Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Hāshim (Arabic: محمد بن عبد اللّه بن عبد المطّلب بن هاشم) (b. 'Am al-Fil/570 Mecca – d. 11/632 Medina) is the prophet of Islam, whose mission was essentially the advancement of monotheism and morality. He (s) was also a social reformist and a political leader. He (s) was the last prophet of God, and his major miracle was the Qur'an.
Although the Prophet (s) was born in the polytheistic society of Arabia, he never worshiped any idols, and avoided the inappropriate manners that were rampant in pre-Islamic Arabia. He (s) was chosen by God as a prophet at the age of forty. Although the polytheists of Mecca persecuted him and his followers for many years, neither he, nor his followers gave up following Islam. After thirteen years of preaching in Mecca, he immigrated to Medina. This immigration (Hijra) marked what became the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, he established an ever expanding community of believers, the Muslim ummah.
Because of the efforts of the Prophet (s), the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance ended, and the polytheistic society of Arabia was transformed into a monotheistic society in a short time. Towards the end of the Prophet's (s) life, almost everyone in the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam. The number of Muslims has continued to grow ever since, and Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world.
The Prophet (s) enjoined his followers to adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He designated Imam 'Ali (a) as his successor on various occasions throughout his life, including the event of Ghadir.
The Prophet's lineage is as follows: Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib (Shyba al-Hamd, 'Amir) b. Hashim ('Amr al-'Ula) b. 'Abd Manaf (al-Mughira) b. Qusayy (Zayd) b. Kilab (Hakim) b. Murra b. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr (Quraysh) b. Malik b. Nadr (Qays) b. Kinana b. Khuzayma b. Mudrika ('Amr) b. Ilyas b. Mudar b. Nizar (Khuldan) b. Ma'add b. 'Adnan.
His mother was Amina bt. Wahb b. 'Abd Manaf b. Zuhra b. Kilab.
Al-'Allama al-Majlisi has said, "All Twelver Shi'as agree that Abu Talib, Amina bt. Wahb and 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib and all of the forefathers of the Prophet (s), dating back to the time of Adam (a), were believers [in God]."
|[Expand]Family tree of the Prophet (s)|
His teknonyms were Abu l-Qasim and Abu Ibrahim. Some epithets of his were: al-Mustafa (the chosen), Habib Allah (beloved one of Allah), Safi Allah (chosen one of Allah), Ni'mat Allah (gift of Allah), Khiyarat Khalq Allah (the chosen one from the creatures of Allah), Sayyid al-Mursalin (master of the prophets), Khatam al-Nabiyyin (the last of the propehts), Rahmat li-l-'Alamin (a blessing for the two worlds), al-Nabi al-Ummi (the unschooled prophet).
The exact year of the Prophet's (s) birth is not known. Ibn Hisham and some others have written that it was in 'Am al-fil (literally, "the year of the elephant"), the year in which Abraha al-Ashram and his elephants attempted to destroy the Ka'ba. But this does not help much, since it cannot be said for certain what year the year of the elephant was. However, taking into consideration that the Prophet's (s) demise was in 632 CE, and that he was 63 years old at the time of his demise, the year of his birth must have been either 569 or 570 CE.
Muhammad (s) spent his childhood as an orphan. A few months after 'Abd Allah (his father) married Amina, the daughter of Wahb (the chief of the Banu Zuhra family), 'Abd Allah went on a business trip to Damascus, and passed away on his return in Yathrib (now Medina). Some historians say that his death was before Muhammad's birth and some have written that he passed away a few months after Muhammad (s) was born. Muhammad (s) spent his early childhood with a woman from the Banu Sa'd tribe, named Halima, who breastfed him. Muhammad lived his first years with his wet nurse and her husband in the desert.
When Muhammad (s) was six years and three months old (or four years old according to some reports), he traveled to Yathrib with his mother, Amina, to see his relatives on the side of 'Abd al-Muttalib's mother (i.e. Banu 'Adi b. Najjar). However, on her way back to Mecca, she passed away in Abwa' and was buried there. Amina was 30 years old at the time of death.
