The Qur’ān is the word of the Ever-living God; it has been sent down to guide humanity for all times to come. No book can be like it. As you come to the Qur’ān, God speaks to you.To read the Qur’ān is to hear Him, converse with Him and to walk in His ways. It is the encounter of life with the Life-giver. ‘God – there is no diety except Him, the Ever-living,the Sustainer of existence. He has sent down upon you the Book with in Truth … as a guidance for the people …’ (Qur’ān 3: 2-3).
For those who heard it for the first time from the lips of the Prophet, the Qur’ān was a living reality. They had absolutely no doubt that, through him, God was speaking to them.Their hearts and minds were therefore seized by it. Their eyes overflowed with tears and their bodies shivered. They found each word of it deeply relevant to their concerns and experiences,and integrated it fully into their lives. They were completely transformed by it both as individuals and as a nation – into a totally new, alive and life-giving entity. Those who grazed sheep, herded camels and traded petty merchandise became the leaders of mankind.
As we come to the Qur’ān, we come to a new world. Each Ayat [verse] is a sign of God –informing us of His infinite mercy, power and knowledge. No other venture in our lives can be so momentous and crucial, so blissful and rewarding, as our journey to and through the Qur’ān. It is a journey that will take us through the endless joys and riches of the words that our Creator and Lord has sent to us and all mankind. Here we will find a world of untold treasures of knowledge and wisdom to guide us on the pathways of life, to mould our thoughts and actions. In it we will find deep insights to enrich us and steer us along the right course. From it you will receive a radiant light to illumine the deeper reaches of our soul.Here we will encounter profound emotions, a warmth to melt our hearts and bring tears running down our cheeks.It is beyond man’s power to comprehend, or to describe, the greatness and importance of what the Qur’ān holds for him. It is God’s greatest blessing for him. It is the fulfillment of His promise to Adam and his descendants: ‘when guidance comes to you from Me,whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve…’ (2: 38). It is the only weapon to help our frail existence as we struggle against the forces of evil and temptation in this world. It is the only means to overpower our fears and
anxieties. It is the only ‘light’ (nur), as we grope in the darkness, with which to find our way to success and salvation. It is the only healing (shifa’) for our inner sicknesses, as well as the social ills that may surround us. Its the constant reminder (dhikr) of our true nature and destiny,of our station, our duties, our rewards and our perils.
God – the Greatest
The Qur’ān was brought down by the one who is powerful and trustworthy in the heavens –the angel Gabriel. Its first abode was the pure and sublime heart, the like of which no man has never had – the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him. More than anything, it is the only way to come nearer and closer to our Creator. It tells us of Him,of His attributes, of how He rules over the cosmos and history, of how He relates Himself to us, and how we should relate to Him and to
Most important is to remember is that what we read in the Qur’ān is the word of God which He has conveyed to us in a human language, only because of His mercy and care and providence for us. ‘The Most-merciful, He has taught the Qur’ān’ (55: 1-2). ‘A mercy from your Lord’ (44: 6). The majesty of the Qur’ān, too, is so overpowering that no human being can truly comprehend it. So much so as God says, ‘If We had sent down this Qur’ān upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of God.’ (59: 21). This act of Divine mercy and majesty is enough to awe and overwhelm us, to inspire us to ever-greater heights of gratitude, yearning and endeavour to enter the world of the Qur’ān. Indeed, no treasure is more valuable and precious for us than the Qur’ān, as God says of His generosity, ‘O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.’(10:57).
The outcome of our entire life depends on how we heed the call given by God. The journeyis therefore decisive for our existence, for mankind, for the future of human civilization. A hundred new worlds lie in its verses. Whole centuries are involved in its moments. Know, in that case that it is the Qur’ān, and only the Qur’ān, which can lead us towards success and glory in this-world and in the world-to-come.
We finish by citing a poem;
‘My mind ponders and contemplates,
Dwelling on the reality of life,
Yet nothing is as scary as the Realness of the Ever-Living.
His knowledge of my inner self,
The insides tremble and frighten at this reality,
I hear nothing except my heart beating,
Beat after beat it beats,
One thought is flowing in my mind,
All that my mind and body desire at this moment,
Is to stand,
To stand before Him.
This feeling I wouldn’t exchange for the world,
To fall prostrate and praise Him, tell Him I love Him and am longing to meet Him.
Life is a journey with many intended ambitions –
Yet mine is simple……………to meet my Lord when I am closest to Him.’
In early 2007, a friend visited me at my home in Birmingham, UK. He was visually emotional and asked if I could give him a translation of the Qur’ān in English. He explained that he had a non-Muslim work colleague who had been enthralled by the Qur’ān and that he, as a Muslim,felt ashamed he had not read it. So I gave him a spare translation I had and began to tell him
some basic facts he should know as a seeker of truth –
The Qur’ān is a unique book for a multitude of reasons. To name a few:
• It does not read in chronological order of revelation –
– i.e. the first verse you read from Sūrah 1 is not that first verse revealed
– nor the last verse from Sūrah 114 the very last verse of the Qur’ān.
• The Qur’ān was revealed over 23 years to the Prophet Muhammad –
– Sometimes a few Ayats at a time – (the first revelation began with five
ayat, then seven, etc)
– and at other times, Sūrahs (chapters) were revealed as a whole.
(An Ayat is normally translated as ‘a verse’ – a more accurate linguistic
translation would be ‘Sign’ [of God])
• The Archangel Gabriel, under instruction from God, informed the Prophet to arrange
the various Ayats into Sūrahs.
• These Sūrah’s (chapters) can be divided into two types –
– those revealed before the migration of the Muslim community – The
– and those revealed after the migration – The Madinan period.
