Jacob Stevens
IAH 211D – Section 2
Group 4

Revelation of Muhammad

Muhammad is defined simply as an Arab Prophet, the founder of Islam. Muhammad’s first revelation occurred when he was around the age of 40 years and 6 months old. Around this time Muhammad had commonly spent long hours alone meditating and hypothesizing over the creation that surrounded him. Muhammad would provide himself with the basic food and water needed for survival and retreat to his favorite spot of isolation. This spot Muhammad grew very fond of was located only two miles from Mecca, and was a cave named Hira, in Mount An-Nur. This is where Muhammad’s first revelation occurred.
Muhammad’s revelation is the period of time in which Muhammad was said to have been visited by the angel Gabriel and the Qur’an was revealed to him in several parts. Muhammad had entered a period of three years of solitude. The revelation occurred to him in the third year of his solitude on the date of August 10, 610 CE. Muhammad was at the age of 40 years and 6 months, and was currently married to his wife Khadijah. Muhammad considered this event the single most important event of his life because it allowed him to proclaim himself a Prophet of Allah. The revelations consisted of a series of visions that Muhammad experienced over six months. The angel Gabriel came to visit him in these visions. These visions would also contain events that would come true on numerous occasions. After several of these visions came true, he would return to the cave of Hira. The time spent alone in solitude became very precious to him. He would often retreat to Hira to engage in meditation for a period of days and nights before returning back home to his family, and then go back to Hira for stays that were very similar. It was during these stays when the angel came to visit him.
In the angel’s visits to Muhammad, he would stay for lengths of time and also come to Muhammad unexpectedly. The angel came to Muhammad and told him to recite. When Muhammad confessed to the angel that he could not in fact recite, the angel squeezed him violently and then told him once again to recite. Muhammad once again refused to recite. This occurred twice more, and after being squeezed by the angel and told to recite three times, Muhammad began to recite the verses the angel asked of him with great fear. After the angel had left and he had recited the verses, he returned to his wife Khadijah and she soothed and restored him from his scared and paranoid state. Sometime after his revelation, and after the revelations had paused for a while, Muhammad returned to Hira to continue his solitude. Upon returning to Mecca, he experienced an encounter with the angel Gabriel. In this encounter, the angel referred to Muhammad as the messenger of Allah, and referred to himself as Gabriel. Muhammad returned to his wife after this incident and explained to her what had happened. She said to him that it was a sign of Muhammad being a messenger of their nation because Gabriel described him as a messenger of Allah. After the revelation and the encounter with the angel Gabriel, Muhammad proclaimed himself as a Prophet of Allah. Muhammad was now a prophet of his nation and was sent the same angel Moses was sent at one time.
The Revelation of Muhammad was regarded as the most significant event in his life. This is because it was the event that he was proclaimed as a Prophet of both Allah and his nation. The angel that visited him during his visions exposed him to the Qur’an in several parts during his unexpected and lengthy stays. After reciting the verses of the Qur’an that the angel required of him, Muhammad went back to his family and restored to his peaceful state of mind to be able to meditate. The visit by the angel Gabriel then confirmed that Muhammad proclaimed himself as a Prophet of Allah and his nation. Muhammad became the messenger of Allah after his revelation and encounter with the angel Gabriel.

An artist's depiction of Muhammad (images.google.com)
An artist's depiction of Muhammad (images.google.com)
The Angel Gabriel (images.google.com)
The Angel Gabriel (images.google.com)

An artist's depiction of Muhammad and Gabriel's meeting (images.google.com)
An artist's depiction of Muhammad and Gabriel's meeting (images.google.com)

Works Cited
Christensen, B.. "Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters. " Rev. of: The Booklist
15 Nov. 2009: General Interest Module, ProQuest. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.
Walter E. Kaegi. "Muhammad: Islam's First Great General (review)." Journal of Late Antiquity 2.2 (2009):
392-393. Project MUSE. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 29 Dec. 2009

By: Andrew Farrier

Muhammad's Relationship with Mecca

Mecca to Medina
Mecca to Medina

Muhammad was born in a merchant family in Mecca, which began his unforgettable relationship with the area. Although his family was prosperous and influential, his father died before he was born and his mother died when he was merely 6 years of age. From this point on, Muhammad was taken in by a Bedouin nurse where he spent much of his early days among nomads, accompanying the caravans on Arabia's main trade route through Mecca. According to tradition, one day at Mount Hira, Muhammad encounters the archangel Gabriel. Muhammad described this event as being “grasped by the throat by a luminous being, who commanded him to repeat the words of God.” Approximately the year 613 Muhammad preached in Mecca the message which he received, which was essentially the existence of one God, all-powerful but also merciful, and he freely acknowledged that other prophets (in particular Jesus, Abraham, and Moses) have preached the same truth in the past. However, monotheism was not a popular creed with those whose livelihood depended on idols. Once he began to win converts to the new creed, Muhammad also gained enemies among the traders of Mecca. In 622 there was a plot to assassinate him, but he luckily escaped to the town of Yathrib, roughly 300 kilometers to the north.

