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Mohammed, "the Praised One", the prophet of Islam and the founder of Mohammedanism, was born at Mecca (20 August? At the age of six the boy lost his mother and was thereafter taken care of by his uncle Abu-Talib. (See A.) Mohammed's father was Abdallah, of the family of Hashim, who died soon after his son's birth.
Palgrave, however, wisely remarks that "the ideals of Arab virtue were first conceived and then attributed to him".
Zwemer himself goes on to criticize the life of Mohammed by the standards, first, of the Old and New Testaments, both of which Mohammed acknowledged as Divine revelation; second, by the pagan morality of his Arabian compatriots; lastly, by the new law of which he pretended to be the "divinely appointed medium and custodian".
According to this author, the prophet was false even to the ethical traditions of the idolatrous brigands among whom he lived, and grossly violated the easy sexual morality of his own system.
He approved of assassination, when it furthered his cause; however barbarous or treacherous the means, the end justified it in his eyes; and in more than one case he not only approved, but also instigated the crime.
Concerning his moral character and sincerity, contradictory opinions have been expressed by scholars in the last three centuries.
The Koran is perhaps the only reliable source for the leading events in his career. All these collections and biographies are based on the so-called Hadiths, or "traditions", the historical value of which is more than doubtful.
His earliest and chief biographers are Ibn Ishaq (A. These traditions, in fact, represent a gradual, and more or less artificial, legendary development, rather than supplementary historical information.According to them, Mohammed was simple in his habits, but most careful of his personal appearance. Of a highly nervous temperament, he shrank from bodily pain.Though gifted with great powers of imagination, he was taciturn.On his commercial journeys to Syria and Palestine he became acquainted with Jews and Christians, and acquired an imperfect knowledge of their religion and traditions. 612), he claimed to have received a call from the Angel Gabriel, and thus began his active career as the prophet of Allah and the apostle of Arabia.He was a man of retiring disposition, addicted to prayer and fasting, and was subject to epileptic fits. His converts were about forty in all, including his wife, his daughter, his father-in-law Abu Bakr, his adopted son Ali Omar, and his slave Zayd.He spent his early life as a shepherd and an attendant of caravans, and at the age of twenty-five married a rich widow, Khadeejah, fifteen years his senior.