Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was born an orphan of a noble family of Banu Hashim ancestry. His father, Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib, died of sickness at the age of 25 on a trading journey to Syria, leaving his wife Amenah only a few months pregnant. His birth was on the twelfth (12) of Rabiul Awwal 53 B.H. (570 A.D of the Christian era). The Quraysh had a special status in Mecca because they used to be in charge of the sacred Ka’ba. Abdul Mutalib, his grandfather who was the chief of Makkah at that time, showed pride in him as Muhammad (SAW) compensated him for the loss of his son who died in the prime of his youth. His mother showed affection for her son as she awaited the best nurses to come and take care of him: The tradition at that time was that nurses would come from the desert seeking to be the custodians of the children of nobility in return for good pay and gifts. Muhammad (SAW) was not wealthy all nurses turned away from him, Halimah of the Banu Saad tribe was one of them, but when she could not find any other child she was ashamed to return home empty handed, so she went back and took Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and since then Allah showered his mercy on her; for instance animals started giving plenty of milk after they had been dried. Therefore, her and her husband felt they were blessed to have taken Muhammad (SAW) and became very attached to him. Muhammad (SAW) spent five years with Banu Saad during which nothing out of the ordinary happened except one told incident which scared Halimah and became known as “the splitting of his chest.” When he was playing with the other boys Hazrat Jibril (A.S) held him, threw him down, split his chest, took out his heart and took out a clump from it and said: “this is Satan’s portion of you.” Then he washed him in a basin made of gold with the water of zamzam, then sealed his chest and returned him where he was. The boys ran to Halimah and said Muhammad (SAW) has been killed. They came back and found him alive but pale. (Muslim and Ahmed). Muhammad (SAW) returned to Makkah at the age of five to his mother and grandfather who took good care of him, but the days refused to allow him tranquility among those tender hearts, as his mother died during a visit to Madinah to visit her husbands grave. She took Muhammad (SAW) and his maid Umm Aiman with her. On the way back, she fell very sick and died in Abwaa leaving Muhammad (SAW) with Umm Aiman. His grandfather always took good care of him and never left him alone, he took him to all public gatherings. However, at the age of eight, Abdul Muttalib died leaving him into his uncle Abu Talib’s care. Fatima, daughter of Asad, who was the wife of Abu Talib loved Muhammad (SAW) as if he were her own son. Abu Talib, too, was very good to him. Since Abu Talib had many children and was not wealthy, Muhammad (SAW) insisted on sharing the burdens of life with him. He went with his uncle on a trading journey to Syria at the age of thirteen. He met a monk called Bahira during the journey, who looked at his face and the sign on his back (the sign of Prophethood) and asked Abu Talib: “Who is this boy to you?”My son he said.” “His father should not be alive.” Said Buhira. Abu Talib then said, “Yes, in fact he is my brother’s son “and told him the rest of the story. The monk said “Now you are telling me the truth. Take him back and be careful of the Jews over him.” Muhammad (SAW) then returned to Makkah and resumed his life, working as a shepherd in his early life. All the people who had done business dealings with him before his prophethood had always praised his honesty and fair dealing in trade. He did not acquire knowledge or education from a monk or a philosopher or sorcerer, as was the norm then. Instead he read through the pages of life and took what he found good. In this manner, he entered his third phase of life and got acquainted with his first wife Khadija (R.A) who was a merchant woman of nobility and wealth. She had heard of his truthfulness and trustworthiness, so she offered him to take her trade to Syria (before marrying him). He was 25 years old and she was above 40 years old when they got married. Their marriage lasted until she died at the age of 65. Every year, Muhammad (SAW) used to leave Makkah to spend Ramadan in the cave of Hiraa where he used to meditate and worship for self-purification away from the falsehood of Jahilia. In this cave, He met with the heavenly host and listened to the voice of the angel telling him to read. He knew that he had become a Prophet of Allah (SAW) and that it was Jabril (A.S), the ambassador of revelation who came to him; then the mission’s struggle began. Quraysh spared no efforts to fight Islam and persecuted those who embraced it.
