Muhammad was born around 570 AD in an Arabian city called Mecca. His father Abdullah died before he was born, and his mother Amina died when he was six years old. After the death of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, Muhammad was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, leader of the Banu Hashim clan. We may divide Muhammad’s life into three main periods.
  • Pre-Prophetic Period (570-610 AD). While still young, Muhammad began work in the Meccan caravan trade, which put him in contact with diverse religious traditions. At 25 years old, he married a wealthy widow, Khadijah, who was 15 years his senior. With more leisure time, Muhammad developed the habit of retreating to a cave on Mount Hira for prayer and reflection, as was common for the polytheists of the Meccan Quraysh tribe.
  • Meccan Prophetic Period (610-622). During one of his yearly retreats, Muhammad became convinced that a demonic spirit had ordered him to recite verses (now found in Qur’an 96:1-5). However, his wife Khadijah and her cousin Waraqah persuaded him that he was a prophet of Allah. Muhammad soon began preaching Islam to friends and family members, and later to the public. Due to his increasingly inflammatory condemnation of the religious beliefs of the polytheists of Mecca, Muhammad and his followers were persecuted. After his wife Khadijah and his uncle Abu Talib died, Muhammad decided to flee Mecca.
  • Medinan Prophetic Period (622-632). Having formed alliances with various non-Muslim groups, Muhammad began robbing the Meccan caravans. These attacks eventually led to a series of battles with Mecca. As war booty poured in, so did new converts. The growing Muslim army allowed Muhammad to subdue not only Mecca, but the rest of Arabia as well. Muhammad suffered an agonizing death in 632 after being poisoned by a Jewish woman whose family had been slaughtered by Muslims.
Muslims believe that Muhammad is their highest moral example (Qur’an 33:21) and the final authority (along with Allah) in all decisions (Qur’an 33:36). According to the Qur’an (4:65), a person can have no faith without unquestioningly accepting Muhammad’s judgments.