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I think my translation of such language was ultimately guided by my own experiences as a reader of the Arabic text. My desire was to make the type of fulsome reading experience as one gets from reading the Arabic as directly available as possible for the readers of the text in English translation. Is this true of other Western languages? Do you attribute it to scarce source material or something else? The guild of historians working on this material is also quite small, comparatively speaking. The volumes they compiled occupy several bookshelves in my office and many times more at a well-stocked research library.

There are also far fewer scholars working on early Islam than there are working on early Christianity in the Western academy. Our guild can, however, boast of a few masterful, short monographs written by some of the most competent scholars in the field.

Stephen J. Shoemaker

My students are usually very fond of J. The tendency in both contemporary sources and modern histories is thus to treat the history of Persia during this period as part of some larger field e. Texts important for the former purpose typically contain much material not relevant to Persia per se , while those dealing with the latter rarely relate provincial and regional material to the larger context of all Persia. Ideally, a survey article would deal with both the historiography of a period and the historiography about a period, but that is not practical in this case.

One would not only have to discuss virtually the entire vast corpus of medieval Islamic historical literature, but a wide range of non-Muslim sources and the growing body of modern historical studies on medieval Persian and Islamic history as well. Conversely, there are cases of works which were written during the pre-Mongol period and within the Persian world but which do not deal at all with Persia or with the period itself e. Finally, historical information, sometimes in very substantial and significant quantity, is preserved in a variety of works, ranging from poetry and literary anthologies to collections ofhistorical anecdotes and curious information to biographical dictionaries to geographies to hagiographies and heresiographies.

For detailed descriptions of individual authors or works, readers should refer to the appropriate entry elsewhere in the EIr. The historiography, like the history, of the first two centuries of the Islamic era is extremely difficult to assess because of both its obscurity and its contentiousness. Indeed, the first century A. When Islamic historical composition appeared, it was a mixed literary and oral historical tradition, and very little of it has survived except in the way of quotations or recensions by later authors that may or may not be all that faithful to the original sources.

Beyond that, this historiography is rife with problems in terms of understanding its origins, methods of composition, motivations, purposes, credibility, interpretation, and usefulness. While recent decades have seen notable efforts by various scholars to come to grip with these problems, the results to date have been somewhat inconclusive and often contradictory for general discussions of early Islamic historiography, see in particular Duri, ; Humphreys, ; Crone, ; Noth, ; Donner, ; Robinson, From the lists of authors and titles preserved by contemporary bibliographers, notably Ebn al-Nadim q.

Although much of this lore became incorporated into the subsequent mainstream of Islamic historiography, it is obvious that it had little or nothing to do with Persia or Persian affairs except in tangential ways, such as when the history of pre-Islamic Arabia intersected with Persian history in the Yemen and at Hira or in accounts of the Arab conquests. Ebn Kalbi, for example, was primarily an expert on Arab genealogy and Arabian paganism, but he is frequently cited by later historians as an authority on Sasanian history e.

Some works were no doubt devoted specifically to the history of Khurasan and other parts of Persia, but these have either been lost or are of dubious authenticity e. This early historiography also had something of a Persian dimension to it in that a number of the authors involved were of Persian ancestry or came from Arab families that had spent some time in Persia.

Probably the most important writer in this regard was Wahb b. Monabbeh d. The interest of early Muslim historians in Jewish and Arabian antiquities and comparative chronology, which is already quite apparent in material attributed to Wahb or Ebn Kalbi, inevitably led to more direct consideration of ancient Persian history, either to integrate it into the Islamic narrative or as the source of object lessons in statecraft. This tendency was present even early in the Omayyad period, as it is reported by Ebn al-Nadim tr.

Dodge, I, p. Although some of his essays have been preserved and are important as historical sources , these works, unfortunately, have all been lost save for fragments cited by other authors notably Ebn Qotayba, q. Its interests also expanded from antiquarianism to the events and controversies which had shaped the Muslim polity: the wars of expansion, the settlement of Arab tribes in the conquered territories,and above all the civil wars and religio-political disputes over the caliphate.

Their works are now largely lost, but they provided the raw material for subsequent histories, where they are quoted extensively and from which it is possible to reconstruct and study, albeit rather inconclusively, their historiographical significance see survey in Humphreys, , pp. He was reputedly the author of more than two hundred books, only two of which have survived apart from copious quotations and excerpts in other authors.