In spite of all that Islam grew stronger, so Quraysh decided to change strategy and agreed not to buy, sell or intermarry with Muslims or those who approved of their religion, protected them or sympathized with them. They wrote this agreement which was called “The General Boycott” on a piece of parchment and hung it inside the Kaabah as a secret pact. Therefore, Muhammad (SAW) and his followers were forced into confinement in the Vale of Banu Hashim where they were cut off of any assistance. This boycott lasted three long years during which only the bond of faith kept the hearts together and gave them strength. It ended after Hisham Ibn Amr (who felt very upset about the terrible plight of Muslims) gathered some clans around him and agreed to break the pact. They went to Makkah to tear the parchment and to their surprise they found that the worms had already eaten it up except the words: “In Your name O God.” After ten years of suffering for the mission of Islam, Muhammad (SAW)suffered the loss of his wife Khadijah (R.A) and his uncle Abu Talib, in other words, he had lost his public life, as his uncle defended him and protected him from any calamity, and his private life, as Khadijah (R.A) loved, supported and shared with him the miseries and pains of the Da’wah. So it became virtually impossible for Muhammad (s.aw.s.) to continue preaching in Mecca. In September 622, after secret negotiations over the previous two years, he settled in the area of Medina, two hundred seventy miles to the north, where seventy of his followers had already gone. This “emigration” (leaving one’s living place for another) is the Hijra (Latin, hegira), on which the Islamic era is based. Once Muhammad (SAW) immigrated to Medina he made an agreement with the Jewish tribes of Yathrib (Medina). The constitution of Madinah, which the Prophet drew up with the multi-religious community of Madinah, soon after his arrival there, remains a shining model for communities that strive for social justice to this day. The new constitution helped the strengthening of the unity and brotherhood between the emigrants from Makkah and their helpers in Madinah. And more, it established the rights and equality of every citizen, irrespective of their religious orientation, before the law, as well as freedom of religion, trade, and speech. The Prophet (s.a.w.s) used to visit the sick people among the Muslims, as well as non-Muslims; and when on one occasion the funeral procession of a Jew passed before him, he stood up as a sign of respect for the deceased. He was asked “Why did you stand up for a Jewish funeral?” He replied: “Is it not a human soul?” He (s.a.w.s) was never aggressive to any particular man or class of men; he never made war on any people on the ground of belief, but only on the ground of conduct. Rules of conduct as to how a Muslim should treat his or her spouse, parents, neighbors, friends, and enemies, that are clearly laid out in the Noble Quran, are exemplified in the life and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Even in the matter of inviting people to the Islamic faith, the Prophet (SAW) was always wise, sensitive, humble and considerate. The principle that guided him in this matter was particularly what the Quran teaches in this verse: “Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and discuss with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (An-Nahl 16:25) Once Muhammad was established in Medina he instituted prayers, fasting, alms tax, legal punishments and spelled out that which was forbidden and prescribed.
