Muhammad in Islam
Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim (Arabic: محمد بن عبد الله بن عبد المطلب) (c. 570 – 632), shortly as Muhammad, is considered in Islam to be a messenger (Quran 48:29) and prophet sent by God to guide humanity to the right way (Quran 7:157). He is universally considered as the last in a series of prophets sent by God. The Quran, which is the central religious text of Islam, is believed by Muslims to have been revealed to Muhammad from God; and the religious, social, and political tenets that Muhammad established in the light of Quran became the foundation of Islam and Islamic civilization.
Known as Prophet Muhammad to the Muslims, Muhammad is regarded by them as the greatest of all the prophets, and his established religion as the only accepted religion to God (Quran 3:19). He is seen by the Muslims as a possessor of all virtues. Muslims associate great respect and veneration with the life and name of Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Whenever his name is pronounced, it is followed by the Arabic benediction "sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam" (meaning Peace be upon him), a practice instructed by Quran and Hadith. The deeds and sayings in the life of Muhammad – known as Sunnah – serve as a model of life-style that the Muslims are obliged to follow. Thus, the whole gamut of Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s life is sacred to the Muslims. Recognizing Muhammad as God's true messenger is one of the central requirements in Islam which is clearly laid down in the second part of Shahadah – the proclamation of Islamic faith. The Shahadah reads "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah". The Quran chiefly addresses Islamic Prophet Muhammad as "Messenger" and "Messenger of Allah" (Quran 48:29), and asks people to follow him so as to become successful in afterlife (Quran 3:132).
Born in about 570 CE into a respected Quraysh family of Mecca, Muhammad grew up with fair and upright character and earned the nickname "al-Amin" (Arabic: الامين), meaning "the Faithful". At the age of 40 in 610 CE, Muhammad received his first verbal revelation in a cave named Mount Hira. This was the beginning of the descent of the Quran that continued up to the end of his life; and Muhammad was asked by God, as the Muslims hold, to preach the "oneness of God" in order to stamp out idolatry, a practice overtly present in the then Arab society. Because of persecution on the newly converted Muslims, and upon the invitation of a delegation from Medina (then known as Yathrib), Muhammad and his followers migrated to Medina in 622 CE, an event known as Hijra (in Latin: Hegira). A turning point in Muhammad’s life, this Hijra also marks the beginning of Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad sketched out the Constitution of Medina specifying the rights of and relations among the various existing communities there, formed an independent Muslim community (Ummah), and managed to established the first Islamic state. Despite the ongoing hostilities of the Meccans, Muhammad, along with his followers, took the control of Mecca in 630 CE., treated its citizens with generosity, and ordered to destroy all the pagan idols. In later years in Medina, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad unified the different Arab tribes under Islam, carried out social and religious reforms, and made administrative developments that further consolidated the Islamic community. Before he passed away in 632, his teachings won him the acceptance of Islam of almost all the tribes of Arabian Peninsula.
- 1 In the Quran
- 2 Traditional Muslim account of Muhammad
- 2.1 Lineage of the Prophet
- 2.2 Early years
- 2.3 Prophethood
- 2.4 Opposition
- 2.5 Victory
- 3 In Islamic thought
- 4 Miracles
- 5 Names and titles of praise
- 6 Visual representation
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
In the Quran
The Quran enumerates little about Muhammad’s early life or other biographic details, but it conspicuously sheds much light on his prophetic mission, his moral excellence, and the theological issues regarding Muhammad. According to the Quran, Muhammad is the last in a chain of prophets sent by God (33:40). Throughout the Quran, Muhammad has been addressed as "Messenger", "Messenger of God", and "Prophet". Some of such verses are 2:101, 2:143, 2:151, 3:32, 3:81, 3:144, 3:164, 4:79-80, 5:15, 5:41, 7:157, 8:01, 9:3, 33:40, 48:29, and 66:09. The Quran uses these terms to emphasize Muhammad’s prophetic duty which the Muslims believe was assigned on him by God. To further emphasize Muhammad’s role to humanity, other epithets have been employed. Notable among them are "Warner", "bearer of glad tidings", and the "one who invites people to a Single God" (Quran 12:108, and 33:45-46). As a matter of fact, the Quran asserts that Muhammad was a man who possessed the highest moral excellence, and that God has endowed him with a good example or a "goodly model" for the Muslims to follow (Quran 68:4, and 33:21). It is important to note that the Quran disclaims any superhuman characteristics for Muhammad, and rather describes him in terms of positive human qualities. In several verses, the Quran crystallizes Muhammad’s relation to whole humanity. According to the Quran, God sent Muhammad with truth (God’s message to humanity), and He sent him as a blessing to the whole world (Quran 39:33, and 21:107). In Islamic tradition, this means that God sent Muhammad with His message to the humanity the following of which will give people salvation in the afterlife, and it is Muhammad’s teachings and the purity of his personal life alone which keep alive the worship of God on this world.
