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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Muhammad

EARLY LIFE

Muhammad was born in the northern Arabian town of Mecca about the year 570. He sprang from the distinguished tribe of the Koreishites, the custodians of the sacred shrine of the caaba.

Muhammad's merchant father, Abdullah, died almost six months before he was born. and the young boy was brought up by his paternal grandfather and head of his clan Abd al-Muttalib.

His mother, the beautiful Amina died when Muhammad was 6. When Abd al-Muttalib passed away two years later, the young boy was placed into the care of Abdal Muttalib’s successor, Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle.

As a teenager Muhammad began accompanying his uncle on trading journeys to Syria. He thus became well-traveled and knowledgeable as to foreign ways.

While travelling in Syria with his uncle Abu Talib, the pre-teen Muhammad met a Christian monk called Bahira who told Abu Talib that his nephew would become a prophet. Bahira said that when he had seen the caravan in the distance there was a cloud hanging over them, which was shading them from the great heat of the desert. When the caravan had stopped under a tree the cloud had also stopped above them, a miraculous occurrence that indicated he would be a prophet.

EARLY WORKING LIFE   

As a youth, Muhammad worked with Meccan tradesmen who dealt in spices with Syria and South Arabia. Subsequently he became a camel driver and caravan leader for a widow of means named Khadijah, fifteen years his senior, whom he married.

During his travels, Muhammad met some heretical Arab Christians whose hypocrisy put him off Christianity but encouraged his belief in Monotheism. All he saw was crucifixions and priests and vestments and images and he said that it was as adulterous as the then Arab religion.

BEGINNINGS OF THE QURAN 

In 605 The Black Stone, which was said to have been given by Archangel Gabriel to Abraham, was standing in a shrine called the Kaabi. The Kaabi flooded and the 35-year-old Muhammad was entrusted the job of setting the Black Stone back in it's place.

Muhammad began to pray alone in a cave named Hira on Mount Jabal al-Nour, near Mecca for several weeks every year. He declared that he saw visions, in which the Archangel Gabriel  appeared to him and gave him revelations, which he was commanded to make known to his fellow men. The sum of the new faith, which he was to teach as this: There is but one God, and Muhammad is His prophet.


The cave Hira in the mountain Jabal al-Nour where, according to Muslim belief, Muhammad received his first revelation

When Muhammad reported his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel, his wife Khadija was the first person to convert to Islam. She is commonly regarded by Muslims as the "Mother of the Believers" (i.e., Muslims).

Khadija was followed by Muhammad's ten-year-old cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, close friend Abu Bakr, and adopted son Zaid. Around 613, Muhammad began to preach to the public.

Muhammad started teaching that God had revealed himself to Christians and Jews but both had misinterpreted his word. He advised his followers to respect Jews and Christians because they too were “people of the book”.

His teachings were called "Islam" which means submission to God.

According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Quran the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.

Mohammed's teachings were recorded or memorized by several of his companions as he spoke them. In 650 Uthman, the second leader after Muhammed decided a single Islamic text was necessary, so he gathered a committee headed by one of Mohammed's old secretaries to collect together the scattered documents, the result of which is the Quran.

A folio from an early Quran, written in Kufic script (Abbasid period, 8th–9th century)

MIGRATION TO MEDINA 

Muhammad's preaching met with much opposition and at times he was stoned, so he concluded that Allah intended the divine message and call to be vindicated by political means. Muhammad moved his base from Mecca to the predominately agricultural settlement of Medina, arriving there on September 20, 622.

The Islamic calendar began on July 16, 622  during the year in which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred.

On his arrival in Medina, Muhammad's sole companions were 75 followers and his faithful Father in Law, Abu Bekr. Here, unlike Mecca, there was a favorable response to Muhammed's message and he was able to make it his headquarters.

ARMED CONFLICT 

His cause being espoused by the inhabitants of Medina, Muhammad threw aside the character of an exhorter and assumed that of a warrior. He declared it to be the will of God that the new faith should be spread by the sword. His victory at the Battle of Badr, on March 13, 624 with a mere 300 men aided by a sandstorm, enabled the Prophet to reach a wider area with his new religion.

