In , Muhammad fled this hostility in Mecca to the city of Medina in an event known as the Hijra. From Medina, Muhammad united many tribes and converted them to his new religion. In , he led his followers, now numbering roughly 10,, to conquer Mecca and root out the paganism from the city. The Quran is the central religious text of Islam and Muslims believe that it represents the words of God revealed to Muhammad through the archangel Gabriel.
Although it mentions Muhammad directly only four times, there are verses which can be interpreted as allusions to Muhammad's life. The Quran however provides little assistance for a chronological biography of Muhammad, and many of the utterances recorded in it lack historical context. Next in importance are historical works by writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the Muslim era A. These include the traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad the sira literature , which provide further information on Muhammad's life.
The earliest surviving written sira biographies of Muhammad and quotes attributed to him is Ibn Ishaq's Life of God's Messenger written ca. Another early source is the History of Muhammad's campaigns by al-Waqidi d. Many scholars accept the accuracy of the earliest biographies, though their correctness is unascertainable. Recent studies have led scholars to distinguish between the traditions touching legal matters and the purely historical ones.
In the former sphere, traditions could have been subject to invention while in the latter sphere, aside from exceptional cases, the material may have been only subject to "tendential shaping". In addition, traditions regarding the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down both orally and written for more than a hundred years after the death of Muhammad in According to Muslims, the collection of hadith or sayings by or about the prophet Muhammad was a meticulous and thorough process that began right at the time of Muhammad.
Needless to say hadith collection even in the written form began very early on — from the time of Muhammad and continued through the centuries that followed. Thus, Muslims reject any collections that are not robust in withstanding the tests of authenticity per the standards of hadith studies. Western academics view the hadith collections with caution as accurate historical sources.
Scholars such as Prof.
Wilferd Madelung do not reject the narrations which have been compiled in later periods, but judge them in the context of history and on the basis of their compatibility with the events and figures. The earliest documented Christian knowledge of Muhammad stems from Byzantine sources.
They indicate that both Jews and Christians saw Muhammad as a "false prophet". In the Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati of , Muhammad is portrayed as being "deceiving[,] for do prophets come with sword and chariot?
The earliest Syriac source is the 7th-century writer John bar Penkaye. Muhammad was born about the year CE and his birthday is usually celebrated by Muslims in the month of Rabi' al-awwal. He belonged to the Banu Hashim clan, one of the prominent families of Mecca, although it seems not to have been prosperous during Muhammad's early lifetime.
His father, Abdullah, died almost six months before Muhammad was born. According to Islamic tradition, soon after Muhammad's birth he was sent to live with a Bedouin family in the desert, as the desert life was considered healthier for infants. Muhammad stayed with his foster-mother, Halimah bint Abi Dhuayb, and her husband until he was two years old. At the age of six, Muhammad lost his biological mother Amina to illness and he became fully orphaned.
For the next two years, he was under the guardianship of his paternal grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, but when Muhammad was eight, his grandfather also died. He then came under the care of his uncle Abu Talib, the new leader of Banu Hashim. According to Islamic historian William Watt, because of the general disregard of the guardians in taking care of weak members of the tribes in Mecca in the 6th century, "Muhammad's guardians saw that he did not starve to death, but it was hard for them to do more for him, especially as the fortunes of the clan of Hashim seem to have been declining at that time.
While still in his teens, Muhammad accompanied his uncle on trading journeys to Syria gaining experience in commercial trade, the only career open to Muhammad as an orphan.
Islamic tradition states that when Muhammad was either nine or twelve while accompanying the Meccans' caravan to Syria, he met a Christian monk or hermit named Bahira who is said to have foreseen Muhammed's career as a prophet of God. Little is known of Muhammad during his later youth, and from the fragmentary information that is available, it is difficult to separate history from legend. It is known that he became a merchant and "was involved in trade between the Indian ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
His reputation attracted a proposal in from Khadijah, a year-old widow who was 15 years older than he.
Muhammad consented to the marriage, which by all accounts was a happy one. Several years later, Muhammad was involved with a well-known story about setting the Black Stone in place in the wall of the Kaaba in C. The Black Stone, a sacred object, had been removed to facilitate renovations to the Kaaba.