The Quran also categorizes some theological issues regarding Muhammad. The most important among them is the edict to follow the teachings of Muhammad. The Quran, which the Muslims believe to be the Word of God, repeatedly commands the people to "follow Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad)" in verses like 3:31-32, 3:132, 4:59, and 4:69.
Traditional Muslim account of Muhammad
|Lineage of six prominent prophets according to Islamic tradition|
|Dotted lines indicate multiple generations|
Lineage of the Prophet
Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Malik bin Hisham wrote: Muhammad was the son of Abdullah, ibn Abdul-Muttalib (whose name was Shayba), ibn Hashim (whose name was 'Amr), ibn Abd Manaf (whose name was al-Mughira), ibn Qusayy (whose name was Zayd), ibn Kilab, ibn Murra, ibn Ka'b, ibn Lu'ay, ibn Ghalib, ibn Fihr, ibn Malik, ibn al-Nadr, ibn Kinana, ibn Khuzayma, ibn Mudrika (whose name was 'Amir), ibn Ilyas, ibn Mudar, ibn Nizar, ibn Ma'ad, ibn Adnan, ibn Udd (or Udad), ibn Ya'rub, ibn Yashjub, ibn Nabit, ibn Isma'il, ibn Ibrahim, the friend of the Compassionate.
The mother of his father Abdulla was Fatima d. 'Amr ibn 'A'idh b. 'Imran b. Makhzum b. Yaqza b. Murra b. Ka' b. Lu'ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr b. Malik b. al-Nadr. His mother was Amina d.(daughter) Wahb b. 'Abd Manaf b.(son) Zuhra b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy b. Galib b. Fihr b. Malik b. al-Nadr. Her mother was Barra d. 'Abdu'l·'Uzza b. 'Uthman b. 'Abdul-Dar b. Qusayy b. Kilab b. Murra. Barra's mother was Umm Habib d. Asad b. 'Abdul-'Uzza b. Qusayy, &c. Umm Habib's mother was Barra d. 'Auf b. 'Ubayd b. 'Uwayj b. 'Adiy b. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy b. Ghalib. Thus the apostle of God was the most noble of the sons of Adam in respect of his descent both from his father's and his mother's side. 
Muhammad, the son of Abdullah and his young wife Amina, was born in 570 CE[n 1] in the Arabian city of Mecca. He belonged to Banu Hashim family. Banu Hashim clan was a respected branch of the then prestigious and influential Quraysh tribe. It is generally said that Abd al-Muttalib named the child "Muhammad".
Orphanhood: a divine plan
Muhammad was orphaned at a very tender age. Some months before the birth of Muhammad, his father Abdullah died near Medina when he was on a mercantile expedition to Syria. Back to his mother at the sixth year of his life, Muhammad accompanied his mother Amina when she planned a visit to Medina, probably to visit her late husband's tomb. On her return journey to Mecca, Amina died at a desolate place called Abwa, about half-way to Mecca, and was buried there. The charge of young Muhammad was now taken by his paternal grandfather Abd al-Muttalib whose guardianship lasted but two years, as he died when Muhammad was eight, leaving Muhammad in the care of Abu Talib, his uncle. In Islamic tradition, Muhammad's being orphan at an early age has been seen as a part of divine plan to enable him to "develop early the qualities of self-reliance, reflection, and steadfastness". Muslim scholar Muhammad Ali sees the tale of Moses as a spiritual parallel to the life of Muhammad, considering many aspects of their lives to be shared. In the Quran, it has been said about Moses: "I cast (the garment of love) over thee from Me, so that thou might be reared under My eye. ... We saved thee from all grief, although We tried thee with various trials. ... O Moses, I have chosen thee for Mine Own service" (20:39-41). Taking into account the idea of this spiritual parallelism, together with other aspects of Muhammad's early life, it has been suggested that it was God under Whose direct care Muhammad was raised and prepared for the responsibility that was to be conferred upon him. Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan argues that Muhammad's orphan state made him dependent on God and close to the destitute – an "initiatory state for the future Messenger of God".
According to Arab custom, After his birth, infant Muhammad was sent to Banu Sa'ad clan, a neighboring Bedouin tribe, so that he could acquire the pure speech and free manners of the desert. There, Muhammad spent the first five years of his life with his foster-mother Halima. Islamic tradition holds that during this period, God sent two angels who opened his chest, took out the heart, and removed a blood-clot from it. It was then washed with Zamzam water. In Islamic tradition, this incident signifies the idea that God purified His prophet and protected him from sin. Biographers and historians agree to credit young Muhammad with the modesty of deportment and purity of manners. Islamic belief holds that God protected Muhammad from involving in any disrespectful and coarse practice. Even when he verged on any such activity, God intervened. Prophetic tradition narrates one such incident in which it is said on the authority of Ibn Al-Atheer that while working as herdsman at early period of his life, young Muhammad once told his fellow-shepherd to take care of his sheep so that the former could go to the town for some recreation as the other youths used to do. But on the way, his attention was diverted to a wedding party, and he sat down to listen to the sound of music only to fall asleep soon. He was awakened by the heat of the sun. Muhammad reported that he never tried such things again.
