The Life of Prophet Muhammad
Taken, with some editorial changes, from Pickthall’s introduction to his translation of the Qur’an.
The Prophet’s Birth
The Ka`bah today
Muhammad, son of Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, of the tribe of Quraysh, was born in Makkah fifty-three years before the Hijrah. His father died before he was born, and he was protected first by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, and after his grandfather’s death, by his uncle Abu Talib.
As a young boy he traveled with his uncle in the merchants’ caravan to Syria, and some years afterwards made the same journey in the service of a wealthy widow named Khadijah. So faithfully did he transact the widow’s business, and so excellent was the report of his behavior, which she received from her old servant who had accompanied him, that she soon afterwards married her young agent; and the marriage proved a very happy one, though she was fifteen years older than he was. Throughout the twenty-six years of their life together he remained devoted to her; and after her death, when he took other wives he always mentioned her with the greatest love and reverence. This marriage gave him rank among the notables of Makkah, while his conduct earned for him the surname Al-Amin, the “trustworthy.”Read more...
Muhammad (PBUH) (Blessings and Peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi' Al-Awwal (2 August C.E). His mother, Aminah was the daughter of Wahb bin Abd Al-Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, Abdullah, was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib. His genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Isma'il, the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) (May Peace be upon him) in about the fortieth descent. Muhammad's father had died before his birth and his mother died when he was about six years old making him an orphan. In accordance with the tradition of noble families of Makkah, he was taken by a foster mother, Halimah, to her village where he lived for a few years. During these years he was taken to Makkah several times to visit his mother. After the death of his mother, he was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib. When the grandfather died, he was under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. By this time he used to look after sheep around Makkah and used to accompany his uncle on trade journeys to Syria.
In his youth he believed firmly in the Oneness of Allah (God)(SWT). He lived a very simple life and hated vanity and pride. He was compassionate to the poor, widows and orphans and shared their sufferings by helping them. He avoided all vices, which were commonly practiced among young people such as gambling, drinking wine, vulgarity and others. He was well-known as As-Sadiq(the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy). He was always trusted as a mediator between two conflicting parties in his homeland, Makkah.
The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) enjoined upon Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, Zakat, and in other ways. He said: "He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbor go hungry."
He asked, "Do you love your Creator? Then love your fellow beings first."
Monopoly is unlawful in Islam and he preached that "It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path that leads to bliss."
He did not prohibit or discourage the acquisition of wealth but insisted that it be lawfully acquired by honest means and that a portion of it would go to the poor. He advised his followers
"To give the laborer his wages before his perspiration dried up."
He did not encourage beggary either and stated that
"Allah is gracious to him who earns his living by his own labour, and that if a man begs to increase his property, Allah will diminish it and whoever has food for the day, it is prohibited for him to beg."
To his wife he said, "O A'isha, love the poor and let them come to you and Allah will draw you near to Himself." [Sahih Bukhari]
One or two instances of the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) concern for the poor may be given here. A Madinan, Ibad Bin Sharjil, was once starving. He entered an orchard and picked some fruit. The owner of the orchard gave him a sound beating and stripped off his clothes. The poor man appealed to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) who remonstrated the owner thus:
"This man was ignorant, you should have dispelled his ignorance; he was hungry, you should have fed him."
His clothes were restored to the Madinan and, in addition, some grain was given to him [Abu Dawood]
A debtor, Jabir Bin Abdullah, was being harassed by his creditor as he could not clear his debt owing to the failure of his date crop. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went with Jabir to the house of the creditor and pleaded with him to give Jabir some more time but the creditor was not prepared to oblige. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) then went to the oasis and having seen for himself that the crop was really poor, he again approached the creditor with no better result. He then rested for some time and approached the creditor for a third time but the latter was adamant. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went again to the orchard and asked Jabir to pluck the dates. As Allah would have it, the collection not only sufficed to clear the dues but left something to spare. [Sahih Bukhari]
His love for the poor was so deep that he used to pray: "O Allah, keep me poor in my life and at my death and raise me at resurrection among those who are poor." [Nasai]
A Poem on Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) by Allama Iqbal
He slept on a mat of rushes,
But the crown of Chosroes lay beneath the feet of his followers;
He chose the nightly solitude of Mount Hira,
And founded a nation, law and government;
He passed his nights with sleepless eyes,
That his Millet might sleep on Chosroes throne
In the hour of battle, iron was melted by the flash of his sword.
At prayer time, tears fell like drops of rain from his eyes.
In his prayer for Divine help, his Amen' was a sword,
Which extirpated the lineage of kings.
He inaugurated a new Order in the world,
He brought the empires old to an end:
In his sight the high and the low were one,
He sat with the slave at table one;
He burnt clear the distinctions of birth and clan.
His fire consumed all this trash and bran.
|The Vanguard of Migration (in the Cause of Allah)|
After the endorsement of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge and the establishment of a petite Muslim state in a vast desert surging with disbelief and ignorance — the most serious gain in terms of Islam —, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave his leave for the Muslims to migrate to Madinah, the nascent Muslim state.
