Seeing the virtues of Islam in action, many inhabitants of Medina became Muslims. Military activity as well as political negotiations followed and the Prophet (S) became the most powerful leader in Arabia. Several important battles ensued, the first and biggest one (624 A.D.) in Badr (near Medina). Muslim forces, though greatly outnumbered (more than threefold), defeated the Meccan army. In the battle of Uhud (625 A.D.) Muslims were defeated and the prophet was also wounded.
Finally in 627 (A.D.) frustrated by the growing strength of the Muslims, the Meccans mounted an all-out siege of Medina. At the battle of “Ditch” (so named because a trench was dug out to fend off the Meccan cavalry) the Muslims successfully held out against a coalition of Meccans and mercenary Bedouins that the coalition disintegrated and the Meccans withdrew. The failure of the Meccan Quraish enhanced the Prophet’s prestige and he emerged as the strongest leader among the tribes of Arabia.
CLEARING MISUNDERSTANDINGS IN LIGHT OF THE LIFE OF PROPHET MOHAMMAD (S)
Mohammed (S) was born in 570 A.D. to Amina and Abdallah. He was a trader in Mecca – of a wealthy caravan trading community, in the renowned tribe of Quraish. He became an orphan before his birth and his mother also died when he was 6 years old.
His parents did not leave him any wealth. He was taken care of by his grandfather and after his death by his paternal uncle Abu-Talib. His uncle had a large family himself and he was not wealthy.
Very soon Mohammed (S) had to support himself by tending the sheep flocks of rich Meccan families as it is reported.
As a young man he started working as a caravan trader for the wealthy Meccan widow Khadijah. His work took him to distant places in today’s Palestine and Syria and possibly to the North African countries. He became known and trusted because of his attempts to resolve inter-tribal differences.
In fact, he was known within his Quraish tribe as “al-Ameen”, or “the trustworthy”.
At the age of 25 he married Khadijah, a twice widowed lady, 15 years of his senior and they had 6 children together, 4 girls and 2 sons (who both died in infancy).
He remained married to her for 25 years, in a time and place where unlimited polygamy was quite acceptable and until her death it remained an one-wife marriage.
Mohammed was of a deeply religious nature and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the “Mountain of Light” near Mecca.
Route up to Hira cave from base of Jabel Al-Noor
In view of the importance of Hira cave on Jabel Al-Noor, Thor in Makkah, and Uhud in Madina the Saudi government is linking these areas with cable cars to transport Umrah pilgrims and general visitors to these places.
Jabel Al-Noor, is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. It lies to the east of the Holy Ka’aba and is the location of the Hira cave where the Prophet (pbuh) received the first revelation through Angel Jibreel and prayed. It has become an unplanned visitor attraction for pilgrims. The Hira cave is 270 meters up the mountain and at the height of pilgrimage, upto 50,000 people a day climb up to see the cave.
He was elevated to prophethood at the age of 40, on Feb. 12th 610 A.D. His first revelation came while fasting and observing night vigil among the peaks of Mount Hira as angel Gabriel appeared to him.
PROPHET HAS REVELATION
“Recite in the name of your Lord who has created, Created man out of a germ-cell. Recite, for your Lord is the Most Generous one, Who has taught by the pen, Taught man what he did not know!… ” (Qur’an 36:1-5).
“O you wrapped up, Arise and deliver thy warning …”(Qur’an 74.1-10)
These are the first two oldest Verses of the Qur’an.
The Prophet (S) returned home after his first revelation, his heart trembling and said to Khadijah: “Wrap me up, wrap me up!” She wrapped him till fear had left him. He then said: “O Khadijah! What has happened to me?” – and he told her what had happened, saying “fear for myself.”
She replied: “It cannot be. Be happy. I swear by God that he shall never humiliate you. By Allah – you join tie of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burden, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you help against the vicissitudes which affect people.”
Those words of Khadijah were a source of great comfort to him. She was the first person to convert to Islam.
“Say: I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me ….” (Qur’an 18:110)
As the Prophet continued to receive revelations and attract a community of believers, he also attracted the hostility of Mecca’s aristocracy, which reaped profits from the pilgrimages and trade brought by Mecca’s role as a center for idol worship. His uncompromising message of monotheism brought persecution from the ruling class.
THE SECOND PHASE
The second phase, public life began at the end of the 3rd year of his prophethood:
“And warn your nearest kinsfolk, And lower your wing (in kindness) to the believers who follow you, Then if they disobey you, say: I am free (of responsibility) of what you do”. (Qur’an 26:215-216)
“Therefore, proclaim (openly) that which you are commanded, and turn away from the polytheists. Verily, we are sufficient unto you against the scoffers, who take with God another god, but they will come to know.” (Qur’an 15:94-96)
Mohammad (S) and his followers met active persecution in Mecca in the 3rd year of his prophethood and in the 5th year (615 A.D.) oppression intensified and a small group of believers migrated to Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia), a Christian community in Northern Africa.
