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AD 610-622 The Prophet Muhammed Emerges

Portrait of the Prophet Muhammed As Muhammad approached his fortieth year, increased contemplation and reflection engaged his mind. Perplexed with the mysterious destiny of man and the failure of repeated revelations, he would fall into ecstatic reveries, and it was during one of these seasons of retirement, in the cave of Hira', that he believed an angel appeared to him in a dream, and that the first revelation came. It is evident that, from comparatively early days, he had trances; fell into fits in which he saw and heard strange things. There came to him voices, either, apparently, in a trance condition or when he was awake. Driven by fear for his soul, he had got into the habit of retiring into desert recesses and there spending days in solitary prayer. His revelations came to him in trance and, like all trance-mediums, he had strange ideas; but an impostor he certainly was not. The mere fact of what he did; the witness of the men whom he gathered about him; the impression that he made upon his people; that he was able to gain the sword of which we have heard so much; all these things are enough to show that the man was real.

Muhammad then believed himself to be a commissioned Apostle, the messenger and the prophet of God, sent to reclaim a fallen people to the knowledge and service of their God. His revelations were God's Book, and his sayings the utterances of inspiration. The first convert to Islam was his faithful wife Khadijah, the two next, 'All and Zaid, his adopted children, and afterwards his old trusted friend, Abu Bakr, "the True." Then followed 'Usman, who was a grandson of 'Abdu 'l-Muttnlili; Tiilhah, the renowned warrior of after days; and 'Abdu 'r-Rahman, a merchant of some consequence. The new converts soon numbered some fifty souls, either members of the Prophet's family or his dearest friends.

An important change now occurred in tha relations of Muhammad with the citizens of Makkah. Their hostility was aroused, and the Muslims were subjected to some persecution and indignity. It was not, however, until some three years of his ministration had elapsed that any general opposition was organized. In the sixth year of his mission, the cause of Muhammad was strengthened by the accession of two powerful citizens, Hamzah and 'Umar. Alarmed at the bold part which Muhammad and his followers were now able to assume, the Quraish formed a hostile confederacy, by which all intercourse with the Muslims and their supporters was suspended. The severity of the ban at last overreached its object, and the interdict was cancelled and the Hashimites restored to freedom.

In the beginning of the tenth year of his mission, and in the fiftieth of his life, Muhammad lost his faithful and devoted wife Khadijah. The fortunes of Muhammad seemed dark, but hope dawned nt last from an unexpected quarter. At the yearly pilgrimage, a little group of worshippers from al-Madinah was attracted and won over and the new faith spread with marvellous rapidity.

The hopes of Muhammad were now fixed on al-Madinah, visions of his journey northwards doubtless flitted before his imagination and the musing of the day, reappeared in hismidnight slumbers. He dreamed that he was swiftly carried by Gabriel on a winged steed pnst al-Madinah to the Temple of Jerusalem, where he was welcomed by the former Prophets all assembled in solemn conclave. From Jerusalem he seemed to mount upwards, and to ascend from one heaven to another, until he found himself in the awful presence of his Maker, who dismissed him with the order that he should command his followers to pray five times a day.




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