Dodge, p. Moslem, Asad b. Sharon, pp. For purposes of discussion, but at the risk of some over-simplification, this historiography can be divided into three basic sub-genres, each of which was written for fairly discrete audiences and tied to a rather characteristic worldview. A third relied on coherent narratives, usually arranged in accordance with a system of dynastic cycles, and tended to reflect the attitudes of the cosmopolitan, cultured bureaucracy of the Abbasid court.

According to Ebn al-Nadim tr. Insofar as Persia figures into this, it is simply as an arena for the display of Arab prowess. Perhaps written with an eye on the practical and legal needs of the administrative class, it frequently discusses economic and social aspects of the early Islamic history of Persia not dealt with in other texts and is thus of great value to modern historians in that regard. Long thought to have been lost, and published in its entirety relatively recently Haydarabad, Deccan, , this work has been neglected to a remarkable degree in modern scholarship note the dismissive comments of Morony, p.

Togan, ; idem, The entries for the Umayyad period are relatively detailed and naturally contain some information pertinent to the history of Persia during that time, but those for the Abbasid period are so terse as to be of little use. This short chronographical section is of little significance for any topic, and virtually none at all for Persia.

His historical work, no less than his celebrated commentary on the Koran, was thoroughly religious in conception and method. It begins with the story of the creation of the world and the ancient prophets and kings. Historiographically, however, it is disappointing in many respects. The manuscript tradition is quite weak probably because of the difficulty and expense of making copies of such a voluminous work , and it is likely that the received text, pieced together from scattered manuscripts, is a rather imperfect copy of the original. His choice of sources is also at times highly questionable—he relies almost completely, for example, on the controversial Sayf b.

VII, p. It might better be described as a book whose chief theme is the inter-connectedness of Arab and Persian history: In its pre-Islamic section, the author is particularly concerned with the ethnogenesis of these peoples and juxtaposes stories about their various kings and prophets along with accounts of their relations with each other.


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Beirut, I, p. It should not be surprising that these changes would have important consequences for the writing of history; what is remarkable is the extent to which they actually expanded, enriched, and enlivened an increasingly sophisticated historiography. It is during this period that one can point more frequently to works which are genuine histories of at least part of Persia and, significantly, the beginning of a historiographical tradition in the Persian language.

Its emphasis on the philosophical and ethical aspects of the study of history, coupled with concern for the literary quality of its presentation, anticipated trends that would be of increasing importance in the development of Islamic historiography. The excellence of the Persians lay in statecraft, and therefore the study of their rulers, social structure, and administrative techniques was of particular importance Khalidi, , pp.

The Buyid Period. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of understanding the rise and fall of dynasties, methods of government, and the examples of earlier rulers for good or bad. Despite the annalistic form, it was not a linear history, but a cyclical one whose events, as Miskawayh explicitly noted, could be expected to recur, and thus one could profit from knowing which policies, stratagems, ruses, plots, and acts would yield a desired result—a surprisingly pragmatic, if not outright Machiavellian, attitude in a writer who was otherwise so interested in ethical philosophy.

Muhammad Sabir Khan, Karachi, ; on the author and text, see Madelung, It might best be described as a comparative calendrical history of various nations; it scarcely has a narrative, being mostly strung-together lists of rulers, dates, and odd events. Although the work was lost, this sira was used at great length by Ibn Hisham and to a lesser extent by Al-Tabari.

Many scholars accept these early biographies as authentic, though their accuracy is unascertainable. In the legal group, traditions could have been subject to invention while historic events, aside from exceptional cases, may have been only subject to "tendential shaping". Other important sources include the hadith collections, accounts of the verbal and physical teachings and traditions of Muhammad.

Some Western academics cautiously view the hadith collections as accurate historical sources. The Arabian Peninsula was, and still is, largely arid with volcanic soil, making agriculture difficult except near oases or springs. Towns and cities dotted the landscape; two of the most prominent being Mecca and Medina. Medina was a large flourishing agricultural settlement, while Mecca was an important financial center for many surrounding tribes. Tribal affiliation, whether based on kinship or alliances, was an important source of social cohesion. Nomadic groups constantly traveled seeking water and pasture for their flocks, while the sedentary settled and focused on trade and agriculture.

Nomadic survival also depended on raiding caravans or oases; nomads did not view this as a crime. In pre-Islamic Arabia, gods or goddesses were viewed as protectors of individual tribes, their spirits being associated with sacred trees, stones , springs and wells. As well as being the site of an annual pilgrimage, the Kaaba shrine in Mecca housed idols of tribal patron deities. Monotheistic communities existed in Arabia, including Christians and Jews. The second half of the sixth century was a period of political disorder in Arabia and communication routes were no longer secure.