Yathrib was a prosperous oasis and its people welcomed Muhammad and his followers. The Muslim era dates from the Hijra, Arabic for emigration, meaning Muhammad's departure from Mecca. In the Muslim calendar this event marks the beginning of year 1. Yathrib was then renamed Madinat al Nabi, the “city of the prophet,” and thus became known as Medina. Here Muhammad steadily expanded his followers as a religious, political, and even military leader rather than a merchant. He continued to preach and recite the words which God revealed to him and it was these passages, together with the earlier revelations at Mecca, which were written down in the Arabic script by his followers to become the Qur'an. The Qur’an’s final text was established under the third caliph, Othman, around 650.

The Kaaba
The Kaaba

Relations with Mecca worsened, increasing battles between the two sides, with Muhammad leading his troops. In 629, he persuaded the Meccans to allow his followers back into the city to make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba and the Black Stone and form a truce. On this first Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Muhammad's followers impressed the local citizens both by their show of strength and by their self-control, leaving peacefully after the three days they agreed to previously. The Meccans broke the truce the following year, provoking the Muslims to march on the city. Mecca gave in to the Muslims and the inhabitants accepted Islam from that day forward. Muhammad threw out the idols According to David Marshall’s,
God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers: a Quranic Study, Muhammad's promise that the pilgrimage to the Kaaba would remain a central feature of the new religion was an important element in Mecca's peaceful acceptance of the change. At this point in time Mecca became, as it has remained ever since, the holy city of Islam. The preaching of Muhammad’s preaching and the switch to Islam turned Mecca from a local place of pilgrimage to one of world-wide significance even though only Muslims are allowed to enter the city. Today, Muslims walk seven times around the Kaaba where pagan pilgrims once walked when it was filled with idols, but is now empty and sacred to the one God called “Allah” in Arabic. The Kaaba is not only the central shrine of Islam, and the focus of every pilgrimage to Mecca, but it has also been, since Muhammad's time, the place which all Muslims turn towards when praying.

Works Cited
1) Marshall, David. God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers: A Qur'anic Study. Richmond, Sur-rey: Curzon Press, 1999.
2) http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa51#470
3) http://home.att.net/~a.f.aly/muhammad.htm

Muhammad’s Relations with Jews

By:Katie Courville

Two centuries before Muhammad’s birth, Judaism was already well established in Medina. Medina’s Jews were mostly expert jewelers, as well as weapons and armor makers (1). Although there were many Jewish clans, the main three consisted of the Banu Nadir, the Banu Qaynuqa, and the Banu Qurayza (1). It is unclear whether Medina’s Jewish clans were Arabized Jews or Arabs who practiced Jewish monotheism, however, there were Arabic speakers as well as people with Arabic names and they followed the fundamental basics of the Torah (Dinero 177).
Among those of Medina who practiced Judaism, were rabbis. Soon after Muhammad claimed himself as a prophet, these rabbis were called for consultation. Many Meccans who were in great disbelief of Muhammad and his great claim, consulted Medinan rabbis about monotheism in an attempt to question Muhammad and the credibility of his claim (Dinero 177). These rabbis preceded in asking Muhammad a total of three questions, evaluating his answers and assuring him that they would know, given his answers, whether he spoke the truth or utter blasphemy. Although, according to later reports, Muhammad replied and answered satisfactorily to the rabbis’ questioning, the Meccans remained in disbelief that Muhammad was indeed a prophet (Haque 285). Muhammad arrived in Medina in 622 A.D. fully foreseeing a welcoming from Jewish tribes; however, his relations with many Jewish tribes of Medina were uneasy from the start. This is largely attributed to local politics not only religion, due to the fact that Medina was a great agricultural settlement which created uneasy relations between most tribes, especially the Aws Allah and the Khazraj (Haque 286). Since the various Jewish clans were clients of either tribe, they too were involved.
Muhammad insisted that everyone involved in the hostile relations in Medina sign a pact to protect each other, known as the Constitution of Medina or the Charter of Medina. With this pact among the quarrelling tribes of Medina, Muhammad mainly set out to establish peace among the community, create religious freedom, and set the role of Medina as a sacred place. Muhammad hoped to bring all tribes of Medina into one greater community- the Ummah (1).

