The Biography of

Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

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Lesson 1

Introduction to the life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

The life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was unique and amazing in many ways. His character was adorned by a number of sterling qualities. For a student who sincerely desires to learn and benefit from this great personality the following salient features are important to keep in mind :

1. Every phase and period of the life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam has been recorded in detail. The life of no single saint or scholar in human history is as clear and transparent as that of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. All major events before he received prophethood are recorded : his birth, childhood, youth, profession and journeys out of Makkah. After he received prophethood his life was recorded in even greater detail: his eating, sitting, appearance, physical features, speech, clothing, character, conduct, moral behaviour, dealings with relatives and friends, worship, prayers, discourses, etc. The attention to detail in the preservation of his life can be gauged from the fact that we know the number of white hair in his head and beard. Credit for this must go to his outstanding Sahabah (companions) and all the illustrious scholars of Islam who regarded his every word and deed worthy of preservation. They preserved the miraculous march of events in his momentous life with the greatest care and restraint. This legacy is truly an invaluable treasure of knowledge that can be studied and utilised by any individual, group or race till the end of time.

2. In the ahadith (traditions) and biographies of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, where his actions and sayings are recorded, one finds such entrancing exaltations of Allah, such moving supplications, such impassioned and absorbing invocations expressing such heart-felt concern for the welfare of the entire humanity that one is convinced that this was no ordinary man. He was a man of Allah and completely dedicated to His mission.

3. The utterances and speeches of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam excel the most eloquent pieces of literature in any language. It was a unique feature of his character that he spoke little but his words were filled with oceans of knowledge and wisdom. For this reason many of his ahadith are characterized with the Arabic term 'jawaami-ul-kalim'.

4. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was a man whose life, mission and accomplishments are without a parallel. He was, undoubtedly, the greatest man of all time, unmatched by the intellectual, spiritual or moral goodness of any other human being that the world might have seen.

5. The historical record of the life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is the most authentic biography of any prophet, reformer or personality since the beginning of time. The Muslim scholars of ahadith and history have brought down his life story to us through the passage of time with the greatest degree of caution and care. Each and every word, gesture and action of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam that is with us today can be linked back to the master by a chain of reliable narrators. The science of Asmaa-ur-Rijaal, which discusses the chain of narrators, is a unique feature of Islam.

Click here for a special note on 'The science of Hadith'.

6. The biography of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is one of a man who Allah blessed with prophethood. However, despite his greatness as a prophet he still remained a human being. His biography is not tainted with exaggerated descriptions. He was never made into a deity or god. He has, thus, remained a perfect role model for men of every time who seek guidance in human endeavour. The Quran explains this :

"Indeed, in the Prophet of Allah you have a good example to follow for one who hopes for Allah and the last Day and remembers Allah in abundance." (Surah Ahzaab, verse 21)

7. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is the solitary figure in human history who's every phase of life is worthy of praise and emulation. Other great personalities were exemplary in respect of a few qualities, never all. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was the last of the prophets sent to provide guidance to all of humanity until the end of time. His life has guidance for every man and woman who may be enveloped in different circumstances and states of human emotions.


For the rich, there is the example of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam as the tradesman of Makkah and the master of the treasures of Bahrain. For the poor, there is the example he set when he was boycotted in the valley of Abu Taalib and when he migrated to Madinah leaving all he possessed in Makkah. For those in political power, there is his rule over the Arabian Peninsula, his subjugation of his ardent opponents, his masterly administering of explosive situations and his honesty. For the conquerors, there is the man who defeated his enemies in Badr and Hunain. For those who have brought the enemy to their knees and have the power to take revenge, there is the conqueror of Makkah who forgave those who had tortured him. For those in the pangs of defeat there is the man who moved between his injured soldiers at Uhud. For the teacher, there is the tutor of the school of Suffa and the vision of the leader who produced a group of disciples who revolutionized the world with one vision. For the student, there is the learner who sat respectably before the angel, Jibraeel Alaihis Salaam. For the preacher and lecturer, there is the man who addressed a vast array of audiences in the masjid of Madinah. For those who single-handedly fight for justice, there is the man who called to the truth in the early days of Makkah despite heavy opposition and little help. For those who administer lands and properties, there is the man who administered the lands of Banu Nadhir, Khaibar and Fadak.

