HIS CHARACTER AND HIGH MORALITY

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• If a man’s universally admired accomplishments, wealth, and fame do not change him, and he remains as humble as he was at the beginning of his career, this shows an impressive strength of character, morality, and virtue. Despite his unparalleled achievements, which force even non-Muslims and atheists to consider him the greatest person of all times, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was poorer and more humble when he entered Makka victoriously than he was at the beginning of his mission.

• One’s face reveals one’s inner world and character. Those who saw Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, could not help but admire his appearance and, if unprejudiced, acknowledge his truthfulness. For example, ‘ Abdullah ibn Salam, the most renowned Jewish scholar of the time, believed in him at first sight, saying: “One with such a face cannot lie.”

• If a firefly declares itself to be the sun, its lie lasts only until sunrise. Turkish people say that a liar’s candle only burns till bedtime, meaning that a lie is short-lived. So, a deceitful person pretending to be a Prophet would soon be unmasked, and no one would accept his or her claim.

• Even an unimportant person in a small group cannot lie shamelessly and openly without somehow being discovered. Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, challenged everybody to come until the Last Day. He gave many important speeches to a large community concerning a great cause, all with great ease and freedom, without hesitation or anxiety, with pure sincerity and great solemnity, and in an intense and elevated manner that provoked his enemies.

• An unlettered person cannot speak on something requiring expert knowledge, especially to specialists in that area. However, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, spoke on every issue from theology and metaphysics to medicine and history, physics and biology, and has never been contradicted. He challenged his people’s strengths (literature, eloquence, and oratory), yet nothing they composed could compare with the Qur’an.

• People do not risk their life, wealth, and reputation, and bear hardship and persecution for a lie, unless they want even more wealth and higher worldly position. Before claiming Prophethood, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was well-off and respected. After Prophethood, he confronted great hardship and persecution, and spent all he had for his cause. His enemies slandered, mocked, and beat him. Finally forcing him out of his homeland, they took up arms against him. He bore all of this without complaint and asked God Almighty to forgive them, for all he wanted was to see everybody believing in and worshipping the One God exclusively, thereby prospering in both worlds and being saved from the torments of Hell.

• History is full of people who, saying one thing and doing another, never attained a large and devoted following. Their ideas did not change people permanently, nor did their systems outlive them for any length of time. However, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, sincerely and honestly practiced what he taught, and was the most obedient worshipper of the Creator and follower of the religious law. This shows his full conviction in his cause and that he is a Messenger of God sent to guide humanity to the True Path.

• People’s characters are usually well-established by the time they are thirty, and do not change significantly after that. To change one’s character after forty is practically impossible. If, God forbid, there had been any imperfection and blemish in Prophet Muhammad’s character, it certainly would have appeared before his Prophethood. Is it logical that a person recognized by his community as its most honest and upright member would suddenly, at the age of forty, assume the role of a great liar and fraud to his own people?

• Liars can neither acquire nor maintain a large group of dedicated followers eager to sacrifice themselves. Even though they were among the greatest Prophets, Moses and Jesus, upon them be peace, did not have such devoted followers. The Jews betrayed their Prophet— Moses —when he left them for forty days to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, by worshipping a golden calf made by Samiri. Even after so many years of intellectual and spiritual training in the desert, only two God-fearing men obeyed when Moses ordered them to fight the Amalekites. As for Jesus, one of his most devoted twelve followers (Judas Iscariot) betrayed him and delivered him to his enemies.

The Companions were so devoted that they willingly sacrificed everything for the Prophet. Although brought up among a primitive, ignorant people without any positive idea of social life and administration or a Scripture, and immersed in spiritual and intellectual darkness, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, soon transformed them into the masters, guides, and just rulers of the region’s most civilized, socially, and politically advanced peoples and states. Their subsequent rule has been widely admired ever since—even by those who continue to oppose Islam and Muslims.

Also, innumerable universally acclaimed profound scholars, famous scientists, and pure, spiritual masters have been produced by the generations following the Companions. How could they establish a civilization, the most magnificent and advanced of all times, by following a liar? God forbid such a thought!

• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was the perfect exemplar of high moral conduct and virtue. He appeared among a desert people possessing only the most rudimentary level of civilization and devoted to immorality. Who brought him up as the most virtuous and moral person? His father died before he was born; his mother died when he was six years old. He was then raised by his grandfather and uncle, but how could they give these perfections to him when they did not embody them to such a degree? His teacher was God, as he himself said: “My Lord educated me and taught me good manners, and how well He educated me and how beautifully He taught me good manners.”23

• History has seen many virtuous people. However, no one has ever combined all virtues and good qualities as perfectly as Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Many generous people cannot show enough courage when and where necessary, and many courageous people cannot be so lenient and generous. But Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, combined in his person all virtues and laudable qualities at the highest level.

