Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is one of the most vigorously revered men to have ever lived. His legacy has meant many different things to many different people throughout history. Information on his life comes almost exclusively through oral reports (hadiths) compiled, for the most part, more than a hundred and fifty years after his death. While historians span a spectrum of skepticism regarding the reliability of these frequently hagiographic and tendentious writings, Islamic scholars have and continue to rely on some portion of the hadith which they consider to be authentic (sahih) in order to formulate most of Islamic doctrine, ritual, and law. Consequently, while some contend that Muhammad is altogether enigmatic as a historical entity, the accounts of his life found in Islamic scriptures have found near-universal assent in the Muslim world and comprise a fundamental part of the Islamic self-identity.
Family played a central role the tribal culture that dominated the environment in which Muhammad grew up and passed away. The diverse experiences Muhammad encountered with his wives and extended family shaped at times indirectly and at times directly the religious message he would be reported as having left behind.
Muhammad (Arabic: مُحمّد; pronounced [muħammad]; c. 570 – c. 8 June 632) was the founder of Islam. According to Islamic scripture, he was a prophet and God's messenger, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previous Abrahamic religions. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in the main branches of Islam.
On many occasions, Muhammad was able to resolve personal dilemmas with the help of revelation from God. These included conflicts involving his wives, other domestic matters, and instances where his earlier advices or revelation required amendment or were criticized. Critics have long argued that these 'convenient revelations' are, among other things, evidence of Muhammad's authorship of the Quran.
According to Anas ibn Malik, the Prophet Muhammad used to visit all eleven of his wives in one night; but he could manage this, as he had the sexual prowess of thirty men. The historian Al-Tabari calculated that Muhammad married a total of fifteen women, though only ever eleven at one time; and two of these marriages were never consummated. This tally of fifteen does not include at least four concubines.
Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib was the father of Muhammad who passed away during a trading trip he embarked on while Aminah, his wife, was still pregnant with Muhammad. According to hadiths in Sahih Muslim that some Islamic theologians have had trouble grappling with, both of Muhammad's parents are in hell.
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In what was reported to have been the twenty years following his proclamation of prophethood at the age of forty, Muhammad conquered the Arabian peninsula (most of the actual conquering was achieved in the latter part of these 20 years). In achieving this, Muhammad conducted and oversaw a large number of military campaigns, raids, and assassinations.
The battle of Badr was the first great battle in the military career of the prophet Muhammad according to the sira. Again according to the sira in took place in the month of Ramadan in the second year of the hijra (circa 624 AD). It was a watershed moment in the prophetic career, where some of the prophet's greatest enemies from Mecca were killed or humiliated. It was also interpreted as a sign of divine favor by the Muslim community in Mecca, with angels including Jibra'il reportedly taking part.
The battle of Uhud was the second great battle in the military career of the prophet Muhammad according to the sira of the prophet. Unlike its predecessor, the Battle of Badr, it resulted in a decisive defeat for Muhammad and his ummah at the hands of the pagan Meccans. Like the battle of Badr, it was the circumstance for the revelation of many verses from the Hadith. Unlike the battle of Badr, it was a defensive battle, with the pagan Quraysh of Mecca coming to Medina to stomp out his movement for once and for all.
During his time as a political, religious, and military leader in Arabia, Muhammad ordered and supported the killing of numerous foes, including women and children. His victims included political and military opponents, religious opponents, prisoners of war, apostates, those who spoke out against him, and others.
Muhammad led and oversaw numerous military expedition during his takeover of Arabia. These included surprise raids as well as regular military excursions. A Ghazwah was a confrontation that Muhammad himself partook in, whereas a Sariyyah was a confrontation that Muhammad ordered or oversaw but did not take part in himself.
The reports regarding Muhammad specific teachings a prophet are tend toward the more contentious end of the spectrum of scripture, as far more parties were interested in placing their doctrines, rulings, and even political ambitions in the mouth of the prophet than parties interested in altering the details of his family or military life.
Muhammad's prophecies are predictions attributed to him and generally written 150-200 years after his death. Many prophecies are considered "signs of the Hour" (Islamic eschatology). Some prophecies are general statements that may apply to times even before Islam, other prophecies predict early Islamic history (which happened before the predictions were written) and some prophecies make predictions about the the future to come after the hadiths were written.
The Farewell Sermon (خطبة الوداع, Khuṭbatu l-Wadā') is purported to be the Prophet Muhammad's final sermon to his followers before his death in 632 CE. However like most elements of the Islamic tradition our sources for this are extremely late, in this case At-Tabari writing in the late 800's CE about an event which is purported to have taken place in 632 CE. The mention of "the Sunnah of the prophet" is clearly apycrophal, as Patricia Crone has shown in pathbreaking God's Caliph.
The Satanic Verses (also the Gharaniq incident) was an incident where Prophet Muhammad acknowledged Allat, Manat, and al-Uzza, the goddesses of the Pagan Meccans in a Qur'anic revelation, only to later recant and claim they were the words of the Devil. The incident, recorded in the earliest Islamic scriptures, has proven theologically controversial in the extreme, with some theologians denying its possibility outright.
Al-Burāq (البُراق "lightning") is a mythological steed comparable to the Greek Pegasus, believed to be a creature from the heavens which transported the various Islamic prophets. Islamic scriptures report that Muhammad mounted Buraq, which then transported him to the al-Aqsa mosque (supposedly already extant) and subsequently through the seven heavens to meet with Allah in person.
