Muhammad ibn Abdallah

Prophet and founder of Islam. Born c. 570 in Mekkah (Mecca), died 632.

Very little is known of Muhammad's life prior to the time when he began to receive what he interpreted as divine revelations from the one true God, revelations which came through the medium of the Archangel Gabriel. A few scattered remarks near the end of the Quran allow us to infer that his parents died while Muhammad was still in his childhood, and that he was raised by relatives - among them, his uncle Abu Talib. Likewise, the Quran implies that the Prophet's family was not of high social status in Mekkah. Finally, we may also infer that Muhammad, prior to receiving his calling, was a devotee of the polytheistic religion practiced in the region.

Around 610, Muhammad had a personal experience, which he (with the support of his wife Khadija) interpreted as a sign that he had been specially chosen by God as his prophet. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad (prior to his revelation) several times withdrew from his life as a trader, meditating in the mountains around Mekkah. The Quran gives no information on the experience which finally convinced Muhammad of his selection as prophet.

When Muhammad began reporting his revelations (from c. 613), he was roundly criticised by the citizens of Mekkah. He continued to preach the word of his God, however, and gained some converts. Nevertheless, Islam did not gain wide acceptance in Mekkah.

With support from his family, however, Muhammad was able to continue his mission. An economic boycott by the leading families of Mekkah against Muhammad's family was likewise ineffective. It was only with the death of Abu Talib (c. 619) and the transfer of familial leadership to Abu Jahl (who was himself strongly critical of Muhammad's teachings) that this situation changed.

Fearing that Muhammad's new religion might damage the status of Mekkah as a place of pilgrimage for the tribes of the region, leading groups in Mekkah forced Muhammad and his followers to remove to Madinah (Medina), during the summer of 622. With this expulsion, Muhammad's position changed. Though there was little change in the revelations he received at Madinah from those he received while at Mekkah, Muhammad had now become formally the leader of the proto-Muslim community at Madinah. It was there that many basic principles of Islam were finally formulated.

From Madinah, Muhammad led the showdown with Mekkah for religious supremacy in the region. In 624, at Badr, a small group of Muslims under Muhammad's command inflicted a grave defeat on Mekkah. The following year, at Uhud, another battle took place, and in 627 the leading families of Mekkah mobilised all their forces and their allies to strike a definitive blow against Muhammad and Madinah - an ultimately unsuccessful project. With this defeat, and with the expansion of Islam, Muhammad was able (in 630) to capture Mekkah. The following year, even more tribes converted.

After a brief illness, Muhammad died in the summer of 632.

As the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad holds a central position in world history. As a man who, throughout a long and arduous life, faithfully promoted the monotheistic faith that had been revealed to him; and as a political agitator of consummate skill, he must be respected.

In the Islamic culture, which does not sanctify mortals, he is regarded with great veneration. In Jewish and Christian tradition, unsurprisingly, he is regarded as a false prophet. Modern historical and Orientalist writers have tried to add nuance between these two extremes.

First of all I would like to state that I very much respect liveforever’s work, and his superb writeups. With that aside, liveforever stated:

"Very little is known of Muhammad's life prior to the time when he began to receive what he interpreted as divine revelations from the one true God…"

That all depends on who’s side of history you look at. Especially when it comes to the history of the Arabs, you have the European side of the story, and the Middle Eastern side of the story. History has always been a big part of the sciences of the Arabs, even before Muhammad. Next to poetry, one of the most popular past times of the Arabs was lineage. Many times their poetry was about lineage. Even children knew details about the lives of their forefathers. Not only that, they also knew details about their horse’s forefathers. Muhammad bin Abdullah was no different. His line of decent is:

Muhammad bin Abdullah, bin Abdu’l-Muttalib, bin Hashim, bin Abdu Manaf, bin Qusayy, bin Kilab, bin Murra, bin Ka’b, bin Lu’ayy, bin Ghalib, bin Fihr, bin Malik, bin al-Nadr, bin Kinana, bin Khuzayma, bin Mudrika, bin Ilyas, bin Mudar, bin Nizar, bin Ma’add, bin Adnan, bin Udd, bin Muqawwam, bin Nahur, bin Tayrah, bin Ya’rub, bin Yashjub, bin Nabit, bin Isma’il, bin Ibrahim, bin Tarih, bin Nahur, bin Sarugh, bin Ra’u, bin Falikh, bin ‘Aybar, bin Shalikh, bin Arfakhshadh, bin Sam, bin Nuh, bin Lamk, bin Mattushalakh, bin Akhnukh, bin Yard, bin Mahlil, bin Qaynan, bin Yanish, bin Shith, bin Adam

The mother of Muhammad was Amina, her line is known but I won’t get into it. Amina was known as the most noble woman of the most noble tribe in Mecca, at the time. She married Abdullah, the most noble man, and they immediately, as in that day, conceived Muhammad. Abdullah died before the birth of Muhammad. Amina used to say that when she was pregnant a voice use to come to her and tell her that she is pregnant with a prophet and that she must name him Muhammad. She also claimed that when she gave birth to him a great light came out of her.

Muhammad was born on Monday, 12th of Rabiu’l-awwal. The Arabs of that time named their years after great events that happened at that time. Muhammad was born in the year of the elephant. That was the year that a nation who used to ride elephants tried to conquer Mecca, but they where attacked by birds before reaching Mecca.

