Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him)

Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) is the final Messenger of Allah to all humankind. He is also the only Prophet to be sent to all humankind, as all the other Prophets were sent to their respective nations. He was born in 569 CE at Makkah and left his earthly abode in 632 AD. At the age of forty, Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was anointed to the station of Prophethood. The Qur'an is the Divine Revelation sent to Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) by Allah, through the angel Jibril. The real greatness of the Prophet Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) lies in the fact that the societal changes brought about by him were of an abiding nature. He was not only a conqueror, but also the progenitor of a new civilization and a new culture. His methodology was to preach to people through the Qur'an, then of those who responded, he would again use the Qur'an to purify their soul and thought-processes. The Prophet's discourses were brief and almost always consisted of reciting the Qur'anic verses, which his audience had little difficulty in comprehending since their mother tongue was Arabic. The miraculous nature of Muhammad's (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) Prophetic mission and near-bloodless revolution is summed up as follows: "In all these "wars," extending over a period of ten years, the non-Muslims lost on the battlefield only about 250 persons killed, and the Muslim losses were even less. With these few incisions, the whole continent of Arabia, with its million and more of square miles, was cured of the abscess of anarchy and immorality. During these ten years of disinterested struggle, all the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and the southern regions of Iraq and Palestine had voluntarily embraced Islam. Some Christian, Jewish and Parsi groups remained attached to their creeds, and they were granted liberty of conscience as well as judicial and juridical autonomy." Prophet Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) is one of the five chosen Messengers of Allah, as stated in the Qur'an: The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him). (42:13) The meaning of the word 'Muhammad' in Arabic is 'the one who is much praised'. Even those who do not accept Muhammad pbuh as a Prophet attest to the fact that he was much ahead of his time and an exemplar of good conduct, and a genius in statesmanship, humaneness and administration.


He was born into a noble family of the tribe of Quraysh in Makkah. The Quraysh were direct descendants of the Prophet Ismail. The parents of the Prophet were Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib and Amina. However, his father died before his birth, and his mother also expired not too long afterwards. The Prophet Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was therefore raised first by his grandfather, and upon Abdul Muttalib's death, by his (the Prophet's) paternal uncle, Abu Talib. As was customary for Arab children of that period, the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was also sent to the desert of the Hijaz region where he was reared by Halima, a Bedouin lady.

Early life

Abu Talib was a renowned man but short of resources and hardly able to provide for his family. The young Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) had therefore to start immediately to earn his livelihood; he served as a shepherd boy to some neighbours. There are references to Abi Talib having set up a shop in Makkah. It is possible that Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) helped him in this enterprise also.

By the time he was twenty-five, Muhammad (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) had become well known in the city for the integrity of his disposition and the honesty of his character. Even before Prophethood, he came to be called as Al-Sadiq Al-Ameen (The Truthful and the Trustworthy).

A rich widow, Khadijah, took him in her employ and consigned to him her goods to be taken for sale to Syria. Delighted with the unusual profits she obtained as also by the personal charms of her agent, she offered him her hand. According to divergent reports, she was either 28 or 40 years of age at that time. The union proved happy. Ali, the son of Abu Talib was also brought up in the household of the Prophet, as was Zaid bin Harithah, the freed slave of the Prophet.

Later, we see him sometimes in the fair of Hubashah (Yemen), and at least once in the country of the 'Abd al-Qais (Bahrain-Oman).

There is also mention of a commercial partner of Muhammad pbuh at Makkah. This person, Sa'ib by name reports: "We relayed each other; if Muhammad led the caravan, he did not enter his house on his return to Makkah without clearing accounts with me; and if I led the caravan, he would on my return enquire about my welfare and speak nothing about his own capital entrusted to me."

It is also reported that the Prophet pbuh joined an order of chivalry called Hilf al-fudul, the aim and object of which was to aid the oppressed in Makkah, irrespective of their being dwellers of the city or aliens. Later in life he used to say: "I have participated in it, and I am not prepared to give up that privilege even against a herd of camels; if somebody should appeal to me even today, by virtue of that pledge, I shall hurry to his help."