Early sign of Prophethood
Around the age of twelve, Muhammad accompanied his uncle Abu Talib in a mercantile journey to Syria and gained experience in commercial enterprise. It is on this journey that Muhammad is said to had been recognized by a Christian monk Bahira who prophesied about Muhammad's future career as a prophet of God.
Between 580 CE and 590 CE, Mecca experienced a bloody feud, known as Sacrilegious War, between Quraysh and Bani Hawazin that lasted for four years, and a truce was reached at last. After the truce, an alliance named Hilf al-Fudul (The Pact of the Virtuous) was formed to check further violence and injustice; and to stand on the side of the oppressed, an oath was taken by the descendants of Banu Hashim and the kindred families, where Muhammad was also a member. In later days of his life, Muhammad is reported to have said about this pact, "I witnessed a confederacy in the house of ‘Abdullah bin Jada‘an. It was more appealing to me than herds of cattle. Even now in the period of Islam I would respond positively to attending such a meeting if I were invited."  Islamic tradition credits Muhammad with settling a dispute peacefully, regarding setting the sacred Black stone on the wall of Kaaba, where the clan leaders could not decide on which clan should have the honor of doing that. The Black stone was removed to facilitate the rebuilding of Kaaba because of its dilapidated condition. The disagreement grew tense, and bloodshed became likely. The clan leaders agreed to wait for the next man to come through the gate of Kaaba and ask him to choose. The 35-year-old Muhammad entered through that gate first, asked for a mantle which he spread on the ground, and placed the stone at its center. Muhammad had the clans’ leaders lift a corner of it until the mantle reached the appropriate height, and then himself placed the stone on the proper place. Thus, an ensuing bloodshed was averted by the wisdom of Muhammad.
Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last and final messenger and prophet of God who began receiving direct verbal revelations in 610 CE. This incident was preceded by Muhammad's dreams replete with spiritual significance which were fulfilled according to their true import; and this was the commencement of his divine revelation. According to sources, the first revealed verses were the first five ayah of sura Al-Alaq that the archangel Gabriel brought from God to Muhammad in the cave Mount Hira. Perplexed by this new experience, Muhammad made his way to home where he was consoled by his wife Khadijah, who also took him to her Christian cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Waraqah was familiar with scriptures of Torah and Gospel. Islamic tradition holds that Waraka, upon hearing the description, testified to Muhammad’s prophethood. It is also reported by Aisha that Waraqah ibn Nawfal later told Muhammad that Muhammad's own people would turn him out, to which Muhammad inquired "Will they really drive me out?" Waraka replied in the affirmative and said "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive till that day, then I would support you strongly." Some Islamic scholars argue that Muhammad was foretold in the Bible, Jewish scriptures and Hindu scriptures.
In Islamic belief, revelations are God's word delivered by His chosen individuals – known as Messengers—to humanity. According to Islamic scholar Muhammad Shafi Usmani, God has created three media through which humans receive knowledge: men’s senses, the faculty of reason, and the divine revelation; and it is the third one that addresses the liturgical and eschatological issues, answers the questions regarding God's purpose behind creating humanity, and acts as a guidance for humanity as to choosing the correct way. In Islamic belief, the sequence of divine revelation came to an end with Muhammad.
Early preaching and teachings
During the first three years of his ministry, Muhammad preached Islam privately, mainly among his near relatives and close acquaintances. The first to believe him was his wife Khadijah, who was followed by Ali and Zayd ibn Harithah, his other family members. Notable among the early converts were Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn Affan, Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas, Abdullah ibn Masud, Arqam, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, and Bilal ibn Rabah. In the fourth year of his prophethood, according to Islamic belief, he was ordered by God to make public his propagation of this monotheistic faith (Quran 15:94).
Muhammad’s earliest teachings were marked by his insistence on the oneness of God (Quran 112:1), the denunciation of polytheism (Quran 6:19), belief in the Last judgment and its recompense (Quran 84:1–15), and social and economic justice (Quran 89:17–20). In a broader sense, Muhammad preached that he had been sent as God’s messenger; that God is One who is all-powerful, creator and controller of this universe (Quran 85:8–9, Quran 6:2), and merciful towards His creations (Quran 85:14); that worship should be made only to Allah (Islamic name for God); that ascribing partnership to God is a major sin (Quran 4:48); that men would be accountable, for their deeds, to God on Last Judgment Day, and would be assigned to Heaven or Hell (Quran 85:10–13); and that God expects man to be generous with their wealth and not miserly (Quran 107 :1–7).
Muhammad’s early teachings invited vehement opposition from the wealthy and leading clans of Mecca who feared the loss not only of their ancestral paganism, but also of the lucrative pilgrimage business. At first, the opposition was confined to ridicule and sarcasm but later morphed into active persecution that forced a section of newly-converts to migrate to neighboring Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia). In Mecca, as Muhammad was gaining new followers, including notable figures like Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, and Hamza, the Quraysh became much perturbed. Unable to deal with this status quo, the Quraysh then proposed to adopt a common form of worship, which was denounced by the Quran in a stern voice. Because of bright prospect of success in Medina, Muhammad and his followers migrated there around September 622 CE.
