2010/05/13

Who is Muhammad (PBUH)?



Who is Muhammad (PBUH)?



By: Laura Cosse'




Who is Muhammad (PBUH)?





Muhammad (peace be upon him) is, without a doubt, the most controversial figure in world history.  No other personality throughout time has conjured up such overpowering emotion from the masses.  On the Muslim side he is absolutely the most venerated and beloved man ever, a mercy sent to the entire world from God and the final prophet to all of mankind.  The western view, however, has been anything but philanthropic.  Rather, there has been a continuous “smear campaign” raged against this man from the very onset of the revelations and throughout the Middle Ages, perhaps most notably in the times of the Crusades.  Accusations abound, some saying he copied the Bible, some saying he had hallucinations in the throws of an epileptic fit, and still others claiming that he was receiving false revelations from Satan himself.


So who was this man who today has more than 1.6 billion followers?  Who was this man that Michael Hart named as the “most influential person in history” in his 1978 book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History?   What is it about him that continues to inspire so many people today in the west and afar, causing Islam to be the fastest growing religion in the world?  Why is Muhammad the most common name in the world today?

Of course the answer is too broad to attempt in this short article, but perhaps we can have a brief introduction to this great prophet of God.  His name was Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Muttalib, which means Muhammad (PBUH) the son of Abd Allah the son of Abd al-Muttalib.  He was born into the tribe of Quraysh and the family of Banu Hashim in Mecca around 570 CE, to a family standard that could be described as “upper middle class.”  His father died before he was born and his mother died when he was around six years old.  The young orphan was then sent to live with his paternal grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib.  When he was just eight years old, his grandfather also died and Muhammad (PBUH) was cared for by his uncle, Abu Talib, who continued to support and protect him for the next 40 years.  


Mecca was a thriving commercial center and the home of the Ka’aba which is believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael.  Even in that era of pre-Islam the Ka’aba was a holy site of pilgrimage for all of Arabia, but at that time it was filled with idols that were thought to be intermediaries between the worshipper and Allah.  In pre-Islamic Arabia Allah was recognized as the Supreme Being, but the paganism and idolatry had corrupted the true religion that was originally brought to the Arabs by Ishmael.

It is known that Muhammad (PBUH) never partook in idol worshipping and was greatly disturbed by it.  He was known to retreat for weeks at a time to a cave where he would pray to God alone and ask for guidance.  At some point in his late teens he began to accompany his uncle to Syria with the trading caravans, giving him the knowledge to become a successful merchant.  Among the people of Mecca he was nicknamed “Al-Amin” which means “The Trustworthy” due to his honesty and integrity displayed in every aspect of his life.  This reputation attracted a 40 year old widow named Khadija who proposed marriage to Muhammad (PBUH) while he was in his mid twenties.  They were happily married for more than twenty years and had 6 children together, however his sons died in their early childhood.


So, Muhammad (PBUH) was well-loved and respected by his family and friends before the revelations of the Qur’an began.  The most famous incident in his life before Islam was his arbitration between four major clans in Mecca that were near taking up arms against each other.  There had been a flash flood that destroyed part of the Ka’aba and each of the four major tribes were helping to rebuild the holy structure.  The last stone to be placed was the black stone of the corner and each of the tribes wanted the honor of putting the stone back in its place.  They decided that the next person who walked through the doors of the mosque would decide which tribe would have the honor of replacing the black stone.  When they saw Muhammad (PBUH) walk in they were overjoyed, for here came Al-Amin, and they were confident he would find a just solution.  Muhammad’s solution was to place the black stone on a cloak and have one member of each of the four clans hold a corner to lift it up, and Muhammad (PBUH) himself put the stone in place.  Everyone was happy with this solution and fighting was averted.



During the month of Ramadan in the year 610 CE, Muhammad (PBUH) had retreated to a cave on Mount Hira outside of Mecca for fasting, prayer and contemplation.  It was here that the angel Gabriel first descended from Heaven and told the prophet to “Recite in the name of your Lord who created!” which was the first revelation of the Qur’an.  The word Qur’an itself means recitation, or something to be recited.  Muhammad (PBUH) was terrified of the experience and was afraid he was going crazy.  He returned to his wife, Khadija, and told her what had happened.  Khadija was the first person to accept Islam; she told him that she believed that he was a prophet of God and that he was not crazy or sick.


