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A Brief History of the Prophet
by Erowid
The prophet Muhammad was born in Makkah in the year 570 AD. Named Muhammad, meaning "highly praised", he was born into a leading tribe of Mecca, the Quraysh (Quraish or Koreish). His father was 'Abd Allah, a noble from the tribe who died before Muhammad's birth, and his mother, Aminah died shortly afterwards. Thus, Muhammad was raised by an uncle, Abu Talib.

Muhammad was raised affectionately by his uncle, Abu Talib. As he grew up, Muhammad became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, earning the title of al Amin, the trustworthy one.

The angels of God, we are told, opened Muhammad's heart and filled it with light. The description epitomizes his early character as this comes down to us by tradition. Pure-hearted and beloved in his circle, he was, it is said, of sweet and gentle disposition. His bereavements having made him sensitive to human suffereing in every form, he was always ready to help others, especially the weak and the poor. (The World's Religions)

At the age of twenty five while in the caravan business, Muhammad entered the service of a wealthy widow named Khadija. She was impressed by him and though she was fifteen years older than him, their relationship soon evolved into marriage and the marriage turned out to be a happy one.

For fifteen years following the marriage, Muhammad continued to develop his contemplative life. Being of this kind and contemplative nature, he was disturbed by the decadence and immorality of his society. He began to meditate frequently in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the 'Mountain of Light' on the outskirts of Mecca. At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel came to Muhammad and said "Proclaim! Proclaim in the name of your Lord who created man from blood coagulated! Proclaim: your Lord is wonderous kind, Who teaches by the pen, Things men knew not, being blind" (Qurán 96:1-3). Muhammad ran home and told his wife that he had either become a prophet or a madman....after hearing his story she became his first convert. This revelation, which continued to order him to "proclaim!" for twenty-three years, is known as the Qurán. From this point on, Muhammad's life was given to the proclamation of God's word.

The response to Muhammad's proclamations was (for all but a few) violently hostile. The reasons for the hostility can be reduced to three: it's uncompromising monotheism threatened polytheistic beliefs and the considerable revenue that was coming to Mecca from pilgrimages to its 360 shrines (one for each day of the lunar year); its moral teachings demaded an end to the licentiousness that citizens clung to; and its social content challenged an unjust order. (The World's Religions)

Muhammad collected only a few followers in the first years. These early Muslims suffered bitter persecution. But slowly, the group continued to grow. But in the year 622 A.D., the leaders of Yathrib, a city 260 to the north of Mecca, made an offer to Muhammad. The city was in the midst of internal rivalries and they needed a strong and impartial new leader. In exchange for a pledge that they would follow the precepts of Islam, Muhammad accepted the position. His migration to Yathrib (the hijrah) is considered the turning point of history and marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Yathrib soon became known as Medinat al-Nabi, or the City of the Prophet. This was later shortened into it's current version of Medina, "the city."

Medina provided Muhammad and the Muslims the safe and nurturing haven in which the Muslim community could continue to grow. Eight years after Muhammad left Mecca, after years of conflict with the Meccans, the Prophet and his followers returned to Mecca, where they forgave their enemies and dedicated the Ka'bah (a cubical temple said to have been built by Abraham) to the worship of Allah, the One God. Muhammad returned to Medina where he died two years later, in 632 A.D., at the age of 63. Before the end of the century, Islam was being practiced in Armenia, Persia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, North Africa, Spain, and even France.