Muhammad b. ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib b. Hashim (Arabic: محمد بن عبد اللّه بن عبد المطّلب بن هاشم) (b. 'Am al-Fil/570 Mecca – d. 11/632 Medina) is the prophet of Islam, whose mission was essentially the advancement of monotheism and morality. He (s) was also a social reformist and a political leader. He (s) was the last prophet of God, and his major miracle was the Qur'an.
Although the Prophet (s) was born in the polytheistic society of Arabia, he never worshiped any idols, and avoided the inappropriate manners that were rampant in pre-Islamic Arabia. He (s) was chosen by God as a prophet at the age of forty. Although the polytheists of Mecca persecuted him and his followers for many years, neither he, nor his followers gave up following Islam. After thirteen years of preaching in Mecca, he immigrated to Medina. This immigration (Hijra) marked what became the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, he established an ever expanding community of believers, the Muslim ummah.
Because of the efforts of the Prophet (s), the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance ended, and the polytheistic society of Arabia was transformed into a monotheistic society in a short time. Towards the end of the Prophet's (s) life, almost everyone in the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam. The number of Muslims has continued to grow ever since, and Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world.
The Prophet (s) enjoined his followers to adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He designated Imam 'Ali (a) as his successor on various occasions throughout his life, including the event of Ghadir.
The Prophet’s lineage is as follows: Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Shyba al-Hamd, ‘Amir) b. Hashim (‘Amr al-‘Ula) b. ‘Abd Manaf (al-Mughira) b. Qusayy (Zayd) b. Kilab (Hakim) b. Murra b. Ka’b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr (Quraysh) b. Malik b. Nadr (Qays) b. Kinana b. Khuzayma b. Mudrika (‘Amr) b. Ilyas b. Mudar b. Nizar (Khuldan) b. Ma’add b. ‘Adnan.
His mother was Amina bt. Wahb b. ‘Abd Manaf b. Zuhra b. Kilab.
Al-‘Allama al-Majlisi has said, “All Twelver Shi’as agree that Abu Talib, Amina bt. Wahb and ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib and all of the forefathers of the Prophet (s), dating back to the time of Adam (a), were believers [in God].”
His teknonyms were Abu l-Qasim and Abu Ibrahim. Some epithets of his were: al-Mustafa (the chosen), Habib Allah (beloved one of Allah), Safi Allah (chosen one of Allah), Ni’mat Allah (gift of Allah), Khiyarat Khalq Allah (the chosen one from the creatures of Allah), Sayyid al-Mursalin (master of the prophets), Khatam al-Nabiyyin (the last of the propehts), Rahmat li-l-‘Alamin (a blessing for the two worlds), al-Nabi al-Ummi (the unschooled prophet).
The exact year of the Prophet’s (s) birth is not known. Ibn Hisham and some others have written that it was in ‘Am al-fil (literally, “the year of the elephant”), the year in which Abraha al-Ashram and his elephants attempted to destroy the Ka’ba. But this does not help much, since it cannot be said for certain what year the year of the elephant was. However, taking into consideration that the Prophet’s (s) demise was in 632 CE, and that he was 63 years old at the time of his demise, the year of his birth must have been either 569 or 570 CE.
Muhammad (s) spent his childhood as an orphan. A few months after ‘Abd Allah (his father) married Amina, the daughter of Wahb (the chief of the Banu Zuhra family), ‘Abd Allah went on a business trip to Damascus, and passed away on his return in Yathrib (now Medina). Some historians say that his death was before Muhammad’s birth and some have written that he passed away a few months after Muhammad (s) was born. Muhammad (s) spent his early childhood with a woman from the Banu Sa’d tribe, named Halima, who breastfed him. Muhammad lived his first years with his wet nurse and her husband in the desert.
When Muhammad (s) was six years and three months old (or four years old according to some reports), he traveled to Yathrib with his mother, Amina, to see his relatives on the side of ‘Abd al-Muttalib‘s mother (i.e. Banu ‘Adi b. Najjar). However, on her way back to Mecca, she passed away in Abwa’ and was buried there. Amina was 30 years old at the time of death.
After the loss of his mother, ‘Abd al-Muttalib, undertook the guardianship of Muhammad (s). When Muhammad (s) was eight years old, ‘Abd al-Muttalib also passed away. Since then, Muhammad’s (s) uncle, Abu Talib, took care of him.  In the house of Abu Talib, his wife, Fatima bt. Asad, was so kind to Muhammad (s) that when she passed away, the Prophet (s) said, “Today, my mother has died!”.
First Journey to Syria and the Christian Monk’s Prophecy
Historians have written that as a child, Muhammad (s) accompanied his uncle Abu Talib in one of his journeys to Damascus. On the way, they stopped in a place called Busra, where they met a Christian monk whose name was Bahira. He saw the signs of prophethood in Muhammad (s) and advised Abu Talib on how to best treat him (Muhammad). He especially advised him to protect Muhammad (s) from the Jews who were his enemies.
It is recorded that when the caravan moved away from Bahira, he asked Muhammad (s) to stay and told him that, “By al-Lat and al-‘Uzza, I command you to answer my questions!” Muhammad (s) responded to Bahira by saying, “Don’t ask me to answer you in the name of al-Lat and al-‘Uzza because I do not hate anything more than them”.. Then, Bahira asked him to answer by the name of Allah.
One of the most important events in the life of Muhammad (s), before his marriage, was his participation in an agreement called Hilf al-Fudul in which some of the youths of Mecca pledged “to support any person under oppression and defend their rights”.
Second Journey to Syria
When Muhammad (s) was twenty-five years old, Abu Talib told him, “The caravan of Quraysh is ready to go to Damascus. Khadija bt. Khuwaylid, has given money to some of your family members to conduct business for her and to take their shares of profit. She might accept for you to join them, if you would like to.” Then, he spoke with Khadija and she accepted. Ibn Ishaq has written that when Khadija saw the trustworthiness and the dignity of Muhammad (s), she told him that she would pay him a bigger share than others if he accepted to conduct business using her money.
After that business trip, Khadija married Muhammad (s).
Muhammad (s) married Khadija when he was twenty-five years old. Khadija lived with the Prophet (s) for 25 years and passed away 10 years after Bi’tha. Khadija gave birth to a few children, the boys of whom died in childhood. The most famous of her daughters was Lady Fatima (a).
After dimise of Khadija, the Prophet (s) married Sawda bt. Zam’a. The next wives of the Prophet (s) were:
All of the Prophet’s (s) children, save for Fatima (a), died when the Prophet (s) was alive and his descendants are all from the line of Fatima (a). In total, he had three sons and four daughters:
Placing al-Hajar al-Aswad (black stone) on the Ka’ba happened before the Prophet’s (s) mission began and confirmed his social status amongst people of Mecca. History has it that the Ka’ba was respected even amongst the polytheistic Arabs of the pre-Islam, during the Age of Ignorance. Once a flood damaged the Ka’ba and ruined its walls, the Quraysh reconstructed the walls. When they wanted to place the al-Hajar al-Aswad (black stone) onto the Ka’ba, an argument broke out between the chiefs of the Quraysh’s families as to which of them should do it. Each of them wanted to have the honor of placing the stone back onto the Ka’ba. The argument was heated and they even brought a tub full of blood and put their hands in it, which was a type of pledge that they had to fight until one of them won. Finally, they agreed to accept the judgment of the first person who would enter al-Masjid al-Haram through the gate of Banu Shayba, and to do whatever that person said. The first person who entered was Muhammad (s). The nobles of the Quraysh said that Muhammad (s) was trustworthy and that they would accept his judgment. Then, they told him what had happened. Muhammad (s) said, “Let us spread a piece of cloth.” They did so, and he then placed the black stone on it. Then, he said that “The chief of every family should come and hold a corner of this cloth.” They lifted up the cloth and brought the stone to the place it had to be installed, then he lifted the stone and placed it back onto the Ka’ba. By such a judgment, he prevented an imminent war.