Not much is known about the religious practices of Muhammad pbuh until he was thirty-five years old, except that he had never worshipped idols. This is substantiated by all his biographers.

Reconstruction of the Ka'bah

During the reconstruction of the Ka'bah in 605 CE, Muhammad's pbuh shoulders were injured in the course of transporting stones. To identify the place whence the ritual of circumambulation began, there had been set a black stone in the wall of the Ka'bah, dating probably from the time of Abraham himself. There was rivalry among the citizens for obtaining the honour of transposing this stone in its place. When there was danger of blood being shed, somebody suggested leaving the matter to Providence, and accepting the arbitration of him who should happen to arrive there first. It chanced that Muhammad just then turned up there for work as usual and everyone accepted his arbitration without hesitation. Muhammad placed a sheet of cloth on the ground, put the stone on it and asked the chiefs of all the tribes in the city to lift together the cloth. Then he himself placed the stone in its proper place, in one of the angles of the building, and everybody was satisfied.

It is from this moment that we find Muhammad becoming more and more absorbed in spiritual meditations. Like his grandfather, he used to retire during the whole month of Ramadan to a cave in Jabal-an-Nur (mountain of light). The cave is called `Ghar-i-Hira' or the cave of research. There he prayed, meditated, and shared his meagre provisions with the travellers who happened to pass by

Prophethood and life in Makkah

He was forty years old, and it was the fifth consecutive year since his annual retreats, when one night towards the end of the month of Ramadan, an angel came to visit him, and announced that God had chosen him as His messenger to all mankind. The angel taught him the mode of ablutions, the way of worshipping God and the conduct of prayer. He communicated to him the following Divine message:

With the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Read: with the name of thy Lord Who created, Created man from what clings, Read: and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not. (Qur'an 96:1-5)

Deeply affected, he returned home and related to his wife what had happened, expressing his fears that it might have been something diabolic or the action of evil spirits. She consoled him, saying that he had always been a man of charity and generosity, helping the poor, the orphans, the widows and the needy, and assured him that Allah would protect him against all evil.

Then, came a pause in revelation extending over three years. The Prophet must have felt at first a shock, then calm, an ardent desire, and after a period of waiting, a growing impatience or nostalgia. The news of the first vision had spread and at the pause the sceptics in the city had begun to mock at him and cut bitter jokes. They went so far as to say that God had forsaken him. During the three years of waiting. The Prophet had given himself up more and more to prayers and to spiritual practices. The revelations were then resumed and Allah assured him that He had not at all forsaken him: on the contrary it was He Who had guided him to the right path: therefore he should take care of the orphans and the destitute, and proclaim the bounty of God on him. This was in reality an order to preach.

Another revelation directed him to warn people against evil practices, to exhort them to worship none but the One God and to abandon everything that would displease God. Yet another revelation commanded him to warn his own near relatives; and: "Proclaim openly that which thou art commanded, and withdraw from the Associators (idolaters). Lo! We defend thee from the scoffers" (Qur'an 15:94-5).

The Prophet began by preaching his mission secretly first among his intimate friends, then among the members of his own tribe and thereafter publicly in the city and suburbs. He insisted on the belief in One Transcendent God, in Resurrection and the Last Judgement. He invited men to charity and beneficence. He took necessary steps to preserve through writing the revelations he was receiving, and ordered his adherents also to learn them by heart. This continued all through his life, since the Quran was not revealed all at once, but in fragments as occasions arose.

The number of his adherents increased very gradually, but with the denunciation of paganism, the opposition also grew intense on the part of those who were firmly attached to their ancestral beliefs. This opposition degenerated in the course of time into physical torture of the Prophet and of those who had embraced his religion. These were stretched on burning sands, cauterized with red hot iron and imprisoned with chains on their feet. Some of them died of the effects of torture, but none would renounce his religion. In despair, the Prophet Muhammad advised his companions to quit their native town and take refuge abroad, in Abyssinia, "where governs a just ruler, in whose realm nobody is oppressed". Dozens of Muslims profited by his advice, though not all. These secret flights led to further persecution of those who remained behind

The real test of the Prophet's character was that his close associates, family and tribe became his inveterate enemy due to his preaching. He was called a Majnun (one possessed with the spirits) by the very same people who once respected him. Inducements were offered to him in order to resist from his mission, all to no avail.

