Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born in Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula in the year 570 AD. At the age of 40, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) received God’s first revelation through the Angel Gabriel, and was instructed to guide the people.
At that time, the majority of people in the region were pagans. Idolatry, sin, and immoral behavior were common. Women were ill-treated, sold, and had no legal status; female infants were even buried alive. The Arabs believed in and worshipped over 300 different gods. Muhammad (Peace be upon him), for the first three years of his ministry, preached about one God secretly and thereafter, on divine instructions, preached openly. Upon teaching the new faith, he was initially mocked and later on abused, persecuted, and tortured. The advent of Islam was seen by the pagans as an economic blow, since they depended to a large extent on the income from having many tribal gods, and from pilgrims that came to Mecca from different parts of Arabia to pay homage to their gods. The first converts emigrated to Abyssinia and sought asylum there under the Christian ruler, Negus, in order to save their lives.
In 622 AD, at the age of 52 years, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) left Mecca for Medina to save his life, as the pagans of Mecca had plotted to kill him. This event is referred to as Hijra or ‘migration,’ and this year constitutes the first year of the Muslim calendar. In Medina, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was welcomed with open arms by its people and amongst them, he found many friends and supporters.
In the subsequent years, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) successfully defended himself and his people from several attacks by the pagans of Mecca who wanted to kill him and root out the new religion. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) fought with a small and ill equipped band of his supporters against large and well-equipped forces.
The Meccan pagans had signed several peace treaties with Muhammad (Peace be upon him) but repeatedly broke them, and plotted again and again to kill him. Eventually, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his followers marched towards Mecca, his homeland, and took control of the city without a struggle. The inhabitants of Mecca feared revenge for the atrocities committed against Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his followers, but Muhammad (Peace be upon him) declared general amnesty. He gave orders that no one should loot or plunder. Soldiers were forbidden to enter any house that was inhabited. No one was to be attacked unless he refused to lay down arms. Women and children were protected from harm under strict orders. The Meccans were so moved by Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) generosity and compassion that they hastened in throngs to swear allegiance to him. Finally, Muhammad removed all the idols from the Kaba, the symbolic House of God, which was built by his forefather, Prophet Abraham, many centuries earlier.
Eventually, deputations from all parts of Arabia came to Medina to meet the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and to listen to the Holy Scripture, the Qur’an. The prophet (Peace be upon him) also sent emissaries to neighboring countries in order to convey the message of Islam.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), in fact, had become the virtual ruler of Arabia. His lifestyle, however, remained as simple as ever.
In the tenth year after Hijra, after performing the pilgrimage, called the Hajj, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) addressed his followers who had gathered in the thousands, and announced his impending departure from this world. At that time, he received the divine revelation that the religion of God had been completed and perfected. That was the final revelation from God conveyed by the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In that same year, he died after a brief illness, at the age of 62 years.
Thus, in a brief span of 23 years, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had abolished idolatry in Arabia and had established God’s religion, Islam. He brought civilization, law, order, and decency to a land and a people known for idolatry, oppression, and lewdness.
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