Virtue and good morality require balance. Excessive generosity becomes extravagance, excessive thrift becomes miserliness, courage is confused with rashness, and dialectics or demagogy with intelligence. Virtue requires knowing how to act in certain conditions. For instance, the respect of the weak for the strong, when assumed by the latter, becomes conceit; the humility shown by the strong to the weak, when assumed by the latter, becomes self-abasement. A person’s voluntary forbearance and sacrifice (of his or her rights) is good and a virtue; when done on behalf of others, however, it is treason. People may bear their own conditions patiently, but they cannot do so for the nation. Pride and indignation on behalf of the nation are commendable, whereas they are not on behalf of oneself.

Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was perfectly balanced in his virtues and good moral qualities; perfectly courageous when necessary; perfectly mild, forgiving, and humble among people; perfectly dignified but gracious; and more generous than all others, but also thrifty and opposed to extravagance. In short, he was the most perfect balance of all virtues and good qualities.

• According to Muslim theologians, there are six essentials of Prophethood: truthfulness, trustworthiness, communication of God’s commands, intelligence, infallibility, and freedom from any mental and physical defect. History records that Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had these six essential attributes in the most perfect fashion.

• People often have to make quick decisions that might cause them problems in the future. Prophet Muhammad’s great achievements, made during the relatively short time span of twenty three years, are without parallel in human history. He never faltered, and his decisions always proved to be correct. Moreover, his actions and words were both for his own people and for all future generations regardless of time and place. As none of his statements have ever been contradicted, no one can criticize his actions, words, and decisions. Can one who is not a Prophet taught by God, the All-Knowing, have such intelligence, foresight, sagacity, insight, sound reasoning, and prudence?

• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was extremely merciful. In Makka, persistent persecution eventually forced him to emigrate to Madina. However, when he finally conquered Makka without bloodshed after eight years of warfare, he forgave all of his enemies, including the hypocrites and unbelievers. He knew who the hypocrites were, but concealed their identities so they could enjoy the rights of full citizenship to which their outward confession of faith and practice entitled them.

• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was particularly fond of children. Whenever he saw a child crying, he would sit beside him or her and share his or her feelings. He felt a mother’s pain for her child more than the mother herself. Once he said: “I stand in prayer and wish to prolong it. However, I hear a child cry and shorten the prayer for the sake of its mother, who is praying in the congregation.”24 He took children in his arms and hugged them, sometimes carrying them on his shoulders. As for animals, he once said that a prostitute was guided to truth by God and ultimately went to Paradise for giving water to a dog dying of thirst, while another woman was condemned to Hell for letting a cat starve to death.25

• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was extremely mild and never became angry with anybody because of what they did to him personally. When people slandered his wife ‘A’isha, he did not punish them after she was cleared. Bedouins often came to his presence and behaved impolitely; he did not even frown at them.

• He was the most generous of people, and liked to distribute whatever he had. After Prophethood had been bestowed upon him, he and his wealthy wife Khadija spent all they had in the cause of God. When Khadija died, they were so poor that he had to borrow money to buy a shroud in which to bury the first person to embrace Islam and his first supporter.26

• According to the Prophet, this world is like a tree whose shade is enjoyed by people on a long journey. No one lives forever, so people must prepare for the journey’s second part: Paradise or Hell.27 His mission was to guide people to truth by all permissible means, which he did. Once ‘Umar saw him lying on a rough mat and wept, saying:

O Messenger of God! While kings sleep in soft feather beds, you lie on a rough mat. You are the Messenger of God and therefore deserve an easy life more than any other person. The Messenger answered him: Do you not agree that [the luxuries of] the world be theirs but those of the Hereafter ours?28

Islam does not approve of a monastic life. It came to secure justice and humanity’s well-being, and warns people against over-indulgence. For this reason, many Muslims chose an ascetic life. Although Muslims generally became rich after the death of the Messenger, caliphs Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Ali preferred austerity partly because of their own inclination and partly to follow the Prophet’s example strictly. Many other Muslims made this same choice.

• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was the most modest person. As he attained higher ranks, he increased in humility and servanthood to God. He preferred being a Prophet-slave to being a Prophet-king. While building the mosque in Madina, he carried two sun-dried bricks while everybody else carried one.29 While digging the trench around Madina to defend it during the Battle of the Trench, the Companions bound a stone around their bellies because of hunger; the Messenger bound two.30 When a man began to tremble because of his awe-inspiring appearance, the Messenger calmed him, saying: “Don’t be afraid, brother. I am a man, like you, whose mother used to eat dry bread.”31 A mentally unbalanced woman once pulled him by the hand and said: “Come with me and do my housework.” God’s Messenger did as she asked.32 ‘A’isha said the Messenger patched his clothes, repaired his shoes, and helped his wives with the housework.33 ‘Ali describes the Prophet as follows:

God’s Messenger was the most generous of people in giving out and the mildest and foremost of them in patience and perseverance. He was the most truthful of people in speech, the most amiable and congenial in companionship and the noblest of them in family. Whoever sees him first is stricken by awe of him but whoever knows him closely is attracted to him deeply, and whoever attempts to describe him says: “I have, either before him or after him, never seen the like of him, upon him be peace and blessings.”34