According to the Twelver Shi’as, the mission of the Prophet (s) began on the Rajab 27. In the years prior to his mission, Muhammad (s) spent a lot of time in solitude, worshiping God. He would spend a month in solitude in a cave called Hira’, at the mountains and would worship God there (see: tahannuth). During that month, he (s) would give food to any poor person that asked him. After the month was completed, he returned to Mecca and circumambulated the Ka’ba seven times or more before returning home. He was in the cave of Hira’ when the mission began and verses of the Qur’an were revealed to him. Later, Muhammad (s) described the event:
“Gabriel came to me and said: ‘Read!’ I answered: ‘I cannot read.’ He said once again: ‘Read!’ I said: ‘What do I read?’ He said: ‘Read in the name of your Lord who created’ (96:1)”.
It is widely believed that the Prophet (s) was forty years old at the beginning of his mission. With this revelation which triggered his mission, the Prophet (s) returned to Mecca reading these verses, which are in Qur’an 96. Upon that feeling which was new to him at that night, naturally he returned to his house immediately. There were three people in his house that night: his wife Khadija, his cousin Ali b. Abi Talib, and his adopted son Zayd b. Haritha. The holy Prophet (s) first began to teach Islam to his own family and so the first people who believed in his Prophethood were his wife from amongst the women, and Ali b. Abi Talib from amongst the men. At that time, Ali was under the guardianship of the Prophet (s). Other people mentioned in other sources as the first Muslims are Abu Bakr and Zayd b. Haritha. Although the initial invitation was limited, the number of Muslims began to grow and soon they began to go out of Mecca and pray with the Prophet (s).
It is recorded that Muhammad (s) invited people secretly to Islam for three years after the beginning of his mission. However, because of the order of the revelation of the verses of the Qur’an, some believe that the Prophet’s (s) public invitation was carried out very shortly after the first revelation.
In the beginning, the Prophet (s) invited people to abandon worshiping multiple gods (idols) and to begin worshiping one God (i.e. monotheism). In the beginning, prayers were in two units. Later, it was an obligation for travelers to perform the prayers in two units and for others to perform it in four units. At the time of prayers, Muslims would hide from others in the splits of mountains and other faraway places in order to perform the prayers. Gradually, the Muslims began to grow in numbers in Mecca. It is well-known that three years after the beginning of his mission, God ordered the Prophet (s) to invite people to Islam publicly. Ibn Ishaq writes that the Prophet (s) told Ali (a), “O Ali! God has told me to call upon the closest of my family to worship Him. So slaughter a sheep and provide some bread and a bowl of milk”. Ali (a) did so and approximately forty members of family of ‘Abd al-Muttalib gathered together and ate the food, which was not enough for the number of people present there. However, they all ate the food till they were full, which was miraculous. When the Prophet (s) wanted to begin his speech, Abu Lahab said, “He has enchanted you all (for food!)”. Because of this, confusion spread and all the guests left. The Prophet (s) invited them again on another occasion and told them:
“O Children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib! I do not think that anyone amongst the Arabs has ever brought anything for his people better than what I have brought for you. I have brought for you this world and the next”.
As al-Tabari writes, after the Prophet (s) declared his invitation to Islam amongst his relatives he said:
“Which one of you would help me in this [mission] to be my brother, my vicegerent and khalifa (caliph) amongst you?” everyone became silent but Ali (a). He said:” ‘O Prophet (s)! I will be that person! “. The Prophet (s) then said: “This is my vicegerent and my khalifa amongst you! Listen to his words and obey his orders”.
This narration has been transmitted by other historians and writers of the Prophet’s (s) biography and is amongst one of the most famous hadiths too. (see: Hadith Yawm al-Dar)
As the number of Muslims grew faster, the chiefs of the Quraysh became more worried about it. They went to Abu Talib (the Prophet’s (s) uncle and protector) and asked him to stop his nephew from the mission of Prophethood that he had started. They asked him to give Muhammad (s) over to them so that they could kill him and in return they offered Abu Talib the guardianship of Ammara b. al-Walid who was -in their opinion- a handsome and wise young man. Abu Talib responded by exclaiming: “Shall I give my son to you so that you can kill him and raise your son? What a difficult task!
The Quraysh could not harm the Prophet (s) because of tribal customs, and if they did, they would enter a war with Banu Hashim and other tribes would interfere and the situation would become too difficult to bear. Therefore, their opposition to the Prophet (s) would consist of using foul language and causing minor injuries. However, they would harass other new Muslims, as this same type of protection did not extend to them.
The conflict began to escalate. So, the chiefs of the Quraysh went to Abu Talib again and asked him to stop his nephew from the path he was following. Abu Talib informed the Prophet (s) about their request and the Prophet (s) said: “By God, I swear, that if the sun was given to me in my right hand and the moon on the other, I would not abandon my mission.” Abu Talib said: “Then follow your mission, and I will not let them harm you.” Thereafter, the Quraysh became more determined to harm him and his followers.
Immigration of Muslims to Abyssinia
Main article: Migration to Abyssinia
As the number of new Muslims grew, the enmity of the Quraysh towards them also increased. The Prophet (s) was supported by Abu Talib, so the Quraysh could not harm him due to the tribal pacts. However, they felt no limits in harming his followers because they had no protection. The harassment and torture of his followers deeply upset the Prophet (s). In order for them to practice their faith freely, he ordered them to immigrate to Abyssinia. He told them that, “There is a king there who harms no one. Go there and stay there so that God frees you from the trouble here.” When the Quraysh learned of the immigration of these new Muslims, they sent ‘Amr b. al-‘As and ‘Abd Allah b. Abi Rabi’a to the king of Abyssinia to implore him to return those Muslims back to Mecca. After a lengthy trial, when the king heard the representatives of the Quraysh and the responses of the Muslims, he refused to submit to the requests of the Quraysh. Thus, the representatives of the Quraysh returned to Mecca empty-handed.
See also: Shi’b Abi Talib
When the Quraysh saw that Islam was gaining span in Mecca, and that the king did not hand over the immigrants, they decided to put Muhammad (s) and his followers under severe economic sanctions. Doing so, they wrote a treaty which said nobody could marry any of the children of Hashim or ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Further, nobody could sell or buy anything from them. Then, they hung this decree in the Ka’ba (as the sign of its great obligation). Thereafter, Banu Hashim and Banu ‘Abd al-Muttalib had to live under the boycott in Shi’b Abi Talib.
