i.Who was the Prophet Muhammad?
- Muḥammad[n 1] (Arabic: محمد;c. 570 CE – 8 June 632 CE) is regarded by Muslims, almost universally,[n 2] as the last prophet sent by God to mankind.[n 3] According to Muslims, he was sent to restore Islam, which they believe to be the unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Non-Muslims generally consider him to be the founder of Islam.
- Born approximately in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, Muhammad was orphaned at an early age; he was raised under the care of his paternal uncle Abu Talib. After his childhood Muhammad primarily worked as a merchant. Occasionally he would retreat to a cave in the mountains for several nights of seclusion and prayer; later, at age 40, he reported at this spot, that he was visited by Gabriel and received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that “God is One“, that complete “surrender” (lit. islām) to him is the only way (dīn)[n 4] acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to the other prophets in Islam.
- Muhammad gained few followers early on, and met hostility from some Meccan tribes. To escape persecution, Muhammad sent some of his followers to Abyssinia before he and his followers in Mecca migrated toMedina (then known as Yathrib) in the year 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina. After eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and marched on the city of Mecca. The attack went largely uncontested and Muhammad took over the city with little bloodshed. He destroyed the three-hundred and sixty pagan idols at the Kaaba, in the city. In 632, a few months after returning to Medina from the Farewell Pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. Before his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam, so by the time of his death, he had united Arabia into a single Muslim polity and ensured that his teachings and practice together with the Quran, which Muslims believe was revealed to him by God, formed the basis of Islamic religious belief.
- The revelations (each known as Ayah, lit. “Sign [of God]”), which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad’s teachings and practices (sunnah), found in the Hadith and sira literature, are also upheld by Muslims and used as sources of Islamic law (see Sharia). While conceptions of Muhammad in medieval Christendom were largely negative, appraisals in modern history have been far more favorable. Other appraisals of Muhammad throughout history, such as those found in medieval China, have also been positive.