The leaders of Mecca could not agree on which clan should have the honour of setting the Black Stone back in its place. They agreed to wait for the next man to come through the gate and ask him to choose.
That man was the year-old Muhammad, five years before his first revelation. He asked for a cloth and put the Black Stone in its center. The clan leaders held the corners of the cloth and together carried the Black Stone to the right spot, then Muhammad set the stone in place, satisfying the honour of all. Muhammad adopted the practice of praying alone for several weeks every year in a cave on Mount Hira near Mecca. Islamic tradition holds that during one of his visits to Mount Hira, the angel Gabriel appeared to him in the year and commanded Muhammad to recite the following verses:.
After returning home, Muhammad was consoled and reassured by Khadijah and her Christian cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Upon receiving his first revelations, he was deeply distressed and resolved to commit suicide. He also feared that others would dismiss his claims as being possessed. Shi'a tradition maintains that Muhammad was neither surprised nor frightened at the appearance of Gabriel but rather welcomed him as if he had been expecting him.
The initial revelation was followed by a pause of three years during which Muhammad further gave himself to prayers and spiritual practices. When the revelations resumed he was reassured and commanded to begin preaching: "Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
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Muslim scholar Sahih Bukhari depicted Muhammad describing the revelations as, "Sometimes it is revealed like the ringing of a bell" and one of Muhammad's wives, Aisha, reported, "I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead as the Inspiration was over ". According to Prof.
Alford T. Welch, these revelations were accompanied by mysterious seizures, and the reports are unlikely to have been forged by later Muslims. According to the Quran, one of the main roles of Muhammad was to warn the unbelievers of their eschatological punishment Quran , Quran Sometimes the Quran does not explicitly refer to the Judgment day but provides examples from the history of some extinct communities and warns Muhammad's contemporaries of similar calamities Quran — Muhammad was not only a warner to those who reject God's revelation, but also a bearer of good news for those who abandon evil, listen to the divine word and serve God.
Muhammad's mission also involved preaching monotheism. The key themes of the early Quranic verses included the responsibility of man towards his creator; the resurrection of dead, God's final judgment followed by vivid descriptions of the tortures in hell and pleasures in Paradise; and the signs of God in all aspects of life. Religious duties required of the believers at this time were few: belief in God, asking for forgiveness of sins, offering frequent prayers, assisting others particularly those in need, rejecting cheating and the love of wealth considered to be significant in the commercial life of Mecca , being chaste and not to kill newborn girls.
According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad's wife Khadija was the first to believe he was a prophet. Around , Muhammad began his public preaching Quran Most Meccans ignored him and mocked him, while a few others became his followers.
There were three main groups of early converts to Islam: younger brothers and sons of great merchants; people who had fallen out of the first rank in their tribe or failed to attain it; and the weak, mostly unprotected foreigners. According to Ibn Sad, the opposition in Mecca started when Muhammad delivered verses that condemned idol worship and the Meccan forefathers who engaged in polytheism. However, the Quranic exegesis maintains that it began as soon as Muhammad started public preaching.
As the number of followers increased, he became a threat to the local tribes and the rulers of the city, whose wealth rested upon the Kaaba, the focal point of Meccan religious life, which Muhammad threatened to overthrow. The powerful merchants tried to convince Muhammad to abandon his preaching by offering him admission into the inner circle of merchants, and establishing his position therein by an advantageous marriage.
However, he refused. Tradition records at great length the persecution and ill-treatment of Muhammad and his followers. Sumayyah bint Khabbab, a slave of a prominent Meccan leader Abu Jahl, is famous as the first martyr of Islam, having been killed with a spear by her master when she refused to give up her faith.
Bilal, another Muslim slave, was tortured by Umayyah ibn Khalaf who placed a heavy rock on his chest to force his conversion. Muhammad desperately hoping for an accommodation with his tribe, either from fear or in the hope of succeeding more readily in this way, pronounced a verse acknowledging the existence of three Meccan goddesses considered to be the daughters of Allah, and appealing for their intercession. Muhammad later retracted the verses at the behest of Gabriel, claiming that the verses were whispered by the devil himself.
Some scholars argued against its historicity on various grounds. While this incident got widespread acceptance by early Muslims, strong objections to it were raised starting from the 10th century, on theological grounds.