Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) Our Leader
By Dr. Ebrahim Kazim
We do not know how many billions of years ago, Allaah fashioned a human being out of clay and called him Adam. It was so long ago that we do not know with certainty whether Adam (a.s.) had teething difficulties, or whether he had a belly button (navel) or not. Of course, he was a Muslim, although the religion of Islam was not perfected at that time. But it is only 1400 years ago that a baby was born to Bibi Aamina, and was named Muhammad. This baby was just like any one of our own. Through infancy into adulthood and the rest of his life, he passed through difficult and traumatic experiences, and adverse circumstances, losing his father Abdullah even before he was born; being brought up in the desert by his foster-mother Haleema, and then losing his mother Aamina at the age of six; and then losing his guardian-grand-father at the age of eight. Throughout life, he strived hard, very hard indeed, and qualified himself at the age of forty as the most perfect human being ever to have inhabited this planet, and therefore, he was chosen by Allaah to become the last and final Prophet, with the title of Muhammad Mustapha, (Mustapha meaning chosen). Here is a man who started with nothing as a baby, but became someone very, very special, someone the like of whom never walked on this earth before and will never walk on this earth again.
The importance of this greatest man on earth could be verified by the fact that his name is pronounced soon after Allaah’s name during the Azaan (call to prayer) or whenever we recite the Shahaada (the first article of Faith):
“I bear witness that there is no diety except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger.”
He was so perfect that Allaah Himself is proud of this person that He created (Q. 33:56).
“Innallaaha wa Malaa ekatahoo yusalloona ‘alan Nabi, yaa Ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo, Salloo Alyhi wa Sallemoo tasleema.”
Allaah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet; O you who believe! send your blessings on him, and salute him with utmost respect.
The status of this greatest man on earth has been summarised by Shailk Sa’dee of Shiraz, some 750 years ago on a single line, half Arabic/half Persian:
“Yaa saahibal Jamaal wa yaa siyyadal Bashar; ba’d az khudaa to ee, in qissa mukhtasar.”
O possessor of luminous beauty and O leader of mankind; after God is you,
this being the summary.
Because it is only 1400 years ago, we know nearly everything about the life of this personality. He was just a man like any other man, having passed through teething difficulties and possessing a navel. He worked for a living, living on dates and occasionally on bread and meat. This unpurchaseable man of solid character was not an angel but just another human being, with the same freedom of choice, freedom of will and freedom of action. Allaah says in (Q. 17:95). that He sends human beings to be guides and exemplars for human beings, and that He would have sent angels if angels were inhabiting the earth. This greatest man on earth stands unique among all the other great men the world has ever produced. This saviour of humanity transformed the barbaric warfare of the pagan Arabs into Jihad for the sake of Allaah only. He transformed the pagan Homo Jahiliyya into an intellectual Homo Islamicus. He built one collective community called the Muslim Ummah, with one system of behaviour and one set of laws for everyone, engineered by one book, Al-Qur’aan, the central theme of the Qur’aan being man himself, and by extension, mankind.
Here was a man who divided his time into three parts:- One for God, one for his family and one for himself, half of which was for others. He would walk much faster than what we call a normal pace. His steps were rather in quick succession. No wonder he carried Allaah’s message so far and wide, at such a brisk pace and in such a short and limited time. He left treasures of instructions by his word AND deed on EVERY aspect of human life: spiritual, moral, educational, economic, political, fairness in dealing as a businessman; love, affection and kindness as a husband and as a father; taught charity by distributing EVERYTHING that he received to the poor, and left nothing for his family except the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w. – sallal laahu alyhi wasallam, peace be upon him – p.b.u.h.), was not only a model, but also a guide, a teacher and an instructor, and also an exemplar for all humanity.
His character and conduct was fully put to the test by Allaah in many situations, and he came out successful with 100% marks in each trial, and therefore, he became a perfect example of a human being who had passed through various stages of life, and in every instance, he set the best example for us to follow, so much so that Allaah has advised us to follow the example of our Prophet (Q. 33:21).
Because of the excellent qualities that he acquired so arduously and with so much patience and perseverance over the years, Allaah appointed him as an exemplar to mankind.
He was also known as “Ashraful ambiya”, i.e. the most noble of all the prophets.