The sanctions lasted two or three years. During this time, they lived in extreme difficulty. A couple of their relatives would smuggle wheat or other essentials to them, so that they could continue. One night, Abu Jahl, who was a bitter enemy of Banu Hashim, was informed of this, and stopped Hakim b. Hazam from bringing wheat to Khadija. Others interfered and criticized Abu Jahl for the severity of his actions. Eventually, some of the Quraysh felt guilty and chose to side with Banu Hashim. They wondered why Banu Makhzum should live an easy life while the children of Hashim and ‘Abd al-Muttalib should live in difficulty. Thus, they decided to end the treaty. And some of those that had signed it decided to tear up the treaty. Ibn Hisham narrates from Ibn Ishaq that when they went in the Ka’ba, they saw that the treaty had already been miraculously eaten by termites and that only the phrase “Bismik Allahumma” [In Your name O Allah] had remained of it. Ibn Hisham narrates that “Abu Talib went to a meeting of the Quraysh and said: “My nephew says that termites have eaten the treaty and that only the name of God remains. See for yourself, and if he is right, end the boycott. If he is lying, I will hand him over to you’.
When they went to see the treaty, they saw that termites had indeed eaten all of it except for the portion with the name of God. It was in this way that the sanctions against Banu Hashim eventually ended and they left the valley.”
Journey to Ta’if
Soon after the Prophet (s) left the valley two of his close supporters, Khadija and Abu Talib, passed away. With the demise of Abu Talib, the Prophet (s) lost one of his prominent supporters and protection. The polytheists used his death as an opportunity to harass the Prophet (s) and Muslims. The efforts of the Prophet (s) were not successful when he invited residents around Mecca to Islam (especially Ta’if), and he returned to Mecca disappointed.
Main article: Hijra
First Allegiance of al-‘Aqaba
Main article: First Allegiance of al-‘Aqaba
In the eleventh year after Bi’tha (3 BH/620), the Prophet (s) visited six people from the tribe of Khazraj and told them about the message of Islam. They returned to Yathrib and informed the people of their city about the invitation. Next year (2 BH/621) twelve people of Medina gave allegiance to the Prophet (s) after the hajj pilgrimage in an area called al-‘Aqaba. They solemnly vowed:
The Prophet (s) then sent one of the Muslims, Mus’ab b. ‘Umayr, with them to Yathrib in order to teach them the holy Qur’an and to report back to the Prophet (s) with an assessment of the situation in the city and how receptive the people were to Islam.
Second Allegiance of al-‘Aqaba
Main article: Second Allegiance of al-‘Aqaba
The following year (1 BH/622), 73 men and women gathered again after the pilgrimage in al-‘Aqaba. The Prophet (s) went to them with his uncle al-‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib. It is reported that ‘Abbas first spoke to them and said, “O people of Khazraj! Muhammad (s) is one of us and we protected him against all harms as much as we could. Now, he (s) is going to come to you. So support him if you can and defend him from his enemies. Otherwise, let him go now”. They answered by saying, “We have heard you now, O Messenger of God! Tell us whatever you and your God please!” The Prophet (s) recited a few verses of the Qur’an and then said, “I accept your allegiance with the condition of supporting me like your relatives.” Representatives of the people of Medina pledged allegiance to him and vowed to be enemies of his enemies, friends of his friends, and at war with anyone who was at war with him. They called this pledge Bay’at al-Harb. After this, the Prophet (s) allowed the Muslims to immigrate to Yathrib. They went to Yathrib and were warmly welcomed. Those who immigrated to Medina were later called the Muhajirun [i.e. the immigrants] and those who received and hosted them in Yathrib were called the Ansar [i.e. the supporters].
Dar al-Nadwa Conspiracy
See also: Laylat al-Mabit
The chiefs of the Quraysh felt that Islam has posed a danger to them, especially when they discovered that a new group had converted to Islam, leading Islam to become more established among people. They felt further threatened by the fact that the people of Medina had pledged their allegiance to the Prophet (s). They were terrified of the possibility that the Prophet (s) would take revenge on them for all of the torture and harassment that he and his followers had faced at their hands. In fact, they thought that even if the Prophet (s) did not want to wage war against them, he would still be a serious threat to them as Yathrib was the largest city close to Mecca. The businessmen of Quraysh would travel to Yathrib to sell their goods, and each of them had valuable customers there, important to the success of their businesses. They would suffer a huge economic loss if they were to lose access to that city. To prevent such a loss in profit, they concluded that they had to ignore their tribal pacts and kill Muhammad (s). However, killing him was not an easy task because if they did so, Banu Hashim would take revenge. So, they held a meeting in Dar al-Nadwa in order to find a solution for their problem, and concluded that a group of young men from all tribes would attack Muhammad (s) and kill him together. This way, his killer would not be one person and Banu Hashim could not take revenge because they could not wage war against all of the tribes in Mecca, and they would be forced to accept a ransom instead of taking revenge.
That night, when the Quraysh attempted to carry out the assassination of the Prophet (s), he had already left Mecca by the order of God and Ali (a) was lying in his bed instead. The Prophet (s) and Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa stayed in a cave near Mecca called Thawr for three days so that those chasing him could not find him and had to return to Mecca empty-handed. Then, the Prophet (s) and Abu Bakr continued on their way to Yathrib. Arrival in Yathrib There is a disagreement amongst historians as to which day of Rabi’ I the Prophet (s) left Mecca and when he arrived in Yathrib. Ibn Hisham narrates that the Prophet (s) arrived in Quba (a village in the outskirts of Yathrib) on Monday, the 12th of Rabi’ I. Ibn Kalbi has written that he left Mecca on Monday, the 1st of Rabi’ I and that he arrived in Quba on Friday, the 12th of Rabi’ I. Some other historians have narrated that the Prophet (s) arrived in Quba on the 8th of Rabi’ I. More contemporary European and Muslim historians have said that it took him nine days to travel to Quba, and he arrived there on the Rabi’ I 12, 1/September 24, 622.
Later, the immigration of the Prophet (s) to Yathrib was used to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar. However, the month of Muharram became the first month of the calendar, and Rabi’ I is the third.
When the Prophet (s) arrived in Quba, he built a mosque which was called the mosque of Quba. Ali (a) stayed in Mecca for three days after the Prophet (s) departed for Yathrib. He returned everything that people had entrusted to the Prophet (s), and then he himself traveled to Yathrib alongside other members of the family of the Prophet (s) including Fatima (a), his beloved daughter. They joined the Prophet (s) at the house of Kulthum b. Hadam in Quba before heading to Yathrib together. The Prophet (s) arrived in Yathrib on Friday with a group of people from Banu Najjar. He held the first Friday prayer at the tribe of Banu Salim b. ‘Awf.
When he entered the city, everyone wanted to host him in order to bring honor to their families. The Prophet (s) said, “Wherever my camel sits, that is where my house will be.” In response to the invitation of the people, he said, “My camel is just an agent and knows where to go.” The Prophet’s (s) camel sat in front of the houses of Banu Malik b. Najjar where his mosque (al-Masjid al-Nabawi) was later built on. It was the property of two orphans who would dry fruit dates there. The Prophet (s) bought the property from Mu’adh b. ‘Afra’ who was their guardian. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari took the Prophet’s (s) baggage and belongings to his house. The Prophet (s) stayed at his house for a temporary time until they built a room for him. Muhammad (s) helped them in building the mosque. They also built a suffa (stage) extension for the poor companions of the Prophet (s) to live in. They were to become famous as companions of Suffa.
