Historical Who is Who
570 - 632CE
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, regarded by Muslims as ‘The Last of the Prophets’. From an Arab family and born in Mecca/Makkah he was increasingly aware of misleading deceptions which idolised lesser qualities and beings instead of the One God. Even the scriptures of Jews and Christians had become distorted by their respective followers. Instead he began to proclaim the words of the Qur’an which to his apparent surprise were revealed directly to him from God. Stories of his own life were subsequently collected as the Hadith. They tell of his marriages, beginning with Khadija, of his struggle with opponents in Mecca which made it necessary for him to move to Medina in 622 (known as the Hijra, the date from which the Muslim calendar is reckoned – AH), and the creation of a new united community of Islam – the umma. Although very highly regarded (hence the honorific pbuh - Peace be upon him), it is central to Islam that he has no divine status which would be blasphemous. There is some irony therefore in the explosive zeal with which abuse of his name and figure is met by some.
As with central figures in other religious traditions, there are mixed responses from within the Muslim community regarding the application of historical scholarship and literary analysis to the person of Muhammad. However, that he existed and continues to impact on Muslim ethics and moral education is not in dispute.