Social Boycott and Ascension to the Heavens

When a large number of the Makkahn Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, the leaders of paganism sent an ultimatum to the tribe of the Prophet, demanding that he should be excommunicated and outlawed and delivered to the pagans for being put to death. Every member of the tribe, Muslim and non-Muslim rejected the demand. Thereupon the city decided on a complete boycott of the tribe: Nobody was to talk to them or have commercial or matrimonial relations with them. The group of Arab tribes called Ahabish, inhabiting the suburbs, who were allies of the Makkahns, also joined in the boycott, causing stark misery among the innocent victims consisting of children, men and women, the old and the sick and the feeble. Some of them succumbed yet nobody would hand over the Prophet to his persecutors. An uncle of the Prophet, Abu Lahab, however left his tribesmen and participated in the boycott along with the pagans. After three dire years, during which the victims were obliged to devour even crushed hides, four or five non-Muslims, more humane than the rest and belonging to different clans proclaimed publicly their denunciation of the unjust boycott. At the same time, the document promulgating the pact of boycott which had been hung in the temple, was found, as Muhammad had predicted, eaten by white ants, that spared nothing but the words God and Muhammad. 

The boycott was lifted, yet owing to the privations that were undergone the wife and Abu Talib, the chief of the tribe and uncle of the Prophet died soon after. Another uncle of the Prophet, Abu-Lahab, who was an inveterate enemy of Islam, now succeeded to the headship of the tribe

It was at this time that the Prophet Muhammad was granted the mi'raj (ascension): He saw in a vision that he was received on heaven by God, and was witness of the marvels of the celestial regions. Returning, he brought for his community, as a Divine gift, the ritual prayer of Islam, the Salah, which constitutes a sort of communion between man and God

The news of this celestial meeting led to an increase in the hostility of the pagans of Makkah; and the Prophet was obliged to quit his native town in search of an asylum elsewhere. He went to his maternal uncles in Ta'if, but returned immediately to Makkah, as the wicked people of that town chased the Prophet out of their city by pelting stones on him and wounding him.

Migration to Madinah

The annual pilgrimage of the Ka'bah brought to Makkah people from all parts of Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad tried to persuade one tribe after another to afford him shelter and allow him to carry on his mission of reform. The contingents of fifteen tribes, whom he approached in succession, refused to do so more or less brutally, but he did not despair. Finally he met half a dozen inhabitants of Madinah who being neighbour of the Jews and the Christians had some notion of prophets and Divine messages. They knew also that these "people of the Books" were awaiting the arrival of a prophet - a last comforter.

So these Madinans decided not to lose the opportunity of obtaining an advance over others, and forthwith embraced Islam, promising further to provide additional adherents and necessary help from Madinah. The following year a dozen new Madinans took the oath of allegiance to him and requested him to provide with a missionary teacher. The work of the missionary, Mus'ab, proved very successful and he led a contingent of seventy-three new converts to Makkah, at the time of the pilgrimage. These invited the Prophet and his Makkan companions to migrate to their town, and promised to shelter the Prophet and to treat him and his companions as their own kith and kin. Secretly and in small groups, the greater part of the Muslims emigrated to Madinah. Upon this the pagans of Makkah not only confiscated the property of the evacuees, but devised a plot to assassinate the Prophet. It became now impossible for him to remain at home. It is worthy of mention, that in spite of their hostility to his mission, the pagans had unbounded confidence in his probity, so much so that many of them used to deposit their savings with him. The Prophet Muhammad now entrusted all these deposits to his cousin 'Ali, with instructions to return in due course to the rightful owners. He then left the town secretly in the company of his faithful friend, Abu-Bakr. After several adventures, they succeeded in reaching Madinah in safety. This happened in 622, whence starts the Hijrah calendar.