The immigration of the Prophet (s) from Mecca to Yathrib, which later became known as the Hijra, was a significant event in the life of the Prophet (s) and in the history of Islam. After this immigration, the city became known as “Madinat al-Rasul” (city of the Prophet) and in short “Medina”.
The Prophet (s) officially made a pact of brotherhood between Muhajirun and Ansar and took Ali (a) as his own brother. There were also a few people who had accepted Islam by their tongue but did not harbor true faith in their heart, they were hypocrites (Munafiqun). Soon after the Prophet (s) entered Medina, he established a constitution between different groups of people in the city, including the Jews.
While most of the population of Medina was either Muslim or friends with the Prophet (s), all of the inhabitants of the city and its surroundings were not completely in love with the Prophet (s). ‘Abd Allah b. Ubay, who was about to become the chief of the city, but was denied of this because of the people accepting the message of the Prophet (s), was not happy, and would not remain silent. Although he called himself a Muslim, he would secretly plot schemes against Muhammad (s) and his followers and had a relationship with the Jews of Medina who would also plot against the Prophet (s).
Such people were named hypocrites and they were spoken of in the first verses of the holy Qur’an that were revealed to the Prophet (s) in Medina. This was because they were causing problems for the Prophet (s) and the Muslims. Dealing with them was more difficult than dealing with the non-Muslims because they called themselves Muslims, and thus the Prophet (s) could not openly fight with them.
Verses of the Qur’an threatened them that God and the Prophet (s) were aware of their true beliefs, and knew that calling themselves “Muslims” was just a plot to protect themselves.
‘Abd Allah b. Ubay continued to cause troubles until his death (9/630). Although the Jews had signed the Constitution of Medina, they were not happy living with the Muslims. They played friendship games with Muslims. Even some of them (Jews) had outwardly become Muslims. The reason for this discontentment, was that prior to the Islamic government, they controlled the economy of the city and traded widely with the Bedouins and polytheists of Mecca. They (Jews) were expecting ‘Abd Allah b. Ubay to become the chief of Medina so that their financial power would increase. However, the coming of Muhammad (s) and the expanding of Islam under his command prevented this. Moreover, they could not accept a prophet who was not of Jewish lineage. Therefore, they expressed their opposition to Muhammad (s). Apparently, it was ‘Abd Allah b. Ubay who had a hand in provoking them. The Jews would claim that “the prophet we expected is not Muhammad” and mentioned verses of the Torah that contradicted verses of the Qur’an, saying that “what is in the Qur’an is not the same as what is in our books.” Some verses of the Qur’an were then revealed to the Prophet (s), suggesting that verses of the Torah had been distorted over time by Jewish scholars in order to promote their positions. Eventually, the holy Qur’an attempted to sever the relationship between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. And just to show the Arabs that, compared to Jews, they were a separate nation.
Change of Qibla
Main article: Change of the Qibla
The Prophet (s) prayed towards the al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine for seventeen months after entering Medina. During this time, the Jews harassed the Prophet by their persistent criticism. They said: “Muhammad (s) had no Qibla until we taught him about it.” These rather harsh criticisms upset the Prophet (s) and one day, in Rajab 2/624, while he was performing the afternoon prayers in the Banu Salama mosque, a verse was revealed to him commanding him to change the Qibla to al-Masjid al-Haram. The Prophet (s) instantly turned his face towards the Ka’ba. Thereafter, the mosque became known as the Dhu l-Qiblatayn mosque.
Battle of Badr
Main article: Battle of Badr
Since the Prophet (s) had made the second allegiance with people of Medina at al-‘Aqaba, a battle with the Quraysh seemed inevitable. The first encounter with the Quraysh took place in the month of Safar in the second year after Hijra/August 623. This encounter was called Ghazwa Abwa’ or Wuddan in which there was no violent clash, only a minor fight. Another encounter, Ghazwa Buwat, occurred in Rabi’ I/September of the same year which just like the first one there was no violent clash. Then, in Jumada I/November, there was news that a caravan of the Quraysh led by Abu Sufyan had begun traveling from Mecca to Damascus. The Prophet (s) went to an area called Dhat al-Ashira to confront with them, but the caravan had already passed it before the Muslims arrived. Their attempt was unsuccessful because a few spies in Medina, who had become aware of the Muslims’ plans, were able to reach and inform the caravans from Mecca that there was a threat ahead of them and that the caravans should change route or speed up to avoid them.
Eventually in the same year (2/624), there was an important battle between the Muslims and polytheists of Mecca. This battle, called the Battle of Badr, was won by the Muslims even though they were less in number. Many polytheists were either killed or captured and many more escaped. In this battle, Abu Jahl and around 70 other chiefs of the Quraysh were killed and roughly the same number captured. Only 14 Muslims were martyred in Badr. In this battle, Ali (a) made great sacrifices and helped the Prophet (s) enormously. He also killed some bold warriors from the army of Mecca and his valor assured the victory of Islam (36 or 37 of polytheists were killed by him).
Battle with Banu Qaynuqa’
The first battle with the Jews came about a few weeks after the Battle of Badr which led to the great victory of the Muslims. The Jews of Banu Qaynuqa’ had a castle outside of Medina. Their business was to make objects out of golds and other precious metals. It is narrated that once, an Arab woman went to the market to sell her goods in Banu Qaynuqa’s market and sat at a jewelry store. One of the Jews tied her clothes from behind and when she tried to stand up, her clothes were drawn to the side and they mocked her by laughing at her. The woman cried and asked for help from the other Muslims in the market, causing a fight. A Muslim rose to help the woman, and in the scuffle that ensued, killed the Jewish man and the Jews killed him, causing the situation to become worse.
Later, the Prophet (s) warned the Jews about the consequences of what they were doing, and told them that they had to surrender if they wanted to stay in the city. Banu Qaynuqa’ responded to the Prophet (s) by saying that he should not be proud about defeating the Meccans, since they were not warriors. They claimed that if they fought the Prophet (s), they would show him how powerful they were. Then, the following verse was revealed:
“ Say to the faithless, ‘You shall be overcome and mustered toward hell, and it is an evil resting place.’ (12) There was certainly a sign for you in the two hosts that met: one host fighting in the way of Allah and the other faithless.” ”
Thus, the Muslims surrounded their castle and the Jews surrendered after 15 days. ‘Abd Allah b. Ubay implored the Prophet (s) not to kill them, and the Prophet (s) agreed, exiling them to Syria. The siege of the Banu Qaynuqa Jews occurred in the month of Shawwal, 2/April 624.
Battle of Uhud
Main article: Battle of Uhud
In 3/625, the Quraysh asked help from their allied tribes, and sent an army led by Abu Sufyan towards Medina. Initially, the Prophet (s) wanted to stay inside the parameters of Medina, but then decided to meet the army outside the city. The two armies met somewhere near the Uhud Mount. Although the Muslims were initially close to victory, they ended up losing the war. This was because of a trick played by Khalid b. Walid and the ignorance of a group of Muslims which let the Meccans attack them from behind, killing many Muslims in the process. It was in this battle that Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet (s), was martyred. The Prophet (s) took serious injuries during the war, causing a rumor of his demise among both sides. This was another reason that the Muslims became disheartened at the battle. They returned to Medina dejected and sad at their loss. A few verses were then revealed to console them.