During the early years of Muhammad's life, the Quraysh tribe he belonged to became a dominant force in western Arabia. Muhammad's father, Abdullah , died almost six months before he was born. At the age of six, Muhammad lost his biological mother Amina to illness and became an orphan. He then came under the care of his uncle Abu Talib , the new leader of the Banu Hashim. In his teens, Muhammad accompanied his uncle on Syrian trading journeys to gain experience in commercial trade.

Little is known of Muhammad during his later youth, available information is fragmented, making it difficult to separate history from legend. Muhammad consented to the marriage, which by all accounts was a happy one. Several years later, according to a narration collected by historian Ibn Ishaq , Muhammad was involved with a well-known story about setting the Black Stone in place in the wall of the Kaaba in CE.

The Black Stone, a sacred object, was removed during renovations to the Kaaba. The Meccan leaders could not agree which clan should return the Black Stone to its place. They decided to ask the next man who comes through the gate to make that decision; that man was the year-old Muhammad. This event happened five years before the first revelation by Gabriel to him. He asked for a cloth and laid the Black Stone in its center.

The clan leaders held the corners of the cloth and together carried the Black Stone to the right spot, then Muhammad laid the stone, satisfying the honour of all. Muhammad began to pray alone in a cave named Hira on Mount Jabal al-Nour , near Mecca for several weeks every year. After returning home, Muhammad was consoled and reassured by Khadijah and her Christian cousin, Waraka ibn Nawfal. Sahih Bukhari narrates Muhammad describing his revelations as "sometimes it is revealed like the ringing of a bell".

Aisha reported, "I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead as the Inspiration was over ". Occasionally the Quran did not explicitly refer to Judgment day but provided examples from the history of extinct communities and warns Muhammad's contemporaries of similar calamities Quran — The key themes of the early Quranic verses included the responsibility of man towards his creator; the resurrection of the dead, God's final judgment followed by vivid descriptions of the tortures in Hell and pleasures in Paradise, and the signs of God in all aspects of life.

Religious duties required of the believers at this time were few: belief in God, asking for forgiveness of sins, offering frequent prayers, assisting others particularly those in need, rejecting cheating and the love of wealth considered to be significant in the commercial life of Mecca , being chaste and not committing female infanticide.

According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad's wife Khadija was the first to believe he was a prophet. There were three main groups of early converts to Islam: younger brothers and sons of great merchants; people who had fallen out of the first rank in their tribe or failed to attain it; and the weak, mostly unprotected foreigners. According to Ibn Saad, opposition in Mecca started when Muhammad delivered verses that condemned idol worship and the polytheism practiced by the Meccan forefathers. Muhammad's denunciation of the Meccan traditional religion was especially offensive to his own tribe, the Quraysh , as they were the guardians of the Ka'aba.

He refused both of these offers. Tradition records at great length the persecution and ill-treatment towards Muhammad and his followers.

Bilal , another Muslim slave, was tortured by Umayyah ibn Khalaf who placed a heavy rock on his chest to force his conversion. According to him, most of the Muslims returned to Mecca prior to Hijra , while a second group rejoined them in Medina. Ibn Hisham and Tabari , however, only talk about one migration to Ethiopia. However, there is a completely different story on the reason why the Muslims returned from Ethiopia to Mecca.

According to this account—initially mentioned by Al-Waqidi then rehashed by Ibn Sa'ad and Tabari , but not by Ibn Hisham and not by Ibn Ishaq [] —Muhammad, desperately hoping for an accommodation with his tribe, pronounced a verse acknowledging the existence of three Meccan goddesses considered to be the daughters of Allah. Muhammad retracted the verses the next day at the behest of Gabriel, claiming that the verses were whispered by the devil himself.

Instead, a ridicule of these gods was offered. Notable scholars at the time argued against the historic authenticity of these verses and the story itself on various grounds. The objections continued until rejection of these verses and the story itself eventually became the only acceptable orthodox Muslim position.

In , the leaders of Makhzum and Banu Abd-Shams , two important Quraysh clans, declared a public boycott against Banu Hashim , their commercial rival, to pressure it into withdrawing its protection of Muhammad. The boycott lasted three years but eventually collapsed as it failed in its objective. Islamic tradition states that in , Muhammad experienced the Isra and Mi'raj , a miraculous night-long journey said to have occurred with the angel Gabriel. At the journey's beginning, the Isra , he is said to have traveled from Mecca on a winged steed to "the farthest mosque.

