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Home -- English -- 04. Sira -- 1 Muhammad before the rise of Islam

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04. THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD ACCORDING TO IBN HISHAM

1 - MUHAMMAD BEFORE THE RISE OF ISLAM (570 to 610 A.D.)

The Ancestors of Muhammad -- The Birth of Muhammad and his Childhood -- Muhammad's Marriage to Khadija



1.01 -- MUHAMMAD BEFORE THE RISE OF ISLAM (570 to 610 A.D.)

according to Muhammad Ibn Ishaq (died 767 A.D.) edited by Abd al-Malik Ibn Hischam (died 834 A.D.)

An edited translation from Arabic, originally by Alfred Guillaume

A selection with annotations by Abd al-Masih and Salam Falaki

1.02 -- Foreword

Following Jesus Christ, Muhammad is the most influential and significant individual of world history. More than 1,5 billion Moslems, that is, between 19-20 percent of the world's population, follow him and the religion he founded. Islam created and shaped a culture that is now 1390 years old. From Indonesia to Morocco, from the steppes of Russia to Cape Town, the name Muhammad is called out, day after day, 40 times a day, above the roofs of the cities and villages. No man is so fanatically loved by millions as he.

Few Christians have precise information regarding the life of Muhammad. For that reason we are translating this biography anew into the German language, from which the English translation follows.

Ibn Ishaq, an Islamic scholar, began collecting well-known stories and legends of the prophet of the Arabs approximately 90 years after the death of Muhammad (632 A.D.) Soon, however, he ran into conflict with the religious and legal authorities of Medina (Malik ibn Anas), abandoned his native country and departed for Baghdad by way of Cairo. There, under the caliphate of al-Mansur, he continued his research. He died in the year 767 A.D.

Ibn Ishaq left behind two extensive works on the life of Muhammad, which were then summarized and considerably shortened by Ibn Hischam, who died in 834 A.D. Until today his work is regarded as an indispensable source for anyone who wants to learn about the narratives and accounts handed down by eye witnesses and companions of Muhammad.

Ibn Hisham's fundamental documentary work on the life of Muhammad was translated into German from the Arabic in 1864 by Professor Gustav Weil. We have revised his translation and modernised the style and spelling of the Arabic terms and names (with the exception of the names Muhammad, Moslem etc.). The revision was again compared with the original Arabic text. Following that, the names of the suras, together with verse numbers, were added to the many quoted Qur'anic texts. The verse numeration follows the arrangement of al-Azhar University of Cairo.

Since the extensive account of the events in the life of Muhammad need also be readable in the age of airplanes, atom bombs and televisions, we have chosen to omit the tiresome genealogies of the introduction. Therefore the book begins with the accounts of Abd al-Muttalib, the grandfather of Muhammad. Numerous Arabic poems and eulogies, that would lose their heightened tone and rhyme in the English, as well as the discussions over the grammatical derivation of certain expressions, legends and incredulous histories, were omitted, so that the person of Muhammad might be more prominent and the true events in his life become more obvious.

The appended footnotes contain explanations or contrasts with similar events in the life of Jesus Christ and the foundations of His gospel. Thereby Muhammad is measured on the life of Jesus - and the prophet of the Moslems depicted against the background of the New Testament.

The first two text divisions document the time of Muhammad's youth and the first twelve years of his message under the increasing persecution in Mecca. Part three encompasses Muhammad's migration to Medina, the establishment of the religious city-state, the battles against the merchants from Mecca and the conquest of his native city. It further describes the submission and Islamization of the Arabic Peninsula up to the time of Muhammad's death.

The founder of Islam left behind highly motivated, battle-tried Bedouin troops headed by two brilliant military commanders. In just 100 years their armies conquered the lands from the Atlas to the Indus, an area that encompassed greater land mass than Europe ever possessed. Today the population in these core nations of Islam is more than 95 percent Moslem, whereby Jews and Christians are often merely tolerated as second class citizens.

With the discovery of petroleum in the Gulf region around 1930 and the increase in the price of oil since 1973, the renaissance of Islam received new impetus. Moslems have, as their goal, the Islamization of the entire world, whether through mission, economic might or Holy War. Above all, Islam is expanding through high birth rates, so that the Islamic nations double in population every 30 years. Thus they are growing faster than all other religions and people groups of our earth.

It thus becomes imperative for responsibly minded Christians to study the life of Muhammad and compare it with the life of Jesus Christ. We will only understand Moslems and their guiding principles when we have understood Muhammad, his motives and his deeds.

Abd al-Masih

PART I - The Time of Ignorance

1.03 -- The Forefathers of Muhammad

1.03.1 -- Abd al-Muttalib – the grandfather of Muhammad

When one day Abd al-Muttalib ibn* Hisham slept, he was commanded in an apparition to again dig up the well of Zamzam. The Djurhumites had filled it in when they left Mecca.

“Ibn”, which translated means: Son of …

This was the same well from which Allah had once allowed Ishmael to drink, when he was a little child and thirsty. His mother had sought water and found none. She stood on the hill of Safa and prayed for water for Ishmael. On the hill of Marwa, she once again prayed for water. Then Allah sent the Angel Gabriel. He pressed one of the heels of Ishmael into the earth – and lo there came up water! His mother heard the cries of wild animals. She was fearful on his account, ran to him and found him, as he lay on his face, scooping water with the hand, drinking. She then cleared the well of sand.*

* Cf. Genesis 21:9-21 (The expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael).

