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Who was Muhammad?

Founder of Islam and leader of Jihad


As far as it is known, there are no ancient non-Muslim sources on the life of Muhammad, Islam's prophet and founder.  There are two main sources for a history of Muhammad's life, both of which are Islamic.  While the Quran is not a biographical work, it does also provide information as to the life and mind of the founder of Islam.  The two ancient biographies of Muhammad are the Life History of Muhammad, by Ibn-Ishaq (A.D. 768), edited by Ibn-Hisham (A.D. 833); and The Expeditions of Muhammad, by Al-Waqidi (A.D. 822).  The evidences from these sources provide a picture of the life and history of Muhammad .


Muhammad was born at Mecca in 570 in a Quraish tribe that ruled over the city and the surrounding area.  His father died on a trading trip at Yathrib just before Muhammad's birth and his mother was left to raise him.  Mothers in Quraish tribes traditionally handed their infants over to a nurse from a Bedouin tribe believing that the air of the desert was healthier.  Muhammad was given to Halima, who nursed him for 2 years before returning the boy to his mother.  Muhammad's mother feared for his health in the air of Mecca and instructed the nurse to take him back to the desert for two more years.  When Halima returned a second time she reported that Muhammad had been having fits and she feared that he may be demon possessed.  She was once again persuaded to return Muhammad to the desert.  However, after an increasing number of epileptic seizures, she returned him to his mother at the age of five.  Shortly thereafter, while returning from a trip to Yathrib, Muhammad's mother died leaving him to the care of his grandfather.


After his grandfather's death 2 years later, Muhammad's uncle Abu Talib raised him.  At age 12, Muhammad began accompanying his uncle on mercantile trips to Damascus and other cities.  He spent his youth tending the sheep and goats in the valleys of Mecca.  Later in life he would recall his childhood saying, "Even such as I used to gather, feeding the flocks in the valley of Mecca: and truly no prophet hath been raised up but first he hath done the work of a shepherd."


When Muhammad was 25, while working for a wealthy widow merchant of Mecca, he accompanied her trading caravan to Syria.  The widow, Khadija, was impressed with him and on their return trip offered to marry him.  Although she was nearly twice his age, he agreed to the marriage.  She bore him 4 daughters and 2 sons, the sons dieing in infancy, before her death.


Very much in the same way that Mormonism began in the United States by a self proclaimed prophet named Joseph Smith, Muhammad found himself at age 40 disturbed by the idolatry and moral debasement of the people of Mecca.  He was troubled by what might be the one true religion, and began meditating in the caves around Mecca in hopes of finding it.


Many experts contend that Muhammad was illiterate, thus making the work of the Quran that much more a miracle, however this is most probably not true.  As he meditated and sought the true religion in a cave outside Mecca, it is thought that he composed the chapters of the Quran which express the yearning of an inquirer.  No scribes accompanied Muhammad on these trips.  There are many other reasons to doubt the illiteracy of Muhammad.  There are accounts of peace treaties signed by Muhammad, his attempt to write the name of his successor while on his deathbed, and the fact that he served for many years as a trading merchant who would have certainly known reading, writing, and arithmetic as he took his trade to Damascus and other cities.  Also, the Quran is written in 7th century Arabic, the same language spoken by the very literate Bedouins who raised him.  Even Muslims must question this claim of illiteracy when even Allah referred to him as "the one who taught by the pen".


Regardless of Muhammad's writing abilities, it is not disputed that he had a proclivity toward dreams, trances, and visions and was said to be so troubled by them at times that he sought escape by suicide.  It was during one of these suicide attempts that Islam teaches the angel Gabriel called out to him, "O Muhammad, thou who art the Prophet of the lord, I am Gabriel".  It is also said that when Muhammad would have a revelation sweat would pop up on his brow and he would drop to the ground, at which time Gabriel would again appear to him and repeat his instruction that Muhammad was a prophet of Allah sent to reclaim the lost people of the land.  It was these visions and Muhammad's revelations from the Angel Gabriel that led to the religion of Islam.  When Muhammad first began having the visions, he feared that the messages were coming from Jinn, or evil spirits.  It was his wife who convinced him that they were divinely inspired and that Muhammad was a true prophet.  Thus he began spreading his revelations and gathering followers of the "one true religion" of Islam.


As Muhammad's converts grew, he began to speak out against the Meccans and their idol worship.  It was this conflict with the Meccans that led to the first blood shed in the name of Islam.  As the opposition grew, Muhammad instructed his followers who could not protect themselves to go into hiding in Ethiopia.  Not able to protect his remaining followers, Muhammad compromised with the Meccans by incorporating some of their idols into the evolving religion of Islam.  He proclaimed that Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat, three Meccan deities, were exalted goddesses and their intercession was to be sought.  This led to the Meccans accepting Islam, but Muhammad later had to confess that the compromise was inspired by Satan.