Islamic War (images.google.com)
To Muhammad’s dismay, many of the tribes soon felt threatened by the changing political situation in Medina and went against Muhammad, hoping to restore the former unbalanced yet predictable and familiar culture of Medina (Dinero 178). Various tribes attempted to the take Muhammad’s life more than once with physical force or poison. The Banu Nadir and the Banu Qaynuqa tribes were exiled for falling short on their signatures of the Constitution of Medina; however, Muhammad remained in danger. Meccans tried to actively remove Muhammad militarily, twice marching vast armies from Mecca to Medina. The first occurred on the plains of Uhud just outside of Medina, where Muhammad was nearly killed, and the second, known as the Battle of the Trench, included not only the Meccans but the two exiled Jewish tribes. It was in the second attack on Medina and Muhammad that they were confronted on both sides. Due to homeland advantage and a long waiting of the Meccans to attack Muhammad and Medina, the Meccans utterly lost (1).
Some individual Medinan Jews became Muslims, however, the majority of the Jews of Medina kept their Jewish faith and did not accept Muhammad as a messenger of God and were waiting for a prophet to emerge from among their own people (Haque 287) Some Jewish clans remained faithful to the pact they signed and continued to contribute to the peace in Medina even after it became the Muslim capital of Arabia. Passages from the Qur’an that warn Muslims not to make pacts with Jews of Arabia emerged from these wartime situations (2).

The Prophet Muhammad with the Holy Qur'an (images.google.com)

3)Dinero, S.. (2008). Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined. Domes, 17(1), 177-179.
4) Haque, Muhammad M. (2007). Fratricide in the Holy Land: A Psychoanalytic View of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Journal of Third World Studies, 24(1), 285-288.

Muhammad and Family

By: Amber Tompkins

Muhammad’s relationship with his family is often viewed as the ideal for an Islamic family. This is important in modern times because the treatment of women in the Middle East has been highlighted by the media and also because standards of acceptability have changed.
The first of Muhammad’s wives was Khadija. It was during his marriage to Khadija that Mohammad remained monogamous. After her death however, he took several wives. At the time of his own death he had nine living wives. Despite the amount how many wives he had, Muhammad is said to have always treated them as individuals and with respect. He is credited with saying, “The best among you are those who behave the best toward their wives.” Likewise, his wives treated him well, demonstrating the mutual respect they had for one another. Khadijah provided financial support for her husband as well as comfort when he was frightened after receiving his first revelation (Varol 2). Similar to the famous Proverbs 31 woman mentioned in the Bible, Muhammad’s wives each have virtuous natures which would well befit a Muslim woman. Saudah was obedient and dutiful, Hafsah devoted in fasting and prayer, Maimunah was considerate in the treatment of her relatives, Umm Salamah was intelligent, and the list continues (pbuh.us).
The wives of Muhammad also play roles in Islam outside of a representation of how marriage should be. Some of them were followers from the beginning of the religion when Muhammad received his first revelation. The wives of Muhammad are also credited with a sizable amount of the material found in the hadiths, especially A’isha who is considered to have been somewhat of an intellectual (Kassam 61).
It is also important to mention Muhammad’s dealings with his children and relatives. He treated children and step-children as equals, taking care to care for them not only physically, but in their education and in raising them on sound Islamic teachings, as well. Even after they were married he was present in their lives (Varol 3). Interestingly, although Islam permits polygamy and despite his own polygamy Muhammad forbade the husband of his daughter, Fatima, from taking a second wife so long as Fatima was still living (Mashour 571). Muhammad did not condone the breaking of relationships between relatives, even if the family member(s) did not embrace the teaching of Islam. He is attributed to have said, “Worship Allah without joining him none in your worship, pray, give zakat (obligatory charity tax) and maintain good relations and ties with your kin” as well as “Treating your kin with the same kindness they treat you with does not count as protecting and looking out for them. The person who truly protects and looks out for his kin is the one who keeps benefiting them even when they break their relations with him (Varol 4).