Some western scholars [ who? Muhammad's wife Khadijah and uncle Abu Talib both died in , the year thus being known as the " Year of Sorrow ". Soon afterward, Abu Lahab withdrew the clan's protection over Muhammad. This placed Muhammad in danger; the withdrawal of clan protection implied that blood revenge for his killing would not be exacted. Muhammad then visited Ta'if , another important city in Arabia, and tried to find a protector, but his effort failed and further brought him into physical danger. A Meccan man named Mut'im ibn Adi and the protection of the tribe of Banu Nawfal made it possible for him to safely re-enter his native city.

Many people visited Mecca on business or as pilgrims to the Kaaba. Muhammad took this opportunity to look for a new home for himself and his followers. After several unsuccessful negotiations, he found hope with some men from Yathrib later called Medina. Converts to Islam came from nearly all Arab tribes in Medina; by June of the subsequent year, seventy-five Muslims came to Mecca for pilgrimage and to meet Muhammad.

Meeting him secretly by night, the group made what is known as the " Second Pledge of al-'Aqaba ", or, in Orientalists' view, the " Pledge of War ". As with the migration to Abyssinia , the Quraysh attempted to stop the emigration. However, almost all Muslims managed to leave. In June , warned of a plot to assassinate him, Muhammad secretly slipped out of Mecca and moved his followers to Medina, [] kilometres miles north of Mecca. A delegation, consisting of the representatives of the twelve important clans of Medina, invited Muhammad to serve as chief arbitrator for the entire community; due to his status as a neutral outsider.

Muhammad instructed his followers to emigrate to Medina, until nearly all his followers left Mecca. Being alarmed at the departure, according to tradition, the Meccans plotted to assassinate Muhammad. With the help of Ali , Muhammad fooled the Meccans watching him, and secretly slipped away from the town with Abu Bakr. Those who migrated from Mecca along with Muhammad became known as muhajirun emigrants. Among the first things Muhammad did to ease the longstanding grievances among the tribes of Medina was to draft a document known as the Constitution of Medina , "establishing a kind of alliance or federation" among the eight Medinan tribes and Muslim emigrants from Mecca; this specified rights and duties of all citizens, and the relationship of the different communities in Medina including the Muslim community to other communities, specifically the Jews and other " Peoples of the Book ".

The first group of converts to Islam in Medina were the clans without great leaders; these clans had been subjugated by hostile leaders from outside. According to Ibn Ishaq , this was influenced by the conversion of Sa'd ibn Mu'adh a prominent Medinan leader to Islam. Following the emigration, the people of Mecca seized property of Muslim emigrants to Medina.

Muhammad adjusted to the new direction, and his companions praying with him followed his lead, beginning the tradition of facing Mecca during prayer. In March , Muhammad led some three hundred warriors in a raid on a Meccan merchant caravan. The Muslims set an ambush for the caravan at Badr. A Meccan force was sent to protect the caravan and went on to confront the Muslims upon receiving word that the caravan was safe.

The Battle of Badr commenced. They also succeeded in killing many Meccan leaders, including Abu Jahl. The Quranic verses of this period, unlike the Meccan verses, dealt with practical problems of government and issues like the distribution of spoils. The victory strengthened Muhammad's position in Medina and dispelled earlier doubts among his followers. Pagans who had not yet converted were very bitter about the advance of Islam.

Muhammad expelled from Medina the Banu Qaynuqa , one of three main Jewish tribes, [16] but some historians contend that the expulsion happened after Muhammad's death. The Meccans were eager to avenge their defeat. To maintain economic prosperity, the Meccans needed to restore their prestige, which had been reduced at Badr. A scout alerted Muhammad of the Meccan army's presence and numbers a day later.

The next morning, at the Muslim conference of war, a dispute arose over how best to repel the Meccans. Muhammad and many senior figures suggested it would be safer to fight within Medina and take advantage of the heavily fortified strongholds. Younger Muslims argued that the Meccans were destroying crops, and huddling in the strongholds would destroy Muslim prestige.

Muhammad eventually conceded to the younger Muslims and readied the Muslim force for battle. Muhammad led his force outside to the mountain of Uhud the location of the Meccan camp and fought the Battle of Uhud on 23 March The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims, instead, they marched back to Mecca declaring victory.

The announcement is probably because Muhammad was wounded and thought dead. When they discovered that Muhammad lived, the Meccans did not return due to false information about new forces coming to his aid. The attack had failed to achieve their aim of completely destroying the Muslims. Questions accumulated about the reasons for the loss; Muhammad delivered Quranic verses indicating that the defeat was twofold: partly a punishment for disobedience, partly a test for steadfastness.

