Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
A Mercy for the Worlds
As Thomas Carlyle, the author of Heroes and Hero-worship admits, “The lies which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only.”
So let us see who Muhamamd (pbuh) really was, what was it about this man that he is accepted as the greatest sample of humanity by friends and foes alike. So many aspects of greatness did he cover, so many roles did he excel at, that it is difficult to summarize a lifetime of character in a few lines.
K. S. Ramakrishna Rao a professing Hindu, writes in his book ‘Muhammad, The Prophet of Islam’, “There is Muhammad, the Prophet. There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Reformer; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Refuge of orphans; Muhammad, the Protector of slaves; Muhammad, the Emancipator of women; Muhammad, the Judge; Muhammad, the Saint. All, in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero.” Not a god, nor supernatural, not an angel nor omnipresent nor all-knowing, he was simply the servant of God and His Messenger. In the words of Edward Gibbon and Simon Ockley, in the ‘History of the Saracen Empire’, “I believe in one God, and Mahomet, the Apostle of God,’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol: the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue: and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”
In his book Michael H Hart ranked Mohammed first in the list of people who contributed towards the benefit and uplift of mankind:
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.” (M.H. Hart, THE 100: A RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS IN HISTORY, New York, 1978)
The world has had its share of great personalities. But these were one-sided figures who distinguished themselves in but one or two fields, such as religious thought or military leadership. The lives and teachings of these great personalities of the world are shrouded in the mist of time. There is so much speculation about the time and place of their birth, the mode and style of their life, the nature and detail of their teachings and the degree and measure of their success or failure that it is impossible for humanity to reconstruct accurately the lives and teachings of these men. Not so with Muhammad (pbuh).
Lamar Tine, the renowned historian, speaking on the essentials of human greatness wonders: “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with 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 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 souls…. His forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; His endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; All these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma 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; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words. Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images, the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is MUHAMMAD. As regards all the standards by which Human Greatness may be measured, we may well ask, IS THERE ANY MAN GREATER THAN HE?” (Alphonse de Lamar tine, HISTOIRE DE LA TURQUIE, Paris, 1854,Vol.II)
A Nation Transformed
Equality and Brotherhood
The famous poetess of India, Sarojini Naidu says: “It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: ‘God Alone is Great’… I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother”. (IDEALS OF ISLAM, vide Speeches & Writings, Madras, 1918)
This is the miracle that history witnessed in Madina, when the Prophet migrated from his homeland of Makkah with his followers after facing severe persecution for proclaiming his message. The homeless migrants were united in a historical bond of brotherhood with the Madinites. The love, sacrifice, help and kindness that the emigrants received from these surrogate brothers went beyond the norms of human capacity. They shared everything that they possessed, their properties, houses and incomes with their brothers in faith. Our present world has so much to learn from this history if we are to survive peacefully together.
It was Islam alone which first achieved an almost complete abolishment of slavery without passing a single bill or law. Thousands of slaves were freed at a time when slavery was the norm. These slaves were not just freed to face further discrimination in society but due to the moral education of the entire society, these very slaves went on to become scholars of Islam, commanders of Muslim armies and lived at par with their counterparts. This is all well documented in Islamic history. Prophet Muhammad appointed a black slave, Bilal to the office of proclaiming Adhaan 5 times a day calling Muslims to prayer. At the time of the last pilgrimage that the Prophet made to the Ka’aba, the holiest place in the Islamic world, this black freed slave stood on the roof of the Ka’aba and called out the Azaan. People of the caliber of Umar, known historically as Umar the Great, the 2nd caliph of Islam would welcome Bilal whenever he saw him saying, “Here comes our master, here comes our lord.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told Bilal that he had heard his footsteps in Paradise in a dream, thus giving him glad tidings of Paradise. This was complete equality, in this world and the next, based not on colour, creed or status, but on the level of piety. Compare this to how the black people are treated by the civilized white races of today, how even after centuries of struggle, they have not attained equal rights everywhere or atleast not in the hearts of their fair-skinned counterparts.
In the words of Prof. Hurgronje, “The league of nations founded by the prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity and human brotherhood on such universal foundations as to show candle to other nations.” He continues: “The fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done towards the realization of the idea of the League of Nations.” Every year the world witnesses this amazing spectacle of unity and equality when millions of Muslims gather from all over the world for pilgrimage at the Kaa’ba. Leaving behind all worldly identities of race, colour and rank, this universal family of Europeans, Africans, Indians, Persians and Chinese all merge into one body, clad in white, bare-headed, throbbing with the pulse that unites them, “Here I am, O God; at Thy command; Thou art One and the Only One; Here I am.”
Diwan Chand Sharma wrote, “Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him.” (D.C. Sharma, THE PROPHETS OF THE EAST, Calcutta, 1935)
Mahatma Gandhi said about Muhammad’s (saw) character, “I wanted to know the best of one who holds today’s undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became more than convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the 2nd volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life.”
Ruler of Hearts
Reverend Bosworth Smith remarks, “Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a body guard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for all the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”
Encyclopedia Britannica confirms, “A mass of detail in the early sources show that he was an honest and upright man who had gained the respect and loyalty of others who were like-wise honest and upright men.” (Vol. 12)
The Last Messenger
Even a hostile critic like Sir William Muir admits, “There is probably in the world no other book which has remained 12 centuries (now 14 centuries) with so pure a text.”
Let us Uphold Truth and Justice
Islam – A Legacy to the World
George Bernard Shaw said, “I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.” He also said, “I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” (Sir George Bernard Shaw in ‘The Genuine Islam,’ Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.)
To say that Islam was spread by the sword is the greatest of myths. On an average, the Muslims ruled Arabia for 1400 years. Yet today, there are 14 million Arabs who are Coptic Christians i.e. Christians since generations. If the Muslims had used the sword there would not have been a single Arab who would have remained a Christian.
The noted historian De Lacy O’Leary writes in the book “Islam at the cross road”: “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.”
Carlyle bids the world to listen, “The word of such a man (Muhammad) is a voice direct from nature’s own heart; men do and must listen to that, as to nothing else; all else is wind in comparison…”
- “Muhammad, The Prophet of Islam” by K S Ramakrishna Rao
- “Answers to non-Muslims’ common questions about Islam” by Dr Zakir Naik
- “You should know this man” – WAMY Series on Islam
- “Don’t be fooled, this isn’t an issue of Islam versus Secularism” by Robert Fisk
- “Muslims and the West: A culture war?” by John L Esposito, Professor at Georgetown University