5 pages of notes- rels exam #3
Muhammad: He was born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) into a tribal/polytheistic society (Quraysh tribe) circa
570CE. Pre-Islamic setting (aka age of ignorance). He was orphaned at a young age- grandfather (chief of the
clan) took care of him. He became the manager of trade for a wealthy widow (Khadija) whom he married in
595. He had a long dislike for polytheism- perhaps influenced by Judaism or Chrisitainty. He went on a
spiritual retreat (first revelation**see below) near the base of Mount Hira, during which the angel Gabriel
came to him and insisted that he recite (3 times) the first verse of the Qur’an. He was declared to be a
prophet—he went on to preach the new faith in the One God to his people, his message was moral and social.
First to accept the new faith were the prophet’s wife, his cousin/son in law Ali bin Abi Talib, his slave Zayd
bin Harithah and his faithful companion Abu Bakr.
First Revelation: in 610, in a cave on Mount Hira, Muhammad is believed to see a vision before him the
Angel Gabriel, the messenger of God (Allah). Significance of the first revelation: signifies the beginning of
prophetic call, the beginning of a scripture (Qur’an) and the beginning of the first Muslim community (first
The Mi’rajj (night journey/ascension): After losing his wife and uncle in 619, he experienced the mi’raj
(night journey), where he travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in the course of one night and then ascended to
heaven; there, he met some earlier prophets and was granted an audience with God.
Muhammad is said to have ascended through 7 heavens and there he met former prophets from Adam to
Jesus, saw paradise and hell and received the Divine presence. Here, he received the commandment to pray 5
times a day. Significance is that after two losses (Khadija and his uncle), as well as the condition in Mecca
(persecution, economic boycott by the Quraysh) this confirmed that God still supports him.
Migration to Medina (Hijra): took place in 622 and is known as Hijra. Pilgrims from Medina (Yathrib)
invited Muhammad to come to their city to help solve their social and political problems. Muhammad and his
followers left Mecca for Media. The Muslim Era is calculated from the beginning of the year 622 since it
marked the change from persecution (which took place in Mecca due to opposition from the polytheistic
Quraysh tribe) to the acceptance of the prophet’s message. Significance is this was the birth of Islam as a
social and political community—persecuted followers found a new/safe home. Muhammad began to become
a serious alternative political power in Arabian Peninsula. Also eventually became the beginning of the
Covenant of Medina: drawn up as a constitution for the city of Medina by Muhammad. It stated that
Medinan people should form a Muslim community (single Muslim commonwealth) and Jews were granted
religious freedom and equality (if the Jews support the state and refrain from alliance w/ the Quraysh and
any other tribes). Muhammad even a