Persistent hostility of Quraysh
Before the arrival of Muhammad in Medina, the clans of Medina had suffered a lot from internal feuds and had planned to nominate Abd-Allah ibn Ubaiy as their common leader with a view to restoring peace. The arrival of Muhammad in Medina rendered this design unlikely, and from then, Abd-Allah ibn Ubaiy began entertaining hostility towards Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Soon after Muhammad’s settlement in Medina, Abd-Allah ibn Ubaiy received an ultimatum letter from Quraysh directing him to fight or expel the Muslims from Medina, and accordingly took preparation to that effect, but was convinced by Muhammad to abandon that. Around this time, Sa'ad ibn Mua'dh, chief of Aws, went to Mecca to perform Umrah. Because of mutual friendship, he was hosted and escorted by one of Meccan leader Umayyah ibn Khalaf, but the two could not escape the notice of Abu Jahl, an archenemy of Islam. At the sight of Sa’ad, Abu Jahl became angry and threatened to stop their visit to Kaaba as his clan had sheltered the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Sa'ad ibn Mua'dh also threatened to hinder their trading caravans.
Thus, there remained a persistent enmity between the Muslims and the Quraysh. As the Muslims were still low in number and without any substantial material resources, they used to pass their days in great anxiety, and were not able to sleep much at night because of the fear of attacks. In Sahih al-Bukhari, Aisha narrated that one night the Prophet was on vigilant himself. He then asked if there was anyone to guard him that night so that he could sleep. One of his companions Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas came forth to be on guard, and the Prophet slept (that night).
Causes of and preparation for fighting
Following the emigration, the Meccans seized the properties of the Muslim emigrants in Mecca. Moreover, it was the Quraysh leaders of Mecca who persecuted the newly converted Muslims there, and the latter was compelled to migrate to Medina to avoid persecution, leaving their properties in Mecca. As opposed to the general belief, Muhammad and the Muslims in Medina found themselves in a more precarious situation than in Mecca. Mecca offered them the opposition and persecution of the Quraysh while in Medina, apart from the ultimatum of the Quraysh, they had to confront the designs of the hypocrites, and had to be wary of the pagans and Jews also. The trading caravans of Quraysh, whose usual route was from Mecca to Syria, used to set the neighboring tribes of Medina against the Muslims which posed a great danger to the security of Muslims of Medina  given that war was a common affair at that time.
In view of all this, the Quran granted the permission to the persecuted Muslims to take measures in their defense: "Permission to fight is granted to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged, and God indeed has the power to help them. They are those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly only because they affirmed: "Our Lord is God"" (Quran 22:39-40). The Quran further justifies taking defensive measures by stating that "And if Allah had not repelled some men by others, the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures" (Quran 2:251). According to Quranic description, war is an abnormal and unenviable way which, when inevitable, should be limited to minimal casualty, and free from any kind of transgression on the part of the believers:
Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.—Quran , Sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 190
... tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.—Quran , Sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 191-2
And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.—Quran , Sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 193
Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.—Quran , Sura 5 (Al-Ma’ida), ayah 64
- Visiting the neighboring tribes to enter into non-aggression treaty with them to secure Medina from their attacks.
- Blocking or intercepting the trading caravans of the Quraysh to compel them into a compromise with the Muslims. As these trading enterprises were the main strength of the Quraysh, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad employed this strategy to reduce their strength.
- Sending small scouting parties to gather intelligence about Quraysh movement, and also to facilitate the evacuation of those Muslims who were still suffering in Mecca and could not migrate to Medina because of their poverty or any other reason. It is in this connection that the following verse of the Quran was revealed: "And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and for those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise for us from Thee one who will help!"" (Quran 4:75).
