Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in the year 571 C.E. His father passed away before he was born and his mother passed away when he was six years old, leaving him an orphan in the care of his grandfather, Abdul Mutallib, and then his uncle, Abu Talib, after his grandfather passed away. Before Muhammad (peace be upon him) became a Prophet, he was known among his people as Al-Ameen (The Trustworthy), due to his truthful words, great honesty, and kind manners. His reputation caught the attention of Khadeejah, a business-woman of great honour and fortune among the Arabs, and she decided to employ him to do business for her as a merchant for a certain percentage of the profits.
She became so impressed by his character she decided to propose to him in marriage to which Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted. She was 40 years old and he was 25 years old at the time of the marriage. When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was nearly 40 years old, he began to retreat to a cave a couple miles from Makkah (where he resided). In the cave he would pass long hours in meditation and thought. Over the years, his heart became restless about the moral evils and idolatry that was rampant among his people. His retreats provided privacy and detachment from the impurities of life, better preparing him for the event to come that would change not only his life but the course of history.
In the year 610 C.E
., that fateful event came to pass when Allah
(God) decreed the sending down of the first revelation through the Angel Gabriel
(peace be upon him
) who was 40 years old at the time. The event is narrated below by Aisha
, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him
) whom he married after Khadeejah’s
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadeejah to take his food likewise again; till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to “read”. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet said, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said,”
“Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (Al-‘Alaq 96:1-3)
Then Allah’s Messenger returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadeejah and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadeejah replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your relatives, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.” Khadeejah then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa who during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters (i.e., the Gospel). He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadeejah said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Messenger described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (i.e., Angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Messenger asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “All who came with something similar to what you have brought (i.e., the previous Prophets) was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.”
But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.” This period of pause in revelation became very hard on the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him
) and he became so sad that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains, and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth,
” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home. Whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but Gabriel would appear again before him and say to him what he had said before. The period of pause soon ended with the sending of the second revelation; the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him
) described the event in the
“While I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up and saw the same angel who had visited me at the cave of Hira’ sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I got afraid of him and came back home and said, ‘Wrap me (in blankets).’ And then Allah revealed the following verses (of the Quran): O you wrapped up! Arise and warn! And your Lord magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from the idols! And give not a thing in order to have more. And be patient for the sake of your Lord! (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-7) After this the revelation started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.”
Following the revelation of these verses, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) began his mission as a Messenger of God, a mission that would last 23 years until his death in 632 C.E. For the Prophet and those who accepted his message, they would have to patiently endure persecution, rejection, economic embargo’s and consequent poverty and hunger, even torture and death. But by the facilitation of God and the unshakeable faith of those who believed in his message, Islam would prove to flourish. Within a 100 years following the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through the expansion of the Islamic State, the message of Islam would spread as far East as China and as far West as Spain. Today, Islam is the world’s second largest religion with over 1 billion adherents and is statistically the fastest growing religion.