The Quarish and Hanifs were two tribes living in and around Mecca. The Quarish were the most important, living in and around the region of Mecca. They were merchants who organised and protected the traders that came to Mecca. The Quarish had control of the Ka’bah and also to the water supply of Mecca. The Ka’bah is a cubed shaped temple, said to be first made by Adam, the first man on Earth, and therefore was the first house of God on Earth. Having made profit from the traders, the Quarish also made profit by supervising provisions for the many thousands of pilgrims that came to see and worship the idols at the Ka’bah.
The Hanifs were honourable tribesmen, who would go off alone to pray in the silence of the mountains or the desert. The Hanifs were not pleased by the way the Quarish became selfish, greedy and corrupted by the vast amounts of money coming to them due to the huge amounts of visitors that came to see the Ka’bah. One famous Hanif was Abd-al-Muttalib, who was respected for his devout fasting and praying. In 570 CE his son, Abdullah, suddenly died, shortly after marrying his young wife Aminah, leaving her pregnant. Her child, who was to change the whole history of the world, was known as Muhammad.
There were many legends about Muhammad. One was about his mother hearing voices telling here that Muhammad would be a great leader. Another was that there was a heavy rain, which would be a blessing that would end the drought. Another of these legends was that 2 angels removed Muhammad’s heart, washed it, and weighed it against one man, then 10 men, then a hundred, and finally, 1000 men’s hearts, but Muhammad’s heart was heavier than all the hearts put together. Muhammad insisted that these rumours were untrue, and that he did not have miraculous powers, but it was Jesus the prophet that did have miraculous powers. He said that just a simple man, devout to God, and Allah had simply just chosen to speak through him.
When Muhammad was a baby, he was taken into the desert and brought up to the age of 6 by a Bedouin woman, Halimah. This was done because the air in the desert was purer, so he was a lot less likely to get disease at an early age. At 6 years old, Mohammad returned to his mother. His mother, however, died that very year, making Mohammad an orphan. Mohammad was then looked after by his grandfather, Adb-al-Muttalib, who was 80 years old. Two years after this, Mohammad’s grandfather died, and he was left under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib, who was a rich merchant.
Muhammad first worked as a shepherd, and as time passed by, Mohammad’s uncle realised that Mohammad was a trustworthy and hardworking, so Mohammad was taken on business journeys with his uncle. During this time, Mohammad earned the nickname, al-Amin, which mean Trustworthy.
Muhammad was thought of as a fine young man, with dark hair and eyes, with a piercing expression and thoughtful and intelligent face. He was a kind man with a good sense of humour.
Khadijah was a wealthy widow aged 40. She employed Mohammad to supervise her camel trade. She later gathered the courage to ask Mohammad to marry her, who has only 25 at the time. Mohammad accepted the marriage proposal, and for 25 years he loved her, until her death at the age of 65. She stood by him in all his trials and persecutions. Even after her death, she remained close to her in his mind. In all, they had 6 children. They had 4 daughters- Zainab, Ruqaiyyah, Umm Kulthym and Fatimah. They also had two sons- Quasim and Abdullah, who both died in infancy.
When Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, was in hard times, Mohammad repaid the kindness his uncle showed his by looking after his uncle’s son, Ali.
Zaid ibn Haritha was another child in the house, who was a slave boy given to Khadijah as a present. One day, Zaid’s father, who had been searching for him for years, found him. He offered to buy him back. Zaid was asked what he wished to do, and he chose to stay with Mohammad. Mohammad was very moved my Zaid’s decision, and he freed him instantly, and raised Zaid as his own son.
Muhammad often went by himself to the hills to pray to God where there is silence. He sometimes stayed out all night praying, and like his grandfather, he used to fast during the month of Ramadan. Muhammad was respected by many for being a person close to God even though he couldn’t read nor right. Muhammad also disliked rich merchants being greedy, because he thought with wealth, came greed. He also thought that praying to idols brought you no closer to God, and there is no meaning to pray to a stone. One night when Muhammad was 40 during the 9th month or Ramadan, Muhammad experienced something that changed his life.
He was given a revelation by God. This revelation was known as “The Night of Power”. This happened while Muhammad went to pray on Mount Hira, when suddenly he heard someone call him. The voice yelled “Iqra” which means, “recite”. He saw a roll of silk which fiery writing on it, but Muhammad didn’t know how to read. He was asked to recite three times, before Muhammad said the words, he had learned how to read just then. The angel who had appeared in front of him was Jibril.
