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What is the significance of Muhammad for Muslims?
This essay will try to look at the life and teachings of Muhammadand develop an understanding of his significance for Muslims.
Laylat al-Qadr, or the “Night of Power”. When translated from Arabic is a very important anniversary day for Muslims and is regarded from Muslims the most important event in history. The night of power is the first time where the verses of Quran revealed to Muhammad a person who later on was declared prophet. But let us first look at Muhammad's life.
Muhammad was born in Mecca-Arabia c.570. The son of a merchant, who was of a very prominent family of Mecca, became orphan at a very young age. When he was only six months his father died and for two years he was raised by a Bedouin family in the desert as it was regarded those days a very good and healthy start for infants. At the age of six his mother passed away and became fully orphaned. He then stayed for few years with his grandfather and when the later past also away he was adopted by his uncle Abu Talib. Talib was also a merchant and gave to Muhammad his first experience as a merchant, by taking him along to trading journeys. Were he did meet both Christians to the north and Jews,as reported in the Qur'an script under "The People of the Book" (3:64, 71, 187; 5:59). a indication to Christians and Jews who knowledge God's love and word from the prophets before Muhammad.
According to Watt (1974 p5) little is known for Muhammad's life during his later youth and from the fragmentary information that is available, it is hard to separate history from legend. It is although well known that he became a very powerful merchant and many people trusted his merchant conduct, hence and the nickname that he acquired “Al-Amin” meaning trustworthy and faithful as he was recognized for his unbiased negotiating manners. In 595 he consented to a marriage with a very wealthy 40 year old widow which by all means proved to be a blissful one.
The first revelation: Mohammad, according to Bogle (1998), p.6) begun mediating alone in a cave, not far from Mecca called the Mount Hira (the Mount of Light) every year for several weeks. The chosen month was the month of Ramadan.
He was forty years old when one night towards the end of his quiet month he received his first revelation. He said that the archangel Gabriel become visible to him and instructed him to recite some verses . Those verses would start the Qur'an. In these meeting , occasionally he would see the archangel, in other moments he could only hear him, and at some others time he would only hear the resonance of a bell from which the teaching and instructions of the archangel came. Muhammad did not know , either how to read or to write so he was ordered to learn by heart the words given to him . The whole verbal passages which Muhammad had received over twenty-three year period, concluding in 632, which is also the year of his death.. He heard a voice say: “Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not.”( Yusuf Ali, translation Qur'an).
After receiving his first revelation Mohammed became distressed and he almost threw himself from the top of the mountain, but the spirit approached him again and told him that he has been chosen to be the messenger of God. After this event and for the following three years Mohammed begun praying more frequently and practising spiritually .He then had his second revelation where he got confident that the time had arrived for him to start preaching.
So the mission starts, the proclamation of Islam and its truth , were to be passed on to the future generation, the real message given to him by Gabriel from Allah. Muhammad ask all the population close by to repent from their worshiping of other idols , to do penance and good , and especially to adore the one and true God, Allah. He did explain that man should be submitted to God to whom is slave and obey him. He preached that the Judgment day was close by and that all man's doings would be revered on that day .The first to convert to the new doctrine were his wife and his cousin Ali, Muhammad preached about Allah and insisted that all people should go back to the true faith of their father Abraham.In those days in Medina, he prayed facing Jerusalem, as the Jews did . He continually though to repent, to pray only one God, and to forgive. His first public teaching in Medina was on a Friday. for that reason, Islamic main worship occurs on Fridays.
He confronted the Jews in many occasion and sun they started disapproving his teachings This probably was the reason that one day as he was praying, all of a sudden changed position and faced Mecca .later on, he would explain that the Ka'aba, in Mecca, was the accurate place of veneration in view of the fact that it was built by Abraham. So from that day on, all Muslims started to pray facing Mecca . After few battles with close by tribe Muhammad in 630 conquers Mecca and demolishes all the idols in the region .
In the year 632, Muhammad gives his last teaching , later in the year dies in the company of one of his twelve wife, Aisha, and her father, Abu-Bakr, ho becomes Caliph, the religious-political leader of Islam. When he died , Mohammad had several hundred thousand of followers of Islam. In thousands would pray with the prophet at the mosque and pay deep attention to his sermon. Many of devote Muslims would looking for any occasion to be with Muhammad performing the five daily prayers and other prescriptions. They used to look for his advice and seek guidance for their day by day problems, and paying attention to the explanation and significance of important verses to be adopted in each circumstance. With sincere heart they followed the prophet of Allah and the message of the Qur'an and sustain him with all they had. They devotedly passed the message of Islam after the Prophet died, and within ninety years the message of Islam reached Spain, North Africa, northwest China and India.
We can conclude saying that the prophet Mohammad in his life left a real statement to his followers ; all religions have different ways to reach God. But only one would lead them to the true God .
So Muslim trough his teaching confirm that there are different ways to reach God also within Islam itself.But all of them leads to the trough God Some Muslim are very clever and like to find God by reasoning alone. There are some who like to reach God through love. Others like to meditate and find God. While there are some who like to reach God by doing good deeds and fasting .and same just following the life example of their Prophet.muhammad.
Only a small number of persons in all times continually have a influence to change the social and cultural course of nations .Clearly we can say that Muhammad is one of them .For many people around the globe , Muhammad some one who lived in the middle east in the nearly two thousand years ago and trough him Islam was founded .But for Muslims, Muhammad is the great and last prophet of Allah who replaced all the other prophets before him and him only brought the last and immaculate word of God. And we can add that wherever our position is , Muhammad still be a significant person in the history of humankind.
Mecca was and still be the main cultural and religious centre in the East . The region was full of small tribes with plenty , and rivals polytheistic religions. At the centre of Mecca was the Ka'aba ( in Arabic cube ), a place of pilgrimage about 60 feet, by 60 feet, by 60 feet, containing nearly a thousand of idols, and recognized as the Allah dwelling place ho was recognized as the highest of all deity, but was revered beside with other deities. The actual structure ,Ka'aba as tradition says built by Abraham and Ishmael his son on the same place were Adam did built the first to the mighty God . On the eastern corner of the Ka'aba is the Black stone called in Arabic, Hajar al Aswad. The Black Stone is probably a meteorite.
Watt, W. Montgomery(1961).Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman. Oxford University Press.ISBN0-19-881078-4.(New edition 1974)
Bogle, Emory C.(1998).Islam: Origin and Belief. Texas University Press.ISBN0292708629.