|The Arabic calligraphic representation for Muhammad|
Parents: 'Abd Allah and Aminah bint Wahb
Date of Birth: 26 April 570
House: Quraish–Banu Hashim
Spouse: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, among others
Reign: 622 – 632
Summary: Born to the Banu Hashim family, an influential and, at times, wealthy clan in Mecca, Muhammad never knew his father and lived out his early years in the deserts of Arabia with an adopted Bedouin family. At the age of two, Muhammed's mother died and he returned to Mecca to live with his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. al-Muttalib died eight years later and Muhammed was transferred to the guardianship of an uncle, Abu Talib, the leader of Banu Hashim. Muhammed was not well-respected by his family members and was often left to his own devices. Since his uncle was a trader, Muhammed accompanied him to Syria and Palestine during his teen years and learned much about the world from these travels. Once an adult, Muhammed became a merchant and was recognized for his honesty. His reputation gained him the hand of Khadijah, a 40-year-old widow with some status in merchant circles. During a stay in Mecca around the year 610, Muhammed received his first vision from God, which resulted in deep distress and a desire to commit suicide. His wife and a Christian cousin calmed his nerves and Muhammad did not receive another vision until 613. In future revelations, the framework for the Quran was begun. Slowly, Muhammad began telling relatives of his revelations and some of them, including his wife, a young cousin, Abu Bakr, and an adopted son accepted his preachings. Most others ignored or mocked Muhammad and his newfound religion. By 615, things had become hot in Mecca. Merchants were turning against Muhammad and his followers, and some Muslims had even been killed. At least a few had even fled to Ethiopia where they founded the first Muslim colony under the protection of the Aksumite Emperor Ashama ibn Abjar. In 617, the leaders of two important Quraish clans boycotted Banu Hashim for protecting Muhammad. The boycott lasted for three years and Muhammad ceased preaching except during holy months. Muhammad's wife and uncle both died in 619 and the leadership of Banu Hashim passed to another relative opposed to Islam. Mecca became a dangerous place for Muhammad and he began to seek out other refuges. He found safety among the Yathrib, people from the city of Medina, who knew of Judaism from a small community there and accepted monotheism as a religious possibility. Muhammad and all his followers in Mecca fled to Medina in 622 in what became known as the Hijra. Today it marks the first day of the Islamic Calendar.
Muhammad's first act in Medina was to unify the city under the Constitution of Medina. Media became the first Islamic state through this constitution and served as the basis of future states. It favored Muslims and Arabs but gave protections of Jews and Christians. Bloodshed against the Meccans began in 624 when the Medians attacked a caravan. Muhammad then began converting and making alliances with the Bedouin tribes in the Hijaz, as a new front against Mecca. Meanwhile, Mecca began raiding Medina with great effect and in 627, Mecca laid siege to Medina but lost due to fortifications built in part by a Persian convert to Islam. After the siege, Muhammad led a group of 1,400 Muslims to Mecca to worship at the Ka'abah. A treaty was agreed upon for ten years of peace between Mecca and Medina. Muhammad, meanwhile, began furious diplomacy with outside powers including the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire, the Zoroastrian Persian Empire, the pagan chief of Yemen, all encouraging them to convert to Islam. All were rejected. In Mecca, bloodshed between clans caused the peace treaty to become void. In 630, Muhammad marched in with 10,000 men and conquered Mecca for Medina and Islam. He graciously accepted surrender from most of the populace and most of the city converted to Islam. All pagan statues were destroyed. Almost immediately after his victory, Muhammad moved to consolidate his rule in Arabia. He defeated two rival tribes from nearby cities and conquered the remaining cities of eastern Arabia. Muhammad performed his only true pilgrimage to Mecca from Medina in 632 and died soon after of a high fever at the age of 63. His military successor was Abu Bakr, who took the title Caliph and was recognized as the leader of most of the people (the Sunni). A minority chose to follow the Prophet's son-in-law, Ali, who was chosen as imam and whose descendants and followers became the Shi'a (Shi'ites).
Date of Death: 8 June 632
Successor: Abu Bakr (as caliph), Ali (as imam)
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