1.03.2 -- The quarrel over the well of Zamzam in Mecca

When one day Abd al-Muttalib was sleeping in the holy sanctuary, he received a vision, in which he was instructed to dig up the well of Zamzam. He described his experience this way: “While I was asleep on the wall of the sacred sanctuary, someone approached me and said: ‘Dig up Tayba’ (the good one). I asked: ‘What is Tayba?’, whereupon the vision disappeared. On the following day, as I again slept at my encampment, the vision came again and said: ‘Dig up Barra’ (the pure one)! I asked: ‘What is Barra?’ The vision again left me. On the third day the apparition appeared yet again, with the words: ‘Dig up al-Madnuna!’ (the precious one) I asked: ‘What is Madnuna?’ Again the vision withdrew. On the fourth day there appeared to me someone who said: ‘Dig up Zamzam.’ I asked: ‘What is Zamzam?’ I got the answer: ‘That which is never exhausted and never short of water, which gives honored pilgrims to drink. It lies between dung and blood, near the cawing of the strong raven, beside the ant's nest.’

Thereby Abd al-Muttalib, having no more doubt about the truthfulness of the message, and having received word of the well's condition and nearby location, began the next day to dig up the well using his pick-axe. Al-Harith – at that time his only son, accompanied him.

When the well gradually became visible, he began to praise Allah. It was then the Qurayshites hastened to the site. They observed that his undertaking had been successful and said: “This well belonged to our progenitor Ishmael. We have ancient rites to it. You must give us a share thereof.” Abd al-Muttalib refused and responded: “To me it has been given! It belongs to me alone!” They responded: “Give us our right, or we will bring a charge against you!”

“Good, choose an arbiter!” They chose a woman who was a fortune teller from the tribe of Sa'd Hudham, who dwellt in the highlands of Syria. Abd al-Muttalib rode to her, accompanied by some of the sons of Abd Manaf. The Quraysh, too, sent emissaries from each tribe. When they came to the wilderness region between Hijaz and Syria, Abd al-Muttalib's water ran out. He and his company appeared to be close to dying of thirst. They asked the emissaries of the Quraysh for water. These, however, refused them, saying: “We are in the wilderness. It could go the same with us as it has with you.” Abd al-Muttalib then took counsel with his companions what was to be done. They answered: “You are to give command. All we can do is to obey you.” He then answered: “My opinion is that each one of us, so long as he still has strength, dig his own grave. Whenever one of us dies, those who are still living can cast him into his grave and bury him, until death visits the last one of us. It is in fact better if we ourselves die rather than the entire caravan.” His companions agreed with him. Every one dug his grave and waited for death to come. Thereupon Abd al-Muttalib suddenly said: “By Allah, it is indeed a weakness on our part if we idly abandon ourselves to death and do not even try to save our lives. Perhaps Allah will show us water somewhere. Rise up! Thereupon they again started out, being observed by the Qurayshites.

Abd al-Muttalib climbed onto his camel and rode ahead. Immediately there began to come up fresh water under the hooves of his camel. Abd al-Muttalib and his companions began to praise Allah, climbed down, drank and filled their water-skins. Thereupon Abd al-Muttalib called out to the remaining Quraysh to come to the newly risen spring, saying: “Allah has given us water. You also drink and fill your receptacles!” When they had done that, they said: “By Allah, the decision has already fallen against us. We will no longer dispute with you over Zamzam, for the one who gave you water in the wilderness has also given you Zamzam. Go back and give to the pilgrims water to drink.” Thereupon Abd al-Muttalib returned to Mecca and all those with him, without calling on the fortune teller.

1.03.3 -- Abd al-Muttalib’s vow

It is alleged – and Allah alone knows what really happened – that when Abd al-Muttalib was digging the well of Zamzam, he was treated with hostility by the Quraysh. Thereupon he made the following vow: In the event ten sons should be born to him and they should reach an age when they could stand by him, he would then take one of them and sacrifice him to Allah at the Ka‘ba.*

* This custom of child sacrifice is an ancient heathen practice (cf. Judges 11:30-40).

When later ten sons were born to him, who reached the age of being able to protect him, he made them acquainted with his vow, calling on them to submit to the fulfilment. To that they were willing and asked how this should come about. He replied: “Let each one write his name upon an arrow and give it to me.” With these arrows he then went to the idol Hubal, which was erected beside a well in the middle of the Ka'ba. There the sacrifices to the holy shrine were offered. Hubal had seven arrows. Upon each one there was an inscription written. One arrow was marked “expiation”. If there was no consensus who was to pay the expiation, then the one for whom this arrow was drawn was to do it. On the second arrow was written “yes” and on the third “no”. If someone was in doubt whether he should do something or not, so the arrow with the “yes” or “no” decided. There was also an arrow on which was written “water”. If it was drawn, one was to dig for a well. Finally there were three other arrows. Upon one was written “of you”, on the other “remaining”, and on the third “not of you”. If the Bedouins (Arabs) wanted to practice a circumcision, culminate a marriage or bury one of their dead, or if they had doubt about the origin of a man, they then led him to Hubal and paid to the one who cast the lot one hundred dirhams and a camel to sacrifice. Then they said, while placing the man in question before Hubal: “You, our god, here stands the stranger, about whom we want to know this and that. Make known to us the truth about him!”

They then let the lot be drawn. If the arrow was drawn on which “of you” stood, the unknown man was to be counted one of them. If the arrow marked “not of you” was drawn, he was considered an ally. If, however, the arrow with the word “remaining” was drawn, the man had to remain in his previous condition, with no claim to being an ally or of blood relationship. In the other cases, in which an answer of “yes” or “no” was expected, they acted accordingly, albeit when the arrow with “no” was drawn, they would defer the matter until the next year, to be able to finally act in accordance with the lot.