1) Kassam, Tazim R. “Response.” Roundtable Discussion: Feminist Religious History 2005. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/
2) Mashour, Amira. “Islamic Law and Gender Equality – Could there be a Common Ground? A Study of Divorce and Polygamy in Sharia Law and Contemporary Legislation in Tunisia and Egypt.” Human Rights Quarterly 27 2005. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/
3) Varol, M. Bahauddin. “Prophet Muhammad’s Relationships with Family and Relatives.” http://www.lastprophet.info/en/relationship-with-the-companions/prophet-muhammads-relationships-with-his-family-and-relatives.html
4) “The Wives of the Prophet.” http://www.pbuh.us/prophetMuhammad.php?f=Re_Wives

Muhammad as a Military Leader

By Maxwell Gabin
external image mo_family_badr.jpg
Muhammad was not only the founder of Islam, but a successful military leader for the religion in its early days. The Muslims of th at time were oppressed by Mecca and its main tribe of Quraysh. After the death of Muhammad’s uncle, leadership within the Banū Hāshim of the Quraysh tribe was passed to Amr ibn Hishām. Amr ibn Hishām who was said to of hated the rise of Islam, went after the muslim communities. From this point on, Muhammad would have a number of battles with the Quraysh tribe. Key battles included the battle of Badr, the battle of Uhud, the battle of the Trench, and the eventual conquest of Mecca. Muhammad would later lead Muslim armies in the battle of Battle of Hunayn and Battle of Tabouk to take dominant control of Arabia. Muhammad was known for giving many of his prisoner’s opportunities to regain their freedom and convert to Islam. Muhammad was not an autocratic leader. He often counsiled with his senior figures to help understand what was best for muslims as a whole. Before the battle of Uhud, Muhammad sided with the younger muslims on where to fight the Meccans.

The Battle of Badr

The battleexternal image 5923.jpg of Badr was Islam’s first major battle and is one of the few battles detailed in the Quran. It occurred two years after the Hijra in 624. Muhammad received word of a caravan from Syria heading to Medina. Muhammad planned to stop the caravan at Badr. Muhammad gathered a force to meet the caravan near the wells at Badr. Scouts from the caravan sent a messenger to Mecca to ask the Quraysh for reinforcements. Quraysh responded with a force of 900-1000 men and a 100-200 cavalry. Muhammad’s army was said to have 313 men and less than 100 cavalry. The caravan, led by Abu Sufyan, chose to avoid Muhammad’s army and head to Yanbu. This gave Muhammad an opportunity to retreat. He called for a meeting with his key leaders to ask for their opinion. They chose to guard the wells against the much larger Quraysh army. The battle started with 3 on 3 combat between champions. It is said that all three Quraysh champions were killed and one of the Muslim champions was mortally wounded. Some articles say that Muhammad ordered his men to shoot the Quraysh force by arrow until the Quraysh were in melee range. Others report that both armies charged at each other. Even with the majority of the Quraysh force intact, they retreated quickly. Roughly 70 Quraysh were killed and 70 captured. Muhammad’s losses were believed to be 14 men. With very few casualties the battle was a major success for the Islamic movement and gave hope that they could defeat the armies of Mecca. The unexpected victory was also a sign to both Muslims and non-Muslims that they had the favor of God. Muhammad was said to allow many of the prisoners freedom if they chose to convert to Islam. It’s likely that he ordered the execution or ransom some of the Quraysh leaders.

The Battle of Uhud external image Battle_of_Auhad.gif
After the Quraysh defeat at the battle of Badr, Abu Sufyan wanted revenge against the Muslims. With support of Mecca, Abu Sufyan set out for Muhammad and his followers with an army of 3000 plus. The army also boasted around 200 cavalry. The Muslims originally had a force of about 1000. With word of this army heard in Medina, Muhammad and his followers debated how to defeat the quraysh. His senior advisers told him that he should fight within Medina to make use of its heavy fortification. However, young Muslims argued that Meccans were destroying the crops and that waiting in the city would diminish Islam’s honor. Muhammad led his army out to mount Uhud where he would meet his opposition on the slopes. 'Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy, leader of the Khazraj tribe, withdrew his forces of about 300 due to his disagreement to leave Medina. Muhammad ordered his archers to defend the left and right flanks unless told otherwise by himself. “If you saw us prevail and start to take spoils, do not come to assist us. And if you saw us get vanquished and birds eat from our heads, do not come to assist us,” said Muhammad. The main line of the Meccan army charged at the center of the Muslim army. With height at their advantage the Muslims repelled the charge. However the archer’s disobeyed and a number of them left their posts to attack the Meccan camp. This allowed the Meccan cavalry to breach the Muslim flank. This caused confusion among Muhammad’s army, forcing him to retreat. It is said the Muhammad almost died after being hit by a stone in the face. Meccan moral increased after the successful battle yet they chose not to pursue Muhammad’s army.

