(Arabic: the praised one)
The prophet of Islam and founder of Mohammedanism, born Mecca, Arabia, 20 April 571; died there, 633.
Of the powerful tribe of Fihr or Quraish, Mohammed spent his early life as a shepherd and an attendant of caravans, and at 25 married Khadeejah, a rich widow.
Commercial journeys to Syria and Palestine gained him an acquaintance with Jews and Christians and an imperfect knowledge of their religion and traditions.
In 610 after receiving a call, as he alleged, from the Angel Gabriel, he entered upon an active career as a self-constituted apostle and prophet of Allah, the true God.
A persecution instigated by his preaching and attack on heathenism compelled him to fly from Mecca to Medina in 622.
This journey was called the "Hegira" (flight) and is considered the beginning of the Mohammedan Era.
After this his followers, who in the beginning numbered only 40, increased rapidly.
He ruthlessly attacked and conquered Arabian, Jewish, and Christian tribes and finally united all the tribes of Arabia under one emblem and one religion.
He possessed dauntless courage and great leadership, but employed barbarous and treacherous means to further his cause, and the rapid diffusion of his doctrine was due mostly to warlike methods.
His biographers disagree concerning his moral character and sincerity.
New Catholic Dictionary