Abu Sufyan directed his effort towards another attack on Medina. He gained support from the nomadic tribes to the north and east of Medina; using propaganda about Muhammad's weakness, promises of booty, memories of Quraysh prestige and through bribery. Whenever alliances against Medina were formed, he sent out expeditions to break them up. Al-Ashraf went to Mecca and wrote poems that roused the Meccans' grief, anger and desire for revenge after the Battle of Badr. The rest of their property was claimed by Muhammad in the name of God as it was not gained with bloodshed.

Muhammad surprised various Arab tribes, individually, with overwhelming force, causing his enemies to unite to annihilate him. Muhammad's attempts to prevent a confederation against him were unsuccessful, though he was able to increase his own forces and stopped many potential tribes from joining his enemies. With the help of the exiled Banu Nadir , the Quraysh military leader Abu Sufyan mustered a force of 10, men. Muhammad prepared a force of about 3, men and adopted a form of defense unknown in Arabia at that time; the Muslims dug a trench wherever Medina lay open to cavalry attack.

The idea is credited to a Persian convert to Islam, Salman the Persian. The siege of Medina began on 31 March and lasted two weeks. Although the Meccan forces were swayed by suggestions that Muhammad was sure to be overwhelmed, they desired reassurance in case the confederacy was unable to destroy him. No agreement was reached after prolonged negotiations, partly due to sabotage attempts by Muhammad's scouts. The Banu Qurayza eventually surrendered; according to Ibn Ishaq , all the men apart from a few converts to Islam were beheaded, while the women and children were enslaved.

Arafat and Barakat Ahmad have disputed the accuracy of Ibn Ishaq's narrative. Kister has contradicted [ clarification needed ] the arguments of Arafat and Ahmad. In the siege of Medina, the Meccans exerted the available strength to destroy the Muslim community. The failure resulted in a significant loss of prestige; their trade with Syria vanished.

Aisha was exonerated from accusations when Muhammad announced he had received a revelation confirming Aisha's innocence and directing that charges of adultery be supported by four eyewitnesses sura 24, An-Nur. Although Muhammad had delivered Quranic verses commanding the Hajj , [] the Muslims had not performed it due to Quraysh enmity. In the month of Shawwal , Muhammad ordered his followers to obtain sacrificial animals and to prepare for a pilgrimage umrah to Mecca, saying that God had promised him the fulfillment of this goal in a vision when he was shaving his head after completion of the Hajj.

Muhammad evaded them by taking a more difficult route, enabling his followers to reach al-Hudaybiyya just outside Mecca. Negotiations commenced with emissaries traveling to and from Mecca. While these continued, rumors spread that one of the Muslim negotiators, Uthman bin al-Affan , had been killed by the Quraysh. Muhammad called upon the pilgrims to make a pledge not to flee or to stick with Muhammad, whatever decision he made if the situation descended into war with Mecca.

This pledge became known as the "Pledge of Acceptance" or the " Pledge under the Tree ". News of Uthman's safety allowed for negotiations to continue, and a treaty scheduled to last ten years was eventually signed between the Muslims and Quraysh. Many Muslims were not satisfied with the treaty. However, the Quranic sura " Al-Fath " The Victory Quran —29 assured them that the expedition must be considered a victorious one. These benefits included the requirement of the Meccans to identify Muhammad as an equal, cessation of military activity allowing Medina to gain strength, and the admiration of Meccans who were impressed by the pilgrimage rituals.

After signing the truce, Muhammad assembled an expedition against the Jewish oasis of Khaybar , known as the Battle of Khaybar. This was possibly due to housing the Banu Nadir who were inciting hostilities against Muhammad, or to regain prestige from what appeared as the inconclusive result of the truce of Hudaybiyya. The truce of Hudaybiyyah was enforced for two years. These were: either the Meccans would pay blood money for the slain among the Khuza'ah tribe, they disavow themselves of the Banu Bakr, or they should declare the truce of Hudaybiyyah null.

The Meccans replied that they accepted the last condition. Muhammad began to prepare for a campaign. With minimal casualties, Muhammad seized control of Mecca. Following the conquest of Mecca, Muhammad was alarmed by a military threat from the confederate tribes of Hawazin who were raising an army double the size of Muhammad's. The Banu Hawazin were old enemies of the Meccans. They were joined by the Banu Thaqif inhabiting the city of Ta'if who adopted an anti-Meccan policy due to the decline of the prestige of Meccans.