Battles of Banu Nadir and Dumat al-Jandal
In 4/625, there were a few small fights with tribes around Medina, as they did not see Islam to their benefit. They felt that if they allied together, there was a chance that they could invade Medina. In the two events of Raji’ and Bi’r Ma’una, in which Muslim preachers were killed by the allied tribes, there is an indication of their alliance and the Prophet’s (s) efforts in preaching Islam.
In that year, one of the most important battles of the Prophet (s) took place with one of the Jewish tribes of Medina, called Banu Nadir. The Prophet (s) held a meeting with them, in which they tried to assassinate him. Later, they were forced to migrate from Medina.
The following year (5/626), the Prophet (s) and the Muslims went to a region called Dumat al-Jandal which was on the borders of Syria. When the Muslim’s army arrived there, the enemy had fled and the Muslims returned to Medina.
Battles of Ahzab, Banu Qurayza, and Banu Mustalaq
In 4/625, Abu Sufyan attempted to bring a group of Meccans to fight at Badr, but he changed his mind when he was halfway through Medina and pulled his army back. This escape directly hit his reputation with the chiefs of the Quraysh, and in order to restore it, he had to amass a great army. He finally managed to gather an army of 7,000-10,000 people in 5/627, which included 600 mounted warriors. This massive army headed towards Medina, and the battle that ensued was called the Ahzab or parties, because Abu Sufyan’s army basically comprised of several different tribes/parties. Also in this war, a group of Jews from Banu Nadir who lived in the castle of Khaybar, joined with the Quraysh and Ghatfan against the Prophet (s). Further, the Jews of Banu Qurayza who lived around Medina and had previously promised not to support the Quraysh, broke their agreement and allied with the Meccans. To confront the approaching army, the Prophet (s) had only 3,000 people who were all foot soldiers (save a few horsemen).
Unlike the Battle of Uhud, the people of Medina accepted to take defensive positions and stayed inside Medina. In order to defend the city from an onslaught, the Prophet’s companion, Salman al-Farsi, proposed the strategy of digging a trench in front of the city. Since Medina was surrounded and protected by palm gardens and buildings except on one side, the enemy could not invade the city from those sides. Thus, digging a trench on the only open side where an attack was possible in the north, would keep the city safe from attacks. Before the Meccan army arrived in Medina, the trench had already been dug. The enemy was shocked when they arrived, since they had not anticipated or seen such a blockade before. Mounted soldiers could not jump over the trench, and if they tried to approach it, Medinan archers would prevent them from coming any closer.
‘Amr b. ‘Abd Wad and ‘Akrama b. Abi Jahl decided to jump across the trench. Audacious as he was, ‘Amr was killed by Ali (a). At the first glance, it seemed like Medina was going to be defeated. What could the little army of Muslims do against the massive army that was ready to attack their city? First, the Prophet (s) wanted to separate the tribe of Ghatfan from the Meccan army. So, he (s) sent an offer to them that one third of the crops of Medina would be theirs if they did not help the Quraysh. The Ansar of Medina asked the Prophet (s): “Is this treaty a revelation?” When he replied in the negative, they said: “Then, we would not accept that. Even in the past, when God had not yet guided us, we would not accept such a belittlement. How can we belittle ourselves today, when God has saved us by you?” Therefore, the treaty was not made.
But, very few people who did not reveal being Muslims, associated with Banu Qurayza and Ghatfan at the same time and made the two tribes distrustful about each other. Divine help arrived and a strong cold storm began, making the situation even more difficult than it was for the Meccan army. Abu Sufyan ordered the army to withdraw to Mecca, and so Medina was relieved after 15 days of being under siege.
The outcome of the Battle of Ahzab was a very positive one for the Muslims, but it was fatally tragic for the Meccans. It became clear that the Meccans had lost any prospects for business in Medina forever. In addition, Medina was in a strategic location and served as an obstacle in the path that the Meccans traveled on from Mecca to Syria. So, the Quraysh businessmen could no longer continue their businesses easily.
Abu Sufyan’s leadership was weakening in Mecca day by day, and the Quraysh had been disgraced in the face of other tribes. The unexpected victory of the Muslims in the Battle of Ahzab had attracted Bedouins to Islam, as they believed that an extraordinary power had supported the Muslims. After this, the situation became favorable for the Muslims.
After the Battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (s) tried to solve the problem of the Banu Qurayza. According to the Constitution of Medina that they had signed soon after the arrival of the Prophet (s) in Medina, these Jews would be protected unless they rose against the Muslims. However, since they had allied with Muslims’ enemies in Battle of Ahzab, the constitution no longer applied. Further, it was obvious that their threat was not minor at all. So, the Prophet (s) went to them and surrounded them, keeping them under siege for 25 days, after which they surrendered. The tribe of Aws, who had been allied with the Banu Qurayza told the Prophet (s): “The Banu Qurayza are allied with us and they regret what they have done, so, treat our alliances the same way as you treated the Khazraj‘s alliances (Banu Qaynuqa’). [We ask you this] since we saw you forgave those Jewish captives and handed them to the one they were allied with, ‘Abd Allah b. Ubay.” The Prophet (s) left the judgment of the captives of Banu Qurayza up to Sa’d b. Mu’adh, who was the chief of the tribe of Aws; and Banu Qurayza accepted. Sa’d said, “My opinion is that we kill their men and capture their women and children.” So, this was done.
However, some historians are skeptical over this story. In fact, Shahidi has said that:
“It seems as though the story of Banu Qurayza has been distorted and narrated by a person from the tribe of Khazraj several years after the event when the population that was present at the time of the siege no longer existed. By narrating this story, that person wanted to show that the tribe of Aws was not respected in the eyes of the Prophet (s) as much as the tribe of Khazraj was. And this was why the Prophet (s) did not kill the allies of the tribe of Khazraj, but let the allies of the tribe of Aws die. Further, the narrator also wanted to imply that the chief of the tribe of Aws did not regard their alliances. In the year 6/628, the Muslims conquered the Banu Mustalaq tribe who were gathering forces against the Prophet (s).
Battle of Khaybar
Main article: Battle of Khaybar
The last war that occurred before the Conquest of Mecca and after the Treaty of Hudaybiyya was the Battle of Khaybar. In 7/628, the Prophet (s) conquered the Jews of Khaybar who had allied with his enemies several times before. Khaybar which was a castle near Medina was seized by the Muslims. After the victory, the Prophet (s) agreed that the Jews could continue farming in the region, however, they had to give a part of their crop to the Muslims every year.
In the battle of Khaybar, capturing one of the castles was very difficult. The Prophet (s) first sent Abu Bakr and then ‘Umar to attempt to seize the castle, but they failed. Then the Prophet (s) said that,
“Indeed, tomorrow I will give this flag to a man, in his hands is the victory, who loves God and his Prophet (s) and God and His Prophet (s) love him.” The next day, he called Ali (a) and cured Ali’s (a) eyes (which were infected at the time) with saliva from his mouth and told him, “Take this flag and proceed, may God give you victory.” Ibn Ishaq narrates from Abu Rafi’ that, “Ali went near the castle and fought with the Jews. When his shield fell after one of the Jews had hit it, he took a door of the castle and used it as his shield until victory was achieved and he dropped it [the door] when war was finished.” Abu Rafi’ says, “Seven people and I tried hard to lift the door, but we could not!”
Many events in 6/627-8 ended favourably for the Muslims, such as the Battle of Ahzab, the surrender of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, and two or three other battles that they won. Further, the bring-backs of war which they had collected, raised the status and respect of Islam in the eyes of the population to the extent that many tribes converted to Islam or signed peace treaties with Muslims.
