As we Muslims welcome the month of Ramadan, our faith is even more present in our lives than ever before. And, as all of us have undoubtedly realized, it is nearly impossible to discuss or even contemplate Islam without mentioning in some way its most celebrated messenger: the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) , who not only taught his followers about the message of Islam but also made the verses of the Qur’an known to the world.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was born in Makkah on the 12th of Rabi ul-Awwal in 570 A.D, known as “The Year of the Elephant” for another momentous event that happened in Makkah at that time. Abraha al-Ashram, the Ethiopian king of Yemen, had marched with his own army of men and elephants (which the Arabs had never seen before) north to Makkah to destroy the Kaaba. However, upon arriving in Makkah, Abraha’s army was then decimated by the Ababil, hundreds of tiny birds that launched stones at the Abraha’s army from the sky, creating chaos and defeating the soldiers within minutes.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) became a member of the respected Hashim clan, part of the Quraysh tribe. His father, Abd-Allah bin Al-Muttalib, had died before he was born, but his mother Aminah was comforted by what her dreams told her about her child: that he would be a leader of humanity and a great man. In fact, it was in one of these dreams that Aminah was instructed to name her child Muhammad.
Aminah’s dreams about the future of her son were, as time would later tell, destined to be true. Even when he was a small child, Allah (SWT) blessed Muhammad (SAW) and all who were around him. It is said that when Halimah Sa’dia, Muhammad’s (SAW) nanny and breastfeeder, returned back to her drought-stricken village with Muhammad (SAW), “it rained heavily and the crops began growing again.”1 While Muhammad (SAW) was staying with Halimah as a young child, he was visited by two angels who “had taken out his heart, cleaned it, filled it with the Divine Light and put it back into his chest”2 before returning to the sky. There was no doubt now that Muhammad (SAW) was a unique child with a momentous future ahead of him.
Soon after this incredible event, however, Muhammad (SAW) was met with great sorrow in his young life. Soon after Halimah returned Muhammad (SAW) to his mother Aminah, she died while returning from a trip to Yathrib (later known as Medina). Muhammad (SAW) was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, who died two years later. At the age of eight, Muhammad (SAW) was then taken in by his uncle and merchant Abu Talib, who doted on him and loved him dearly. It was during a trading expedition to Syria with his uncle that Muhammad (SAW) was first recognized by a Christian monk as the Last Prophet he would one day be.
However, Muhammad (SAW) himself would not know of Islam for quite some time. Having learned a great deal about the art of trading from Abu Talib, Muhammad (SAW) spent much of his young adult life working as a successful businessman. It was in fact through trade that he became acquainted with his first wife, Khadijah (RAA) . Although Khadijah (RAA) was 15 years older than Muhammad (SAW) , the two had a strong, happy relationship for 25 years until Khadijah’s (RAA) death. Muhammad (SAW) had six children with Khadijah: two sons who died in infancy and four daughters: Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah.
Even before he became a prophet, Muhammad (SAW) was well-known and highly respected for his exceptional moral character. As a merchant, his honesty and integrity earned him nicknames such as as-Sadiq, the Truthful, and al-Amin, the Trustworthy.3 In addition, he distinguished himself from other Makkans by finding himself disinterested in typical Makkan pasttimes, such as poetry, storytelling, and gambling. While most of the tribes would engage in senseless battles that seemed to have no end, Muhammad (SAW) would take no part in the fighting and hated to see the sad fates of the men who were slain as well as the families of the dead. Most of all, however, he found himself utterly repulsed by the Makkan practice of idol worship. “‘How ignorant are these people?’ he used to think. ‘These idols are themselves helpless. How can they be gods?'” As a result, Muhammad (SAW) would often ask himself, “‘Who is the Creator of this universe? What is the purpose of creation? Who is the real God? How should we worship Him?'”4
With such queries swirling about in his head, Muhammad (SAW) became restless and constantly sought solitude in an effort to better understand his thoughts. He began to practice meditation, and as time went by, he meditated more fervently than ever before, spending the entire month of Ramadan in the cave of Hira, a well-known place of retreat. And it was in the cave of Hira, after nearly five years of spiritual preparation, that all of his questions were about to be answered.
1 2 3 4 Muhammad: The Last Messenger – Alia N. Anthar