The Islamic state

For the better rehabilitation of the displaced immigrants, the Prophet created a fraternization between them and an equal number of well-to-do Madinans. The families of each pair of the contractual brothers worked together to earn their livelihood, and aided one another in the business of life. Further, the Madinian tribes of Aus and Khazraj too ended their disputes with the arrival of the Prophet in the city.

Further he thought that the development of the man as a whole would be better achieved if he co-ordinated religion and politics as two constituent parts of one whole. To this end he invited the representatives of the Muslims as well as the non-Muslim inhabitants of the region: Arabs, Jews, Christians and others, and suggested the establishment of a City-State in Madinah. With their assent, he endowed the city with a written constitution - the first of its kind in the world - in which he defined the duties and rights both of the citizens and the head of the State - the Prophet Muhammad was unanimously hailed as such - and abolished the customary private justice. The administration of justice became henceforward the concern of the central organisation of the community of the citizens. The document laid down principles of defence and foreign policy: it organized a system of social insurance, called ma'aqil, in cases of too heavy obligations. It recognized that the Prophet Muhammad would have the final word in all differences, and that there was no limit to his power of legislation. It recognized also explicitly liberty of religion, particularly for the Jews, to whom the constitutional act afforded equality with Muslims in all that concerned life in this world.

Muhammad journeyed several times with a view to win the neighbouring tribes and to conclude with them treaties of alliance and mutual help. With their help, he decided to bring to bear economic pressure on the Makkahn pagans, who had confiscated the property of the Muslim evacuees and also caused innumerable damage. Obstruction in the way of the Makkahn caravans and their passage through the Madinan region exasperated the pagans, and a bloody struggle ensued

In the concern for the material interests of the community, the spiritual aspect was never neglected. Hardly a year had passed after the migration to Madinah, when the most rigorous of spiritual disciplines, the fasting for the whole month of Ramadan every year, was imposed on every adult Muslim, man and woman.

Battles of the Prophet

Not content with the expulsion of the Muslim compatriots, the Makkans sent an ultimatum to the Madinans, demanding the surrender or at least the expulsion of Muhammad and his companions but evidently all such efforts proved in vain. A few months later, in the year 2 H., they sent a powerful army against the Prophet, who opposed them at Badr; and the pagans thrice as numerous as the Muslims, were routed. After a year of preparation, the Makkans again invaded Madinah to avenge the defeat of Badr. They were now four times as numerous as the Muslims. After a bloody encounter at Uhud, the enemy retired, the issue being indecisive. The mercenaries in the Makkan army did not want to take too much risk, or endanger their safety.

Not content with the expulsion of the Muslim compatriots, the Makkans sent an ultimatum to the Madinans, demanding the surrender or at least the expulsion of Muhammad and his companions but evidently all such efforts proved in vain. A few months later, in the year 2 H., they sent a powerful army against the Prophet, who opposed them at Badr; and the pagans thrice as numerous as the Muslims, were routed. After a year of preparation, the Makkans again invaded Madinah to avenge the defeat of Badr. They were now four times as numerous as the Muslims. After a bloody encounter at Uhud, the enemy retired, the issue being indecisive. The mercenaries in the Makkan army did not want to take too much risk, or endanger their safety.

The Muslims prepared for a siege, and dug a ditch to defend themselves against this hardest of all trials. Although the defection of the Jews still remaining inside Madinah at a later stage upset all strategy, yet with a sagacious diplomacy, the Prophet succeeded in breaking up the alliance, and the different enemy groups retired one after the other. Alcoholic drinks, gambling and games of chance were at this time declared forbidden for the Muslims.