Therefore, it was an opportune time for the Prophet (s) to show the glory of Islam to the people of Mecca and to call them to Islam. In Dhu l-Qa’da, 6/April 628, the Prophet (s) along with 1,500 people from Medina went to Mecca in order to perform the pilgrimage. The Quraysh prepared to stop the Muslims from the pilgrimage when they became aware of this. First, they sent Khalid b. Walid and ‘Ikrama b. Abi Jahl to prevent them from coming to Mecca. The Prophet (s) arrived in Hudaybiyya, a place marking the beginning of the Haram (sacred land), and sent a message to the Meccans that “we have come for pilgrimage not war.” It was a humiliation for Quraysh to see their enemies enter Mecca and perform Hajj. But on the other hand they could not prevent anyone from entering Mecca to perform Hajj, as Mecca was the free land of God. Finally, a peace treaty was agreed upon and signed between the Prophet (s) and the representatives of Mecca. According to the treaty, they would not engage in warfare with each other and allies of each other for the next ten years. However, the Muslims could not enter Mecca that year, but the following year, the Quraysh would leave the city for three days and the Muslims would be permitted to enter to perform the pilgrimage. Another article in the peace treaty was that if a Meccan man were to come to the Prophet (s), the person would have to be returned to Mecca. However, if someone were to go to Mecca, they would not have to return them. Further, the treaty permitted that other tribes were free to ally either with the Quraysh or with Muhammad (s).
Some of the companions of the Prophet (s) were angry about the contents of the treaty and considered it to be a failure for the Muslims, since they could not understand its importance and benefits. However, the signing of this treaty was a great victory for Muslims because the Meccans had completely disregarded the Prophet (s) and his companions until then. They had intended to kill all of them, and in this treaty, they finally recognized the Muslims on an official basis and dealt with them as equals. Moreover, it was written in the treaty that tribes were free to ally with the Prophet (s) or the Quraysh. So, the treaty would be broken if either the Muslims or the Quraysh waged war on their allies. Later, the Quraysh broke this condition, and the Muslims conquered Mecca. A short time after signing the treaty, a Meccan who had become Muslim was going to be returned to Mecca (as per the treaty). However, he escaped on the way and instead of going back to Medina, he hid himself in a place which was on the path that the Quraysh’s caravan took while traveling to Syria. Gradually, some of the Muslims of Mecca joined him at this spot and became a threat to the caravans of the Quraysh as they lay in wait. Since it was not appropriate here for the Prophet (s) to return them to Mecca, the Quraysh were forced to ask him to call them back to Medina, and so, the issue of returning refugees was cancelled. More importantly, when the Quraysh violated one of the articles of the treaty, the Meccans were forced to submit to the Muslims.
In 7/628-9, when the Prophet (s) was no longer occupied by the troubles of the Quraysh (because of the Hudaybiyya peace treaty), he decided to invite rulers and kings of neighboring countries to Islam. Thus, he wrote letters to the East Roman Emperor, King of Persia, Nəgusä of Abyssinia, Ghassanid king of Syria, and the Emir of al-Yamama.
In Dhu l-Qa’da of 7/629, the Prophet (s) went to Mecca for pilgrimage, as was agreed upon in the Hudaybiyya peace treaty. The glorious arrival of the Prophet (s) and the Muslims into Masjid al-Haram, their performing of the ‘Umra, the glory of their rituals, and the great respect that Muslims paid to the Prophet (s) was magnificent in the eyes of the Quraysh. It became clear to them that they would not have the power to resist the Prophet (s), and those who were smarter realized that the former system was collapsing, and a new door had opened for the people. Therefore, two of their chiefs, Khalid b. Walid and Amr b. ‘As, rushed to Medina and became Muslim.
Main article: Conquest of Mecca
According to the Hudaybiyya peace treaty, all tribes were permitted to ally either with the Muslims or the Quraysh, as they wished. The tribe of Khuza’a allied with the Prophet (s) and Banu Bakr allied with the Quraysh. In 8/629, Banu Bakr fought the tribe of Khuza’ah, and the Quraysh supported Banu Bakr in this battle. In this way, the Quraysh had broken the Hudaybiyya peace treaty since they had fought against one of the Prophet’s (s) allies. Abu Sufyan then realized that such a violation would have consequences, and rushed to Medina to attempt to renew the treaty, but he could not.
In the month of Ramadan in 8/630, the Prophet (s) went to Mecca with 10,000 Muslims. He began his trip while nobody knew of it. When they arrived, they stayed in a place called Marr al-Zahran. Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle went out of his tent at night, and searched for some Meccans in order to tell them to inform the Quraysh about the Prophet’s (s) trip to Mecca. This was so that they could come to the Prophet (s) before he arrived in Mecca and a battle occurred. However, he suddenly saw Abu Sufyan, sheltered him, and took him to the Prophet (s). Abu Sufyan then became a Muslim. The following day, the Prophet (s) ordered Abbas to make Abu Sufyan stand in a place where he could see the Muslims accompanying the Prophet (s) passing by. When Abu Sufyan saw their glory and the massive number of Muslims, he told Abbas, “the kingdom of your nephew has grown!” Abbas said, “This is the prophethood, not the kingdom!” Abu Sufyan replied,”Yes, Indeed!” Then Abbas went to the Prophet (s) and told him that “Abu Sufyan is the type of person that wants to have privilege.” The Prophet (s) said that “Everyone [in Mecca] who goes to his house and shuts their door will be safe. Also, anyone who is sheltered in Abu Sufyan’s house will be safe as well. Anyone who enters Masjid al-Haram will also be safe.” The great crowds of Muslims entered Mecca. Ibn Hisham narrates from Ibn Ishaq that Sa’d b. ‘Ubada, the chief of the tribe of Khazraj had come to Mecca that day and said, “Today is the day of massacre! Today is the day of disrespect and the violation of sanctity.” He wanted to take revenge on the Quraysh and the ‘Adnani families and sought revenge for the people of Medina. To avoid the misconception that the Islamic victory would be a form of tribal revenge, the Prophet (s) sent Ali (a) and told him, “Take the flag from Sa’d for today is the day of mercy.” There was no fight between the Meccans and Muslims, save for a few arguments. The Prophet (s) went to Masjid al-Haram and circumambulated the Ka’ba seven times and then stood at the front of its door and said,
“There is no god except Allah alone, He has no partner. True is His promise and He helps His servant and defeats the factions alone.”
The noble way that the Prophet (s) treated the Meccans showed the glory of Islam and the nobility of the Prophet in front of the former opposition to Islam. The Quraysh, who had not hesitated to harass the Prophet (s) and his followers in every possible way for twenty years, feared the punishment that they would face. When they heard the Prophet (s) say, “I free all of you!” they became determined to fight against the infidels instead of fighting against Islam.
Battle of Hunayn
Main article: Battle of Hunayn
No less than 15 days after the Prophet (s) had come to Mecca, a few large families from around the Arabian Peninsula who had not yet become Muslim, allied against him. So, the Prophet (s) left Mecca with a large army. When they arrived at a place called Hunayn, the enemies ambushed them using surrounding valleys and began to shoot arrows at the Muslims. The shooting was so intense that the Muslims’ retreated, and only a few remained. However, those who retreated then returned, attacking the enemy and eventually defeating them.
