THE Quran says: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things” (33:40).
The Prophet (PBUH) received the Quran over a period of 23 years and communicated the same to his people amidst oppression and tyranny. His companions bore physical and emotional brutalities and were forced out of their homes in Makkah to migrate to Madina. Here, upon receiving instructions from God, the Prophet fought several battles with the Quraysh, finally returning to Makkah to perform Haj at the same Kaaba from which he and his companions had been banished.
His leadership qualities during times of war and peace were extraordinary. He is proclaimed as one of the greatest strategists and has influenced the lives of countless people all over the world. For military and public decisions, he always consulted his companions and took their advice based on consensus.
Unlike other prophets, including Jesus and Moses, details of his personal life are relatively better known. His words and actions have been transmitted through generations of Muslims, documented by muhaddithin and compiled in books of ahadith. When asked about what the Prophet was like, Hazrat Ayesha said that he was the Quran personified.
The Prophet (PBUH) was the Quran personified.
The Quran says: “...For Allah hath indeed sent down to you a Message, — a Messenger, who rehearses to you the Signs of Allah containing clear explanations, that he may lead forth those who believe and do righteous deeds from the depths of Darkness into Light. ...” (65:10-11). The Quran, in fact, is the truest biography of the Prophet.
Among Muslims and objective non-Muslims, there is no argument on what he stood for: truth, integrity and the rights of the weak and oppressed. French writer Alphonse de Lamartine said: “As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?” According to author Reverend Bosworth Smith, “…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 bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue, if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right Divine, it was Mohammad; for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports”.
But it is American writer Washington Irving who describes his person best: “He was sober and abstemious in his diet, and a rigorous observer of fasts. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints ... in the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. … he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial of respect were shown to him.” Karen Armstrong describes him as a man of mercy and a reformer.
The Prophet was born on a Monday, which is why he fasted on this day. He treated women and men equally. He spent much of his time either in prayer or listening to and advising others. He loved children and helped his wives in housework. As it is reported in ahadith, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it” (Bukhari).
In every walk of life and in every role which he played — as leader, husband, father, relative, friend — his example is the best example. He married, had a family and lived and worked as a trader among his people. He faced personal problems, poverty, hunger and the harshest of conditions. He treated his enemies with great patience, showed them mercy and ensured that prisoners of war were taken care of. He instructed people to be kind to all living beings and use resources wisely. His wisdom was second to none.
Muslims around the world love the Prophet and consider his sunnah as binding upon them. They need to ponder whether this desire to emulate him should be reflected in honesty, kindness and compassion, or in processions, rhetorical speeches and slogans. Indeed, would our Prophet not be displeased were he to know that our legislators had decided to travel on state expense to Madina for his birthday celebrations, and simultaneously given themselves a hefty pay raise, while poor labourers toil for years to make ends meet?
The personal legacy of the Prophet — selflessness, simplicity and love of fellow beings — has been forgotten amidst hypocrisy in the race for power and wealth.
The writer is a freelance contributor with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2016