In the same year, Muhammad organized an attack against northern Arabia because of their previous defeat at the Battle of Mu'tah and reports of hostility adopted against Muslims. With great difficulty he assembled 30, men; half of whom on the second day returned with Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy , untroubled by the damning verses which Muhammad hurled at them. Although Muhammad did not engage with hostile forces at Tabuk, he received the submission of some local chiefs of the region. He also ordered the destruction of any remaining pagan idols in Eastern Arabia. The last city to hold out against the Muslims in Western Arabia was Taif.

Muhammad refused to accept the city's surrender until they agreed to convert to Islam and allowed men to destroy the statue of their goddess Al-Lat. Many bedouins submitted to Muhammad to safeguard against his attacks and to benefit from the spoils of war. Muhammad required a military and political agreement according to which they "acknowledge the suzerainty of Medina, to refrain from attack on the Muslims and their allies, and to pay the Zakat , the Muslim religious levy.

In , at the end of the tenth year after migration to Medina, Muhammad completed his first true Islamic pilgrimage, setting precedent for the annual Great Pilgrimage, known as Hajj. In this sermon, Muhammad advised his followers not to follow certain pre-Islamic customs. For instance, he said a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black any superiority over a white except by piety and good action. Commenting on the vulnerability of women in his society, Muhammad asked his male followers to "be good to women, for they are powerless captives awan in your households. You took them in God's trust, and legitimated your sexual relations with the Word of God, so come to your senses people, and hear my words He addressed the issue of inheritance by forbidding false claims of paternity or of a client relationship to the deceased and forbade his followers to leave their wealth to a testamentary heir.

He also upheld the sacredness of four lunar months in each year. A few months after the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and suffered for several days with fever, head pain, and weakness. He died on Monday, 8 June , in Medina, at the age of 62 or 63, in the house of his wife Aisha. According to Encyclopaedia of Islam , Muhammad's death may be presumed to have been caused by Medinan fever exacerbated by physical and mental fatigue. The succession to Muhammad is the central issue that divided the Muslim community into several divisions in the first century of Muslim history.

A few months prior to his death, Muhammad delivered a sermon at Ghadir Khumm where he announced that Ali ibn Abi Talib would be his successor. Abu Bakr then assumed political power, and his supporters became known as the Sunnis. Despite that, a group of Muslims kept their allegiance to Ali. These people, who became known as Shias, held that while Ali's right to be the political leader may have been taken, he was still the religious and spiritual leader after Muhammad. After Ali died, his son Hasan ibn Ali succeeded him, both politically and, according to Shias, religiously.

However, after six months, he made a peace treaty with Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan , which stipulated that, among other conditions, Muawiya would have political power as long as he did not choose who would succeed him. Muawiya broke the treaty and made his son Yazid his successor, thus forming the Umayyad dynasty. While this was going on, Hasan and, after his death, his brother Husain ibn Ali , remained the religious leaders, at least according to the Shia. Thus, according to the Sunnis, whoever held political power was considered the successor to Muhammad, while the Shias held the twelve Imams Ali, Hasan, Husain, and Husain's descendants were the successors to Muhammad, even if they did not hold political power.

In addition to these two main branches, many other opinions also formed regarding succession to Muhammad.

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According to William Montgomery Watt , religion for Muhammad was not a private and individual matter but "the total response of his personality to the total situation in which he found himself. He was responding [not only] In his view, Islam is a great change, akin to a revolution, when introduced to new societies. Historians generally agree that Islamic social changes in areas such as social security , family structure, slavery and the rights of women and children improved on the status quo of Arab society. Allah's Messenger was neither very tall nor short, neither absolutely white nor deep brown.

His hair was neither curly nor lank. Allah sent him as an Apostle when he was forty years old. Afterwards he resided in Mecca for ten years and in Medina for ten more years. When Allah took him unto Him, there was scarcely twenty white hairs in his head and beard. The Prophet was of moderate height having broad shoulders long hair reaching his ear-lobes. Once I saw him in a red cloak and I had never seen anyone more handsome than him. Muhammad was middle-sized, did not have lank or crisp hair, was not fat, had a white circular face, wide black eyes, and long eye-lashes.

When he walked, he walked as though he went down a declivity. He had the "seal of prophecy" between his shoulder blades He was bulky. His face shone like the moon.


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He was taller than middling stature but shorter than conspicuous tallness. He had thick, curly hair. The plaits of his hair were parted. His hair reached beyond the lobe of his ear. His complexion was azhar [bright, luminous]. Muhammad had a wide forehead, and fine, long, arched eyebrows which did not meet.

