Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, is the last of the Prophets sent by God Almighty to the humanity. He is the seal of the Prophets, means Prophet-hood is completed with him. He is neither a god nor has any quality of divinity, as taught by himself. He needs to be known as the messenger and a slave of God. A very short biography of this blessed and greatest man ever walked on the face of the earth, is covered here as a starter for anyone who is interested to study more.
Before the Birth of the Prophet
The time in Arabia before teaching of the Prophet, is known as Jahiliya, which means time of ignorance. Evil practices were wide spread.This include but not limited to :
Brutal treatment of slaves, exploitation of the poor through usury, treating women as property – buying, selling and inheriting them, killing baby girls, as girls were looked as a shame to the family, inter-tribal wars and bloodshed for minor reasons, idolatry and evil worship practices such as praying naked in public and blood sacrifices to the idols.
But there were some good qualities among these evil practices. Those were – honesty and even being ready to die to keep the words, loyalty, bravery and hospitality. All these good qualities had adverse effect because of the evil practices of the time. For example, a person will be extremely loyal to a tribe, so that he can’t let other tribes do anything to them and would end up in bloodshed.
The awareness of Almighty God was there as they were related to Prophet Ismail and Prophet Ibrahim ( May peace be upon them). However, they also worshiped lesser gods and often involved evil methods of worship.
The teachings of the past Prophets were nearly all gone and only a handful of people followed monotheism.
It was the time for a Prophet to come.
Birth of the Prophet
Abdullah and Amina are parents of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Abdullah passed away while Amina was pregnant with the Prophet.
During that time, death of the father means, loss of all support. Amina gave birth to the Prophet during this tough time. It was also called year of the elephant, because of a miraculous incident that happened during this time. An arrogant king wanted to destroy holy Kaaba and marched towards it with an army of elephants. Allah, the holy one sent small birds that attacked elephants eventually leading to a humiliating collapse of the army. The king himself was wounded and retreated, but died on the way.
Under the care of wet nurse
It was a practice of that time to send children to wet nurses for the care. Kids would stay with them for years before returning to home.
Nobody showed interest in taking the care of baby Muhammad, as he was orphaned and thus would mean lesser financial support. However, Halima Sadia took the care of this baby.
Death of the Mother
After spending time with the wet nurse, Muhammad (SAWS) was returned to his mother. But he couldn’t live with his mother long. When he was at the age of six, his mother passed away.
A rough childhood continues
Now that Muhammad (SAWS) is completely orphaned, his grand father Abdul Muttalib took care of the kid with lots of love. But very soon Abdul Muttalib also passed away.
Then a loving uncle Abu Talib, took the custody of the child. He was a great supporter of the Prophet ever since.
Prophet during his young Age
In the early ages, Muhammad (SAWS) was known by the title Al-Ameen, which means the trust worthy. He was a person with bit shyness. Other than his high morale and good conduct, he lived a normal life, some times, below average life being a poor person.
Prophet during this time worked as a shepherd, a trader etc. He showed great wisdom in solving disputes when needed. He could not read or write.
In a society with full of moral degrade, he held an upright moral conduct.
Marriage of the Prophet
When Muhammad(SAWS) was 25 years of age, he was hired to take care of the trade and caravan of Khadija (RA). Khadija (RA) was a dignified, beautiful and rich widow. Several men asked permission to be married with her which she rejected.
Muhammad (SAWS) took care of her trade and his honesty and conduct during the business was related to Khadija (RA) by her maids. She was impressed by Muhammad (SAWS) and sent her marriage proposal to him. They got married.
They had a loving family that was role model for others. They also went through tough times. Baby boys born to them passed away at very young age. They had four girls.
Even though, in the later part of life Prophet had to marry other women for the purpose of his mission, as a family man, Khadija (RA) was his only life partner.
Time before revelation
Prophet used to like solitude. He would spend many days in seclusion in the cave of high mountains introspecting and meditating. People used to say “Muhammad is in deep love with Allah”.
The first revelation
At the age of 40, when the Prophet was in mediation in the top part of a mountain named Jabal-An-Nur, in the cave with name Hira, Prophet had a life changing experience.
Angel Jibril (AS) appeared in front of him. And asked him to recite.
Prophet was in wonder and awe as this was not something he even heard of experiencing.
He said he couldn’t recite or read
Angel hugged him and recited for him, and gave him his first revelation that God is the creator of humans and the ultimate source of knowledge.
But, Prophet was not completely out of awe his first such experience.
He ran to his home and asked Khadija(RA) to cover him with a blanket for comfort. She asked him about this incident. After hearing the incident, she comforted him consoled him saying no bad can happen to person like him who is generous and kind to poor, needy and orphans.
She took him to his cousin who was a scholar of previous scriptures. Hearing the incident, he narrated that it is the same angel that visited Musa (AS) and Muhammad (SAWS) is on a great mission.
Revelation stared coming to the Prophet (SAWS), he was shown is mission. He started preaching to his close family and friends. Knowing his truthfulness and honestly they accepted the message right away. They were asked to forsake false gods, stop evil practices and keep the family ties.
