• Before Muhammad’s Prophethood, darkness lay heavier and thicker on one land than on any other. The neighboring countries of Persia, Byzantium, and Egypt possessed a glimmer of civilization and a faint light of learning, but the Arab peninsula, isolated and cut off by vast oceans of sand, was culturally and intellectually one of the world’s backward areas. Although their highly developed language could express the finest shades of meaning, a study of their literature’s remnants reveals the limited extent of their knowledge. All of this shows their low cultural and civilizational standards, their deeply superstitious nature, their barbarous and ferocious customs, and their uncouth and degraded moral standards and conceptions.
It was a land without a government, for every tribe claimed sovereignty and considered itself independent. Robbery, arson, and the murder of innocent and weak people was the norm. Life, property, and honor were constantly at risk, and tribes were always at daggers drawn with each other. A trivial incident could engulf them in ferocious warfare, which sometimes developed into a decades-long and country-wide conflagration. As one scholar writes:
These struggles destroyed the sense of national unity and developed an incurable particularism; each tribe deeming itself self-sufficient and regarding the rest as its legitimate victims for murder, robbery and plunder.13
Barely able to discriminate between pure and impure, lawful and unlawful, their concepts of morals, culture, and civilization were primitive and uncouth. They reveled in adultery, gambling, and drinking. They stood naked before each other without shame, and women circumambulated the Ka‘ba in the nude.
Their prestige called for female infanticide rather than having someone “inferior” become their son-in-law and eventual heir. They married their widowed stepmothers and knew nothing of the manners associated eating, dressing, and cleanliness. Worshippers of stones, trees, idols, stars, and spirits, they had forgotten the earlier Prophets’ teachings. They had an idea that Abraham and Isma‘il were their forefathers, but almost all of these forefathers’ religious knowledge and understanding of God had been lost.
Thus, in that benighted area, for forty years, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, lived as an ordinary man among his people. He was not known as a statesman, preacher, or orator. No one had heard him impart wisdom and knowledge, or discuss principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economy, or sociology. He had no reputation as a soldier, not to mention as a great general. He had said nothing about God, angels, revealed Books, early Prophets, bygone nations, the Day of Judgment, life after death, or Heaven and Hell. No doubt he had an excellent character and charming manners and was well-behaved, yet nothing marked him out as one who would accomplish something great and revolutionary. His acquaintances knew him as a sober, calm, gentle, and trustworthy citizen of good nature. But when he left the Hira cave with a new message, he was completely transformed.
When he began preaching, his people stood in awe and wonder, bedazzled by his wonderful eloquence and oratory. It was so impressive and captivating that even his worst enemies were afraid to listen to it, lest it penetrate their hearts or very being and make them abandon their traditional religion and culture. It was so beyond compare that no Arab poet, preacher, or orator, no matter how good, could equal its beautiful language and splendid diction when he challenged them to do so. Although they put their heads together, they could not produce even one line like the ones he recited.
• Just as the Prophets’ consensus on the other pillars of belief is a very strong proof of their truth, it also is a firm testimony of the truthfulness and Messengership of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. History confirms that all sacred attributes, miracles, and functions indicating the truthfulness and Messengership of Prophets, are found in Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to the highest degree. Prophets predicted his coming by giving good tidings of him in the Torah, the Gospels, the Psalms, and other Scriptures (known as “Pages” in the Qur’an).14 Through their missions and miracles, they affirmed and “sealed” the mission of Muhammad, the foremost and most perfect Prophet.
People usually consider their own occupations as more important, necessary, beneficial to social life, and more challenging than others. However, although every occupation has some degree of difficulty and social use, educating people is by far the most difficult and necessary for a healthy social life.
Raising really educated people requires true educators who have clear goals. But if such people are to succeed, they must embody what they teach and advise their students; they must intimately know their students’ character and potential, as well as their desires and ambitions, shortcomings and strengths, and level of learning and understanding; they must know how to treat them in all circumstances, approach their problems, and persuade them to replace their bad qualities with good ones.
People may not live according to their asserted “strong” beliefs, have only superficial good moral qualities, or have weak spots (e.g., open to bribery, insensitivity, hoarding). How should we view educators who transform their students by completely replacing their bad qualities with good ones, and then proceed to establish a community to serve as a model for future generations; who transform the base rock, copper, iron, and coal in their hands into silver, gold, precious stones, and diamonds? Would such an educator not be considered extraordinary? What Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, achieved in his twenty-three years as the educator of his people is far more than what such educators do.