The Battle of the Trench and the eventual take over of mecca

The battle of the Trench was a siege on Medina put on by various Arab and Jewish tribes. Its called the battle of the Trench because of the large trench Muhammad ordered his men to create in front of Medina. The battle is also known as the "battle of wits" as Muhammad used diplomacy rather then force to defeat his enemy. The confederate tribes attacking Medina were trying to get the Banu Qurayza tribe to join their cause and attack Muhammad's army from inside Medina. The confederate armies were said to have 10000 men verses a Muslim army of about 3000. The trench prevented any advance by the confederate tribes. However, they were eventually able to convince the Banu Qurayza tribe to join them. Attrition became an issue for the Muslims as resources became sparce. Muhammad used one of his respected arab leaders, Nuaym Ibn Masud, to cause confusion between the Qurayza and confederate tribes. He warned the Qurayza that if the Confederate tribes gave up on the siege, they would left alone agaisnt a stronger Muslim force. This caused fear within the Qurayza, so they demanded the Confederate tribes give them hostages to insure their loyalty in the battle. The Confederates refused and they were never able to put together an effective charge against Muhammad. They slowly retreated and the Qurayza were forced to surrender. This time Muhammad ordered to kill most of the Qurayza men to so that such distrust was not accepted. He let the women and children go free. This was a huge loss for Mecca, as it became clear that they could no longer create a force strong enough to defeat the Muslims. In 630, a force of about 10000 Muslims would take Mecca with ease. Muhammad would later have victories in the battle of Hunayn and the battle of Tabouk, giving Islam and strong foothold in Arabia.

1The Encyclopedia of Islam, by PJ Bearman http://www.brill.nl/m_catalogue_sub6_id7560.htm

Modern Cultural Opinions on the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon Him

by Alex Migda

Muslims have always looked to their prophet for standards of conduct, with accounts of his words and actions forming the entire groundwork of Islam. While the Prophet Muhammad has always been held in the highest regard by his followers, some differences in their beliefs about him have arisen as major cultural divisions between the Sunni and the Shi’a. The western world outside of Islam has, for the most part, maintained a negative opinion of Muhammad through propaganda and a general paradigm that erects a straw man argument against Islam as antithetic to Christianity.

Within Islam

The split between Sunni and Shi’a within Islam can be traced all the way back to the time of Muhammad’s death. There are many complex differences between Sunni and Shi’a today that can differ among regions. According to Hourani, the Shi’a perceive Muhammad as an, “…emanation of God.” This belief is not shared by the overall majority Sunni Muslims, who firmly assert that Muhammad was entirely human in nature. The origins of Shi’aism come from sympathy for Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali, and therefore support a tradition of succession based on descent rather than community consensus.

The Christian West

It can be demonstrated that as early as the Middle Ages, Islam was portrayed in Christian propaganda as another of the “barbaric” Eastern cultures. Within this framework, the Prophet Muhammad was portrayed as an immoral man who was able to manipulate a vulnerable population for his own personal gain. This basic anti-Islamic doctrine persisted in Christian culture all the way through the enlightenment, as is demonstrated by Voltaire’s Mahomet, published in 1741, which relies very little on historical accuracy in it’s presentation of Muhammad’s character.
The artistic portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad has always been seen as anything from taboo to highly offensive to many Muslims. A controversy arose in 2005 when a the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad, most of which were considered intentionally disrespectful of the Prophet. These cartoons incited a large response from Muslim communities around the world, which seems to have had a lasting effect of contributing to polarized opinions resulting from the centuries-old prejudice against Islam as antithetic to Christianity. The Danish cartoon controversy demonstrates that the true relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic cultures is being largely overshadowed by politics and fanaticism.
1. Albert Hourani. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age. 1983. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Page 9.
2. Flemming Rose. Why I Published Those Cartoons. Washington Post; February 19, 2006; B01.
3. Pernille Ammitzbøll, Lorenzo Vidino. 
Middle East Quarterly. 
Winter 2007, pp. 3-11
4. Hassan, Salah D. “The Caliphate in Medina 630-661.” Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. 16 February 2010.
5. http://www.humanities.ualberta.ca/agora/Articles.cfm?ArticleNo=154