The Seven Phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life

Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) Mosque , Al Masjid an Nabawi at night in Madinah (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Traditional scholarship's divides Prophet Muhammad's life into Makkan and Madinahn phases. This is chronologically valid and represents the two broad aspects of his life before and after the watershed event of the Migration. It is historically important and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

Additionally I believe Muhammad's struggle can be naturally divided into seven phases. Each phase brings forth a different aspect of his personality and highlights a different facet of his mission. Studying the Messenger's mission for its various phases and analyzing its internal dynamics is important as it gives the narrative relevance for today. Since his life is better documented than the lives of other prophets and leaders of major world religions, it is possible to build this analysis on a historical foundation.

The Search for Light in a Period of Darkness: The Seeker of Truth

As his biography (Seera) is recorded we find Prophet Muhammad pondering over societal ills for years. The society he was born in was in a state of moral, religious, economic and social chaos. It is difficult to resist drawing analogies between the seventh century world and the state of the human morality in today's world at the beginning of the new millennium. The nuclear man-woman two-parent family, as a core unit of society has eroded seriously in the West. Brazen sexual exploitation in the media is commonplace and illicit sex condoned and even accepted. Violence at home, against women, children, and violence in the streets, is frightfully routine. Substance abuse is widespread, with United States as the largest consumer of drugs in the world. Alcoholism is rampant, especially among college students, with only feeble attempts being made to address the problem. African- Americans have been liberated as slaves for a century and a half, yet many are still trapped in an unending cycle of poverty and discrimination, which is in a way a form of economic slavery. Because of a system that allows unrestrained growth of wealth without encouraging proper redistribution, economic disparities and injustices continue to grow at an alarming rate.

There are many excellent characteristics in Western societies, especially in the US that include the freedom of thought, speech and assembly, a tolerant attitude toward eccentricities in human nature and an ambition to be a just and compassionate society. These qualities of the ordinary American however are not always reflected in the policy makers and political leaders.

The unraveling of the moral fabric in today's society must weigh heavily on the minds of individuals with insight. They can draw personal solace and inspiration from the Prophet's life. The Arab tribal society of the Seventh century, whose structure was based on greed, debauchery, and violence, was changed in a very short time, by the Prophet, into a society with one of the highest moral standards in history. Compassion, humility, devotion to God and egalitarianism replaced the old well-entrenched tribal attitudes of pride in wealth, family and class and self-centered behavior. Women, for the first time in history, had rights and dignity, and the vulnerable and weak sections of the society were protected. Sexuality was removed from public prurience and became private and wholesome. Wealth was re-circulated so that even the poorest segments of the society were infused with energy and indigence became nearly extinct.

The Warner and Exhorter

During one his meditative trips to a cave near Makkah, Prophet Muhammad receives the revelation. Divine revelation is the reaffirmation of the fact that celestial knowledge is essential in guiding the inherently limited human intellect. The profundity of this realization that he is the recipient of this divine revelation and the enormity of the task ahead overawes him. Initially he shares the message only with his closest family and a few loyal supporters. It is both fascinating and revealing that even the individual who would later be rated as the most influential man in human history had these initial periods of doubt and uncertainty about his mission. It was the reassurance from the Quran and the confidence and support of his wife Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), and his close companions which provided him the support he needs-surely a lesson for us lesser mortals!

The Stoic Optimist

The next facet of his life is of bringing about proactive change by inviting people (Dawa) to Islam. With it comes the inevitable hostility of the entrenched powers in the society. Change is always threatening, and the greater the change, the more threatening it is. This would be true of the change against any established system of practices, whether it be economic, social or behavioral. It would also be true for change in personal behavior like wearing immodest clothing, promiscuity, and consumption of intoxicants. Changing attitudes that valued pride in wealth and country or class and color of the skin over all else would also be difficult. Not surprisingly the struggle for change becomes life threatening. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had to lay his life on the line and on several occasions the nascent Muslim community faced the possibility of total extinction. Fortitude in the face of adversity is the salient feature of this phase. The patience and stoicism Muhammad displays during this phase has been a source of strength to many a Muslim who has found himself beleaguered by apparently hopeless circumstances

The Pluralistic Leader

The Migration, which marks the beginning of the next phase, involves careful planning and meticulous execution. He demonstrates that self-help and reliance on Allah go together and are both essential for success. With his nomination by the community in Madinah to a position of leadership, he shows another facet of his personality: the capacity to create a truly pluralistic society with equity and dignity for all religious and ethnic groups. In a very short period after the Migration to Madinah, Muhammad proves he is capable of uniting various factions and setting exemplary standards of cooperation between them. He makes a seamless switch from being a person under constant persecution to a leader with a large administrative and judicial responsibility. The "Covenant (Constitution) of Madinah" that lays out the rules of living in a pluralistic society is a document that needs to be studied carefully and implemented to the fullest extent in today's inescapably multi-religious and multi-cultural world.