Muhammad struggled home with shock to his wife Khadijah. He was unsure whether he had been tricked by the devil, or the message had been from God. Muhammad carefully told Khadijah what he had heard, and then Khadijah wrapped him in thick cloth. She then talked to her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nufal, who was a Christian who could translate the Gospels.
He was almost 100 years old, and blind and Khadijah respected his judgement over things. Waraqa, after hearing Khadijah repeat the words Muhammad had heard, was quite sure that Muhammad had heard the word of God, and she became the first to believe the message the Muhammad had received. Ali was the next to believe the message, and then Zaid. Soon after, Abu Bakr, Muhammads friend, believed in the message. Muhammad had not actually spread the message yet; he had only talked to the people close to him about his experiences.
After Muhammad’s experience, he received no further revelations for the last two years, and he was becoming anxious about this. The prophet was being tested in his faith, and had passed. Muhammad had received another message, and from then on, passed the messages into public.
When Muhammad received his messages from God, he always asked friends to memorize and write them down, so none of the information would be lost. When Muhammad received the messages from God, he experienced feelings like:
-When special revelations occurred, Muhammad went into trances and started shaking.
-Muhammad always knew when the revelations were about to occur.
-He sometimes lay down in his cloak.
-Muhammad sometimes lost consciousness when he was receiving a message from God.
-Sometimes, Muhammad sweated very heavily and would be soaked in the sweat, even when weather was cold.
-Sometimes, Muhammad could not hear the message clearly, and it sounded like the ringing off bells. This was the hardest message to interpret for Muhammad.
-Sometimes the message came to him at random times, like when he was riding or talking to the public.
-A few times, Jibril the angel came to him in the form of a man to give him more revelations.
During these visions, Muhammad always felt very close to death, and feeling that his soul was leaving his body. However, he always returned to his normal state after a revelation, and repeated what he had heard, so he could remember it.
After Muhammad had received the message to go forth and preach by Allah, he began to do this with great urgency. He made people realise that there was a God, and there is an afterlife. Also, he told people that after death, you would be judged, if you had been a good person, you will be rewarded in the afterlife, and if you were a bad person, you would be punished throughout the afterlife.
He convinced the people that life was only a test for the day of judgement. He also said that God was merciful, and will forgive you if you learn from your mistakes and are sorry about them. He also said that God give a perfectly fair decision, so if you have been bad all your life, you definitely will be punished. Muhammad also insisted that everyone’s duty was to serve God, because God is a lot more important than your friends, family and any other useless idol that could not even be compared to God.
Muhammad also taught that women and slaves deserved their dignity too, as these two groups had little rights and were badly treated frequently.
When Muhammad first preached to the people of Makkah, the people knew he was a kind and devout man, but ridiculed his messages, and they didn’t take him seriously. The people didn’t want to give up their selfish ways. Even Muhammad’s own tribe was furious at him; the Quarish feared that people would stop coming to pray to the idols at Makkah, which would mean there would be less profit coming to them.
Muhammad had not come to any harm by the Quarish tribe, but he was often ridiculed, threatened and insulted. This did not change Muhammad’s mind, so the Quarish began to make claims of Muhammad being a sorcerer, and that he wanted young men rebel against their fathers and split up their families. He was also accused of insulting their Gods. Nothing could make Muhammad give in, even his uncle, Abu Lahab, a Quarish tribal chief, failed to make Muhammad give in.
The people who braved the opposition, and joined Muhammad’s side were known as Muslims. As the Muslim side grew, the opposition became greatly worried that important people were joining his side.
10 years after Muhammad had got a message from God, his uncle, Abu Talib, died. He has lost his protector, and his life was in danger. At the end of the year his wife Khadijah also died. During this time, Muhammad had lost the great support he received from both of them, and felt bleakness and sorrow. This year was known as the year of sorrow. During this time, persecutions became worse; his enemies took advantage of his difficult times. One of his enemies, Abu Lahabs wife, left thorns and rubbish outside his house daily, until she fell ill. After this, Muhammad did the housework for her until she recovered.
During the period of persecution, Muhammad received an extraordinary experienced, known as Mi’raj, which means ladder or ascent, and it refers to what Muhammad had seen on this Night Journey. We are not sure if Muhammad actually had gone on the journey, or if it was a vision.