After the loss of his mother, 'Abd al-Muttalib, undertook the guardianship of Muhammad (s). When Muhammad (s) was eight years old, 'Abd al-Muttalib also passed away. Since then, Muhammad's (s) uncle, Abu Talib, took care of him.  In the house of Abu Talib, his wife, Fatima bt. Asad, was so kind to Muhammad (s) that when she passed away, the Prophet (s) said, "Today, my mother has died!".
Historians have written that as a child, Muhammad (s) accompanied his uncle Abu Talib in one of his journeys to Damascus. On the way, they stopped in a place called Busra, where they met a Christian monk whose name was Bahira. He saw the signs of prophethood in Muhammad (s) and advised Abu Talib on how to best treat him (Muhammad). He especially advised him to protect Muhammad (s) from the Jews who were his enemies.
It is recorded that when the caravan moved away from Bahira, he asked Muhammad (s) to stay and told him that, "By al-Lat and al-'Uzza, I command you to answer my questions!" Muhammad (s) responded to Bahira by saying, "Don't ask me to answer you in the name of al-Lat and al-'Uzza because I do not hate anything more than them".. Then, Bahira asked him to answer by the name of Allah.
One of the most important events in the life of Muhammad (s), before his marriage, was his participation in an agreement called Hilf al-Fudul in which some of the youths of Mecca pledged "to support any person under oppression and defend their rights".
When Muhammad (s) was twenty-five years old, Abu Talib told him, "The caravan of Quraysh is ready to go to Damascus. Khadija bt. Khuwaylid, has given money to some of your family members to conduct business for her and to take their shares of profit. She might accept for you to join them, if you would like to." Then, he spoke with Khadija and she accepted. Ibn Ishaq has written that when Khadija saw the trustworthiness and the dignity of Muhammad (s), she told him that she would pay him a bigger share than others if he accepted to conduct business using her money.
After that business trip, Khadija married Muhammad (s).
"The best of you are the best of you to their wives."
Muhammad (s) married Khadija when he was twenty-five years old. Khadija lived with the Prophet (s) for 25 years and passed away 10 years after Bi'tha. Khadija gave birth to a few children, the boys of whom died in childhood. The most famous of her daughters was Lady Fatima (a).
After dimise of Khadija, the Prophet (s) married Sawda bt. Zam'a. The next wives of the Prophet (s) were:
All of the Prophet's (s) children, save for Fatima (a), died when the Prophet (s) was alive and his descendants are all from the line of Fatima (a). In total, he had three sons and four daughters:
Placing al-Hajar al-Aswad (black stone) on the Ka'ba happened before the Prophet's (s) mission began and confirmed his social status amongst people of Mecca. History has it that the Ka'ba was respected even amongst the polytheistic Arabs of the pre-Islam, during the Age of Ignorance. Once a flood damaged the Ka'ba and ruined its walls, the Quraysh reconstructed the walls. When they wanted to place the al-Hajar al-Aswad (black stone) onto the Ka'ba, an argument broke out between the chiefs of the Quraysh's families as to which of them should do it. Each of them wanted to have the honor of placing the stone back onto the Ka'ba. The argument was heated and they even brought a tub full of blood and put their hands in it, which was a type of pledge that they had to fight until one of them won. Finally, they agreed to accept the judgment of the first person who would enter al-Masjid al-Haram through the gate of Banu Shayba, and to do whatever that person said. The first person who entered was Muhammad (s). The nobles of the Quraysh said that Muhammad (s) was trustworthy and that they would accept his judgment. Then, they told him what had happened. Muhammad (s) said, "Let us spread a piece of cloth." They did so, and he then placed the black stone on it. Then, he said that "The chief of every family should come and hold a corner of this cloth." They lifted up the cloth and brought the stone to the place it had to be installed, then he lifted the stone and placed it back onto the Ka'ba. By such a judgment, he prevented an imminent war.
