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A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam

A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam

by :

Dar Rah Haqq's Board of Writers

In the Name of God; the Merciful, the Compassionate

The Pre-Islamic World

Before the advent of Islam, people all over the world were sadly impoverished in thought, opinions, and individual and social attitudes. Although such conditions were not the same in all parts of the world, generally speaking, all the people of the world shared superstitious beliefs, intellectual deviations, inhumane social traditions, myths and social and moral conflicts. Before Islam emerged, the Jews had changed the religion of Moses into hidebound dogma and its principles into hollow, lifeless rules and precepts. The spirit of materialism had penetrated into people's lives. Unfortunately, Christianity, which had been presented for the moral rectification and spiritual refinement of the people, was changed in nature by the Christian clergy and became a vehicle for the passionate ambitions of most of them. Since it lacked complete, comprehensive laws and regulations for social systems, it proved unable to provide the people with deliverance and comprehensive guidance. It was due to such conditions that people all over the world shared superstitious ideas, inhuman social traditions, myths, social and moral conflicts. The fire of corruption and perdition was raging. Superstitions and false views ruled people in the name of religion! Paganism and the concept of the Trinity had been imposed upon them. Many worshipped idols, fire, cows and stars. Most shameful of all was the widespread worship of the sexual organs of men and women. 1 This same moral and spiritual corruption and regression, which had spread everywhere, caused dishonesty, darkness and deviations in human societies. Bloodshed, murder, tyranny, and oppression prevailed all over the world. In fact, humanity had been put on the verge of the abyss of total destruction!

ARABIA DURING THE DARK PRE-ISLAMIC TIMES

Arabia, which has been called 'the burnt land', was then a strange place. A collection of red-hot deserts, valleys, and sand hills was called 'Arabia'. There was hardly any water or plant life in it. It would have been a mistake to name the people's dwellings 'houses'. They were rather catacombs in which living beings named 'human beings' fidgeted and lived miserably on dates and stinking water! Tribal fights and disputes formed the basic principle of the Arabian social system. Makkah was no more than an idol-temple. Its inhabitants included traders and usurers who even exchanged human life for money. The people of the Arabian Peninsula suffered from their tribal and pastoral life in the deserts, coupled with blood-thirsty feudalism. The economic crisis resulting from the exploitation of the people by the ruling class and by bands of usurers had robbed human life of its meaning and darkened the horizon of social well-being. The wealthy usurers who engaged in trade in Makkah had amassed enormous amounts of wealth by illegitimate means and exploited the weak and poor classes of society. In fact, they increasingly exacerbated anti-human social class differences through usury and oppressive exploitation. Due to their ignorance, the Arab tribes in those days generally engaged in worshipping natural phenomena and in idolatry. The House of God, the Ka'aba, was used as the idol-temple of the Arabs. 2

Any one of the indecent, degrading social and moral customs in Arabia at that time was enough to destroy the honour of a whole nation. Before Islam, the anti-human deviations of the Arabs had created a situation whereby the fruit was crime and corruption, the nourishment was corpses, the motto was fear and dread, and the logic was the sword. The Arabs wrongly believed that only those were superior who descended from the Arab race and had Arab blood! As a matter of fact, the twentieth-century form of nationalism and racism was quite prevalent among the Arabs during the first pagan period. 3

In addition, the Arabs vainly gloried in their wealth and the number of their children. Each tribe having wealth and a large number of offspring prided itself on them and considered them to be among its crowning achievements. Plunder, robbery, savagery, aggression, and treachery were their obvious characteristics, and genocide was considered a sign of bravery and courage. As the Arabs before the time of Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants) believed the birth of a daughter to be harmful or were either afraid of poverty and destitution, they either killed their innocent daughters or buried them alive. If a man was given the news that his wife had borne a baby daughter, his face would become red with rage. He would then seclude himself plotting what to do with his newborn daughter! Should he bear the shame and disdain and take care of her or should he bury her alive and banish the disgrace and disdain from himself because in some cases even the existence of one daughter in a family was considered shameful. 'And they ascribe daughters to God, glory be to Him, and for themselves (they would have) what they desire. And when a daughter is announced to one of them, his face becomes black and he is full of wrath. He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge' (16:58-59).

'And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great wrong' (17:31).

In the Nahj ul-Balaghah, Imam 'Ali has described the social conditions of the Arabs in the following way,'... And you Arabs were at that time followers of the worst beliefs and lived in a land of burning deserts. You lived on the stony ground amidst poisonous snakes that fled no voice or sounds. You drank polluted water, ate rough, unwholesome foods, shed each other's blood, and removed yourselves from your relatives. Idols had been set all around you and you did not avoid sins ...'. 4

Thus the Arabs lived in a filthy, depraved environment and as a result of misdirection and immaturity, had turned into brutal, plundering, and seditious people. Like most people of that time, they had adopted superstitious, illusive myths, and false notions as 'religion'. 5

It goes without saying that for a basic reformation of such a society, a fundamental, comprehensive, and all-embracing revolution was quite necessary. However, the leader of such a vital movement and revolution had to be a divine man sent down by God so he would be and would remain devoid of tyranny, and any aggressive, selfish tendencies, and would not destroy his enemies for his own selfish interests, under the pretext of purification, but would try to reform and rectify them, working solely for God's sake, for the people's welfare, and for the improvement of human societies. There is no doubt that a leader who is himself immoral, unscrupulous, and without praise-worthy human characteristics is unable to rectify human societies and save the people. It is only divine leaders who, inspired by Almighty God, are able to make profound basic transformations in all phases of the people's individual and social life. Now we must try to understand what kind of person such a leader of the worldwide revolution was and what changes he made in the world.