Abd al-Muttalib went to the fortune teller, who drew the arrows, and told him of his vow. Each one of his sons had given him an arrow with his own name written on it. The father then summoned the man to draw one of the arrows. The lot fell to Abd Allah, the father of the messenger of Allah. He was the favourite son of Abd al-Muttalib and furthermore the youngest. As the lot had now fallen to Abd Allah, Abd al Muttalib took his sword and went with Abd Allah to the idols “Isaf and Naila” , in order to sacrifice him there. Thereupon the Qurayshites stormed out of their assembly and called out: “What do you intend to do, Abd al-Muttalib?” I intend to slaughter him with a slit to the throat!”*

* Compare Genesis 22:1-19. Isaac, too, was to be sacrificed.

At this his sons and the remaining Qurayshites answered: “By Allah, you cannot sacrifice him without a reason. If you do that then every man will come and sacrifice his son. How then shall the people be preserved? There also spoke al-Mughira ibn Abd Allah, an uncle of Abd Allah's, saying: “By Allah, you will not sacrifice him until you give us a satisfactory reason for it. We would rather redeem him with our possessions.”

At this point his sons and the rest of the Quraysh replied: “Don't do it! Go with him to the Hijaz. There lives a fortune teller there, who has a familiar spirit that obeys her. Ask her, for then your matter will be rightly decided. If she commands you to sacrifice him, then do it. If she tells you something else, whereby both you and he will be helped, then obey her!”

Together they travelled to Medina and found the fortune teller in Khaybar. Abd al-Muttalib revealed his vow to her, what had happened in the casting of lots, and his intention to sacrifice his son. She commanded them to leave her until her familiar spirit came to her and she could ask him. They left her and Abd al-Muttalib prayed to Allah. When they came to her the next morning she said to them: “It has been revealed to me. What is the price of ransom among you for a man?” They answered: “Ten camels.” She responded: “Go back to your country and place Abd Allah on the one side and the ten camels on the other and cast lots between them. If the arrow with the camels is drawn, sacrifice them instead of him. He will then be rescued and your lord satisfied. If, however, the arrow of Abd Allah is drawn, then add ten more camels. Continue so doing until the arrow of the camels is drawn.”

At this word they returned to Mecca, determined to follow her directive. Abd al-Muttalib again prayed to Allah before Hubal. They then brought Abd Allah and ten camels and drew lots. When the lot fell to Abd Allah they brought ten more camels. Yet the lot continued to fall to Abd Allah, until finally one hundred camels were standing on the opposite side. It was then the arrow with the camels was drawn. The Qurayshites and the rest present determined: “Now the matter has been decided, Abd al-Muttalib! Your lord is satisfied!” Abd al-Muttalib, however, or so they say, had sworn not to rest until the lot was cast three more times. Only when the lot fell three more times to the camels were they then slaughtered. Every person was left to take as much as he wanted of the slaughter.

1.04 -- The Birth of Muhammed and his Childhood (approx. 570 A.D.)

1.04.1 -- How Muhammed's father, Abdullah, married

Abd al-Muttalib took Abd Allah by the hand and came with him into the vicinity of the holy sanctuary, passing by a woman of Banu Asad ibn Abd al-‘Uzza. She was the sister of Waraqa ibn Nawfal. She saw him and asked: “Where are you going, Abd Allah?” – “I am going with my father.” – “I will give you so many camels as were sacrificed in your place if you will immediately lay with me.” I cannot now leave my father, let alone do something against his will.” Abd al-Muttalib then went with his son to Wahb ibn Abd Manaf, who at that time was, because of his birth and prestige, the leading man of the Banu Zuhra. This one then gave him his daughter Amina to be his wife. At that time she was the most highly regarded woman among the Quraysh on account of her rank and descent. Her mother was named Barra and was the daughter of Abd al-‘Uzza. Barra's mother was named Umm Habib and was the daughter of Asad ibn Abd al-‘Uzza. Abd Allah thereupon married her and she became pregnant with the messenger of Allah. He then left her and returned to the woman who had offered herself to him and asked her: “Why don't you make the same proposal to me that you made yesterday?” She responded: “The light that was with you yesterday has left you. I no longer have anything to do with you.”

She had heard from her brother, Waraqa ibn Nawfal – who had become a Christian and studied the Scriptures – that a prophet would arise from among this people.*

* Nowhere in the 66 books of the Bible is there mention that a prophet of Arabic descent would arise.

Abu Ishaq ibn Yasar reported something similar. Abd Allah had come to the woman he had in addition to Amina and whom he wanted to fondle. He had, however, previously been working in the soil and was dirty from it. Therefore she had turned him down. He left her, washed himself and wanted to return to Amina. When he once again passed by this woman she called him to herself. He paid no attention to her, but went on to Amina and lay with her. Thereupon she became pregnant with Muhammad. Later he went to visit the woman once again and asked her: “Have you any desire?”* She responded: “No; when you first passed by me there was a point of glow between your eyes. Therefore, I summoned you to come to me. However, you refused and went to Amina. Now the glow has passed to her.”

* Cf. Exodus 20:14 (The prohibition of adultery).

