Prophet Muhammad Founder of Islam Essay

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When examining the Prophet Muhammad in a religious-historical context, it is helpful to compare him to another central religious figure in the history of the West in order to highlight how he is unique. For example, while Christ plays the role of God-Man in the Christian religion, Muhammad simply plays the role of man—though a very special one, of course.[footnoteRef:1] As the Qur’an notes: “Muhammad is no more than an apostle: many were the apostle that passed away before him.”[footnoteRef:2] However, Muhammad’s nature is unlike that of other men, for he is recognized in Islam as having the “most perfect nature” and as being “like a jewel among stones.”[footnoteRef:3] Similarly to the way in which Christ is beloved of the Father in Christianity, Muhammad is “the beloved of God (habib Allah), whom the Quran calls an excellent model (uswah hasanah) to emulate.”[footnoteRef:4] Another distinction that can be made is that the religion that was revealed through the Prophet is Islam—not Muhammadanism.[footnoteRef:5] Though Western writers have employed the moniker to describe Islam, for the followers of Islam the religion was not known by any other name and certainly not by the name of Muhammadanism. Christians were always known as Christians and identified as such. Muhammad served as the founder of Islam but not as its architect or designer: the designer of the religion was Allah and both Muhammad and his followers recognized that. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr notes, “Islam is based on the Absolute, Allah, and not on the messenger.”[footnoteRef:6] This paper will therefore describe Muhammad’s role in the founding of Islam and show how he enabled the religion to spread. [1: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 46.] [2: Qur’an: Surrah 3:144.] [3: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 46.] [4: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 46.] [5: Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore USA, 2011), 8.] [6: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 47.]

The Prophet

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570 AD. At the time, Arabia was a war-torn region with many tribes fighting one another. Muhammad belonged to a tribe that had grown increasingly powerful near Mecca. This tribe was named Fihr, also known as Quarish, and it was responsible for protecting the sacred Kaaba or Kabah—known in Islam as the House of God. It is towards this mosque that all Muslims turn when the pray—and when Muhammad was alive, his tribe guarded it. In Muhammad’s time, the Kabah “was venerated as the shrine of Allah, the High God.”[footnoteRef:7] As Mecca was an important commercial and religious center in Arabia, the tribe of Fihr played a very special role in the region. [7: Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (NY: Random House, 2002), 11.]

Muhammad’s parents died when he was just a small child and he was raised by his uncle. His early years were spent as a shepherd but in his 20s, he married a wealthy widow named Khadeejah.
Together they had six children, but only one of the children survived and that was Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah. Fatimah was loved very much by Muhammad and when he founded Islam, she along with her mother were among the first converts to Islam. She is today known as the “mother of all the descendents” of Muhammad—also known as sayyids or sharifs.[footnoteRef:8] [8: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 47.]

Muhammad traveled frequently to Syria from Mecca, meeting people of Jewish and Christian faith. He learned some of the particulars of their religions. Meanwhile, he prayed and fasted in order to maintain a discipline in his own faith. When, in 612 AD, at the age of 40, he received a message from the archangel Gabriel, he entered into the service of Allah, acting as his prophet and apostle in Arabia. Muhammad would receive these revelations for the rest of his life—i.e., “for the next twenty-three years.”[footnoteRef:9] The message that Muhammad preached to those who would listen was that they must reject worshipping false idols and amend their lives to be in accordance with the will of Allah. His preaching was not initially well received by many, however, and he was driven from Mecca ten years later, in 622. This is known as the Hejira or Flight. [9: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), 50.]

From Mecca, Muhammad went to Medina, where he and his Muslims won the respect of the Bedouin tribes by defeating the Meccan army sent to protect a caravan traveling to Medina. The Muslims were vastly outnumbered but were ordered by Muhammad, who had trained them to fight with precision. The Meccan army was routed and the Bedouin who watched their enemy fall to the Muslim newcomers began from that point on to recognize Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah.[footnoteRef:10] The Muslims grew in number but they continued to be challenged by enemies and Muhammad led the Muslims in a number of contests among Arabian tribes, Jewish tribes and Christian tribes. Throughout it all, Muhammad impressed among those who followed Islam the importance of maintaining a disciplined spirit, and for that reason Seyyed Hossein Nasr states that “the love of the Prophet lies at the heart of Islamic piety.”[footnoteRef:11] The importance and centrality of the Prophet to Islam can be seen in the understanding among Muslims that “human beings can love God only if God loves them, and God loves only the person who loves His Prophet.”[footnoteRef:12] This understanding is supported by the Qur’an, which states: “Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings upon the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessing upon him and salute him with a worthy salutation.”[footnoteRef:13] Thanks to his….....

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Ali, Maulana Muhammad. The Religion of Islam. Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore USA, 2011.

Al-Osimy, M. Nursing in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: King Fahd National Library, 1994.

Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. NY: Random House, 2002.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Islam: Religion, History and Civilization. NY: HarperCollins, 2003.

Rassool, G. Cultural Competence in Caring for Muslim Patients NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

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