Muhammad is the central messenger and prophet in Islam; the receiver and transmitter of God's message to mankind, as recorded in the Holy Koran, the principal religious text for Muslims. Muhammad has religious importance in Christianity and Judaism, while Muhammad's position in later religions, like Baha'i, resemble what is found in Islam.
The sources available to us on Muhammad are muslim, written in Arabic. They are principally in the form of the hadiths, the traditions, which are systematical efforts of choosing between good and not so good stories of Muhammad's life, often collected in the shape of suras. Bits and pieces of Muhammad's life is also recorded in the Koran. Little is known from other sources. The suras and hadiths available are the result of work from about 100 years after Muhammad's death, but are a continuation of a very accurate and living oral tradition. The compilations where built on historical criticism not very unlike what is the method in modern historical criticism. The oldest compilation now available, are the ones of Ibn Ishaq (Baghdad, 768).
The material is extensive, and the presentation of Muhammad in the early texts is straight forward: Different versions of stories are presented, and Muhammad himself is presented as a human being with both his good and his bad sides. Except from certain passages, the material bears few traces of being legendary, and was first told by people who knew Muhammad as a man, and told to people of the same era and cultural environment. These are very good reasons for us to treat the material on Muhammad's life as historical sources, and even more, as good historical sources.
Muhammad as a Normal Man (571-610)
Muhammad's birth is said to have been in the "year of the Elephant", which one believes is pointing to the invasion from Yemen, where an elephant was brought along in order to smash the Ka'ba, an event which is dated to 570/571 AD (where Muhammad's recorded age at certain times, have been used as the main source for the estimation). Muhammad's family belonged to the clan of Hashim, a branch of the Quraysh tribe. While the Quraysh was dominating Mecca, the Hashimis had little but religious prestige connected to the, at that time pagan, shrine of Ka'ba.
As Muhammad's father, Abdullah, died before the birth of his son, and his mother, Amina, when he was 6, Muhammad was in the care of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib for two years, and then with his uncle Abu Talib, until he reached mature age.
Muhammad is, by Muslim theologists, not believed to have received any education, and in young age he started working with the caravans. It was while working as a trader, that Muhammad came to know the widow (and divorcee) Khadija, who was the owner of a caravan company where Muhammad was employed. At the age of 25 Muhammad married Khadija, then 40. Even if Khadija had children from both of her former marriages, she got 7 children with Muhammad.
Khadija died in 619, and soon Muhammad remarried. Unlike in his marriage with Khadija, he chose to have several wives, 9 is reported. Some of these wives were ways of knotting closer relations with powerful people in the society, and some were widows without economical support.
The First Revelation (610)
Muhammad received his first revelation in 610, on the mountain of Hira outside Mecca. The revelation came in a time when Muhammad searched for solitude. Muhammad received the first fraction of the Holy Koran from the angel Gabriel, and experienced first great pain, and feared that he was going to die. Muhammad was ordered to recite. The first fraction Muhammad received is believed to be the beginning of sura 96:
- Recite in the name of your Lord, who created,
- created mankind from clots of blood,
- recite, and your Lord will be the bountiful,
- he who have taught by the pen,
- taught mankind what was not known.
After this first revelation, no new came for a period. Then they came back, and continued for the rest of Muhammad's life. The revelations changed the style during the 22 years of revelations, from more poetic in the beginning to more prosaic later, and in the content, it changed from warnings on what was to come to mankind from God if man didn't turn in direction of God's will, to regulations on behavior and rules for the society. These changes came parallel to changes in the position of Islam in the society. In the beginning when only a small group of people were Muslims, the need for spreading the message was prevailing. Later, from the time when Muhammad moved to Madina, and got a leading position in the town, the need for rules for a society was the more important. The ordering of the elements of the revelation, is not chronological to their disclosure to Muhammad, and elements from early times are often arranged together with later elements.
Conversions and Resistance (610-619)
The first person to be converted to Islam, was a woman, Khadija, Muhammad's wife. What was the first, is disputed, as there are contradicting stories on this. Khadija was all through the 9-10 years from the first revelation to her death, a very important support and protection for her husband, especially economically, but she appears to have had little importance beyond this. Muhammad also enjoyed the protection of his uncle and earlier guardian, Abu Talib. But Abu Talib and Khadija both died in 619, and from this time on, Muhammad's position was under strong threat. The process of converting was slow in the early years, and he was strongly opposed by other Meccans, who accused him of little respect for the religion of the forefathers, which had some resemblance with Islam, but was a polytheistic religion. It's narrated that once there was an ayat where three former Meccan goddesses, Al-Lat, Al-'Uzza and Manat, were mentioned as intermediaries, in surah 53.
