THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
(Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam)
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
At the time the Holy Prophet of Islam was raised, the whole world was enveloped in darkness by the dense clouds of disbelief, dishonesty and profanity. And as in Nature, light always follows darkness and rain comes after drought so that the proper state of things should be restored, similarly, in the world of men, an urge for reform arose. It was a time when every country and nation sought either the appearance of several reformers, one for each nation, or the advent of one masterly mind who should restore universality with a perfect religion from God maintaining that all nations are a single people. Therefore one prophet was raised for all the people. Hitherto prophets had been raised from time to time still every nation had forsaken the right way and acted against the directions given to it. Thus differences arose necessitating the advent of another prophet who should show the right path to all nations. If a prophet was needed by every nation to settle its own differences, one was surely needed to settle the differences between the various nations, for the truth which had been shown by the different prophets had again been obscured. Thus among the different national religions of the world Islam occupies the position of an international religion.
According to the Divine scheme, prophets were raised for the moral regeneration of the world. As disclosed in the Holy Qur'aan, a large number of prophets were raised, but their message was limited to their own nation. All of them were national prophets, and their work was limited to moral and spiritual uplift. But while national growth was the first condition of the human race, when each nation lived almost an exclusive life and the means of communication between different races were almost absent, the grand idea which the Divine scheme had in view was the uplift and unification of the human race. Humanity could not remain for ever divided into water-tight compartments of nationalities formed on the basis of blood or geographical limitations. In fact, these different nationalities had through jealousy, became the cause of discord and hatred between them, each looking upon itself as the only chosen one and despising the rest. Such views tended to extinguish the faint longing or aspiration for unity of the human race. The final step, therefore, in the intuition of the prophethood was the raising up of one prophet for all nations, so that the consciousness of being one whole might be created in the human race.
The days of the national prophets had ended; they had served the purpose for which they were meant, and the day of a world-prophet dawned upon humanity in the person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (On whom be salaam), to lead it to the grand idea of unity of the human race. Christ was the last of national prophets, and though the message of Christianity is now being conveyed throughout the world, yet that was never Christ's idea. He was perfectly sure that he was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15: 24), so sure that he did not hesitate to call those who were not Israelites 'dogs' in comparison with the 'Children' who were Israelites (Mat 15: 26) and the bread of the children could not be cast to the dogs. Nevertheless, the idea of casting the heavenly bread of Christ to the same non-Israelite 'dogs' entered the head of one of the disciples, after 'Children' had shown no desire to accept that bread. It was Paul who widened the scope of Christ's mission by carrying his message to the Jews and Gentiles alike.
The sermon of the Holy Prophet on the occasion of his last pilgrimage declares:
"All men are like brothers; the black has no superiority over the red, nor has an Arab any preferential claim on the non-Arab. All are the sons of Adam and Adam was made out of clay."
This was in fact a charter of equality and freedom for the enslaved people of the world from whom loyalties of diverse types were expected. The Prophet of Islam broke all these chains. Henceforth loyalty was not to race or nationality, throne and crown, priest or divine, but to ONE God alone, the Supreme God, the Sustainer of the worlds. This idea of human unity and brotherhood which evolved out of sublime ethical monotheism of Islam, was unknown to Judaism and Christianity.
The idea of International Prophet is not based on a solitary occurrence in the Holy Qur'aan as to the extent of the mission of one or the other Prophet, but is a fully developed Divine Scheme. When mentioning the earlier prophets the Qur'aan says that Noah was sent to "his people." (S. 7: 59). It speaks of Moses (On whom be salaam) as being commanded to "bring forth thy people from darkness into light" (14: 5). It speaks of Jesus (On whom be salaam) as a messenger to the 'Children' of Israel (3: 49) but in speaking of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, it says in unequivocal words that:
"We have not sent thee, but as a Universal (Messenger) to men, giving them Glad tidings , and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not." (3: 28).
On another occasion also, the Universality of the Prophet's mission is thus stressed:
"Say: O men, I am sent unto you all, as the Apostle of God to whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth." (S. 7: 158).
One thing is sure that no other prophet is spoken of either in the Holy Qur'aan or in any other scripture as having been sent to the whole of humanity or to all people or all nations. The Holy Prophet is not only a warner to all the nations and bringer of glad tidings but a mercy to all of them as well.
"We sent thee but as a Mercy for all the worlds." (S. 21: 107).
The Qur'aan is the last Book of God, and Muhammad (On whom be salaam) the last of Prophets. It is the finality of law and guidance given in the last Message of God and the personality of the Holy Messenger that make him the Ultimate Prophet. When the Holy Qur'aan represents the Will of the Most High and contains everything to meet our moral and spiritual requirements, a new revelation would be useless repetition and redundant.
History tells us that Muhammad (On whom be salaam) was the only Prophet who saw his mission fulfilled in his own lifetime. This success was due to no other cause than the Qur'aan. Its injunctions swept off most deep-rooted evils like idolatry and drunken-ness; it left no trace of them in the Arabian peninsula. It welded the warring elements of Arabian society into one nation and made an ignorant people the foremost torch-bearers of knowledge and science. In fact, every word of the Qur'aan gives expression to Divine majesty and glory in a manner not approached by any other sacred book. Hence the challenge of the Holy Qur'aan remains unanswered to this day. (2: 23, 10: 38, 11: 13, 17: 88).
"And if ye are in doubt as to what we have revealed from time to time to our Servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto: and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides God, if your (doubts) are true:
"But if ye cannot, and of a surety ye cannot, then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones which is prepared for those who reject faith." (2: 23, 24). See also 10: 38, 11: 13 and 17:88.