Muhammad was born around the year 570 in the city of Mecca, Arabia. His name means “highly praised.” Muhammad’s full name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Muttalib Ibn Hashim. He was the last prophet of the religion of Islam.
Muhammad’s father, Abdallah, died several weeks before his birth and his mother, Aminah, died when he was six years old. He was raised by his paternal grandfather, ‘Abd al Muttalib, until the age of eight, and after his grandfather’s death by Abu Talib, his paternal uncle. Under the guardianship of Abu Talib, Muhammad began to earn a living as a businessman and a trader.
The tradition of Islam claims that in the year 610, Muhammad, while on a retreat to Mount Hira for meditation during the month of Ramadan, received his first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel said to Muhammad: “Iqraa,” meaning “read” or “recite.” He replied, “I cannot read.” Gabriel embraced Muhammad and after releasing him repeated: “Iqraa.” Muhammad’s answer was the same as before. Gabriel repeated the embrace, asking Muhammad to repeat after him and said: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created! He created man from that which clings. Recite; and thy Lord is most Bountiful, He who has taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not.”
The Angel Gabriel visited the Muhammad many times over a period of twenty-three years. Gabriel taught Muhammad the verses and he instructed his scribes to record them. All the revealed verses are compiled in the Qur’an. The Prophet’s sayings and actions are recorded separately in collections known as Hadith. Muslims believe that Muhammad was a messenger of Allah (Arabic for The One and Only God) and last of the prophets sent by Allah to guide man to the right path.
The Prophet’s mission was to restore the worship of the One True God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, as taught by Prophet Abraham and all Prophets of God, and to demonstrate the laws of moral, ethical, legal, and social conduct. Islam means peace by submission and obedience to the Will and Commandments of God. Those who accept Islam are called Muslims, meaning those who have accepted the message of peace by submission to God.
The Qur’an provides insight into the missions, struggles and communities of twenty-five Prophets, the first of which is Adam. The Qur’an mentions four previously revealed Scriptures: Suhoof (Pages) of Abraham, Taurat (‘Torah’) as revealed to Moses, Zuboor (‘Psalms’) as revealed to David, and Injeel (‘Evangel’) as revealed to Jesus. Islam requires belief in all the prophets and revealed scriptures as part of its Articles of Faith.
Muhammad’s first few followers were his cousin, Ali, his servant, Zayd ibn Harithah, his friend, Abu Bakr and his wife and daughters. They all accepted Islam by testifying that: “There is no Deity (worthy of worship) except Allah (The One True God) and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” By the end of his life, Muhammad had several hundred thousand followers.
Before he died in 632, Muhammad had established the religious practices known as “the five pillars of Islam.” They are declaring the oneness of Allah and his messenger Muhammad; praying five times a day; fasting during the month of Ramadan; giving to charity; and making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Some Muslims recognize a sixth pillar in the Islamic jihad that can be an armed conflict in defence of Islam (known as the lesser jihad); and improving one’s spiritual being (called the greater jihad).
Muhammad is the model of Qur’anic behavior for Muslims. They mention his name by adding “peace be upon him,” a phrase used with the name of all the prophets. Muslims try to follow the Qur’an and the Prophet’s example in every detail.