The Prophet's Birth and Childhood

Makkah was covered by a heavy blanket of darkness. No signs of life and activity could be observed in it. Only the moon slowly emerged from behind tie darkened surrounding mountains and cast its pale, delicate rays upon the simple, austere houses and upon the sandy regions outside the city. Little by little, midnight gave way to dawn. A gentle breeze rustled through the burning land of the Hijaz and prepared it for a short rest. Now the stars, too, added to the beauty of this pure banquet of nature and smiled at the residents of Makkah. It was now early dawn and the early rising, vigilant night birds were singing beautifully in that heavenly weather. They seemed to be speaking in a romantic language to their Beloved! The horizon was on the verge of the brightness of dawn but still a mysterious silence prevailed over the city. All were asleep. Only Amina was awake, feeling the contractions she had been expecting. Gradually the contractions became stronger. Suddenly Amina saw several unknown women in her room. The room was filled with light and there was fragrance in the air. She wondered who they were and how they had entered her room through the closed door. 6

Soon her baby was born, and thus, after several months of waiting, Amina had the pleasure of seeing her child in the early dawn of the 17th of Rabi ul-Awwal. 7

All were overjoyed with the child's birth. But when Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants) illuminated Amina's dark and silent room of prayer, her young Abdullah, was not present. He had passed away in Medina while returning from Damascus and had been buried there, leaving Amina alone. 8

THE WONDERFUL BABY

The Prophet was born and his blessed birth gave rise to numerous wonderful incidents in the sky and on the earth, especially in the East, the cradle of civilization. News of these events spread quickly and informed the people of an imminent, very significant incident. Since this newborn child was predestined to destroy the people's old superstitious beliefs and customs and to lay new foundations for human progress and prosperity, from the very beginning he sounded the reveille. On that blessed night, the Persian monarch Anushiravan's magnificent palace, which incarnated a false fantasy of power and eternal monarchy and upon which people looked with fear and awe, trembled. 9 Fourteen of its turrets collapsed, and the fire in the fire-temple of Persia, which had been flaming for 1,000 years, was suddenly extinguished. 10

So the humiliated worshippers of that false, destructive object of worship, whose minds had been blocked by the obstacles of prejudice and false imitation and who thus could not reflect upon nature took notice of the truth and were attracted toward a totally different direction. The drying out of the Savah Lake awakened the people of another great region."

HALIMA, THE PROPHET'S NURSE

For many centuries it had been customary among the Arabs to give their newborn children to women from the tribes around the city to be wet-nursed. This was done so that their children would grow up in the fresh air and the natural environment of the desert and also learn the eloquent Arabic dialect whose purest form was to be found at that time in the desert. 12

For this reason and since Amina had no milk to feed her child, Abdul Muttalib, his grandfather and guardian, felt it necessary to employ an honorable, trustworthy lady to look after the child of his dear son, Abdullah. After making appropriate inquiries, he selected Halima, who was from the Bani Sa'd tribe (a tribe famous for bravery and eloquence) and who was rated among the most chaste, noble women. Halima took the infant to her own tribe and looked after him as though he were her own child. The Bani Sa'd tribe had long been suffering from famine in the desert. The dry desert and lack of rains had added much to their poverty and misery. But from the very day lie entered Halima's house, good fortune and blessings entered with him. Her life, which had been filled with poverty and destitution, suddenly changed into a happy and prosperous one. The pale faces of Halima and her children became rosy and full of life. Her dry breasts swelled with milk, and the pasture of the sheep and camels of that region turned fresh and green, whereas before he came to their tribe, people lived in poverty and faced many difficulties. He grew up more rapidly than other children, ran more nimbly, and did not stammer like them. Good fortune and auspicious­ness so accompanied him that all the people around him easily realized this fact and admitted it. Halima's husband, Harith, told her, 'Do you know what a blessed baby we have been given?' 13

IN THE STORM OF EVENTS

The Prophet was just six years old 14 when his mother, Amina, left Makkah for Medina to visit her relatives and probably to pay a respectful visit to her husband's grave. He accompanied his mother on that trip. But after visiting her relatives and expressing love and loyalty to her husband at Abdullah's graveside, on her way back to Makkah, Amina passed away at a place named Abwa'. 15 Thus, the Prophet had lost both his mother and father by that tender age when every child needs a father's affections and a mother's loving embrace.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE PROPHET'S CHARACTER

Just as the Prophet's birth and the events that followed his blessed birth were extraordinary and suggestive of his majesty and supreme character, so his behaviour and manner of speaking in childhood also made him different from other children. Abdul Muttalib realized this fact and respected his majesty greatly. 16

Abu Talib, the Prophet's uncle, used to say, 'We have never heard any lies from Muhammad, nor have we seen him misconduct himself or make mischief. He never laughs unduly nor speaks idly and he is mostly alone'. 17

The Prophet was seven years old when the Jews remarked, 'In our Books we have read that the Prophet of Islam refrains from eating any food which is religiously prohibited or doubtful. Let's try him'. So they stole a hen and sent it to Abu Talib. Not knowing that the hen had been stolen, all ate from the cooked hen but Muhammad, who avoided even tasting it. When they asked the reason for this avoidance of the food, he answered, 'This food is forbidden by God, and God protects me against anything that He has forbidden ...'. Then the Jews took a hen from a neighbour, intending to pay for it later on, and sent it to Abu Talib's house. Again he avoided eating the hen, saying, 'This food is doubtful and ...'. Then the Jews said, 'This child has an extraordinary character and a supreme position'. 18

Abdul Muttalib, the chief of the Quraysh tribe, did not treat his grandson like other children, but held him in great respect and reverence. When a special place was arranged for Abdul Muttalib at the Ka'aba, his offspring surrounded that special place, inhibited by Abdul Muttalib's dignity and glory from stepping into his abode. But the Prophet was by no means impressed by so much grandeur and honour and would always directly go to that particular seat. Abdul Muttalib's sons tried to hinder him, but he protested and said, 'Let my son go. I swear by God that he has a glorified, majestic position'. Then Muhammad sat beside the chief of the Quraysh, Abdul Muttalib, and spoke with him. 19

Some scenes from the Prophet's childhood and youth

A FEW SCENES

Muhammad went through the difficulties of orphanhood in his childhood with the support of his high-spirited grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, and his a,ffectionate uncle, Abu Talib. It seems that the heart-rendering pains of orphanhood must have severely tormented his pure delicate soul. It is logical to believe that these sufferings were necessary for the foundation of his supreme character and that such difficulties taught him how to resist the hardships of life and to bear the heavy responsibility later to be put on his blessed shoulders. As time went on, Muhammad grew up and his childhood gave place to youth, when instincts and potentials bloom. Although he was deprived of a mother's care and a father's affection, he received affectionate care and attention from Abu Talib, who, due to his moral attitudes and in obedience to his father's emphatic order, protected and supported him. In fact, Muhammad represented three things to Abu Talib: a son, a reminder of his brother, Abdullah, and of his father, Abdul Muttalib. So the Prophet became a beloved member of Abu Talib's family, lived in his house, and was treated as his own son. To the Prophet, Abu Talib was an affectionate father, a loyal uncle, and a compassionate preceptor. These two - uncle and nephew - were so fond of each other that their lives seemed to be intertwined. This very intense affection had caused Abu Talib to refuse to ever part from him. He would take his hand in his own and go with him to the famous Arab markets of 'Akaz, Majnah, and Zil-Majaz. Even when he was to accompany the caravan on travelling on business from Makkah to Damascus, he could not bring himself to part with his nephew. So Abu Talib took him along to Damascus. Riding on a camel, the Prophet started the long journey to Yathrib and Damascus. 20