The Battle of Badr
A key battle in the early days of Islam, the Battle of Badr was the first large-scale engagement between the nascent Islamic community of Medina and their opponent Quraysh of Mecca where the Muslims won a decisive victory. The battle has some background. In 2 AH (623 CE) in the month of Rajab, a Muslim patrolling group attacked a Quraysh trading caravan killing its elite leader Amr ibn Hazrami. The incident happening in a sacred month displeased Muhammad, and enraged the Quraysh to a greater extent. The Quran however neutralizes the effect saying that bloodshed in sacred month is obviously prohibited, but Quraysh paganism, persecuting on the Meccan converts, and preventing people from the Sacred Mosque are greater sins (Quran 2:217). Traditional sources say that upon receiving intelligence of a richly-laden trading caravan of the Quraysh returning from Syria to Mecca, Muhammad took it as a good opportunity to strike a heavy blow on Meccan power by taking down the caravan in which almost all the Meccan people had invested. With full liberty to join or stay back, Muhammad amassed some 313 inadequately-prepared men furnished with only two horses and seventy camels, and headed for a place called Badr. Muslim scholar Shibli Nomani however rejects the notion that Muslim force set out from Medina to attack the Quraysh trading caravan that led to the Battle of Badr. After a detailed analysis on the issue, he, in his book Sirat-un-Nabi, opines that the Quraysh intention to avenge Hazrami’s murder, coupled with a rumor of Muslim attack on Quraysh caravan, led to the battle. In case of clear Quranic account of any incident, says Numani, no other account can be more reliable in Islamic belief. Now that the Quran says about one section of Muslims force "Even as your Lord caused you to go forth from your house with the truth, though a party of the believers were surely averse; … (and they went forth) as if they were being driven to death while they saw it" ( 8:5-6), it proves that they were going to face a large, well-armed force, and not just a trading caravan. The Quran further says about the Quraysh force "And be not like those who started from their homes insolently and to be seen of men, and to hinder (men) from the path of Allah" (8:47) which indicates the Quraysh approach to invade Medina. Shibli Nomani thus concludes that Muslims of Medina went out to face the Quraysh force of Mecca that led to the Battle of Badr.
The Quraysh with all its leading personalities except Abu Lahab marched with a heavily equipped army of more than one thousand men with ostentatious opulence of food supply and war materials. The battle occurred on 13 March 624 CE (17 Ramadan, 2 AH) and resulted in a heavy loss on the Quraysh side: around seventy men, including chief leaders, were killed and a similar number were taken prisoner. Islamic tradition attributes the Muslim victory to the direct intervention of God: He sent down angels who emboldened the Muslims and wrecked damage on the enemy force.
Treason, attacks, and siege
The defeat at the battle of Badr provoked the Quraysh to take revenge on Muslims. Meanwhile two Quraysh men – Umair ibn Wahb and Safwan ibn Umayya – conspired to kill Muhammad and the former went to Medina with a poisonous sword to execute the plan but was detected and brought to Muhammad. It is said that Muhammad himself revealed to Umair his secret plan and Umair, upon accepting Islam, began preaching Islam in Mecca. The Quraysh soon led an army of 3000 men and fought the Muslim force, consisting of 700 men, in the Battle of Uhud. Despite initially having success in the battle, the Muslims failed to consummate victory due to the mistake of the strategically posted archers. The predicament of Muslims at this battle has been seen by the Islamic scholars as a result of disobedience of the command of Islamic Prophet Muhammad. That is, Muslims realized that they could not get success unless guided by the teachings of their prophet.
The Battle of Uhud was followed by a series of aggressive and treacherous activities against the Muslims in Medina. Tulaiha ibn Khuweiled, chief of Banu Asad, and Sufyan ibn Khalid, chief of Banu Lahyan, tried to march against Medina but were rendered unsuccessful. Ten Muslims, recruited by some local tribes to learn the tenets of Islam, were treacherously murdered: eight of them being killed at a place called Raji, and the remaining two being taken to Mecca as captives and killed by Quraysh. About the same time, a group of seventy Muslims, sent to propagate Islam to the people of Nejd, was put to a massacre by Amir ibn Tufail's Banu Amir and other tribes. Only two of them escaped, returned to Medina, and informed Muhammad of the incidents. Around 5th AH (627 CE), a large combined force of at least 10,000 men from Quraysh, Ghatafan, Banu Asad, and other pagan tribes was formed to attack the Muslims mainly at the instigation and efforts of Jewish leader Huyayy ibn Akhtab, and it marched towards Medina. The trench dug by the Muslims and the adverse weather foiled their siege of Medina and they left bearing a heavy loss. The Quran mentions that it is God who dispersed the disbelievers and thwarted their plans (33:5).
Around 6 AH (628 CE) the nascent Islamic state was somewhat consolidated when Islamic Prophet Muhammad, instructed by God, went out of Medina to perform pilgrimage at Mecca but was intercepted en route by the Quraysh who however ended up with a treaty with the Muslims. Though the terms of the Hudaybiyyah treaty were apparently unfavorable to the Muslims of Medina, the Quran declared it as a clear victory (48:1). Muslim historians mention that through the treaty the Quraysh recognized Muhammad as their equal counterpart and Islam as a rising power, and that the treaty mobilized the contact between the Meccan pagans and the Muslims of Medina resulting in a large number of Quraysh conversion into Islam after being attracted by the Islamic norms.