© PROPHET (ANR-16-FRAL-0003-01)

Between his eyebrows there was a vein which distended when he was angry. The upper part of his nose was hooked; he was thick bearded, had smooth cheeks, a strong mouth, and his teeth were set apart. He had thin hair on his chest. His neck was like the neck of an ivory statue, with the purity of silver. Muhammad was proportionate, stout, firm-gripped, even of belly and chest, broad-chested and broad-shouldered.

The "seal of prophecy" between Muhammad's shoulders is generally described as having been a type of raised mole the size of a pigeon's egg.

THE PRESENCE OF THE PROPHET | Muhammad in the mirror of his community in early and modern Islam

I saw a man, pure and clean, with a handsome face and a fine figure. He was not marred by a skinny body, nor was he overly small in the head and neck. He was graceful and elegant, with intensely black eyes and thick eyelashes. There was a huskiness in his voice, and his neck was long. His beard was thick, and his eyebrows were finely arched and joined together. When silent, he was grave and dignified, and when he spoke, glory rose up and overcame him. He was from afar the most beautiful of men and the most glorious, and close up he was the sweetest and the loveliest.

He was sweet of speech and articulate, but not petty or trifling. His speech was a string of cascading pearls, measured so that none despaired of its length, and no eye challenged him because of brevity. In company he is like a branch between two other branches, but he is the most flourishing of the three in appearance, and the loveliest in power. He has friends surrounding him, who listen to his words. If he commands, they obey implicitly, with eagerness and haste, without frown or complaint. Descriptions like these were often reproduced in calligraphic panels hilya or, in Turkish, hilye , which in the 17th century developed into an art form of their own in the Ottoman Empire.

Muhammad's life is traditionally defined into two periods: pre-hijra emigration in Mecca from to , and post-hijra in Medina from until Muhammad is said to have had thirteen wives in total although two have ambiguous accounts, Rayhana bint Zayd and Maria al-Qibtiyya , as wife or concubine [] []. Eleven of the thirteen marriages occurred after the migration to Medina.

At the age of 25, Muhammad married the wealthy Khadijah bint Khuwaylid who was 40 years old. Muhammad is said to have asked for arrangements to marry both. The women were either widows of Muslims killed in battle and had been left without a protector, or belonged to important families or clans with whom it was necessary to honor and strengthen alliances. According to traditional sources Aisha was six or seven years old when betrothed to Muhammad, [] [] [] with the marriage not being consummated until she had reached puberty at the age of nine or ten years old.

Muhammad performed household chores such as preparing food, sewing clothes, and repairing shoes. He is also said to have had accustomed his wives to dialogue; he listened to their advice, and the wives debated and even argued with him. All but one of his daughters, Fatimah, died before him. Nine of Muhammad's wives survived him. Muhammad's descendants through Fatimah are known as sharifs , syeds or sayyids. These are honorific titles in Arabic , sharif meaning 'noble' and sayed or sayyid meaning 'lord' or 'sir'.

As Muhammad's only descendants, they are respected by both Sunni and Shi'a, though the Shi'a place much more emphasis and value on their distinction. Zayd ibn Haritha was a slave that Muhammad bought, freed, and then adopted as his son. He also had a wetnurse. But he insisted that slave owners treat their slaves well and stressed the virtue of freeing slaves. Muhammad treated slaves as human beings and clearly held some in the highest esteem". Following the attestation to the oneness of God , the belief in Muhammad's prophethood is the main aspect of the Islamic faith.

Islamic belief is that ideally the Shahadah is the first words a newborn will hear; children are taught it immediately and it will be recited upon death. Muslims repeat the shahadah in the call to prayer adhan and the prayer itself. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed. In Islamic belief, Muhammad is regarded as the last prophet sent by God. And before this was the book of Moses, as a guide and a mercy. And this Book confirms it We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. Muslim tradition credits Muhammad with several miracles or supernatural events.

According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was attacked by the people of Ta'if and was badly injured. The tradition also describes an angel appearing to him and offering retribution against the assailants. It is said that Muhammad rejected the offer and prayed for the guidance of the people of Ta'if. The Sunnah represents actions and sayings of Muhammad preserved in reports known as Hadith , and covers a broad array of activities and beliefs ranging from religious rituals, personal hygiene, and burial of the dead to the mystical questions involving the love between humans and God.