BAHIRA'S INTERVIEW WITH THE PROPHET

On the day the Quraysh caravan was nearing Basra, 21 Bahira, a devout monk, caught sight of it through his monastry's window. He observed the caravan shaded by a little cloud that kept pace with it. Bahira came out of his monastry, stood in a corner and instructed his servant, 'Go and tell them that today they are all my guests'. All came to him but the Prophet, who was standing beside the property and equipment of the caravan. Seeing that the cloud had ceased to move, Bahira asked his guests, 'Are all the members of the caravan present here?' They answered, 'All but a youth who is the youngest'. Bahira said, 'Tell him to come as well'. So he was asked to come to the monk's room. The keen eyes of Bahira noticed that the cloud over his head moved with him. Taken by surprise, Bahira kept staring at the young boy. When the meal was over, the pious monk told him, 'I have a question to ask you and you must swear by Lat and 'Uzza 22 to answer my question'. Muhammad said, 'These two you have asked me to swear by are the most detestable things to me'. Bahira said, 'Swear by Allah to answer my question'. He said, 'Ask your question'. After a short interview with him, Bahira knelt down before him and started kissing his hands and feet, saying, 'If I live till you start your divine mission, I will most faithfully aid you and fight your enemies. You are superior to all of Adam's offspring ...'. Then he asked, 'Whose son is this youth?' The caravan members pointed to Abu Talib, saying, 'His son'. Bahira said, 'No. His father must be dead!'

Abu Talib said, 'You are right. He is my nephew'. Bahira then said, 'This youth will have a brilliant, extraordinary future. If the Jews find out what I have realized about him, they will destroy him. Take great care lest the Jews should hurt him'. Abu Talib said, 'What is he destined to do? What have the Jews to do with him?' Bahira said, 'He is predestined to become a Prophet, and the angel of inspiration will come down and make divine revelations to him'. Abu Talib said, 'God will not leave him alone and will Himself protect him against the Jews and his malevolent enemies'.

THE PROPHET AS A SHEPHERD AND A CONTEMPLATIVE MAN

Although Abu Talib was rated as a man of status among the Quraysh, his income, was not sufficient to support his family. Now that Muhammad was of mature age, he was naturally inclined to find a job to ease the heavy burden upon his uncle's shoulders. But what kind of job should he engage in to suit his supreme character? Since he was destined to become a great Prophet and a sublime leader, to face unrestrained obstinate people, to fight against the superstitious beliefs and wrong customs of the period of ignorance, and to lay the foundations of the magnificent palace of justice and proper laws and regulations, he found it expedient to become a herdsman. Our Holy Prophet would take the sheep and cattle of his relatives and those of the people of Makkah to the surrounding deserts to graze. He gave his uncle the wages he received in return. 24

This engagement outside the noisy, agitated environment of the city and away from people's disputes and conflicts gave him an invaluable opportunity to acquire much experience, of which the sweet fruits appeared during his prophethood and time of leadership. Indeed, during this period, he acquired many superior human characteristics such as generosity, good temper, magnanimity, good behaviour towards neighbours, tolerance, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and avoidance of vices. He became known as 'Muhammad, the Trustworthy' . 25

THE PROPHET'S CHASTITY

When childhood gives its place to maturity and human instincts and potentialities bloom, youngsters suddenly find themselves in the stormy stage of maturity - much more exciting and agitating than childhood. During this critical period of life, various kinds of deviations, seditions, moral deteriorations, and forms of heedlessness threaten the young and their future life. Unless they are properly directed and carefully looked after, or themselves endeavour to control and restrain their overflowing instincts, they will so fall into the terrible abyss of misery and immorality that they can hardly attain happiness and prosperity for the rest of their lives. The Prophet lived in a severely polluted environment, the atmosphere of which was darkened with all kinds of moral deteriorations and sins. In the Hijaz, not only the youth, but also the aged had become most shamefully involved in sexual deviations and unchasity. In every alley and neighbourhood, black flags had been hung over some houses as a sign of corruption, inviting un-virtuous people inside. The Prophet grew up in such a foul society, but though he remained unmarried until the age of 25, the sordid environment could not affect him the least bit, nor did anybody observe any immoral action springing from him. Both his friends and his enemies regarded him as the best model of chastity and virtue. The poems commemorating his blessed marriage with Khadija - the great lady of the Quraysh - remind its of modesty, Addressing Khadija, the poet says, '...O Khadija, among all the people of the world, you have attained a sublime position, the most honourable position. You have been granted the honour of being wife to Muhammad, the great man whose peer has not been born by any woman in the whole world. All praiseworthy virtues and majestic qualities plus modesty are to be found in him and will be so forever' . 26

Another poet had said, 'If Ahmad is weighed against all other creatures, he will outweigh them, and truly his virtues are obvious to the Quraysh'. 27
____________
1. Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 1, pp.95, 301; Vol. 4, p.304; Vol. 7, p.95.

2. See the Nahj ul-Balaghah of Khui, Vol. 2, p.173; History of World Religions (Persian translation), p.479.

3. The Persian translation of Jahiliyat ul-qarn ul-'asharin compiled by Muhammad Qutb.

4. Nahj ul-Balaghah, the first part printed in Damascus, p.66; Fiyd ul-Islam, Vol. 1, p.83, the 26th sermon.

5. The third edition of the Encyclopedia, p.255.

6. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, p.325.

7. Ibid., p.250.

8. Kamil ul-Tawarikh, second section, p.10; Tabaqat, Vol. L, p.61; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, p.125.

9. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, p.257.

10. Ibid., pp.258-263.

11. Ibid

12. Sirihi Halabiyih, Vol. 1, p.99. 1

13. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, pp.331-395; Sirihi ibn Hisham, printed in 1375 A.H.L., Vol. 1. pp.159-60; Halabiyih, printed in 1382 A.H.L., Vol. 1, p.99.

14. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, pp.402, 406.

15. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.168.

16. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, pp.382, 402, 366.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid., p.336.

19. Ibid., p.142; Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.168.

20. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.180.

21. Basra was a small town near Damascus.

22. Lat and Uzza were two of the famous idols that the Arabs worshipped and swore by on various occasions.

23. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.181; A'lam Alwari, published in Najaf, 1390 A.H.L., p.26; and Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, pp.193-204.

24. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.167 (footnote).

25. Ibid., p.183.

26. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, p.3; Tarikh Ya'aqubi, Vol. 2, p.15.