“And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind” (Qur’an Al-Anbiyah 21:107)
Muslims fled to Abyssinia, the Qurais tried all the means in their power to have them expelled from there. How could they see Islam prosper so near home at Medina, an important city only 270 miles distant and on the trade route to Syria. Muhammad (SAW) had already received an intimation from on High that he would have to carry on a war to save Islam from utter annihilation. The sword, he was told, would be taken up against him and he would have to fight to save the small community of Islam from destruction at the hands of a powerful enemy who was determined to uproot Islam from the soil of Arabia. Temperamentally Muhammad (SAW) was not inclined to war. The religion which he preached, Islam (peace or submission), was a religion of peace, laying stress on prayer to Allah and the service of humanity, and he was required to preach this religion; to deliver the message, not to enforce it on others. But war was being forced on him, and it was his duty, to defend his oppressed community who had twice fled their homes from the persecutions of a cruel enemy to a distant place. There was no question of converting anyone to Islam by force; it was the enemy that wanted to turn back the Muslims by force from Islam. It was in these circumstances and on these conditions that the Prophet (SAW) was allowed to fight. The Quraish were not able to crush the Muslims. They were defeated by small Muslim Army at Badr, Uhud and Medina. Muslims brought the Quraish to their senses and a truce was at last drawn up to last for a period of ten years. It can easily be seen what a heavy price the Prophet (SAW) was willing to pay for the sake of peace; he had agreed not to give shelter to those who were persecuted for accepting Islam, while his own men were free to join the unbelievers and find shelter in Mecca. The moral force drawing the people to Islam was so great that while not a single Muslim went back to Mecca where he could find a sure shelter, scores of Meccans embraced Islam, and finding the doors of Medina closed to them, settled themselves at Is, a place subject neither to the authority of the Prophet, nor to that of the Quraish. Islam was spreading and after returning from Hudaibiya, the Prophet (SAW) made arrangements to send the message of Islam to all people, Christians as well as Magians, living on the borders of Arabia. He wrote letters to the sovereigns of the neighbouring kingdoms, the Emperor of Rome, Chosroes II of Persia, the king of Egypt, the Negus of Abyssinia and certain Arab chiefs, inviting them to Islam. The truce of Hudaibiya had hardly been in force for two years when the Banu Bakr, an ally of the Quraish, attacked the Khuza’a, an ally of the Muslims, with the help of the Quraish. The Prophet thereupon sent word to the Quraish that they should either pay blood-money for those slain from among the Khuza’a or dissociate themselves from the Banu Bakr, or, in the last resort, declare the truce of Hudaibiya to be null and void. The Quraish did not agree to either of the first two proposals, and the result was the annulment of the truce. The Prophet thereupon ordered an attack on Mecca in the closing months of the eighth year of the Plight. The two years during which the truce remained in force had brought such large numbers over to Islam that the Prophet now marched on Mecca with 10,000 men under his flag. The Meccans were unable to make any preparations to meet the attack. At Marr al-Zahran, a day’s journey from Mecca, the Quraish leader, Abu Sufyan, sued for pardon, and though he was the arch-offender who had left no stone unturned to annihilate Islam, free pardon was granted to him by the Prophet (s.a.w.s). Prophet Muhammad (SAW) led a very ordinary life yet the life style he practiced offered an example for others to follow. He was the most shy among men and could not stare at anyone for long. He never gave trouble to anyone. He did never curse any one. Once when he was in the battle field, he was asked: O Messenger of Allah, it would have been better if you had cursed them. He said: Allah sent me as a mercy and not as a great curser. Anas (Radhiallahho Anho) reported that a Jewess mixed poison in the food of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) at Khaiber. When he began to eat it, he got smell of the poison and stopped eating. The woman was brought to the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) who asked her about the poisoned food. The woman said: I intended to kill you. He said: Allah will not give you that power. The companions exclaimed: Should we not kill her? The Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: Don’t kill her. Aisha (R.A) said that the Prophet (SAW)used to sleep during the earlier part of the night and stood praying during the later part. She also said that when he got up at night he started his prayer with two rakaat. For Fajr prayer, he used to pray two short rakaat between the call and the Iqama and also read Qur’an. According to him “Qur’an at dawn is always witnessed by the angels of the nights and the angels of the days.” (Tirmithi) The Prophet (SAW) said: “It is an obligation on every Muslim to bathe at least once every seven days and wash both his head and body.” (Bukhari and Muslim). He said, Allah loves good character, hates bad character.
The last sermon of the Prophet-peace be upon him- is known as Khutbatul Wada’. Basic points mentioned in this khutbah are: Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you, don’t take usury (interest), treat women well, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. All mankind is from Adam (A.S) and Eve (A.S), an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action. Remember one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone. People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and the Sunnah (Hadith), and if you follow these you will never go astray. It must be stressed that we will never really understand the Sirah unless we study the Qur’an and Sunnah. Praise and Glory be to Allah, we seek Allah’s forgiveness and we turn to him in repentance.
——— (The author a teacher at S K University of Agriculture Sciences & Technology (SKUAST) Srinagar writes on Islamic topics exclusively for “Kashmir Horizon”)