The Orientals myth of blood-thirsty Muslim warriors plundering and subjugating people to Islam is a false account as almost always the Muslims fought against heavy odds, and their emaciated bodies withstood the fatigue of boycott and war only due to their strong faith. The mission of the Prophet Pbuh was true and hence it succeeded in establishing the ideal Islamic society. Muhammad (PBUH) used this as his seal when sending letters to kings and rulers

Relationship with the Qur'an

The Qur'an and the biography of the Prophet Pbuh move in tandem with each other, as the Qur'an was revealed through the Prophet pbuh, and conversely, the Prophet's pbuh life was an exact replica of the Qur'an. Besides this, the Prophet pbuh is mentioned in the Qur'an by name four times, as follows:

Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messenger that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then Turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude. (3:144)

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things. (33:40)

But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad - for it is the Truth from their Lord, - He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition. (47:2)

Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. (48:29)

Treaty of Hudaybiya and conquest of Makkah

The Prophet tried once more to reconcile the Makkans and proceeded to Makkah. The barring of the route of their Northern caravans had ruined their economy. The Prophet promised them transit security, extradition of their fugitives and the fulfillment of every condition they desired, agreeing even to return to Madinah without accomplishing the pilgrimage of the Ka'bah.

Thereupon the two contracting parties promised at Hudaibiyah in the suburbs of Makkah, not only the maintenance of peace, but also the observance of neutrality in their conflicts with third parties.

Profiting by the peace, the Prophet launched an intensive programme for the propagation of his religion. He addressed missionary letters to the foreign rulers of Byzantium, Iran, Abyssinia and other lands. The Byzantine autocrat priest - Dughatur of the Arabs - embraced Islam, but for this, was lynched by the Christian mob; the prefect of Ma'an (Palestine) suffered the same fate, and was decapitated and crucified by order of the emperor.

A Muslim ambassador was assassinated in Syria-Palestine; and instead of punishing the culprit, the emperor Heraclius rushed with his armies to protect him against the punitive expedition sent by the Prophet (battle of Mu'tah).

The pagans of Makkah hoping to profit by the Muslim difficulties, violated the terms of their treaty. Upon this, the Prophet himself led an army, ten thousand strong, and surprised Makkah which he occupied in a bloodless manner

As a benevolent conqueror, he caused the vanquished people to assemble, reminded them of their ill deeds, their religious persecution, unjust confiscation of the evacuee property, ceaseless invasions and senseless hostilities for twenty years continuously. He asked them: "Now what do you expect of me?" When everybody lowered his head with shame, the Prophet proclaimed: "May God pardon you; go in peace; there shall be no responsibility on you today; you are free!" He even renounced the claim for the Muslim property confiscated by the pagans. This produced a great psychological change of hearts instantaneously. When a Makkan chief advanced with a fulsome heart towards the Prophet, after hearing this general amnesty, in order to declare his acceptance of Islam, the Prophet told him: "And in my turn, I appoint you the governor of Makkah!" Without leaving a single soldier in the conquered city, the Prophet retired to Madinah. The Islamisation of Makkah, which was accomplished in a few hours, was complete.

Wives and Children

The family of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) lived in extreme penury. Many of his family died before his eyes, and they often suffered persecution on account of their Islam. The Prophet's many marriages ended the stigma attached to divorced and widowed women. He gladly accepted and cared for the children of his wives from previous husbands.


Historians agree that eleven ladies had the honour of being wives of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). They are referred to as Ummahat-ul-Mumineen (Mothers of the Believers)

At Makkah

Hafsah - she was the daughter of Umar, the close Companion of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him).

Zainab bint Khusaimah - also known as Umm-ul-Masakin (Mother of the Poor) for her liberal spending in the way of the poor. She was the second wife of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) to die in his lifetime

Umme Salmah - She was a widow with four children, and was the last of the Prophet's wives to die, in 62 AH. She was famous for her beauty. Her son Salmah served as guardian to give her in marriage to the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). This marriage was conducted after the death of Zainab bint Khusaimah.

Zainab bint Jahsh - She was a cousin of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) and also the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zayd bin Harithah. She was proud of the fact that her marriage was sanctioned by Allah Himself in the Qur'an (in Surah Al-Ahzab). She was thirty-five at the time she came into the Prophet's (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) household. She was the first wife of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) to die after his death.