The difference between Muhammad and other prophets are:-
(1) How can one help the poor and the destitute if one returns to the lonely life in the jungle?
(2) How can anyone advise on martial relationships without being married and facing problems oneself?
(3) How can anyone set an example of forgiving enemies, without defeating and capturing them?
I would now like to mention a few milestones in his life.
(1) Because of his honesty, good reputation and courtesy, he had gained the title of Al-Ameen, i.e. the trustworthy. The gentle widow Khadeeja, 40 years old, by whom he was employed, proposed marriage to him when he was just 25 years old. The marriage was solemnised. This marriage lasted another 25 years until Khadeeja died. During Khadeeja’s time, Prophet (pbuh) never re-married.
(2) At the age of 40, when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was meditating in the cave of Heraa, a practice which he was accustomed to, he received a divine inspiration to preach Islam. One night during the holy month of Ramadan called Lailatul-Qadr, the angel Jibra-eel appeared to him in the form of a human being and addressing him said:
“Read”, and Prophet replied that he could not read. For the second time, the Angel said: “Read”, and Prophet again said that he could not read. For the third time, the Angel said: (Q.96:1-5) “Read, in the name of thy Lord Who created, created man out of a clot. Read and thy Lord is most bountiful. He Who taught by the pen, taught man which he knew not.”
His wife, Khadeeja, was the first person to whom he related his experience with Angel Jibra-eel. She immediately accepted him as a divine prophet of Allaah and took him to her cousin Waraqa who was a Biblical scholar. After hearing what had happened, Waraqa said that this was a divine message revealed to Muhammad and that Muhammad was chosen by Allaah to become a Prophet. From then on, revelations called wahy, kept coming from Allaah through Jibra-eel to Muhammad, and Muhammad was now enjoined to go and preach that there is NO God but Allaah, and that Muhammad is His Prophet, and that, after we die, Allaah will bring us back to life, and we shall have to account for our actions on earth. During his term of prophethood and the preaching of the message of Islam, Allaah put Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in various difficult situations of trials and tribulations, and in every test, our Prophet emerged successfully, so much so, that the religion of Islam was perfected during our Prophet’s life-time (Q. 5:3):-
“Alyowma akmaltu lakum deenakum…”,
and hence, Our Prophet is called Khaataman Nabiyyeen (Q. 33:40).
meaning “the last of the prophets”. (Qur’aan is derived from the word “Iqra”. “Iqra” means “Read, recite and understand”. Read for yourself; recite so that you would carry the message of Allaah to others so that others can hear you; and understand so that you can practice what you preach and be an exemplar yourself. Because of the word “Iqra” being the first ever command of Allaah to our Prophet (pbuh), Islam stresses on acquisition of knowledge. In every page of the Qur’aan, Allaah appeals to us to gain more knowledge.
(3) During the first 13 years of his prophethood, he was persecuted by the Meccans to such a degree that he even lost his rights as a citizen of Mecca. However, during this time, some Meccans became converts and devoted disciples. Some Medinese also embraced Islam, and propagated the new Faith in Medina. They also secretly invited our Holy Prophet (pbuh) with his companions to come to Medina. When conditions in Mecca became intolerable through persecutions, constant opposition and fear of death for our Prophet and his companions, he and his companion Abu Bakr journeyed from Mecca to Medina. This is called Hijra, which literally means, a break or separation. Though Hijra commonly denotes the physical emigration of our Prophet (pbuh) from Mecca to Medina, the Hijra has a far deeper significance, and that is the Hijra of the soul, where the human soul breaks itself away from sins and oppression and other undesirable practices, to enter an abode of peace and tranquility with its own self and with its surroundings. This event of Hijra took place on 12 of Rabi-ul-Awwal, corresponding to 24 September, 622 A.D., although some historians state that it was on 20th September, 622 A.D. which was a Monday. Our Prophet is reported to have said about Monday:
“On this day I was born, on this day I received my Prophetic mission and on this day I migrated.”