27. Ibid., p.74.


The Prophet's First Marriage

Youth is the period of the blooming of instincts and the emergence of one's sexual' potencies. When youngsters, both male and female, are of -mature age, they are drawn to the opposite sex, and a fire of passion starts flaming in their hearts that will not be extinguished unless they form a union of marriage. It is only in this way that they will find peace of mind. Therefore, to make the proper use of such potentials and to prevent the various deviations that overflowing sexual instincts may create in human societies, Islam has emphatically ordered that the youth should marry as soon as possible and not shun the command of marriage on the pretext that they may be unable to support their family later on. 'And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, God will make them free from want out of His grace; and God is Most Generous, Knowing. And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until God makes them free from want out of His grace' (4:31-32).

But there may be times when financial conditions do not permit one to undertake the responsibilities of married life. No doubt, under such circumstances, marriage must be postponed until conditions are favourable, and, all through this period of celibacy, the youth must necessarily acquire virtue and chastity. Muhammad suffered just such hard conditions. Due to financial problems, he was unable to take a wife until he was 25. 28 So he found it advisable to temporarily refrain from marriage and to wait for a suitable occasion when life's conditions would allow the formation of a family. 29

KHADIJA'S BUSINESS PROPOSAL

Khadija, who was an honourable wealthy woman, used to put her wealth at the disposal of others who traded for her and received wages in return for their services. As Muhammad's fame for honesty, virtue and trustworthiness spread throughout Arabia and reached Khadija, she started seeking his cooperation. Then she made this proposal to him: 'I will put at your disposal some property plus a servant, Masara, and pay you more than others'. Being well aware of his uncle's financial problems due to his old age, low income, and large family, Muhammad accepted Khadija's ofher. 30

KHADIJA

Khadija, the daughter of Khuwalid, was a lady of supreme character. She had been twice married, to Abu Halah and Atigh Makhzumi, and twice widowed. Though she was forty years old, her enormous wealth, popularity, and prestige had led many wealthy and powerful Quraysh to court her. But she did not accept any of them as her husband and avoided marriage, for she knew well that they either were interested in her wealth or were men whose character she detested. 31

PROPHET'S JOURNEY TO DAMASCUS

When the commercial caravan of the Quraysh was ready to start moving towards Damascus and the Prophet, too, had made provisions for the trip and was about to join the caravan, Khadija ordered her servant, Masara, to accompany him to Damascus and be always ready to serve him. Obviously, it is not possible to explain in detail this historical journey, and we content ourselves with mentioning the following points: This journey brought about many blessings and much good fortune, such as enormous profits in commerce, the manifestation of the Prophet's wonderful personality to the people in the caravan, the meeting with the Christian monk, the prediction of his prophecy, 32 and the preliminary causes of an auspicious matrimonial union. When the trading was over, the caravan returned from Damascus. Masara explained the trip to Khadija in detail, reporting the huge, unprecedented profits they had gained. She also spoke about the Prophet's excellent character and his generosity, as well as his many other virtues manifested during this journey. 33

Upon hearing this and hearing about the predictions of a learned Jewish man about his divine character and his marriage with the most honorable woman of the Quraysh, Khadija not only started to cherish his love in her pure heart, but also came to realize that he was her ideal husband. 34

Also, her uncle, Warqa ibn Nawfal, had talked to her about tile predictions of the last prophets, and about the good news of his marriage with Khadija. 35 These words, too, added to her love and enthusiasm. But how was she to talk to him about her desire and heavenly affection? This was not so easy for Khadija, who was herself the most respected woman of the Quraysh.

KHADIJA'S PROPOSAL OF .MARRIAGE

Khadija asked Nafisa, who was her close friend and whom she always trusted with her secrets, to speak to the Prophet about marriage. Nafisa went to him and asked, 'Why do you not get married?' He answered, 'My living conditions and financial situation do not allow me to get married'. Nafisa said, 'Will you agree to get married if this problem is solved and a rich, beautiful, and honorable woman from a well-known family asks you to marry her?' He asked, 'Who is this woman you are talking about?' Nafisa answered, 'Khadija'. He said, 'How is it possible? She has rejected the proposals of many of the Quraysh aristocrats and rich men. Would she marry me?' Nafisa said, 'This union is possible and I will arrange it'. When he became quite sure of Khadija's inclination towards marriage with him, the Prophet talked to his uncles about the matter. They were very pleased with this good news, and they attempted to arrange the marriage for their blessed nephew. And finally this auspicious marriage was celebrated with special ceremonies. 37

The Prophet spent 25 years of his life with Khadija, who was not only a loving wife for him, but also his best and most helpful mate. 38 This period is considered to be the best period of his married life. Khadija, peace be upon her, was the first woman who believed in the Prophet's divine prophecy. She put all her wealth at his disposal to propagate and promote Islam. 39 Six children were born of his marriage: two sons named Qasim and Tahir who passed away as infants in Makkah and four daughers named Ruqiyah, Zaynab, Umm Kulsum, and Fatima, who was the most prominent and honoured of them all. 40

Khadija was so devoted to her husband and showed such great sympathy and self-sacrifice for him and for the promotion of his religion that not only did he love her dearly and respect her highly during her lifetime, but even after her death. Each time he remembered her, his blessed heart filled with sorrow 41 and he wept at her loss. Khadija's brilliant sun of life set at the age of 65, ten years after the actualization of the prophetic mission of the Prophet. 42 In this way, the house of our Holy Prophet became deprived of the light of Khadija's existence forever.

The Philosophy of the Marriages of the Holy Prophet of Islam

SOME EXAMPLES OF THE ACCUSATIONS BROUGHT AGAINST HIM BY CHRISTIANS"

At the beginning of the 18th'century, Christian writers began a new crusade against Islam. Through writing and circulating books over-flowing with insults and false accusations, they intended to distract the people of the world from the divine religion of Islam and to turn them against the great leader of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants). 43

These myths, false writings, and prejudiced works of the Christian bigots originated in the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century, when one John Andre Maure wrote a book against the Prophet's religion that was used by the later anti ­Islamic writers. And since other writers did not know the Arabic language, they contented themselves with copying out of his books on Islam. 44

Thus, the writers whose so-called sacred books openly accuse prophets 45 of adultery have written about our great leader, 'He followed passions and sensual desires and though he ordered his followers not to take more than four permanent wives, he himself had more wives' . 46

With this insult, they have tried to introduce our Holy Prophet as a sensual man to the unaware Christian readers, thus to stain his supreme character and to hinder the spread and propagation of Islam. But this fantasy turned out to be vain. Before long, the honest Christian writers began to defend the Holy Prophet of Islam and to apologize for the accusations brought against the Qur'an and the Prophet of Islam. It is clear to those of us who believe in the perfect innocence of prophets, that such insults are quite unbelievable and far from the truth, but it is necessary to make the facts clear to those who do not agree with us in this matter.