Others have alleged the woman was to have said: “When he passed by there was, between his eyes, something like the white blaze of a mare. I invited him into me in the hope that this sign would pass over to me. Yet he refused and went to Amina, whereby she conceived the messenger of Allah. He was the best of his people in regard to birth and nobility – both on the side of his father as well as on the side of his mother.”*

* From birth Muhammad was a normal person. His father was named Abd Allah and his mother Amina. Both were known in Mecca. Islam lays no claim that Muhammad was born in any supernatural way. He was a person like we all are, without divine nature.
However, the Bible gives manifold testimony that Christ is both true man and true God (cf. Matthew 1:20-21: The fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14).
Likewise, the Quran testifies that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, without any act of a man (Suras Al ‘Imran 3:46-48; Maryam 19:17-34). The Angel Gabriel is said to have breathed the Holy Spirit into the Virgin Mary (Suras al-Anbiya’ 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12). Therefore, Christ is called the “Word of God” in the Quran (Suras Al ‘Imran 3:45: al-Nisa‘4:171; Maryam 19:34).
Jesus was begotten of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary. The difference between the person of Muhammad and the person of Jesus corresponds to the difference between the birth of Muhammad and the birth of Jesus.

1.04.2 -- Events during the pregnancy of Amina

Regarding the mother of Muhammad it is reported – only Allah is all-knowing* - that Amina, the daughter of Wahb, was to have said: “When I became pregnant with the messenger of Allah, there appeared a spirit to me, who told me: “You are pregnant with the lord of this people. When he is born say: “I place him under the protection of the only one that will protect him from the evil of his every envier, and call his name Muhammad!””**

* This expression reflects the fact the author is not certain about the truth or authenticity of the texts delivered to him.
** Cf. here Matthew 1:18-25 (The Annunciation of the birth of Jesus and the designation of His name through the Angel Gabriel). See also Luke 1:26-38. The meaning of the name Muhammad in the Arabic is: the highly lauded one or the praised one.

During her pregnancy she is also reported to have noticed a radiant light emitting from her, one by which the castles of Bosra (at a distance of 1000 kilometers) in Syria (a Roman provincial city north of Mecca) could be seen.*

* Compare with Isaiah 60:1-3.

Yet during the pregnancy of Amina, Abd Allah died, the son of Abd al-Muttalib, the father of the messenger of Allah.*

* Already at his birth Muhammad was a half-orphan.

1.04.3 -- The birth and the nourishing of the messenger of Allah (approx. 570 A.D.)

The messenger of Allah was born on a Monday in the “Year of the Elephant”*, as twelve nights of the month of Rabi‘a (3rd month) had passed. Hassan ibn Thabit gave account: “I was a boy of seven or eight and understood very well what I heard, when a Jew from a building in Yathrib (Medina) called out to his people to gather together. When they had assembled to him, he said: ‘Tonight the star** arose, under which Ahmad*** has been born.’ I asked Sa‘id ibn Abd al-Rahman how old would Hassan have been when Muhammad came to Medina. He answered: ‘Sixty years old”‘. Since Muhammad was then fifty-three years old, Hassan must have been a seven year old boy when he heard these words.

* The Abysinnians attempted to conquer Mecca in 571. Since in their army they also had some elephants, the year was called “the year of the elephants” by the Arabs. The designation of a year in accordance with the most important event that occurred during the year was a type of primitive calendar.
** Compare Matthew 2:1-12 – the wise men from the east and the star that lead them to Bethlehem.
*** Ahmad means “highly praised” and represents another form of the name of Muhammad. Ahmad, the highly praised, is therefore understood, in accordance with Sura al-Saff 61:6, to be the name of the promised Paraclete (Comforter) in the Gospel.

After Muhammad was born, his mother sent to Abd al-Muttalib to request him to come and have a look at the boy. He came and then she told him what she had seen during the time of pregnancy, what had been said to her about him and what she was to name him. It is then alleged that Abd al-Muttalib immediately carried him with him to the Ka‘ba, where he prayed to Allah and thanked him for this gift.*

* Compare Luke 2:21-39 – the presentation of Jesus in the temple.

He then brought him back to his mother and tried to find a wet nurse to suckle him. The foster mother was a woman from the Banu Sa‘d ibn Bakr. Her name was Halima and she was the daughter of Abu Dhu‘aib. Muhammad's foster brothers and sisters were Abd Allah ibn al-Harith, Unaisa and Djudhama, who was always called ‘al-Schayma‘. They were all the natural children of Halima.

Jahm ibn Abi Djahm, a freedman of Harith ibn Hatib al-Djumahi, reported that Halima, the daughter of Abu Dhu‘aib, the suckling nurse of the messenger of Allah, is to have said: “I left my homeland with my husband, baby son and other women from the Banu Sa‘d, who were also looking for infants to nurse, in a year of famine that left us nothing over. I rode upon a dappled she-donkey and we had a she-camel with us that gave not a drop of milk. We couldn't sleep the entire night because the small child cried from hunger. Neither I nor our she-camel had enough milk to nurse him. We were hoping for any sort of help. I rode upon my she-donkey but kept holding up the caravan because she was so weak and run-down. We finally arrived in Mecca to search for infants that needed nursing. The messenger of Allah was offered to all the women, yet none of them wanted to have him, because he was an orphan. They were expecting gifts from the father of the child, and what at all could a mother and grandfather give. Yet when all the other women had found infants to nurse and we were wanting to depart, I said to my husband: ‘By Allah, I don't gladly return with my companions without a child to nurse. I will take this orphan child.’ He responded: ‘No harm will come to you if you take him. Perhaps Allah will bless us through him.’ I only took him because I found no other child to nurse. I then took him to my mount. When I laid him to my breasts, he found so much milk that he drank until he was full, as did his foster-brother. Then they both slept. Before that we could never sleep because of the crying child. Then my husband went to the she-camel. Her udder was swollen with milk; he could milk so much that he and I could drink until we were completely satisfied. We then had the most pleasant night. The following morning my husband said to me: ‘Do you know, Halima, by Allah you have taken along a blessed creature.’ I responded: ‘By Allah, I hope so!’ We then departed. I took him to me upon my she-donkey, that now went so fast that the others travelling with us on their donkeys could not keep up with her. They asked me to wait for them, and wanted to know if it was not the same donkey on which I had come. When I gave an affirmative answer, they answered: ‘By Allah, with her there is a wonderful explanation.’ When we arrived in our homeland, in the country of Banu Sa'd, which is the most infertile of all lands, there came to me in the evening my well-nourished herd that promised much milk. Of a truth we had milk in such abundance, while others couldn't milk even a drop. Finally some of them said to their shepherds: ‘Woe unto you! Let your animals graze where the shepherd of the daughter of Abu Dhu‘aib lets her herd graze!’ Nevertheless, while my flock had plenty to eat and milk in abundance, theirs didn''t give a drop and came back hungry. Thus we found in everything the blessing of Allah and abundance, till two years were past, when I weaned the boy. He had grown so powerful and strong like no other. Then we took him back to his mother, even though we truly wanted to keep him with us because of the blessing that had come through him. Therefore, I said to his mother: Do you want to leave your little son with us, until he becomes stronger; for I fear the bad air of Mecca could do him harm.’ We pressed her so long until she let him go back with us.