– These Sūrahs would often include Ayats from both time periods
• The significance of the two periods –
– in Makkah the call to one God was new. The Believers were opposed,
beaten and oppressed by the Makkans who were the main proponents of
idol-worship in Arabia. The revelations in Makkah were regarding the
Oneness of God, Paradise and Hellfire, the Day of Judgment etc. This was
a period of many trials and tribulations for the Prophet Muhammad and
– in Madinah the Prophet was the leader of the Islāmic state. The revelations
here centered on establishing the religion, engaging the enemies of
God, social and legal rulings on marriage, divorce, inheritance, punishment,
– The challenges of both periods were different and the various Ayats reflect
this.After explaining the importance of knowing the biography of the Prophet in order to deepen one’s understanding of the Qur’ān, I began explaining how amazingly, the Qur’ān has been preserved word for word in written and oral form for over fourteen hundred years – a feat unmatched by any other book, including the Old and New Testament. I then went on to mention the many scientific miracles contained in the Qur’ān and also the prophecies in the Bible about the Prophet Muhammad. All this information I was relaying to my friend was scattered over many books and not contained in a single publication that I could give him. It was at this stage
it became evident to me that there was a need to publish a translation of the Qur’ān which would give its reader a complete and informed introduction to the miraculous book. And so,
The Qur’ān Project was born.
Work then began by first selecting the Saheeh International translation of the Qur’ān as the translation we would use in our print – it is in simple English and corresponds well to the sentence structure of the Arabic. There were two changes that were made to this translation – the word ‘Allah’ was replaced with ‘God’ and ‘Bismillah ir Rahman nir Raheem’ (at the beginning of the Sūrahs) was replaced by ‘In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.’
It was then decided to use M. Mawdudi’s Sūrah introductions from his commentary of the Qur’ān, ‘Towards Understanding the Qur’ān’ (available online www.quranproject.org). These have been edited and abridged to include the most relevant information for a beginner. The following chapters were then selected to also be included:
• Short Biography of the Prophet Muhammad
• Introduction to the Study of the Qur’ān
• The Unique Qur’ānic Generation
• Preservation and Literary Challenge of the Qur’ān
• Scientific Miracles of the Qur’ān;
– The Qur’ān on the Origin of the Universe
– The Qur’ān on the ‘Big Bang Theory’
– The Qur’ān on the Expanding Universe
– The Qur’ān on the Orbital Movement of the Sun and the Moon
– The Qur’ān on Duality in Creation
– The Qur’ān on the Origin of Life in Water
– The Qur’ān on Seas and Rivers
– Miracle of Iron
– The Qur’ān on Mountains
– The Qur’ān on Human Embryonic Development
– Scientists Acceptance of the Miracles of the Qur’ān
• Miracles Performed
• Old and New Testament Prophecy of Muhammad
• Women in Islām
• How do I become a Muslim?
• Quick Guide to Ablution and Prayer
• Frequently Asked Questions about Islām – Short Answers –
The website www.quranproject.org was setup to accompany the publication. Here readers would be able to read it all online, download it, order their free copy, and go through the many additional sections including free online library, audio and video etc.
Final Note Many of those involved have been completely humbled by the opportunity given to them by God to partake in this project. All praise and thanks are for Him and Him alone, the Lord of the Worlds. Often God uses diverse and numerous people for His work and this endeavor has
been no different. So many people have offered their time, help and services to this project and are too many to mention here. God knows every single one of them and we ask Him to accept this deed from us and make it as a means of achieving His love, mercy and ultimately Paradise –
All that is good and correct in this publication, and anyone who is subsequently guided, this is from God and a mercy from Him. Any mistakes and errors are from ourselves and we ask the forgiveness of God for them.
‘O God, Creator of the heavens and the earth – Accept this deed from us and forgive for us for any shortcomings. Enter us and our families into the highest levels of Paradise and protect us from being touched by the Fire even for a moment. Our prayers, sacrifices, lives and death are all for You. Bless us with Your Love, the love of whom You Love and the love of deeds which bring us closer to Your Love. O God, have mercy on us through the Qur’ān and make it for us a Light, Mercy and Guidance – Make the last part of our lives its best, the last deed the best
one, and the best day of our lives the Day we meet You.’ [ameen]
Rabi’ al-Awwal, 1431 AH
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Short Biography of Prophet Muhammad
The Prophet’s Birth
Muhammad, son of Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, of the tribe of Quraysh, was born
in Makkah in the year 571 A.D. His father died before he was born, and he was protected first by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, and after his grandfather’s death, by his uncle
As a young boy he traveled with his uncle in the merchants’ caravan to Syria, and some
years later made the same journey in the service of a wealthy widow named Khadijah. So faithfully he conducted her business, and so excellent was the report of his behaviour,which she received from her old servant who had accompanied him, that she soon afterwards married her young agent; and the marriage proved a very happy one, though she was fifteen years older than he was. Throughout the twenty-six years of their life together he remained devoted to her; and after her death, when he took other wives he always mentioned her with the greatest love and reverence. This marriage gave him rank among the notables of Makkah, while his conduct earned for him the title al-Amin, the “trustworthy.”
One of the most comprehensive and detailed descriptions we have of the Prophet Muhammad came from a Bedouin woman who would take care of travelers who passed by her tent. The Prophet once stopped by her with his companions for food and rest. The Prophet asked her if they could buy some meat or dates from her but she could not find anything. The Prophet looked towards a sheep next to the tent. He asked her, “What is wrong with this sheep?” She replied, “The sheep is fatigued and is weaker than the other sheep.” The Prophet asked, “Does it milk?” She replied, “I swear by your mother and father,
if I saw milk from it then I would milk it.” He then called the sheep and moved his
hand over its udder; he pronounced the name of God and praised Him. Then he called
the woman when the sheep steadied its feet and its udder filled. He asked for a large containerand milked it until it was filled. The woman drank until full as did his companions.Then it was milked for a second time until the container was full and they left her andcontinued on their journey. After a short while, the husband of the Bedouin woman returned from herding goats. He saw the milk and said to his wife, “Where did you get this milk from?” She replied, “I swear by God, a blessed man came to us today” He said,
“Describe him to me.”