Muslims in Mecca faced boycott, hostility and oppression and struggled for almost 10 years.
On Sept. 16th 622 A.D. Prophet Mohammad and about 200 of his followers migrated to Yathreb (Mohammad was 53 ), a journey that took 12 days.
That is the date of the beginning of Islamic Calendar, “Hijjrah” (migration).
Yathreb was an important Jewish farming and trading community 200 miles North of Mecca.
After some traders had met Mohammad (S) in Mecca and had become believers they invited the Prophet and his followers to Yathreb. A bloody tribal rivalry going on and a truce was desperately needed. After the Prophet’s arrival Yathreb was called “Medinat an-Nabi” or short “Medina” .
An Islamic model state in Medina was established in the same year ( 623 A.D.).
Prophet Mohammad was disappointed by the rejection of his message by the Jews in Medina. Young Islam struggled to be accepted there and the believers were harassed and ridiculed by the hypocrites.
In Medina, Mohammad (S) and his followers demonstrated the practicality of the new religion’s social application by resolving bitter rivalries and tensions among the city’s rival groups and clans.
Seeing the virtues of Islam in action, many inhabitants of Medina became Muslims.
Military activity as well as political negotiations followed and the Prophet (S) became the most powerful leader in Arabia. Several important battles ensued, the first and biggest one (624 A.D.) in Badr (near Medina).
Muslim forces, though greatly outnumbered (more than threefold), defeated the Meccan army. In the battle of Uhud (625 A.D.) Muslims were defeated and the prophet was also wounded.
Finally in 627 (A.D.) frustrated by the growing strength of the Muslims, the Meccans mounted an all-out siege of Medina. At the battle of “Ditch” (so named because a trench was dug out to fend off the Meccan cavalry) the Muslims successfully held out against a coalition of Meccans and mercenary Bedouins that the coalition disintegrated and the Meccans withdrew.
The failure of the Meccan Quraish enhanced the Prophet’s prestige and leadership among the tribes of Arabia.
THE THIRD AND THE FINAL PHASE
“The final phase in the struggle between Medina and Mecca highlights the method and political genius of Mohammad. He employed both military and diplomatic means, often preferring the latter.
Instead of seeking to rout his Meccan opponents, Mohammad (S) sought to gain submission to God and His messenger by incorporating them within the Islamic community-state.
A truce was struck in 628 (A.D.) at Hudaybiyah to permit Muslims to make their pilgrimage to Mecca the following year.
In 629 (A.D.) Mohammad (S) established Muslim control over the Hijaz and led the pilgrimage to Mecca as had been scheduled. Then in 630 (A.D.) the Prophet (S) accused the Quraish of breaking the treaty and the Muslims marched on Mecca, ten thousand strong. The Meccans capitulated.
Eschewing vengeance and the plunder of conquest the Prophet instead accepted a settlement granting amnesty rather than wielding the sword toward his former enemies.”
It was a triumphant return to Mecca on Ramadan 20th, the 8th year after Hijjrah (630 A.D.).
Mecca welcomed the Muslims and it converted without violent resistance to Islam. His first act upon returning to Mecca was to cleanse the ‘Kaaba’ of its pagan idols, restoring it to the Abrahamic tradition of monotheism.
LAST PHASE OF PROPHET’S LIFE
On his last Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) in the 10th year after Hijjrah (632 A.D.) Mohammad (S) delivered a farewell speech to his followers.
By that time Arabia was united under the banner of Islam after many battles in its cause. His departure from this worldly life – a high fever had befallen him – in Medina came to his followers as a grave shock. Medina fell into despair for days. The city was consumed with sorrow and ceremony.
The Prophet (S) wanted to be buried very simple with no marker over his grave. He did not want people to worship his grave, that would interfere with their worship of God.
He was buried on the very spot where he died, in the house of Lady Aisha.
Masjid al Nabavi (Medina)
Later a large mosque was built next to it and it is today one of the three most Holy Places of Islam, with Mecca and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Here was the secret to Islam’s strength and profound influence: the unifying power of one God, merciful and compassionate, the power of one people bound by a common faith.
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* ”Islam, the straight Path”, Prof. John L. Esposito
** “Understanding Islam and Muslims”, Islamic Affairs Dept., Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C.
Although every effort has been made in abbreviations, terms of respect and endearment used by Muslim writers while addressing the holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), his companions and other Prophets, yet certain schools in the Islamic world may be using different abbreviations. These abbreviations, therefore, may not be considered as obligatory for other schools of thought in Islam.
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