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The Prophet Muhammad. Arabia Before Muhammad. Arabs Arab comes from the Hebrew word abhar which means to move or pass The majority of Arabia’s first inhabitants were Bedouins- nomadic Arabs who roamed the deserts in search of grass and water for their herds.

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The Prophet




  • Arab comes from the Hebrew word abhar which means to move or pass
  • The majority of Arabia’s first inhabitants were Bedouins- nomadic Arabs who roamed the deserts in search of grass and water for their herds.
  • They valued camels and swords above everything else.
  • They had no single religion. Tribes worshipped many gods but offered no guidance for moral conduct.
  • There is controversy over their origins:
    • Biblical tradition holds that Arabs are Semites - the descendants of Noah’s son, Shem.
    • The Qur’anic tradition believes they are descendants of Abraham’s son, Ishmael.


  • Important trade stop and religious center of Arabia
  • People settled there because of the fresh water well
  • Location of Kaaba ( shrine with 300 religious idols)
  • population as very diverse: Arabs, Christians, Jews, etc.


  • A powerful local tribe of Arabs
  • They negotiated treaties with people in neighboring areas guaranteeing that trade caravans would be safe traveling through the robber-infested desert.
  • They also encouraged tribes to deposit their idols in the Kaaba and promised to protect them.

Muhammad's Call

to Prophethood


Muhammad’s Early Life

  • He was born into the Hashim family of the powerful Quraysh tribe sometime between 570 - 580 A.D.
  • Angels told his mother to name him Muhammad, which means ” worthy of praise.”
  • His father, Abdallah, died before he was born; his mother, Amina, died when he was six.
  • He was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib .
  • He worked tending sheep and buying and selling goods for a wealthy widow named Khadija.
  • He married her and had seven children. (Only one daughter - Fatima - survived.
  • He had a reputation as a seeker of solitude.

The Divine Revelations

  • He received his first revelations while on one of his retreats to Mt. Hira.
  • His neighbor convinced Muhammad that he had been chosen as God’s (called Allah in Arabic) prophet.
  • In another revelation he learned that sinners must submit to the mercy of God. This submission (islam) gave its name to the religion.
  • His first converts were his wife, cousin, slave,and respected friend, Abu Bakr.
  • He is usually not pictured in artwork. This is so Muslims will worship Allah alone.
  • He was described as a convincing speaker.

Muhammad Spreads

the Word of Allah


Muhammad’s preaching angered many of the people of Makkah.

  • He wanted to abolish idolatry and pagan religions.
  • He was very critical of the wealthy merchants who controlled most of the money and power in Makkah because Islam teaches the rich should share their wealth with the poor.
  • He was able to remain in Makkah only because his powerful and respected family protected him.

Muhammad’s public teaching stressed five main points.

1. Allah was the one and only God and all should submit and be thankful to Him.

2. All believers in Allah were equal under Him.

3. The rich should share their wealth with the poor.

4. Although Allah knows every person’s destiny, people should strive to live righteously and avoid impiety.

5. All people would be subjected to Judgement Day.


Muhammad decided to leave Makkah after his wife and uncle died.

  • He traveled to the oasis city of Yathrib.
  • Tradition holds that Makkan soldiers pursued him but never searched a cave he spent the night in because Allah caused a spider web to be spun a a dove’s nest to be built at the entrance to indicate that no one was hiding within.
  • This journey, known as the hijrah, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.

Both the Jews and Arabs welcomed Muhammad and his followers.

  • The city was about to erupt in civil war, and the people looked to Muhammad to unite them.
  • They renamed Yahtrib Madinaht unNabit, which means “City of the Prophet.”
  • Muhammad remained in Madinah to lead the new Islamic community there. Followers of Muhammad who believed in Islam were called Muslims, meaning “those who submit to the will of God.”

Muhammad hoped all the different people living in Madinah would convert and become believers of Islam.

  • He named Jerusalem (the sacred city of Jews and Christians) as Qiblah, the direction of prayer.
  • Some Jewish leaders did not accept Muhammad as God’s prophet.
  • Muhammad expelled Jews who opposed him from the city.
  • He changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to the Kaaba, in Makkah.

As more people accepted Islam, Makkans, led by the Quraysh and other pagan tribes, became hostile towards Muslims inflicting torture on them.

  • Muhammad led an army of 300 followers to attack and capture a Makkan caravan.
  • Muhammad’s army won the Battle of Badr even though they were tremendously outnumbered.
  • The success was a great spiritual victory for Islam. It led to Islam gaining more followers and fostered the belief that God would fight on the side of the Muslims.

More battles were fought in the years that followed the Battle of Badr.

  • In 630 A.D., Muhammad and his supporters captured Makkah.
  • Muhammad destroyed the idols and other pagan relics and rededicated the Kaaba to God. It became the religious center for all Muslims.
  • In 632 A.D. Muhammad led the hajj, or greater pilgrimage, to Makkah. It is commonly called the “pilgrimage of Farewell” because it was his last.
  • The rites and ceremonies of the hajj became standard practices for all Muslims.

Islam as a

Way of Life


Muhammad’s followers desired to maintain an Islamic community.

  • They recorded his revelations into a book called the Qur’an.
  • It provides the guiding rules and principles for all Muslims.
  • The most basic of these rules is summarized in the Five Pillars of Faith.

The first pillar is the profession of faith.

  • A Muslim demonstrates his belief in one God and the importance of Muhammad by saying:
  • “There is only one true God (Allah) and Muhammad is his Prophet.”



The second pillar is the daily worship.

  • A Muslim prays five times a day: at dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset and dusk.
  • It is an important part of Islam because it is the worshipping and thanking of God.
  • Muslims are encouraged to spread their prayer rug wherever they find themselves at the appointed hour.



The third pillar is almsgiving.

  • Islam recognizes that material things are important to life and some people have more than others.
  • To help lift the burden of those who are less fortunate, Muhammad set a figure of two and one-half percent of each person’s income.
  • People must annually distribute among the poor one-fortieth of the value of all they possess.



The fourth pillar is the fast (from sunrise to sunset) during the holy time of Ramadan.

  • Ramadan is Islam’s holy month because during it Muhammad received his initial commission as a prophet.
  • Ramadan rotates around the year.



The fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Makkah, which is to be taken once in a lifetime.

  • The basic principle of the pilgrimage is to bring the Muslim spiritually closer to God.
  • It brings together people from various countries, showing that they have in common a loyalty that is more important than the loyalties of earthly kingdoms created by humans.



Sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar, the jihad or “struggle” is another important concept in Islam.

  • The jihad is a multi-faceted concept that can have a variety of applications, a concept that is often misunderstood in the West.
  • Muslims believe that jihad must conform to the guidelines of the Qur’an