Although the Prophet (s) was born in the polytheistic society of Arabia, he never worshiped any idols. He also avoided the inappropriate manners that were rampant in pre-Islamic Arabia. He (s) was chosen by God as a prophet at the age of forty. Although the polytheists of Mecca persecuted him and his followers for many years, neither he nor his followers gave up following Islam. After thirteen years of preaching in Mecca, he immigrated to Medina. This immigration (Hijra) marked what became the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In Medina, he established an ever-expanding community of believers, the Muslim ummah.
Because of the efforts of the Prophet (s), the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance ended, and the polytheistic society of Arabia was transformed into a monotheistic society in a short time. Towards the end of the Prophet's (s) life, almost everyone in the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam. The number of Muslims has continued to grow ever since, and Islam is now the fastest-growing religion globally.
The Prophet (s) enjoined his followers to adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (a). He designated Imam 'Ali (a) as his successor on various occasions throughout his life, including the event of Ghadir.
The Prophet's lineage is as follows: Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib (Shyba al-Hamd, 'Amir) b. Hashim ('Amr al-'Ula) b. 'Abd Manaf (al-Mughira) b. Qusayy (Zayd) b. Kilab (Hakim) b. Murra b. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr (Quraysh) b. Malik b. Nadr (Qays) b. Kinana b. Khuzayma b. Mudrika ('Amr) b. Ilyas b. Mudar b. Nizar (Khuldan) b. Ma'add b. 'Adnan.
His mother was Amina bt. Wahb b. 'Abd Manaf b. Zuhra b. Kilab.
Al-'Allama al-Majlisi has said, "All Twelver Shi'as agree that Abu Talib, Amina bt. Wahb and 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib and all of the forefathers of the Prophet (s), dating back to the time of Adam (a), were believers [in God]."
His teknonyms were Abu l-Qasim and Abu Ibrahim. Some epithets of his were: al-Mustafa (the chosen), Habib Allah (beloved one of Allah), Safi Allah (chosen one of Allah), Ni'mat Allah (gift of Allah), Khiyarat Khalq Allah (the chosen one from the creatures of Allah), Sayyid al-Mursalin (master of the prophets), Khatam al-Nabiyyin (the last of the prophets), Rahmat li-l-'Alamin (a blessing for the two worlds), al-Nabi al-Ummi (the unschooled Prophet).
The exact year of the Prophet's (s) birth is not known. Ibn Hisham and some others have written that it was in 'Am al-fil (literally, "the year of the elephant"), the year in which Abraha al-Ashram and his elephants attempted to destroy the Ka'ba. But this does not help much, since it cannot be said for certain what year the year of the elephant was. However, taking into consideration that the Prophet's (s) demise was in 632 CE and that he was 63 years old at the time of his demise, the year of his birth must have been either 569 or 570 CE.
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