The Prophet’s Masjid in the city of Madinah Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered but a wise and well-respected man, a member of the ruling Quraysh tribe, who was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E. at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. He was orphaned at an early age and then raised by his uncle Abu Talib. As Muhammad (peace be upon him) grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. His reputation and personal qualities also led to his marriage at the age of 25 to Khadijah, a widow whom he had assisted in business. From then on, he became an important and trusted citizen of Makkah. Historians describe him as calm and meditative.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) never felt content to be part of his society whose values were devoid of true religious significance. He never worshiped idols and never drank alcohol, although drinking was widespread in Arabian society at that time. It became his habit to retreat from time to time to meditate in the cave of Hira’ near the summit of Jabal An-Nur, the “Mountain of Light”, near Makkah (now within Makkah city).

At the age of 40, while engaged in one such meditative retreat, Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his first revelation from Allah through the Angel Gabriel (Jibril). This revelation, which continued for 23 years, is known as the Qur’an.

His first convert was his wife Khadijah, whose support and companionship provided necessary reassurance and strength. He also won the support of some of his relatives and friends. The basic themes of the early message were the majesty of the One, Unique God; the futility of idol worship; the threat of judgment in the new life after being raised for grave; and the necessity of faith, compassion and morality in human affairs.

All these themes represented an attack on the crass materialism and idolatry prevalent in Makkah at the time. So when he began to proclaim the message to others, the Makkans rejected him. He and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution. Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers drew comfort from the knowledge revealed to him about other Prophets, such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses (peace be upon them all), each of whom had also been persecuted and tested.