of a caravan conveying merchandise to Syria. On his return, Khadijah was so pleased with his successful management of her business, and was so attracted by his nobility of character – reports about which she had heard from her old servant who had accompanied him – that she sent her sister to offer the young man her hand. Muhammad (pbuh) had felt drawn to Khadijah, and so matters were soon arranged and, though Khadijah was fifteen years his senior, their twenty-six years of married life were singularly happy. Muhammad (pbuh) continued to work as a merchant. His fairness further enhanced his reputation as Al-Amin (The Trustworthy).

In the year 605 c.e., a dispute arose during the reconstruction of the Ka`bah (the cube-shaped house of worship originally built by the Prophet Abraham), which threatened to plunge the different clans of the Quraysh tribe into war, but the sagacious arbitration of Muhammad (pbuh) saved the situation and settled the dispute to everyone’s satisfaction. He continued to take an ever-increasing interest in public affairs and to exert himself in the service of the poor, the helpless and the weak. Many were the slaves who owed their freedom to Muhammad (pbuh), and many were the widows and orphans who lived on his generosity.

Whenever the iniquities of his people oppressed him, Muhammad (pbuh) retired to the solitude of a cave in Mount Hira’ outside Makkah. There his soul tried to peer into the mysteries of creation, of life and death, of good and evil, to find order out of chaos. Solitude became a passion with him, and every year he would retire to the cave for the whole month of Ramadan, to mediate.

The Call to Prophethood

It was on one of these occasions, when he was forty years of age, that Muhammad (pbuh) received the Call. One night, while lying absorbed in his thoughts in the solitude of the cave, Muhammad (pbuh) was commanded by a mighty Voice to go forth and preach. Twice the Voice called and twice he ignored the Call. The Voice called for the third time and revealed to him the first verses from the Qur’an. Alarmed by the experience, Muhammad (pbuh) rose trembling, and hastened home to seek rest and solace for his troubled mind and tortured soul in Khadijah’s tender care, and she calmed and comforted him. When he had recovered sufficiently, he sought the solitude of the hills to soothe his anguish of mind when the Angel of Allah appeared to him and recalled him to his duty to mankind.

Awe-stricken, he hurried back to his house and asked Khadijah to wrap him in warm garments. She did her best to reassure him, saying that his conduct through life had been such that Allah would not let a harmful spirit come to him. She later consulted her kinsman, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, an old man who knew the Scriptures of the Jews and the Christians. He declared that the heavenly message that had come to Moses of old had now come to Muhammad (pbuh), and that he was chosen as a Prophet of Allah. The very thought of being chosen out of all mankind with such a Mission profoundly disturbed Muhammad’s (pbuh) humble and devout mind.

Khadijah was the first to accept the truth of his Mission, and then he communicated his experience to his cousin `Ali, his adopted son Zayd, and his intimate friend Abu Bakr. These persons, who knew him best and had lived and worked with him and noted all his movements and the sincerity of his character, became his first converts. The Prophet then began by preaching his mission secretly first among his intimate friends, then among the members of his own tribe and thereafter publicly in the city and suburbs. Standing alone, he proclaimed the glory of Allah, publicly denounced the idolatry of his people and their evil ways, and called them to Allah and the better life.

Reaction of the Quraysh Tribes

The Quraysh tribe and clans were the guardians of the Ka`bah, the holy place to which all Arabs made pilgrimage, and it was a source of great prestige and profit to their city, Makkah (Editor: commonly spelled Mecca). They were, therefore, seriously alarmed and became actively hostile towards Muhammad (pbuh), who was now publicly preaching against the worship of the idols in the Ka`bah, which ranked first among the vested interests. During the season of the pilgrimage, men were posted on all the roads to warn the tribes against the madman who was preaching against their gods. The early converts of Muhammad (pbuh), who were mostly humble folk, were subjected to great oppression. And in spite of his rank, Muhammad (pbuh) himself would have been killed if the Quraysh had not been deterred by the fear of blood vengeance from his powerful clan, Banu Hashim.

The persecution increased as Muhammad’s (pbuh) converts grew in number and influence. The fury of the people of Makkah knew no bounds. Muhammad (pbuh), the respected citizen of rank and high descent, “Al-Amin” of his people, was henceforth subjected to insults, to personal violence, and to the bitterest persecution, and his converts were most relentlessly oppressed, persecuted and tortured. Deeply grieved at the sad plight of his followers, Muhammad (pbuh) advised them in the fifth year of his Mission to leave the country and seek refuge from the persecution of the idolators among the Christian people of Abyssinia. Muhammad (pbuh) and a few stalwart followers remained in Makkah and suffered untold misery and oppression, but still their number continued to increase.

The Boycott and the Passing Away of Khadijah and Abu Talib

In their exasperation, the Quraysh outlawed Muhammad (pbuh) and asked his clan to forgo their right of avenging his blood. Though unbelievers and participators in the persecution, the proud clansmen refused to give up the right at the bidding of the people of Makkah, who thereupon boycotted them. Muhammad (pbuh), the small band of his followers and Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib suffered such terrible hardships that the better minds among the people of Makkah grew weary of the social ostracism of old friends and neighbors. After three years, towards the end of 619 c.e., the ban was lifted.

Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib were now free to follow their vocations, but opposition to Muhammad (pbuh) became ever more relentless. A year later, Muhammad (pbuh) lost his uncle and protector, the noble Abu Talib, and his beloved wife, Khadijah, in whose love and devotion he had found comfort, solace and encouragement.

The death of Abu Talib removed the last check on the Makkans’ violence. Muhammad (pbuh) was now defenseless and in continual peril of his life. Persecution grew ever fiercer, and Muhammad (pbuh) sought refuge in the neighboring city of Ta’if, where he was met with great hostility and barely escaped with his life. But a turning point in his career was at hand.

Emigration to Yathrib

Muhammad (pbuh) made several converts in a party of pilgrims from the prosperous city of Yathrib. After the Pilgrimage, the men of Yathrib returned to their city with a Muslim teacher, and in the following year, at the time of Pilgrimage, seventy-three Muslims from Yathrib came to Makkah to vow allegiance to the Prophet and invited him to go to their city. Muhammad (pbuh) took council with his Makkan followers, and it was decided that they should immigrate to Yathrib. They left gradually and unobtrusively, Muhammad (pbuh) remaining to the last.

Their departure was soon discovered by the Quraysh, who decided to slay Muhammad (pbuh) before he too escaped, for although they hated the idea of his preaching in their midst, they dreaded still more the spread of his influence if he escaped from Makkah. They, therefore, cast lots and chose forty men, one from each clan, who took a solemn vow to kill Muhammad (pbuh). They were to strike simultaneously so that the murder could not be avenged by blood feud on any one clan. But on the night they were to kill him, Muhammad (pbuh) left Makkah with Abu Bakr. Eluding his pursuers over a long distance of desert and rocks, he reached Yathrib, thereafter known as Madinah.

This event is called the Hijrah, or emigration. It marks the greatest turning point in the history of Muhammad’s (pbuh) Mission, and the Muslim calendar is named after it.

Establishment of Islam in Arabia and Beyond

The Sacred Mosque in Makkah; The Prophet returned to Makkah in victory and compassion, and destroyed the idols around the Ka'bah

The Sacred Mosque in Makkah; The Prophet returned to Makkah in victory and compassion, and destroyed the idols around the Ka'bah

Muhammad (pbuh) was now free to preach and his followers increased rapidly. The Muslims could now worship freely and live according to the laws of Allah. It was during this period, with the Prophet now the head of a nascent Islamic State, that most of the Qur’anic verses regarding the rules of society were revealed. But the people of Makkah were not going to allow Muhammad’s (pbuh) movement to take root in Madinah. They organized three great expeditions against the city, but all were beaten back.

Eventually the Makkans and Muslims concluded the Treaty of Hudaybiyah to maintain peace between them and to observe neutrality in their conflicts with third parties. Profiting by the peace, the Prophet launched an intensive program for the propagation of Islam. A few weeks after the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (pbuh) sent letters to several kings and the Byzantine and Persian Emperors inviting them to Islam. The king of Abyssinia and the ruler of Bahrain accepted Islam, while the Byzantine ’Emperor, Heraclius, acknowledged Muhammad’s (pbuh) Prophethood without actually accepting Islam.

It was not until the eighth year after the Hijrah that the Muslims were able to put an end to this war by gaining a bloodless victory over Makkah when the Makkans violated the terms of their treaty. The people of Makkah, who had relentlessly oppressed Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers for twenty-one years, expected dire vengeance, but in the hour of their defeat they were treated with the greatest magnanimity. “Go, you are free!” were the words with which Muhammad (pbuh) gave them general amnesty. The Prophet (pbuh) removed all the idols in and around the Ka`bah, saying, “And say: Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away. Lo! falsehood is ever bound to vanish.” (Al-Isra’: 81). Also, the Muslim call to prayer was heard in this ancient sanctuary.

The Opening of Makkah was followed by the submission of the surrounding tribes and the acknowledgement of Muhammad’s (pbuh) spiritual and temporal leadership over the whole of Arabia. During the ninth year of the Hijrah, delegations came from all parts of Arabia to swear allegiance to the Prophet (pbuh) and to hear the Qur’an. Islam now spread by leaps and bounds, and the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and the southern regions of Iraq and Palestine had voluntarily embraced Islam.

Muhammad’s (pbuh) Final Pilgrimage

In the tenth year, Muhammad (pbuh) went to Makkah as a pilgrim, and he felt it was for the last time because of the Revelation he received there included the verse, ” [...]This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you [...]” (Al-Ma’idah: 3) On his return to Madinah, he fell ill of a mortal fever. It lasted for fifteen days, but he continued to lead the prayers until three days before his death, when he deputed Abu Bakr. At early dawn on the last day of his earthly life, Muhammad (pbuh) came out from his room beside the mosque and joined the public prayers, but later in the day he died. The end came peacefully; murmuring of pardon and the company of the righteous in Paradise, the Prophet (pbuh) of Islam breathed his last breath, at the age of 63, on Wednesday, 12 Rabi` al-Awwal 11 a.h.

By the time his mission had ended, the Prophet (pbuh) was blessed with several hundred thousand followers, both men and women. Toward the end of his lifetime, thousands prayed with him regularly at the mosque and listened to his sermons. Hundreds of sincere Muslims found every opportunity to be with him following the five daily prayers and at other times. They sought 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 everything they had. After his death, they faithfully carried the message of Islam, and within ninety years the light of Islam reached Spain, North Africa, the Caucasus, northwest China and India.

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