The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born and lived in Mecca for the first 52 years of his life (570–622 A.D.) Orphaned early in life, he became known as a prominent merchant, and as an impartial and trustworthy arbiter of disputes. He married his first wife, the wealthy 40-year-old widow Khadijah at the age of 25.
According to the Muslim tradition, Muhammad began receiving revelations at the age of 40.
The key themes of his messages in Mecca were:
- the oneness of God
- and the rejection of polytheism,
- generosity towards the poor and the needy,
- kind treatment and emancipation of slaves,
- and the equality between men and women before God.
In the course of Muhammad proselytizing in Mecca, he viewed Christians and Jews (both of whom he referred to as “People of the Book”) as natural allies, part of the Abrahamic religions, sharing the core principles of his teachings, and anticipated their acceptance and support. Muslims, like Jews, were at that time praying towards Jerusalem.
Some of his peers respected his words and became his followers.
Many others, including tribal leaders, opposed, ridiculed and eventually boycotted his clan, and Muhammad and his followers were harassed, assaulted and forced into exile.
Several attempts were made on his life. When his uncle and chief protector, Abu Talib, who was the head of the clan of Banu Hashim died, Muhammad migrated to Medina in 622.