Muhammad also known as Muhammad the Prophet was an Islamic religious leader in the 6th and 7th century C.E. He is thought to have been a descendant of Ishmael who was the son of Abraham.
Muslims think he was a messenger and prophet of Allah. By the end of his lifetime he had converted thousands if not millions of people to Islam.
Muhammad was born around 570 C.E. in the town of Mecca to Abdullah and Amina in present-day Saudi Arabia. Abdullah died several months before his son entered the world. Unfortunately his mother passed away when he was six years old. After the death of his mother, Muhammad was raised by his grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib for the next two years. Muhammad was eight years old when his grandfather passed away. His uncle Abu Talib would support Muhammad until his adult life.
Muhammad’s family was respected but poor and a member of the Quraysh tribe. The family was involved in trade and politics in Mecca. He worked as a merchant for most of his younger years in Mecca which was home to many merchants and an important religious center.
The city was home to numerous temples including the Kaaba which is thought to have been constructed by Abraham and his son Ismael.
At the age of 25 years old Muhammad married Khadijah who came from a wealthy family. The marriage helped Muhammad’s social standing in the town. Together they would have six children.
At the age of 40 years old Muhammad decided to walk to the mountain of Hira near Mecca. Here according to legend Muhammad spoke with the angel Gabriel within a cave. Muslims believe Gabriel gave Muhammad the power to teach the word of Allah.
After returning home, Muhammad spoke with his wife about the meeting with Gabriel. He believed that Gabriel wanted him to preach the word of Allah to the masses in Mecca.
At first most people of Mecca were skeptical of his preaching because the nomadic traders of the city worshipped different idols. Soon, Muhammad was able to gain a following of his preaching and these individuals are considered to be the first followers of Islam.
In the beginning, the power structure within Mecca punished the first Islamic followers and many were executed or tortured.
When he gained a sufficient following of Muslims, Muhammad set his sight on Medina. The residents of Medina welcomed Muhammad to their city. He continued preaching and converting people in Medina to Islam.
At this point many people from Mecca had followed Muhammad to Medina. The journey from Mecca to Medina is known as the Hijrah which is now the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Muhammad constructed the first mosque in Medina. The mosque was built in the back of his home and was very small. He invited Muslims to come to his mosque to pray to Allah.
But not all things were good in Medina. A strong Jewish tribe of people did not like the teaching and ideas of Muhammad.
These individuals sent word to Mecca to destroy and sell all the property left behind by Muhammad’s followers. His followers were asked to fight but Muhammad believed fighting was not the right thing to do.
The pagans in Mecca sent a large army of more than 1,000 soldiers to fight against the Muslims in Mecca. The two entities engaged in battle at Badr and the pagans were defeated after one of their leaders was killed.
The next battle one year later at Uhud was quite different for the Muslims. During the defeat Muhammad himself was injured and his uncle Hamza was killed. In 627 C.E. the Quraysh attacked Medina but their forces could not penetrate the city because of a large trench that was constructed for safety. After a short siege, the Quraysh left.
When the pagans failed to control Medina, they sought a truce with the Muslims. The truce was to last for ten years.
This allowed the Muslims time to convert more people to Islam as they preached around the Arabia. But the truce only lasted a mere three years when people from Mecca raided a Muslim camp killing the residents.
By 630 C.E. thousands of people had converted to Islam. Muhammad’s army gained in power and attacked Mecca. The residents of Mecca were afraid of the size of Muhammad’s army and decided not to fight.
After capturing Mecca, Muhammad and his followers destroyed the idols in the Kaaba. Ultimately Muhammad for gave all the residents of Mecca and offered prayer to all.
Muhammad died in 632 C.E. but Islam continued to spread across the Middle East and centuries in the future Islam would reach other continents such as Africa, Asia, and Europe.