Muslims believe that Islam, much like Christianity, was developed through prophets that came before, and in this way they accept, with certain qualifications, the role and teachings of the Old Testament and even the New. With the arrival of Muhammad in the sixth century A.D., however, Islam comes into its own and we reach an end of the prophetic line: no prophets shall come after Muhammad, and this is why he is called ‘The Seal of the Prophets’.
He was born into a tribe called the Koreish, in approximately 570 A.D. He lost his father, mother, and grandfather by the time he was eight, and was adopted into and loved by his uncle’s family. He gained a reputation for his uprightness and went into the caravan business. At twenty-five he entered the service of a widow named Khadija, fifteen years his senior. Despite this discrepancy in age they formed a lasting bond and she acted as a support and a hope for him, and it is said that, “God comforted him through her, for she made his burden light.” He was married for fifteen years before he received his calling.
Muhammad’s marriage to Khadija was monogamous until her death in his fiftieth year. Their marriage produced four daughters, and the most well-known of them is Fatimah, who later married ‘Ali and is mother to all descendants of the Prophet, called sayyids or sharifs. Much can be said about this line and their influence on Islamic history. Only in the last years of his life did Muhammad take additional wives, and these mostly for the sake of unifying the tribes of the Arabic world, which is to say, for the sake of the peace he was working to establish.