Hamza and Ali leading the Muslim armies at Badr

On December 11, 630 Mohammed entered Mecca with a force of 10,000 and the city submitted to him. Within two years all of Arabia was united under Islam.

WIVES AND CHILDREN 

One of Muhammad's employers was Khadijah, a rich widow then 40 years old. The young 25-year old Muhammad so impressed Khadijah that she offered him marriage in about 595. He became a wealthy man by this marriage. (By Arab custom minors did not inherit, so Muhammad had received no inheritance from either his father or his grandfather).

A medal of Khadija seen in Promptuarii iconum 

Khadijah bore Muhammad six children, two sons, who both died at a young age and four daughters. All but one of his daughters, Fatimah, died before him.

Muhammad and Khadija were married monogamously for twenty-five years until she died in 620.

After Khadija’s death Muhammad took in total ten more wives and also several concubines.

His third and favourite wife, Aisha, (613-678) was the daughter of his friend Abu Bakr. They married in 619, when she was aged 6.

When Muhammad died in 632 Aisha resisted the claims to the caliphate of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, in favor of her father, Abu Bakr, who helped spread the new religion.

Aisha led a revolt against Ali in 656, but was defeated and exiled to Medina. She is known as the ‘mother of believers’, but the Shia have a generally negative view of Aisha. They accuse her of hating Ali and defying him during his caliphate.

Aisha battling the fourth caliph Ali in the Battle of the Camel

In Medina, Muhammad married Hafsah, daughter of Umar (who would eventually become Abu Bakr's successor). These marriages sealed relations between the prophet and his top-ranking followers.

Muhammad's two surviving daughters also married: Fatimah married Mohammed’s cousin and Umm Kulthum married Uthman. Each of these men, in later years, would emerge as successors to Muhammad as political leader of the Muslims and Ali who is regarded by the Shi’ahs as Mohammed’s successor.

Fatimah was the only child of Muhammad to have male children live beyond childhood. Their descendants are spread throughout the Islamic world and are known as Sayyids. The 11th century dynasty ruling Egypt at the time of the Crusades, the Fatimids, claimed descent from Fatimah

PERSONAL LIFE

Muhammad lived mainly on barley bread, dates and water. His favorite dish was said to be rice cooked in butter.

Mohammed refused garlic as "I am a man who has close contact with others. "

When young Muhammad drank too much wine on one occasion, he went berserkly drunk and made a fool of himself. As a result the Quran forbids Muslims to drink alcohol.

The prophet was a lover of animals especially cats. In order to go to prayers without disturbing his sleeping pet tabby Muessa, he once cut off the sleeve of his robe as Muessa was nestling on it.

According to legend, the prophet Muhammad created the "m" marking on the forehead of the tabby cat, as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favourite cat, a tabby.

Muhammad believed dogs were unclean, but he still taught being kind to all animals including dogs.

According to Muslim folklore, Fadda was the name of the Prophet Muhammad's favorite white mule; he performed some of his miracles while astride it

APPEARANCE 

Muhammad was middle-sized, with a white circular face, wide black eyes, and long eye-lashes. He had thick, curly hair and a bright, luminous complexion.

The prophet Muhammad forbade the portrayal of human figures in art as he feared artists would substitute images of people for God and that would lead to idolatry.

FINAL YEARS

In February 632 Muhammad left Medina, accompanied by all his wives on a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca, After completing the pilgrimage, Muhammad delivered a famous speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at Mount Arafat east of Mecca

The Muslims observed every move, every act, and every gesture of Muhammad made on his farewell pilgrimage. Everything that he did, became a precedent for all time, to be followed by all Muslims.

A few months after the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and suffered for several days with fever, head pain, and weakness. He died on Monday June 8, 632, in Medina, at the age of 62 or 63, in the house of his wife Aisha..

Muhammad was buried where he died in Aisha's house. During the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I, al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet) was expanded to include the site of Muhammad's tomb.

Mausoleum of Muhammad

By the time of the death of Mohammed. all Arabia was Muslim with over 100,000 followers of the new religion. The ageing Abu Bakr was appointed by Mohammed's close followers as the spiritual leader of Islam taking the title of "Caliph". 

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