Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Muhammad (sallAllaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)
What they say about Muhammad (sallAllaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)
He was never seen discussing the principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economics or sociology. No doubt he possessed an excellent character and charming manners and was known to be highly cultured. Yet there was nothing so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him that would make men expect something great and revolutionary from him in the future. But when he came out of the Cave of Hira, with a new message, he was completely transformed. “Is it possible for a person known to
possess an upright and unblemished character, to suddenly turn ‘an impostor’ and claim to be the Prophet of God?”.
It is well known that his claim invited the rage of his people, and marked the beginning of a long, arduous struggle. One might ask: “for what reason did he suffer all those hardships?”
His people offered to accept him as their King and to lay all the riches of the land at his feet if only he would leave the preaching of his message. But he turned down their alluring offers and continued to preach in the face of insults, social boycott and even physical assault.
Furthermore, had he come with a design of rivalry with the Christians and the Jews, why should he have believed in Jesus Christ and Moses and other Prophets of God (peace be upon them), which is a basic requirement of faith without which no one could be a Muslim?
It is well known that Muhammad (p) was unlettered and had led a very uneventful life before he announced his mission to the world at the age of forty. Is it not an incontrovertible proof of his Prophet-hood, that despite being unlettered, all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder when he began preaching his message, and was bewitched by the wonderful eloquence of his message? The whole legion of Arab poets, preachers and orators of the highest caliber failed to bring forth the equivalent of the Qur’an, which remains inimitable to this day. And above all, how could he then pronounce truths of scientific nature contained in the Qur’an that no human being could possibly have discovered at that time?
Last, but not the least, why did he lead a hard life even after gaining power and authority?
The words he uttered while dying were: “We the community of the Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity.”
As a matter of fact, Muhammad (p), is the last link of Prophets sent in different lands and times since the beginning of the human life on earth.
“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, legislations, 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 impostor but to a firm conviction which gave
him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold, 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 standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?” [Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie, Paris 1854 Vol. II, pp. 276-77.]
“It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder; the same pure and perfect impression that he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran… The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. ‘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 honors 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.” [Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay, History of the Saracen Empire, London 1870, p. 54.]
“He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports.” [Bosworth Smifu, Mohammad and Mohammadanism. London 1874, p. 92.]
“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” [Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras 1932,
“His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.” [W. Montgomery, Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford, 1953, p. 52.]
“Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five his employer, recognizing his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived remained a devoted husband.
Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded ‘Read’. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth; “There is one God”.
In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumors of God’s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being’.
Imagine that someone at the office says that God speaks to him. At first we may think that he is not really serious. If he persists, we may wonder if he is truly sane. Or, could he be simply mischievous, trying to get us all worked-up over nothing? Or, might he be mendacious, lying for personal gain?
When Muhammad claimed that he is the Messenger of God his people were caught in the same quandary. They had to make a decision about him: if God really spoke to him they ought to listen to God’s message; and if God did not really speak to him, he had to be either mad or mendacious. For some people, it was easy to decide. They had known Muhammad personally for a long time. He was neither insane nor mendacious. On the contrary, they had recognized him for his wisdom and truthfulness.
For others, it was not easy to decide, especially at first. Nor was it easy to ignore him. The message he said he was receiving from God questioned the validity of their tribal religions and their social customs. In terms of religion, the message, in a nutshell, was that their numerous idols were worthless, that there exists only One God who alone deserves to be worshipped; and that God will resurrect us after we die. In terms of social customs, the message defended the rights of the poor, the oppressed, the widows, orphans, and servants.
The message condemned female infanticide, drunkenness, and lawlessness. According to the message, we must face God’s judgment for such social evils.
Some of Muhammad’s contemporaries brushed him off as being mad. Some accused him of lying. Some accused him of both, though it seems unlikely that he was both. For, if a man is mad then he does not really know what he is saying; and if he is lying, he knows precisely what he is saying. Many demanded that Muhammad perform miraculous signs and wonders to prove that God is with him. But his simple reply was that the logic and rationality of his teachings was proof enough of its worth, and, if one really wanted a miracle then the message itself, the Quran, is the ultimate miracle.
From the perspective of the Quran, the biggest lie is for someone to say that God revealed a message to him if this were not true. Moreover, the Quran has God speaking these words of Muhammad:
(This is) a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds. And if the messenger were to invent any sayings in Our name, We should certainly seize him by his right hand, And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart . . . (Quran 69:43-46).
Though not a Muslim, Michael Hart, in his book
The fact that Muhammad was so supremely successful immediately rules out for us the suggestion that he was a madman. But was he mischievous or mendacious? Historians of his life, both Muslims and non-Muslims, cannot avoid the conclusion that Muhammad was sincere in what he preached. He really believed that he was getting a message from God. William Montgomery Watt in his book, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, writes:
To carry on in the face of persecution and hostility would have been impossible for him unless he was fully persuaded that God had sent him; and the receiving of revelations was included in his divine mission.
Elaborating further in the same book, Watt writes: “There is thus a strong case for holding that Muhammad was sincere” (p. 232). He explains:
Only a profound belief in himself and his mission explains Muhammad’s readiness to endure hardship and persecution during the Meccan period when from a secular point of view there was no prospect of success.
Watt’s confident attestation of Muhammad’s sincerity rules out for us the suggestion that Muhammad was mischievous or mendacious. What then remains of our analysis? We should, therefore, logically conclude that he was a messenger of God.
We might initially ignore the guy in the office who claims that God speaks to him. But if he eventually rises to a position of great authority and influence while continuing to claim that God speaks to him we will soon have to take him seriously, just as Muhammad’s contemporaries were forced to do so. It soon became evident to more and more people that Muhammad was neither mad nor mendacious, and therefore must be a messenger of God.
A similar choice faces us today, and the logic remains the same. We may not have known much about Muhammad to be able to decide the question as to what manner of man was he. Or we may have ignored him for too long. We may have chosen to criticise him as a madman or a lying imposter. But the more we examine his life and his teachings the closer we get to the conclusion that he could not have been mad or lying, and therefore that he was truly a messenger of God.