Sequencing Events in Muhammadís Life

Overview: This lesson emphasizes the thinking skill of chronological sequencing. Students will reconstruct the major events from the narrative of Muhammadís life in chronological order.


Students will be able to:

    • sequence events from the narrative of Muhammadís life in chronological order.
    • describe major events in Muhammadís life and explain how they affected the development of the Muslim community and the spread of Islam.


    1. Cut the chronology (Handout 2:1a) into strips of one event per strip. Place these strips in a box and mix.
    2. Have students, working either in pairs or small groups, pick two strips from the box. Then have each group discuss and decide which of their two events came first. Allow two to three minutes for this activity.
    3. Have each group present to the class, the event they believe happened first. As each group presents their events, record the events on the board or write on a flip chart or large paper.
    4. As each group presents their first event, they add it to the chronology presented by the previous group. The next group brings their event and allows the class to decide where their event occurs in the chronology that the teacher or recorder is simultaneously generating on the board. The third groupís result is then chronologically sequenced with that of the previous two groups, and so on, until the first round is over.
    5. Then have each group deliberate briefly to decide where their second event fits into the class chronology. Then call each group to chronologically add their second event to the growing timeline until it is complete. By the end of the activity, students will have discussed and argued for the accuracy of their views, and will have begun to think about the significance of the events.
    6. EXTENSION: Discuss the significance of major events in the chronology, answering the following questions: (a) In what way was each event important to fulfilling Muhammadís mission, (b) how did the event affect the development of the Muslim community and (c) how did the event contribute to the spread of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond.



[NOTE: Cut apart the boxes for the sequencing activity. The arrangement below is the answer key.]

Muhammad was born to Aminah and Abdullah, son of Abd al-Muttalib in 570 C.E.

Muhammad was a shepherd as a young boy and went on several trading caravans to Syria with his uncle Abu Talib.

Khadijah, a wealthy widow who employed traders, asked Muhammad to take her goods to Syria and sell them. Khadijah was so impressed by Muhammadís fine character that she proposed marriage to him. Khadijah and Muhammad had four daughters and two sons, who both died in infancy.

In 610 C.E., on a retreat to a cave on Jabal al-Nur (Mountain of Light) outside of Makkah, Muhammad received the first verses of the Qurían from God, according to Muslim beliefs. Frightened, Muhammad left the cave and went home to Khadijah, who comforted and reassured him, and accepted the truth of what he said.

A verse told Muhammad to preach the message of the Qurían to his family and members of his clan. Only his cousin Ali, who was 13 at the time, responded.

Muhammad began preaching to the people of Makkah, telling of a Day of Judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the promised afterlife.

In the year 617, the Quraysh, unable to convince Muhammad to stop preaching, banished the Muslims and their supporters to a dry valley and refused to trade with them. Muhammadís uncle, Abu Talib, lost his business and the Muslims nearly starved. Abu Bakr, once a wealthy trader, lost everything. In 619, Muhammadís wife Khadijah died, and then Muhammad also lost his protector, Abu Talib.

In the year 620, the most remarkable spiritual event of Muhammadís life occurred Ė the Night Journey called Israí and Miraj--in which Muslims believe Muhammad was transported to Jerusalem and then to Heaven. Muslims believe that God gave Muhammad the order for Muslims to pray the five daily prayers on this night journey.

The Muslims were offered asylum in a city north of Makkah called Yathrib (later, Madinah). The migration of the Muslims to Yathrib, in 622, is called the Hijrah. Hearing of a plot to kill Muhammad, he and Abu Bakr escaped to Madinah together, and received a joyful reception.

Muhammad purchased land for the first masjid, or house of worship, and established a mutual defense and cooperation pact among the tribes of Madinah, with himself as the leader of the city. This document was called the "Constitution of Madinah." Muhammad paired immigrants from Makkah with the Muslims from Madinah in a relationship of brotherhood.

Muslims believe Muhammad was sent a verse from the Qurían allowing the Muslims to fight against those who had turned them out of their homes because of their beliefs. The first battle between the Muslims from Madinah and the Quraysh from Makkah took place at Badr in 624 C.E. The Muslim army of about 250 defeated the Makkan army of more than a thousand fighters, according to historical accounts.

A year after the Battle of Badr, the Makkans sent an army to get revenge for their defeat. This battle was called the battle of Uhud. With many losses on both sides, the two sides withdrew in a stalemate.

The third major battle between the Quraysh and the Muslims was the Battle of the Trench, in which the Quraysh and their allies besieged Madinah. The Bani Qurayzah, a Jewish tribe in Madinah, sided with Quraysh and broke their treaty with the Muslims. When the Makkans finally left amid storms and the desertion of their allies, the Muslims turned to attack the Bani Qurayzah for siding with the attack against Madinah.

After the Battle of the Trench, in 628, Muhammad decided to lead a pilgrimage to Makkah. The Muslims camped at Hudaybiyyah, just outside Makkah, where they were halted by Quraysh. The Makkans didnít want to let the Muslims make the pilgrimage but entered into a peace treaty with Muhammad. The treaty at Hudaybiyyah called for ten years of peace between the Muslims and the Makkans, and allowed the Muslims to make their pilgrimage the following year.

A year after the treaty at Hudaybiyyah, Muhammad and his companions completed their pilgrimage. Muhammad asked Bilal ibn Rabah, a former slave and among the earliest Muslims, to give the call to prayer from the top of the Kaíbah. This angered the Makkans, who were camped in the hills outside Makkah until the Muslims completed their pilgrimage. They couldnít believe that a former slave stood on top of their sacred house.

The Makkans broke their treaty with the Muslims by attacking a tribe allied with the Muslims. Muhammad immediately marched on Makkah and took the city peacefully in 630 C.E.


Muhammad returned to Madinah after the conquest of Makkah. He made a final pilgrimage to Makkah, also called the Farewell Pilgrimage, to define the rites of the pilgrimage. He also gave his farewell address where he told Muslims to treat each other humanely.

Muhammad became ill with a strong fever. On June 8th, 632, Muhammad died. Abu Bakr, the leader of the Muslim community after Muhammadís death, reminded the grieving Muslims that Muhammad was only human, and that they should worship God and not Muhammad.