THE JUDGMENTOF HISTORY

It has been written by impartial truth-seeking historians, both Muslims and Christians, that the numerous marriages of the Holy Prophet of Islam, were by no means due to sensuality and sexual passions, for if this were so, he would never have married Khadija who was 40 years old and who had lost most of her beauty and vivacity in the houses of her two former husbands, when he himself was only 25, the age of the sexual passions of youth and when young men are preoccupied with choosing young wives. The Prophet lived most sincerely and faithfully for 25 years with Khadija 47, and, though many beautiful Arab maidens and women were eagerly longing to marry him, not once did he take another wife during his married life with Khadija. No doubt if our Holy Prophet were interested in following sexual passions, he could not have refrained from mating with young women during this long period.

GROUNDLESS VIEWS OF BIGOTED CRITICS

What if such unjust people were asked, 'Why did the Prophet spend his youth with an aged widow and not marry other women? Why did he take several women as wives in the last ten years of his life, which was the period of old age and when he was having to handle many problems regarding both the internal and external policies of Islam, it was not convenient for him to undertake the responsibilities of marital life?' And what if they were asked, 'Was it not extremely troublesome and difficult to take care of helpless women each having several orphans? Is it consistent with the pleasure-seeking nature of a man to bear the companionship of women with varied moods and manners?' Surely they have no choice but to admit that the Prophet was never sensual and pleasure-seeking and that they have accused him out of hostility and bigotry. John Davenport says, 'How is it possible for a sensual man to content himself with just one wife for 25 years in such a place where polygyny was common and prevalent . 48

THE NUMBER OF WIVES OF THE HOLY PROPHET

After Khadija passed away, when the Holy Prophet was 53 years old, he took other wives including 'Aisha, Hafsa, Zaynab bint Khuzayma, Umm Salma, Sauda bint Zama, Zaynab bint Jahash, Juwayriya, Safia, Maymuna, Umm Habiba and Marya. 49

The conditions and circumstances that necessitated the several marriages of the Prophet should be studied. The main reasons for his marriages are the following:

1. To take care of the orphans and the destitute

The Prophet took some of his wives in order to maintain the prestige and reputation they had when they previously had been living in comfort and honour but whose faith and honour were endangered due to the loss of their guardians - husbands, fathers, sons and their tribes - forcing them to abandon Islam and select polytheism and atheism. Sauda was like this. Her husband passed away in Ethiopia, where they had migrated, leaving her alone and without support. The Prophet, who had lost Khadija and had no other wife, married Sauda. 50 Zaynab the daughter of Khuzayma was a widow who had, after her husband's death, fallen into poverty. She had always been a generous and benevolent woman, known as 'the mother of the poor'. To guard her honour and reputation, the Prophet took Zaynab as his wife. She passed away in the lifetime of God's Messengers. 51 Umm Salma, too, was faithful and aged and had helpless orphans. She was another wife of our Prophet. 52

2. To establish proper laws and customs

Another reason was to establish proper laws and customs and to nullify wrong customs and beliefs of the period of ignorance and idol-worship. At the Holy Prophet's order, Zaynab, the daughter of Jahash and the Prophet's cousin, married Zayd ibn Harith. This was an example of annuling class differences which Islam forbids. Zaynab was a grand daugher of the Quraysh chieftain Abdul Muttalib and Zayd's family were slaves. The Holy Prophet had bought his freedom. For these reasons, Zaynab considered herself superior to her husband, Zayd, thus making her marital life bitter and unbearable. No matter how much the Holy Prophet advised them, she did not change her manners, so finally Zayd, feeling no love for her any longer, divorced her. 53 At God's command, the great Prophet of Islam married Zaynab after her husband, Zayd, had divorced her in order to wipe out the custom of not marrying the former wives of adopted sons (for they regarded their adopted sons as their real sons), which custom was unduly prevalent among the people in the dark periods of paganism. 54

False Accusations

Some Christian writers have, in their dishonest judgments and accusatory remarks, gone so far as to claim that the Holy Prophet of Islam had fallen in love with Zaynab's beauty. This claim is so far from the truth that it is clearly rejected by all authentic histories and logical indictions because if the Prophet of Islam were a slave to his passions and entangled in such sensual thoughts, or if Zaynab were so attractive as to fascinate him, he would have fallen in love with her when she was still a maiden, when he himself was young and more vivacious, especially considering the fact that Zaynab was a close relative of his and usually relatives know about each other's beauty or lack of it.

3. To set free the slaves like Juwayriya

Juwayriya was from the famous tribe called the Bani Mustalaq who were defeated and taken captive in their fight with the Islamic forces. The Prophet married Jawayriya the daughter of Harith, who was their chief. When the Muslims observed that the captives had thus become relatives of the Prophet, they freed many of them. According to Ibn Hisham, this blessed marriage resulted in freedom for one hundred families from that tribe. 55

4. To form friendly relations

Some marriages occurred to form friendly relations with great Arab tribes, to hinder their obstruction, and to maintain internal policy. For these reasons, the Holy Prophet of Islam married 'Aisha, Hafsa, Safia, Maymuna, and Umm Habiba. Umm Habiba was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, whose family members were bigoted enemies of the family of the Holy Prophet of Islam and especially of our Prophet himself. Umm Habiba's husband gave up Islam in Ethiopia, became a Christian, and died there. She was then extremely troubled and worried for she was herself a Muslim while her father, Abu Sufyan, was rated among the greatest enemies of Islam. Thus she could not take refuge with him and was alone and helpless. Therefore, to help and support this poor woman and to make friends with the Bani Ummayad, the Prophet married her. 56 Safia was the daughter of Hayy ibn Akhtab, the head of the Bani Nazir tribe. To guard her prestige, the Prophet took her as his wife after the Jewish captives were scattered among the Muslims, thus establishing family relationships with one of the greatest Bani Israel tribes. 57 Maymuna, whom God's Messenger married in the year 7 AH, was from the tribe of Bani Makhzum. 58 With the exception of 'Aisha, most of the wives of the Holy Prophet were either widows or divorcees at , the time they were married to the Prophet and most of them had lost their beauty and youth, proving that the marriages of the Holy Prophet had been out of sacred motives and for benevolent reasons, so that no one can bring such accusations as sensuality and seeking of false pleasure against him.