19. Have you though of Al-Lat and Al-'Uzza,
20. and Manat, the third of the?
21. These are intermediaries exalted whose intercession is to be hoped for.
22. Such as they do not forget
But these supposed ayats are not in our present Koran, where this text now is found:
21. Is it the male for you, and female for him?
22. That would have been a crooked division!
There are two interpretations of this: Many Muslim scholars doubt the sources. Some others, among them Western scholars, believe that the first version was an attempt to convince the Meccans to join Islam until surah 17 when these verses were corrected and removed. But the historical fact is that surah 53 was revealed in the 5th year of Prophethood, while surah 17 was revealed in the 11th year of Prophethood and during these 6 years the Meccan leaders, instead of being followers of Islam, they continued to persecute Muslims. No matter how one interprets this, all scholars seem to agree that the difficult conditions of the first few Muslims are reflected in this story.
The Hijira (622)
A large part of Muhammad's followers had to seek refuge in Abyssinia in 615, due to the resistance among the Meccans to the message of Muhammad. This resistance continued, and was so fierce, that Muhammad had to escape in 622, and arrived in Yathrib, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Mecca, on September 20 (or 6 Rabicu l-'awwal), we have no account telling which day Muhammad and his flock escaped Mecca itself. About 15 years later this year was fixed as the first year of the Islamic calendar.
Muhammad is believed to have been invited to Yathrib, as a "Hakim", a judge, and here he could establish the first Muslim community, and Muhammad served as the head of the leaders of the other communities of Yathrib. Soon after, Yathrib started to be called madinatu r-rasûl, 'the city of the messenger'.
Madina and the Rise to Power (622-630)
Many of the inhabitants of Yathrib converted to Islam, but among the large Jewish community that lived here, only few converted. A large part of the converts are called hypocrites, by the first Muslim sources. After only two years, Muhammad's relationship with them had begun to deteriorate, and the remaining Jewish believers were later expelled for co-operating with Muhammad's enemies.
Muhammad enforced his position in the region, and in particular in Yathrib, through successful military campaigns, like the one at Badr in 624, and the defense battles in Uhud (where the Muslims faced a slight defeat) in 625 and Ditsh in 627. Neighboring tribes started to enter into agreements with Muhammad, and in 628, after Muhammad tried to perform the pilgrimage, he concluded a treaty with the Meccans, that allowed the Muslims to enter Mecca the following year for performing. In 630 Muhammad managed to take control over Mecca without any resistance. A general amnesty was granted to all Qurayshis, Muhammad's former enemies, even if they did not convert to Islam.
Ruler of Hijaz and the Muslims (630-632)
This increased Muhammad's importance even more, and in 632 he was able to perform the Hajj. Soon after his return to Madina, he died in the presence of his favorite wife, Aisha (Ayse) and her father Abu Bakr, and Muhammad was buried in his own house, which had already served as a mosque for some years. The mosque still lies there, and is counted as the second most important mosque in Islam, and Madina the second most holy city.
Muhammad is equally considered a manifestation of God in Baha'i and Babism, two religions that has grown out of Islam. Both of these religions revere Muhammad highly, but has their focus on the later revelations of Bab and Baha'ullah, both of the 19th century.
In the year 621, at the age of 51 years old, He flew on the magical Winged-Horse of Fire which he called Burak, which literally means White Horse but seen as "Thunder-Lightning". The full version of this most memorable moment has been preserved in "The Bokhari" (Vol.15, p.3615) one of the Holy Islamic Scriptures. The story of the Ascension of Mohammed, known as "Miraj", or "Stairway to Heaven" began when Mohammed fell asleep on a carpet at his cousin's place and became the inspirational source of different "Stories of the 1001 Nights of Arabia" involving "Magic Carpet Rides". The following is a resume of this fabulous dream....
