It can be argued that whoever we are we are influenced by our context and background; Muhammad was no different. The point is that we are all influenced to different extents. Therefore, in relation to Muhammad we need to discover which aspects of his background influenced him the most and also the extent of this; in addition, we can attempt to establish which aspects of his background were rejected and the clear reasons why this was so.

The message that Muhammad brought was one of absolute monotheism; whilst this was not totally new, due to his contact with Judaism and his awareness of Christianity, it can be seen it was certainly new to the Arab tribes and people in Makkah who were polytheistic. This, then, appears to be one factor of major influence but at the same time an innovation for Makkans as it was an outright rejection of his immediate religious context.

It is also evident from the existence of a tight tribal network based upon specific codes of behaviour, that Muhammad did not just accept everything he encountered. Immorality was rejected outright, as was the neglect of both women and the poor.This was certainly a brave move away from his own social background; however, he also did recognize that there were certain values in tribal society that were valuable such as ‘honour’ and the idea of a close knit community who supported one another. These ideas can clearly be seen in the later development of the Ummah.

Overall, Muhammad was influenced, there is no doubt of this; however, at a closer look we can argue that he was not controlled by this influence and this is the crucial difference. This enabled him to use his immediate context and relate to it in order develop his own innovations and introduce the message revealed to him into society.