The Blessed Prophet Muhammad: A Mercy to Mankind
Ayesha Ahmad, March 1, 2006
JOURNEY TO PROPHETHOOD
As a youngster, the prophet was known to be honest, trustworthy, and upright in conduct. Once, tribal leaders disputed who should place a spe cial black stone in the holy place of worship, the Kaaba. Prophet Muhammad was consulted, and his suggestion to place the stone on a sheet whose edges be carried simultaneously by all tribal lead ers was accepted. Hence, a dis pute that almost led to bloodshed was peacefully resolved.
Such experiences developed in the prophet a concern to solve all problems of society. He often resorted to isolation in a cave near Makkah to meditate a solution for people’s problems.
Once while he was meditating in the cave, Angel Gabriel appeared to the prophet and asked him to read; this was the beginning of divine rev elation. The prophet was shaken up and returned home trem bling, and asked his wife to cover him. She comforted him by reminding him that God would never de base him because he was a man who upheld ties of kinship, helped the needy, partook in good deeds, and spoke the truth. She told her cousin Waraqah, a Christian who wrote the Gospel in Arabic and Hebrew, about what the prophet had seen and heard. After questioning the prophet, Waraqah confirmed that what he had seen and heard was the same Angel who brought rev elation to Moses. Then Waraqah warned the prophet that he would be exiled by his tribe just as all messengers of God were re buked by their people.
Revelation, as predicted by Waraqah, was unwelcome by many chieftains in Makkah, leading to torture and per secution of those who accepted it. This revelation disowned the tradition al worship of many gods and called people to worship one God. To the Makkans, refusal to worship their many sculpted gods was blasphemy, so they sought to eradicate the blasphemers.
Some of the prophet’s followers sought ref uge in Abyssinia. Meantime, the prophet and his remaining followers were exiled to an existence of famine outside Makkah.
Afterwards, God revealed to the prophet to migrate with his followers to Madinah, where people had started submitting to one God. There, Makkans warred with the Muslims. Through Muslim victories, much of Arabia became convinced of the truth in Muhammad’s prophethood and became Muslim. The Muslims gained enough strength to return to Makkah, and after peacefully conquering their home land, designated the Kaaba as a place of worship to one God.
AS A FRIEND
Characterized by a smiling face and the eagerness to give but not receive, the prophet was the first to greet his friends, and the last to let go off their hands when shaking them.
Due to their love and respect of him, his companions liked to give him special at tention which the prophet shunned. If his companions stood up upon his arrival he said "Do not stand up for me as do the non-Arabs;" reminding them that he was a humble servant of God, who ate and sat in the same manner as everyone else.
Although the prophet refused special attention like people asking to kiss his hand because he classified that as non-Arab attitude towards royalty, he would honor even a slave’s invitation to a meal and eagerly accept it.
Defying all reserves of class, status, race, and wealth, the prophet interacted with people in an open and relaxed manner so much so that even children, and down trodden members of society felt free to approach him.
Children found a true friend in the prophet as he would kiss them and pick them up in his arms and take complete interest in their interests. A child had a little bird that he cherished, and because the prophet was friends with children too, when the bird died, the prophet, asked the child "Abu Umair, what has happened to your little sparrow (nughair)". Once he was asked why he stayed so long in prayer bowing down, he simply answered that "My grandson rode my back and I hate hastening him".
Prophet Muhammad’s exemplary moral character allowed him to have a special place in the hearts of all who knew him. His wife Ayesha (RAA) upon being asked of the prophet’s morals answered "His morals are the Quran."
Not only was the prophet loyal to his friends in their presence, but when they were absent he disallowed others to back bite them. Honorable conduct towards all was an eminent characteristic of the proph et which made everyone feel that he or she was the most honored by the prophet. The prophet addressed his friends by their surnames with honor and gave surnames to those who had none.
In return for his friendship, the prophet wanted only God’s pleasure, nothing else.
AS A SOCIAL REFORMER
Certain ailments of the society where Prophet Muhammad grew up took a heavy toll on his conscience, so he sought for a solution to all the problems facing the people of Makkah, Arabia, and beyond.
The prophet was against the idol worship practiced by Arabs. Abolishment of this practice was the first social reform as people accepted the monotheistic mes sage of Islam. Loyalties to tribal chiefs, kith, and kin became secondary to the loyalty to God’s word and commandments. Hence came about a just social system that regarded honorable conduct as means of progression. Rights were bestowed to the oppressed and weak, namely women, orphans, the poor, and slaves. A new trend of liberating slaves commenced with the arrival of Islam, which allowed power and respect to become the right of every person, instead of a few.