Battle of Tabuk
Main article: Battle of Tabuk
Among the most important events of 9/630 is the Battle of Tabuk. The Prophet (s) was informed that the Romans had gathered a great army at Balqa’ and were planning to attack the Muslims. However, because the summer was scorching and extremely hot, and the season of ripe fruits had arrived, people wanted to stay at home and relax. In fact, the treasure house was half empty. The Prophet (s) did not use to aim at certain targets before campaigning, however, in the Battle of Tabuk, he announced that they were going to go to war with the Romans because of the difficulties that they had on the way. A few complained about the prospect of war and said: “It is summer and it is hot! Don’t go now!” They were bitterly reproached in the Qur’an:
“ …and they said, ‘Do not go forth in this heat.’ Say, The fire of hell is severer in heat, should they understand. ”
The soldiers of the Muslim army numbered 30,000 and this was the highest number of soldiers in the Muslim army in all of the battles of the Prophet (s). It was also perhaps the highest number for an army in the Arabian Peninsula till that day.
In this war, the Prophet (s) left Ali (a) in Medina to take care of its affairs. The hypocrites used the situation to say that the Prophet (s) did not want Ali (a) to accompany him on this trip. When Ali (a) became upset and complained about this to the Prophet (s), the Prophet (s) told him: “I appointed you as my debuty, since to me, you are like Aaron to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me.” (see: Hadith Manzila)
The army suffered extreme thirst on the way, and when they arrived in Tabuk, they were informed that the news of the Romans gathering against them had not been true, then with no conflict they returned.
The Battle of Tabuk was the last confrontation (or attempt) between Muslims and non-Muslims in the lifetime of the Prophet (s). After that, all of the Arabian Peninsula submitted to the Muslims. It was after this battle that most tribes sent a representative to the Prophet (s) to inform him about their conversion to Islam and their obedience to him. This period later came to be known as the Sanat al-Wufud (the year of delegations/guests).
Main article: Sanat al-Wufud
After the Battle of Tabuk, Islam began to spread all over the Arabian Peninsula. Delegations from different tribes came to Medina and became Muslim. In fact, the Prophet (s) stayed inside Medina for all of 10/631-2 (called Sanat al-wufud) and received various delegations. In the same year, the Prophet (s) signed a treaty with the Christians of Najran (see: Mubahala) and then went on the Hajj pilgrimage. On his return trip from the pilgrimage in a place called Ghadir Khum, he announced that Ali b. Abi Talib (a) was to become the guardian of the Muslims after he passed away.
The Prophet (s) went for his last pilgrimage in Dhu l-Qa’da, 10/February 632. He taught the rulings of the Hajj during this Hajj journey.
The Quraysh had saved some privileges for themselves, the same privileges that they had before the advent of Islam. In addition to key-holding, managing, and giving water to the Hajj pilgrims, they regarded themselves as separate from and superior to the other tribes in doing rituals. In this last Hajj journey, the Prophet (s) negated the privileges that the Quraysh had held for themselves and had deprived others from.
Among the things abolished was the purchase of clean clothing for the pilgrimage permitted only through the Quraysh. There was a custom that the clean clothes required for the pilgrimage could only be bought from the Quraysh, and if they were not, they had to circumambulate the Ka’ba naked. Another practice abolished was that the Quraysh moved out from Muzdalifa, as opposed to ‘Arafat as all other Hajj pilgrims did. They believed this to be an honor for themselves, but the Qur’an nullified this privilege:
“ Then stream out from where the people stream out… ”
— Quran, 2:199
The Muslims saw that Muhammad (s) was from Quraysh, but that he was moving out from ‘Arafat like all of the others. It was in this journey that the Prophet (s) told the people,
“O people! I don’t know if I will see the next year. I ignored all of the blood that was spilt before the advent of Islam. [From now on], your blood and your other possessions are forbidden for each other until you meet God.”
In a region called Juhfa where the peoples of Egypt, Hijaz and Iraq split up to travel to their own regions, is a place called Ghadir Khum. Here, on the Prophet’s (s) return to Medina, before everyone split in different directions, he received an order from God to appoint Ali (a) as his successor and who would direct the Muslim community towards a specific goal. In the massive crowd of Muslims, approximated at 90-100,000, the Prophet (s) said,
“Ali (a) is the guardian of anyone that I am the guardian of. O Allah! Befriend anyone who befriends him and be enemies with whoever is his enemy. Abominate whoever abominates him, help whoever helps him, defame whoever disrespects him, and support him with the truth wherever he goes. Deliver these words to those who are absent.”
After returning from the Hajj, when the glory and power of Islam had grown, the Prophet (s) became sick. Nevertheless, he had prepared an army under the leadership of Osama b. Zayd in order to respond to the Muslims’ defeat in the Battle of Muta. However, before this army left for the battle, the Prophet (s) passed away and left this world to meet his Lord. He passed away at a time when he had established unity throughout the entire Arabian Peninsula and had brought Islam to the gates of the two great empires of Rome and Iran.
In the beginning of 11/632, the Prophet (s) became sick and passed away. Before he passed away, when he was very ill, he gave a farewell speech to the Muslims and advised them to be kind to one another. He also said “If I owe anything to anyone, they should come to me to ask for it or else, they should disregard it. If I have annoyed anyone, I am ready to be punished in retaliation for it”
The Prophet (s) passed away on Safar 28/May 25 or on Rabi’ I 12/June 7 of 11/632 at the age of 63. It is mentioned in Nahj al-balagha that at the time of his demise, the Prophet’s (s) head lay on the chest of Ali (a).
At the time of his demise, none of his children were alive except for Fatima (a). All of his other children had passed away, including Ibrahim, who was born one or two years before the Prophet’s (s) demise. Ali (a), with the help of some others, as per the Islamic tradition, washed the Prophet’s (s) body, and shrouded and buried him in his house, where it is now located in Masjid al-Nabi.
While Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and the Banu Hashim were washing the corpse of the Prophet (s) as per Islamic tradition, a few influential Muslims decided to choose the next leader for the Umma– disregarding what the Prophet (s) had said just two months prior to his demise (see: Event of Ghadir Khum). A number of people from Mecca (the Muhajirun) and Medina (the Ansar) gathered in a place called Saqifa Banu Sa’ida. They wanted a ruler to be chosen for the Muslims as soon as possible. However, an argument erupted over who should be chosen for such a position and finally they pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr.
According to the Shi’a school of thought, Muhammad (s) was a prophet and messenger, and he was the seal of the Prophets (Khatam al-Nabiyyin), with no prophet after him. The Prophet (s) was one of the five Prophets of Great Stature and brought a noble religion to humanity from God. The Prophet (s) is the first of 14 Infallibles (a). He was infallible not only in receiving and delivering the revelation, but in all aspects of his life. Many miracles have been reported from the Prophet (s), the greatest among which was the Qur’an. (see: The Prophet’s miracles)
The Prophet (s) lived for forty years amongst the people before he began his mission. During this time, his character showed no signs of any bad qualities. He was known as an honest and trustworthy individual. Afterwards, when the Prophet (s) delivered the message of God, the infidels could not deny the Prophet’s (s) virtues, but rather they denied the Qur’anic verses. This matter has been mentioned in the Qur’an as well,
“ …Yet it is not you that they deny, but it is Allah’s signs that the wrongdoers impugn. ”
— Quran, 6:33
Also, it has been quoted that Abu Jahl once said: “we do not deny you, but rather we deny these verses”. When the Prophet (s) began to deliver the message of God to the Quraysh, he asked them, “Would you believe me if I told you that [enemy] troops are positioned behind this mountain?” The audience replied in the affirmative and said: “Yes, you have never lied to us”. The Prophet (s) then said that he was sent by God to warn them.
