Muhammed meaning the praised one was born in 571 in the North Arabian city of Makkah, which was then inhabited mainly by the tribe of Quraysh. In those times, this tribe enjoyed throughout Arabia and the neighbouring countries great prestige on account of the position of their city as a flourishing trade and religious centre.
Their caravans, which journeyed to Syria and Yaman, and the most ancient shrine of Kabah at Makkah annually drew a great number of Arabian pilgrims. Though most of the Arabians were then idol-worshippers, several other religions, including Christianity and Judaism, had followers in Arabia. But none of those other religions could claim to have been at any time the religion of more than a negligible minority.
Muhammad’s family belonged to one of the noble clans of Quraysh—the clan of Banu Hashim. He grew up as an orphan. His father Abdullah died before he was born and his mother Amina died when he was six years old. It fell first to his grandfather Abdul Muttalib to take care of him and then to his uncle Abu Talib. As from his early youth he impressed his countrymen as a person of high integrity, and they called him the trustworthy (Al-Ameen).
When Muhammad was twenty five years old, he married Khadija, a wealthy and noble widow who had engaged him to handle her caravan trade and who had developed great admiration and respect for his noble character.
Khadija was very broadminded and understanding. Khadija being a very wealthy lady, Prophet now had all the opportunity to lead a happy, contented life. But Prophet was a truth-seeker. He was not content with the pleasures of this material world. so he would retire for days to a cave called Hira on a hill near Makkah for meditation and spiritual devotion. When in 610 A.D. he received his Divine call in that cave Khadija was the first to recognize him as the Apostle of God and to convert to Islam. She remained until her death in 620 A.D. a source of comfort and support to him. She gladly spent all her wealth in the cause of Islam.
In the fortieth year of his life, one day, while he was sitting in-the solitude of the cave, an angel of God appeared before him in human shape, and addressed him with the words of God:
“Announce in the name of thy Lord, that He hath created, created man from a clot—Announce! And they Lord is most generous. Who hath afforded knowledge through the pen, afforded man the Knowledge of what he knew not...” (Quran, 96:1-5)
The Prophet had found the answers to his questions. “Have We not broadened thy heart for thee, and relieved thee of thy burden which had weighed down thy back ...” (The Quran 94: 1-3) His restless soul was now in communion with the Lord of the Universe. God now chose him as His special envoy and gave him guidance. The Revelation of God began descending upon him and continued to do so for twenty three years, at the end of which time, the last Scripture of God, the Quran, reached completion.
In the twelfth year of his mission the Prophet was taken to heavens, this journey is known as Miraj (ascent). The Quran has referred to this event in the chapter entitled: Al-Isra (The Night Journey) “Praise be to Him who carried his servant by night from the Masjidul Haram (Kabah) to the Masjidul Aqsa (Jerusalem)”.
Muhammad’s career as Prophet lasted for about 23 years, about half of which he spent in Makkah and the rest in Madinah, which lies about 280 miles north of Makkah. During the first period, his efforts to win the Makkans to Islam met with vehement opposition, and in 622 A.D. he had to emigrate, along with the few followers he had been able to convert, to Madinah. Here the Prophet was given a hearty welcome, and moved from one sucess to another. By the time he died in 632 A.D. he had united all Arabia under the banner of Islam and completed his message to mankind.