She began; “I saw him to be a man of evident splendor. Fine in figure. His face handsome.Slim in form. His head not too small, elegant and good looking. His eyes large and black [and] his eye lids long. His voice deep. Very intelligent. His brows high and arched[and] his hair in plaits. His neck long and his beard thick. He gave an impression of dignity
when silent and of high intelligence when he talked. His words were impressive and his
speech decisive, not trivial nor trite. His ideas like pearls moving on their string. He
seemed the most splendid and fine looking man from a distance and the very best of all
from close by. Medium in height, the eye not finding him too tall nor too short. A tree
branch as it were between two others but he was the finest looking of the three. The best proportioned.
His companions would surround him, when he spoke they would listen attentively
to his speech…”
The First Revelation
The Makkans claimed descent from Abraham through Ishmail and tradition stated that
their temple, the Ka`bah, had been built by Abraham for the worship of the One God. It
was still called the House of God, but the chief objects of worship here were a number of idols, which were called “daughters” of God and intercessors.
It was the practice of the Prophet to retire often to a cave in the desert for meditation.
His place of retreat was Hira, a cave in a mountain called the Mountain of Light not far
from Makkah, and his chosen month was Ramadan, the month of heat. It was there one night towards the end of this quiet month that the first revelation came to him when he was forty years old.
He heard a voice say: “Read!” He said: “I cannot read.” The voice again said: “Read!” He said: “I cannot read.” A third time the voice, more terrible, commanded: “Read!” He said:
“What can I read?” The voice said:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous –
Who taught by the pen –
Taught man that which he knew not.”
The Vision of Cave Hira
He went out of the cave on to the hillside and heard the same awe-inspiring voice say: “O
Muhammad! Thou art God’s messenger, and I am Gabriel.” Then he raised his eyes and
saw the angel standing in the sky above the horizon. And again the voice said: “O Muhammad!
Thou art God’s messenger, and I am Gabriel.” Muhammad stood quite still,
turning away his face from the brightness of the vision, but wherever he turned his face,there stood the angel confronting him. He remained thus a long while till at length theangel vanished, when he returned in great distress of mind to his wife Khadijah. She did her best to reassure him, saying that his conduct had been such that God would not let a harmful spirit come to him and that it was her hope that he was to become the Prophet of his people. On his return to Makkah she took him to her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, avery old man, “who knew the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians,” who declared hisbelief that the heavenly messenger who came to Moses of old had come to Muhammad,and that he was chosen as the Prophet of his people.
Message of Islām
Most of the people of Makkah who had acclaimed him as the trustworthy (al-Amīn) and
the trustful (as-Sādiq) could not bring themselves to believe in him. Nor could most of
the Jews and Christians who had for so long been living in expectation of his arrival. Notthat they doubted his truthfulness or integrity but they were not prepared to turn theirwhole established way of living upside down by submitting to his simple but radical message.
He would tell them;
When I recite the Qur’ān, I find the following clear instruction: God is He who
has created you, and the heavens and the earth, He is your only Lord and Master.
He is your only Lord and Master. Surrender your being and your lives totally to
Him Alone, and worship and serve no one but Him. Let God be the Only God.
The words I speak, He places in my mouth, and I speak on His authority, Obey
me and forsake all false claimants to human obedience. Everything in the heavens
and on earth belongs to God; no person has a right to be master of another person,
to spread oppression and corruption on earth. An eternal life beyond awaits
you; where you will meet God face to face, and your life will be judged; for that
you must prepare.
This simple message shook the very foundations of Makkan society as well as the seventh-century
world. That world, as today, lived under the yoke of many false gods, kings
and emperors, priests and monks, feudal lords and rich businessmen, soothsayers and
spell-binders who claimed to know what others knew not, and who all lorded over human being.
The Prophet’s message challenged them all, exposed them all and threatened them all.
His immediate opponents in Makkah could do no better than brand him unconvincingly
as a liar, a poet, soothsayer and a man possessed. But how could he who was illiterate, hewho had never composed a single verse, who has shown no inclination to lead people, suddenly have words flowing from his lips so full of wisdom and light, morally so uplifting, specifically so enlivening, so beautiful and powerful, that they began to change the hearts and minds and lives of the hearer? His detractors and opponents had no answer. When challenged to produce anything even remotely similar to the words Muhammad claimed he was receiving from God, they could not match God’s words.
Stages of The Call First privately, then publicly, the Prophet continued to proclaim his message. He himself had an intense, living relationship with God, totally committed to the message and mission entrusted to him. Slowly and gradually, people came forward and embraced Islām.
They came from all walks of life – chiefs and slaves, businessmen and artisans, men and women – most of them young. Some simply heard the Qur’ān, and that was enough to transform them. Some saw the Prophet, and were immediately captivated by the light ofmercy, generosity and humanity that was visible in his manner and morals, in his words and works and also in his face.
The opposition continued to harden and sharpen. It grew furious and ferocious. Those
who joined the Prophet were tortured in innumerable ways; they were mocked, abused,
beaten flogged, imprisoned and boycotted. Some were subjected to severe inhuman tortures;made to lie on burning coal fires until the melting body fat extinguished them, orwere dragged over burning sand and rocks. Yet such was the strength of their faith thatnone of them gave it up in the face of such trials and tribulation.
The Flight to Abyssinia
However, as the persecutions became unbearable, the Prophet advised those who could,to migrate to Abyssinia. It turned out that there, the Christian king gave the Muslims full protection despite the pleading of the emissaries sent by the Quraysh chiefs. This was thefirst emigration of Islām.
In the meantime, the Prophet and his Companions continued to nourish their souls and
intellect and strengthen their character and resolve for the great task that lay ahead. They met regularly, especially at a house near the Ka’bāh called Dār al-Arqam, to read and study the Qur’ān, to worship and pray and to forge the tied of brotherhood.
Years passed and the people of Makkah would not give their allegiance to the Prophet’s
message nor showed any sign of any easing in their persecution. At the same time, the
Prophet lost his closest companion, his wife Khadījah, as well as his uncle Abu Tālib, his
chief protector in the tribal world of Makkah. The Prophet now decided to carry his
message to the people of the nearby town of Tā’if known for its wealth. In Tā’if, too, thetribal leaders mocked and ridiculed him and rejected his message. They also stirred up their slaves and youth to insult him, mock him and pelt stones at him. Thus he was
stoned until he bled and was driven out of Tā’if, and when God placed at his command
the Angel of Mountains to crush the Valley of Tā’if if he so wished, he only prayed for
them to be guided. Such was the mercy and compassion of the one who is the ‘mercy forall the worlds.’
