Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Glimpse at Prophet Muhammad's Life (Part 1)

I want to introduce to you the most important man to me and all the Muslims around the world. It is our Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH)... He is the one all Muslims should follow but unfortunately we have lost our way. This was written by someone who is pretty anonymous

The life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is full of so many examples of the person he was. Throughout the 63 years of his life, he did his best to leave a legacy that is rich with a variety of attitudes in situations for us to think of and learn from. Like every other human being, Prophet Muhammad experienced pain and health, poverty and wealth, hunger and nourishment. Among other roles in his life, he was an orphan, a young shepherd, a poor worker, a wealthy merchant, a cherishing husband, a loving father, a caretaking grandfather, a courageous worrier, a brilliant leader, a shrewd judge, a humble worshiper, and a wise teacher. He experienced nearly all what may face a man in a lifetime, and he showed great wisdom in managing almost all life's changes. Even when he made mistakes, he was honest enough to point them out. He knew that he is the educator of all, so he watched every step he took, and his words came filled with much needed lessons of love, peace, and justice for all mankind, not only Muslims.

We call his teachings "Hadith". My favorite one is "All mankind are the children of God, and the dearest to Him are the ones most helpful to His children". Such words show his panoramic vision of the love, respect, and dignity with which we should all treat each other, despite difference in race, color, opinions, and religious beliefs.

I will try to sum up major events in his life and to give some of his teachings, in order to give an idea about the man he was and the life he lived. My goal is to elaborate on the idea that his greatness is not because he is a perfect human being, but rather due to his being a Messenger from God. And that his efforts to spread Islam were in obedience of a heavenly order, not in pursue of wealth, as he actually gained none. He had to work on delivering the word of God, to merely inform of Islam, and then to back off, leaving the choice for whoever wants to join or simply not, in compliance with the Quranic verse: "There is no oppression or compulsion in religious beliefs." This is why he speaks of other religions with absolute respect and cherishment of freedom of choice. He spoke of Jesus Christ, Mary, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Noah, and all prophets as his respected brothers, as they all call for the worship of one God, and to value his teachings of morality. He completely rejected war and adhered to peaceful measures, in conformity with the Quranic verse: "If they move towards peace, then you too resort to it". Even when he was driven into war, to defend man's freedom of choice and people's right to know of Islam, he gave instructions not to kill priests in temples, women, children, old people, or any defenseless being, not to chop down trees or burn down houses, or do harm to anybody, but to fight back those with unleashed swords. He did not pursue power, because he taught us that the only human power to be used is in fulfilling the objective behind man's existence on this earth: to perseveringly work as God's humble good-doing "assistant" on earth, that is good-doing to all mankind, to environment, to all creatures. This is the only measure with which God distinguishes the good from the bad, for as the Prophet puts it: "There is no distinction between an Arab or a non-Arab, between white or black, but according to righteousness".

  • He is born in Mecca, in 569, for a noble but rather poor family. His father dies months before his birth. His mother dies when he is 6 years old, and his grandfather takes him in till he dies after 2 years. His uncle takes him in at the age of 8.

  • At the age of 12, he starts traveling with his uncle to help him in his trade. In Syria, he meets Bahira, the Bible-knowledgeable Christian monk, who anticipates that the boy would have a great future in the Arabian Peninsula.

  • The young man works as a shepherd to help his uncle, and becomes known for not getting into troubles of adolescence or participating in the stone worship, as other do.

  • Khadija, His first wife, hears of his honesty and experience in trade, so she hires him, and quickly falls in love with his noble self, and they get married. He is now 25.

  • He grows fond of meditation in the mountains, and at the age of 40, at the solitude of a mountain cave, he is visited by Gabriel, the angel, and is informed that he is the Prophet and should call people to worship god.

  • For 3 years, he calls people to God in secret. About 40 people are Muslims.

  • For 10 years, he calls people to God openly in public. He, his family, and his followers are verbally abused, physically tortured, pressured, threatened, seduced with offers of money and power, and starved for 3 years to abandon Islam. Many are dead, but none surrender or abandon Islam.

  • More than 80 Muslims flee in Hijra (migration) from Mecca to south Sudan, where is Najashi, a Christian king who is known for justice. Non-believers of Mecca pursue Moslems, but Najashi gives Muslims shelter, and later becomes a Muslim himself.
    In 619, his loving wife and respected uncle die. He is alone in face of Mecca's non-believers. He starts going to people outside Mecca to inform of Islam, but mostly faced with rejection. He talks to the pilgrims during the pilgrimage season, and 73 people become Muslims over 2 years.

  • Many Moslems flee in migration to Medina to seek freedom of belief and escape torture and oppression.

  • In 622, he is among the last Muslims to migrate to Medina. Non-believers follow him, but he escapes. Medina receives him with great love.

  • In Medina, he builds a society out of the great variety of people in one area, and the city becomes settled with the documentation of a Constitutional Agreement for organizing the lives of those in Medina society, including Muslims, Jews, and other parties.

  • Non-believers in Mecca take away all left-behind possessions of Muslims, and in 623, he decides to take some of it back by taking a caravan of Mecca goods sent to trade near Medina. The caravan changes direction and takes off, however, Mecca people come to fight him. The first battle in Islam : Bader. Muslims are victorious.

  • In 624, Jews in Medina violate the Agreement, and are therefore driven out.

  • The battle of Ohod. Mecca non-believers gather forces to revenge for Bader. Muslims do not follow battle plan, and are consequently defeated, but with minor losses.

  • In 626, more Jews violate the Agreement, and are driven out.

  • Other battles follow, due to either violation of agreements or assaults on the part of non-believers or Jews.

  • In 628, he travels with 1400 Muslims for pilgrimage to Mecca. Non-believers refuse to let them in, and sign with them a 10-year peace treaty, Hudaibia Pact, in condition of not entering Mecca for 1 year.

  • He marries Safiah, the daughter of a Jew tribe leader, and the relationship with the Jews becomes better.

  • Migrants from south Sudan join Muslims in Medina.

  • He starts sending his messengers (about 10 groups) to Arab tribes around the Arabian Peninsula, and letters to kings of the world to inform them about Islam.

  • In 629, non-believers of Mecca violate the treaty, so he and the Muslims come back to Mecca and enter without resistance. He forgives all his enemies, and many people become Muslims.

  • Settlement of Islam in Mecca. Delegations from Arabian tribes announce becoming Muslims. He sends groups of educated Muslims to teach newly converted people about Islam.

  • In 632, he performs the last pilgrimage. He gives his famous speech, which contains some of his final recommendations. After his pilgrimage he starts feeling ill, and dies in the same year, Aisha's arms.

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