Muhammad: The Final Prophet of God (pbuh)

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

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Muhammadp, the final prophet of Islam, is widely considered one of the most influential men in history. Today, nearly one fourth of the world’s population follows the message he delivered. Despite Muhammadp’s lasting influence, many misconceptions continue to surround his persona and his teachings. This brief introduction of Muhammadp summarizes his life and highlights what esteemed non-Muslim scholars have said about him. So, who was Muhammadp?

“He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.” –Reginald Bosworth Smith

Muhammadp’s life began in a seemingly conventional manner in the deserts of Arabia in the sixth century. When he turned 40 years old, God tasked him with prophethood and began revealing His final book, the Quran, to him. As a prophet, Muhammadp called people to the divine teachings of Islam. He encouraged them to worship the One God and to uphold a morally upright life.

Studying Muhammadp’s life is crucial to understanding his momentous journey from being an apparently ordinary human to fulfilling his destiny as the final prophet chosen by God (Allah in Arabic). It also helps one gain a deeper insight into the religion of Islam and the lives of Muslims.

Muhammadp: The Man

Muhammadp was born in 570 C.E. in Mecca. He was orphaned at a young age; his father died before his birth, followed by his mother six years later. Muhammadp’s grandfather, and then his uncle, cared for him for the remainder of his youth. As a result, no single figure molded Muhammadp’s beliefs and outlook on life from an early age.

As a young boy, he worked as a shepherd. This was significant, as he noted much later, “All the prophets of God were shepherds.” Muhammadp then adopted the premier Arab occupation of trading and was widely respected for his integrity and sincerity. However, despite his intelligence, he could not read or write, nor was he skilled in composing poetry, a hallmark of Arab society. Therefore, the claim that Muhammadp authored the Quran is unfounded. To this effect, God declares in the Quran, “[Muhammad] does not speak from his own desire. The Quran is nothing less than a revelation that is sent to him” (53:3-4).

Prior to prophethood, Muhammadp was greatly regarded for his superior character and exceptional manners, earning him the title of the ‘Truthful One.’ Meccans entrusted him with their possessions for safekeeping and he was often asked to mediate disputes as an impartial judge.

At the same time, Muhammadp detested the polytheistic Arab customs and did not participate in idolatry. He was also deeply bothered by the many social evils in Arabia, such as the ill treatment of women, widespread alcoholism, constant warfare and subjugation of the poor. He often escaped the atmosphere of Mecca to a cave outside the city, isolating himself for days at a time in meditation.

Although Muhammadp’s pre-prophetic life was highly reputable, it does not indicate that he was poised to make any significant worldly impact. Yet, these life experiences and the development of his character were God’s way of preparing Muhammadp for the monumental task ahead. (Learn more: Muhammad — What Manner of Man was He?)

Muhammadp: The Prophet

One night, in the year 610 C.E., God sent the angel Gabriel with revelation to Muhammadp. This was one of the most significant events in human history. It marked the beginning of his prophethood and transformed his life entirely. As the prophet of God receiving divine inspiration, all his endeavors henceforth were devoted to leading humanity back to the pure worship of God. He led an earnest life based on the most sublime values, initiating tremendous changes in Arabia and beyond.

Whereas earlier he removed himself from the social and spiritual corruption in Mecca, he now proactively worked to reform it. Muhammadp called his fellow Meccans to cease their worship of idols and to affirm the Oneness of God; he also invited them to a life of righteousness and piety. He warned them of an afterlife where they will be held accountable for their earthly deeds and also gave joyful news of paradise to those who believed and lived a God-conscious life.

Like previous prophets, Muhammadp’s message was rejected by many of his people. They insisted on maintaining the religious and social customs of their ancestors. The elite mocked Muhammadp, accusing him of deceit and madness – the same man whom they freely trusted and honored before. Only a few people believed in him, particularly the poor and disadvantaged who were attracted to his message due to its emphasis on equality and justice.

Prophet Muhammadp and his small group of followers endured persecution for 13 years in Mecca. Eventually, they were forced to leave Mecca and migrate to Medina, a city whose people eagerly welcomed them. Here, Muhammadp established the very first Islamic society which eliminated the spiritual and social problems rampant in the Arabian Peninsula. Freedom of religion was instituted in Medina; women were honored and respected as equals; racial discrimination was practically eliminated; tribal warfare was replaced with united ties of brotherhood; usury and alcohol were completely forbidden.

The French historian, Alphonse de Lamartine, has stated: “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad?”

