Before he became one of the most venerated, and most misunderstood, religious leaders in history, Muhammad was an orphaned child and a shepherd.
Written for readers 12 and up, and with a foreword by Eboo Patel (founder of Interfaith Youth Core and a member of the President's Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships), Muhammad: The Story of a Prophet and Reformer will educate and inspire young adults and adults of all faiths.
The number of Believers grew by a handful of converts each week. They called themselves Muhammad's Companions. Through the revelations, God was their educator, their Rabb. Muhammad told them, "Seeking knowledge is the duty of every Believer. It will enable you to be your own friend in the desert, it will be your mainstay in solitude, your companion in loneliness, your guide to happiness, your sustainer in misery."
Twice a day now, in the morning and in the evening, small groups met in secret for worship. Some walked in groups of two or three into the desert so they would not be seen; some met with Muhammad in the house of a Companion where a new revelation could be memorized and explained.
When Mecca slipped out of the sun's grasp and stars freckled the eastern horizon, the first soft knock on a Companion's door opened it just enough to let in a single person at a time. "As-salaam alaykum, peace be upon you," said Ali, entering. He was Muhammad's first cousin and one of the first Companions.
"Wa alaykum as-salaam, and with you also," replied the host, smiling-this was the greeting of peace that Gabriel taught Muhammad. The last of a small group arriving for worship, Ali locked the door behind himself. In the wandering light of the courtyard, unseen and unheard from the street, Muhammad's Companions formed lines and knelt on palm mats in order to pray.
Muhammad and Khadija needed to be watchful. The revelations would spin the world of the powerful in Mecca upside down. Not only had Muhammad declared a belief in one God-the statues at the Kaaba were nothing more than statues he said-but also the money from religious pilgrims for food, water, and housing while in Mecca kept the large and powerful Quraysh tribe, the guardians of the shrine, very rich.
Additionally, Muhammad taught that all people, wealthy or poor, were equal before God, "as equal as the teeth of a comb," he said, and the rich had a duty to share their wealth with the poor. A revelation that would further upset the powerful stated that the oppressed must be freed: Women were men's partners, not property; infant girls must not be killed; slaves must be able to earn their freedom.