The teaching slowly started getting spread. Each of teachings were against the prevailing beliefs, customs and practices. Stopping some of them and following new one, such as treating slaves as brothers, would even hurt them financially. The pride of the tribal leaders woke up and they wanted to stop the message.
They offered Muhammad (SAWS), women, position and power to stay away from the mission.
But the Prophet (SAWS) was very clear on his mission and plainly rejected saying:
“Even if you give sun on my right hand and moon on my left hand, I can’t forsake this mission”.
Followers of the Prophet comprised people from all walks of life – rich, poor, men, women, free and slaves. Some of them who were socially weak had to go through severe persecution by the enemies.
Sumayya (RA), a former slave woman was the first person to get martyred for her new faith. Her husband was also killed, leaving their child Ammar (RA). He was also strong in faith and would rather die than forsaking his faith.
This is the time Allah, the holy one, out of his mercy revealed that it is okay to hide the faith from the enemies. Prophet (SAWS) permitted him to keep the faith in heart and not revealing it through tongue.
Bilal (RA) , a black slave was another person who got brutally persecuted for his faith. He was tortured with heat and heavy stones. He was dragged through the streets to insult and persecute. Abubakr (RA) a companion of the Prophet (SAWS) brought his freedom. Ever since Bilal (RA) and the Prophe (SAWS) had great love and affection each other.
There were numerous incidents of insults and torture of the Prophet (SAWS) himself. He was pelted with stones, animal guts were put on him, his shirt was torn in public and enemies spat on his face.
Not even a single time Prophet compromised his mission nor showed any sign of weakness. Rather even at the weakest position he warned the enemies that he is the messenger of Allah, following him means goodness in both the worlds, torture and rejection of him means destruction. Interestingly even at this stage, his enemies were scared of his warnings but did not wanted to accept his message out of arrogance.
Since Prophet was known for his upright manner and truthfulness, even his arch enemies was scared to say he is lying – which would mean they are openly discrediting themselves. They found various excuses but never could find any fault. They would say,
‘Muhammad! we are not rejecting you, but your message”
They thought the message was against the customs and beliefs of their forefathers had and it did hurt their dignity and wealth – even after realizing the truthfulness of the message. They continued all sorts of oppressive methods to destroy the faith.
Migrations of Muslims to safeguard faith
During the time of prosecution, Prophet asked his initial followers to migrate to Abyssinia. It was ruled by a Christian king about whom the Prophet (SAWS) said, “no wrong will be done”. He was a just king. The king realized the message of the Prophet and gave protection to the migrated people. The pagans of Arabia went after them, but the king refused to withdraw his protection from the believers. It is believed that the king also accepted the message of Islam.
After some time, the migrated believers came back to Makkah, hoping things might have changed.
But it did not.
New methods of persecutions were added. There was social boycott against Muslims. No one was allowed to give or sell to the believers anything including food.
The Hijra – migration to Medina
After long years of persecution, Prophet found some support in the city of Yathrib, which later blessedly came to known as Medina.
Prophet stayed in Makkah until all the believers could escape the torture and migrate to Medina. Finally, Prophet also planned to migrate.
Pagans came to know about this plan. They thought it is danger to let the Prophet (SAWS) escape to a new place for the faith to flourish. They decided to get rid of him completely by murdering him.
The enemies formed a group for the murder taking each person from each tribe so that there is no single tribe to blame.
Prophet (SAWS) decided to migrate at night with his friend Abubakr (RA).
Prophet were trusted with various things by the people of Makkah, including pagans. He appointed Ali (RA) his cousin and a staunch believer to return those goods to the rightful owners. He also asked Ali(RA) to sleep in his place covering with Prophet’s blanket, assuring him nothing will happen to him.
While enemies were waiting around the house, the Prophet (SAWS) escaped from there with his friend. Enemies peeked to this house and thought the one who is in the blanket was the Prophet. When they approached, they realized it was not the Prophet (SAWS) and felt upset.
Leaving Ali (RA), the enemies went to search and kill the Prophet. God Almighty, showered his protection. There were very close incidents during the migration but eventually Prophet (SAWS) and his companion Abubakr (RA) reached Medina without any harm.
Migration of the Prophet to Medina is known as Hijra. Islamic calendar starts from this year.
Establishing in Medina
First thing Muhammad (SAWS) did was to build a Masjid to have a place of worship. From there, a state was being established based on the teachings of the Holy Quran.
The people of Medina was very helpful to the migrants, however, migrants were still on severe poverty. They had to leave everything they had in Makkah. For those who wanted to take some, the pagans did not let them. Survival of the migrants became a question.
Badr the first war in Islam
Now that they were persecuted for years and had to leave their home for their faith and the survival itself became a question, Muslims wanted to get back on their foot. Since going back and taking their means will end up in their murder and humiliation, permission was given to siege a Makkan chief’s caravan that was going near a route in Medina.
Makkan’s came to know about this plan. The caravan owner was worried about his wealth. Others found this as an opportunity to group against Muslims and totally annihilate them.
Makkan caravan took a different route and it went out of reach of Muslims.