After the first revelation, three years passed before the angel Gabriel returned to Muhammad (PBUH) with more of the Qur’an.  During those three years he spent his time in prayer and religious practice.  He had not started openly preaching yet, the only other people who knew of Islam and followed him were his wife, his young cousin Ali who was only 10, his adopted son Zaid and his best friend Abu Bakr.

In the year 613 Muhammad (PBUH) started to speak out in public, calling people to give up the worship of idols and worship only Allah, the one true God.  At first the Meccans only thought he was a nuisance, they laughed at him and said his only followers were an old lady, a slave and a little boy.  But, as he continued to preach the number of followers grew.  The entire economy of Mecca was based on the idols housed inside the Ka’aba, so when Muhammad (PBUH) started to preach against the idol worshipping he was threatening the finances of the leaders of Quraysh.  They offered Muhammad (PBUH) all the money, stature and women in Mecca if he would stop preaching, but he said that he preached for God and needed nothing from the materials of this world. They began to physically torture the Muslims and tried to get them to denounce Islam and they brutally murdered many more.  Muhammad (PBUH) was protected from physical harm by his uncle Abu Talib who stood by his nephew’s side his entire life, but never converted to Islam.


The other clans of Quraysh implemented a trade embargo on the clan of Banu Hashim, Muhammad’s clan.  The embargo lasted for three years and many of the clan starved to death.  Khadija, weakened by starvation, died during this time as did his beloved uncle and sole protector, Abu Talib.  That was the year 619 CE, “the year of sorrows.”


It was evident that the Muslims would have to seek a new place to establish themselves.  The prophet asked many different tribes for their protection when they came for pilgrimage to Mecca, but found none.  It began to look hopeless and Muhammad despaired that the religion would die with all the Muslims.  Then, a miracle happened.  In the town of Yathrib, now Medina an-Nabi, there had been fighting amongst the Arabs and the Jews for many years.  The leaders of the tribes came to Muhammad (PBUH) because they knew his reputation as a trustworthy man and peaceful arbitrator.  They asked that he come to Yathrib, with all of his followers, where they would have sanctity in exchange for his arbitrating between the tribes.  Muhammad (PBUH) agreed and the Muslims emigrated to Yathrib in 622, this even is known as the hijra and it marks year 1 of the Muslim calendar.

It was here, in Medina, that Islam began to truly flourish. It was here that the laws of Islam were first put into practice, allowing the city and religion to blossom. Muhammad (PBUH) successfully brought peace amongst the warring factions of Medina, and quite a few of them became Muslim in the process. He drafted the Constitution of Medina which proclaimed the rights and duties of each of the citizens and detailed the relationship between each of the eight tribes of Medina and the Muslim emigrants.
Muhammad’s (PBUH) success in Medina was like a thorn in the sides of the Meccans. Although he was no longer physically in their presence, he had become quite famous and was thus constantly with them through conversations. Muhammad (PBUH) knew that this was the time when he would have to make his military move if he was to be victorious in winning the Meccans to Islam. Also, there was a need for money since the Muslims had left all of their homes and means of wealth behind in Mecca. The solution was to raid the rich trade caravans coming and going from Mecca. This gave the Muslims a cache of military arms and wealth, but it also provoked the Meccans to war.
In 624 the first and possibly most famous major battle between the Muslims and the Meccans took place, the Battle of Badr. In this battle the Muslims were outnumbered more than 3 to 1, yet they were victorious. They killed at least 45 Meccans and took approximately 70 prisoners of war while losing only 14 Muslims. Many of the prisoners of war were wealthy, so the Muslims ransomed them off for high prices which further increased their growing wealth. The prisoners who could not afford to ransom themselves were let go for free.