This year is known by historians as the ‘Year of Sorrow’ due to the grief which the
Prophet suffered as a result of all these worldy setbacks. However, as the Qur’ān states
that after hardship there is ease, the Prophet was to be blessed with an amazing journey culminating with a meeting with Almighty God himself.
One night the Prophet was awaken and taken, in the company of the Angel Gabriel, first to Jerusalem. There he was met by all the Prophets, who gathered together behind him ashe prayed on the Rock at the centre of the site of Masjid Aqsa, the spot where the Dome of the Rock stands today. From the Rock, led by the Archangel, he ascended through the seven heavens and beyond. Thus he saw whatever God made him see, the heavenlyworlds which no human eye can see, and which were the focus of this message and mission.It was also during this journey God ordained on the believers the five daily prayers.
Joy After Sorrow
In quick succession, the Prophet had suffered the terrible loss of Khadijah, his intimate
and beloved companion for 25 years, and of Abu Talib, his guardian and protector
against the bloodthirsty Makkan foes, and encountered the worst ever rejection, humiliation
and persecution at nearby Ta’if. As the Prophet reached the lowest point in his vocation,
God bought him comfort and solace. On the one hand, spiritually, He took him
during the Night of Ascension to the Highest of Highs, realities and Divinities, face to
face with the Unseen. And on the other, materially, he opened the hearts of the people of
Yathrib to the message and mission of Prophet Muhammad.
The message that Makkah and Ta’if rejected, found responsive hearts in Yathrib, a small
oasis about four hundred kilometres to the north of Makkah. Now known as Madinah
tunnabi (the city of the Prophet), or Madinatun Munawwarah (the radiant city), it was
destined to be the centre of the Divine light that was to spread to all parts of the world
for all time to come.
The Men of Yathrib
Soon after Prophet Muhammad’s return from Ta’if and the Night Journey, at the time of
the pilgrimage, six men from Yathrib embraced Islam. They delivered the message of
Islam to as many as they could, and at the time of the next pilgrimage in the year 621 CE,
12 people came. They pledged themselves to the Prophet, that they would make no god
besides God, that they would neither steal nor commit fornication, nor slay their infants,
nor utter slanders, nor disobey him in that which is right. The Prophet said; ‘If you fulfil
this pledge, then Paradise is yours.’ This time the Prophet sent Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr with
them to teach them the Qur’an and Islam and to spread the message of Islam.
More and more people over the course of a year – tribal leaders, men and women – became
Muslims. At the time of the next pilgrimage, they decided to send a delegation to
the Prophet, make a pledge to him, and invited him and all Muslims in Makkah to Yathrib
as a sanctuary and as a base for spearding the Divine message of Islam. In all, 73 men and
two women came. They met the Prophet at Aqabah. They pledged to protect the Prophet
as they would protect their own women and children, and to fight against all men, red
and black, even if their nobles were killed and they suffered the loss of all their possessions.
When asked what would be their return if they fulfilled their pledge, the Prophet
said; ‘Paradise.’ Thus the beginning was made, the foundations of the Islamic society,
state and civilization were set.
The road was now open for the persecuted and tortured followers of the Prophet to
come to the Land of Islam, that was to be Madinah. Gradually most of the believers
found their way to Yathrib. Their Makkan foes could not bear to see the Muslims living
in peace. They knew the power of the Prophet’s message, they knew the strength of those
dedicated believers who cared about nothing for the age-old Arab customs and ties of
kinship, and who if they had to, would fight for their faith. The Makkans sensed the danger
that the Muslims’ presence in Madinah posed for their northern trade caravan routes.
They saw no other way to stop all this but to kill the Prophet.
Plot to Murder the Prophet
Hence they hatched a conspiracy; one strong and well-connected young man was to be
nominated by each clan, and all of them were to pounce upon and kill the Prophet one
morning as he came out of his house, so that his blood would be on all the clans’ hands.
Thus, the Prophets’ clan would have to accept blood money in place of revenge. Informed
of the plot by the Angel Gabriel, and instructed to leave Makkah for Madinah,
the Prophet went to Abu Bakr’s house to finalise the travel arrangements. Abu Bakr was
overjoyed at having been chosen for the honour and blessing of being the Prophet’s
companion on this blessed, momentous, sacred and epoch-making journey. He offered
his she-camel to the Prophet, but the Prophet insisted on paying its price.
On the fateful night, as darkness fell, the youths selected by the Quraysh leaders to kill
the Prophet surrounded his house. They decided to pounce on him when he came out of
his house for the dawn prayer. Meanwhile, the Prophet handed over all the money left by
the Makkans with him for safe-keeping to Ali. Ali offered to lie in the Prophet’s bed. The
Prophet slipped out of his house, threw a little dust in their direction, and walked past his
enemies, whose eyes were still on the house. He met Abu Bakr at his house, and they
both travelled to a nearby cave. When the Quraysh realised that the Prophet had evaded
them, they were furious. They looked for him everywhere to no success and then announced
a reward of 100 she-camels for anybody who would bring them the Prophet,
dead or alive. A tribal chief, Suraqah, sighted the Prophet and followed him, hoping to
earn the reward. The Prophet, with bloodthirsty foes in pursuit and an uncertain future
ahead of him in Madinah, told Suraqah; A day will soon come when Kisra’s golden bracelets
will be in Suraqah’s hands. Thereafter, Suraqah retreated, and the Prophet proceeded
Four stages of the Prophets life in Makkah
The Makkan period can be summarized in four stages:
1. The first stage began with his appointment as a Messenger and ended with the
proclamation of Prophethood three years later. During this period the Message
was given secretly to some selected persons only but the common people of Makkah
were not aware of it.
