Muhammad was born in the city of Makkah in 570 A.D. His father, Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib, died two months before he was born. His mother named him “Ahmad”, and his grandfather, who loved him very much, gave him the appellation “Muhammad” which means “Praised One.” However, because of the Arab tradition, he was called more often by his appellation, which, as a result, became more popular. By the time he reached the age of six his mother Aminah died, due to an illness. From then onwards his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib reared him. Tragically, however, his grandfather also died two years later. Muhammad’s Uncle Abu Talib, who was a merchant, began caring for him and taught him to be a merchant while allowing Muhammad to journey with him on his business travels.
Muhammad was a very likeable person in his community and was known for his honesty and fairness. He earned himself the nicknames “Al-Sadiq”, which means ‘the Truthful” and “Al Ameen,” which means “the trustworthy”, because he was considered to be very just and truthful in his interactions with people. He was kind hearted and because of that many of his people asked him for his advice and opinions on various issues. When some of the tribes would quarrel with one another they sometimes would ask Muhammad to be a judge between them. They knew he would be fair, truthful and would show no bias towards anyone regardless of status, age or sex. Muhammad was so compassionate towards life that people even noticed how kind he was to animals, which was strange in his day and age. He was a thoughtful man, with an instinct that made him ponder about life and the universe that surrounded him. This instinct enchanted his soul and sparked in him the conviction that something existed beyond himself, his community and the mere physical world. He knew this “thing” was far greater than him or anything he had ever known.
A rich widow, named Khadijah, came to know of him and gave him work as a merchant for her caravans. At the age of twenty-five, Muhammad married Khadijah who gave birth to four girls and two boys. Together, Muhammad and his family lived happily and were well off but he had many worries about his people. He was concerned that no one cared for one another, that they lacked morals and that his people’s lives were meaningless due to their devotion to wealth. They were addicted to materialism and their greed overpowered their sense of humanity. So corrupt was their civilization that they considered helping a fallen person to be against their society’s norms. Meanwhile, they created 360 gods with their own hands yet they worshipped and cherished every one of them.
Muhammad saw this and was saddened by the problems of his community. He would venture out to a place called Mount Hira, in seclusion, to free his mind and get away from the poisonous ways of his society. There, he would stay for long periods of time thinking and hoping that life in his community would change for the better.
One day, at the age of forty, an angel appeared to him and gave him the first words of revelation. His emotions were shaken to his very spirit. He encountered something beyond himself, a magnificence he could not explain nor understand. Muhammad was an ordinary man face to face with what was to become his destiny. He was to bring the very word of God to humanity as did the previous prophets before him, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus. His spirit was filled with revelation and from that moment he was endowed with becoming the Messenger of God and the Seal of the prophets. His destiny had begun; as God’s Mercy to humanity.