According to the Twelver Shi'as, the mission of the Prophet (s) began on the Rajab 27. In the years prior to his mission, Muhammad (s) spent a lot of time in solitude, worshiping God. He would spend a month in solitude in a cave called Hira', at the mountains and would worship God there (see: tahannuth). During that month, he (s) would give food to any poor person that asked him. After the month was completed, he returned to Mecca and circumambulated the Ka'ba seven times or more before returning home. He was in the cave of Hira' when the mission began and verses of the Qur'an were revealed to him. Later, Muhammad (s) described the event:
It is widely believed that the Prophet (s) was forty years old at the beginning of his mission. With this revelation which triggered his mission, the Prophet (s) returned to Mecca reading these verses, which are in Qur'an 96. Upon that feeling which was new to him at that night, naturally he returned to his house immediately. There were three people in his house that night: his wife Khadija, his cousin Ali b. Abi Talib, and his adopted son Zayd b. Haritha. The holy Prophet (s) first began to teach Islam to his own family and so the first people who believed in his Prophethood were his wife from amongst the women, and Ali b. Abi Talib from amongst the men. At that time, Ali was under the guardianship of the Prophet (s). Other people mentioned in other sources as the first Muslims are Abu Bakr and Zayd b. Haritha. Although the initial invitation was limited, the number of Muslims began to grow and soon they began to go out of Mecca and pray with the Prophet (s).
It is recorded that Muhammad (s) invited people secretly to Islam for three years after the beginning of his mission. However, because of the order of the revelation of the verses of the Qur'an, some believe that the Prophet's (s) public invitation was carried out very shortly after the first revelation.
In the beginning, the Prophet (s) invited people to abandon worshiping multiple gods (idols) and to begin worshiping one God (i.e. monotheism). In the beginning, prayers were in two units. Later, it was an obligation for travelers to perform the prayers in two units and for others to perform it in four units. At the time of prayers, Muslims would hide from others in the splits of mountains and other faraway places in order to perform the prayers. Gradually, the Muslims began to grow in numbers in Mecca. It is well-known that three years after the beginning of his mission, God ordered the Prophet (s) to invite people to Islam publicly. Ibn Ishaq writes that the Prophet (s) told Ali (a), "O Ali! God has told me to call upon the closest of my family to worship Him. So slaughter a sheep and provide some bread and a bowl of milk". Ali (a) did so and approximately forty members of family of 'Abd al-Muttalib gathered together and ate the food, which was not enough for the number of people present there. However, they all ate the food till they were full, which was miraculous. When the Prophet (s) wanted to begin his speech, Abu Lahab said, "He has enchanted you all (for food!)". Because of this, confusion spread and all the guests left. The Prophet (s) invited them again on another occasion and told them:
As al-Tabari writes, after the Prophet (s) declared his invitation to Islam amongst his relatives he said:
"Good manners and good neighborhoods cause regions to flourish."
As the number of Muslims grew faster, the chiefs of the Quraysh became more worried about it. They went to Abu Talib (the Prophet's (s) uncle and protector) and asked him to stop his nephew from the mission of Prophethood that he had started. They asked him to give Muhammad (s) over to them so that they could kill him and in return they offered Abu Talib the guardianship of Ammara b. al-Walid who was -in their opinion- a handsome and wise young man. Abu Talib responded by exclaiming: "Shall I give my son to you so that you can kill him and raise your son? What a difficult task!
The Quraysh could not harm the Prophet (s) because of tribal customs, and if they did, they would enter a war with Banu Hashim and other tribes would interfere and the situation would become too difficult to bear. Therefore, their opposition to the Prophet (s) would consist of using foul language and causing minor injuries. However, they would harass other new Muslims, as this same type of protection did not extend to them.
The conflict began to escalate. So, the chiefs of the Quraysh went to Abu Talib again and asked him to stop his nephew from the path he was following. Abu Talib informed the Prophet (s) about their request and the Prophet (s) said: "By God, I swear, that if the sun was given to me in my right hand and the moon on the other, I would not abandon my mission." Abu Talib said: "Then follow your mission, and I will not let them harm you." Thereafter, the Quraysh became more determined to harm him and his followers.
As the number of new Muslims grew, the enmity of the Quraysh towards them also increased. The Prophet (s) was supported by Abu Talib, so the Quraysh could not harm him due to the tribal pacts. However, they felt no limits in harming his followers because they had no protection. The harassment and torture of his followers deeply upset the Prophet (s). In order for them to practice their faith freely, he ordered them to immigrate to Abyssinia. He told them that, "There is a king there who harms no one. Go there and stay there so that God frees you from the trouble here." When the Quraysh learned of the immigration of these new Muslims, they sent 'Amr b. al-'As and 'Abd Allah b. Abi Rabi'a to the king of Abyssinia to implore him to return those Muslims back to Mecca. After a lengthy trial, when the king heard the representatives of the Quraysh and the responses of the Muslims, he refused to submit to the requests of the Quraysh. Thus, the representatives of the Quraysh returned to Mecca empty-handed.