"Mohammad had gone to rest at dusk. He slept deeply on the carpet of his cousin, Mutem ibn Adi. Suddenly, the silence was broken and a voice as clear as a trumpet called:
"Awake, thou sleeper, awake!" And Mohammed saw in front of him, dazzling in darkness the shining Archangel Gabriel who was inviting him to follow him outside. Before the door stood a Horse as dazzling as Gabriel. It had wings, glittering wings of an immense eagle. Gabriel presented the Horse to Mohammed, saying that it was "Burak" the Horse of Abraham. Burak whinnied and allowed Mohammed to vault on its back. Then, drinking the wind, it galloped to the street and as it came to the walls of the sleeping city, it spread its wings and soared into the starry night.
First of all, they went to the summit of Mount Sinai, at the very place where Jehovah had given the stone tables to Moses. Then, they flew on and went to Bethlehem at the exact place where Jesus was born. And finally, depending on the different versions, they went to Heaven, or into a Holy Temple in Heaven, where Mohammed met with many of the Holy Land's previous Horsemen... Adam, Noah, Enoch (apparently, known by them as Idris), Moses, Isaac, Elijah, Jesus and a few others.
And these guys spoke and told him: "We salute you, you the first and the last, O Gatherer of men." ...and Gabriel added: "We salute you, O you the first, because you will be the first person who, on Resurrection Day, will come out of his grave ; and the last, because you are the Seal and the last prophet. You are a gatherer of men in the meaning that it belongs to you gather everyone for the resurrection and as such the whole community will resurrect."
So, this is basically, the dream. Some parts were taken from "The Messenger, the Life of Mohammed" by R.V.C. Bodley, Greenwood press, NY 1946, while the last paragraph comes from "Apocalypses et Voyages dans L'Au-Delà" by Angelo Piemontese.
Mohammed was a very intelligent person who loved discussing about dreams and interpreting them. He was able to condense his whole knowledge in only a few lines...
"Now Allah has created the dream not only as a means of guidance and instruction, I refer to the true dream, but he has made it as a window on the World of the Unseen."... which is basically the repetition of Job 33,15, plus a few details.
"He who does not believe in the True Dream does not believe in Allah and in the Day of Reckoning." ... which is basically Numbers 12,6.
"There are above you Watchers." Noble Koran 82:10
"Glory be to Him, who carried his Servant by Night from the sacred temple of Mecca to the Temple that is more remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him of our signs, for He is the Hearer and the Seer" (Qur'an 17,1)
This is very interesting, because he clearly states here that all the Glory goes to Him, the Winged-Horse, who carried his Servant, and truly that is the case the Rider must serve the Horse which is truly the Hearer and the Seer, which is Allah, the Creator. And finally in the stories concerning his return, his future resurrection which should occur at a time will be a real wasteland, he will be told as he will come out of his grave.
- It is the Day of Rising, and the Day of Anguish and Repentance.
- This is the Day of Burak!
- This is the of Reckoning and Recompense.
- This is the Day of Parting;
- This is the Day of Encounter!
So, the Day of Rising is the Day of the Winged-Horse, which no one will ride except the Prophet.
"You will see every nation hobbling on their knees, every nation being summoned to its (own) book - today you shall be recompensed for what you were doing!" (Qur'an 45,28)
Actually, Mohammed could have resumed his few lines in only one, something like this: "He who does not believe in the true dream of the Winged-Horse, does not believe in the Holy Spirit of God, does not believe in God, nor in any of his Horsemen, whether Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Jesus and all others, nor in the Day of Resurrection and Recognition, nor in the existence of the everlasting spiritual Kingdom of God, and will be left alone."
Anyway, if you get an opportunity to see the beautiful and most famous painting of the Ascension of Mohammed on the Horse of Fire from the manuscript "Khamset al-Nizami", British Museum Orient Ms.# 2265, you will note that Mohammed is shown faceless and along with the following words...
"Glory be to Him who carried his Servant by Night from the sacred temple of Mecca to the Temple that is more remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him of our signs, for He is the Hearer and the Seer" (Qur'an 17,1)
....which shows that it fits to all the Riders of the Divine Winged-Horse go along with the Surah 70, 1 - 4
"The Ascending Stairways, revealed at Mecca, in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful."
1. A questioner questioned about the doom to fall
2. Upon the disbelievers, which none can repel,
3. From Allah the Lord of the Ascending Stairways
4. The Angel and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years.
There is also something about the Return of Mohammed as the Imam Mahdi, and in regards to the Resurrection of Mohammed it is written that when Mohammed will come again, that Allah will revive the Winged-Horse and that this Flying Horse, along with 4 or 5 Archangels, will be charged of finding him on Earth which will be like a Waste-Land and they will not know where he will be. So, they say that the Light of the Resurrected Mohammed, peace be upon him, will appear like a shaft from his grave to the "Clouds of the Sky!". Then it will call out...