In Madinah, the prophet drew up a constitution which assured non-Muslim minorities of a safe and prosperous ex istence within the Muslim community. This became a model for future Muslim governments in countries where Islam became prevalent. Alcohol and interest on loans was abolished by Islam. Charity was encouraged not only as purification of one’s soul but also as a substitute for inter est, allowing the needy full protection and benefits from the community as well as the government. Exploitation of slaves and women, as well as prostitution, suicide, and the burying of female infants were all forbidden by Islam. Men and women were taught to respect life as a blessing from God and devote it to the spiritual, physical, and material improvement of present and future generations.
Schools became abundant and the devo tion to knowledge became a new trend in society. Attaining knowledge was an order by God in the Qur’an, so every person became learned according to his or her capacity and means.
This slowly created a thriving civilization of spiritual, material, scientific, and artistic grandeur.
AS A HUSBAND
Prophet Muhammad was the ideal husband. His relations with his wives were those of mutual love, respect, and kindness. He instructed his fol lowers that,"Among the Muslims, the most perfect in his faith is the one whose character is excellent, and the best among you are those who treat their wives well."
The prophet repaired his own clothing, performed household chores like sweep ing and milking of goats, and did his own shopping, He also looked after widows and the needy people in society.
The prophet respected the interests of his wives and treated them according to their level of understanding. For example, he would race with Ayesha (RAA), the young est of his wives, and encourage her to play with her dolls with her friends. One day, there was an Abyssinian team playing sports in Medinah, and the prophet asked Ayesha if she wanted to watch. She watched from behind the Prophet’s shoul der until she lost interest in the game.
Since he received divine revelation in all matters, Prophet Muhammad did not need to consult with others. Despite not having to, he consulted his wives in important decisions to set an example for husbands. For instance, during the truce of Hudaiybah, the Makkans refused the Muslims entry into the sacred precincts of Makka (which were open to all pilgrims) for performing the Hajj (yearly pilgrim age). Prophet Muhammad consoled the pilgrims to accept this refusal, sacrifice their animals, and take off their pilgrim attire (post-pilgrimage rites) as if they had already performed the pilgrimage. The Muslims in their distress resisted. The prophet consulted his wife Umm Sulaymah (RAA) and followed her advice to sacrifice his own animal and remove his pilgrim attire. Immediately thereupon, the pilgrims followed his example.
The prophet’s wives once had a choice to separate from the prophet with ample means to live a life of luxury, or continue living with the prophet in a humble life style. All chose the latter. Each wife con sidered separation from him as a source of unbearable grief. Upon his death, his wives wept in grief until their own depar ture from the world.
During his lifetime, the prophet invested time and effort in the intellectual, spiritual, and moral development of his wives. They preferred a heavenly abode in para dise over worldly riches, and thereby with him, and after his demise, they devoted their entire lives to the moral, spiritual, and intellectual uplifting of mankind.
PROPHETHOOD IN ISLAM
It is an article of faith for Muslims believe in and re spect all the messengers of God with no exceptions. Since all the prophets came from the same One God, for the same purpose - to lead mankind to God - belief in them all is essential and logical.
The most esteemed by people in conduct is selected by God to deliver his message to mankind. People know the prophet’s character, lineage and past, which sets their hearts at ease towards accepting his message.
When a prophet is selected by God, God bestows upon the prophet the ability to show certain miracles to people as being a true prophet of God. A true prophet knows about and confirms the teachings of earlier prophets proving a common lineage of prophetic mission.
A prophet’s mission is to invite people to worship God and remind them of their purpose on earth. Prophets are clear on the nature of God and his characteristics, and what He desires of His creations, and easily relate this knowledge to people. They also provide information about an unseen world of Angels, Satan and his helpers, and life after death. In addition, they provide God’s guidelines on good and bad conduct and consequent reward or punishment in this world and the hereafter. Hence, prophets teach God’s revelation establishing moral societies.
Prophets are infallible to major sins (e.g. theft, adultery, murder, fornication). In regards to minor sins due to forgetting and erring, prophets are not allowed to persist in these. For example, Adam ate the forbidden fruit but was given guidance by God and not allowed to persist in sinning. Hence prophets are immediately corrected by God (if they inadvertently commit a sin) and turn to God in repen tance, achieving forgiveness and continu ity of a character free from wants.