In the late sixth century A.D., a boy was born in Mecca, Arabia. The boy would grow into a man who would unite the Arab people, wage military campaigns, and become revered as a prophet to millions of people for over a millennium.
His name was Muhammad. He is one of the most well-known people in all of human history, and his name is synonymous with the modern personality of Islam.
Outside of Islam and its reach, Muhammad is held at arm’s length in the interest of scrutiny and theology – but for Islam, he was obviously a visionary teacher.
Not much is known of Muhammad before his fortieth year, but historical studies of the period can fill some gaps. It’s believed that Muhammad was involved with commerce from an early age, taking business trips to as far as Syria before he was fifteen.
Although Muslims regard the era of Muhammad’s birth and childhood as the end of a time of ignorance, there was, without doubt, a platform of various religious beliefs and practices in Arabia. Christian and Jews had also settled in many places of Arabia for purposes of business and expansion.
Nevertheless, the shrine of Mecca – the Kaaba – already was a recognized religious centre for Arabs. At the time, as many as three hundred deities may have been worshiped at the Kaaba.
Early Jewish and Christian cultures had an impact on the Arabs, which is evident in the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an. Many stories in the Old and New Testaments are also found, at least in part, in the Qur’an, including the creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, the flood, the birth of Jesus, and Jesus’ performing miracles.