Around the end of the 6 AH and the beginning of the 7 AH (628 CE), Muhammad sent letters to various Heads of the states asking them to accept Islam and to worship only one God called Allah. Notable among them were Heraclius, the emperor of Byzantium; Khosrau II, the emperor of Persia; the Negus of Ethiopia; Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt; Harith Gassani, the governor of Syria; and Munzir ibn Sawa, the ruler of Bahrain. In the 6 AH, Khalid ibn al-Walid accepted Islam who later was to play a decisive role in the expansion of Islamic empire. In the 7 AH, the Jewish leaders of Khaybar – a place some 200 miles from Medina – started instigating the Jewish and Ghatafan tribes against Medina. When negotiation process failed, Muhammad ordered the blockade of the Khaybar forts, and its inhabitants surrendered after some days. The lands of Khaybar came under Muslim control. Islamic Prophet Muhammad however granted the Jewish request to retain the lands under the latter's control. This year Muhammad and the Muslims performed their pilgrimage in Mecca and left the city after three days.
|“||He who takes refuge in Abu Sufyan's house is safe; whosoever confines himself to his house, the inmates thereof shall be in safety, and he who enters the Sacred Mosque is safe..||”|
—Muhammad, during Mecca conquest
Next year, Banu Bakr tribe, an ally of the Quraysh, attacked the Muslims' ally tribe Banu Khuza'a, and killed several of them. The Quraysh openly helped Banu Bakr in their attack, violating the terms of Hudaybiyyah treaty. Of the three options now advanced by Muhammad, they decided to cancel the Hudaybiyyah treaty. Muhammad started taking preparation for Mecca campaign. On November 29, 630 (the 6th of Ramadan, 8 hijra), Muhammad set out with 10,000 companions, and stopped at a nearby place from Mecca called Marr-uz-Zahran. When Meccan leader Abu Sufyan came to gather intelligence, he was detected and arrested by the guards. Umar ibn al-Khattab wanted the execution of Abu Sufyan for his past offences; but the Islamic Prophet Muhammad spared his life. On December 11, 630 (18th of Ramadan 8 hijrah), he entered Mecca with virtually no major resistance, and declared a general amnesty for all those who committed offences against Islam and its messenger. He then destroyed the idols – placed in and around the Kaaba – reciting the Quranic verse "Say, the truth has arrived, and falsehood perished. Verily, the falsehood is bound to perish" (Quran 17:81). Biographers and critics have variously commended Muhammad's generosity with his long-standing enemies in Mecca. William Muir commented, "The magnanimity with which Mahomet treated a people who had so long hated and rejected him is worthy of all admiration."
In Islamic thought
Muslim veneration for Muhammad
All the Muslims across the world unite together in their respect and veneration for Muhammad. Muslim understanding and reverence for Muhammad can largely be traced to the teachings of Quran which emphatically describes Muhammad’s exalted status among the totality of human race. To begin with, the Quran describes Muhammad as al-nabi al-ummi or unlettered prophet (Quran 7:158), meaning that he "received his religious knowledge only from God". As a result, Muhammad’s examples have been understood by the Muslims to represent the highest ideal for human conduct, and to reflect what God wants humanity to do. The Quran places Muhammad at a higher rank than his previous prophets in terms of his moral excellence and the universal message he brought from God for humanity. The Quran calls him the "beautiful model" (al-uswa al-hasana) for those who hope for God and the last day (Quran 33:21). Muslims believe that Islamic prophet Muhammad has been sent not for any specific people or region, but for all of humanity.
Muslims show their love and reverence to Muhammad in various ways:
- In proclamation of Islamic faith, the attestation to oneness of God is always followed by the declaration "verily, I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God".
- In speaking or writing, Muslims attach the title "Prophet" with Muhammad's name. His name is always followed by the Arabic benediction sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, meaning Peace be upon him.
- Muhammad's tomb in Medina is considered the second most holy place for Muslims, and is visited by most pilgrims who go to Mecca for Hajj.
- Muslims often use various titles of praise and appellations to express Muhammad's exalted status.
Sunnah: A model for Muslims
|“||For more than thirteen hundred years Muslims have modeled their lives after their prophet Muhammad. They awaken every morning as he awakened; they eat as he ate; they wash as he washed; and they behave even in the minutest acts of daily life as he behaved.||”|
—S. A. Nigosian
In Muslim legal and religious thought, Muhammad, inspired by God to act wisely and in accordance with His will, provides an example that complements God's revelation as expressed in the Quran; and his actions and sayings – known as Sunnah – are a model for Muslim conduct. The Sunnah can be defined as "the actions, decisions, and practices that Muhammad approved, allowed, or condoned". It also includes Muhammad's confirmation to someone's particular action or manner (during Muhammad's lifetime) which, when communicated to Muhammad, was generally approved by him. The Sunnah, as recorded in the Hadith literature, encompasses everyday activities related to men's domestic, social, economic, political life. It addresses a broad array of activities and Islamic beliefs ranging from the simple practices like, for example, the proper way of entering into a mosque, and private cleanliness to the most sublime questions involving the love between God and humans. The Sunnah of Islamic prophet Muhammad serves as a model for the Muslims to shape their life in that light. The Quran tells the believers to offer prayer, to fast, to perform pilgrimage, to pay Zakat, but it was Muhammad who practically taught the believers how to perform all these. Here lies the importance of Sunnah. In Islamic theology, the necessity to follow the examples (the Sunnah) of Muhammad comes from the ruling of the Quran which it describes in its numerous verses. One such typical verse is "And obey Allah and the Messenger so that you may be blessed" (Quran 3:132). The Quran uses two different terms to denote this: ita’ah (to obey) and ittiba (to follow). The former refers to the orders of Muhammad, and the latter to his acts and practices.