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Islamic doctrine holds as an article of faith that Muhammad, like all prophets, was a man. In his capacity as a man, however, Muhammad is held as having the priveleged to be God's final and sole spokesperson on Earth. As the Uswa Hasana ("excellent model") and al-Insan al-Kamil ("the perfect human"), everything Muhammad did was later held to be instructive for all of mankind for all time. Muhammad's family and descendants were also perpetually given priveleged social and spiritual status, especially in the Shi'ite tradition. While historians are generally skeptical of the specific contents of the hadiths, or "narrations" attributed to Muhammad, Islamic doctrine holds that since Muhammad was the final messenger, God must have preserved all facts about his life which would be necessary for our instruction. Thus, the hadith literature must be sufficient and, from an orthodox standpoint, harboring any real or comprehensive skepticism toward this body of literature is not acceptable.
In the mainstream theology of Sunni Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is known as al-Insān al-Kāmil (lit. "the perfect human") and uswa hasana (lit. "an excellent model"). This is taken to mean that his conduct in all things, from how he prayed, how he conducted himself in business and in war, his sexual relations with his wives, slaves and concubines, and even how he cleaned himself after defecation and urination is an exemplar and model for all humans to follow at all times, regardless of historical circumstance and independent of culture.
The Ahl al-Bayt, literally "People of the House", is a term used to refer to those persons who are members or descendants of Muhammad's household. These people have a priveleged status in Islamic and especially Shi'ite doctrine. A sahih hadith reports Muhammad to have said, "I have left among you, that which if you hold fast to it, you shall not go astray: The Book of Allah and my family". Traditions of this sort have been variously interpreted by the many sects of Islam.
The asbab al-nuzul, or Revelational Circumstances, of the Quran refer to the events described in the hadith and early tafsir literature to have compelled various portions of the revelations found in the Quran. Reports regarding the asbab al-nuzul of verses have been used by Islamic exegetes and jurists from early on in Islamic history, especially in making sense of otherwise obscure passages in the Quran. Historians have found this genre of hadith literature to be particularly tendentious.
Hadith literally translates to mean "talk", but is most commonly used as an Islamic term that refers to the orally-transmitted accounts of Muhammad's life, wherein Muhammad does, says, or tacitly (that is, silently) approves of something. The hadiths, passed down orally before being written down, for the most part, some 150-200 years after Muhammad's death, are second in their religious authority only to the Qur'an and are the basis of most of Islamic doctrine and law.
Part of Islamic doctrine is the belief that Muhammad was illiterate and uneducated. This coupled with Muhammad's presentation of the Quran to Arabian society is thusly identified as miracle. Historians have contested the plausibility of this doctrine, but have also held it to be irrelevant, since 7th century Arabia was host to an overwhelmingly oral culture where literacy was a niche professional ability and had little to nothing to do with one's poetic abilities.
Though it was once believed that Muhammad's life transpired 'in the full light of history', historians have since moderated their claims on the basis of revealing critical studies on the origins and development of the hadith as well as due to the at times conflicting archeological evidence that has been studied, much of which comes from non-Muslim sources. Beyond the historical study of Muhammad and his times, Muhammad has also featured multiple times as a character in non-Islamic scriptures that post-date Islam. Altogether, the study of historical and later documents regarding Muhammad, especially those from outside of the Islamic world, have show how non-Muslim perceptions of Muhammad have changed over time.
Records of Muhammad's life are found in various historical documents. While the overwhelming majority of information on Muhammad's life comes from later Islamic scriptures, there is some record of him in contemporary writings from non-Muslims. Some of the information contained in these third-party records conflicts with the narratives found in the later Islamic source, including, prominently, such details as the time of his death and the ecumenical nature of his 'movement'.
Mecca, also known as Makkah al-Mukarramah (مكة المكرمة, lit. "the Blessed Mecca"), is a city located in the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula and is described by Islamic scriptures as the birthplace of Muhammad (b. 570), the founder of Islam. Mecca is host to the Kaaba, the holiest Islamic mosque (and central pagan shrine prior to Muhammad's conquest of Mecca), and thus the site of the annual Islamic pilgrimage called the Hajj.
Medina, also known as al-Madinah al-Munawwarah (المدينة المنورة, lit. "the enlightened city") is a city in the Hijaz region of the Arabian peninsula, today ruled by Saudi Arabia. It is considered the second most holy city in Islam, is host to the second most holy mosque in Islam (Masjid al-Nabawi, lit. " the prophetic mosque") and is the burial place of Muhammad. Medina is considered, among other things, plague-proof; this doctrine, found in Bukhari and Muslim, proved controversial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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In recent times
Today, Muhammad remains one of the most remembered persons to have ever lived on Earth. His is one of if not the most commonly used name for children across the globe and hundreds of millions of Muslims pray for him by name on a daily basis. Outside of the Muslim world, however, and considered from the vantage point of the entire global population, however, the most well-known contemporary relevance of Muhammad is perhaps found in the various international controversies that have ensued from those persons who have dared, in defiance of Islamic law, to depict and criticize him.
Everybody Draw Muhammad Day began when, on May 20th, 2010, cartoonist Molly Norris responded to death threats directed at follow cartoonists who had drawn Muhammad by suggesting that if everyone drew Muhammad, then Jihadists would be dumbfounded about who to kill. Subjected to threats herself, Norris later recanted, but her idea lives on.
In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jylands-Posten published cartoons of Muhammad including, most famously, one of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. The cartoons sparked international controversy. Widespread protests throughout the Muslim world followed and more than 250 reported deaths followed. Assassination attempts were made against Kurt Westergaard, who drew the bomb-turban image.
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