Are yours the males and His the females?  That indeed was an unfair division!  They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath revealed no warrant

Ten years after he introduced Islam to the world, Muhammad's wife died.  Two months later he married a widow and then a seven-year-old girl.  He would eventually be married to 15 women.  In fact, he married someone new every year following his first wife's death, many of them as a result of war and plunder.  Women left alive after a war with rival tribes would be taken as Muhammad's wives.  Other wives were taken for political gain because of their importance or relation to local government officials.  Islam taught that men were only allowed four wives.  Muhammad made an exception for himself, however, in Surat 33:50.

O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the rest of believers.

Islam spread rapidly in Yathrib, now Medina, and Muhammad took his followers there to settle and build a great Mosque.  After settling the area for his followers and another marriage to a 10-year-old girl, a long list of  "holy wars" began.  Those people who were conquered in these battles were given three choices:  accept Islam, pay tribute, or die by the sword (see the Repentance Surat, verse29).  As a result of this method of forced conversion, many Christian churches were turned into mosques to please the conquering Muslims, while many other Christians not willing to take the easy way out were killed.  After the Battle of Badr, he proclaimed the ordinance "Know that whatsoever thing ye plunder, verily one-fifth thereof is for God and for the Prophet."  The remaining spoils, after Muhammad received one-fifth, were divided among the warriors.  This began the teachings of Jihad, and fighting for the cause of Islam.  Muhammad taught that to die for the cause of Islam was the highest honor and would lead to eternity in Paradise surrounded by virgins.

Surat al-Nisa 4:74  Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other.  Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.

Surat al-Ma'idah 5:33  The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.  Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.

In the Battle with the Quraiza Jews, over two thousand Jews were slaughtered by Muhammad and his warriors.  In the bloodbath, Zainab, his adopted son's ex-wife, Muhammad's fifth wife, and a Jewiss taken in battle, lost her husband, father, and brother.  Seeking revenge, Zainab poisoned Muhammad's dinner.  Muhammad spit out the food before it could kill him, but it's effects on him combined with pneumonia in the eleventh year of the Hijra, led to his death at age 64.


History tells us that the twelve months following Muhammad's death were spent in bitter, bloody battles to subdue the Arab tribes who became apostate.  However, Islam continued to grow after Muhammad's death, led by four Khalifs elected by the closest followers of the prophet.  Jihad also continued in much the same way it had under their prophet.  In 634 the Islamic military force advanced on Palestine and Syria, and defeated the Byzantine armies at Yarmouk River in 636.  Forty thousand more Muslims marched to conquer North Africa, followed by the surrender of Jerusalem to the plundering Muslims. 


Over one million Armenian Christians were savagely slaughtered by the Turkish Muslims at the beginning of the twentieth century.  According to a report by Khartoum University professors Ushari Mahmud and Suleyman Ali Blado, more than one thousand Dinka citizens were massacred in the Western Sudan town of Diem in 1987.  The Baptist Record newspaper of November 5, 1987, added that dozens of pastors have been killed and many churches destroyed since Islamic law was imposed in 1983, when Sudan was officially declared an Islamic republic.  The Baptist World Alliance newsletter of September, 1987, tells of 130 church buildings and pastor's homes, all of Christian denominations in Kadona State in Nigeria, being destroyed by Muslim rioters.  Where does this rampant slaughter in the name of religion come from.  It is taught in the Quran as revealed by the prophet Muhammad.

Surat al-Taubah (Repentance) 9:29  Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

More recently, in a December 8, 2001 Worldnet Daily article by Art Moore, it was reported that more than 50,000 Christians in the Central Sulawesi province town of Tentena were in imminent danger of attack by a paramilitary group called Laskar Jihad, a group whose goal is the total elimination of Christians from the region.  According to Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that reports on Christian persecution, At least 600 homes and six churches in Tentena were burned during attacks in November of 2001, and 15,000 Christians were forced to flee. 


In Indonesia Laskar Jihad waged a violent campaign against Christians in neighboring Maluku province where at least 9,000 Christians have been killed since 1999.  This religious cleansing can be found in all areas of the world where Islam has rooted itself.  The quest for an Islamic world, taken by force if need be, still continues today, all in the name of Allah, and as taught and practiced by the prophet Muhammad. 


Please remember to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are giving their lives for their faith, and for those Muslims who have been deceived by a false prophet, and are in desperate need of the saving grace of Christ.