But the chieftains of Makkah considering it as a golden opportunity, marched forth to Medina. Their aim was destruction of Muslims. They were also very confident about their success, as Makkah had a bigger and stronger army. Prophet had lesser people and weaker means.
Two enemies met in a place called Badr. Allah helped the believers and they won against the disbelievers, irrespective of much weaker means the believers had. Makkans were defeated and went back with even more vengeance.
Battle of Uhud – Disobeying the Prophet (SAWS) means defeat
After two years Makkans again grouped together solely for the destroying Muslims. Muslims position was better than last time, still it was lesser in means compared to what Makkans had.
Prophet strategically placed a group of archers on a top of a mountain to guard a position. They were commanded to stay until further order.
Other group of Muslims engaged in the battle. Muslims started winning. Seeing the victory, the archers on the top of the mountain decided to come down thinking they will miss the opportunity to take the things enemies leave behind. Only a handful of people stayed there, reminding others about Prophet’s (SAWS) command to stay there until further order.
Thinking that the order was only until the victory, others came down without realizing they are disobeying the order of the Prophet (SAWS).
Then a surprise happened. There was a group of cavalry on horse back waiting behind the mountain. As soon as, they saw the archers retreat from the mountain, they came through the side of the mountain and attacked the believers from the back.
The war situation turned. Muslims started taking injury. Prophet himself was hit on his head and became unconscious. Muslims retreated to the top of the mountain.
Enemies who were on the verge of the defeat got upper hand. They also retreated.
But they were upset that he could not kill the Prophet (SAWS)
Battle of Trench
After a year, Makkans again planned for an attack against Muslims. By this time Muslims had made treaty with some Jewish tribes in Medina and promised to protect each other.
Pagans made treaty with other Jewish tribe and came to attack Muslims with full force.
Muslims took a smart defense. They dug a huge trench that blocked enemies from entering to Medina. Enemies were surprised by the trench, they waited in their tent on the other side, without being able to attack. They realized that only way to attack Muslims was from inside Medina.
Treachery and betrayal in Medina
Enemies approached the Jewish tribe inside Medina and encouraged them to attack Muslims from inside the city. Having a peace and mutual protection treaty they did not want to do it. However, they were tempted. Unfortunately, they fell on the temptation and decided to betray Muslims and attack from inside. Enemy strategy was to attack first from inside and once the believers are weakened and attention turns towards inside, attack from outside also and completely destroy Muslims.
Almighty showers his blessing and protects the believers
As the tribe was planning attack from inside, pagans were waiting in the tent on the other side of the trench. They started running out of their food and supplies. Along with that a huge sandstorm came and demolished all their tents. Thus they were defeated even without a war, They retreated to Makkah.
Without knowing this, tribe inside Medina came for attack. The betrayal fired back. They were exposed to the believers and they were held responsible for their treachery. Betrayers were made to come under justice and they were made under siege by Muslims. They asked that they be judged by a person of their choice. Prophet (SAWS) agreed to it.
They chose a person as a judge. And the judge gave the verdict that they be punished according to tribe’s own law. Thus the adult men of the enemy tribe was given capital punishment.
Justice was served.
Believer respected all other treaties that did not involve any betrayal.
Treaty of Hudaibiyah
God Almighty showed a vision to the Prophet (SAWS) – he doing worship in Kaaba. Inspired by this he, went with a group of believers to Kaaba.
But, the pagans of Makkah resisted and did not let them worship. This time, instead of fighting Muslims, they made a treaty for ten years. The treaty on the first hand looked very one sided against Muslims. Some of believers were very upset to sign the treaty, thinking it is a humiliation. But Prophet (SAWS) had a greater vision. He went back to Medina, to complete his worship in Kaaba later time.
Pagans break the treaty
More and more people started accepting Islam and the faith was spreading. The peaceful time due to the treaty worked in favor of Muslims. However, pagans killed some Muslims during this time and broke the treaty.
Victory of Makkah
Prophet (SAWS) wanted to hold enemies responsible for these murders. He arranged his army and entered Makkah from many different directions. Pagans of Makkah were overwhelmed. They could not fight. Neither did Prophet ordered and fight. He offered, safety and security for any one who is not coming to fight.
Thus Muslims won Makkah without any war or bloodshed.
Justice was established in Makkah and even the biggest enemies were forgiven for their past enmity. They all became adherent of Islam and brothers in faith each other.
The farewell of the Prophet
Now that the faith is well established both among people and as a country, the mission of the Prophet (SAWS) was coming to an end. He was given revelation that he soon needs to depart from this world.
Prophet (SAWS) did his Hajj and gave the farewell speech to his followers.
Prophet (SAWS) became sick and it was his finals days.
Angel of death came to him (SAWS) and gave him choice. Prophet (SAWS) chose to be with Allah, the Holy one. At the age of 62, he departed from this worldly life. His final resting place is in the same place he died in Medina. His blessed grave is under the dome of Masjid of Medina.
Today millions of his followers go to Medina and say salutation to the blessed Prophet.
May, Allah the Holy one, shower his peace and blessings to his beloved Prophet (SAWS), his family, his companions and his followers.