Mohammed or Mahomet
History: (Western forms of Arabic Muhammad)
Founder of Islam, born in Mecca, the son of Abdallah, a poor merchant. Orphaned at six, he was cared for first by his grandfather, then by his uncle, and earned his living by tending sheep. At 25 he led the caravans of a rich widow, whom he later married. He continued as a merchant, but spent much of his time in solitary contemplation. When he was 40, Gabriel appeared to him on Mount Hira, near Mecca, and commanded him in the name of God to preach the true religion.
Four years later he was told to come forward publicly as a preacher. The basis of his teaching was the Koran, which had been revealed to him by God. He attacked superstition, and exhorted people to a pious, moral life, and belief in an all-powerful, all-just, and merciful God, who had chosen him as his prophet. God's mercy was principally to be obtained by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
At first dismissing him as a poet, the Meccans finally rose against him and his followers. He sought refuge at Medina in 622 (the date of the Mohammedan Era, the Hijra), and assumed the position of highest judge and ruler of the city. He then engaged in war against the enemies of Islam.
In 630 he took Mecca, where he was recognized as chief and prophet, and thus secured the new religion in Arabia. In 632 he undertook his last pilgrimage to Mecca, and there on Mount Arafat fixed the ceremonies of the pilgrimage (Hajj). He fell ill after his return, and died at the house of the favourite of his nine wives, Aïshah, the daughter of Abu Bakr.