Muhammad was born into the Quraysh tribe in 570 AD. His father Abdullah died before his birth, and his mother Aminah died when he was six. Lacking a father, Muhammad was cared for by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib but he also died when Muhammad was eight, after which Muhammad was looked after by his uncle Abu Talib. Death of his father, mother and grandfather made the life of prophet Muhammad very difficult.
From an early age of the life of prophet Muhammad, he traveled with the trading caravans. He was famous for his honesty, acquiring the nickname “al Amin” (the honest one.) During repairs to the Kaaba, a dispute arose regarding which clan would have the honor of re-bedding the black stone which is at one corner of the Kaaba. As a sign of the high regard in which he was held, Muhammad was asked to arbitrate. He advised bearing the stone on a cloth each of whose corners would be held by a representative of one of the clans.
When Muhammad was 25, his employer a wealthy 40 year old widow named Khadijah proposed marriage to him; the marriage lasted 25 years until Khadijah died, and during her lifetime Muhammad took no other wives.
In 610 AD when Muhammad was aged 40, he was meditating in a cave when the archangel Gabriel appeared and spoke to him as follows:
“READ in the name of thy Sustainer, who has created, created man out of a germ-cell! Read – for thy Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One who has taught [man] the use of the pen, taught man what he did not know!”
These were the first five verses of the Noble Quran to be revealed, and are now the beginning of Surah (chapter 96).
Khadijah was the first person to believe that Muhammad had received a revelation from God. As the revelations continued, others also came to believe. This small believing community was persecuted by other Meccans because the message Muhammad was preaching was at complete variance with pagan Meccan practices such as idol worship.
Muhammad sent some of the early Muslims to sanctuary in Ethiopia, but in 622 AD he himself fled Mecca for Medina (then called Yathrib.) which is 339 km north of Mecca. In Medina was a small community of Muslims along with several Jewish tribes as well as pagan Arabs; Medina’s internal dissensions led its people to ask Muhammad to come and be their leader. Muhammad drew up a written constitution for Medina whose text is still available today.
There were a number of armed conflicts, as well as truces, with the pagan Meccans, but gradually more people converted to Islam and in 630 AD Mecca surrendered peacefully to Muhammad, and the Kaaba was cleansed of idolatry. Muhammad died in 632 AD and was buried in Medina.
Related article: life of prophet Muhammad and the Noble Quran