Muhammad appeared in the desert of Hijáz in the Arabian Peninsula, which was a treeless and barren wilderness: sandy, desolate in the extreme, and in some places, such as Mecca and Medina, exceedingly hot. Its inhabitants were nomads, had the morals and manners of desert-dwellers, and were entirely bereft of knowledge and learning. Even Muhammad Himself was illiterate, and the Qur’án was originally written upon the blade-bones of sheep or on palm leaves. Infer then from this the conditions prevailing among the people to whom Muhammad was sent!
His first reproach to them was this: “Why do you reject the Torah and the Gospel, and wherefore do you refuse to believe in Christ and in Moses?” This statement came indeed hard upon them, for they asked: “What then is to be said of our fathers and forefathers, who did not believe in the Torah and the Gospel?” He answered, “They had gone astray, and it is incumbent upon you to renounce those who do not believe in the Torah and the Gospel, though they be your own forefathers.”
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)