Some months after our return – Muhammad was behind our house with his brother and the flock, when the brother hastened to us and said: “Two men dressed in white seized my Qurayshite brother and threw him to the ground. They cut open his body and stirred around in it.” I ran with his father to him. When we found him, hardly to be recognized, we approached him and asked what had happened.

He answered: “Two men dressed in white came upon me, cast me down, split open my breast and then searched for something; albeit I know not what.*

* Cf. Sura al-Inschirah 94:1-3 (The purification of Muhammad by two angels).

We took him into our tent and his father said to me: “I fear this boy is plagued by evil spirits. Bring him back to his family before it becomes known. We travelled with him to his mother and she asked, ‘ O you his nurse, you wished so much to keep the young child with you longer!’ I answered: ‘Allah has let my son grow up. I have fulfilled my duty, but I fear that evil might befall him. Therefore I am bringing him back to you, in accordance with your wish.’ Amina responded: ‘The case is different than that! Tell me the truth!’ She pressured me so long until I told her everything. She then asked: ‘Do you fear that he is possessed with an evil spirit?’ When I nodded, she replied: ‘Never, by Allah! Satan has no access to him, for my little son will one day have a high position. Shall I tell you about him?’ When I said yes, she continued on. ‘When I was pregnant I saw a light radiating from me – so bright that it lit up the distant castles of Bosra in Syria. My pregnancy was so easy and pleasant – such that I have never known. When I bore him he stretched out his hands on the ground and raised his head toward heaven. But leave him with me now. Return in peace!’

Some of the companions of the messenger of Allah once asked him to give information about himself. At that he said: “I am the one my father Ibrahim (Abraham) commanded to believe in, and the one who was prophesied by Isa (Jesus).* When my mother was pregnant she saw a light radiate from her that even lighted up the distant castles of Bosra. I was suckled among the Banu Sa‘d ibn Bakr. At one time when I was shepherding the herd behind our house there came to us two men dressed in white. They had a gold wash basin with them filled with snow. They took hold of me and split open my breast. Then they took the heart out, split it also and extracted a black clump from it. This they threw away.** Then they washed my heart and my body with snow, until they were clean. Finally one said to the other: ‘Weigh him against ten of his people!’ He did so but I weighed more than they did. Then he said: ‘Weigh him against one hundred of his people‘; but I weighed more than the hundred. Finally he said: ‘Weigh him against one thousand of his people,’ and when I outweighed even these he said: ‘Leave him! Even if you put all of his people in the balance pan he will outweigh them!”

* Jesus prophesied that many false prophets (cf. Matthew 24:14-24) and false messiahs would come. Erroneously, the Moslems lay claim to there being several prophesies in the Bible about the coming of Muhammad (Deuteronomy 18:15).
** This story describes the calling and cleansing of Muhammad to prophethood. Since then he has been known as Mustafa, the cleansed one. He was not clean in himself. His heart had to be cleansed. He received, however, no new, spiritual heart, such as God promised in Ezekiel 36:26-27. The heart of Muhammad remained the same old one.
Indirectly this story of the cleansing of Muhammad testifies to original sin. Islam, however, does not believe in the existence of original sin (cf. Romans 5:12-21). Nevertheless, Muhammad understood himself to be a sinner. It is written three times in the Quran that he had to ask Allah for the forgiveness of his sins (Suras al-Ahzab 33:38; Ghafir 40:55 and Muhammad 47:19).
On the other hand, Jesus lived without sin. He was holy like God and free of original sin. He was begotten of the Holy Spirit. At no place in the Quran is it ever claimed that Jesus had sinned, even when the sins of all significant prophets are named. The Quran and Islamic tradition confirm much more, in various fashion, the sinlessness of Jesus (Sura Maryam 19:19).

The messenger of Allah had said: “There is no prophet who had not before been a shepherd.” And when someone asked him: “And you?” he answered: “I, too, was one.” Furthermore, the messenger of Allah had said to his companions: “I am the most pure-blooded Arab among you.* I am a Qurayshite and lived, as a suckling, among the Banu Sa‘d.”

*Arabs: The term “al-‘Arab” described, on the Arabian peninsula, the nomads, the Bedouin tribes, in contrast to the settled residents of the cities and villages. This last group did not perceive themselves to be Arabs, but defined themselves by the name of rival clans or tribes.
Muhammad understood himself to be a Bedouin. During his youth he had guarded herds in the dry steppe.