2. The second stage lasted for two years after the proclamation of his Prophethood.
It began with opposition by individuals: then by and by it took the shape of antagonism,
ridicule, derision, accusation, abuse and false propaganda then gangs were
formed to persecute those Muslims who were comparatively poor, weak and helpless.
3. The third stage lasted for about six years from the beginning of the persecution to
the death of Abu Talib and Khadijah in the tenth year of Prophethood. During
this period the persecution of the Muslims became so savage and brutal that many
of them were forced to migrate to Abyssinia while social and economic boycott
was applied against the remaining Believers.
4. The fourth stage lasted for about three years from the tenth to the thirteenth year
of Prophethood. This was a period of hard trials and grievous sufferings for the
Prophet and his followers. Life had become unendurable at Makkah and there ap17
peared to be no place of refuge even outside it. So much so that when the Prophet
went to Ta’if, it offered no shelter or protection. Besides this, on the occasion of
Hajj, he would appeal to each and every Arab clan to accept his invitation to Islam
but was met with blank refusal from every quarter. At the same time, the people
of Makkah were holding counsels to get rid of him by killing or imprisoning or
banishing him from their city. It was at that most critical time that God opened
for Islam the hearts of the People of Yathrib where he migrated at their invitation.
The Hijrah (622 C.E.)
This was al-Hijrah, the emigration – a small distance in space, a mighty leap in history, an
event that was to become a threshold in the shaping of the Islamic Ummah. This is why
the Muslims date their calendar from Hijrah (emigration) and not from start of revelation
or from the birth of the Prophet.
In Qubah, 10 kilometres outside Madinah, the Prophet made his first stopover. Here he
built the first Masjid. Here he also made his first public address; ‘Spread peace among
yourselves, give away food to the needy, pray while people sleep – and you will enter Paradise,
the house of peace.’
Three days later, the Prophet entered Madinah. Men, women, children, the entire populace
came out on the streets and jubilantly welcomed him. Never was there a day of grater
rejoicing and happiness. ‘The Prophet has come! The Prophet has come!’ sang the little
The first thing the Prophet did after arriving in Madinah was to weld the Muhajirs or
Emigrants and the hosts, called the Ansar or Helpers into one brotherhood. Still today
this brotherhood remains the hallmark of the Muslims. One person from the Emigrants
was made the brother of one from among the Helpers – creating a bond stronger than
blood. The Helpers offered to share equally all that they possessed with their new brothers.
So, the Muslims were forged into a close-knit community of faith and brotherhood, and
the structure of their society was being built. The first structure was also raised. This was
the Masjid, the building dedicated to the worship of One God – called Masjid al-Nabi,
the Prophet’s Masjid. Since then the Masjid has also remained the hallmark of the Muslims’
collective and social life, the convenient space for the integration of the religious
and political dimension of Islam, a source of identification, a witness to Muslim existence.
At the same time, steps were taken and required institutions built to integrate the entire
social life around the centre and pivot of the worship of One God. For this purpose, five
daily prayers in congregation were established. Ramadhan, fasting every day from dawn to
sunset for an entire month, was also prescribed. Similarly, to establish ‘giving’ as the way
of life, Zakah, a percentage of one’s wealth to be given in the way of God, was made obligatory.
The Jews and Hypocrites
In the first year of his reign at Yathrib the Prophet made a solemn treaty with the Jewish
tribes, which secured to them rights of citizenship and full religious liberty in return for
their support of the new state. But their idea of a Prophet was one who would give them
dominion, not one who made the Jews who followed him, brothers of every Arab who
might happen to believe as they did. When they realised that they could not use the
Prophet for their own ends, they tried to shake his faith and his Mission and to seduce his
followers, behaviour in which they were encouraged secretly by some professing Muslims
who considered they had reason to resent the Prophet’s coming, since it robbed them of
their local influence. In the Madinan Surahs there is frequent mention of these Jews and
The First Expeditions
The Prophet’s first concern as ruler was to establish public worship and lay down the
constitution of the State: but he did not forget that Quraysh had sworn to make an end to
his religion, nor that he had received command to fight against them till they ceased from
persecution. After twelve months in Yathrib several small expeditions went out, led either
by the Prophet himself or other migrants for the purpose of reconnoitering and of dissuading
other tribes from siding with Quraysh. One of the other purposes of those expeditions
may have been to accustom the Makkan Muslims to engage with enemy forces.
For thirteen years they had been strict pacifists, and it is clear, from several passages of
the Qur’an, that many of them disliked the idea of fighting and had to be inured to it.
The Campaign of Badr
In the second year of the Hijrah (migration) the Makkan merchants’ caravan [which had
the confiscated possessions of what the Muslims had left in Makkah] was returning from
Syria as usual by a road which passed not far from Yathrib. As its leader Abu Sufyan approached
the territory of Yathrib he heard of the Prophet’s plan to capture the caravan.
At once he sent a camel-rider towards Makkah, who arrived in a worn-out state and
shouted frantically from the valley to Quraysh to hasten to the rescue unless they wished
to lose both wealth and honour. A force of a thousand strong was soon on its way to
Yathrib: less, it would seem, with the hope of saving the caravan than with the idea of
punishing the raiders, since the Prophet might have taken the caravan before the relief
force started from Makkah.
Did the Prophet ever intend to raid the caravan? In Ibn Hisham, in the account of the
Tabuk expedition, it is stated that the Prophet on that one occasion did not hide his real
objective. The caravan was the pretext in the campaign of Badr; the real objective was the
He had received command to fight his persecutors, and with the promised of victory, he
was prepared to venture against any odds, as was well seen at Badr. But the Muslims, illequipped
for war, would have despaired if they had known from the first instance that
they were to face a well-armed force three times their number.
The army of Quraysh had advanced more than half-way to Yathrib before the Prophet
set out. All three parties – the army of Quraysh, the Muslim army and the caravan – were
heading for the water of Badr. Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, heard from one of
his scouts that the Muslims were near the water, and turned back to the coast-plain leaving
the Muslims to meet the army of Quraysh by the well of Badr.
