Muhammad

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'Muhammad (محمد) Muḥammad; also Mohammed, Muhammed, Mahomet, and other variants) (c. 570 Mecca- June 8, 632 CE Madina), was the founder of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the last messenger and prophet of God ( الله Allah). Muslims believe that he was not the creator of a new religion, but the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and others. They see him as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets.

Sources on Muhammad’s life concur that he was born ca. 570 CE in the city of Mecca in Arabia. He was orphaned at a young age and was brought up by his uncle, later worked mostly as a merchant, and was married by age 26. At some point, discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic tradition, it was here at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (lit. islām) is the only religion (dīn), acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and other prophets.

Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was largely met with hostility from the tribes of Mecca; he was treated harshly and so were his followers. To escape persecution, Muhammad and his followers migrated to Yathrib (Medina) in the year 622. This historic event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, Muhammad managed to unite the conflicting tribes, and after eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, his followers, who by then had grown to ten thousand, conquered Mecca. In 632, on returning to Medina from his 'Farewell pilgrimage', Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of Arabia had converted to Islam.

The revelations (or Ayats, lit. Signs of God), which Muhammad reported receiving till his death, form the verses of the Qur'an, regarded by Muslims as the “word of God”, around which the religion is based. Besides the Qur'an, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims.[1]