The prophet Muhammad: a simple guide to his life
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO HIS LIFE
- The Life of the Prophet
- The Prophet in the Quran
- The Personality of the Prophet of Islam
- The Prophetic Wisdom
- The Policy of the Prophet
- The Prophet of Islam and other Prophets
- Sunnah Hudaybiya
- The Prophetic Mission
- The Prophet as a Model
- The Finality of Prophethood
- Trusting Human Nature
- Studying the Prophet’s Life in the Light of his Message
- The Power of Peace
- Prophetic Guidance for the Modern Age
The Life of the Prophet
The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, who was born in Makkah in 570 A.D. and died in Madinah in 632 A.D. received the prophethood at the age of forty. We give here a brief sketch of his life.
Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was still in his mother’s womb when his father Abdullah died. A few years after his birth, his mother too passed away. In accordance with the ancient Arab custom, he was looked after by a Bedouin woman, Haleema Sadia. Being an orphan, he was taken charge of by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib.
After the latter’s death, Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, who was a merchant, became his guardian. The Prophet accompanied him on certain trading journeys.
At the age of twenty-five he married a Makkan widow, Khadijah bint Khowailid, who was forty years old at the time.
When the Prophet was forty years old, he received his first revelation from God, in the cave of Hira near Makkah, where he often used to go in search of solitude.
It was here that the Angel Jibril (Gabrial) came to him for the first time and gave him the good tidings that God had chosen him as His Prophet.
The first few verses revealed to him on this occasion form part of chapter 96, titled ‘The Clot’ in the Quran.
The Quran was not revealed in the form of a book, all at once, but in parts, very gradually over a period of 23 years. Extraordinary arrangements were made for the preservation of the Quran from the very first day of its revelation.
Whenever any part of the Quran was to be revealed, Jibril (Gabrial) would visit the Prophet and recite the relevant verses to him. He would first of all commit them to memory, then dictate them to his scribes, so that they could be preserved for posterity.
The Prophet possessed an excellent memory, but being unable to read and write, he appointed a number of his companions as “transcribers of revelation.” One or the other transcriber always remained in his company so that he could immediately write down the passages of the Quran as soon as they were revealed.
The Prophet took such great care in this matter that even during such a critical and precarious journey as that of emigration, he was accompanied by a scribe, Abu Bakr. Along with other necessary items he always kept pen and paper with him in order that the revealed passages could immediately be recorded.
Another special arrangement made along with their preservation in writing was the memorizing of the verses by most of the companions. These memorized verses were then recited daily in their prayers.
In this way the preservation of the Quran was simultaneously being done in two fool-proof ways.
When the entire Quran had been revealed, Jibril (Gabrial) came to the Prophet and recited the entire scriptures from the opening chapter to the last, (titled ‘Men’), in exactly the same order in which they exist today. The Prophet then recited the entire Quran in this revised order to his companions.
A large number of them, who had already memorized the entire Quran in its initial order, now adhered to the new arrangement. They used to recite the Quranic verses again and again in their daily prayers and at the same time read out passages to others.
In this way the Quran was compiled during the life of the Prophet, and to this day it has remained in the same form.
Subsequently the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, had this compilation prepared in the form of a bound volume. Gradually, copies of it were circulated to all the provincial centers.
After Muhammad received the prophethood, his lifestyle changed completely. He stopped going to the cave of Hira and engaged himself fully in the communication of the message he had received from God.
At that time, idolatry being prevalent in Makkah, the Prophet began to tell people that idolatry was the practice of empty rituals.
The true religion was the worship of one God, obedience to His commands alone, and a life lived in accordance with His will.
He stressed that the idolatrous religions would not be acceptable in the Hereafter; only to monotheism would any value be attached. The true monotheists would be rewarded by God with heaven in the Hereafter.
His method of propagating the true faith (dawah) consisted mostly of reciting a passage from a part of the Quran to the people (madu). Sometimes he would go to a place where people had gathered and would say: “O people, say there is no Being worthy of worship save God and you will be successful.”
In this way the Prophet continued to communicate the message of monotheism to the idolaters around him.
In the beginning the Prophet adopted the method of conveying the message privately to people at an individual level.
About three years later he began publicly to invite people to accept monotheism. It was then that he met with opposition.
At that time the Makkans as well as other tribes of Arabia had adopted idolatry as a religious practice.
They apprehended that the Prophet wanted them to abandon the religion of their ancestors and follow a new religion.
But this was something they could never tolerate. In that case it was but natural for them to oppose the message of monotheism.