The Courageous Yet Reluctant Warrior

After a brief respite, his mission is consumed by the need to fight wars of survival. These three wars in four years, Badr, Uhad and Ahzab, besides posing a physical threat, must have been extremely distracting and demanding of his time and energy. Yet the work of building the community goes on.

It is important to remember that even though faced with very aggressive proponents the Prophet and his followers never initiated or instigated any wars. Muhammad and the Muslims engaged in these battles with great discipline, avoiding injury to the innocent and using only the minimum force needed. Women, children and non-combatants were not to be harmed. When the enemy stopped fighting, he was to be given immediate sanctuary. Striking a blow in anger, even in battle, was prohibited. He uses innovative strategies in the battles, which include the use of the trench as a defense. During the digging of the trench he is an active participant. He consults frequently (Shura) with his companions and follows the majority opinion (Ijma'), even when it sometimes goes against his own judgment.

The Statesman Par Excellence and Teacher

During the next phase, he shows the capacity to compromise and demonstrates the foresight and wisdom to realize that peace, even at seemingly unfavorable terms, is better than hostility. The "Treaty of Hudaybia" also needs to be studied and emulated by all who negotiate with their opponents. The peace dividend, following this treaty with the Quraysh, is huge and results in an exponential increase in the number of Muslims.

This also allows the building of a model and just society that functions in a coherent manner. Wealth is allowed to be accumulated but has to be circulated fairly into even the tiniest capillaries of the community's economic system. It is an egalitarian society with equity and justice for all, governed by mutual consultation, equality before the law and protection of its most vulnerable members, women, children, orphans, indigents and slaves.

As illustrated by many incidents from this phase of his life, the Prophet proves to be an exemplary statesman. He mediates disputes, defuses potentially explosive situations with ease, allowing the parties to the conflict to walk away as friends and allies. He is unafraid to take risks but is never reckless and compromises for the sake of peace. His emissaries to other nations bring with them a message of cooperation seeking common ground. When he gives a pledge, he always keeps it. If the other party breaks the pledge, he does not flinch from measures that are appropriate to maintain the sanctity of the pledge.

The Compassionate Ruler and Spiritual Leader.

The final phase begins with the conquest of Makkah, which is a demonstration of meticulous planning and the use of overwhelming force to achieve a victory with practically no loss of life on either side of the battle front. The stunning magnanimity and humility shown during victory by Muhammad and his companions is unmatched in history. He is humble in victory, compassionate, and forgiving to even his most intractable opponents.

The final sermon consolidates the social, economic, and moral changes that have been brought about in the society. It is time to prepare for the end.

The anatomy of the mission, its growth and evolution in some ways parallels the various stages of human life itself. These various phases reflect not only the growing sophistication of the message but also the increasing maturity of the audience to whom the message is directed. The audience grows in its understanding of what it would take to bear the burden of passing on the message to posterity. The Prophet's mission in its most fundamental analysis was to interpret and spread the Quranic ideology. This Quran centered spirituality remains the constant theme through all of the phases of his life. The Quran says about him "Indeed there is for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern" (Quran 33:21). His wife Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) calls him the living embodiment of the Quran. It is this complementary bequest of the Quran and Sunna that is our special blessing.

Over time, many differences based on dogma, politics, personality cults and egos have emerged amongst the followers of Islam. In spite of many heterodox sects, the core messages of Quran, and its realization in the life of the Prophet are alive and potent, and continue to provide spiritual solace, intellectual satisfaction and societal discipline to many making Islam the fastest growing religion in the world.

Javeed Akhter, is the Executive Director of the Chicago based International Strategy and Policy Institute and he is the author of the book "The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life,"

Click Here to read book review of The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life

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Older Comments:
The beginning of the Revelation and the continued invitation
Daaawa towards Allah for the guidance of humanity and the simple
exemplary life which the Prophet led as an example for every one
to see was the best phase out of the many phases of his life.In
addition above all the Quran revealed to him was and is still
the only miracle the wonderful Book of Allah that remains the
most Authentic Book in the whole World a challenge for the whole
humanity.You can't find any contradiction in the Quran that is
the miracle please read and study it you will find guidance.This
is why the Prophet said there was no Prophet among the Prophets
but he was given miracles because of which people had security
or belief.But what I have been given is the Divine Revelation
which Allah revealed to me.So I hope that my followers will be
more than those of any Prophet on the Day of Judgement.Amen.