For the orphan, there is the child of Amina and Abdullah left to the tender mercy of Halima Radhi Allahu Anha. For the youth, there is the shepherd of Makkah. For the travelling businessman and executive there is the leader of the caravan en route to Basra. For the mediator, there is the man entering the Kabah before dawn and placing the Hajar-al-Aswad in position preventing a bloody war between the fighting Arabs. For the judge, there is the man who commanded with justice between rich and poor. For the husband, there is the purity of the husband of Khadija and Aisha Radhi Allahu Anhuma. For the father, there is the father of Fatima. For the friend, there is the man who was such a sincere friend that his Sahabah preferred him to their very own selves and their families. In short, whoever and whatever a person may be, one would find a shining example in the life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam to illuminate one's character. (1)


8. The life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is in itself a conclusive proof of the truth of his prophethood. He succeeded in his mission not by miracles only, but by human qualities such as perseverance, hard work, sincerity and justice. He was tortured, attacked, boycotted, threatened, insulted, he fought wars, he dealt with traitors, spies and hypocrites, etc. He lived a short life of which only twenty three years were earmarked for the revolution he produced. The fact that he succeeded in a task of great magnitude against all odds proves his greatness.

9. Despite all of his difficulties never did he insult, curse or injure anybody personally. He was always ready to overlook and forgive. All of this proves, from a logical point of view, that he was a prophet of truth.

10. His miracles were not the basis of his invitation to Islam. They were important and fulfilled an important role but Muslims of all ages believed in Islam because it appealed to their intellect and understanding and conformed to their nature. When the Quraish asked him to perform miracles he replied in the negative. See Surah Al Israa (Verse 90-93).

11. No man howsoever confident about himself would allow his wife to tell others the details of their marriage and private life. This would be extremely risky and dangerous for the private life of any man. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, however, had nine wives and each of them was at complete liberty to disclose whatever she saw regarding the minutest details of the Prophet's Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam life. Only a man who was completely confident of his every move would allow such details to be spread around.

Specialities of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam had certain unique qualities given to him by Allah which were not present in any man before or after him :

1. Finality of prophethood - With the Prophet's Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam demise prophethood has ended. In Surah Ahzaab Allah clearly mentions that he was the seal of the prophets. Any person who claims to be a prophet after him is a liar.

2. Revelation - With the demise of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam revelation has stopped. Islam is perfect and there is no longer a need for Allah to perfect it by sending down further revelation. A person who claims that he receives revelation from Allah is a liar.

3. Sleep - The eyes of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam used to sleep but never his heart.

4. Marriage - Allah granted him the special honour of marrying more than four wives.

5. Sawm - He used to fast continuously. Sometimes he fasted for two days at a time, eating only at the end of the second day.

6. Sadaqah - The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and his family cannot take Sadaqah from people.

7. Qiyaam al-layl - The special night Salaah after Esha was compulsory for the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. For others it is optional.

8. Inheritance - None of the wealth he left behind could be inherited. It had to be given in charity.

9. Mahr - A woman could give herself in marriage to the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam without any stipulated mahr.

10. Wives - His wives could not marry after his demise.


The blessed name of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is so honoured that it appears side by side with the name of Allah in the kalimah (proclamation) of Islam : Laa ilaaha ill-Allah Muhammadur Rasoolullah. The name is echoed from every Masjid in the world five times a day in the Azaaan : Ash hadu Anna Muhammadar Rasoolullah. Every Muslim recites it in Tashahhud and Durood in every second Rakaah of Salaah. His name is honoured and revered by every Muslim. His name creates awe even in the hearts of non-Muslims.

Click here for a special supplement on 'The Virtues of Durood'


(1) Nadwi, Syed Ab al-Hasan Ali, As-Seerut An-Nabawiyyah, Lucknow, 2003, p. 451


Dua before sleeping

Meaning : O Allah, in Your name do I die and live.


To sleep on the right side facing Qiblah is Sunnah. Sleeping on the stomach is forbidden as this is how Shaitaan sleeps.