Muhammad's prophet-hood was similar to those of the Prophets
before him, including Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and many
others. An orphan by the age of seven, he grew up as simple,
yet pious individual. He was known for his justice and
honesty, earning the nickname " AI-Amin (the honest man)"
years before he was to learn of his own prophet-hood.
He despised the injustices he saw within Makkan society, and
as a young man helped form an alliance, "Hilf al-Fudhoul,"
to help preserve the rights of the poor and oppressed. He
was troubled by the abundance of idols and senseless acts of
paganism dominating his people. A staggering 360 idols were
housed in Makkah, and they were called upon daily by most
residents of the city. For someone of deep moral character,
it must have been a confusing and difficult place to live.
Muhammad (PBUH) used to go for days at a time into hills
around Makkah to meditate.
It was during one of these times in cave in Mount Hiraa,
that God sent his first revelation to Muhammad (PBUH).
Muhammad (PBUH) was now the final Messenger of God, and
would be used to deliver the universal message to all
humankind. The Archangel Gabriel came to Muhammad (PBUH) and
commanded, "Read!" Muhammad, terrified, replied, "I'm not a
reader," for he could neither read nor write, as literacy,
where he lived, was rare. The angel took hold of him,
squeezed him with incredible force, released him and
repeated the command: Read! Muhammad repeated himself and
once again the angel squeezed him until Muhammad (PBUH)
thought he could bear it no longer. After the third time,
Muhammad (PBUH) felt the intense ringing of bells and heard
Gabriel recite the literal word of God. Words so powerful
that it felt like they were inscribed on his heart: "Read:
In the name of your Lord Who created, Created humankind from
something that clings (zygote to the uterus), Read! And your
Lord is the Most Generous." [96: 1-3]
He (PBUH) ran from the cave in terror, trying to escape the
intense and frightening experience. But everywhere he looked
on the horizon, he saw Gabriel; he could not escape it; he
had already been chosen.
Over a period of 23 years, the revelations continued to
come. The verses make up the Noble Qur'an, and Muhammad (PBUH)
and the believers committed them to memory.
The thriving city of Makkah saw Muhammad (PBUH) as a grave
threat; their strong economy depended upon the commerce of
tribes that came to pay homage to the many idols housed in
Makkah. The Makkan chiefs, upon seeing Islam spread,
summoned Muhammad (PBUH) and offered him any amount of
wealth or power he wanted, in exchange for him to halt his
preaching. To this offer, which was delivered by his own
uncle, Muhammad's (PBUH) reply was swift: "If they placed
the sun in my right hand, and the moon in my left, I would
not abandon this path I am on".
For teaching the concept of one God and obedience to His
law, Muhammad (PBUH) was mocked, beaten and cast out by his
own people, who refused to abandon the idols and blood
sacrifices surrounding the religions of their forefathers.
When he visited the city of Ta'if, the people sent their
children to hurl stones at him. The people of Makkah once
draped the intestines of a camel upon his blessed shoulders
while he was prostrating in prayer, then doubled over in
laughter at their cruel prank. The Makkan's seized several
believers, men and women, torturing and even killing them,
and several attempts were made on Muhammad's (PBUH) life.
After 13 years of harsh conditions in Makkah, including a
social and economic boycott in which Makkans were forbidden
to meet, marry, or trade with the Muslim minority, Muhammad
(PBUH) immigrated to the welcoming city of Yathrib,
some four hundred kilometers to the north of Makkah. The
city adopted the name "Madinah," and is still known today
with the same name. Muhammad (PBUH) was made head of state
and in a matter of years established an advanced and just
political, legal, economic and social system.
His years of Prophet-hood were at many times tumultuous, but
he knew his patience and perseverance was not in vain and
would not go unnoticed. He had the ever-present
consciousness that" Allah," or God, was All-seeing,