The great Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) was born in the area of Hijaz in Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula. His birth was during the era of "Ignorance" (Jaheliah).
The era of Ignorance
The era of Ignorance is the time from 200 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to the beginning of his prophethood. Jaheliah (Ignorance) means to commit an offence or do bad deeds that are the result of ignorance. The nomadic Arabs did not believe in any religion. The Arabs who resided in cities worshipped idols made of rock, wood and dates. It is even possible that in case of poverty they ground these dates and ate their idols! They used to kill their daughters; this was a common habit among them. The war and disgust between different tribes was commonplace. They believed that spirits and superstitions influenced their lives, but the Prophet (PBUH&HP) eradicated idol worshipping and called their vanity and bigotry "Ignorance". He confined their indefinite freedom by developing moralities and chastity. He made them a united nation whereas before they were constantly quarrelling.
Quraish tribe and ancestors of the Prophet (PBUH&HP)
The tribe that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) came from was named "Quraish". This tribe was one of the most influential tribes that governed Muslims centuries after Islam. The fame of Quraish is because of Ghasa ibn Klab, the great great great grandfather of the Prophet (PBUH&HP). Abde Manaf, the son of Ghasa, the geat great grandfather of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), was a noble and good-tempered person. Hashim, the great grandfather of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), was one of the brilliant faces of the Quraish. His son was Abd al-Mutallib, the grandfather of the Prophet (PBUH&HP). He was the most famous and wisest man among the Arabs. He dug Zamzam (the well in Masjid al-Haram) and was responsible for giving water to pilgrims and receiving them. Isma'il/Ishmael (PBUH) is also a distant ancestor of the Prophet (PBUH&HP). In fact all his grandfathers worshipped Allah (SWT). Abdullah, the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) father was the youngest son of Abd al-Mutallib. He was famous for being handsome and chaste. He married Amena, the daughter of Wahab, who was famous for her modesty and chastity. Abdullah had a trip to Shaam for trading. On the return trip from Shaam, Abdullah became sick and passed away in Medina when he was only 25. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was born on the 17th of Rabi' al-Awwal of Aam al-Fil (580 A.D.) in Mecca. Aam al-Fil (The Year of the Elephant) is the year in which the king of Abyssinia (Negus) commanded Abrahe with his army to attack the Kaaba and destroy it. However, he was not successful because a huge number of birds, carrying stones with their feet and beaks, came over the army and dropped the stones and killed them all.
It is narrated that on the day which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was born, the following incidents happened:
1- All the idols fell down.
2- The "Kasra Veranda" (a part of the palace of Iran's King) shook and fourteen of its notches were damaged.
3- The "Saweh Lake” that people worshiped for years, dried up.
4- Water flowed in "Samaweh Desert”, where no one had seen water for many years.
5- The fire-temple of "Fars" was extinguished after several years.
6- On that night, a light came out from "Hijaz" and spread to the east.
According to the narrations from Amena, during her pregnancy period she did not feel that she was pregnant like other pregnant women. It is said that when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was born, he first looked at the sky and then prayed to Allah (SWT). He was neat and clean and no blood or other things came out from his mother's womb. Amena says that at the birth time, someone told her that she had given birth to the best human and that she should name him "Muhammad". When Abd al-Mutallib was informed of this happening, he slaughtered a sheep, invited the heads of the Quraish tribe, and named the child Muhammad (meaning praised) on that party. Other parts of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) life will be discussed later on.