The Return To Mecca Essay Research Paper

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The Return To Mecca Essay, Research Paper Early Western Civilization The Return to Mecca, Muhammad and the Beginnings of Islam Muhammad, whose full name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn’Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim, was born in Mecca around 570 AD after thedeath of his father, ‘Abd Allah. Muhammad was at first under the careof his paternal grandfather, ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Because the climate ofMecca was considered to be unhealthful, he was given as an infant to awet nurse from a nomadic tribe and spent some time in the desert. Atsix, he lost his mother, Aminah of the clan of Zuhra, and at eight hisgrandfather. Though his grandfather had been head of the prestigiousHashem clan and was prominent in Mecca politics, he was probably not theleading man in Mecca as

some sources suggest. Muhammad came under thecare of the new head of the clan, his uncle Abu Talib, and is reputed tohave accompanied him on trading journeys to Syria. About 595, on such ajourney, he was in charge of the merchandise of a rich woman, Khadijahof the clan of Asad, and so impressed her that she offered marriage.She is said to have been about 40, but she bore Muhammad at least twosons, who died young, and four daughters. The best known daughter wasFatimah, the wife of Muhammad’s cousin ‘Ali who is regarded asMuhammad’s divinely ordained successor by the Shi’ah branch of Islam.Until Khadijah’s death in 619, Muhammad took no other wife. Themarriage was a turning point in Muhammad’s life. By Arab custom, minorsdid not inherit, and therefore Muhammad had no

share in the property ofhis father or grandfather. However, by his marriage he obtainedsufficient capital to engage in mercantile activity on a scalecommensurate with his abilities.Muhammad appears to have been of a reflective turn of mind and is saidto have adopted the habit of occasionally spending nights in a hill cavenear Mecca. The poverty and misfortunes of his early life doubtlessmade him aware of tensions in Meccan society. Mecca, inhabited by thetribe of Quraysh to which the Hashim clan belonged, was a mercantilecenter formed around a sanctuary, the Ka bah, which assured the safetyof those who came to trade at the fairs. In the later 6th century therewas extensive trade by camel caravan between the Yemen and theMediterranean region (Gaza and Damascus), bringing goods

from India andEthiopia to the Mediterranean. The great merchants of Mecca hadobtained monopoly control of this trade. Mecca was thus prosperous, butmost of the wealth was in a few hands. Tribal solidarity was breakingup and merchants pursued individual interests and disregarded theirtraditional duties to the unfortunate. About 610, as he reflected onsuch matters, Muhammad had a vision of a majestic being (lateridentified with the angel Gabriel) and heard a voice saying to him, “Youare the Messenger of God. ” This marked the beginning of his career asmessenger of Allah, or Prophet. From this time, at frequent intervalsuntil his death, he received “revelations”; that is, verbal messagesthat he believed came directly from God. Sometimes these were kept inmemory by Muhammad

and his followers, and sometimes they were writtendown. About 650 they were collected and written in the Qur`an (orKoran, the sacred scriptures of Islam), in the form that has endured.Muslims believe the Qur`an is divine revelation, written in the words ofGod himself. Muhammad is said to have been perturbed after the vision and firstrevelation but was reassured by his wife, Khadijah. In his laterexperiences of receiving messages, there was normally no vision.Occasionally, there were physical concomitants, such as perspiring on acold day, giving rise to the suggestion, now agreed to be unwarranted,that he was an epileptic. Sometimes he heard a noise like a bell butapparently never a voice. The essence of such an experience was that hefound a verbal message in his heart; that is,