The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 6

Muḥammad at Mecca

Translated by W. Montgomery Watt & M. V. McDonald

Subjects: Islam
Series: SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780887067075, 228 pages, August 1987
Hardcover : 9780887067068, 228 pages, January 1989

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Table of contents


Translator's Foreword

The Lineage of the Messenger of God

`Abdallah (His Father)

`Abd al-Muttalib (His Grandfather)


`Abd Manaf


















`Adnan's Descent from Ishmael, Abraham, and Adam

The Account of the Messenger of God and His Life

The Messenger of God Is Recognized by the Monk Bahira

The Messenger of God Is Protected by God from Participating in Pagan Practices

The Prophet's Marriage to Khadijah

Events of the Life of the Messenger of God

The Rebuilding of the Ka`bah

History of the Ka`bah

The Rebuilding of the Ka`bah (Continued)

The Beginning of the Prophetic Mission

The Day and the Month on Which the Messenger of God Became a Prophet, and the Accounts Concerning This

First Revelation of the Qur'an

Signs of the Approach of Prophethood

Predictions of the Appearance of the Prophet

Proofs of Prophethood

The Manner in Which the Qur'an Was First Revealed

Khadijah the First to Believe in the Messenger of God

The First Rituals of Islam Are Prescribed

The Prophet Ascends to the Seventh Heaven

The First Male to Believe in the Messenger of God

Events of the Life of the Messenger of God (Continued)

The Messenger of God Begins to Preach Openly

Other Events up to the Hijrah

Quraysh Begin to Oppose the Messenger of God

The Emigration to Abyssinia

Quraysh Show Increased Hostility to the Messenger of God

Hamzah Accepts Islam

`Abdallah b. Mas`ud Recites the Qur'an Aloud to Quraysh

Quraysh Boycott the Banu Hashim and the Banual-Muttalib

Quraysh Attempt to Induce the Messenger of God to Cease His Attacks on Their Gods

Satan Casts a False Revelation on the Messenger of God's Tongue

The Boycott Is Repealed

The Messenger of God Is Subjected to Further Insults

The Deaths of Abu Talib and Khadijah

The Messenger of God Goes to al-Ta'if

The Messenger of God Returns to Mecca

The Messenger of God Preaches to the Arab Tribes

The First Madinans Said to Have Accepted Islam

The First Deputation from al-Madinah

The First Pledge of al-`Aqabah

Islam Begins to Spread in al-Madinah

The Second Pledge of al-`Aqabah

The Messenger of God Commands the Muslims to Emigrate to al-Madinah

The Quraysh Plot to Kill the Messenger of God

The Messenger of God Escapes from the Attempt to Kill Him

The Messenger of God Emigrates to al-Madinah

The Messenger of God Arrives in al-Madinah

The Beginning of the Prophetic Mission (Continued)

The Institution of the Islamic Calendar

The Date of the Institution of the Islamic Era

Reports on This Subject

Summary of Meccan Chronology


Bibliography of Cited Works



The sixth volume of the translation of al-Ṭabarī's History deals with the ancestors of Muḥammad, with his own early life, and then with his prophetic mission up to the time of his Hijrah or emigration to Medina. The topics covered mean that this volume is of great importance both for the career of Muhammad himself and for the early history of Islam. Al-Ṭabarī was familiar with, and made use of, the main early source of these matters, the Sirah or life of Muḥammad by Ibn Isḥāq, a work which is still extant. Although his own treatment is briefer than that of Ibn Isḥāq, it complements the latter in important ways by making use of other sources. Where Ibn Isḥāq gave only the version of an event which he preferred, al-Ṭabarī includes any variants which he considered of value. Thus he mentions the dispute about the first male to become a muslim--'Ali or Abū Bakr or Zayd--and has also several variant accounts of the call to hostility toward Muhammad from many of the leading Meccans and their attempts to put pressure on his family to stop his preaching. The negotiations with the men of Medina which eventually led to the Hijrah are fully described, and there is then an account of how Muḥammad escaped an assassination attempt and arrived safely in Medina. A concluding section discusses some chronological questions. This volume does not merely give a straightforward account of the earlier career of Muḥammad and the beginnings of Islam, but also contains valuable source-material not easily accessible otherwise, or not accessible at all.