The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), though from the noblest family of the Meccan Arab tribe of Quraysh, came from humble beginnings and was orphaned at an early age. He was under the care of his paternal grandfather, Abdalmutalib, until he passed away; thereafter his paternal uncle, Abu Talib oversaw his upbringing. As a young man he was well known amongst the Meccans as al-amin, or the « trustworthy one », as they would entrust him with their valuables.
At the age of 40, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) first received revelation at the mountain cave of hira, a place he often retreated to contemplate and escape the clamor of urban life. On this occasion, he was approached by the archangel, Gabriel, the same archangel who had been the messenger of revelation to the previous prophets, such as Moses, Abraham, David and Jesus. He was asked to recite by Gabriel, but as he was unlettered, could only respond « I am not a reciter. » The Prophet was shaken violently three times, and responded in the same way under Gabriel revealed to him the first verses of the Quran:
« Read in the name of thy Lord who created â€“ Created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood â€“ Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful â€“ He who taught (the use of) the Pen â€“ Taught man that which he knew not. »
The Prophet’s mission lasted some 23 years; 13 years in his home city of Mecca and 10 years Medina, the city he emigrated to after suffering under the persecution of the Quraysh leaders of Mecca. During this time Islam became the dominant religion of the Arabian Peninsula and later spread fairly quickly to the North, West and East.
The life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been recorded in intricate detail, unlike no other figure in history. Muslim scholars took great pains to preserve the utterances and actions of the Prophet Muhammad and this corpus of literature is commonly referred to as the hadith. Some examples include:
« The minutest place in the Garden is better than this world and everything in it. »
« I am the closest of all people to Jesus, son of Mary, in this world and the Hereafter; for all prophets are brothers, with different mothers but one religion. »
The ProphetÂ (PBUH) said, « Help your brother, whether he be an oppressor or one of the oppressed. » Some said, « O Messenger of God, we help him if he is oppressed; but how can we help him if he is an oppressor? » The Prophet said: « by stopping him. »