Not using force is another important dimension of a good education. Penal sanctions, coercion, and military and police forces can only succeed in “guiding” people for a short while. If a transformation is to be permanent, people must undertake it willingly, meaning that they must be convinced of its truth. No one has ever known people so comprehensively as Prophet Muhammad, nor has managed to transform such a pitiless, crude, war-mongering, ignorant, and unyielding people into a community that provides a perfect and complete life and moral example for all future generations.
His Family and Companions, whose insight, wisdom, and spiritual accomplishment make them the most renowned, respected, celebrated, pious, and intelligent people after the Prophets, declared that he was the most truthful, elevated, and honest person. This was their conclusion after having examined and scrutinized all of his thoughts and states, whether hidden or open, with the utmost attention to detail.
Thousands of God’s beloved friends attained truth and perfection, performed wonders, gained insight into the reality of things, and made spiritual discoveries by following the Prophet’s example. All of them assert the Prophet’s truthfulness and Messengership, and his Message. Thousands of exacting scholars of purity, meticulous scholars of truthfulness, and believing sages have reached the highest station of learning through the sacred truths brought by this unlettered man. Many invincible commanders and most eminent statesmen of human history have appeared in his footsteps. I list only a few of countless such people: such saints and purified, meticulous scholars as Abu Hanifa, Shafi‘i, Imam Malik, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, Bayazid al-Bistami, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Shah Naqshband, Hasan al-Shadhili, Imam al-Ghazzali, Imam Rabbani, and Bediüzzaman Said Nursi; innumerable scientists such as al-Biruni, az-Zahrawi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and Ibn Haytham; and hundreds of thousands of literary geniuses, commanders, statesmen, and other stars of humanity. All of them followed in the Prophet’s footsteps.
In addition, such Western intellectuals and statesmen as Lamartine, William Muir, Edward Gibbon, John Davenport, L. A. Sedillot, Goethe, P. Bayle, Stanley Lane-Poole, A. J. Arberry, Thomas Carlyle, Rosenthal, Elisee Reclus, Andrew Miller, Bismarck, Leopold Weis, Marmaduke Pickthall, Martin Lings, and Roger Garaudy have admitted that he is the greatest person ever to have lived. Some of them even embraced Islam. This is another proof of his Prophethood. Sir William Muir, no friend of Islam, admits:
The first peculiarity, then, which attracts our attention is the subdivision of the Arabs into innumerable bodies … each independent of the others: restless and often at war amongst themselves; and even when united by blood or by interest, ever ready on some significant cause to separate and give way to an implacable hostility. Thus at the era of Islam the retrospect of Arabian history exhibits, as in the kaleidoscope, an ever-varying state of combination and repulsion, such as had hitherto rendered abortive any attempt at a general union … The problem had yet to be solved, by what force these tribes could be subdued or drawn to one common center; and it was solved by Muhammad.15
• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, blended many roles and his own personal excellences into one personality. He is a man of wisdom and foresight, a living embodiment of his own teachings, a great statesman and military genius, a legislator and teacher of morals, a spiritual luminary and religious guide. He sees life comprehensively, and all that he touches is improved and adorned. His teachings regulate everything from international relations to eating, drinking, sleeping, and personal hygiene. He used these teachings to establish a civilization and a culture that produced such a fine, sensitive, and perfect equilibrium in all aspects of life that no trace of a flaw, deficiency, or incompleteness has ever been found in it. What alleged shortcomings and imperfections deny him his rightful status as Prophet and Messenger of God?
Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, brought a law, a religion, a way of life, a code of worship, a way of prayer, a message, and a faith that was (and remains) unique. The law this unlettered man brought is matchless in that it has administered, both justly and precisely, one fifth of humanity for fourteen centuries. The daily practices of Islam, which originated in the Qur’an and his own sayings, precepts, and example, have served for centuries as a peerless guide and authority for billions of people. They have trained and refined their minds and souls, illumined and purified their hearts, and perfected their spirits.
What follows is the tribute of Lamartine, the French historian to the person of the Holy Prophet of Islam:
Never did a man set himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim was superhuman: to subvert superstitions which had been interposed between man and his Creator, to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore the rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry then existing. Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he had in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design no other instrument than himself, and no other aid, except a handful of men living in a corner of desert. Finally, never has a man accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and arms, reigned over the whole of Arabia, and conquered in God’s name Persia, Khorasan, Western India, Syria, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean, Spain, and a part of Gaul.