Hijra had far-reaching effects. On our Prophet’s arrival in Medina, the foundation for the bonding of the Muslim Ummah was laid. The great institution of brotherhood of Islam thus began. During the following 10 years in Medina, our Prophet continued to receive the Divine Revelations, which he preached and propagated, and it was through his perseverance, constancy and absolute Faith in Allaah, that ALL the people of Arabia FINALLY accepted Islam. He established social relations and principles of ethics among the Ummah, some of these being as follows:-
They share their wealth with the needy Q.51:19;
They deal justly with each other and do not allow themselves to deal unjustly even with those who bear enmity towards them, Q.5:8;
They help each other in doing good but refuse to co-operate in matters of sin and transgression ,Q.5:2;
They avoid insulting, backbiting, and unnecessary suspicions, Q.49:11-12;
They do not hesitate to use their wealth and even given up their lives for the cause and sake of Allaah,
They shun vain conversation, Q. 23:3;
He condemned those people who preached to others what they did not practice themselves. Q.61:2.
they were also to show the virtues of modesty, chastity, patience, bravery, cleanliness, truthfulness, straight talk when needed, kindness, compassion for the orphan, widow and weak; respect for parents; courteous behaviour, etc.
They remember Allaah in all their actions.
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not confined only to Arabia, but he sent emissaries to neighbouring countries inviting them to join the religion of God, i.e. Islam. Thus Islam spread far and wide.
(4) Just a few words about his last sermon. In the year 10 A.H. (A.H. means “After Hijra”), when he was 63 years old, and when the whole of Arabia had accepted Islam as a religion, our Holy Prophet (pbuh) set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca from Medina, followed by thousands of his followers, and again joined by thousands of his followers in Mecca. The ultimate triumph of truth had taken place. The Prophet pbuh, realised that his mission on this earth had been fulfilled. The last divine revelation came to him, Q.5:4:-
“Alyowma akmaltu lakum deenakum wa atmamtu ‘alykum ne’ matee wa radeetu lakumul Islama deena”;
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” On reading this sermon, tears come to our eyes. Our Prophet’s last words as he cried at the top of his voice was: “Oh Allaah, have I conveyed Your message?” and the valley resounded with the reply: “By Allaah, surely, you have.”
So, here is a person, a prophet and a messenger of Allaah, a founder of a nation and of an empire, whose examples and teachings have changed the lives of millions of people for the better. He was a religious leader, a social reformer, a moral guide, a political thinker, a military genius, an administrative colossus, a faithful friend, a wonderful husband, a loving father, all in one.
An important office that Muhammad (pbuh) has held is that Allaah appointed him as a GUIDE stationed on the STRAIGHT PATH called SIRATAL MUSTAQEEM. (Q. 42:52-53). No matter by which cross-roads or by which avenues we come to this Straight Path, we will find Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) waiting for us to GUIDE us. A few words about Siratal Mustaqeem (the Straight Path):-
We recite so many times daily in our prayers:
“Oh Allaah, guide us on the Straight Path”.
We don’t ask Allaah to show us the Straight Path, because Allaah has already shown us the Straight Path in black and white between the two covers of the Holy Qur’aan. We do not say “Arinass Siratal Mustaqeem”, i.e. “guide us on the Straight Path”. We are asking Allaah to guide all of us collectively, not me alone. This Association presently has a world-wide membership of over 1000 million people. Man alone by himself with his limited powers cannot solve ALL the problems of the community, since we belong to different professions; some may be doctors, some lawyers, some plumbers, and some unemployed. We NEED each other. This is the Muslim Ummah and we must stick together.
I would now like to give you the meaning of the Straight Path. A straight line is the shortest distance between any 2 points, say between man and Allaah. It is true that non-muslims also will return to Allaah eventually, but Muslims will return to Him by the shortest possible route, once they are on the Straight Path. This Straight Path has no angles, no corners, no curves and no crookedness. It is straight and therefore, the shortest route to Allaah. This straight line stands on FIVE pillars:
(a) the shahaada,
(b) Salaat or prayers,
(c) Zakaat or the compulsory poor due,
(d) Siyaam or the Islamic Fast, and
(e) Haj manis tataa’a i.e. pilgrimage if we can afford it.
(a) The Shahaada: We recite daily many times: “Ashhadu alla ilaaha illal laah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadar rasoolal laah”. Unfortunately, most of us translate this as: “We believe that there is no diety except Allaah and that Muhammad is His Messenger”. This is not the correct meaning of the Shahaada. If we use the word “believe”, immediately we create a doubt. If we say, we “believe” this person is a little taller than that person, immediately a doubt is created as to whether, in fact, he is a little taller than the other person or not. The true meaning of the Shahaada is
“I testify with irrevocable and firm conviction that there is NO deity except Allaah and that Muhammad is His Messenger.”
