The Early Years
Mohammed (also spelled as Muhammad) ibn Abdallah, was born in the western Arabian city of Mecca around 570 AD (He is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster with World history at 571 AD). The family belonged to the prominent Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. His father passed away before he was born who was soon followed by his mother when the boy was six. The young boy was cared for by his grandfather until his death two years later. His uncle took the young orphan in after that.
Mecca was a significant stop on the caravan trade that ran through the Arabian peninsula and beyond. Luxury items such as myrrh, frankincense, and gold passed through or were traded in this city. Pilgrims also flocked to the Kaaba to worship the Arabian gods. It was not an isolated city, and it boasted a cosmopolitan population because of trade. However, it was not equal to Rome, Constantinople or Damascus during this period. In Mecca, the young Mohammed learned the ropes on how to manage a trade caravan under the guidance of his uncle.
Mohammed joined his uncle in his teenage years to a caravan trade in Syria where he met the Christian monk Bahira who, according to legend, predicted that Mohammed would be a prophet of God. They came back to Mecca, and Mohammed later became a successful merchant with a reputation for trustworthiness and truthfulness. He was so popular that he earned the titles “al-Sadiq” (truthful) as well as “al-Amin” (trustworthy). These traits did not escape the notice of a wealthy widow named Khadija, who also happened to be a businesswoman involved in the caravan trade herself. She proposed marriage to the younger man (Khadija was fifteen years older than Mohammed) in 595 AD. Mohammed accepted her proposal in the same year. The union between Khadija and Mohammed was a happy one which produced five daughters. It was not until fifteen years later when Mohammed received a visit from the angel Gabriel in a cave named Hira that the history of Islam took off from its origins in this Arabian city and into world history.
Picture By Angelpeream, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12871191
Armstrong, Karen. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
Rodinson, Maxime. Muhammad: Prophet of Islam. London: I.B. Tauris, 2002.
Rogerson, Barnaby. The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, 2003.
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