If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great men to Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislation, empires, peoples, and dynasties, but millions of men [and women] in one third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. On the basis of a Book, every letter of which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which has blended together peoples of every tongue and of every race. He has left to us as the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality, the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and immaterial God. This avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followers of Muhammad: the conquest of one third of the earth to his creed was his miracle. The idea of the unity of God proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of fabulous theogenies, was in itself such a miracle that upon its utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and set on fire one third of the world. His life, his meditations, his heroic revilings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry; his firmness in enduring them for thirteen years at Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being a victim of his fellow-countrymen: all these and, finally his incessant preaching, his wars against odds, his faith in his success and his superhuman security in misfortune, his forbearance in victory, his ambition which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayer, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction. It was his conviction which gave him the power to restore a creed. This creed was two-fold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is; the latter telling what God is not. Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial states and of one spiritual state, Prophethood and Prophet Muhammad 183 that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask: Is there any man greater than he?16
• A leader must know his people thoroughly to educate them and lead them to realize a great cause. Alexis Carrel, a great twentieth- century French scientist and philosopher, still describes human beings as unknown, as the most complex and intricate of creatures.17 However, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had such a comprehensive knowledge of his people that he could educate them in such a way that they transformed themselves willingly to realize his cause. Knowing how to act in every situation, his decisions never had to be changed or his appointments to office rescinded. He succeeded in bringing the most refined, well-mannered, and civilized society out of an extremely backward, uncivilized, and rough people.
Not only did he eradicate his people’s savage customs and immoral qualities to which they were addicted, he also equipped and adorned these same desperate, wild, and unyielding peoples with all praiseworthy virtues and made them the teachers and masters of the world, including civilized nations. His domination was not outward; rather, he was the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, and the ruler of spirits.
Despite all the advanced techniques and methods, modern communities cannot remove permanently so small a vice as smoking. However, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, quickly removed many ingrained bad habits with little effort, and replaced them with good habits in such a way that they became inherent in his people’s very being. If people do not believe this, let them go to any part of the modern civilized world with hundreds of philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, pedagogues, and educators and see if they can achieve in one hundred years even one hundredth of what Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, achieved in a year in the uncivilized Arabia of fourteen centuries ago.
• The Prophet met all of his detractors with a smile. When the Qurayshi leaders told Abu Talib to make his nephew abandon his mission, the Prophet answered:
O uncle! Should they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, so as to make me renounce this mission, I shall not do so. I will never give it up; either it will please God to make it triumph or I will perish in the attempt.18
On another occasion, a deputation of the Qurayshi elite offered him all the worldly glory they could imagine if he would abandon his mission:
If you want wealth, we will amass for you as much as you wish; if you aspire to win honor and power, we are prepared to swear allegiance to you as our overlord and king; if you have a fancy for beauty, you shall have the hand of the most beautiful maiden of your own choice.
The terms would be extremely tempting for anyone, but they had no significance in the eyes of the Prophet. He responded:
I want neither wealth nor power. God has commissioned me as a warner to humanity. I deliver His Message to you. Should you accept it, you shall have felicity in this life and eternal bliss in the life Hereafter. Should you reject the Word of God, surely God will decide between you and me.19
The faith, perseverance, and resolution with which he carried his mission to ultimate success prove the supreme truth of his cause. Had there been the slightest doubt or uncertainty in his heart, he could not have withstood the opposition that continued for twenty-one long years.
• Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was the foremost practitioner of all forms of Islamic worship, and the most God-conscious believer. He perfectly observed all details of worship, even when in danger. He never imitated anyone, and excellently combined the beginning and end of spiritual perfection. He is unparalleled in prayer and knowledge of God. In his supplications and prayers, he describes his Lord with such a degree of Divine knowledge that no believer has ever attained a similar degree of knowledge and description of God.
• His faith was so extraordinarily strong, certain, miraculous, elevated, and enlightened that no contemporary prevalent (and opposed) idea, belief, philosophy, or teaching ever caused him to doubt or hesitate. Moreover, all intellectually and spiritually elevated people of all times, primarily his Companions, benefited from his faith, which they admit to be of the highest degree. This fact proves that his faith is matchless.