When comparing his life before and after becoming a messenger, it becomes clear that God enabled him to attain this stature and renown through his prophethood. By the end of his life in 622 C.E., the powerful teachings of Islam had overcome even its most ardent enemies. Convinced by the truth of Muhammadp’s message and inspired by the purity of his character, the entire Arabian Peninsula embraced Islam.

Yet, some individuals have alleged that Muhammadp was not a true messenger of God but a sham; this reflects a poor understanding of his teachings, personality and life achievements. Many non-Muslim intellectuals throughout history have attested to the impossibility of this view. The British historian, Dr. Montgomery Watt, addresses this perspective in his writing, “His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.”

In Life of Mohammed, the famous American intellectual, Washington Irving, wrote: “In his private dealings, he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints… In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity… He was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonials of respect were shown to him.”

(Read more: Last Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad)

Muhammadp: The Legacy

In the century following Muhammadp’s death, Islam expanded in all directions, absorbing the Persian and Byzantine Empires to the North, reaching as far as Spain in the West and extending its borders to include parts of India and China to the East. This rapid spread of Islam in such a short period of time has caused many to marvel at how a man with a simple message could produce such an astonishing impact on the world.

Mahatma Gandhi, a champion of peace in modern times, said about his experience of studying the life of Muhammadp, “I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind… I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”

Similar admiration was expressed by British intellectual and women’s rights activist, Annie Besant:, “It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme.”

Muhammadp was the final prophet in a long line of messengers sent by God which included, among others, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon all of them. Like previous prophets, Muhammadp called people towards belief in the One God and taught them to be just and merciful. His life and teachings have been meticulously documented by thousands of historical sources dating back to his companions.

Michael M. Hart, a Jewish-American historian, placed Muhammadp first in his book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. According to Hart, “He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels… It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.”

Muhammadp was indeed one of the most important men in human history; his impact on the world continues to be felt strongly today. Reflecting on his remarkable life and amazing accomplishments leads to an inevitable question: Was Muhammadp simply an extraordinary person or did his greatness result from his being a genuine prophet of God?

Without a doubt, the answer to this question carries great implications. We encourage you to delve deeper into the study of Muhammadp’s life and explore this potentially life-changing question yourself. (Click here to read the biography of Prophet Muhammad.)

 

Suggested Reading:

Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings

In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan

Muhammad: Man and Prophet by Adil Salahi

 

Note: The subscript p next to Prophet Muhammadp represents the invocation Muslims say with his name: May God’s peace and blessings be upon him. 

9 Comments

  1. Somehow I always knew that people were wrong who say that Muhammed was a 'war monger.' He sounds pretty good to me! I think he was a prophet of the Almighty!

  2. be in the world like a traveller,or like a passer on;and reckon yourself as of the dead

  3. this isn't the real life. This is life that we have taken on since our first parents Adam and Eve sinned and gotten thrown out from paradise. The new life is the new world, where Allah replenishes the paradise for his faithful ones to live without toil and with immortality, enjoying the very fruits of His Creation. This is Satans world, a world with idols and so called partners with Allah (Jehovah or Yahweh as the hebrew puts it) that corrupt mankind. If you actually study with a faithful and true heart Allah will show you the answers.

  4. How did the belief that Muhammad was the final prophet become the orthodox view?
    (Immediately after the death of Muhammad) The situation that Abu Bakr faced on assuming the caliphate was very grim. Many tribes apostatised from Islam and refused to pay Zakat. Many false prophets rose throughout the length and breadth of Arabia, and many people offered allegiance to them. The argument that weighed with them was that a living prophet was to be preferred to one who was dead. (Prof. Masud ul Hasan, History of Islam, 2002, vol. 1, p. 97)
    And so we see that after Muhammad’s death these other prophets continued their activity. Abu Bakr’s response to this situation was to declare war on these Muslims and unify them around Muhammad alone. To the north of Medina was the tribe of Asad. They followed their prophet Taleaha. Muhammad’s followers marched against them and defeated them at Buzakha. The tribe of Hanifa was led by the prophet Musailma. Muhammad’s followers fought hard against this tribe and finally killed Musailma. In Oman Laquit b Malik was the prophet. An army was sent against him. Laquit and ten thousand of his followers were killed. In Yemen there was a prophet called Aswad Ansi. He had a large following. Muhammad’s army defeated them and killed Aswad.

    This is how Muhammad became the final prophet; his close companions killed all the other prophets and forced their version of Islam upon these Arab tribes. Muhammad’s Qur’an was to be preserved but any Qur’an-like material from these other prophets was not preserved.