When the Quraysh saw that Islam was gaining span in Mecca, and that the king did not hand over the immigrants, they decided to put Muhammad (s) and his followers under severe economic sanctions. Doing so, they wrote a treaty which said nobody could marry any of the children of Hashim or 'Abd al-Muttalib. Further, nobody could sell or buy anything from them. Then, they hung this decree in the Ka'ba (as the sign of its great obligation). Thereafter, Banu Hashim and Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib had to live under the boycott in Shi'b Abi Talib.
The sanctions lasted two or three years. During this time, they lived in extreme difficulty. A couple of their relatives would smuggle wheat or other essentials to them, so that they could continue. One night, Abu Jahl, who was a bitter enemy of Banu Hashim, was informed of this, and stopped Hakim b. Hazam from bringing wheat to Khadija. Others interfered and criticized Abu Jahl for the severity of his actions. Eventually, some of the Quraysh felt guilty and chose to side with Banu Hashim. They wondered why Banu Makhzum should live an easy life while the children of Hashim and 'Abd al-Muttalib should live in difficulty. Thus, they decided to end the treaty. And some of those that had signed it decided to tear up the treaty. Ibn Hisham narrates from Ibn Ishaq that when they went in the Ka'ba, they saw that the treaty had already been miraculously eaten by termites and that only the phrase "Bismik Allahumma" [In Your name O Allah] had remained of it. Ibn Hisham narrates that "Abu Talib went to a meeting of the Quraysh and said: "My nephew says that termites have eaten the treaty and that only the name of God remains. See for yourself, and if he is right, end the boycott. If he is lying, I will hand him over to you'.
When they went to see the treaty, they saw that termites had indeed eaten all of it except for the portion with the name of God. It was in this way that the sanctions against Banu Hashim eventually ended and they left the valley."
Soon after the Prophet (s) left the valley two of his close supporters, Khadija and Abu Talib, passed away. With the demise of Abu Talib, the Prophet (s) lost one of his prominent supporters and protection. The polytheists used his death as an opportunity to harass the Prophet (s) and Muslims. The efforts of the Prophet (s) were not successful when he invited residents around Mecca to Islam (especially Ta'if), and he returned to Mecca disappointed.
|Significant Events of
Prophet Muhammad's (s) Lifetime
|569-70||Birth; Demise of 'Abd Allah (Father)|
|576||Demise of Amina bt. Wahb (Mother)|
|578||Demise of 'Abd al-Muttalib (Grandfather)|
|583||Business Trip to Damascus|
|595||Marriage to Khadija bt. Khuwaylid|
|610||Bi'tha and the beginning of Prophethood|
|613||Yawm al-Dar and Overt Invitation|
|614||Harassment of Muslims by Quraysh|
|615||Birth of Lady Fatima (a)|
|615||Emigration of a Group of Muslims
|616||Blockade of Banu Hashim
in Shi'b Abi Talib
|619||End of Blockade of Banu Hashim
in Shi'b Abi Talib
|619||The year of sorrow, Demise of Abu Talib
and Khadija bt. Khuwaylid
|621||The First Pledge of al-'Aqaba|
|622||The Second Pledge of al-'Aqaba|
|622||Emigration of Muslims to Medina|
In the eleventh year after Bi'tha (3 BH/620), the Prophet (s) visited six people from the tribe of Khazraj and told them about the message of Islam. They returned to Yathrib and informed the people of their city about the invitation. Next year (2 BH/621) twelve people of Medina gave allegiance to the Prophet (s) after the hajj pilgrimage in an area called al-'Aqaba. They solemnly vowed:
The Prophet (s) then sent one of the Muslims, Mus'ab b. 'Umayr, with them to Yathrib in order to teach them the holy Qur'an and to report back to the Prophet (s) with an assessment of the situation in the city and how receptive the people were to Islam.