The Character of the Holy Prophet before the actualization of the prophetic mission

THE PRINCIPLE OF HARMONY

Psychologists believe that the environment lays the foundations of people's character and their way of thinking and that the principle of harmony causes the people to follow the society's dominant patterns of thought and behaviour. 59 Although some of these psychologists have gone to extremes in this matter and have regarded this theory as a general and all-embracing principle, according to which all social phenomena without exception may be analyzed, the principle of the effect of the society on people's morale is undeniable. Therefore, an environment of virtue and health produces pious and normal offspring, and a corrupt, deviated society will naturally lead people into the pit of corruption and deviation. Thus, those who remain untouched by the society's deviating factors, must be exceptional people.

THE ENVIRONMENT OF ARABIA BEFORE THE ADVENT OF ISLAM

At that time, the whole world, especially Arabia, was steeped in ignorance, corruption, and turmoil. The Arabs were suffering immensely from superstitions and unchasteness. Ignorance had darkened the lives of the Arabs, who were leading tormented lives. Plunder and murder were quite prevalent - plunder of the people's meager properties and unjust killing! Most shameful of all was their worship of lifeless statues -idols. 60 False beliefs and class differences were strong. What was lacking was law and justice. The apathetic, wealthy people amassed wealth by exploiting the weak and by overcharging the orphan and the widow. They lorded over the poor class and exploited them. Their manners in business were so illogical and unjust that they would hold women responsible for their husbands' debts and would detain the husbands for the indebtedness of their poor wives. 61

Instead of acquiring knowledge and virtue, they prided them­selves in their ancestors and in the large numbers of their relatives; sometimes they even went to cemeteries 62 and counted the number of their dead relatives to prove there were more people in their tribe than in other tribes. Murder, bloodshed, drinking, and illegitimate sexual intercourse were quite ordinary and commonplace. 63 Amr ul-Qays, the famous Arab poet, discussed his satanic sexual relationships with his cousin 'Anizah. Curiously, such poems were ranked among the greatest works of literature and were hung in the Ka'aba. 64 Such was the situation and moral conditions of a miserable society out of whose dark horizon came the light of Islam. It is crystal clear that a person who not only is not affected by such a corrosive society, but also grieves over it and attempts to combat it, possesses a great divine character and is competent to lead people and guide them onto the path of salvation:

PROPHETS WERE NOT PRODUCTS OF THEIR ENVIRONMENTS: THEY CREATED THEM

All went to the idol-temples except the Prophet who, without being taught by anybody, made his way to Mount Hira, the mountain where he devotedly worshipped the Creator of the universe and praised His glory and power. 65 'And you did not recite before it any book, nor did you transcribe one with your right hand, for then could those who say untrue things have doubted (29:48).

Favoured by Almighty God, he distinguished his path from the very beginning, denounced the wrong manners of his people without any hesitation or fear, and proceeded against those wrong deeds and beliefs. 66 Not only was not one single moment of his blessed life spent in idolatry, but, as we have already mentioned, he hated to hear the names of idols. 67

His chasteness and purity were known to all. His extreme honesty led the people to give him the title of 'the Trustworthy', and this great virtue led Khadija to trust him with her commercial property. The behaviour of the Prophet toward the people and his manners were so pleasant and excellent that they attracted all people. 'Ammar said, 'The Prophet and I were engaged as shepherds before the advent of the prophetic mission. One day I suggested to him, 'Let's go to the Fakh pasturage'. He agreed. 'The next day I went there and saw that he had preceded me but prevented his sheep from grazing there. I asked him the reason. He replied, 'I did not wish my sheep to graze here before your sheep because we had taken this decision together' . 68

Thus the Prophet took a different direction than his people and was by no means infatuated with tribal customs and moods. In reality, under the control of the divine power, he advanced on his path of evolution and perfection. For all these reasons, people had great respect for him and relied heavily on his views in solving their problems.

THE INSTALLATION OF THE BLACK STONE

When the Holy Prophet was 30 years old, the Quraysh decided to repair the House of God, the Ka'aba, and since all the tribes of the Quraysh wished to have the honour of this great task, each took on the task of repairing one part of the House of God. First Walid started to demolish the House and then the others helped him until the pillars that the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had laid down, appeared. Now it was the time for the reconstruction of the Holy House, and each tribe undertook one part of it. When the process of construction reached the point where the Black Stone was to be installed, severe disputes arose among the Quraysh tribes. All of them wanted to have the honour of completing the task. Little by little, the dispute turned into harsh enmity, and the various tribes got ready for a bloody war. The sons of Abdul Dar filled a large jar with blood and put their hands into it, thereby giving each other a pledge of death at the battlefield. This terrible discord went on for four or five days until Abu Amayah, who was the oldest of the Quraysh, said, 'My proposal is that we select the first person who enters the mosque as an arbiter and that all of us accept his view on the problem so it will be solved'. The Quraysh accepted his proposal and waited to see who would enter the mosque first. Suddenly the Holy Prophet of Islam came in. As soon as the people caught sight of him, they said, 'This is the Trustworthy one. This is Muhammad. We will accept his decision'. The Prophet did not know about the matter. When they explained their problem to him, he said, 'Bring me a piece of cloth'. Although the Quraysh did not know what he meant by that order, they brought the cloth immediately. The Holy Prophet spread the cloth, put the Black Stone in the middle of it, and said, 'Each tribe should take hold of one side of the cloth so all can share in the honour'. The Quraysh did as he had told them and lifted the Black Stone to the point where it was to be installed. Then the Holy Prophet, who observed that if he let any of them install it, conflict and disputes would arise, himself lifted the Black Stone and installed it in its place. Through this excellent device, he put an end to the terrible enmity and conflicts. 69

This incident clearly demonstrates the supreme character of the Holy Prophet of Islam and his excellent thought and intelligence, which ended a serious dispute without any bloodshed.
____________
28. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, p.3; Tarikh Ya'aqubi, Vol. 2, p.15.

29. A'yan ul-Shi'ah, Vol. 2, p. s; Sirihi Halabiyih, Vol. 1, p.152.

30. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.188; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, p.22.

31. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, p.12; Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 3, p.1127.

32. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.188. This monk was not the monk who met the Prophet in his childhood.

33. Kamil ibn Athir, Vol. 2, p.39. Printed in Beirut, 1385 A.H.L.

34. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, pp.20-21.

35. Ibid.

36. Sirihi Halabiyih, Vol. 1, p.152; Ayan ul-Shi'ah, Vol. 2, p.8.

37. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, pp.56-73.

