Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca around 570. Orphaned at six, he was raised by his uncle. Muhammad worked as a merchant and became known for his trustworthiness.
When he was twenty-five, he married Khadija, a wealthy widow whose status elevated Muhammad's position in Meccan society. They had four daughters and two sons, both of whom died in infancy. Fifteen years late, he saw visions and heard mysterious voices. He sought solitude in a cave on the outskirts of Mecca. One night during Ramadan an angel appeared to him and gave him a prophecy.
Muhammad, fearing that he was being attacked by an evil spirit, fled down the mountain. The voice called after him, "O Muhammad, you are the messenger of God, and I am the Angel Gabriel." More revelations followed about the one true God. Eventually, the angel told Muhammad to begin proclaiming God's message.
Muhammad began to attract followers, mostly young and of lower social standing. Muhammad began to speak against traditional polytheism. The city of Mecca was protected by a pantheon of gods and goddesses. The powerful merchants of Mecca realized that Muhammad’s message bad for business, so they persecuted Muhammad and his followers.
Muhammad's position in Mecca became hopeless when Khadija and his uncle died. The local rulers of Mecca forced Muhammad and his followers to leave the city. They settled in the oasis of Yathrib.
For the first time in Arabia, a community was bound by their shared belief in the one true God instead of by clan or tribe. This date became the first year of their new era. Yathrib was renamed Medina, "the city [of the Prophet]."
Muhammad lived there for ten years, gaining many converts. Muhammad tried without success to attract the Jews. Mecca later became the center of Islam.
In 628, Muhammad negotiated a truce with Mecca, to which he later returned as a pilgrim. When one of his followers was murdered, he attacked Mecca, and the city surrendered. Muhammad demanded that the Meccans destroy the pagan idols around the Kaaba. Muhammad died suddenly in 632.
Muslims revere Muhammad as the embodiment of the perfect believer, and they model his actions and sayings. They believe that Muhammad was a mortal, with extraordinary qualities.
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