Muhammad (PBUH) was an orphan. His father had died before Muhammad (PBUH) was born and his mother died while he was still very young. This was why Muhammad (PBUH) was brought-up first by his grandfather, Abdul Mutallib, and later by his uncle, Abu Talib. Both of them loved the orphaned Muhammad (PBUH) very much, and both devoted a lot of care to him. When he was big and strong enough to work, Muhammad (PBUH) tended sheep on the outskirts of Makkah, the town where he lived.
Muhammad (PBUH) was still a boy when he worked as a shepherd. Later, when he grew into a young man, Muhammad’s (PBUH) uncle, Abu Talib, used to take him along on his trading journeys. Makkans like Abu Talib were merchants and the journeys they made where very long. Their camels brought many different goods into Makkah. This was a very good and exciting experience for Muhammad (PBUH) and when he grew older he was able to lead the caravans on his own.
In Makkah there lived a wealthy widow whose name was Khadija. She owned trade caravans and employed Muhammad (PBUH) to lead them for her. Khadija had made a very wise choice, for Muhammad (PBUH) was a good honest tradesman and a very successful one. Later on, Muhammad (PBUH) and Khadija were married and settled down with their children to lead a happy and peaceful life in Makkah.
As the years passed and Muhammad (PBUH) grew older, he began to think deeply about many things. Although his own family life was very happy, several problems worried him. Muhammad (PBUH) often wandered by the mountains outside Makkah and here, in a cave in Mount Hira, he used to sit and think in peace and solitude: I wonder how it happened that I, who was once an orphan, am now such a rich man, Muhammad (PBUH) thought, I have a good wife and loving children, and yet I am still not entirely happy.
Muhammad (PBUH) knew very well why this was so, for he had long been troubled by the situation that existed in Makkah: They don’t help the poor. They do not bother about caring for orphans or nursing the sick back to health. People in Makkah seem to be interested only in having a lot of money and when they have that, they want even more! These thoughts troubled Muhammad (PBUH) for many years.
Then one day, when he was forty years old, Muhammad (PBUH) was in the cave on Mount Hira, and an Angel appeared before him. The Angel, whose name was Gabriel, said to Muhammad (PBUH): “Read in the name of your Lord who has created everything, who has created man from a clot of blood.”
At once, Muhammad (PBUH) knew what this meant. He should go to Makkah and tell the people: Allah has created Man. Allah has created all the things that Man needs to live. Therefore Man should be grateful to Allah. He should pray only unto Allah and obey only Him. It is Allah’s will that the poor and the sick should be cared for, and that people should strive with all their might to do good and lead honourable lives. After death, such people will be richly rewarded for their efforts. But those who purposely do evil will receive terrible punishment, unless they are sincerely sorry for what they have done and ask Allah to forgive them.
At first, Muhammad (PBUH) was very disturbed, for he had never seen an Angle before. But even so, he realized that the Angel had given him answers to the many questions which had been troubling him. For some time Muhammad (PBUH) had been wondering who it was who had been helping him; now he knew: it was Allah. He wondered why the people of Makkah were greedy and mean to the poor; now he knew why: it was because they disobeyed Allah. Allah created Man and all that is in this world, so Man must be obedient to Allah alone.
When Muhammad (PBUH) returned to the city, he told his wife Khadija all that had happened, and all the Angel Gabriel had said. “Allah will never disgrace you,” Khadija told her husband, “for you do many good things. You keep families together. You bear the burden of the weak, you assist the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness.”
Muhammad (PBUH) was very happy that his wife, like himself, believed and trusted in Allah. He began telling his friends of the Angle Gabriel, and what the Angel had said to him. At first, though, only a few people paid attention to what Muhammad (PBUH) said. Most of them just ignored him, for they were far too busy making money, and had no time or inclination to think about Allah.
During this time, and afterwards, the Angel Gabriel continued to appear before Muhammad (PBUH) and always reminded him of the same thing. Muhammad (PBUH) had been chosen as Allah’s Prophet, and it was his task to go and tell the people to do good and to worship no other god but Allah. Muhammad (PBUH) must also tell them to spend their money on helping poor people who had too little money themselves.
At last, Muhammad (PBUH) began approaching the people of Makkah. He chose beautiful words to tell them of Allah’s wishes, hoping that by this means, he would appeal to them: When you have enough to eat and there is a poor man who is hungry, then you must give him some of your food to eat and some of your clothing to wear. The sick must be nursed and the orphans must be cared for. If you do all these things, as Allah wishes, you will be rewarded. But if you refuse, warned, you will be punished very severely.