38. Ibid., pp. 7, 10; A'lam Alwari, p.146.

39. Ibid., pp.10-71; A'yan ul-Shi'ah, Vol. 2, p.8.

40. Ibid., p.3; A'yan, p.18; A'lam, p.146.

41. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 16, pp.8, 13.

42. Ibid.

43. Islam from the viewpoint of Voltaire, second edition, p.5.

44. Ibid., p.6.

45. The Book of Samuel, 2, section II.

46. The Life of Muhammad, compiled by Dr. Heykal, p.315.

47. Muruj ul-Dhahab, Vol. 2, p.287.

48. Udhri Taqsir Bih Pishgahi Muhammad wa Quran, p.35.

49. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, pp.200-204.

50. The Life of Muhammad, compiled by Dr. Heykal, p.319.

51. Ibid., p.320; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, p.203.

52. The Life of Muhammad, compiled -6y Dr. Heykal, p.321.

53. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, pp.214-218.

54. See The Holy Qur'an, Sura Ahzab, Ayah 37.

55. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 3, p.295,

56. Isabih wa Isti'ab, p.305; Musu'ati Alenabi, p.369; Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.223; and A'lam Alwari, p.I41.

57. Ibid.; Musu'ati, p.345, A'lam, p.142.

58. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, p.203; Sirihi ibn Hisham, p.372; Musu'ati Alenabi, p.404.

59. Rahbarani Buzurg va Masuliathayih Buzurgtar, second edition, p.37.

60. Will Durant, Persian translation, Vol. 11, pp. 1-10; A!-Durrat u!-biyda fi Sharhi Khutbati Fatimati 'l-Zahra, pp. 27, 54.

61. Da'irat ul-Ma'arif, Farid Vajdi, Vol. 6, p.250.

62. Majma' ul-Bayan, Vol. 10, p.534, new edition.

63. Al-'Asr ul-Jahili, Dr. Sufi Diyf, fifth edition in Egypt, p.70.

64. Sharh ul-Mu'allaqat ul-Saba'a by Alz-Zuzani, p.3.

65. Bihar ul-Amrar, Vol. 18, p.280.

66. Ibid., pp.277-281; Nahj ul-Balaghah of Fiydul-Islam, p.802.

67. A'lam Alwari, pp.17-18; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, p.410.

68. Bihar ul-Amrar, Vol. 16, p.224.

69. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, pp.192-197; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 15, pp.337, 412.


The Beginning of the Revelation

We have so far taken a glance at the earlier part of the blessed life of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Now we must talk about some of the most momentous phases of his life. By the age of 40 he was still living among an extremely backward people who were devoid of any traces of civilization and humanity. These hard conditions severely tormented his pure soul. He observed nothing in that society but the darkness of ignorance. He would go to the Ka'aba, but instead of witnessing the worship of God, he witnessed. idolatry. He would then leave the Ka'aba and go among the people. But there, too, he was troubled by what he saw. He was pained by the ugly customs and false thoughts of his people. The pitiable condition of the poor and the destitute caused him great anguish. The deplorable situation of women, who were treated worse than animals, as well as the prevalence of gambling, wine drinking and murder tortured his blessed heart. When he dealt with people as a merchant, their immoral behaviour gave so severe an emotional shock to him that he had to go to a lonely place where he would not be tormented by people's inhuman behaviour. For these reasons and to find peace of mind, he would go to Mount Hira and there think deeply about the amazing phenomena of nature and the vestiges of God's All-Embracing Compassion. 70

THE PROPHET AT THE AGE OF FORTY

By the time the Holy Prophet of Islam reached the age of 40, he was ready for his divine mission." One day suddenly, while he sat in a cave at Mount Hira, Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation, appeared to him and said, 'Recite!' He said in surprise, 'What shall I recite?' Again the divine voice very clearly and openly called out, 'Recite, O Muhammad!' And a third time Gabriel repeated 72, 'Recite in the Name of Your Lord Who created. He created the human being from a clot. Recite and your Lord is Most Honourable, Who taught (to write) with the pen, taught the human being what he knew not' (95:1-5).

An indescribable excitement and eagerness overcame the Holy Prophet, for he had come into contact with a supreme supernatural world. His high spirit had now found a sacred support and an eternal refuge. He saw in himself the power of prophecy. No longer was any worry or agitation to be found in his blessed being. There was now just peace and confidence within him. Was the Prophet really going through the learning process in that cave on Mount Hira? Some orientalists and foreign authors have answered this question in the affirmative. They have remarked, 'On Mount Hira, the Prophet thought deeply about the concepts of the Bible as well as the instructions of the prophets. There he spent his time in meditation and enjoyed this intellectual meditation'. 73

This remark is meant to imply that he was a self-made man who invented the religion of Islam by studying and carefully thinking about the Old and New Testaments! But there are certain documents that attest to the contrary, some of which are:

1. If the Holy Prophet of Islam had derived the Qur'an from the Bible and from the teachings of the prophets before him, the conceptions and contents of the Qur'an would have had to perfectly resemble those in the Old and New Testaments, whereas the purport of the Qur'an is quite different from that of the Old and New Testaments.

2. The magnificent and extremely beautiful wording and style of the Qur'an have brought the greatest literary men of the ages to their knees, proving that the Holy Prophet of Islam has been in direct contact with the Creator of the world. The Holy Prophet could have derived such a style from no other book.

3. No credible authentic source has ever mentioned such false accusations. Rather, these bigoted rumours are made by the Christian clergy and by the western orientalists who have selfish, hostile motives.

4. If the Qur'an had been brought into existence through study of the Old and New Testaments, those intending to fight against the Qur'an through tampering with some of its verses could have more easily made reference to the Old and New Testaments and would have achieved their purpose with a great deal less trouble.

5. All agree that the Prophet was unlettered. 74 Is it logical to believe that an uneducated, unlettered person, brought up in an ignorant, backward society that was devoid of any knowledge, learning or scholarly books could offer such an amazing book, full of startling facts and extremely advanced learning? Such bigoted persons have to be asked, 'How was the Holy Prophet of Islam able to study the Old and New Testaments? How is it possible for an unlettered man who has not been taught by any teacher nor gone to any school, to make predictions of the future and relate events of the past?'

WHAT IS REVELATION?

What is certain is that there have been relations between prophets and the Creator of the universe, that they have received the facts from the original source of creation, and that these relations have had to do with their purified selves and, fortified spirits.

