Muhammad

Muhammad
Born: c. 570 in Mecca, Makkah, Arabia
Died: June 8, 632 (at age 62 or 63) in Present-day Saudi Arabia
Nationality: Arab
Famous For: Unifying Arabia under Islam

Muhammad was born in 570 A.D in Mecca. His father died before his was born, and he lost his mother when he was only six years old. He was raised by his uncle, who worked as a shepherd. At the age of nine, he joined his uncle on the caravan to Syria.

As a young man, Muhammad worked as the camel driver between Arabia and Syria. He then established a career overseeing the caravans on behalf of the traders. It is through this travels that he came into contact with people of different nationalities and faiths.

Muhammad’s Marriage

At the age of 25, he was hired by a wealthy woman named Khadija, who was 15 years older than him, to take her merchandise to Syria. They later got married and by all accounts enjoyed their marriage. They had four daughters and several sons who died. Early records state that God comforted him through Khadija, for she lightened his burden. Though polygamy was a common practice in ancient times, Muhammad married no other wife until Khadija’s death nine years after his revelation.

The Divine Revelation

During one caravan when he was 40, Muhammad had an encounter with the angel Gabriel who revealed to him divine revelations. The angel told him that he was to become God’s messenger. Following this prophetic experience, he went to Khadijah and told her about the encounter. This startled Khadija and she became his very first convert. After getting his wife’s support, he became confident that he had been chosen by God. He began to proclaim as angel Gabriel had commanded him.

Muhammad Preaches the Message

After the revelation, Muhammad started to preach Islam to the people he trusted. When he began to call people to Islam in public, the new religion steadily attracted more and more people, but it also drew increasing hostility from Mecca’s idol-worshipping population. He was subjected to harassment. Nonetheless, armed with endurance, determination, resilience, and the protection of his uncle and his clan, Muhammad managed to preach the new faith to the people.

Persecuted for the Message

Muhammad’s converts had to suffer all sorts of persecution despite his clan’s support. In 614 CE, Muhammad instructed Muslims to escape persecution by going to Abyssinia and seeking the protection of the Christian king. Quraysh then sent people to the king, carrying gifts in order to secure the deportation of the Muslims.

But the king rejected the gifts and allowed the Muslims to live in Abyssinia. The Quraysh imposed social and economic sanctions on Muhammad, his clan, and his followers. The Muslims withdrew to the mountain in Mecca. Soon, the prophet’s wife died. Things got even worse when he lost his uncle soon after.

Gaining and Leading Followers

Persecution increased until Muhammad received good news. He had gained many followers in Yathrib, some 280 miles north of the city of Mecca. Yathrib needed a strong leader. So they convinced Muhammad to take the job. In return, they vowed to follow Allah’s teachings, obey Muhammad, and protect the converts from persecution.

After the approval, Muhammad escaped to Yathrib. When the leaders in Mecca heard of his plans to escape, they tried to stop him. Muhammad, however, still managed to escape. The event is marked by the Muslims as Hijira.

After accomplishing the job the leaders of Medina had invited him to do, his followers started several years of battle with the city of Mecca. In 624, the Muslims won against the people of Mecca. Nonetheless, a subsequent fight was not successful. But in 627, the people of Mecca attacked Medina, and Medina emerged victorious. The Prophet and his followers were not to be defeated again. Soon after this victory, nearly the whole population of Mecca converted to Islam. Muhammad died a few years later in 632.