Muhammad, Prophet of Islam, peace be on him, has been described in the Holy Quran as an excellent example (33:22). Also, he was commanded to announce: ‘If you love Allah, follow me, Allah will then love you and forgive you your faults. Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful’ (3:32).
This necessitated that his life should be lived in the light of day and that a full account of it should become available. It was also necessary that his life should be multi-faceted, in the sense that he should be called upon to fill a diversity of roles, and that he should fill those roles to perfection. Therefore, unlike all other Prophets, Muhammad was a historical figure. He was born in Mecca in 570 and lived through the first third of the seventh century. A full account of his life is available for study and research.
It is only lately that Western scholars have embarked upon an objective study of the life of the Prophet of Islam. With only two or three honorable exceptions, up to quite recent times, he was represented as an embodiment of all that was vicious and despicable. There is now genuine eager interest in the West both in Islam and its Prophet. Muhammad must be studied and judged as a prophet. He claimed to be a prophet who had been raised for the benefit of the whole of mankind, for all time. He was commanded to proclaim: ‘O mankind, verily I am Allah’s Messenger to you all’ (7:159). In studying his life, certain factors must be kept in mind. Was the world in need of a comprehensive, universal divine message? Was the life of Muhammad, before he laid claim to prophethood, of such perfect purity as would indicate that he had been chosen and was being prepared for becoming the bearer of such a message? Did the message that he purported to bring contain guidance for the whole of mankind and was it suited to all their needs? Was it illustrated in his life and conduct? Did he succeed in conveying the message that was entrusted to him? Was he successful in initiating and in bringing about a moral and spiritual revolution in the lives of those who responded to his message?
The answers to these questions would help a seeker after truth to determine whether he was truly the divine instrument chosen for the regeneration of mankind through the ages.
The purpose of this volume is to institute a study of the life of Muhammad, which should be illustrative of its diverse facets and should enable the reader to carry out an assessment of the extent to which it fulfilled the purposes for which he had been divinely appointed.
All references, unless otherwise specified, are to the Holy Quran.