Before the battle, the Prophet was prepared, still further to increase the odds against him.
He gave leave to all the Ansar (natives of Yathrib) to return to their homes unreproached,
since their oath did not include the duty of fighting in the field; but the Ansar
were only hurt by the suggestion that they could possibly desert him at a time of danger.
The battle went at first against the Muslims, but against the odds with a much weaker army
they were victorious.
The victory of Badr gave the Prophet new prestige among the Arab tribes; but thenceforth
there was the feud of blood between Quraysh and the Islamic State in addition to
the old religious hatred. Those passages of the Qur’an which refer to the battle of Badr
give warning of much greater struggles yet to come.
In fact in the following year, an army of three thousand came from Makkah to destroy
Yathrib. The Prophet’s first idea was merely to defend the city, a plan of which Abdullah
ibn Ubayy, the leader of “the Hypocrites” (‘Muslims by name only’), strongly approved.
But the men who had fought at Badr and believed that God would help them against any
odds thought it a shame that they should linger behind walls.
The Battle on Mount Uhud
The Prophet, approving of their faith and zeal, gave way to them, and set out with an army
of one thousand men toward Mt. Uhud, where the enemy were encamped. Abdullah
ibn Ubayy was much offended by the change of plan. He thought it unlikely that the
Prophet really meant to give battle in conditions so adverse to the Muslims, and was unwilling
to take part in a mere demonstration designed to flatter the Muslims. So he withdrew
with his men, a fourth or so of the army.
Despite the heavy odds, the battle on Mt. Uhud would have been an even greater victory
than that at Badr for the Muslims but for the disobedience of a band of fifty archers
whom the Prophet set to guard a pass against the enemy cavalry. Seeing their comrades
victorious, these men left their post, fearing to lose their share of the spoils. The cavalry
of Quraysh rode through the gap and fell on the exultant Muslims.
The Prophet himself was wounded and the cry arose that he was slain, till someone recognized
him and shouted that he was still living; a shout to which the Muslims rallied.
Gathering round the Prophet, they retreated, leaving many dead on the hillside.
On the following day the Prophet again ventured forth with what remained of the army,
with the intention that the Quraysh might hear that he was in the field and so might perhaps
be deterred from attacking the city. The stratagem succeeded, thanks to the behaviour
of a friendly Bedouin, who met the Muslims and conversed with them and afterwards
met the army of Quraysh. Questioned by Abu Sufyan, he said that Muhammad was
in the field, stronger than ever, and thirsting for revenge for yesterday’s affair. On that information,
Abu Sufyan decided to return to Makkah.
Massacre of Muslims
The reverse which they had suffered on Mt. Uhud lowered the prestige of the Muslims
with the Arab tribes and also with the Jews of Yathrib. Tribes which had inclined toward
the Muslims now inclined toward Quraysh. The Prophet’s followers were attacked and
murdered when they went abroad in little companies. Khubayb, one of his envoys, was
captured by a desert tribe and sold to Quraysh, who tortured him to death in Makkah
Expulsion of Banu-Nadheer
The Jews, despite their treaty, now hardly concealed their hostility. They even went so far
in flattery of Quraysh as to declare the religion of the pagan Arabs superior to Islam. The
Prophet was obliged to take punitive action against some of them. The tribe of Banu-
Nadheer were besieged in their strong towers, subdued and forced to emigrate. The Hypocrites
had sympathized with the Jews and secretly egged them on.
The War of the Trench
In the fifth year of the Hijrah the idolaters made a great effort to destroy Islam in the War
of the Clans or War of the Trench, as it is variously called; when Quraysh with all their
clans and the great desert tribe of Ghatafan with all their clans, an army of ten thousand
men rode against Al-Madinah (Yathrib). The Prophet (by the advice of Salman the Persian)
caused a deep trench to be dug before the city, and himself led the work of digging
The army of the clans was stopped by the trench, a novelty in Arab warfare. It seemed
impassable for cavalry, which formed their strength. They camped in sight of it and daily
showered their arrows on its defenders. While the Muslims were awaiting the assault,
news came that Banu Quraythah, a Jewish tribe of Yathrib which had till then been loyal,
had gone over to the enemy. The case seemed desperate. But the delay caused by the
trench had dampened the zeal of the clans, and one who was secretly a Muslim managed
to sow distrust between Quraysh and their Jewish allies, so that both hesitated to act.
Then came a bitter wind from the sea, which blew for three days and nights so terribly
that not a tent could be kept standing, not a fire lighted, not a pot boiled. The tribesmen
were in utter misery. At length, one night the leader of Quraysh decided that the torment
could be borne no longer and gave the order to retire. When Ghatafan awoke next morning
they found Quraysh had gone and they too took up their baggage and retreated.
Punishment of Banu Quraythah
On the day of the return from the trench the Prophet ordered war on the treacherous
Banu Quraythah, who, conscious of their guilt, had already taken to their towers of refuge.
After a siege of nearly a month they had to surrender unconditionally. They only
begged that they might be judged by a member of the Arab tribe of which they were ad21
herents. The Prophet granted their request. But the judge, upon whose favor they had
counted, condemned their fighting men to death, their women and children to slavery.
Early in the sixth year of the Hijrah the Prophet led a campaign against the Bani al-
Mustaliq, a tribe who were preparing to attack the Muslims.
In the same year the Prophet had a vision in which he found himself entering the holy
place at Makkah unopposed, therefore he determined to attempt the pilgrimage. Attired
as pilgrims, and taking with them the customary offerings, a company of fourteen hundred
men journeyed to Makkah. As they drew near the holy valley they were met by a
friend from the city, who warned the Prophet that Quraysh had put on their leopardsskins
(the badge of valour) and had sworn to prevent his entering the sanctuary; their cavalry
was on the road before him. On that, the Prophet ordered a detour through mountain
gorges and the Muslims were tired out when they came down at last into the valley of
Makkah and encamped at a spot called Al-Hudaybiyah; from here he tried to open negotiations
with Quraysh, to explain that he came only as a pilgrim.
