MOHAMMED ( r. Mohammad, the Praised; according to Deutsch. Sprenger, and Hirschfeld, the predicted Messiah (cf. Haggai ii. 7). The founder of Islam. 1 le was born about A.D. 570, at Mecca, the son of Abd Allah, of the family of Hasidim' and Amina, of the family of Zuhra, both of \\llom belonged to branches of the powerful tribe of the Koreish. His father, a poor merchant, died before or shortly after 1\lohammed's birth: and Ids mother, after the fashion of her tribe, gave the child to a Bedouin woman, that she might nurse him in the health ful air of the desert. The infant was subject to fits, which were ascribed to demons, and the nurse brought him back in his third year. Three years afterwards his mother died. Ills grand father, Abd al-Ship:11H,, adopted the boy: and when the grandfather died, Mohanuned's uncle, Alot Talib. a man of influence• though poor, took him into his house, and remained his best friend and protector throughout his life. The later tra dition has surrounded Mohammed's youth with unreliable legends. What is known is that he at first gained a scanty livelihood by tending the flocks of the Sleccans, and that he once or twice accompanied his uncle on his journeys to South Arabia and Syria. In his twenty-fifth year he entered the service of a rich widow named K.ha dija, who was also of the Koreish. and accom panied her caravans. perhaps as a camel-driver, to the fairs. Soon Khadija, who was much older than he and twice widowed. offered him her hand, which he accepted. She bore him a son. Al Kasim, and four daughters, Fatima, Zainab, Rukaiya, and num Nulthum: and a son, whom he called Abd Allah. Both sons died early. Mohammed conducted Khadija's business at Mecca with success, although he spent much time in solitary contemplation. He was esteemed for his integrity and good judg ment, and there is nothing of much importance to be told of his life until he reached his fortieth year. and received his first revelation.
The conditions attending his advent as a re ligious leader are important. By the year 600 Christianity had penetrated Arabia through Syria and Abyssinia. Judaism no less played a prominent part in the peninsula, particularly in the north, which was dotted over with .Jewish colonies founded by emigrants after the destruc tion of Jerusalem, and especially round about Vathrib (Medina). That both Christianity and Judaism had found an entrance into the more southerly part of Arabia is shown by the mono t heistie inscriptions found there. Besides these two important religions elements, several sects, rem nants of the numerous ancient sects whieh had sprung up everywhere during the first Christian centuries on the borders of Syria and Babylonia, heightened the religious ferment which. shortly before the time of Nlohammed• began to move the minds of the thoughtful. Certain men in the Iledjaz (Waraka. Obaid Allah, Othman, Zaid, and others) began to preach the futility of the ancient paganism. with its star-worship, its pil grintages and festive ceremonies, its temples and fetishes. It had long ceased to be a living faith,
but the mass of the people clung to it as to a sacred inheritance from times immemorial. The unity of Cod. the 'ancient religion of Abraham,' was the doctrine promulgated by the religious re formers. and many were roused by their words to search for a 10111 of religion which ,110111d gilibody both the traditions of their forefathers and a purer doctrine of the divinity, and turned to Judaism or to Christianity. ..)lecca, the centre of the pilgrimages of most of the Arabian tribes, where, from times anterior to the city itself, the Kaaba (q.v.), Almon Arafat, the valley of .Alina, etc., had been held sacred—the Koreish, Mo hammed's tribe, had had supreme care over these sanctuaries since the fifth century—was natu rally the scene of much of this reform preaching. Surrounded by such conditions, Mohammed in his fortieth year entered flue field as a teacher of a faith independent alike of the old idolatry and of Judaism and Christianity. Like other Ori ental prophets, he claimed to have received a divine call, he asserted, had come to him in the solitude of the mountain liira, near :Mec ca. “abriel appeared to Linn, and eommanded him to proclaim the name of Allah—that is, to preach the true religion. That :Mohammed was no common impostor is clear. The source of leis visions is more difficult to determine. Its some they have la-en attributed to his epilepsy. Un doubtedly they were in considerable measure due to his frequent retirement into desert solitudes. which brought on the ecstasies so familiar in Oriental religious enthusiasts. Waraka. one of his wife's relatives, who had embraced Judaism, may have instructed him in Jewish doctrines and told him the stories of the patriarchs and Israel. not as they are related in the Bible, but as in the Midrash. The legendary poetry of the latter seems to have made as deep an impression on Alohammed's pletieal mind as the doctrine of the unity of God and the moral teachings of the (Ild Testament. together with throe civil and re ligious seriptnu•al and oral, which are either contained as germs or fully developed in this record. Christianity exercised less influence upon him. Ilk knowledge of the New Testament was confined to a few apocrypha! hooks; and while Mae recognized .1e,us, whom. together with Aloses, he called the greatest prophet next to himself, his notions 1 if the Christian religion and its founder Were eXCP.,iVCIV vague. 1 le told of his mission to Nhadija, who stood by him faithfully from the first, to his daughter, his step-son Ali. his favorite slave Zaid. \X 110111 he had freed and adopted. and to his trustworthy friend. Alm Bekr. Ilk other relatives rejected hi, teachings. Abu Lahab, his unele. called him a fool: and Alm Taliti. his uncle and adoptive father. although he protected him. never professed h11lief in ).1 ollit 111 works.