The Sunnah is considered a model of emulation for pious Muslims and has to a great degree influenced the Muslim culture. The greeting that Muhammad taught Muslims to offer each other, "may peace be upon you" Arabic: as-salamu 'alaykum is used by Muslims throughout the world. Many details of major Islamic rituals such as daily prayers, the fasting and the annual pilgrimage are only found in the Sunnah and not the Quran.

The Sunnah contributed much to the development of Islamic law, particularly from the end of the first Islamic century. All Sufi orders trace their chain of spiritual descent back to Muhammad. Muslims have traditionally expressed love and veneration for Muhammad. Stories of Muhammad's life, his intercession and of his miracles particularly " Splitting of the moon " have permeated popular Muslim thought and poetry. Among Arabic odes to Muhammad, Qasidat al-Burda "Poem of the Mantle" by the Egyptian Sufi al-Busiri — is particularly well-known, and widely held to possess a healing, spiritual power.

In line with the hadith's prohibition against creating images of sentient living beings , which is particularly strictly observed with respect to God and Muhammad, Islamic religious art is focused on the word. The earliest extant depictions come from 13th century Anatolian Seljuk and Ilkhanid Persian miniatures , typically in literary genres describing the life and deeds of Muhammad.

Reproduced through lithography , these were essentially "printed manuscripts". The earliest documented Christian knowledge of Muhammad stems from Byzantine sources. They indicate that both Jews and Christians saw Muhammad as a false prophet. The earliest Syriac source is the 7th-century writer John bar Penkaye.

According to Hossein Nasr , the earliest European literature often refers to Muhammad unfavorably. They interpreted the biography through a Christian religious filter, one that viewed Muhammad as a person who seduced the Saracens into his submission under religious guise. In later ages, Muhammad came to be seen as a schismatic: Brunetto Latini 's 13th century Li livres dou tresor represents him as a former monk and cardinal, [16] and Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno , Canto 28 , written in the early s, puts Muhammad and his son-in-law, Ali, in Hell "among the sowers of discord and the schismatics, being lacerated by devils again and again.

The Salty Language of an Early Biography of Muhammad

After the Reformation , Muhammad was often portrayed in a similar way. He rejects the common view that Muhammad is an impostor and argues that the Quran proffers "the most sublime truths of cult and morals"; it defines the unity of God with an "admirable concision. Recent writers such as William Montgomery Watt and Richard Bell dismiss the idea that Muhammad deliberately deceived his followers, arguing that Muhammad "was absolutely sincere and acted in complete good faith" [] and Muhammad's readiness to endure hardship for his cause, with what seemed to be no rational basis for hope, shows his sincerity.

Welch holds that Muhammad was able to be so influential and successful because of his firm belief in his vocation. Criticism of Muhammad has existed since the 7th century. According to The Jewish Encyclopedia , Muhammad was decried by his non-Muslim Arab contemporaries for preaching monotheism , and by the Jewish tribes of Arabia for his unwarranted appropriation of Biblical narratives and figures and attacks on the Jewish faith. During the Dark and Middle Ages various Western and Byzantine Christian thinkers considered Muhammad to be a perverted , deplorable man, a false prophet , and even the Antichrist , as he was frequently seen in Christendom as a heretic or possessed by the demons.

Some of them, like Thomas Aquinas , criticised Muhammad's promises of carnal pleasure in the afterlife. Modern religious [] [] and secular [] [] [] [] criticism of Islam has questioned Muhammad's sincerity in claiming to be a prophet, his morality, his ownership of slaves , [] [] [] his treatment of enemies, his polygynous marriages [] and his treatment of doctrinal matters. Muhammad has been accused of mercilessness such as during the invasion of the tribe in Medina [] [] and his marriage to Aisha, whose age at marriage has been variously reported as between six and nineteen years old.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the Islamic prophet. For other people named Muhammad, see Muhammad name. For other uses, see Muhammad disambiguation. Founder of Islam. Islamic prophet. Mecca , Hejaz , Arabia present-day Saudi Arabia. Medina , Hejaz, Arabia present-day Saudi Arabia.

Main article: Names and titles of Muhammad. Main articles: Historiography of early Islam and Historicity of Muhammad. Main article: Prophetic biography. Main article: Hadith. This box: view talk edit. See also: Muhammad's first revelation , History of the Quran , and Wahy. Recite in the name of your Lord who created—Created man from a clinging substance.

Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous—Who taught by the pen—Taught man that which he knew not. Have We not made for him two eyes? And a tongue and two lips? And have shown him the two ways? But he has not broken through the difficult pass. And what can make you know what is the difficult pass? It is the freeing of a slave. Or feeding on a day of severe hunger; an orphan of near relationship, or a needy person in misery.