The first messenger he sent towards the city was maltreated and his camel hamstrung. He
returned without delivering his message. Quraysh on their side sent an envoy which was
threatening in manner, and very arrogant. Another of their envoys was too familiar and
had to be reminded: sternly of the respect due to the Prophet. It was he who, on his return
to the city, said: “I have seen Caesar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I
seen a man honoured as Muhammad is honoured by his comrades.”
The Prophet sought some messenger who would impose respect. Uthman was finally
chosen because of his kinship with the powerful Umayyad family. While the Muslims
were awaiting his return the news came that he had been murdered. It was then that the
Prophet, sitting under a tree in Al-Hudaybiyah, took an oath from all his comrades that
they would stand or fall together. After a while, however, it became known that Uthman
had not been murdered. A troop which came out from the city to molest the Muslims in
their camp was captured before they could do any hurt and brought before the Prophet,
who forgave them on their promise to renounce hostility.
Truce of Al-Hudaybiyah
Then proper envoys came from Quraysh. After some negotiation, the truce of Al-
Hudaybiyah was signed. For ten years there were to be no hostilities between the parties.
The Prophet was to return to Madinah without visiting the Ka’bah, but in the following
year he might perform the pilgrimage with his comrades, Quraysh promising to evacuate
Makkah for three days to allow of his doing so. Deserters from Quraysh to the Muslims
during the period of the truce were to be returned; not so deserters from the Muslims to
Quraysh. Any tribe or clan who wished to share in, the treaty as allies of the Prophet
might do so, and any tribe or clan who wished to share in the treaty as allies of Quraysh
might do so.
There was dismay among the Muslims at these terms. They asked one another: “Where is
the victory that we were promised?” It was during the return journey from al-Hudaybiyah
that the Surah entitled “The Conquest” (surah 48) was revealed. This truce proved, in
fact, to be the greatest victory that the Muslims had till then achieved. War had been a
barrier between them and the idolaters, but now both parties met and talked together,
and the religion spread more rapidly. In the two years which elapsed between the signing
of the truce and the fall of Makkah the number of reverts was greater than the total number
of all previous reverts. The Prophet traveled to Al-Hudaybiyah with 1400 men. Two
years later, when the Makkans broke the truce, he marched against them with an army of
The Campaign of Khaybar
In the seventh year after the Hijrah, the Prophet led a campaign against Khaybar, the
stronghold of the Jewish tribes in North Arabia, which had become a hornets’ nest of his
enemies. The forts of Khaybar were reduced one by one, and the Jews of Khaybar became
thenceforth tenants of the Muslims until the expulsion of the Jews from Arabia in
the ‘Caliphate of Umar.’ On the day when the last fort surrendered Ja’far son of Abu Talib,
the Prophet’s first cousin, arrived with all who remained of the Muslims who had fled
to Abyssinia to escape from persecution in the early days.
They had been absent from Arabia for fifteen years. It was at Khaybar that a Jewess prepared
for the Prophet poisoned meat, of which he only tasted a morsel without swallowing
it, and then warned his comrades that it was poisoned. One Muslim, who had already
swallowed a mouthful, died immediately, and the Prophet himself, from the mere taste of
it, derived the illness which eventually caused his death. The woman who had cooked the
meat was brought before him. When she said that she had done it on account of the humiliation
of her people, he forgave her.
Pilgrimage to Makkah
In following year the Prophet’s vision was fulfilled: he visited the holy place at Makkah
unopposed. In accordance with the terms of the truce the idolaters evacuated the city,
and from the surrounding heights watched the procedure of the Muslims. At the end of
the stipulated three days the chiefs of Quraysh sent a reminder to the Prophet that the
time was up. He then withdrew, and the idolaters reoccupied the city.
In the eighth year of the Hijrah, hearing that the Byzantine emperor was gathering a force
in Syria for the destruction of Islam, the Prophet sent three thousand men to Syria under
the command of his freed slave Zayd. The campaign was unsuccessful except that it impressed
the Syrians with a notion of the reckless valour of the Muslims. The three thousand
did not hesitate to join battle with a hundred thousand. When all the three leaders
appointed by the Prophet had been killed, the survivors under the command of Khalid
ibn al-Walid, who, by his strategy and courage, managed to preserve a remnant and return
with them to Madinah.
Truce Broken by Quraysh
In the same year Quraysh broke the truce by attacking a tribe that was in alliance with the
Prophet and massacring them even in the sanctuary at Makkah. Afterwards they were
afraid because of what they had done. They sent Abu Sufyan to Madinah to ask for the
existing treaty to be renewed and, its term prolonged. They hoped that he would arrive
before the tidings of the massacre. But a messenger from the injured tribe had been before
him, and his embassy was fruitless.
Conquest of Makkah
Then the Prophet summoned all the Muslims capable of bearing arms and marched to
Makkah. The Quraysh were overawed. Their cavalry put up a show of defence before the
town, but were routed without bloodshed; and the Prophet entered his native city on
horseback with his head humbled before God as conqueror. The inhabitants expected
vengeance for their past misdeeds. The Prophet proclaimed a general amnesty. Only a
few known criminals were proscribed, and most of those were in the end forgiven. In
their relief and surprise, the whole population of Makkah hastened to swear allegiance.
The Prophet caused all the idols which were in the sanctuary to be destroyed, saying:
“Truth has come; darkness has vanished away;” and the Muslim call to prayer was heard
Battle of Hunayn
In the same year there was an angry gathering of pagan tribes eager to regain the Ka’bah.
The Prophet led twelve thousand men against them. At Hunayn, in a deep ravine, his
troops were ambushed by the enemy and almost put to flight. It was with difficulty that
they were rallied to the Prophet and his bodyguard of faithful comrades who alone stood
firm. But the victory, when it came, was complete and the booty enormous, for many of
the hostile tribes had brought out with them everything that they possessed.
Conquest of Ta’if
The tribe of Thaqif was among the enemy at Hunayn. After that victory their city of Ta’if
was besieged by the Muslims, and finally reduced. Then the Prophet appointed a governor
of Makkah, and himself returned to Madinah to the boundless joy of the Ansar, who
had feared lest, now that he had regained his native city, he might forsake them and make
Makkah the capital.
