The Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace!) came into the world when the human race was sunk in despair. He came at a time when the world needed him most. He came to free man from the shackles of superstition, bigotry and lawlessness. A cursory glance at the conditions prevailing in the known world at the time will reveal startling instances of human behaviour. There was the already decadent Byzantine Empire on the one hand with its fading glory and the empire of Khusraw of Persia on the other vying with each other for territorial supremacy.
Prior to the Islamic Dispensation the divinely revealed books of Allaah Almighty had been so mercilessly distorted and interpolated that it was in no position to give moral and spiritual guidance to humanity - and thus, at such a moment in history Muhammad (on whom be peace!), the Glory of the Ages, was born. The promise Almighty Allaah had made to the Prophet Ebrahim had been fulfilled at last.
As a child the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace!) displayed qualities rare for anyone living in Arabia at the time. He became orphaned at a very early age and was thus very solicitous of the poor, the indigent and the orphan. He was known for his honesty and truthfulness and, because of this, he was given the appellation of “Al-Amin” (the Trustworthy), by the Qureish tribe to which he belonged. Even before his call to prophethood Muhammad (on whom be peace!) manifested those sterling qualities which were going to characterise him to posterity; those same qualities which were even acknowledged by his most inveterate enemies.
Muhammad (on whom be peace!) would be seen walking through the streets of Makkah in the late hours of the night on his way to the mountain, as was his wont, to go and meditate there and to think about the practices of his people. His sensitive soul would yearn towards some nebulous Infinite Source for an answer - but there was no answer. He felt very deeply and saw the wrongs of his people and this saddened him no end.
His Call to Prophethood
On the fortieth year of his birth Muhammad (on whom be peace!) received his first revelation from God in a series of dramatic and terrifying events. The conviction of an undeniable Truth burned fiercely within him and he started to preach his message.
But what is nothing short of a miracle is the fact that the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace!) was unlettered he had not received any formal education and yet, he was the undisputed fountainhead of all learning. This startling fact is made clear by Allaah Himself, when He says in Suraah 29 verse 48:
“And thou hast not been reciting any Book before it, nor has thou written it with thine right hand; for then the followers of falsehood would have occasion for doubt.”
This verse leaves no doubt in the minds of anyone that the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace!), was directly instructed by Almighty Allaah Himself - he was under direct Guidance from On High.
The Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace!) demurred not from his belief and his Message. He preached to his people, exhorting them to leave off their idolatrous practices and submit to the One True God. Besides a meagre handful of followers, the people of Makkah refused to forego their accustomed ways and began to persecute the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace!). He continued to preach and to teach and continuously he was being persecuted by the people of Makkah. He did not curse his enemies or those who vilified him; on the contrary, he would say:
“I have not come to curse but came as a mercy and blessing unto all mankind.”
The glad tidings he presented and the lessons he taught found access to but a few willing hearts and after thirteen years of arduous and continuous preaching Muhammad (on whom be peace!)’ was forced, by circumstances, to migrate to the City of Madinah, there to establish the Islamic Empire.
Not for one moment did the Prophet (on whom be peace!) forget who he was; not for one moment did he forget his Message and his Mission and not for one moment did he forget his God. He continued to receive a series of revelations from Allaah Almighty and he continued to invite the people to Islam.
There is nothing mysterious in the life of Muhammad (on whom be peace!). He came with a Message and he presented it. He started a Mission and he continued it. The Prophet’s (on whom be peace!) life can be defined simply and unambiguously into three basic aspects: the Education or the conveying and teaching of the Message; Tazkiyah, or the purification of the individual and the community, and Hikmah, the Wisdom and its utilization in the affairs of human beings. Not only were these basic components taught or preached by the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace!) but they were practically demonstrated by him.
God’s last Apostle, the Communicator and Exemplar of His final Revelation, the Mercy upon the Worlds, the harbinger of hope for humanity, a paragon of virtue, the Perfect Man - Muhammad (may God bless him!) was all these and more. Muhammad’s mission (on whom be peace!) has been best described in the Holy Qur’aan by Allaah Himself:
“0 Prophet! Verily We have sent thee as a witness and beacon of glad tidings and a warner, And a summoner unto God by His Command and an illuminating Light”. (Chapter 33, verses 33, 45-46).