• In spite of his unparalleled greatness and achievements, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, behaved as an ordinary man with all people, and lived as the poorest of his community. All of his resources were used to spread Islam. He sought no reward or profit to compensate him for his life-long struggles and endeavors, and left no property for his heirs, for he lived to serve all humanity. He did not ask that anything be set aside for him or his descendants, and forbade his progeny from receiving zakah so that neither he nor his Family or progeny should benefit from his mission materially.
• No one in human history has ever been loved as much Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, has been loved by his Companions and Community. What follows is only one example to show how deeply he is loved:
A group from the Adal and al-Qarah tribes, who were apparently from the same ancestral stock as the Quraysh and who lived near Makka, came to the Prophet during the third year of the Islamic era and said: “Some of us have chosen Islam, so send a group of Muslims to instruct us what Islam means, teach us the Qur’an, and inform us of Islam’s principles and laws.”
The Messenger selected six Companions to go with them. Upon reaching the Hudhayl tribe’s land, the group halted and the Companions settled down to rest. Suddenly, a group of Hudhayli tribesmen fell upon them like a thunderbolt with 186 An Introduction to Islamic Faith and Thought their swords drawn. Clearly, the mission either had been a ruse from the beginning or its members had changed their minds en route. At any rate, they sided with the attackers and sought to seize the six Muslims. As soon as the Companions were aware of what was happening, they grabbed their weapons and got ready to defend themselves. Three were martyred, and the rest were tied up and taken to Makka, where they were to be delivered to the Quraysh.
Near Makka, ‘Abdullah ibn Tariq managed to free his hand and reach for his sword. However, his captors saw what he was doing and stoned him to death. Zayd ibn al-Dathina and Hubayb ibn Adiy were carried to Makka, where they were exchanged for two Hudhayli captives. Safwan ibn Umayya al-Qurayshi bought Zayd from the person to whom he had been sold so that he could avenge the blood of his father, who had been killed during the Battle of Badr. He took him outside Makka to kill him, and the Quraysh assembled to see what would happen.
Zayd came forward with a courageous gait and did not even tremble. Abu Sufyan, a spectator who wanted to use this chance to extract a statement of contrition and remorse or an avowal of hatred of the Prophet, stepped forward and said: “I adjure you by God, Zayd, don’t you wish that Muhammad was with us now in your place so that we might cut off his head, and that you were with your family?” “By God,” said Zayd, “let alone wishing that, I do not wish that even a thorn should hurt his foot.” Abu Sufyan, astonished, turned to those present and said: “By God, I swear I have never seen a man so loved by his followers as Muhammad.”
After a while, Hubayb was taken outside Makka for execution. Requesting the assembled people to let him perform two rak‘at of prayer, to which they agreed, he did so in all humility, respect, and absorption. Then he spoke to them: “I swear by God that if I did not think that you might think that I was trying to delay my death out of fear, I would have prolonged my prayer.”
After condemning Hubayb to crucifixion, his sweet voice was heard, with a perfect spirituality that held everyone in its spell, entreating God with these words: “O God! We have delivered the message of Your Messenger, so inform him of what has been done to us, and tell him my wish of peace and blessings upon him.” Meanwhile, God’s Messenger was returning his peace, saying: “Upon you be God’s peace and blessings, O Hubayb!”20
• The following account shows the indelible mark that God’s Messenger has imprinted on people of every age:
One of Ibn Sina’s students told Ibn Sina that his extraordinary understanding and intelligence would cause people to gather around him if he claimed prophethood. Ibn Sina said nothing. When they were travelling together during winter, Ibn Sina woke up one morning at dawn, woke his student, and asked him to fetch some water because he was thirsty. The student procrastinated and made excuses. However much Ibn Sina persisted, the student would not leave his warm bed. At that moment, the cry of the muezzin (caller to prayer) called out from the minaret: “God is the greatest. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
Ibn Sina considered this a good opportunity to answer his student, so he said:
You, who averred that people would believe in me if I claimed to be a prophet, look now and see how the command I just gave you who have been my student for years and have benefited from my lessons, has not had the effect of making you leave your warm bed to fetch me some water. But this muezzin strictly obeys the 400-year-old command of the Prophet. He got up from his warm bed, as he does every morning together with hundreds of thousands of others, climbed up to this great height, and bore witness to God’s Unity and His Prophet. Look and see how great the difference is!”21
The Prophet’s name has been pronounced five times a day together with that of God for 1,400 years all over the world.22
Aug 23, 2013 @ 23:45
- March 09, 2016
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