There are some who maintain – Allah alone knows the truth – that Halima lost the messenger of Allah amidst the masses of people in the highland of Mecca, as she was taking him to his mother. She could not find him again. She went with her complaint to Abd al-Muttalib, who then searched out the holy site, praying to Allah that he might only restore him to him. Reportedly, it was Waraqa ibn Nawfal and another Qurayshite who found him on the plateau of Mecca and brought him back to Abd al-Muttalib. Abd al-Muttalib took him upon his shoulders and circled the sacred site, committing him to Allah's protection and praying for him. He then had him brought back to his mother.

A learned man (a bearer of tradition) said to me: “Halima was moved by yet another reason to bring Muhammad back to her – a reason she did not state to his mother. Following his weaning, when she was on the return trip to Mecca, some Abysinnians met her that were Christians. They observed him from all sides and interrogated her about him. Then they said: “We want to take this boy with us and bring him to our king. We have knowledge of the future of this boy and know that he will one day occupy a high position. The person who told me this added that they were barely able to get away from the Abysinnians.

1.04.4 -- The death of Amina, Muhammad's mother, and of his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib (approx. 576 & 578 A.D.)

The messenger of Allah lived with his mother and grandfather, under the support and protection of Allah, who let him grow like a lovely plant – until, by his grace, he reached his set goal. When he was six years old his mother died.

Abd Allah ibn Abi Bakr explained: “The mother of the messenger of Allah died in Abwa*, between Mecca and Medina, when he was six years old. Together with him she had visited his relatives, the Banu ‘Adi ibn al-Nadjdjar, and died on the return trip to Mecca.”**

* Abwa lies approximately 200 kilometers north of Mecca, on the Red Sea, along the road to Medina.
** Already at his birth Muhammad was a half-orphan and after his sixth year a full-orphan. No one cared for him like a mother cares for her children. Already in the first months of his life he was given up to a Bedouin tribe, where a foster-mother nursed him in the place of his real mother. In the heart of Muhammad there remained a continual emptiness and a hunger for love.
God, His Father, had appointed a faithful adoptive father for Jesus in Joseph, who cared and provided for Him. His mother, too, remained faithful to Him even amidst persecution. As He died she stood under the cross.

The messenger of Allah then lived with Abd al-Muttalib, his grandfather, who had set up his bed in the vicinity of the Ka‘ba. His sons sat around the bed and waited until he came. None of them, however, out of respect for him, sat upon his bed. One time there came the messenger of Allah – he was still a small boy – and sat upon the bed. His uncle wanted to shove him away, but Abd al-Muttalib said: “Leave my son alone! By Allah he will one day occupy a great position.” He then let him sit beside him and stroke his back. It would please him to see what he did. When the messenger of Allah was eight years old Abd al-Muttalib also died.

When Abd al-Muttalib sensed that his death was approaching, he called his six daughters together - Safiyya, Barra, Atiqa, Umm Hakim al-Baida, Umaima and Arwa, and said to them: “Mourn for me, so that I might hear before my death what you want to say about me”, whereupon his daughter, Safiyya, eulogized:

When a wailing voice of the night announced on behalf of a man a great calamity, I shed tears, which rolled over my cheeks like pearls - for a truly noble man, who far and away excelled every slave - for the one who was magnanimous, endowed with great virtue - for a magnificent father, an heir of everything good - for the one who was faithful in his homeland, who shied no effort and stood firm, needing no support - the one who was mighty, strong in form, excellent in nature, who found praise and obedience among his generation - one of exaltation, brilliance, virtuous descent, who gave people blessing like the rain of a drought, one of noble ancestry and without flaw - precious to both master and slave. He was exceptionally mild, a noble, generous man of gracious descent - strong like lions.

Might it be possible, because of venerable nobility, to live forever - yet permanence is the portion of no man - then he would remain immortal till the last night - through his grand exaltation and virtuous descent.

Also the other daughters composed eulogies to their father while he still lived. They composed glorious verse regarding him - whereby each one tried to outdo the other. Friends of the dying, too, came to praise and extol him.

Abd al-Muttalib, no longer able to speak, gave, through nods of the head, to understand that he so wanted to be eulogized.

After the death of Abd al-Muttalib his son, al-Abbas, became the lord of the Zamzam well. He was the one who gave the pilgrims to drink, even though he still had older brothers at the time. He was confirmed in his right by the messenger of Allah. The family has right to the well until this day.

1.04.5 -- Muhammad with his uncle, Abu Talib (after approx. 578 A.D.)

After the death of Abd al-Muttalib, the messenger of Allah came to his uncle, Abu Talib. This arrangement had been recommended by Abd al-Muttalib, because he and the messenger's father, Abd Allah, were maternal brothers. Their mother's name was Fatima, a daughter of Amr ibn Aid. After the death of his father, Abu Talib provided for the messenger of Allah and kept him always at his side. A fortune teller that came often to Mecca prophesied a high position for the young man. Truly enough the following came about: when Abu Talib was underway with some youth, the fortune teller happened to see the messenger of Allah. Yet something else came up that distracted his attention. After that was dealt with, he again asked about him and desired that the youth be brought to him. However, when Abu Talib saw how eager the fortune teller was to see the boy, he hid him. Whereupon the fortune teller cried out: Woe to you! Bring me the boy that I saw earlier. By Allah he will occupy a place of greatness.” But Abu Talib left with the boy.