In addition to his glorious past, being Arab, and his distinguished tribe and family played a crucial role in the Prophet’s (s) status and success. The Quraysh was an important and famous tribe amongst the Arabs. This eminence caused many of the other tribes to acknowledge the Quraysh’s superiority over them, and would obey them in some cases. On the other hand, the ancestors of the Prophet (s) (Qusayy b. Kilab, Hashim, and ‘Abd al-Muttalib) were known as honorable and distinguished men amongst the Arabs. At the time, the Arab community had a limited cultural relationship with other regions. This caused them to have pride in their Arabism and they were prejudiced against others and would deny their words on the basis that they were not Arabs, ordering them to acknowledge only what was “theirs'”. This Qur’anic verse probably indicates this fact:
“ Had We sent it down upon some non-Arab, and had he recited it to them, they would not have believed in it. ”
— Quran, 26:198-199
Since Islam was first presented to the Arabs, being one of them was an advantage for the Prophet (s). This issue has also been mentioned in the Qur’an.
The greatest quality of the Prophet (s) was his impeccable character and behaviour (Akhlaq). The Qur’an says of him:
“ and indeed you possess a great character. ”
— Quran, 68:4
It is said that he was quiet and did not speak unless it was necessary. He always opened his mouth slightly and never more than half of it was open. He would smile and never laughed out loud. When he wanted to face someone, he turned his entire body. He loved cleanliness and the smell of perfume. When he would pass somewhere, people would realize that it was him who had passed because of his fragrant smell. He was never arrogant. He lived a simple life, and would sit on the ground to eat food. He never ate his fill and remained hungry on many occasions, especially when he first arrived in Medina. However, he never led a completely ascetic life in the way that many monks did. In fact, he has said that he benefited from the good of this world. His conduct towards Muslims and those of another faith was graceful and chivalrous. His conduct was so pleasant in the eyes of Muslims that they would speak of its details throughout generations. Today, it is the model of their lives and religion.
Imam ‘Ali (a) describes the conduct of the Prophet (s) as follows, “Everyone who met him for the first time was in awe of him. Everyone who was in his company began to love him”. “The Prophet (s) would look at his companions equally and never looked at one of them longer than the other”. “When he shook hands with someone, he would never withdraw his hand first”
The Prophet (s) spoke with everyone according to their level of intellect and understanding. He was famous for his forgiveness of those who had wronged him; to the extent that he even forgave Wahshi who was the murderer of his uncle, and Abu Sufyan who had been the archenemy of Islam. He was amicable with everybody, and had the valuable quality of making everyone feel as though they were special to him.
The Prophet (s) lived with self-discipline. Throughout his entire life, he did not designate a spot for himself (in a place of superiority whilst sitting with others). In fact, the simple clay rooms that were beside the mosque, belonged to his wives. Their roofs were made of palm wood and the screens that hung at their doors were made of goat or camel hair. He would use a pillow and a leather bed that was filled with palm leaves, over which he slept his entire life. His undershirt was made from a coarse fabric that itched the body and he wore a robe made of camel hair. This was besides the fact that after the Battle of Hunayn, he gifted 4000 camels, more than 4000 sheep, and great amount of gold and silver to various people.
His food was simpler than his house, clothes and property. Months would pass by where no fire was lit in his house for the preparation food. His staple diet consisted of dates and barley bread. He never ate to his fill for two consecutive days, nor would he eat to his fill two times per day. There were many nights where he and his family slept while they were hungry. Once, Fatima (a) brought her father barley bread and said, “I baked bread and thought that I must bring you some.” He ate that and said to her, “This is the only thing that your father has been eating for the past three days.” Once, he wanted to eat dates in the date garden of one of the Ansar and said, “This is the fourth day that I haven’t eaten anything.” Sometimes, he would tie a stone to his stomach due to the extremity of his hunger (so that his hunger would be temporarily relieved). Upon his demise, his armor was pledged with a Jew as a security for 30 cups of barley.
Organization and Tidiness
The Prophet (s) was very organized in his life. After the construction of the mosque, he named every column in the mosque and marked each of them for specific activities; e.g. the column of Wufud, which was the place for delegations and meetings, the column of Tahajjud which was the place for night prayers, and so on. He arranged the lines of the congregational prayer so straight that it was as if he was arranging wooden poles, and once he said, “O Servants of God! Arrange your lines, otherwise dissent will grow amongst you”. He was very organized with regards to scheduling his time. He had divided his time into three parts: one for worshipping God, one for personal activities, and one for activities with the people.
He would always look in the mirror to arrange and comb his hair. In fact, he was always well-groomed, not only in front of his family, but also in front of his companions. He would take care of his appearance even while traveling and would always carry five things: a mirror, kohl, a comb, a brush and a pair of scissors.
The Qur’an describes the Prophet (s) as Ummi which was an attribute given to someone who did not know how to read or write. The Prophet (s) could not read or write. The Qur’an says:
“ You did not use to recite any scripture before it, nor did you write it with your right hand… ”
— Quran, 29:48
which seems to imply that the Prophet (s) could neither read, nor write before revelation. The verse continues:
“ …for then the impugners would have been skeptical (that you have learned Quran from someone other than Allah). ”
— Quran, 29:48
According to the Shi’a school of thought, hadiths (narrations) from the Imams (a) are binding sources for Islamic law and theology in the same way that hadiths from the Prophet (s) are sources of Islamic law. As such, they both need to be followed and observed. In this respect, there is no difference whether the narration comes from the Prophet or the Imams (as the Imams are following the Prophet’s tradition and there is no conflict). The four primary sources of hadith for the Shi’as are al-Kafi, al-Tahdhib, Man la yahduruh al-faqih and al-Istibsar. They do not separate the hadiths of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) from each other, but rather they are grouped together by subject.
However, there are certain books which have collected the hadith of the Prophet (s) only or have dedicated chapters for hadiths of the Prophet (s). Some of these sources include:
Tuhaf al-‘uqul ‘an al al-Rasul (s): This book was written by Ibn Shu’ba al-Harrani, who was a great Shi’a scholar and jurist of the 4th/10th century. This book is an invaluable collection of narrations and pieces of advice from the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) and even has a dedicated chapter for sayings of the Prophet (s).
Al-Majazat al-Nabawiyya: This book was written by al-Sayyid al-Radi. This collection of the Prophet’s (s) hadiths focuses on certain aspects of the Prophet’s narrations and groups them in categories like: subtle advice, admonitions, implications and allegories.
Makatib al-Rasul (s): This book was written by Ayatullah Ahmadi Miyaniji, and it contains the letters of the Prophet (s) to kings, officials and agents. It also includes pieces of writing on treaties, contracts and some other miscellaneous issues.
Nahj al-fasaha: This book was compiled by Abu l-Qasim Payandih. It is organized into two sections: hadiths and sermons and includes the narrations and sayings of the Prophet (s).
Sourced from Wikishia.
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