  5. Reflections and Applications

    1. It was not universally acknowledged among the early Muslims that Muhammad was the final prophet. This belief took time to be established and was enforced violently on the early Islamic community. If these different early Islamic communities had been allowed to continue to follow their own prophet then their belief that Muhammad was not the final prophet would continue today and Islam would look very different.

    2. The killing of these prophets and stopping the transmission of any Qur’an-like material they may have had destroyed important evidence for the context of Muhammad’s Qur’an. How did what Muhammad recite relate to what these other prophets recited? Was there common material between them? Did any of their material get included in Muhammad’s Qur’an or was Muhammad's completely different to them? It is an assumption to say there was no connection between them and Muhammad. To claim that what Muhammad recited was completely unique is an argument from silence, a silence created by killing these prophets and their words. Therefore when we think about the history of the Qur’an we need to consider this context. Even if we cannot answer certain questions about these prophets and their words we can at least know that modern Islamic claims are just assumptions and arguments from silence.

    3. “How Muhammad became the final prophet” would be a good title for a book and there is plenty of material in the Islamic sources to work with. I say this because there are a few books with titles like “How Jesus Became God” and Muslims seem to like these books. However, Muslims cannot say that because early Christians wrestled to understand the divinity of Jesus this means his divinity is a later invention. Would Muslims say the same about Muhammad being the final prophet? Some issues take a while to sort out. The main issue for Christians and Muslims in this area is to make sure we learn our history properly and not rely on cliches and exaggeration.

  6. Each community thinks that their Prophet is the last. Allah has to work a lot to change those communites. So he sought a covenant from all Prophets that Messengers will come after each of them.

  7. Sharif Nureini S says:

    To: Everyone in
    here :Very important message!! Jesus p.b.u.h said seek the truth John 8:32 ESV / 126 helpful votes
    And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    truth……..it seems your so interested about Islam? What is keeping you behind? What do u need to know about islam? 1. Islam bring peace to the heart, mind and soul 2. Your sins in ignorance you will be forgiven 3. if u confess anytime and then u die soon or later any time you will go to Paradise 4. Believe in 1 God. 5 Believe jesus is messenger of God no muslim is muslim if he dont believe in jesus….Believe prophet Muhammed p.b.u.h is the messenger of God … wconfess Take the shahadah Right Now…..The is no other God to be worship except 1Your past sin will be forgiven and InshaAllah if Allah wills be Right now….. The truth is Right in front of Your

  8. Sharif Nureini S says:

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    u know y i like because you might be those who dont anything about islam…. Islam it self meant peace…..salam it self came the root Assalam 1 of the almighty name……. ..No one in this world is like our prophet Muhammed peace and bellesing be upon him… even he is been mention the bible that he shall come and guide u and speak not his word but the words of my lord and he shall praise me jesus (p.b.u.h)…Right now in this world who is praising jesus p.b.u.h is our lovely beloved prophet prophet Muhammed [b.b.u.h) our beloved prophet Muhammed .s.w he was merciful towards mankind to u and me….. He is the best man to walk on earth….He guides billions and billions of people old generation and new generation about 1 message only that Moses did Ibrahim did and jesus did Noad did 1 God to be worship…..Prophet Muhammed p.b.u.h himself was peaceful, the best of the seler of the Last prophet or messenger…..Not the first…1 billions came with 1 message and 25 prophets meantion the Quran and prophet Muhammed s.w. is meantion in every holy Book Bible and others more

  9. Sharif Nureini S says:

    Accept Islam and see the truth and perfect life in this world and heareafter You know y i like those who understand the truth about islam and searching the truth because the truth will reach u 1 day
    because you might be those who dont anything about islam…. Islam it self meant peace…..salam it self came the root Assalam 1 of the almighty name……. ..No one in this world is like our prophet Muhammed peace and bellesing be upon him… even he is been mention the bible that he shall come and guide u and speak not his word but the words of my lord and he shall praise me jesus (p.b.u.h)…Right now in this world who is praising jesus p.b.u.h is our lovely beloved prophet prophet Muhammed [b.b.u.h) our beloved prophet Muhammed .s.w he was merciful towards mankind to u and me….. He is the best man to walk on earth….He guides billions and billions of people old generation and new generation about 1 message only that Moses did Ibrahim did and jesus did Noad did 1 God to be worship…..Prophet Muhammed p.b.u.h himself was peaceful, the best of the seler of the Last prophet or messenger…..Not the first…1 billions came with 1 message and 25 prophets meantion the Quran and prophet Muhammed s.w. is meantion in every holy Book Bible and others more

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