Later it came about that Abu Talib wanted to set out on a trading mission to Syria. He was just about to set out when, the messenger of Allah inclined to him so tenderly, that he grew soft and said: “By Allah, I will take you with me and never again part from you again!”, or words to that effect. He then departed with him. As usual, they dismounted in the vicinity of a monk hermitage. The monk's name was Buhaira (or Bahira). He knew the Scriptures and the religion of the Christians and had lived long years in this cell. There they had preserved a book, from which the monks let themselves receive instruction. It had been handed down from one generation to the next. As often as Abu Talib and accompaniment had passed by here on previous occasions, he had, nevertheless, never taken notice of them or made himself known to them. This time, however, he had a meal prepared for them because - as it happened to be - he had seen, from the inside of his cell, how a cloud had overshadowed the messenger of Allah amidst the caravan. They had then come and settled down under a tree and the tree had given the messenger of Allah shade, and even the branches of the tree were bending down to offer him better protection. When the meal had been prepared, Buhaira sent to the caravan, letting everyone know that all were invited, young and old, slave and free, to come and eat.

It was then one of the Qurayshites said: “It is obvious you never showed us such hospitality before. Why then today? Buhaira responded: “It is as you say, but today you are my guests. I want to honor you with a meal, to which you are all invited.” And everyone came to him, only the messenger of Allah remained behind - under their shaded camp, on account of his tender age. It followed that Buhaira, failing to find him among the guests on whom he had previously recognized certain signs, then said: “You Qurayshites, not one of you can remain behind in camp for whom there is still a place here.” They responded: “Only a boy - who happens to be the youngest in the entire caravan - has stayed behind in camp. He then retorted: “Call him. He, too, should eat with you!”

There then cried out one of the Qurayshites: “By Lat* and Uzza**, it is not right of us that we have left the son of Abd Allah back in camp!” He then made his way to him, embraced him and brought him to the others. Buhaira then inspected him and searched for the signs he hoped to find on his body. When the meal was over and the guests had dispersed, Buhaira stood before him, imploring him by Lat and Uzza to give him answers to his questions. He implored him by Lat and Uzza only because that was the way the Qurayshites were in the habit of doing.

* Al-Lat, the wife of Allah, was the tribal goddess of the Banu Thaqif, who was also known as al-Rabba, the female ruler.
** Al-Uzza, the daughter of al-Lat, was the tribal goddess of the Quraysh and the Kinana, and stood outside of Mecca. The statues of the two goddesses were destroyed following the conquest of Mecca.

It is alleged that Muhammad said to him: “Do not ask me by Lat and Uzza, for, by Allah, there is nothing more hateful to me than these goddesses.” Buhaira then said: “I then implore you by Allah to answer my questions.” Muhammad responded: “Ask what seems good to you!” He then asked him about his condition when he slept, about his outward condition and other things. The messenger of Allah gave him information about everything, which coincided with everything Buhaira knew of him. He then observed his back and found, between his shoulders, the seal of prophethood, - on the place where it had been described for him. It looked like the mark of a cupping glass. He then went to Abu Talib and asked him: “How is this boy related to you?” He responded: “He is my son.” - “He is not your son, for this boy needs no more father.” - “All right then, he is my nephew.” - “and his father?” - “He died during the pregnancy of his mother.” “You have told the truth. Now go home with the boy and hide him from the Jews, for, by Allah, if they see and recognize him they will do him evil. Your nephew will some day take up a great position. Therefore hasten with him back to your country!”*

* The encounter between Buhaira and Muhammad is rejected by some Islamists as Christian apologetic, which Moslems claim to be an explanation for the Biblical knowledge of Muhammad.

Abu Talib did so, as soon as he had finished up his business in Syria.

The messenger of Allah continued to grow, and Allah shielded and protected him from the vile errors of heathendom, because he had appointed him to be his messenger. Thus he became the most outstanding man of his people: no one excelled him in chivalry, good behavior or in noble birth. He was the most pleasing of all neighbors, the mildest, the most truthful and loyal - keeping himself far from all ugly characteristics that degrade a man. He was exalted, incorporating so many virtues in himself that he became known to his people as “the faithful one”.

When the “war of sacrilege” broke out, Muhammad was twenty years old. The war received this name because, while it was being carried on by the Kinana and the Qays Ailan, some holy commandments were broken. The leader of the Quraysch and Kinana was Harb ibn Umaiyya ibn Abd Schams. At the beginning of the day the Qays were victorious, but from midday on the Kinana.

1.05 -- Muhammad's Marriage to Khadija (approx. 595 A.D.)

1.05.1 -- The antecedent history

When Muhammad was twenty-five years old, he married Khadija, the daughter of Khuwailid ibn Asad. Khadija was a respected merchant. She employed men to carry on business with her merchandise and gave them a share of the profit. When she heard of the faithfulness, truthfulness and good morals of Muhammad, she sent to him, suggesting he travel to Syria, under her commission, and there do business with her merchandise. She promised to give him more goods than the other merchants. Muhammad accepted her offer, and travelled to Syria with her merchandise, accompanied by Maysara, one of the servants of Khadija.

