Who was Muhammad?
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Who was Muhammad?
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah in the year 570, during the period of history Europeans called the Middle Ages. Muhammad was the son of Aamenah and Abdullah, from the tribe of Quraysh. He was a direct descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of prophet Abraham. Muhammad's father died just before he was born, and his mother passed away when he was six. He was raised by this grandfather, the chief of Makkah; and upon his grandfather's death, Muhammad came under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib.
Muhammad was a shepherd in his youth. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity, and sincerity; earning the title of al Amin, the trustworthy one. Muhammad was frequently called upon to arbitrate disputes and counsel his fellow Makkans.
At age 25, Muhammad married Khadijah, an honorable and successful businesswoman. They were blessed with two sons and four daughters. It was an ideal marriage and they lived a happy family life.
Muhammad was of a contemplative nature and had long detested the decadence and cruelty of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the cave of Hira' near the summit of Jabal an-Nur, the "Mountain of Light" on the outskirts of Makkah.
How did Muhammad become a Messenger of God?
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Archangel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty three years, is known as the Qur'an
Muhammad began to share the revelations he received from God with the people of Makkah. They were idol worshippers, and rejected Muhammad's call to worship only One God. They opposed Muhammad and his small group of followers in every way. These early Muslims suffered bitter persecution.
In 622, God gave the Muslim community the command to emigrate. This event, the hijrah or migration, in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah, some 260 miles to the North, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
Madinah provided Muhammad and the Muslims a safe and nurturing haven in which the Muslim community grew. After several years, the Prophet and his followers returned to Makkah and forgave their enemies. Then, turning their attention to the Ka'bah (the sanctuary that Abraham built), they removed the idols and rededicated it to the worship of the One God. Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, most of the people of Arabia had embraced his message. In less than a century, Islam had spread to Spain in the west, as far east as China.
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