The main stages of Muhammad’s life, between history and golden legend

Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, depiction of Jami al-tawarikh, Iran (Tabriz)

According to tradition, Mahomet was born in 570 or 571 in the tribe of the Quraykhites, in Mecca. The tribe itself is divided into a dozen clans. that of Muhammad is responsible for supplying the pilgrims of the Kaaba with water, a prestigious function. However, the strength of his clan is not what it used to be.

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The tradition shrouds the birth of the Prophet of Allah with wonder. The Jews of the oasis of Yathrib (future Medina) would have been informed of this by the appearance of a star in the sky, and the Persian magi would have seen extinguish the sacred fire that had been burning in their temple for a thousand years. .. Other stories tell that it was not necessary to cut the umbilical cord of the newborn, because Providence had already arranged for angels to wash it and the women found it as clean as crystal.

But Mohammed is also a baby like the others. Like all newborn babies, his head is shaved: his hair is placed on a scale and the weight in gold is distributed among the arms.

A childhood between the desert and travel

Mohammed is fatherless. The custom dictates that the children of the prestigious clans of Mecque be sent as nurses to the nomadic tribes of the desert: as the air is purer, the child will become more robust. This practice also makes it possible to form alliances between tribes, with the child becoming the foster brother of other Bedouins.

In Syria he meets a Christian monk who is said to have declared to him: “You are the Messenger of God”

At the age of 6 he was taken back by his mother in Yathrib. But after the latter’s death, the boy is placed under the protection of his Meccan uncle Abou Talib, a merchant whom he follows on his travels. In Bosra, in Syria, he meets a Christian monk named Bahira, who is said to have seen in Muhammad a future prophet and declared to him: “You are the Messenger of God, the Prophet announced through my Holy Book, the Bible. »

Mohammed, very poor, apparently remained celibate longer than usual. If the ideal marriage between the Bedouins is between cousins, it is in vain that the young man should have asked Abu Talib for his cousin’s hand.

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Mohammed is then the right-hand man of a wealthy widow, Khadija, who has already been married twice and manages her affairs alone. She wants to marry him, much to the dismay of her clan, who have a very vague view of their age difference (she is almost 40 and he is 25) and their economic situation. The marriage is nevertheless celebrated in 595. And if custom allows almost unlimited polygamy, Mahomet Khadija will remain faithful as long as she lives, although the sons she gave him died in infancy.

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