Of course the Meccans were outraged and vowed all-out war on the Muslims until Muhammad (PBUH) was dead and Islam effectively obliterated.  The next major battle was the Battle of Uhud, where the Muslims lost more than 75 men and were defeated by the Meccans.  However, they were unsuccessful in killing the prophet or his closest companions, Umar and Abu Bakr, so they were not satisfied.  It was in this battle that Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the beloved uncle of the prophet (PBUH) was killed.


The third major attack came in 627 when the Meccans once again mustered a huge army to attack Medina.  The Muslims were forewarned of the impending attack and dug a trench around the unprotected parts of medina, making it impossible for the enemy to enter the city.  The Meccan army led an ineffective attack and decided it was best to return home.


The next major event to take place was the Treaty of Hudaybiya.  The verses commanding hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a person’s life, had already been commanded, but the Muslims had not yet been able to make a pilgrimage.  So, in the month of Shawwal in the year 628, the prophet (PBUH) and 1,400 Muslims set out for the lesser pilgrimage, Umra, wearing the simple white cloth that pilgrims wear.  The Meccans heard the Muslims were coming and met them outside of Mecca at Hudaybiya.  Here there were heavy negotiations that took place between the two sides, resulting in the treaty which made 4 main points:


1. Both sides would cease hostile activities against each other.


2. The Muslims would not be allowed to make the pilgrimage that year, but could return the following year for hajj.


3. When they come for hajj they should not stay in Mecca more than 3 days.


4. Any Muslims living in Mecca were forbidden to move to Medina, but any


Muslims in Medina who wanted to return to Mecca could do so. 


Many of the Muslims were unhappy with the treaty since they felt it greatly favored the Meccans, but Allah revealed verses in the Qur’an that stated it was an emphatic victory.  And indeed, it was.  Because of the peace treaty the men of Mecca and Medina were able to meet in peace, and in the next two years the number of Muslims more than doubled.


Two years after the treaty was signed, a clan associated with the Meccans raided a clan associated with the Muslims, killing several people.  Muhammad (PBUH) sent a letter to the Meccans stating that either they should pay blood money for the killed, or cease all ties with the offending clan, or consider the Treaty of Hudaybiya nullified.  The Meccans chose to nullify the treaty, but soon realized that was a mistake.  They sent a delegation to try to reinstate the treaty, but Muhammad (PBUH) denied them.  


In the year 630 he prophet (PBUH) gathered a huge army of more than 10,000 men and marched on Mecca.  Without a drop of blood shed, the Muslims marched into Mecca and took control.  Muhammad forgave all of the Meccans for the crimes that they had committed against the Muslims, which was revolutionary for that place and time, the norm would have been revenge.  Muhammad (PBUH) marched right up to the Ka’aba, entered it, and smashed all of the idols that were housed inside.  Almost all of the Meccans converted to Islam though they were not forced to, and, because of Mecca’s importance to Arabia, very shortly after all of Arabia converted to Islam.

In 632 Muhammad (PBUH) became ill and passed away at the age of 62.  He had succeeded in taking the pagan, tribal society of Arabia and changing it to a monotheistic land that denounced tribalism and nationalism and completely changed every aspect of the society and government.  He had proved himself to be a prophet of God, a man of truth, a man who revolutionized the world for all time, a loving husband and father, an intelligent and highly successful politician, a master of strategy and military command, a faithful friend, a good neighbor and the greatest man to ever walk the face of the earth.  He is Muhammad (PBUH), the prophet of God sent as a mercy to all of the world.








About the Author


Laura Cosse' converted to Islam in 1996.  She is the author of several Islamic children’s books and currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband and twin sons, Muhammad and Hamza.  For more info and articles please visit
www.AdvocateIslam.com




(ArticlesBase SC #278590)


Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/ - Who is Muhammad?

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2 Views:

baili on January 31, 2010 at 5:23 PM said...

slam brother it was really difficult to talk about such great personality in one article but author did it so amazingly ,and thank you for sharing it with us it is really a honor to even read about Him who is the most loved one of the dear god ,

my sister told me that they had bit rain in Islamabad i hope Lahore is also the lucky one ,best of luck for your each wish in life

nothingprofound on February 1, 2010 at 12:26 AM said...

Amazing the difference just one person can make in the history of the world.

 

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