While the prophet lay, the angel Jibril came and woke him up and took him to Jerusalem on a winged horse, named al Buraq, which can be translated into the word “lightning”. From Jerusalem, he was taken to the seven Heavens, and was also shown Hell. In each of the heavens, he met earlier prophets, including Aaron, Musa, Ibrahim and Isa. When the prophet saw Ibrahim, he was very surprised in that Ibrahim looked the same as he did almost. One important part of Muhammad’s vision was when he was discussing how much Muslims should pray. Muhammad thought 50 times a day would be right, but Musa said that this was far too much to pray for a normal human. The number of times to pray was settled at 5, and this amount of times to pray has been practised since. Gradually, the prophet and the angel approached the throne of God.
In this area, Muhammad felt only great peace and the pure brilliance of the light. Neither him, nor the angel could approach any closer to God. Time, thought and feeling were stopped as Muhammad received the blessings from God. This feeling he received was impossible to put into words, it was beyond human knowledge and understanding. The prophet then came back to earth. Muhammad was confused to why the place he had been lying in was still warm, and why the cup that he had tipped over was still emptying itself. He came to the conclusion that these events had occurred in an instant.
Muhammad returned to Makkah to continue preaching, when one day he was heard by some pilgrims from Yathrib, which was inhabited by 3 Arab tribes and 2 Jewish tribes. The pilgrims were fascinated by what Muhammad had to say, and they invited his to his town, so he could judge and settle their disputes. The people had made a pledge in which they agreed:
-To only obey Allah
-Never to steal again
-Never to commit adultery
-Never to do evil
-To protect the Prophet against all odds.
Muhammad warned of all the dangers that would come, with him coming to their town, but they cared not about their wealth, property, and were also willing to risk their lives. He said that if they remained true to their oath, they would receive paradise in the afterlife.
After talking to them, Muhammad agreed to leave Makkah to go to their town.
When Muhammad had got to Yathrib, he was amazed and delighted at the welcome he received from the people. He was accepted here as an honourable and respected leader. Everyone wanted him to stay in his or her homes. However, he could not stay in everyone’s house, not wishing to give offence to anyone, he asked his camel to choose a site for where he could stay, and in this place he bought land and built a house there. This site is preserved to this day as the first Mosque. Yathrib then received the new name Madinah in the year 622 CE, and this was the then made the first year in the Muslim calendar.
Mohammad soon became the ruler of Medina, and eventually, the supreme head of a nation commanding thousands of believers. Muhammad still remained to live as a poor man.
The Makkans were very determined to harm Muhammad. The attempted to bribe the Madinans to hand over Muhammad, but this did not work. The Makkans persecuted Muslims that remained in Makkah, and also their relatives that lived in Makkah, and stole their property.
In 624 CE, Muhammads relative Abu Sufyan sent a force of 1000 men to attack Madinah. Muhammad only had 313 men on his side, including young boys, but Allah had helped them win the fight against them. The Makkans had fled, leaving only 70 dead and 70 prisoners.
A year later, the Makkans took revenge by attack Madinah again, with a lot more men, at Mount Uhud. The Muslims were confident, but there were mistakes fought in the battle. The lack of discipline and confusion of tactics led to a lost battle, leaving Muhammad wounded with two lost teeth.
In 630 CE, Muhammad went into Makkah with 10 000 men. He was unchallenged. He went on his camel and went around the Ka’bah 7 times, and then touched the black stone set in the corner of the Ka’bah. He conquered the city in the name of Allah, and Makkah was now his. Only 11 people died outside the city.
The Makkans accepted the Muslim faith, and they became Muslims. Makkah became the city the dedicated to Allah. Only Muslims were allowed to enter this city, and this ban is still in force today.
In 632 CE, Muhammad new that he would die soon, and he went back to Makkah with 140 000 pilgrims, and he climbed Mount Mercy, and gave his last sermon. He asked the people to continue as how they were, and continue being part of the faith of Islam. When Muhammad came back home, he fell ill with violent headaches, becoming weak. He asked permission of all his wives to go to Aishah’s room, where they could nurse him until he died. With his head in Aishah’s lap, he died.
Abu Bakr then became the leader of the Muslims, and told them not to pray to Muhammad, but to Allah.
In conclusion to this, I would say Muhammad is the best role model for a Muslim, because was a devout Muslim, who was a patient and deeply religious man. He was also a great leader, and was also and honest man. He went through all his hardships, and continued his work even through deep sorrow.