Several researchers have argued that a particular religion is normally based with the orientation of its founders. For instance, many believe that Christianity was based on Jesus Christ and Muslim was greatly associated with its origin on Prophet Muhammad with his slogan that there is only one God and Muhammad was his prophet. There have been several theories and presentation about the life of Prophet Muhammad but no one captures this orientation better than Ibn Ishaq in his earlier works. However, and despite his elaborative research on the early life and works of Prophet Muhammad, many people have tried to challenge his works by claiming that he did not present an authentic work with regard to the history of Islam. It is further suggested that he had some weak arguments in supporting some of his work. This aside, others have appreciated the great role of Ibn Ishaq in presenting an earlier understanding of the Prophet as well as his work (Guillaume et al, 1998). The following paper will look into the translated work of the Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq that is divided into three parts namely, the history of the world until the beginning of Muhammad’s ministry, Muhammad work in Mecca and finally his work in Medina and death.
History of the world
Guillaume begins by a reflection about the history of the world and which specifically deals with the history of the prophets and the kings since the beginning of creation. The history can be traced through the beginning of Adam and which the author tries to connect with the Prophet and his work. It is through this orientation that we get to understand the life of Muhammad and all his predecessors (Dabashi, 2011). The author illustrates the picture and composure of the Prophet and the first people who were his associates.
Background of the Prophet
The Prophet Mohamed was born in 570 in the Arabian City of Mecca. His parents died when he was a young boy, leaving him in the care of his uncle Abu Talib. When Muhammad was born, his grandfather was said to have been the leader of his tribe. His father is believed to have died on a trading trip and hence he left very little property to the little Muhammad and his widowed mother. There was a common practice of sending children of noble families to wet nurses and Muhammad was no exception (Schoeler et al, 2006). His upbringing until he was five featured the growth of the future prophet from corruption and city vices that characterized the city of Mecca. His mother died and left him to the care of his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. When the grandfather finally died, the young Muhammad was now in the hands of his uncle, Abu Talib.
Muhammad was able to view the effects of monotheism in the various societies when he went with his uncle to a trading trip to Syria (Guillaume et al, 1998). This was when he was only twelve years of age. He was therefore able to contrast the materialism of his compatriots with the discipline that was deriving the monotheistic religious faith in relating the Jews and Christians. Muhammad realized that he needed to earn his own living when he clocked the age of fifteen. This realization prompted his serenity, contemplation as well as his spiritual questioning. Earlier, Muhammad had asked himself why he was worshipping material things. This resulted to his rejection of the worship of idol gods that seemed not to exist. When the wealthy trading widow named Khadija wanted a trustworthy man to run her business, Muhammad was the best option (Anonymous). His uncle saw this as an opportunity where he could improve his economic situation.
His reputation as being trustworthy made him highly respected and admired by her employer. Mohammad finally married Khadija at twenty five years, at which time his wife was forty years of age. This marriage turned out to be a happy encounter where they were blessed with seven children out of whom only four survived to adulthood. The four children who made it to adulthood were all of them girls, an indication that the three boys died at the infancy stage. The trading trips to the north were major influences in Mohammad learning more about Judaism and Christianity (Schoeler et al, 2006). He developed an element of withdrawing to a lonely place in the mountain cave outside of Mecca. This was where he received his first revelation.
Prophet Mohammad and Religious traditions
It was in 610 C.E when Mohammad was forty years when he received his first revelation. What this revelation depicted was to be the basis of the Islam faith today. It revealed that Allah had chosen the young man as a prophet and a messenger. He was therefore tasked with the sole aim of the revelation was for him to pass over the message that had already been handed over by the previous prophets (Guillaume et al, 1998). In this background, the revelation is what gave birth to what we now know as the Qu’ran or Koran.
The message was delivered by the angel Gabriel. The next thirteen years of the prophet’s life depicted him receiving the whole verses of the Holy Qu’ran in various revelations. Three years later in 613, Muhammad illustrated the new religion publicly to the guise of the Qurayshites who had a negative reception of the new religion. This was because they were the sole controllers of the functions of the priest as well as being g in authority of the sacred Ka’ba.
Muhammad is a perfect example to most beliefs of how people should surrender to the will of the most high. This is why the Muslim community aspires not to depict Muhammad as a form of God but only a prophet who passed on the message of God (Schoeler et al, 2006). The traditions that are held in Sunna and Hadith are being used by the Muslims to be educated from the wisdom of the words as well as the actions of the prophets.
The knowledge about the historical Muhammad as regarded by the Muslims is contained in the Holy Qur’an. It is a compilation of the various verbal revelations that were handed down to prophet Muhammad in duration of twenty years. This is now the book being referred to as the Holy Book or the scriptures by the Muslim community. The revelations that were handed down to the prophet included the law and the commandments which define the moral and social behaviour of the religion (Guillaume et al, 1998). Arabic is the official language used in the Quran. The prophet banned the worship of idols and taught the concentration of ones life to Allah. He also depicted the ritual washing of five times ad day while facing Mecca.
