Richard Rich, who directed several full-length animated features for Walt Disney Studios, helmed this ambitious cartoon feature about the founder of the Islamic faith. In the year 610 A.D., the city of Mecca had become overrun with criminal and immoral behavior, dominated by crooked businessmen, gamblers, and drunkards. The Quarysh, the ruling body that controlled Mecca, had been overtaken by corrupt men who served the needs of the wealthy at the expense of the common people. The lone exception among the Quarysh was the forthright and principled Abu Talib (Eli Allem), who championed the rights of the poor and disadvantaged. Abu Talib was also the guardian of Muhammad, his nephew, whose parents died when he was young. A man of deep faith, Muhammad prayed every day in a cavern on the outskirts of town, and one day he was visited by the angel Gabriel, who gave him the task of spreading a new faith to the world which would honor the one God who watched over all. Muhammad took this charge seriously and set out to tell the world of this new faith, but the men of the Quarysh were threatened by Muhammad's teachings, so much so that he was forced to exile himself to Medina in order for the new faith to survive. In accordance with Islamic law, Muhammad is never shown onscreen in this film. Muhammad: The Last Prophet was originally scheduled for release in the United States in early 2002, but following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the film was shelved in the U.S. due to widespread hostility and misunderstanding toward Muslims -- ironically, just the attitudes the film was created to confront.
by Mark Deming synopsis