Muhammad as lawgiver
In Islamic Sharia, the Sunnah of Muhammad is regarded a vital source for Islamic law, next in importance only to the Quran. Additionally, the Quran in its several verses authorizes Muhammad, in his capacity as a prophet, to promulgate new laws. The 7:157 verse of the Quran says, "those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet whom they find written down in the Torah and the Injil, and who (Muhammad) bids them to the Fair and forbids them the Unfair, and makes lawful for them the good things, and makes unlawful for them the impure things,... So, those who believe in him, and honor him, and help him, and follow the light that has been sent down with him (Muhammad) – they are the ones who acquire success." Commenting on this verse, Islamic scholar Muhammad Taqi Usmani says, "one of the functions of the Holy Prophet (saaw) is to make lawful the good things and make unlawful the impure things. This function has been separated from bidding the fair and forbidding the unfair, because the latter relates to the preaching of what has already been established as fair, and warning against what is established as unfair, while the former embodies the making of lawful and unlawful". Taqi Usmani recognizes two kinds of revelations – the "recited" one which is collectively known as Quran, and the "unrecited" one that Muhammad received from time to time to let him know God's will regarding how human affairs should be – and concludes that Muhammad's prophetic authority to promulgate new laws had its base on the later type. Therefore, in Islamic theology, the difference between God's authority and that of His messenger is of great significance: the former is wholly independent, intrinsic and self-existent, while the authority of the latter is derived from and dependent on the revelation from God.
Muhammad as intercessor
Muslims see Muhammad as primary intercessor and believe that he will intercede on behalf of the believers on Last Judgment day. Islamic tradition narrates that after resurrection when humanity will be gathered together and they will face distress due to heat and fear, they will come to Muhammad. Then he will intercede for them with God and the judgment will start. Hadith narrates that Muhammad will also intercede for the believers who for their sins have been taken to Hell. Muhammad’s intercession will be granted and a lot of believers will come out of hell. In Islamic belief, intercession will be granted on conditions: the permission of God, God's being pleased with the intercessor, and His being pleased with the person for whom intercession is made. In Islamic tradition, the facility of getting Islamic Prophet Muhammad's intercession has been linked, to some extent, to Darood – sending blessing upon Muhammad that generally reads "May God give him blessing and peace".
Muhammad and the Quran
To the Muslims, the Quran is the verbatim word of God which was revealed, through Gabriel, to Muhammad who delivered it to people without any change (Quran 26:192-195, 53:2-5). Thus, there exists a deep relationship between Muhammad and the Quran. Muslims believe that as a recipient of the Quran, Muhammad was the man who best understood the meaning of the Quran, was its chief interpreter, and was granted by God "the understanding of all levels of Quran's meaning". In Islamic theology, if a report of Muhammad’s Quranic interpretation is held to be authentic, then no other interpretative statement has higher theoretical value or importance than that.
In Islamic belief, though the inner message of all the divine revelations given to the Prophets and Messengers is essentially the same, there has been a "gradual evolution toward a final, perfect revelation". It is in this case that Muhammad's revelation excels the previous ones as Muhammad’s revelation is considered by the Muslims to be "the completion, culmination, and perfection of all the previous revelations". Consequently, when the Quran declares that Muhammad is the final prophet after which there will be no future prophet (33:40), it is also meant that the Quran is the last revealed book after which there will be no divine book.
Muhammad and the first Muslim state
In Medina, Muhammad’s first focus was on the construction of a Mosque, which, when completed, was of an austere nature. Apart from being the center of prayer service, the mosque also served as a headquarter of administrative activities. Adjacent to the mosque was built the quarters for Muhammad’s family. As there was no definite arrangement for calling people to prayer, Bilal ibn Ribah was appointed to call people in a loud voice at each prayer time, a system later replaced by Adhan believed to be informed to Abdullah ibn Zayd in his dream, and liked and introduced by Muhammad.
The Emigrants of Mecca, known as Muhajirun, had left almost everything there and came to Medina empty hand. They were cordially welcomed and helped by the Muslims of Medina, known as Ansar (the helpers). Muhammad made a formal bond of fraternity among them that went a long way in eliminating long-established enmity among various tribes, particularly Aws and Khazraj.
- The Muslims, consisting of emigrants of Mecca and Ansars of Medina.
- The hypocrites; they nominally embraced Islam, but actually were against it.
- Those from Aws and Khazraj who were still pagans, but were inclined to embrace Islam.
- The Jews; they were huge in number and formed an important community there.