Juwairiah bint ul Haris - She was famous for her beauty, and daughter of a tribal chief. She was taken captive in battle, and the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) paid her ransom himself. As a consequence of the marriage, a large number of her tribesmen accepted Islam

Umme Habibah - She was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, chief of the Quraysh. Since she was in Abysinnia when the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) sent her the marriage proposal, her Nikah was conducted by King Negus, who himself sent her to Madinah with gifts.

Safiyyah - She was a direct descendant of Prophet Harun. She was also captured in battle, and the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) paid her ransom, and set her free. However, on her request, the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) married her. She was seventeen years old then, and the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was her third husband.

Maimoonah- She was an extremely pious lady whom the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) married when he was going to perform Umrah to Makkah.

Mariah - She was a Coptic slave who was gifted to the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) by King Negus. She bore his son Ibrahim.


Qasim, born before Prophethood, died at the age of two

Abdullah, born after Prophethood, died young. On his death, Surah Al-Kauthar was revealed. He was also called Tayyab and Tahir.

Ibrahim - born in 8 AH and died in 10 AH. The Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was much grieved by his death.

Zainab - The eldest daughter of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) born five years after his marriage to Khadijah, when he was thirty. She was wounded by the Quraysh and died of the same illness in 8 AH.

Ruqayyah - She was born when the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was thirty-three. She was first married to Utbah, son of Abu Lahab, who divorced her, and then she came to be married to Uthman, the Companion of the Prophet. She died when the Battle of Badr was taking place, and the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) could not be present at her burial.

Umme Kulthum - She was married to Utaibah, another son of Abu Lahab, and was divorced by him (both Ruqayyah and Umme Kulthum had not yet begun living with their husbands when they were divorced). After the death of Ruqayyah, she was married to Uthman. She died in 9 AH

Fatimah - She was the youngest and most beloved daughter of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). She was born when the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) was forty-one (i.e.- the first year of Prophethood), and he gave her the glad tidings of being 'the leader of ladies in Paradise'. She was also called Az-Zahra (The Illumined One). She was married to Ali, the cousin of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). She died six months after the Prophet's (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) death. The progeny of the Prophet (Blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) continued through her sons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn.

Farewell Sermon

In the year 10 H., when the Prophet went to Makkah for Hajj (pilgrimage), he met 140,000 Muslims there, who had come from different parts of Arabia to fulfil their religious obligation. He addressed to them his celebrated sermon, in which he gave a resume of his teachings:

Belief in One God without images or symbols, equality of all the Believers without distinction of race or class, the superiority of individuals being based solely on piety; sanctity of life, property and honour; abolition of interest, and of vendettas and private justice; better treatment of women; obligatory inheritance and distribution of the property of deceased persons among near relatives of both sexes, and removal of the possibility of the cumulation of wealth in the hands of the few. Thus, the Prophet made the people witness that he had faithfully discharged his ordained mission. Accordingly, the Qur'anic revelation:

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (Qur'an 5:3)

It is remarkable that in the first decade of the Prophet's preaching only a few hundred souls had accepted Islam. Yet, in the next decade, all of Arabia became the home of Islam.

Character of the Prophet

The genius of the Prophet's mission is reflected in his egalitarian treatment of children, women, slaves and the blacks.

Bilal Habashi, a Black Companion of the Prophet pbuh, was asked to climb over the Ka'aba and call out the Athan (call to prayer) from atop. By one stroke, the Prophet elevated the status of blacks and demonstrated that the Ka'aba's veneration stems from its being the House of Allah, and not due to any other reason.

We have already read how the Prophet married Zainab bint Jahsh, the divorced wife of his freed slave, Zaid. He had adopted Zaid as his son. This again put an end to misconceived notions of superiority in the tribal culture of seventh century Arabia.

Further, the Prophet often used to play with his wife Aishah, who enjoyed amusements and had a variety of dolls. There are accounts of him racing with her for fun.

Imam Hasan and Husayn, the grandchildren of the Prophet, as well as other kids, often used to ride on his back when he was prostrating on the ground during prayer.