A brilliant read. Thanks brother Akhter.

@Frank: that's populist nonsense. It's a circular argument that
might end in a 100 or so year!
Like everyone else, Muslims like justice and they find it while
living in western countries. The other side of the coin is that
these same countries were the ones to invade and destroy
systematically their culture and identity. For a long time the
muslim world lived under tyrannical regimes supported
enthusiastically by western countries. If the west with its
capitalistic-evolution-based doctrines did not find a huge benefit
in allowing muslims to live in its midst there would be no muslims.
The unrelenting exploitation of muslim resources, natural, human and
otherwise is a huge price for the few muslims who make a decent life
in the west.
When a westerner migrates to another country it's usually because
they have the choice. When a muslim does it's because they have no

The Muslims aren't happy!

They're not happy in Gaza. They're not happy in Egypt. They're not happy in Libya. They're not happy in Morocco. They're not happy in Iran. They're not happy in Iraq. They're not happy in Yemen. They're not happy in Afghanistan. They're not happy in Pakistan. They're not happy in Syria. They're not happy in Lebanon.
And where are they happy?
They're happy in England. They're happy in France. They're happy in Italy. They're happy in Germany. They're happy in Sweden. They're happy in the USA. They're happy in India.They're happy in Norway. They're happy in every country that is not Muslim. And who do they blame? Not Islam. Not their leadership. Not themselves.


The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was an outstanding human being who showed us
as human beings on how to conduct our lives as muslims, as a muslim I
loved this man very much, we should all follow his example as best as
we can.

Assalam Aleykum.
Frist of all, praise be to the Lord of the worlds and may His(most gracious) peace and blessings be upon our beloved NABI, his compagnions and members of his family and descendants and on this blessed day of his Birth Anniversary, may Allah(swt) grant to the whole of mankind the Peace and BLESSINGS that embodied the purpose of his prophethood. No one can OVER-EMPHASIZE the important of Mohammed(pbh) to mankind and to creation as whole, which in return portrays a much bigger IMPORTANCE OF US, as Human-beings. Through Qur'an, Muhammed(pbh) is a Massenger and a Prophet, just for him(pbh) to become the Message itself, through his Sunnah, as stated here from Allah(swt): "... Lakad kaana fii Rassoulinlah, Aswatan Hassana...". Mashallah, if we look back, through out Islamic History, the Khaliphates to date, this notion of Human Importance, as the DIFFERENCES being the WILL of Allah(swt) has been understood and assimilated, providing tolerance, thus peace and prosperity to all.


Nice scholarly article, author's tendency to use words obscured e.g., stoic (not in dictionary), overawe, indigence??
narrative should be easy to follow to get it across!

alhamdullillah i read few phases of prophet muhammad (saw) i found them nice great one should pray alaah make these phases source of learning to me

I just read the Seven Phases of Prophet's life and found it very valuable for the project that I am doing for my Global History class. I have a suggestion, I hope you you will take it into consideration. I believe that if you would add the dates with all seven phases, it would be better so that way reader knows what happened in which year.


For me the article was both informative and uplifting. And may peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wassalam).

As salaamu alaykum!

the article is great and its making awareness among all Muslims & Non-Muslims.
I feel proud to be an MUSLIM....also we all should be proud of it and strive to be
Muhammad-like, and try to follow his deeds & says,


While I commend the sister for making this audio, it is read in an extremely mechanical sytle. I would susgest that in the future, she read it in advance and work on where emphasis and puncuation should be hihlighted.

The nervousnees can be detected in your voice. Rehersal would have helped!

These are not critism but feedback for the future.

The subject is very importment, it deserved more time and effort.

May Allah guide you in the future and bless you for your efforts.

this is a great article but i dont understand why allot of muslim people dont want to be like muhammad. i am a 12 years old and i witness allot of mulims acting like amarican people that have half shirts and care about kissing and marrige. Allot of times Amarica is not a good place for muslims they show discrace for humanity and allot of muslims are copying them so allot of them needs help! We should try to help those young muslims to bring them back to islam. iam only 12 years old and i am witnessing this. We muslims have somehow stop this all from discracing humanity.

Rasool-Allah (sawaws) said,

Man Zara Qabri Wajabat Lahu Shafa'ati.

