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...
You may be an atheist or an agnostic or you may belong to any of the religious denominations that exist in the world today. You may have been a Communist or a believer in democracy and freedom. No matter what you are, and no matter what your religious and political beliefs, personal and social habits happen to be— YOU STILL MUST KNOW THIS MAN!
He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, built a nation, laid down a moral code, initiated numberless social and political reforms, established a dynamic and powerful society to practice and represent his teachings, and he revolutionized the worlds of human thought and human action for all time. His name was Muhammad (peace and blessings of Almighty Creator be upon him)—and he accomplished all these wonders in the unbelievably short span of twenty-three years.
1668. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: Some people asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) about soothsayers. He (PBUH) said, "They are of no account.'' Upon this they said to him, "O Messenger of Allah! But they sometimes make true predictions.'' Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "That is a word pertaining to truth which a jinn snatches (from the angels) and whispers into the ears of his friend (the soothsayers) who will then mix more than a hundred lies with it.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The narration in Al-Bukhari is: "The angels descend in the clouds and mention matters which has been decreed in heaven; Satan steals a hearing (listens to it stealthily) and communicates it to the soothsayers who tell along with it a hundred lies.''
Commentary: Kahin (soothsayer), Munajjim (astrologer) and Arraf (foreteller) have similar characteristics but with a slight difference. All of them make predictions about the future. Kahin would overhear some jinn and disclose the secret to people which would sometimes prove true, because the jinn's source of information was Satan who sometimes stole away some information from the angels. But after the annunciation of the Prophet (PBUH) it was made impossible for jinns and satans to overhear anything in the skies. Moreover, Kahin and others of his ilk would make predictions on the basis of certain signs and circumstantial evidence which could go wrong or right. This is so even to this day. Astrological prediction is also a form of foretelling but this is often wrong. Al-`Irafah, or what is known to be as divination is also an indication of some future occurrence on the basis of certain causes and events. All the three occult arts supplement each other and also take the help of similar other things. In other words, these are all different forms of soothsaying. Geomancy also tries to tell about the invisible future. At-Tarq is the art of taking omen by striking birds with gravel on their wings or by throwing barley, etc., before them. In the latter formula, if a bird flies towards the right side, it would be a good omen; and if it goes towards the left it will be a bad one. All such things are unlawful and have been strictly forbidden by Islam. If anything predicted by these means comes by chance true, it does not furnish any justification for their validity.
1669. Narrated Safiyyah, daughter of Abu `Ubaid, on the authority of some of the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) who said, "He who goes to one who claims to tell about matters of the Unseen and believes in him, his Salat (prayers) will not be accepted for forty days.''
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that visiting soothsayers and astrologers for the purpose of knowing from them what lies hidden in future is such a great offense that he who does it, loses all merits of his forty days Salat. Some people try to detect the culprits involved in a theft case through the so-called fortunetellers or seek their advice in matters relating to business, marriage etc. All such things are unlawful because Allah Alone knows the invisible world.
1670. Qabisah bin Al-Mukhariq (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "The practice of `Iyafah, the interpretation of omens from the flight of birds, the practice of divination by drawing lines on the ground and taking evil omens are all practices of Al-Jibt (the idol, the diviner, or sorcerer).''
Commentary: Iyafah is an occult practice in which the practitioner rapidly draws lines on the soft ground in the presence of his client in such a manner that the lines cannot be counted then he effaces the lines in pairs. If at the end of the exercise two lines are left on the ground, it is taken as a good omen; if it is a single line, it is a bad omen. Some people have also described certain other forms of this occult formula. In any case, it was one of the formulas practised by the soothsayers of the Period of Ignorance. This practice, like others of this kind, was prohibited and Muslims were made to understand that such things could neither benefit nor harm anyone, and were mere tricks and frauds; and any reliance on them was absolute superstition and heresy. How sad it is that a large number of Muslims of the present age have faith in such occult practices and believe in superstitions. May Allah grant us guidance and save us from such evils. Al-Jibt covers a wide meanings. It means anything worshipped other than the true God (Allah), i.e., all false deities, be they an idol, Satan, graves, stars, angels, saints, Jesus the son of Mary, etc.
1671. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who acquires a branch of the knowledge of astrology, learns a branch of magic (of which he acquires more as long as) he continues to do so.''
Commentary: In this Hadith, astrology has been regarded a part of magic. In Islam the learning of magic has been held equivalent to infidelity. Thus, it is evident that in Islam, astrology and soothsaying are highly dangerous, and learning them is a great sin. Astrology here stands for that pseudo-science on the basis of which future events are predicted with reference to the movements of stars. There is another science called astronomy by means of which timings of sunrise and sunset are calculated. This branch of science, however, is a genuine science because it is based on experiment and observation.
1672. Mu`awiyah bin Al-Hakam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I said: "O Messenger of Allah, I have recently emerged from ignorance and Allah has favoured me with Islam. There are still some men among us who visit the soothsayers to consult them (on matters relating to the future).'' He (PBUH) replied, "Do not visit them.'' I said: "There are some men who are guided by omens.'' He replied, "These are the ideas which come up in their minds but you should not be influenced by them (i.e., these things) should not prevent them from pursuing their works.'' I said: "There are some men who practise divination by drawing lines on the ground.'' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, "There was a Prophet who drew lines, the line which agrees with the line drawn by that Prophet would be correct.''
1. This Hadith has already appeared earlier [Hadith No 701]. "These are the ideas which come up in their minds'' means that sometimes something appears and one's mind at once takes it as a bad omen. This is something instinctive and natural and one is not accountable for it. But if one acts in accordance with that omen then what he does is wrong and is, therefore, forbidden. For this reason, the Prophet (PBUH) said, "(i.e., these things) should not prevent them from pursuing their works.''
2. The drawing of a line mentioned in this Hadith is different from the drawing of lines in `Iyafah mentioned earlier. Moreover, that was an act of a Prophet which was done by him in the light of Wahy sent to him by Allah and, therefore, was certainly correct. But now, nobody possesses that knowledge and cannot, therefore, be adopted. The statement of the Prophet (PBUH) that: "The line which agrees with the line drawn by that Prophet would be correct'' was by way of elucidation. It does not mean that that act can also be done by anyone today, for how can it be done without knowing its principles. How did that Prophet of Allah draw that line? What were its principles? Since that knowledge has passed away with that Prophet, it is now no longer valid, nor would it be fruitful.
Who was the Prophet who did it? Some people say it was Prophet Daniyal (Daniel), while other think it was Prophet Idris. Allah Alone knows the truth.
1673. Abu Mas`ud Al-Badri (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) prohibited the price of a dog, the earning of an prostitute, and the money given to a soothsayer.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
1. "Prohibition of the price of dog'' signifies that the sale and purchase of dogs is forbidden. This a general order which applies to dog of every kind, whether it is for hunting or protection of farms (which is permissible) or is a tamed one. The reason being that dog is an absolutely unclean animal no matter what breed it is. Some `Ulama' are of the opinion that the sale and purchase of such dog which one intends to keep for lawful needs such as hunting and protecting farms is permissible. So far as reasoning is concerned, the views of the majority of `Ulama' are quite strong because we find absolute prohibition of dogs in this Hadith.
The earning of a vile woman has been called `Dower' in the Hadith because of its evident form, otherwise it is unlawful and nobody accepts its justification. Similar is the case of soothsayers, astrologers, fortunetellers and all those who fool people by telling them about future and thus swindle money from them. Their income is also unlawful.
2. It is also unlawful to make any payment to such swindlers because when it is not lawful for them to make money in this manner, how can we consider the money given to them lawful?