He often named his Companions humorously - for example, Abu Hurayrah (father of the cat) was called so because of a pet cat he kept. All of these show the genuine sincerity and humane spirit of the Prophet.

Legacy of the Prophet

On his return to Madinah, he fell ill; and a few weeks later, when he breathed his last, he had the satisfaction that he had well accomplished the task which he had undertaken - to preach to the world the Divine message. The Qur'an alludes to the fact that the Prophet was a special favour of Allah for all humanity: A similar (favour have ye already received) in that We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our Signs, and sanctifying you, and instructing you in Scripture and Wisdom, and in new knowledge. (2:151)

He bequeathed to posterity, a religion of pure monotheism; he created a well-disciplined State out of the existent chaos and gave peace in place of the war of everybody against everybody else; he established a harmonious equilibrium between the spiritual and the temporal, between the mosque and the citadel; he left a new system of law, which dispensed impartial justice, in which even the head of the State was as much a subject to it as any commoner, and in which religious tolerance was so great that non-Muslim inhabitants of Muslim countries equally enjoyed complete juridical, judicial and cultural autonomy. In the matter of the revenues of the State, the Quran fixed the principles of budgeting, and paid more thought to the poor than to anybody else. The revenues were declared to be in no wise the private property of the head of the State. Above all, the Prophet Muhammad set a noble example and fully practised all that he taught to others. His wife Aishah when asked about the conduct of the Prophet, answered back: "Have you not read the Qur'an?" - The Prophet pbuh was a living exemplar of the highest moral principles as outlined in the Holy Qur'an.

The Prophet's mission stands out in history as a remarkable chapter that united the warring desert tribes of Arabia under the banner of monotheism, which then went on to demolish the reigning superpowers of the world, viz, the Roman and Persian Empires in a short span of time. The area chosen for his mission, viz, the Middle East is also near about the centre of global civilization, and his revolution also marks the inauguration of the age of reason and knowledge, and an end to all sorts of superstitions. In all matters, the Prophet chose the path of moderation- thus, we see that Islam is neither all philosophy nor all science but also gives us the gift of inductive logic, as it encourages the believers to think and reason.

Sunnah and Hadith

The Sunnah is the conduct of the Prophet, which all Muslims are obliged to follow as per the Qur'anic directive:

Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. (Qur'an 33:21)

The merciful nature of the Prophet is given by the Qur'anic verse: We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. (Qur'an 21:107) Hadith comprises the collected sayings of the Prophet, which were authenticated by Muslim scholars with painstaking effort. Apart from the Qur'an, the Hadith and Sunnah are the main sources of Islamic law.

Finality of Prophethood

The culmination of the Prophethood in the person of Muhammad (pbuh) is also seen as an outcome of the prayer by Prophet Ibrahim: And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: "I will make thee an Imam to the Nations." He pleaded: "And also (Imams) from my offspring!" He answered: "But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers." (Qur'an 2:124)

And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah! He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help! (Qur'an 22:78)

Iqbal the poet-philosopher of the Indian subcontinent, tries to explain the finality of Prophethood in these words: "The Prophet of Islam seems to stand between the ancient and the modern world. In so far as the source of his revelation is concerned he belongs to the ancient world; in so far as the spirit of his revelation is concerned he belongs to the modern world. In him life discovers other sources of knowledge suitable to its new direction. The birth of Islam is the birth of inductive intellect. In Islam prophesy reaches its perfection in discovering the need of its own abolition. This involves the keen perception that life cannot forever be kept in leading strings; that, in order to achieve full self consciousness, man must finally be thrown back to his own resources. The abolition of priesthood and hereditary kingship in Islam, the constant appeal to reason and experience in the Qur’an, and the emphasis that it lays on Nature and History as sources of knowledge, are all different aspects of the same idea of finality (of prophethood)." [21] As Muhammad pbuh is the Seal of the Prophets, obedience to his commands is part of obeying Allah, and necessary for redemption in both the worlds: And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. (Qur'an 3:132)