Since Amina was a woman of nobility she did not suckle her son. It was common in those days to have children who were born in the city to have a foster-mother take them to one of the villages in the desert to care of the child. The foster mother’s name was Halima. Her lineage is also known, but I won’t go into that either.

Halima says that it was a year of drought and neither her nor her animals could produce milk. Her, her husband and her son traveled with a group of people in search of a child to suckle, in hopes of earning some money. She says that Muhammad was offered to each woman in her group, but they all denied him as he was an orphan and hence they would not receive much compensation. After all the children where taken she felt shy to not have any foster-child to suckle so she took Muhammad. Halima says that as soon as she put Muhammad on her breast, it started over-flowing with milk; more than enough to feed both Muhammad and his foster-brother Abdullah bin al-Harith. She says that her husband then tried to milk their she-camel, and it too was full of milk. They originally thought that this may be due to them taking Muhammad, but where uncertain.

On one occasion a group of Abyssinian Christians studied Muhammad and asked Halima to bring him back after he had been weaned. When she brought him back they asked her many questions about him after which they ordered that he be brought to their king. She could barely get him back from them.

Halima suckled Muhammad for a period of two years. In this time they realized that he was growing stronger and healthier than usual. When it was time to return Muhammad back to his mother they begged for her to allow them to keep him for a bit longer. She did not want to, but they persisted and she agreed.

This did not last long because after only a few months Muhammad’s foster-brother reported to his parents:

"Two men clothed in white have seized that Qurayshi brother of mine and thrown him down and opened his belly, and are stirring it up."

When the parents found Muhammad he seemed to be fine except he too reported:

"Two men in white raiment came and threw me down and opened up my belly and searched therein for I know not what."

The apostle reported later that the two men where angels and that they pulled his heart out, cut it open, cleaned it with the water of zamm zamm and replaced it.

al-Harith ordered Halima to return Muhammad to his mother before something horrible happens to Muhammad. Halima returned Muhammad to his mother and reported the incident. She said that she was afraid that some demon had possessed him. Amina knew that her son was a special child and told Halima about the voices that she heard when she was pregnant. She told her that she bore Muhammad with no difficulty whatsoever and that when she bore him a light came from her that illuminated the castles in Syria. She said that when he was born he put his hands on the ground and lifted his heads towards the heavens. "No demon has power over my son."

When Muhamamd was six years old his mother died returning from a trip with him. Muhammad was left with his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. Abdul-Muttalib died two years later and Muhammad was left in the care of his uncle Abu Talib.

It was a habit of the people in Mecca to bring their children to seers that would visit Mecca. Abu Talib brought Muhammad to this gathering once. Muhammad caught the attention of one of the seers and the seer ordered that Muhammad be brought to him. The seers eagerness disturbed Abu Talib and he took Muhammad away. The seer proclaimed:

"Woe to you, bring me that boy I saw just now, for by Allah he has a great future."

On one occasion Muhammad accompanied Abu Talib on a caravan to Syria. When the caravan reached Busra in Syria they passed a monk in a cell. It seems that these caravans had made it a habit to pass this cell, maybe just to be in the company of the virtuous. This cell always contained a monk. The monk in the cell would read from a book that stayed in the cell and was passed on from generation to generation. The monk various never bothered to even notice the caravan until this occasion. On this occasion the monk had prepared a feast for them. The monk, Basira, says that he saw the caravan coming from afar and saw a cloud covering the caravan, shading them from the sun. When the caravan stopped under a tree near the cell the monk saw the branches of the tree lowering in order the shade the caravan. He asked the men in the caravan to join him in this feast, and for not even one of them to be left behind. As they entered the monk looked for the sign, which he had found in his books, the sign of the prophet to come. When the people had finished eating Muhammad, as per Arab custom, being the youngest was left behind. Bahira then asked Muhammad:

"I ask you by al-Lat and al-Uzza to answer my questions."

Muhammad replied:

"Do not ask my by al-Lat and al-Uzza, for by Allah nothing is more hateful to me than these two."

Bahira then asked, "by Allah", questions about what happened when he slept, and what where his different habits. Bahira found that these things where in co-ordinance with signs that he found in books of Christianity as signs of the next prophet. He then looked for the "seal of prophethood" between his shoulders, which too was described in the books of Christianity. Bahira then went to Abu Talib and asked his relation to the boy. Abu Talib replied that he was his father. Bahira claimed that this could not be so, as the father of this boy must be dead. Abu Talib then reported that he was his uncle and that the father of Muhammad died before he was born. Bahir confirmed that this was indeed the truth. Bahira then ordered Abu Talib to take Muhammad back to his country and to guard him from the Jews, for the Jews also have the same information that he has, and if they find that Muhammad is an apostle of God, they will bring harm to him.

Muhammad grew up in Mecca, he was known as "the trustworthy" because it was known throughout the Arab tribes that he had never been known to tell a lie. He was known as the most noble of all of Mecca as well as the best of character.

There is quite a bit more, but I think this is enough for now. This is about where liveforever picks up. As I'm writing this it has become painfully obvious to me why today's historians pick and chose what they like and report it has history. It seems that it's because so much of the history of Islam and the Arabs is based on supernatural events. Regardless, like it or not, this is our history. Take it or leave it.

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