As salaamu alaykum!
Great article.
As Muslims, we should all strive to be
Muhammad-like, inshalla.
Peace and Blessings

Glad to see lot of material that is useful to real muslim and non-muslim. I feel the memebership has given a great problem in understanding Islam. This type of memberships are not available on non-muslim website. Inviation restricts all to entire & listen great Islamic teaching for poor people.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) - words cannot describe him. Alhumdulillah for creating the best of creation.


another great article, if only this material were more widely digested by readers of tabloid propaganda! many lessons dirictly relevant to the world today, we need a modern day (Prophet) Mohammed to rekindle the true meaning of a democracy and dare i say an end to war.

He is truely a blessing to mankind sent by Allah. finally an article of peace as opposed to the brutalities in iraq. if only the world adopted the Qurans teachings it would be a peacful place to live in, especially in the middle east.

It is true that all prophets were sents during hard times as the ones described. they were sent by Allah so that people would come back to the right path and may Allah be pleased with them all. But you know what they say save the best till last, and rightfully Allah sent Muhammad (pbuh) as the last and greatest prophet to all the believers.

Asalam o alaikum,

May Peace and Blessings be on our beloved Prophet S.A.W and his progeny. He possessed the qualities of all the previous Messengers and Prophets(A.S). Moses,Jesus, Abraham,Solomon,David all were represented in one person. May Peace and Blessings be upon them all. We will soon Inshaullah see a Islamic renaissance when the awaited Mehdi comes who will be like him and will organize Islam and Muslims against the injustice and barbarism prevailent today both in the East and the West. We are living in mordern Jahiliyya period despite having made all the technological advancements. We have knowledge yet we are ignorant. Religion seems to be outdated due to inactivity and lack of organizers. Most ignorant and unworthy people are our leaders today as Predicted by Rasulallah S.A.W.

Salaamu alaikum,

Good comments Michele & Mebrocky!

What a busy week I have had here at work but visiting islamcity from time to time delights the intellect, refreshes the mind & soften the heart.

Alhamduli- Allah

I have no comments but I can only add few words to Br Akhter's wonderful article & book. Those words are from an Arabic poem translated by myself.
Sahida al'anaamu bi kamalihi hatta l'ida
Wal haqqu ma shahidat bihi al'adau
meaning the world testifies to Muhammad's greatness (pbuh) even his enemies do & what testimony (truth) is better than his enemies' testimony. Excuse my shortcomings I am not a professional translator...

If anyone visits these websites they will find many world leaders, army generals, intellectuals, scientists & artists etc making awesome statements about the life & times of the final messenger of Allah, Muhammad, peace & blessing of the Lord of the universe be upon him.

There you go:

or just go to & type What did they say about Muhammad? to find a huge list of good websites. The more you know Muhammad (pbuh) , the Qur'an, the Sunnah & his companions, it is highly likely that you will become Muslim. You can't help but revert to Islam & if you don't know well that you are in denial!!!

Please Nick Cameron & the likes of Nick Cameron take my advise litteraly, you can only be safe if you are a good Christian & provided you have not received the message of Islam yet!!!




Yes, What an INCREDIBLE HUMAN BEING indeed, Michele.

To Mebrocky; Yes there were laws during the time of Jesus(AS) and equally organised Societies. But these ceased to be the case after Jesus(AS). u are equally right, the Roman "laws" and societal "organisations", champion by Saul a.k.a Paul took over what Jesus taught and the decays continued until the advent of Muhammad(Peace be upon him) 600 years later. And u know what, his teachings, being universal(to all mankind) dominates the world then. But the generations that came some centuries after Muhammad's(PBUH) derailed also in the following of the true teachings of the prophets. So we face what we are facing today. But as the author says, true followers of the Islamic teachings are coming up now(in larger numbers) and the "renaisance" is on again! So shall it be until the promise of Allah is accomplished.

All praises are due to Allah, Lord of the Universe.

Peace to all.

Always a pleasure to read about Muhammad, God's messenger. It is important for people who are not familiar with his story to understand the realities of where and when Muhammad was born. Despite the fact that Muhammad came 600 years after Jesus, the author makes the point that, "The society he was born in was in a state of moral, religious, economic and social chaos." We know that Roman rule was very brutal in the time of Jesus, but there were laws and an organized society. I believe that God sends the right person for the right time to spread his message. The messengers and circumstances change, but the message of loving your fellow man remains the same. Blessings to you all.


What an incredible human BEing. If this amazing spiritual man (peace & blessings be upon him) were a World Leader today, one could only hope we would All- AH be living in a more peaceful world.
and we are ALL connected to this amazing creation. If only we could ALL BE like the COMPASSIONATE Prophet Muhammad!!! PBUH