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The written sources about the life of the Prophet Muhammad are in part  born up to about 200 years after his death. (except for quotations from the Qur’an) The first biography of the Prophet Muhammad was written by Ibn Is´háq (k.767). This story has had its own significance in the life of Muslim communities and in the formation of Islam itself. The following presentation of the biography of the Prophet Muhammad adheres to this truth

Birth of Muhammad


Although Muhammad was born in Mecca  to the most respected main tribe, Quarash, his family was not in that high position. Muhammad’s childhood was followed by losses one after another. He missed out completely early on  orphaned by relatives: grandfather and uncle Abu Talib  take care.

Islamic storytelling says that young Muhammad helped his uncle  this on business trips to Syria. According to the story  the caravan stopped in Bostra, Syria, where the Christian monk Bahira lived in a hermitage.  Bahira already saw when the caravan arrived that a cloud was following above the messenger of God. He also found the seal of the Prophet between the shoulder blades of Muhammad. Bahira ordered Abu Talib

to take the boy immediately back to Mecca, where a great and significant fate awaited him.

A pass leading to Petra, used by trade caravans. Rock tombs carved into the walls of the mountains, to which the text of the Qur'an 12: 109  may refer to.

On Mount Muhammad Hira

The Prophet Muhammad preaches to his hearers.


Growing up as a young man, Muhammad enlisted in the service of the rich merchant's widow Khadidza. Khadidza found that he had found a reliable and skillful helper in his trading room.and sent this outside the Arabian Peninsula to do business as well. He may well have visited Petra, for example (some passages in the Qur'an refer to this) on his travels to Syria.


As long as Muhammad was married to Khadidza, he had no other wives. (Later Muhammad took several more wives for himself) They had children, but the boys died young. From the daughters or Fatima gave birth to grandchildren for Muhammad.


The marriage with Khadidza elevated Muhammad to a financially sound and respected Mecca merchant.

Khadidza died the same year as Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib 619


Muhammad experienced his first revelation after retreating to pray on Mount Hira near Mecca. He was then 40 years old.  The mediator of the revelations was the angel Gabriel. The content of the first revelation was:

“Read through your Lord who created.

created by a human embryo.

Read, for your Lord is generous,

Your Lord, who taught with a pen,

taught man what he did not know. "

(The first five verses of the great 96 of the Qur'an)

It took a long time after the first revelation before more followed. Muhammad was already beginning to doubt his own experience, but his wife Khadidza supported and believed he had actually seen and heard everything Muhammad had said. Then the revelations continued

Muhammad gradually began to believe that Allah had called him a prophet, a preacher of the message of Islam. He did not experience anything else divine in himself.


More on the Qur'an


Muhammad’s proclamation began to arouse interest and he gained supporters, especially among the lowest classes of society. The first converts to Islam were his wife Khadidza, Abu Bakr, and Muhammad’s nephew Ali ibn abi Talib (later the fourth caliph).

However, not everyone agreed. The superiority of Mecca had no reason to share these demands. They feared that the influx of pilgrims to the Kaaba temple would no longer be another asset to the city, as it had been until now. Muhammadhan denied the worship and existence of other gods. They began to publicly oppose Muhammad’s new message.

Muhammad’s reputation had rushed to the nearby city of Yathrib (Medina). The two main tribes of the city had been fighting here for a long time. Muhammad was called a mediator. The Medinans believed that the move of the Prophet and his supporters to Medina would appease the parties to the dispute.

The transfer of Muhammad and his supporters (hidra)  Mecca  The medina happened in  622. From this year, Muslims begin their own reckoning.


Those who had departed from Mecca had also left their own tribe, as the prophet himself. The tribal community was replaced by its own community (umma). The city was inhabited by many Jews and other factions. The prophet made covenants with them. The Jews were initially allowed to stay in Medina. The Prophet hoped they would convert to Islam. Initially, the direction of Muslim prayer was also towards Jerusalem. As the intervals tightened with the Jews, the direction of prayer (quibla) was determined towards Mecca and the Jews were expelled.

  Muhammad’s remit expanded: He was the political and religious leader of the community, a peace negotiator and a warlord.


Muhammad's dream had always been to conquer Mecca. It took several years for this dream to come true. All sides gathered allies for themselves. In the last year, 630, the forces of the prophet captured Mecca and its inhabitants converted to Islam. The Kaaba temple became a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. The Prophet himself remained living among the faithful medinals.

The Prophet Muhammad died of a sudden illness in Medina  in 632. His grave here is a major Muslim pilgrimage site.

By the time of Muhammad’s death, Islam had spread to the Arabian Peninsula, but not yet beyond.


Sources: Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila: Introduction to the Qur'an pp.38-61

Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila: The Handbook of Islam, pp. 13-24

Images: GNU Free Documentation License

Muhammad's death

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