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Muhammad meant for the society of Medina to be the model for all subsequent generations—it was a society based on social justice, unity, and peace.

His society, however, was under constant threat from the Meccans, and was marched upon by an army of 1,000 in 624. Muhammad mustered 313 Muslims to fight at a place called Badr, promising all those who were killed in the battle martyrdom and a place in paradise. Despite the great disadvantage, the army of Muhammad triumphed. This was the first of many victories that would eventually end in a truce with Mecca.

Muhammad began to send out letters to the world leaders of his time, inviting them to accept Islam, but noting that none should be under compulsion to do so.

By 631, Muhammad brought about the end of the “age of ignorance,” as Muslims called the pre-Islamic age in Arabia. Uniting the Arabs for the first time in history beneath the structure of Islam, Muhammad succeeded in creating a society that was ruled not by tribal bonds, but by the bond between man and God.

In June of 632, Muhammad fell suddenly ill, dying three days later. He was buried in his home, and his tomb is now the holiest place in Islam after the Kaʿbah. The legacy of Islam—his life’s goal—was achieved, and his words and deeds are now read by billions.

It was in the 13th century that the traditional Western image of Muhammad emerged—an imposter, a heretic, and a warmonger. Medieval Christian scholars tended to depict Muhammad in the worst ways possible, even going so far as to paint the man as the antichrist or, at the least, a false prophet. It would not be until the 18th century that the life of Muhammad would be looked on with any positivity in the Western world.

The Muslim world, itself, is not immune from such misinterpretations, as can be seen in Islamic terrorist groups which capitalize on this negative image of Muhammad to wage what is, at its heart, a political rather than holy war—a war Muhammad would have never condoned.

Whatever you might think of Muhammad, he was a good, just man who was successful in creating an nearly unprecedented mark on world history, establishing a religious empire and the means of its propagation and transmission, utterly changing the world.

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