It was Muhammad who struck the decisive blow at Polytheism and upheld the Principle of Unity of the universe and of mankind. A revolution of ideas was wrought in a society divided by prejudices of tribe and clan and the distinctions of race and colour. The Mission of Muhammad (on whom be peace!) declares that all men descended from the same origin, thus establishing the unity of mankind and destroying the hated tyranny of racial prejudice. The Prophet himself said:
“Whosoever raise the call for tribalism is not one of us. Whoever fights in the name of tribalism is not one of us.”
Muhammad (on whom be peace!) carried out the injunctions of the Holy Qur’aan to the letter and to the spirit - he did not question his God for one moment, Indeed, his unbounded enthusiasm burned deeper and deeper with each fresh revelation to establish the Word of God on earth. The vicious fallacy flung at Muhammad (on whom be peace!) by his detractors that Islam was spread by the sword has no foundation - God Himself declares:
“There is no compulsion in Religion: What is right is distinct from what is wrong. Thus whoever disbelieves in the false Gods and believes in God, hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks”. (2.256).
And yet again:
“If one of the pagans asks thee for asylum grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of God and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge “. (IX, Tauba, 69).
“This”, declares Syed Kutb, “is the zenith of tolerance which humanity still strives for in many countries. It is sufficient to note that in the Communist world there is no place for the Communist, yet Communism is simply an ideology, not a religion. The bleak land of Siberia, and the dark depth of prisons, the massacres and the purges, sit in waiting for those who do not believe in Marx, Lenin and Stalin - though they are human beings created by God.”
The Holy Prophet’s life is an ever unfailing example for us in today’s world it would be almost unbelievable to conceive of such a person walking God’s earth. Muhammad (on whom be peace!) had been charged as being an imposter, we can only say that no man on earth, in his own lifetime, was ever held to be so perfect; and that dead, his daily life still furnishes canons of behaviour to which millions of Muslims the world over adhere. And yet the extremists go so far as to say that this man was not only a fraud but an epileptic, even a lunatic, and that the Revelations were the crazy outpourings of a raving maniac.
Is it possible for any sane being to conceive of Muhammad (on whom be peace!) and his divine Mission as fraudulent, a mere invention of his fancy or the whims of a madman? Can anyone really imagine that the career of the Holy Prophet was one of sustained, undeviating hypocrisy? Would a hypocrite have been willing to suffer as he did, and could he have lived and died for the noblest cause of all - the uplifting of humanity - out of sheer obstinacy? Was it for reasons as base as this that the Holy Prophet found the strength to endure all manner of hardship and privation, that he submitted to the jeers of his kinsmen, was compelled to abandon hearth and home, and was persecuted? Could an impostor have resolved upon a course in the teeth of all opposition? And could the record of deeds and sayings of a lunatic continue to be a source of inspiration in the daily lives of so vast a number of followers?
No answer is needed beyond the words of the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) himself, that he came to preach and to warn and that nothing could make him deviate from his purpose –
“should they array against me and put the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left, yet while God should command me, I will not renounce my purpose.”
The entire human race today stands sadly in need of guidance. The Ummah have been blessed with this Guidance, but –
“there are none so blind as those who will not see and none so deaf as those who will not hear.”
Have we then become so indifferent and so insensitive to our great heritage? Can we so callously discard the heart-rending and eloquent exhortations of our great preceptor Muhammad (on whom be peace)? Have we, as Muslims, become so obnoxiously inferior that we belittle even our great and glorious heritage? Was it for fun that the great Prophet (on whom be God’s Blessings!) suffered so endlessly day in and day out? Was it for a name that the four great Khalifs sacrificed what was dear to them for the cause of Islam? And was it for similar reasons that the other great champions of Islam gave their lives?
In the Name of God and everything that is sacred and good and just, let us think about what we are doing -let us take stock of ourselves and let us ask that burning question:
“What must I do.”
Muhammad (on whom be peace!) has left behind the blueprint for action. His Mission needs to be continued and we, the ‘Ummah of Rasool-e-Karim Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, will have to do it. We owe it to ourselves, to our children and the generations to come to establish what is good on this earth and to eradicate, with all the force and the resources at our command, whatever is evil.
May Allaah and His Prophet (on whom be peace!) be pleased with our actions! “May Allaah Almighty shower His Richest and Choicest Blessings on Muhammad, (on whom be peace!), on his family and on his Companions”.