Prophet Muhammad was born in the city of Makka, which is located in the Hijaz region on the western part of the Arabian Peninsula. His exact date of birth is not known. The reason for this is that no particular calendar was used among the Arabs at that time. According to common opinion, he was born 50 to 55 days after the Incident of the Elephant in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal on a Monday. Different estimates state that the date of birth of Prophet Muhammad was April 20, (Rabi’ al-Awwal 9) 571 or June 17, (Rabi’ al-Awwal 12) 569 Monday. The first was suggested by the Egyptian astronomer Mahmud Pasha al-Falaki (1302/1885), and the second by the famous Muslim scholar of our time Muhammad Hamidullah (2002).
Prophet Muhammad’s father was ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, from the Banu Hashim branch of the Quraysh, and his mother was Amina, the daughter of Wahb ibn ‘Abdumanaf, who was a member of the Banu Zuhra branch of the Quraysh tribe. The Prophet was their only child.
‘Abd Allah, was a handsome young man admired by his friends. He had a beauty and brightness in his face that the other young men lacked. This is considered to be the “light of nubuwwa” (the light of Prophethood, Nur al-Muhammadi) that belongs to Prophet Muhammad. Some accounts state that when ‘Abd Allah’s father (the Prophet’s grandfather) ‘Abd al-Muttalib found the zamzam well and repaired it, some of the prominent members of the Quraysh tried to ridicule and humiliate him. At that time, ‘Abd al-Muttalib had only one son, Harith, and he was defenseless against them. He vowed that if he had ten sons he would sacrifice one. His supplication later being accepted, he had ten sons and thereupon saw a dream in which he was reminded of what he had sworn; ‘Abd al-Muttalib decided to draw lots among his sons to determine which one would be sacrificed. ‘Abd Allah, his youngest, was chosen. ‘Abd al-Muttalib decided to sacrifice him but many people opposed him, especially his daughters. While deciding how to perform his sacrifice, he received some advice that he should draw a lot between ‘Abd Allah and ten camels, which were sacrificial animals at that time. But again ‘Abd Allah was chosen. ‘Abd al-Muttalib continued to draw lots, each time increasing the number of camels by ten. When the number of camels reached 100, the camels were chosen and ‘Abd al-Muttalib sacrificed these 100 camels. In this way, he saved his beloved son ‘Abd Allah. Prophet Muhammad once said, “I am the son of two sacrifices” referring to the sacrifices of his father ‘Abd Allah and his ancestor Ishmael, son of Abraham, both of which were prevented.
‘Abd Allah refused many marriage proposals in his adolescence and eventually, upon his father’s advice, he married Amina, the daughter of Wahb. ‘Abd Allah was eighteen years old when he married. While on his way back from Syria, where he had gone for purposes of trade, he stopped in Yathrib (Madina) and visited ‘Adi ibn Najjar, his father’s uncle. However, ‘Abd Allah became ill, thus having to stay with relatives for a month, and died thereafter. He was buried in Yathrib. When ‘Abd al-Muttalib learned of ‘Abd Allah’s condition, he sent his elder son Harith to Yathrib, but ‘Abd Allah died before Harith’s arrival in the city. The Prophet was thus born without a father. Holding the view that ‘Abd Allah will not suffer any pain in the afterlife, the majority of Islamic scholars maintain that he will be granted deliverance as he did not live to see the Prophethood of his son.
Prophet Muhammad’s mother, Amina, held a position of respect among the young women of the Quraysh. Her father Wahb was a prominent member of the Zuhra tribe. ‘Abd al-Muttalib and his son ‘Abd Allah asked for Amina’s hand from her father, or according to another account, from her paternal uncle Wuhayb. Upon a response in the affirmative, the marriage was conducted. According to the custom of the times, the couple stayed in Amina’s house for the first three days of the marriage. It is accepted that after the marriage took place, the light of Prophethood on ‘Abd Allah’s forehead was transferred to Amina. There are accounts in Islamic sources pertaining to supernatural incidents which took place throughout Amina’s pregnancy. According to one account, Amina had a dream during her pregnancy and she was told in this dream that she would give birth to an important person and she was told to name this child Muhammad or Ahmad. The accounts which assert that Amina felt no pain during delivery, are also among these. Again, according to another famous account, Prophet Muhammad was born already circumcised. What is more, he had been washed by the angels and the Seal of Prophethood had been stamped on his back. Upon receiving the glad tidings that his grandson had been born, ‘Abd al-Muttalib held a banquet in his grandson’s honor, during which he named the newborn Muhammad. ‘Abd al-Muttalib said that he named him as such so that people would remember him with kindness.