Migration to Madinah, in terms of personal interests, was no more than material waste and sacrifice of wealth, all in return for personal safety only. Even here, the migrant could not expect full security; he was liable to be robbed or even killed either at the beginning or end of his departure. The future was foggy, pregnant with various unpredictable sorts of sorrows and crises.
Bearing all this in mind, the Muslims began to migrate, while the polytheists spared no effort in hindering and debarring them, knowing beforehand that such a move implied unimaginable threats and unthinkable destructive dangers to their whole society:
Shortly afterwards Abu Jahl, and his brother Al-Harith came to Madinah to see their third brother ‘Ayyash. They cunningly tried to touch the most sensitive area in man, i.e. his relation with his mother. They addressed him claiming that his mother had sworn she would never comb her hair, nor shade herself off the sun unless she had seen him. ‘Ayyash took pity on his mother, but ‘Umar was intelligent enough to understand that they wanted to entice ‘Ayyash away from Islam so he cautioned him against their tricks, and added “your mother would comb her hair if lice pestered her, and would shade herself off if the sun of Makkah got too hot for her.” These words notwithstanding, ‘Ayyash was determined to go and see his mother, so ‘Umar gave him his manageable docile camel advising him to stick to its back because it would provide rescue for him if he perceived anything suspicious on their part. The party of three then set forth towards Makkah. As soon as they covered part of the distance, Abu Jahl complained about his camel and requested ‘Ayyash to allow him to ride behind him on his camel. When they knelt down to the level of the ground, the two polytheists fell upon ‘Ayyash and tied him. They rode on into Makkah shouting at people to follow their example with respect to ‘fools’
These are just three self-explanatory models of the Makkans’ reaction towards anyone intending to migrate. Nevertheless, the believers still managed to escape in successive groups and so rapidly that within two months of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge, entire quarters of Makkah were deserted. Almost all the followers of Muhammad had migrated to their new abode, except Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself, and those helpless noble souls who had been detained in confinement or were unable to escape. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) , together with Abu Bakr and ‘Ali, had made all the necessary preparations for migration but was waiting for leave from his Lord.
It is noteworthy that most of the Mwho had migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), came back to Madinah to join the rest of the Muslims there.
The situation was no doubt critical in Makkah but Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was not at all perturbed. Abu Bakr was, however, urging the Prophet to depart from that town. He was also eagerly waiting for an opportunity to accompany Muhammad (Peace be upon him) on this eventful journey. But the Prophet told him that the time had not yet come; the Lord had not given him the command to migrate. In anticipation of the Command of Allâh, Abu Bakr had made preparations for the journey. He had purchased two swift camels and had fed them properly for four months so that they could successively stand the ordeals of the long desert journey.
|In An-Nadwah (Council) House - The Parliament of Quraish|
The polytheists were paralysed by the carefully planned and speedy movement of Muhammad’s followers towards their new abode in Madinah. They were caught in unprecedented anxiety and got deeply worried over their whole pagan and economic entity. They already experienced Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as an influential leader; and his followers as determined, decent and always ready to sacrifice all they had for the sake of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him). Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes, the would-be-hosts of the Makkan Muslims, were also known in Arabia for their might and power in war, and judicious and sensible approach in peace. They were also averse to rancour and prejudice for they themselves had had bitter days of inter-tribal warfare. Madinah , itself, the prospective headquarters of the ever-growing Islamic Call, enjoyed the most serious strategic position. It commanded the commercial routes leading to Makkah whose people used to deal in about a quarter of a million gold dinar-worth commodities every year. Security of the caravan routes was crucial for the perpetuity of prosperous economic life. All those factors borne in mind, the polytheists felt they were in the grip of a serious threat. They, therefore, began to seek the most effective method that could avert this imminent danger. They convened a meeting on Thursday, 26th Safar, the year fourteen of Prophethood / 12th September 622 A.D., i.e. two and a half months after the Great ‘Aqabah Pledge. On that day, “the Parliament of Makkah” held the most serious meeting ever, with one item on the agenda: How to take effective measures with a view to stopping that tidal wave. Delegates representing all the Quraishite tribes attended the meeting, the most significant of whom were:
On their way to An-Nadwah House, Iblis (Satan) in the guise of a venerable elderly man standing at the door interrupted their talk and introduced himself as a man from Najd curious enough to attend the meeting, listen to the debate and wish them success to reach a sound opinion. He was readily admitted in.
There was a lengthy debate and several proposals were put forward. Expulsion from Makkah was proposed and debated in turn but finally turned down on grounds that his sweet and heart-touching words could entice the other Arabs to attack them in their own city. Imprisonment for life was also debated but also refused for fear that his followers might increase in number, overpower them and release him by force. At this point, the arch-criminal of Makkah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham suggested that they assassinate him. But assassination by one man would have exposed him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty was at last solved by Abu Jahl himself, who suggested that a band of young men, one from each tribe, should strike Muhammad simultaneously with their swords so that the blood-money would be spread over them all and therefore could not be exacted, and his people would seek a mind-based recourse for settlement. The sinful proposal was unanimously accepted, and the representatives broke up the meeting and went back home with full determination for immediate implementation.