To every Muslim on Earth, one of the most beloved personalities in his/her life is the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be unto him.
Prophet Muhammad (s) was born in Mecca about 570 CE. His father, Abdullah, belonged to the powerful tribe of Koreish, died before his birth. His mother died soon after leaving him orphaned at a young age of six. He was taken up by his grandfather Abd al Mutallib (ra) and after his death by his uncle Abu Talib (ra) who loved and protected him. From an early age, Prophet Muhammad (s) was a different child, subject to deep contemplation, inquiry and observation. Because of his inherent qualities of truthfulness and trustworthiness early in his youth he earned the title of Al-Amin.
For these qualities he was spotted by a rich widow, Khadija who hired him to be a manager for her business. These businesses thrived under the able management of Muhammad. Ultimately she married him. This marriage was to last for the lifetime of Khadija (ra) and Prophet (s) always admired and respected her, all his life.
During this period and at the age of 40, the first revelation came to Prophet (s). One time, while contemplating in a cave on Mount Hira he had a vision. The angel Jibril (Gabriel) (as) came to him and asked him â€œTo Readâ€¦â€¦â€™ The Prophet (s) was perplexed, as he did not know how to read. The angel said again to him: â€œReadâ€ When he did it for the third time he went on further: â€œ READ in the name of thy Sustainer, who has created â€“ created man out of a germ-cell! Read – for thy Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One, who has taught [man] the use of the pen â€“ taught man what he knew not!â€
These were the first verses of the Holy Qur`an. It was the word of God, sent to the Prophet (s) to convey to mankind.
He was very disturbed by this vision. He went home to his wife shaken by the experience. He then revealed his vision to his wife. She immediately became the first believer after him, accepting it was a Divine Message. The Prophet (s) thereafter continued to get these messages brought by the angel, and by this method the entire Qur`an was revealed.
Although Prophet (s) was unlettered, and never formally educated, the language of the Qur`an was unparalleled and it contained discourses on every aspect of a humanâ€™s life, giving rules and regulations for conduct with parents, spouses, children, relatives, with members of the community, even as between nations and countries.
Qur`an spelled out the laws of inheritance, the rights of individuals and communities, the conduct of war and peace. It also emphasized that this was not a new message but it had been sent down time and again through different prophets through the ages to remind humanity to do good and desist from evil, but that humanity had erred and repeatedly forgotten this message and this was now being sent down for the benefit of humanity, for the final time. Some prophets were named and included (to name a few) Adam, Suleman (Solomon), Yusuf (Joseph) Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) to name a few.
The ultimate message was simple. â€œThere was no God but one God and He was Allah, and Muhammad was his servant and Messengerâ€ (s) â€œGod alone was the creator of the Universe and the heavens He was alone worthy of worship.â€ â€œHe was going to be the Master of the day of reckoning and He alone would judge every human being according to the deeds performed during his/her lifetime and reward or punish him/her in the hereafter.â€
Prior to his death which he foresaw, he delivered a sermon on the mount of Arafaat. (Near Mecca): Wherein he stated:
â€œO People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that he will indeed reckon your deedsâ€¦â€¦..â€
â€œO People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allahâ€™s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste. O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadhan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am goneâ€¦â€¦.. â€
In days when there were no radios, telephones, televisions or telecommunications, this word (and the words in the Qur`an) spread like wild fire across the nations. They crossed boundaries and barriers of race, culture and language as if these did not exist, and spread the word of Islam across vast stretches of land and sea. People embraced Islam without coercion. The Qur`an emphatically states: â€œThere is no compulsion in religion..â€ (Baqara:256)
Within 200 years of the Prophetâ€™s (s) passing from this life, Islam had spread from Spain in the West to China in the east, from Mongolia in the north to the Sub Saharan Africa in the south. It emancipated and refined the wild peoples of the world, who had engaged in constant warring, idolatry, blood feuds, wanton killings, and the killng of children.
The Muslims became a nation that exhibited a high degree of civilization, education, culture, and social responsibility. Arts, Architecture and Science flourished and advanced, at a tremendous pace, to create a society that rivaled and surpassed all previous cultures and civilizations in history including the Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian and Zorastrian civilizations that had held sway for centuries before the advent of Islam. (Visit Muslimhertiage at : www.muslimheritage.com )
Among the reforms that Prophet (s) personally ushered in was the emancipation of women. Prior to Islam, in the age of ignorance (jahilliya) it was common practice amongst the Bedouin Arabs to sacrifice and bury alive their daughters.Women were regarded as chattels to be passed on as inherited property. All that changed. Womenâ€™s dignity was given by Prophet (s) and Islam. Human sacrifice was outlawed and forbidden. A woman could own property, inherit and have shares in her parents, husband and childrenâ€™s inheritance. She had the right to divorce her husband on grounds of ill treatment and have alimony and child support.
Many statesmen, philosophers, scientists have commented about the Prophet of Islam (s). He was placed number one in the book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael Hart–he ranked Prophet Muhammad (s), the prophet of a religion other than that in which his book was written, above even the prophet of his own community, above Jesus (as) and Buddha (as).
The great Mahatma Gandhi had this to say about him:
â€œI wanted to know the best of one who holds todayâ€™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 this 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 Prophetâ€™s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life.â€
— Mahatma Gandhi, speaking on the character of Muhammad, (pbuh) says in (Young India):
One of his short biographies has been written by Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika) and is available online: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/prophet/lifeofprophet.html. If you â€œgoogleâ€ â€œMuhammadâ€ (s) on the internet you will get 1,460,000 sites that give all kinds of information about him. Yet the Muslims do not attribute any divinity to himâ€¦that would be heresy to a Muslim.
He was a human being but an extra-ordinary human being, a superman, the Seal of the Prophets, the Seal of the Messengers, the Mercy to the Worlds, the Master of the Children of Adam, a Prophet chosen and inspired by the Divine Will of Almighty Allah–May Allah bless him, his family, and his companions with abundant and never-ending blessings.