Unfortunately, most Makkans just laughed at what Muhammad (PBUH) told them. Worse still, they refused to worship Allah and went on believing that it was more important to have a lot of money. Some of them even threw stones at the Prophet, and they killed some of those who followed him and believed in Allah alone. Their enmity grew and eventually the people of Makkah decided that Muhammad (PBUH), his family, his relatives and his friends, should be driven out of the town. So they sent them to a valley in the mountains outside of Makkah, and nobody was allowed to visit them there or to bring them food. They had to stay in that desolate place for almost three years, and grew so hungry that often they ate the leaves of threes, since they did not have enough food.
Life there was so bad that before long, Khadija, the Prophet’s wife, died. Muhammad (PBUH) was very sad. Then the Angel Gabriel appeared and explained to Muhammad (PBUH) that Allah wanted to help him. He should take his friends and family away from Makkah and take them to another town, called Madina. The people there were willing to listen to Allah’s words, the Angel told Muhammad (PBUH) .
So, Muhammad (PBUH) told his children and his friends to leave Makkah and go to Madina. Then all who believed in Allah and worshipped only Allah, left Makkah. The last to leave were Muhammad (PBUH) and his close companion, Abu Bakr. However, the people of Makkah were not content with driving Muhammad (PBUH) out. Now they wanted to kill him, because he had been warning them of their evil deeds. But Muhammad (PBUH) was able to leave while the Makkans were on their way to kill him. Ali, Muhammad’s (PBUH) brave young cousin, laid himself on Muhammad’s (PBUH) bed so that the Makkans would think that the Prophet was still there. But Muhammad (PBUH) and Abu Bakr were long since gone on their way, and so that nobody could find them, they hid themselves in a cave.
When the people discovered that it was Ali(a.s.) who was in Muhammad’s (PBUH) bed and that the Prophet had gone, they became very angry. But there was nothing they could do, for Muhammad was already well beyond their evil reach.
Madina was completely different from Makkah. Here, Muhammad (PBUH) had more friends than enemies. However, the people of Makkah did not leave him in peace. Instead, they followed him to Madina, to make war with him. But Allah helped the Prophet and his followers, and kept them safe from their enemies.
In Madina, Muhammad (PBUH) continued to receive Allah’s messages from the Angel Gabriel. These messages were written down in a book, called the Quran. In the Quran, we can read everything that Allah has said to Man.
The Prophet (PBUH) and his friends built a mosque in Madina and here they prayed five times every day. Once every year, they observed a month of fasting. During the days of this month, they did not eat or drink anything during the daytime. They trained themselves to go without food and drink, for the sake of Allah. From this experience, they learned to get used to eating very little food. So, they had a lot of food left over to give to the poor. They also gave the poor some of their money. Muhammad (PBUH) and his friends believed in Allah and worshipped Him alone. They were obedient to Allah and followed His commands. therefore they are called Muslims. Those who believe in Allah, who worship Allah alone, and who do things according to the Quran, are Muslims.
But those who do not believe in Allah and refuse to obey Him, and even want to kill the Muslims by fighting wars against them are not Muslims. They are the disbelieves.
For many years, in Madina, Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers had to defend themselves against the attacks of their enemies, and many times were forced to fight against them. But in these battles, Allah gave help to Muhammad (PBUH) and the Muslims. After some time, the disbelievers began to understand that because of Allah’s help Muhammad (PBUH) was much stronger than they were. So, at last, they said to themselves: We must stop fighting, for nobody is stronger than Allah. We cannot defeat Muhammad (PBUH), because Allah helps him. It is therefore better for us also to believe in Allah and to worship Him.
Muhammad (PBUH) and the Muslims were very happy that the long war had at last come to an end. Allah helped them as He had promised, and they were able to return to Makkah where they had once been the first small group of people who believed in Allah. When they arrived in Makkah, they held a prayer together. After that, some of them remained in Makkah, but others who had set up home in Madina went back there. Nevertheless, these Muslims in Madina journeyed to Makkah once a year, because the Ka’ba was there. The Ka’ba is a big stone house with no windows. It looks like a big cube. It was built by Prophet Ibrahim, who lived many years before Muhammad (PBUH). Whenever you see the Ka’ba, you will be reminded of what Allah has told Mankind, and of what Mankind should do: they should BELIEVE IN ALLAH, WORSHIP ALLAH ALONE AND ALWAYS STRIVE TO DO GOOD. These are Allah’s commands to Mankind. Allah has sent many prophets to Mankind, with messages from Him, Who is the creator of Man and the universe. Muhammad (PBUH) was the last of Allah’s many prophets, and after he died, he left behind the Quran in which all Allah’s messages are written down.
In the Qur’an are also many stories of other prophets, who lived long before Muhammad (PBUH). You will find some of them in this book.