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Historically Speaking

Historically Speaking: Who Was The Prophet Muhammad

by Tom Morrow

In today’s world, the Islamic religion has vaulted to the news forefront as radical believers wage war in all parts of Middle East and into the Western world.
Followers believe the prophet Muhammad is their messiah, but who was he? Here’s a snapshot his life.

Muhammad was born circa. 570 A.D. His full name was Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn Abd Allāh ibn Abd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim. He was from Mecca, now the sacred capital of the Islamic world located in Saudi Arabia.

Muhammad unified Arabia into a single religious state under Islam. Believed by Muslims and Bahá’ís to be a prophet and messenger of God, Muhammad is considered by Muslims as the last prophet sent by God to mankind.

Interestingly, while non-Muslims generally regard Muhammad as the founder of Islam, Muslims consider him to have “restored” the original , one-deity faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets in Islam. Many of those early writings are the same in the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, and the Muslim Quran.

Muhammad was orphaned at an early age; he was raised under the care of an uncle. After his childhood, Muhammad primarily worked as a merchant, but on occasion he would retreat to the mountains for seclusion and prayer. Around age 40, Muhammad reported he was visited by the angel Gabriel and received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that “God is One,” that complete “surrender” to Him is the only way acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to other Islamic prophets.

At first, Muhammad gained few followers and met hostility from some Meccan tribes. To escape persecution, Muhammad sent some of his followers to Abyssinia while he and his followers migrated to Medina in the year 622 A.D. This event marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the “Hijri Calendar.”

In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina. After eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and marched on the city of Mecca. The attack went largely uncontested and Muhammad captured the city with little bloodshed. He destroyed the pagan idols in the city and sent his followers out to destroy all remaining pagan temples in Eastern Arabia. In 632 A.D., a few months after returning to Medina from a farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died on June 8, of that year. Before his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam, and he had united Arabia into a single Islamic state. Present day unrest in the Middle East centers on an attempt to re-establish that Islamic entity.

The revelations, which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad’s teachings and practices also are upheld by Muslims and used as sources of Islamic law (Sharia). While conceptions of Muhammad in medieval Christendom were largely negative, some modern history scholars have been far more favorable.

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