Let us see now how many of us have understood the meaning of this Shahaada. It is now maghrib (evening) and the sun has just set. It is time now for the evening prayers, but NO, we are still watching television. Why? Because, we LOVE the television MORE than we love Allaah. We have been watching T.V. for two hours but we do not want to spare five minutes to perform our evening prayers. This is because we love the programme, we love the hero/heroine more than we love Allaah. We see now that we have failed even in our first step in the Straight Path. We recited the Shahaada by the tongue but we did not actually mean it.
(b) Let us now talk about five times daily prayers when we can have an audience with Allaah. It is compulsory. We may say that we will only pray twice daily or three times daily. Fine! We will still be Muslims but we will remain at the bottom of the line, at the lowest rung of the ladder.
(c) Then, a few words about the negligible amount of 2.5% compulsory poor due, called Zakaat, which means to purify. We may say we don’t want to purify our wealth; we will keep our dirty money as is, and we don’t want to give any Zakaat. Fine! We will still remain as Muslims, but at the bottom rung of the ladder.
(d) About the Islamic Fast: We could bring a thousand and one excuses as to why we are not fasting. We may say that fasting is not permitted for travelers, and in this world, we are all travelers. Fine! We remain as Muslims but at the bottom rung of the ladder.
(f) Lastly, about the pilgrimage to Mecca whenever we can afford it: But as soon as we make the money, what do we do? We prefer to go to Disney World.
Now for those of us who have complied with the Shahaada, the 5five times daily prayers, with the 2.5% poor due, with the thirty days of fasting and with the pilgrimage. We are now ready to climb the second rung of the ladder on the Straight Path called Siraatal Mustaqeem.
What should be our qualifications in this second stage? In this stage, we must have good conduct and render service to mankind. We must share our time, our skills, our knowledge with our fellow-beings. By sitting in a corner of the house or the mosque and praying continuously for the balance of our lives, we have done NO service to our fellow-beings. Our contribution to the society is zero. In fact, the superpowers would be glad for it if we do nothing else but keep on praying night and day without sharing our skills and our scientific knowledge, so that we would remain subservient to them and be their slaves for all times. They may even pay us to continue praying night and day, and not to come out of the mosque. But Allaah says:-
“Surely, Allaah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition themselves.” Q. 13:11.
We should strive our utmost and leave the rest to God. We should accept the things we cannot change, and call it Taqdeer or destiny, since nothing is accidental. However, we must also ask God to give us the courage to change those wrongs that have no rights to exist in the society. Divine assistance is given not as a matter of course; it has to be earned by harmonising our will and actions with Allaah’s will. In this second stage of the Straight Path, we have to search for the poor people and we have to help the needy before they degrade themselves by raising their hands. Some of us wait until this situation arises, and only then, we put our hands in our pockets and give them a little money and shout “Take it and get out of here.” On the other hand, we must thank Allaah for having given us the opportunity to give. We must look out for the poor people and the needy, and give them food, clothes, money, medicines and whatever they need. That is not all. We must thank them for accepting our money and other items. Suppose the poor man says: “Look, I don’t need your money. Keep it and take it with you to your grave!” What have we achieved? Needless to say, that we pass through this life but once. So if we want to do some good, we must do it now and do not defer it, because we shall never pass this way again. And we must be reminded at all times, “He who gives while he lives, also knows where it goes.” Whatever charity we give should have no selfish motives nor any strings attached. We want to give charity to a beautiful widow. What are our intentions?
We now want to climb on the third rung of the ladder on the Straight Path. Allaah now asks the same question and gives us the answer in Ch. 90:12-17.
“And what will explain to you this uphill task, this steep ascent? It is to free the bondsman (the slave) or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship or to the indigent down in the dust; then they will be of those who have faith with firm and irrevocable conviction, and enjoin patience and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion.”
