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The Life of

Muhammad Before
Islam
HISTORY 134
YAKUBER, LUKE M
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Luke Yakuber

Professor Thomson

History 134

19 April 2017

The Life of Muhammad Before Islam

Many people have heard of the prophet of Muhammad and when they hear of him they

immediately think of the conversion to Islam and his influence on the religion after that

conversion. The prophet Muhammad converted to the religion of Islam when he was of the age

forty, but when on in his life that led him to that point? Recep Dogan, author of Conflict

Resolutions Forms in the Life of Prophet Muhammad, describes Muhammad1 and good leaders

as someone who focuses on humanity; mind, spirit, feeling and emotion, whilst also raising the

capacity of their followers to the highest level (10). We know that after his conversion he was a

great leader and influencer and someone who brought peace to himself and others. However, it is

very rare that someone asks about his early years and what prepared him for that miraculous

conversion that he had.

Muhammad did not grow up in the most optimal way as he grew up with many hardships

from birth. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, Muhammad was born in Mecca, Arabia in

the year of 570, the Year of the Elephant2. The author goes onto to state that he was born

somewhat into power as his family belonged to the family of the Banu Hashim which was a

branch to the ruling tribe in Mecca, the Quraysh3. His father was named Abd Allah and his
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mother was Aminah but he never got to meet his father. His father was on a trading caravan

while his mother was pregnant and on this trip he became ill and shortly died after. Being raised

without his father was the beginning of the hardships that Muhammad would face. When he was

six years old, Muhammad lost his mother and was completely orphaned. He was then raised by

his grandfather for the next couple of years until he too passed away. Muhammad had a very

tough time in his early life as those who took care of him kept dyinga pure tragedy. He was

eventually raised by his aunt and uncle who lived in the same community. This instability at

home really shaped his life in his later years.

Aaron Ghiloni talks about the education of Muhammad in his piece of literature

Muhammad, Education, and Finitude. Aaron talks about the fact that Muhammad never

attended a school or had any formal education. Beyond that, there is no indication that the

Prophet at any point in his life could read or write. Although this may seem stunning, in that

Arab community, illiteracy was found very common. It is said that there were only about 17

people who could read or write in the Quraysh tribe. For that reason, no one thought of teaching

him writing or reading because it was not a common thing to do. Many people believe that

because of the fact that he was unschooled, it gave him a better understanding in Islam. If he

were highly educated, he would not have been able to relate to the common man and see what

their needs were. However, since he was uneducated he was able to relate and find a religion in

which others could understand and want because it was for the common man. Although

Muhammad did not have a formal education, Muhammad gained knowledge through different

things during his teenage years.

Muhammad learned from his uncle, the man that truly ended up raising him.

Muhammad- New World Encyclopedia talks about the knowledge that he gained through
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watching his uncle. Mecca, during Muhammads teenage years, was a thriving commercial

center according to the encyclopedia. It goes onto explain the reason for the thriving was

because merchants from different tribes would visit Mecca during the pilgrimage season, when

all inter-tribal warfare was forbidden and they could trade in safety and due in great part to a

stone temple called the Ka'bah that housed many different idols, possibly numbering 365.

Muhammad and his uncle took advantage of this flourishing place and they began to trade and

make journeys to Syria. Because of this, he became well aware of the city of Mecca and gained a

lot of knowledge as to who was in the city and where. Through this, he earned a reputation for

being honest and having strong integrity. Muhammad even had a significant role in putting back

together the Kaba after it was either flooded or burned down. He was elected to come up with a

plan to rebuild it because he was the trustworthy one.

Seven years later, when Muhammad was twenty-five years old he found love. His

employer, Khadijah, was impressed with Muhammad despite the fifteen-year age gap. She

offered him marriage that year and they got married in the year of 595 (New World

Encyclopedia). The encyclopedia goes onto say that Khadijah was a very rich woman4.

Muhammad had not received an inheritance through the death of his father or grandfather

because Arab customs minors did not inherent. However, Muhammad became very rich through

this marriage. There is much debate on whether they had one or five children together but

nonetheless they stuck together in marriage for their lifetimes. Muhammad did not start his

preaching until after the birth of his children.

At this point in his life, he did not have any other significant happenings until the first

revelations that he received by God. It is clear that the upbringing he had, truly shaped who he

was. Muhammad being an orphan himself paid extra attention to the orphans after his conversion
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because he knew that feeling. His illiteracy allowed him to relate to the common man. If he was

educated and grew up in a normal household, would he have been the prophet? We will never

know the answer to that question, but it is something to start a conversation about.
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Notes

1. For more information regarding Muhammad and his leadership qualities look to page 11-

12 in Recep Dogans work Conflict Resolution Forms


2. For more information on the Year of the Elephant and its significance read the Britannica

Encyclopedia under the Life of Muhammad heading.


3. For more information on the ruling tribe of Mecca read the Britannica Encyclopedia

under the Life of Muhammad heading.


4. To learn more about the trade of Khadijah read the New World Encyclopedia under the

Middle Years heading.

Works Cited
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Dogan, Recep1. "Conflict Resolution Forms in the Life of Prophet Muhammad." International

aaaaaaaaaaaJournal of Religion & Spirituality in Society, vol. 4, no. 2, Oct. 2014, pp. 9-19.

aaaaaaaaaaaaEBSCOhost,librarydb.northwood.edu:2048/login?

url=http://search.ebscohost.com/laaaaaaaaogin.aspx?

direct=true&db=ofs&AN=96990389&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

This next source is an unconventional source in the sense that it is a study of

Muhammads leadership abilities and the study tries to see if these characteristics could be used

in the modern world. I think that it is a great source for my paper because it gives great

information in regards to his leadership which shows kind of what led up to him and his

interaction with God. The author of this source is very credible as he has many other publications

and is accepted as credible among the community.

Ghiloni, Aaron J. "Muhammad, Education, and Finitude." Religious Education, vol. 111, no. 3,

aaaaaaaaaa01 Jan. 2016, pp. 288-306. EBSCOhost librarydb.northwood.edu:2048/ login?url=h

aaaaaaaaaattp://search,.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?

direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1104312&site=eaaaaaahost-live&scope=site.

This source found through Academic One Complete is a great source for my paper. The

piece of literature really focuses on the education that Muhammad had and the philosophies that

he grew up a part of. The source is very credible as the author has his doctorate and teaches at

universities currently. In addition, he has many other publications.

"Muhammad - New World Encyclopedia." Info: Main Page - New World Encyclopedia,

aaaaaaaaaawww.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Muhammad.
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The New World Encyclopedia goes through all the stages of Muhammads life with a

focus on the early years. This source is good because it offers a lot of details on the early

childhood of the man. The source is credible because it comes from a .org encyclopedia. After

looking up the encyclopedia I found many websites that said this source can be used as it is very

credible.

"Muhammad | Prophet of Islam | Britannica.com." Encyclopedia Britannica,

aaawww.britannica.com/biography/Muhammad.

This source provides a great summary of the life of Muhammad. There are many aspects

of his life that are picked out in this encyclopedia such as his education and early childhood.

Encyclopedia Britannica uses professional researchers and editors. This includes 110 Nobel

Prize winners and five American Presidents. Therefore, they can be classified as credible.