It is obvious that if these relations with the divine source were taken away from the prophets, they would have no such supreme position. All the honour and value of the prophets lie in their having relations with the divine source. So there has been no ambiguity in their sayings, and they were all quite sure of what they said and knew very well the Source, Support, and Cause of their words and teachings, unlike those who claim a 'discovery' that might be made as a result of undergoing some ascetic practices. Such people often have no realization of what they have discovered. In fact, their claims are often mingled with fantasy and mere imagination and are sometimes untrue. The superiority of prophets to such people is so obvious as to need no explanation. Divine prophets have seen and said nothing but the truth, and not even one single unclear, ambiguous point has ever been found in their speeches and teachings. Thus, divine revelation has resulted from a relation between God and His prophets. This relation has sometimes been made through the medium of Gabriel and sometimes directly, without any medium.

IS REVELATION A KIND OF HYSTERIA?

Some western writers who are no doubt prejudiced have been dubious about the descent of revelation upon our Holy Prophet 75 and have considered it a sort of disease called hysteria. Fortunately, this false accusation is so vain and baseless that it calls for no arguments to prove its falsehood. It is well-known that hysteria has certain moods and indispositions, none of which has been observed in the Holy Prophet of Islam. As John Davenport has said, 'This remark that Muhammad has suffered the attacks of epilepsy is one of the false, awkward sayings of the Greeks by which they meant to stain the prestige of the propagator of a new religion, and turn the world of Christianity against his moral behaviour and qualities. 76 Even in the deepest moments of revelation, none of the piercing cries of severe agitation common in hysteria have been observed in the Holy Prophet of Islam. Another reason is that when the person suffering from hysteria recovers from such indispositions, and comes to an ordinary state, that person does not remember anything from what he has seen or heard in his state of hysteria, while the contrary was the case with the Holy Prophet of Islam. He did not speak to anybody during the time revelations came upon him and after each revelation was over, he started talking to the people about the meaning of the revelation and announced everything he had heard or seen. Moreover, the expressions of a hysteric are usually related to the delusions brought about by his suffering and exhausted nerves.

For example, some hysteric people imagine terrible faces that threaten them with death, and their cries are all about such things. And so far nobodyiias observed a hysteric say something that turns out to be law; knowledge or guidance, like the Islamic rules and teachings that, after 14 centuries, nobody has been able logically to find a single fault with.

REVELATION AND TODAY'S SCIENCE

Unlike what some people might imagine, the advent and advance of scientific discoveries not only have not reduced or damaged the importance or high position of the orthodox religion of Islam, but they have confirmed and supported them. The inventions of radar, radio, and teletypes have proved the fact that revelation is by no means inconsistent with the laws of nature or incompatible with the secrets of creation. The same God who has provided so many facilities, abilities, and mysterious ways of communication is able to set up special relations and communications with His prophets, though these two sorts of communications are not comparable. In addition, the advance of the sciences of extra-sensory perception, hypnotism, telepathy and the like have made it clear that the facts of our world are not limited to the framework of our material senses. Thus both history and science bear testimony to the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam has been selected by God for the divine mission of leading mankind into the path of virtue and salvation and saving it from the deadly pit of corruption and deviation and that all those excellent ideas and advanced programs were inspired through divine revelation. The world of Islam is proud of its great leader, the Prophet, whose divine religion not only brought life and prosperity to the world of his own time, but today, after the passing of 14 centuries, is truly the best guide of civilized societies. Each day more and more educated people come to realize the magnificence and value of his profound precepts and teachings.

The Prophet's Method of Propagating Islam

When the Holy Prophet began descending Mount Hira to go home, he found that he was in a different mood; in a strange mood; in fact in another world; in a divine atmosphere. He was not a prophet before going to the mountain, but now he was related to the Source of Creation, had communicated with the Divine Origin, with the Divine Authority. He was now witnessing what Bahira, the Christian monk, and others had predicted about him; and he well knew that a momentous task had been laid upon his shoulders. He was deeply absorbed by the task. If he had any worries, it was not because he was unsure of his prophethood. He had heard the tidings from such learned people as Bahira, and he had witnessed Gabriel bringing the good news, 'You are God's Messenger'. 77 These were enough to assure him of his divine mission and prophethood. In addition, God has always, through clear proofs and compelling confirmations assured any prophet He has selected for guiding mankind of his prophethood, so he would endeavour to rectify, purify, and educate human beings with the strongest determination. Therefore, it becomes clear that it is most baseless and wrong to say that Muhammad did not know that he had become a prophet until Khadija talked to him and assured him of his prophecy. 78

KHADIJA WAITING FOR THE PROPHET

What happened on the day of the beginning of the Prophet's prophetic mission caused him to return home later than usual. Khadija, who had never observed her affectionate husband to be late, was worried. Suddenly she saw him enter the house but with quite a new expression and in a new mood. He was now excited and moved. Khadija asked him, 'Why are you so late today?' He explained the whole event to her. Khadija had long been expecting such a blessed day, for she had heard her servant, Masara, quote from the Christian monk they had met on their journey to Damascus that he, Muhammad, is the Prophet of God to the people. 79 The Jewish and Christian priests had formerly given her the good tidings that Muhammad was to be a prophet and that he had a supreme status. So she got up and after making the necessary inquiries, contacted Warqa ibn Nawfal, who was a learned Christian person, and told him about the event. Warqa said, 'I swear by God that the same great angel Gabriel who descended to Moses, peace be upon him, has descended unto him, and no doubt he is the prophet of these people, of this Ummah'. 80

Then, to help Khadija realize the extreme significance of the matter, Warqa told her about the signs of the descent of the Angel of Revelation. 81 Khadija then returned home and after brief consideration, accepted the prophecy of Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants), thus attaining the honour of taking the lead in adopting the supreme faith of Islam among all the women of the world.

'ALI, THE FIRST MALE WHO CAME TO BELIEVE IN THE PROPHET'S FAITH

At a time when a severe famine had broken out in Arabia, Abu Talib's financial condition was difficult; indeed unbearable. To reduce his uncle's financial problems, the Prophet took his son, 'Ali, to his own house and took care of him and raised him like an affectionate father. 82 He had great talent and peerless intelligence. He obeyed the Prophet most sincerely. He soon became quite aware of the Prophet's truthfulness, and, so when he was but ten years old, he accepted the Prophet's faith with perfect awareness, thus becoming the first male to adopt Islam and to believe in the divine faith of the Prophet. 83

THE PRESENTATION OF RITUAL PRAYERS AS A RELIGIOUS DUTY

After monotheism, worshipping the One God, the first duty that became incumbent upon the Holy Prophet and his followers was the ritual prayer, which in fact demonstrates the significance of ritual prayer as the basis of man's relation to God and as a way of giving thanks for God's endless bles

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