In order to establish peaceful coexistence among this heterogeneous population, Muhammad invited the leading personalities of all the communities to reach a formal agreement which would provide a harmony among the communities and security to the city of Medina, and finally drew up the Constitution of Medina. Also known as Medina Charter, this document formed "a kind of alliance or federation" among the prevailing communities. It specified the mutual rights and obligations of the Muslims and Jews of Medina, and prohibited any alliance with the outside enemies. It also declared that any dispute would be referred to Muhammad for settlement.
Generally, Islamic Prophet Muhammad is credited with a good number of miracles. Muslim scholar Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti, in his book Al Khasais-ul-Kubra, has extensively discussed the various miracles and extraordinary events of Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Quran does not overtly describe Muhammad performing miracles, and the supreme miracle of Muhammad is finally identified with the Qur'an itself. Many Muslim commentators and some western scholars have interpreted the Sura 54:1-2 to refer to Muhammad splitting the Moon in view of the Quraysh when they had begun to persecute his followers.
Isra and Mi'raj
The Isra and Mi'raj are the two parts of a "Night Journey" that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey. A brief sketch of the story is in Sura (chapter) 17 Al-Isra of the Qur'an, and other details come from the hadith. In the journey, Muhammad travels on Buraq to "the farthest mosque" where he leads other prophets in prayer. He then ascends to heaven where he speaks to God, who gives Muhammad instructions to take back to the faithful regarding the details of prayer.
Miracles during the Battle of the Trench
On the eve of the Battle of the Trench when the Muslims were digging a ditch, they encountered a firm rock embedded inside and impossible to be removed. The Islamic Prophet Muhammad, when apprised of this, came and, taking an ax, struck the rock that created spark upon which he glorified God and said he had been given the keys of the kingdom of Syria. He struck the rock for a second time in a likewise manner and said he had been given the keys of Persia and he could see its white palaces. A third-time strike crushed the rock into pieces whereupon he again glorified God and said he had been given the keys of Yemen and he could see the gates of Sana. According to historians, all these prophesies were fulfilled in subsequent times.
Body and bodily fluids blessings
Generally in Islam, Muhammad is the only person who Muslims can seek blessings from, whether through his body, what touches his body or bodily fluids. Examples include: rubbing the skin with his spittle, collecting his sweat and hair. Several others are mentioned in these hadiths:
- Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith #452, Book 43, Chapter 161
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #54, Book 4, Chapter 40
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #62, Book 61, Chapter 23
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #135, Book 63, Chapter 45
- Sahih Muslim, Hadith #6202, Book 44, Chapter 22
Names and titles of praise
Muhammad is often referenced with these titles of praise or epithet: an-Nâbî, "the Prophet"; ar-Rasûl, "the Messenger"; al-Habeeb, "the beloved"; al-Muṣṭafā, "the chosen one" (Quran 22:75); al-Amîn, "the trustworthy"; as-Sadîq, "the honest" (33:22); al-Haq, "the truthful" (10:8); ar-Rauf, "the kind" (9:128); al-Uswa-e-Hasana, "the model of conduct" (68:4); al-Insān al-Kāmil, "the perfect man"; al-Khairul Bashar, "the best of mankind" (33:21); al-Khātim an-Nâbîyīn, "the last prophet" (33:40); ar-Rahmatul lil 'alameen, "the beneficent and mercy of all the worlds personified" (21:107); as-Shaheed, "the witness" (33:45); al-Mubashir, "the bearer of good tidings" (11:2); an-Nathir, "the warner" (11:2); al-Mudhakkir, "the reminder" (88:21); ad-Dā‘ī, "the one who calls [unto God]" (12:108); al-Bashir, "the announcer" (2:119); an-Noor, "the light personified" (5:15); as-Siraj-un-Munir, "the light-giving lamp" (33:46); al-Kareem, "the noble" (69:40); an-Nimatullah, "the divine favour" (16:83); al-Muzzammil, "the wrapped" (73:1); al-Muddathir, "the shrouded" (74:1); al-'Aqib, "the last [prophet]"; al-Mutawakkil, "the one who puts his trust [in God]" (9:129); al-Kuthâm, "the generous one"al-Mahi, "the eraser [of disbelief]"; al-Muqaffi, "the one who followed [all other prophets]"; an-Nâbîyyu at-Tawbah, "the prophet of penitence"al-Fatih, "the opener"; al-Hashir, "the gatherer (the first to be resurrected) on the day of judgement"; as-Shafe'e, "the intercessor" (3:159, 4:64, 60:12); al-Mushaffaun, "the one whose intercession shall be granted" (19:87, 20:109).
He also has these names: Abu'l-Qasim, "father of Qasim"; Ahmad, "the chosen one" (61:06); Hamid, "praiser"; Mahmood, "praiseworthy"; `Abd-Allah, "servant of Allah" (25:1). In Turkey, he is often called Hz. Muhammed or "Peygamber Efendimiz".
While much of Islam was aniconistic during most of its history, there are rich traditions of visual representation of Muhammad, mainly in the form of paintings and illustrations in religious or hagiographical texts. Religious figures rarely have their face shown. Such figures are often shown with their head veiled in sheets embroidered with Quranic text.
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