When he sat down underneath the shadow of a tree, near to a priest's hermitage, the priest asked Maysara who the man was sitting under the tree. Maysara responded: “He is a Qurayshite, a resident of the sacred site.” The priest then replied: “The one who is now sitting under the tree is none other than a prophet!” When Muhammad had sold the goods they had taken with them and bought others, he and Maysara then returned to Mecca. It is reported that during the midday heat Maysara saw two angels giving shade to Muhammad, who was sitting on his camel. When they came to Mecca, Khadija sold the merchandise he had brought with him and found her goods doubled. Maysara, too, told her about what the priest had said and how he had seen two angels giving shade. When Khadija, a good, noble and understanding woman heard this, whom Allah had appointed to a position of favour - so it is reported - she summoned Muhammad to her and said: “My cousin, I want to have you for me because you are related to me, because of your high esteem among your people, as well as because of your faithfulness, truthfulness and good morals.” Finally she proposed marriage to him.*

* Khadija was approximately forty and Muhammad about twenty-five years old when they married. Khadija had previously been married to two other men and brought children of both men into the marriage. Her first husband had died; the second she had dismissed. She was a strong personality and a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur.
In the case of Khadija, it is evident that women, before Islam came to the Arabian Peninsula, possessed a much higher standing than Islamic scholars are willing to admit. These maintain that it was only Islam that gave women their dignity. Just the opposite is true.
As long as Muhammad was married to her, he entered into no other marriage. Perhaps he saw in Khadija a substitute for the mother he had lost in early age. As a full-orphan he had experienced little love of a mother. Muhammad had managed to marry his employer and boss. By doing so he became rich, esteemed and able to live in the center of Mecca.
Jesus chose not to marry. He knew he would die in his thirties as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. He wanted to leave no unprovided for family behind and dedicate His entire energy toward the redemption of mankind.

1.05.2 -- Muhammad's marriage and children with Khadija (approx. 595 A.D.)

At that time Khadija was the most esteemed woman among the Quraysh, both through her descent and because of her great wealth. Every one of her people desired her. She was the daughter of Khuwailid ibn Asad, and her mother was Fatima, the daughter of Zaid ibn al-Assam.

Muhammad told his uncle of Khadija's proposal. His uncle, Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib, went with him to Khuwailid ibn Asad to ask marriage with his daughter, and so the marriage was concluded. As the gift presented to his bride, Muhammad gave her twenty young camels. She was the first woman Muhammad married. Until her death he married no other woman. She was the mother of all his children with the exception of Ibrahim.* She bore to him al-Qasim, (which is why he became known as Abu al-Qasim), al-Tayyib, Zainab, Ruqayya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. Al-Qasim was the oldest of her children, then came al-Tayyib, then al-Tahir. The oldest of the daughters was Ruqayya, then Zainab, then Umm Kulthum, then Fatima. The three sons died while still in heathendom; the daughters, however, all came under Islam, embraced it, and later migrated with their father.**

* Ibrahim's mother was Mary, the Copt. Abd Allah ibn Wahb had passed on what he heard from Ibn Lahia, that Mary, the mother of Ibrahim, the slave of the messenger of Allah, who had been given to him by al-Muqawqas, originally came from Hafr, in the district of Ansina.
** The death of his three sons was a bitter tragedy for Muhammad. He was left with no heir. In the Orient such blows of fate are traced back to the anger of Allah or considered the result of black magic. Muhammad was rich and esteemed; inwardly, however, he was insecure and full of questions.

Khadija, the daughter of Khuwailid, had told her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal*, what Maysara had told her about the words of the priest and about the angels that had shaded Muhammad. Waraqa, a Christian who had thoroughly studied the Scriptures, answered her: “If that is the truth, then Muhammad is the prophet of our people; for I know that a prophet is expected and that now the time for that has come.” He had waited long for it to happen and continually asked: “How long will it still take?”

* Waraqa ibn Nawfal was the leader of a small Christian church in Mecca and probably took part in the marriage of Muhammad to Khadija. Islamic tradition confirms there was a Christian church in Mecca before the time of Islam.

1.06 -- TEST

Dear reader,
If you have carefully studied this volume, you will easily be able to answer the following questions. Whoever can answer 90% of the questions in the 11 volumes of this series correctly will receive from our center a written certificate of recognition on:

Advanced Studies
of the life of Muhammad in light of the Gospel

- as an encouragement in future service for Christ.

  1. Why is it important for a Christian to occupy himself with the biography of Muhammad?
  2. What did Ibn Hischam report about the grandfather of Muhammad, Abd al-Muttalib?
  3. Why was there a quarrel over the Zamzam well in Mecca? How was the argument solved?
  4. Why did Abd al-Muttalib want to kill his son Abdallah? How did Abdallah escape being sacrificed?
  5. Why did the sister of Waraqa ibn Nawfal refuse Abdallah what she had previously promised? What reason is given by Ibn Hisham? Do you see another reason? How would you judge the entire story?
  6. What blessings did Halima receive because she nursed the infant Muhammad?
  7. Why was Muhammad's face entirely distorted when two men cut open his breast? Is the face of someone distorted whose sins have been taken away? Why did Halima want to bring him back to his mother?
  8. What did Muhammad do when he was with his uncle Abu Talib? How did that serve to prepare for his later effectiveness?
  9. What was the seal of prophethood that Buhaira saw between the shoulders of Muhammad?
  10. The monk Maysara said: “Only prophets come under this tree.” How many people do you think came underneath the tree? What does this mean?
  11. How did it come about that Muhammad married the prosperous Khadija?
  12. Who was Waraqa ibn Nawfal?
  13. The three sons of Muhammad from Khadija (al-Qasim, al-Tayyib and al-Tahir) died in pre-Islamic times. What do you believe was their fate: Paradise or hell?

Every participant taking part in this test is allowed to use, for the purpose of answering the questions, any book that stands available to him or ask any trustworthy person he chooses. We await your written answers, including your complete address on paper or e-mail. We pray to Jesus, the living Lord, for you, that He might call, send, lead, strengthen, preserve and be with you each day of your life!

United with you in the service of Jesus,
Abd al-Masih and Salam Falaki.

Send your answers to:

GRACE AND TRUTH
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