When we say “free a slave”, it does not mean we should go to Africa, buy a slave and free him. Those days are over. There are different types of slavery; economic slavery, political, social, industrial slavery. We may be a slave to our own wealth, to our own passions, to power, to drugs and to drug-lords, etc. We must liberate ourselves and our men and women from all kinds of slavery, and from all kinds of exploitation. Only when we have done this will we be counted among those who have firm Faith with irrevocable conviction, meaning that faith is not only on our tongues but it has entered and is firmly embedded in the deepest layers of our hearts. By liberating ourselves and our men and women from all kinds of slavery and all kinds of exploitation, we would be able to transform our Muslim Ummah into a most progressive one. And if we have done this, we are then ready to climb on the fourth rung of the ladder, and what is that?
The fourth stage is a rather difficult one. In this stage, we must develop the quality of I’thaar, meaning “preference”. In Q.59:9 of the Holy Qur’aan, we read that the Ansars of Medina gave preference to the needs of the fugitives (the Mujahideen of Mecca) even if poverty was their lot. In this stage, let us say that we have 2 shirts, a torn one for ourselves. This means that we are giving preference to the needs of the poor. Also, in this stage, we should wish good for our enemies also. We must make a good Du’aa or supplication for them. This becomes rather difficult, because daily, some of us make bad Du’aa; we wish evil for our friends and relatives who have done us so much good, we say:
“O Allaah, let their factory be burnt down; let their children be kidnapped or be blinded; let them die in a car accident or be crippled for life.
So, we see now how difficult it is to be on the fourth rung of the ladder on the Straight Path, because we have to wish good and also do good, not only for our friends and relatives, but also for our enemies. After having done that, we are now ready to climb higher and higher on this Straight Path leading to Allaah, and this involves greater, and still greater sacrifices. As we arrive nearer to Allaah (Swt) and His divine qualities, we become one of the Maqarraboon, i.e. the people nearest to Allaah. And what happens when we become one of the Maqarraboon and we meet Allaah, after we die? Then Allaah is going to greet us (Ch. 33:44)
“Assalamu’ Alaikum wa Rahmatul Laahi wa Barakaatu”
followed by Ch. 89:27-30:-
“O you serenely confident person. Return to your Lord well pleased and content in His good pleasure. Enter then among My devotees; enter My heaven.”
I would now like to briefly explain the meaning of some of the Arabic words commonly used to describe him:-
Muhammad: Sayyidal Kownayn – Leader of both the worlds, this life and the Hereafter.
Wath thaqalayn – Leader of men and Jinn
Wal fareeqayn, min ‘Arabenw wa men ‘Ajamee – Leader of both parties of Arabs and Non-Arabs.
Nabiyyul Haramayn – Messenger of both Harams, Mecca and Medina.
Imamul Qiblatayn – Imam of both Qiblas, Jerusalem and Mecca.
Saahebat taajay wal Me’raaj wal Buraaq wal ‘alam – Master of space voyage of Me’raaj, on Buraaq.
Saahebay Qaabay Qowsayn – Master of two cubits length.
Ismahoo maktoobum marfoo ‘un manqooshun fee lowhem mahfooz – His name is written in praiseworthy terms in the guarded tablet called LOWHOM MAHFOOZ.
Rahmatul lel ‘Aalameen – He was a mercy to mankind.
Our Prophet left for us the greatest miracle of all times, viz. the divine revlations found in the Holy Qur’aan, for guidance of mankind. I would like to quote only three of the sayings of our Prophet Muhammad (saw) about education:
“Talabol elm fareedaton ‘alaa kulli musum was muslima”:
Acquisition of knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim and Muslimah.
“Otlubil ‘elm minal mahdi elal lahd”:
Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.
“Otlubil ‘elm wa low bis seen”:
Seek knowledge, be it in China.
In praising our Holy Prophet Muhammad, during Mowlood functions, we usually recite a verse in Arabic, which summarises all the qualities of our Holy Prophet. This was composed by Shaikh Sa’dee and it runs thus:
“Balaghul ‘Ulla bi Kamaalihee: Kashafad duja bi Jamaalihee: Hasonat Jamee ‘o Khisaalehee: Salloo ‘Alyhi wa Aalehee”,
He attained the pinnacle of greatness with his perfection; he dispelled darkness with his beauty; excellent were all his qualities; shower your blessings on him and on his family.