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How Long Did The Prophet Stay In Mecca?

  • Post last modified:14 April 2024

The Prophet’s Life – Summary

The Prophet Muhammad was born in the year 570 CE. He was born in the city of Mecca, a site known for it’s religiosity even before his birth. The traditional account narrates that once he reached the age of forty, he received divine inspiration and acceptance from GOD to become a Prophet; the seal of the Prophets. He began preaching and had strong opposition. He managed to gain very few companions, and eventually he and his community needed to migrate out of Mecca, towards a city named Yathrib. He became the state-leader of Yathrib (changed to Medina) and resided there until he and his army of believers (from Medina and migrants) conquered Mecca after residing in Medina for 10 years. The Prophet passed away soon after.

Time in Mecca

The Prophet’s preaching in Mecca was extremely unsuccessful. When he left to Medina with the migrants, he had less than 100 people with him. When we look to the hadith corpus to look for more information about what had happened in this period of the Prophet’s life, we run into many questions and many conflicting answers:

Question 1: How Long Did The Prophet Stay In Mecca After Recieving Prophethood?

This answer should be easy to answer. We take the date of the migration (632) and subtract it from the year the Prophet became 40 (610). We would get 12 years. When we look to the hadith corpus, we get wildly different answers:

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stayed in Mecca for fifteen years (after his advent as a Prophet) and he heard the voice of Gabriel and saw his radiance for seven years but did not see any visible form, and then received revelation for ten years, and he stayed in Medina for ten years. (Sahih Muslim 2353e)

Narrated `Aisha and Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) remained in Mecca for ten years, during which the Qur’an used to be revealed to him; and he stayed in Medina for ten years. (Sahih Bukhari 4978, 4979)

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stayed in Mecca for thirteen years (after receiving the first Divine Inspiration) and died at the age of sixty-three. (Sahih Bukhari 3903)

Diagrammed Narrations

When we collect the narrations, we see some issues at-hand.

All of the different opinions are attributed to Ibn Abbas. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why would Ibn Abbas claim three different opinions? The likely answer is that he didn’t. Individuals later in the isnad fabricated their traditions, leading to conflicting dates.

It would make sense to not have much of a historical record about Muhammad’s time in Mecca. Since he migrated with very few people, it doesn’t seem plausible that there were many people that could testify to the events that had occurred that early on. Those that were present during the Meccan years (the ones that migrated such as Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman) had very different stances on hadith as a whole:

There was a very tough restriction effort surrounding hadith. There was a strong effort made to preserve the Quran, but virtually none to preserve sayings attributed to the Prophet. It wasn’t until a couple hundred years later (excluding Imam Malik’s Muwatta of Jurisprudence) when individuals took it upon themselves to search out narrations attributed to the Prophet, as well as search for his biography.

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