The Muslims therefore take the Holy Quran as the word of God that was handed over to Prophet Mohammad and is composed of the guidelines that helps humanity. A higher percentage of the Quran talks about God and how the relationship between mankind should be in perceiving him. It also has the necessary directions attributed to its followers, the historical accounts of the various prophets and peoples and arguments on Mohammad. The arguments on the prophet try to suggest that he alone should be accepted as the true prophet of God. The revelations that were handed down to the prophet that today comprise the Holy Quran is divided into five sections (Guilllaume et al, 1998). The sections are which include the nature of the spiritual world, the law and commandments, historical accounts, the wisdom and the prophecies.
The Model of prayer instituted by the prophet
The prophet model of performing prayers is what is today being used by the entire Muslim community. The manner entails the believer of the faith to pray five times a day. The prophet began his day with a salat. For instance, before the prophet left his room to lead the fard salat in the masjid, he could first be seen as making the Sunnah prayer in his room. He would then make the tesbihat which is the litanies of praise after each salat everyday, an orientation being observed in the Muslim community. He would also recite necessary scriptures relating to the time until the sun reached a given height. The prophet will then have some rest before noon time when he shall again attend prayers.
The prophet will then lead the noon prayers in the middle of the day to those who were in the mosque with ardent desire. For instance, Fridays saw the salat being recited differently from the other days. This characterized an enthusiastic and holiday spirit. He advocated for two meals which represents the Sunnah which should be practiced in the present life because it gains time, balances the budget and is healthier (Guillaume et al, 1998). This reduces the chances of individual contracting diabetes for instance.
The prophet will then carry out the afternoon prayers with an indication that this time was a moment of winding down and a time to gather the peace and good works of the day. The prophet will value the prayer and Bibal and would call the community to prayer using his moving voice. The Muslims were made to understand that the afternoon is a time when change is experienced by the guard of the night and the angels of the day whose sole task is to protect believers. There is longer recitation of the tesbihat after the prayers. The prophet also advocated for the believer to pray in the evening in that it reminded them that humanity will one day die. There is hence the need to stand before God who is great (Schoeler et al, 2006). The other way were prayers being conducted at night and deep into the night.
Piety: The prophet became very much concerned with the way of life of his people. At the age of 40, he worried about the state of life of his countrymen and this prompted him to spend much of his time in meditation on issues that pertain to religion. The journey’s he made led him to encounter Jews as well as Christian priests from whom he sought counsel. This led him to seek the Jacobite monk who illustrated most of the Jewish religious customs to him.
In 628, Muhammad is depicted as having forced the Meccans so that they could sign the Treat of Hudaybiyah. This treaty is known to have given the prophet some authority which as well made some concessions to the Muslims community. This however, did not put an end to the hostility experienced by the Muslims and Meccans. The treaty of Hudaybiyah was later violated by the allies of the Meccans and this prompted Muhammad to raid the city by storm resulting to the leaders of eth city yielding to his demands.
History and Development of the Mosque
The first mosque is believed to have been at Mecca an indication of the area that surrounded the Ka’ba, the most holy shrine. The concept of the early mosque, however, depicted the courtyard of Muhammad house in Madina which dates back to 622 AD. The structure illustrated the gibla which faced the direction of Jerusalem. The houses for the wives of Muhammad faced the left. It was having three entrances to the courtyard. The mosque in Madina had social, political and judicial functions which also included the residence of Muhammad and his family (Guillaume et al, 1998). The mosques soon grew and became more complex in structure and they became more important by the death of Muhammad. It was the first building to be constructed wherever the Muslims conquered a land.
The most parts of the life of Muhammad after 630 are known to have depicted the prophet establishing several alliances with several nomadic tribes of the peninsula. A few months after a farewell pilgrimage where he had delivered a sermon advocating for his followers not to align to pre-Islamic customs, he fell ill in 632 and finally died in Medina Saudi Arabia. This was after his advocacy had seen most of the Arabian nations being united spiritually and politically under the emblem of Islam (Dabeshi, 2011). The development of the faith later saw the growth of the faith to several countries including the modern Syria and Iraq and then the rest of the world.
In conclusion, it is imperative to state that there are several stories that depict the life story of the prophet and which attributes to the extra ordinary life of the prophet. However, the Muslim community has been instrumental in not mentioning and elevating the status of the extraordinary prophet beyond the human level. It was in the course of working with his uncle, Abu Talib, where the prophet met his first wife, Khadija. He was also to have several wives with one being married at a tender age of nine years. It was as a result of spending most times in prayer and the soul yearning for spiritual fulfillment that he experienced the night of power or popularly known as the ‘Laylat-ul-Qadr.’ It was in this special night that he received the special command of proclaiming the name Allah to the people.
The prophet continued to preach about Allah while at the same time receiving further revelations and instructions from Allah. He emphasized on the message of Allah as the one true God and that there is no other. However, like any other prophet in the older generation, his message was rejected by the people of Makkah who exposed him to severe ridicule. It is also important to state that the prophet had moments in his life that were trying times. The year 619 CE was a sorrowful year for the prophet for he lost his uncle, Abu Talib and his wife, Khadija. These were people who had contributed to a large extent in the composition of the prophet’s life.
Most of the beliefs that characterize the Islam belief can be seen as having a background to this prophet. The several journeys he made to Jerusalem witnessed him being given the daily prayer we see the Muslim use. The journey that the prophet made from Makkah to Yathrib is popularly referred to as the Hijrah (Sheikh). The year 622 CE is the year that marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. The conflicts between the Makkah and Muhammad continued during the whole period that the prophet was in Madinah.