Essay by MMLB16College, UndergraduateF, March 1997

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A biography of Muhammad with several sources "Thanks for using a source other than the text"


Muhammad was born about AD 570 in the city of Mecca, an important trading center in western Arabia. He was a member of the Hashim clan of the powerful Quraysh tribe. Because Muhammad's father, Abd Allah, died before he was born and his mother, Amina, when he was 6 years old, he was placed in the care of his grandfather and, after 578, of his uncle Abu Talib, who succeeded as head of the Hashim clan. At the age of about 25, Muhammad entered the employ of a rich widow, Khadijah, in her commercial enterprise. They were married soon after. Two sons, both of whom died young, and four daughters were born. One of the daughters, Fatima, acquired special prominence in later Islamic history because of her marriage to Muhammad's cousin Ali.

About 610, Muhammad, while in a cave on Mount Hira outside Mecca, had a vision in which he was called on to preach the message entrusted to him by God. Further revelations came to him intermittently over the remaining years of his life, and these revelations constitute the text of the Koran. At first in private and then publicly, Muhammad began to proclaim his message: that there is but one God and that Muhammad is his messenger sent to warn people of the Judgment Day and to remind them of God's goodness.

The Meccans responded with hostility to Muhammad's monotheism and iconoclasm. As long as Abu Talib was alive Muhammad was protected by the Hashim, even though that clan was the object of a boycott by other Quraysh after 616. About 619, however, Abu Talib died, and the new clan leader was unwilling to continue the protective...