The Life of Muhammad
At the time of Muhammad's birth most people in Arabia believed in many different Gods and idolatry was common.
* Early life
Muhammad was born 570 CE at Mecca in Arabia to a family of the Quraysh tribe.
Muhammad's father died before Muhammad's birth, and his mother died when the child was only 6, so Muhammad was raised first by his grandfather, and later by his uncle.
The family were not rich, so Muhammad spent much of his childhood tending animals for others in order to earn his livelihood.
Muhammad worked first as a trader, and gained a reputation for honesty. His nickname was "The Trustworthy".
When he was 25, Muhammad married Khadija, a wealthy widow aged 40. Muhammad soon showed an interest in spiritual matters and would spend time on retreat in the cave of Hira on "The Mountain of Light" (near Mecca ).
* The first revelation
In 610 Muhammad had his first revelation - a vision of the Archangel Gabriel, who told him that he was to be a prophet.
Khadija confirmed Muhammad's belief in his mission and declared herself to be his first disciple.
There was a gap of 3 years before the next revelation.
Muhammad was mocked at first by people who claimed that God had forsaken him, but the revelations resumed and over many years Muhammad received the text of the Quran in a series of revelations.
* The Last Prophet
Muhammad proclaimed that the Quran was the last Book of God, and that he himself was the last Prophet.
With small group of people who believed what he said Muhammad began to spread the message.
Muhammad publicly condemned the existing idolatrous local beliefs, and religious customs, which did not make him universally popular.
In 613 Muhammad intensified his public preaching and won more converts. He and his followers were persecuted, and some of them went to Abyssinia to escape.
A long period of difficulty followed, but Muhammad and his followers remained true to the faith and he continued to preach and convert
* The Hijrah
In 622 Muhammad moved to Yathrib (later to be called Medina ) with 70 colleagues; this is known as the "Hijrah" (which means 'emigration' or 'flight').
Muhammad formed a tribe of those who accepted him as the Prophet, and gradually Islam grew in strength and acceptance.
* Death of Muhammad
In 632 CE Muhammad made a final pilgrimage to Mecca with over 100,000 of his followers, and gave his last sermon. He died a few months later at Medina .