"O Pleasing Soul! Stand up for rendering the Decree and the Reckoning and the Presentation before the Merciful!"
So, the grave will spit open and Gabriel will give him a Robe of Honor (Spiritual Ghost Body) and give him "Burak", the Winged-Horse, and will say...
"This is the Day of Rising, the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Encounter, the Day of Burak, the Day of the Winged-Horse"!
And so, Burak, the Winged-Horse, who has 2 wings and flies between Heaven and Earth at speed of lightning will be very agitated and will say...
"No one rides me except the Prophet and Possessor of the Koran"
... to the new Incarnation of Mohammed who will reply...
"Now my heart is pleased and I am happy."
And the story says that he will be given a crown and will ride Burak and will go to Heaven, and that a cry will be heard...
"Raise your head, Rider of the Winged-Horse, as it is the Day of Reckoning and of Recompense. Raise your head and ask, and it will be given! Your Lord shall give you, and you will be satisfied." (Koran 93,5)
However, this Winged-Horse, which manifests in dreams, is not confined to Islam only as it very well known by all faiths, religions and mythologies of all major civilizations; and Mohammed was very well aware that many flew on this Magical Horse:
- Bellerophon, a kind of weird heroic personage of Greco-Roman Mythology who flew on the Winged-Horse in a dream and subsequently killed the Chimaera. Apparently, question of apparitions, Athena appeared to Bellerophon in a dream and gave him a gold bridle thanks to which he was able to tame the Horse Pegasus, which he rode to victory against the forces of darkness.
- Marduk, one of the guys of Babylonian Mythology. The references come from "The Origins and History of Consciousness" by Neumann from the top of p.165 to 167.
"But the son (Marduk) has dreamt that his Father appeared to him, like "a man having a Sun for his head", and in the dream he rode the Sun Steed of his Future that his Father gave him. Already this horse named "Herzorn", which "has the wind in his belly" and "snuffs the Sun", stands in the stable and gladdens the boy's heart". It is stated here that " the whole conflict sways round the existence and non-existence of this Horse". They say, on p.167, that Marduk began to understand... Perhaps the life we live is also the life of the Gods"
But his physical mother which represents the establishment of the old age who don't want to believe in the existence of the Magical Horse and then comes the Dead Day when his mother tells him that he is: "Just a little boy born of the night, a new born thing without light or consciousness." And in despair he says: "But nobody can be anybody else; nobody else can be what I am - nobody but me". But he was brought up being told that he could not: "live by the bread that is baked in dreams." And he replies: " You bed-wetter, my father's dreams would have shown me my heritage, without my father's example. The body does not help it must cleave to the Spirit."
So, Burak, these old, yet very important testimonies clearly indicate that this Winged-Horse manifest itself in dreams, to a unique individual being, because this Magical Horse would be his own individual Spirit or Angel.
In Islam it's believed that there were a total of 25 Prophets instructed by Allah (God) to warn their community against evil and urge them to follow God. However, only some have been sent holy books such as the Tawrat, Zabur, Bible and Qur'an, and these prophets are considered as Messengers of God.
The first prophet is Adam, and the last one is Muhammad, thus He's considered as the Seal of the Prophets. Jesus is the result of a virgin birth in Islam as in Christianity, and is regarded as a prophet (24th one) like the others, and as the Messiah as well. Five prophets are regarded as especially major: Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad. Here is a complete list of Prophets:
- Idris (Enoch)
- Nuh (Noah)
- Hud (Heber)
- Saleh (Shelah)
- Ibrahim (Abraham)
- Lut (Lot)
- Ismail (Ishmael)
- Ishaq (Isaac)
- Yaqub (Jacob)
- Yusuf (Joseph)
- Shoaib (Jethro)
- Musa (Moses)
- Harun (Aaron)
- Davud (David)
- Suleyman (Solomon)
- Ayub (Job)
- Ilyas (Elias)
- Zulkifl (Ezekiel)
- Al-Yasa (Elisha)
- Yunus (Jonah)
- Zakariya (Zechariah)
- Yahya (John the Baptist)
- Isa (Jesus)