The Tabuk Expedition
In the ninth year of the Hijrah, hearing that an army was again being mustered in Syria,
the Prophet called on all the Muslims to support him in a great campaign. The far distance,
the hot season, the fact that it was harvest time and the prestige of the enemy
caused many to excuse themselves and many more to stay behind without excuse. Those
defaulters are denounced in the Qur’an. But the campaign ended peacefully. The army
advanced to Tabuk, on the confines of Syria, and then learnt that the enemy had not yet
Declaration of Immunity
Although Makkah had been conquered and its people were now Muslims, the official order
of the pilgrimage had not been changed; the pagan Arabs performing it in their manner,
and the Muslims in their manner. It was only after the pilgrims’ caravan had left Madinah
in the ninth year of the Hijrah, when Islam was dominant in North Arabia, that the
Declaration of Immunity, as it is called, was revealed (Surah 9). The Prophet sent a copy
of it by messenger to Abu Bakr, leader of the pilgrimage, with the instruction that Ali was
to read it to the multitudes at Makkah. Its declaration was that after that year, Muslims
only were to make the pilgrimage, exception being made for such of the idolaters as had a
treaty with the Muslims and had never broken their treaty nor supported anyone against
them. Such were to enjoy the privileges of their treaty for the term thereof, but when
their treaty expired they would be as other idolaters. That proclamation marks the end of
idol-worship in Arabia.
The Year of Deputations
The ninth year of the Hijrah is called the Year of Deputations, because from all parts of
Arabia deputations came to Madinah to swear allegiance to the Prophet and to hear the
Qur’an. The Prophet had become, in fact, the Ruler of Arabia, but his way of life remained
as simple as before. He personally controlled every detail of organization, judged
every case and was accessible to every suppliant. In the last ten years he destroyed idolatry
in Arabia; raised women from the status of a cattle to legal equity with men; effectually
stopped the drunkenness and immorality which had till then disgraced the Arabs; made
men in love with faith, sincerity and honest dealing; transformed tribes who had been for
centuries content with ignorance into a people with the greatest thirst for knowledge; and
for the first time in history made universal human brotherhood a fact and principle of
common law. And his support and guide in all that work was the Qur’an.
The Farewell Pilgrimage
In the tenth year of the Hijrah, the Prophet Muhammad went to Makkah as a pilgrim for
the last time – his “pilgrimage of farewell” as it is called – when from Mt. ‘Arafat he
preached to an enormous throng of pilgrims. He reminded them of all the duties Islam
enjoined upon them, and that they would one day have to meet their Lord, who would
judge each one of them according to his work. He said:
“O People, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether, after this year, I shall
ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully
and take these words to those who could not be present here today.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life
and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to
their rightful owners. Treat others justly so that no one would be unjust to you. Remember
that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your
deeds. God has forbidden you to take usury (riba), therefore all riba obligation shall
henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict
nor suffer inequity….
…. Beware of the devil, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he
will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small
O People, it is true that you have certain rights over your women, but they also have
rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under God’s
trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the
right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Treat your women well and be kind to them,
for they are your partners and committed helpers. It is your right that they do not
make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste…
O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God (The One Creator of the Universe),
perform your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give
your financial obligation (zakah) of your wealth. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.
All mankind are from Adam and Eve – an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab
nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over
a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute
one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow
Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to
Remember, one day you will appear before God (The Creator) and you will answer
for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am
O People, no prophet or messenger will come after me and no new faith will be born.
Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I am
leaving you with the Book of God (the Qur’an) and my Sunnah (practices), if you follow
them you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others
again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me
directly. Be my witness O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”
Illness and Death of the Prophet
It was during that last pilgrimage that the Surah entitled ‘Victory’ (surah 110) was revealed,
which he received as an announcement of approaching death. Soon after his return
to Madinah he fell ill. The tidings of his illness caused dismay throughout Arabia and
anguish to the folk of Madinah, Makkah and Ta’if, the hometowns. At early dawn on the
last day of his earthly life he came out from his room beside the masjid at Madinah and
joined the public prayer, which Abu Bakr had been leading since his illness. And there
was great relief among the people, who supposed him well again.
When, later in the day, the rumour grew that he was dead. Umar threatened those who
spread the rumour with dire punishment, declaring it a crime to think that the Messenger
of God could die. He was storming at the people in that strain when Abu Bakr came into
the mosque and overheard him. Abu Bakr went to the chamber of his daughter Aisha,
where the Prophet lay. Having ascertained the fact, kissed the dead-man’s forehead and
went back into the mosque. The people were still listening to Umar, who was saying that
the rumour was a wicked lie, that the Prophet who was all in all to them could not be
dead. Abu Bakr went up to Umar and tried to stop him by a whispered word. Then, finding
he would pay no heed, Abu Bakr called to the people, who, recognizing his voice, left
Umar and came crowding round him. He first gave praise to God, and then said: “O
people! Lo! As for him who worshipped Muhammad, Muhammad is dead. But as for him
who worships God, God is Alive and dies not.” He then recited the verse of the Qur’an:
“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on
before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your
heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm
God at all; but God will reward the grateful.”
“And,” says the narrator: an eye-witness, “it was as if the people had not known that such
a verse had been revealed till Abu Bakr recited it.” And another witness tells how Umar
used to say: when “I heard Abu Bakr recite that verse my feet were cut from beneath me
and I fell to the ground, for I knew that God’s messenger was dead, May God bless him!”
The final messeneger sent to humanity died at the age of 63 years old in the 10th year of
the Hijrah (migration) – 632 A.D.
Such is Prophet Muhammad. According to every standard by which human greatness can
be measured he was matchless; no person was ever greater.
Source: A.B. al-Mehri. Edited from following sources –
– M. Pickthall, Introduction – The Glorious Qur’an,
– K. Murrad, Who is Muhammad?
– M. Mawdudi, Tafhim al-Qur’an