In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Muhammad: Who is he?

 The article was taken from: www.islamway.com
 Edited by Ummu Mariam.

 

 

 

Verily, all praises and thanks are due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAAS) is His servant and His messenger.

"O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah)]." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:102 - interpretation of the meaning)

"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:1 - interpretation of the meaning)

"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise)." (Al-Qur‘aan 33:70-71 - interpretation of the meaning)

Ammaa ba'd (as for what follows), the best of speech is the speech of Allah that is the Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAAS). Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.


Introduction

Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, to his admirers and foes alike, is incontestably one of the greatest and the most influential personalities in the history of mankind. The position this man occupies in the hearts of more than a quarter of the world's population makes it pertinent that every right-thinking, fair and unbiased person should learn about this man. This then brings us to the following questions: Who is Muhammad? What did he stand for? What was his mission? What are his teachings? How did he live his personal and public life? What were the political, social and cultural circumstances of the environment in which he lived? What are the opinions of his followers and others about him? And what are the legacies he left for mankind? All these and other questions are what this essay is going to answer in the briefest way.


Birth and Upbringing

Muhammad, son of 'Abdullah was born in the year 570 AD to a noble Quraish family of Mecca known as banu Hashim. His birth took place at a time when the Arabs of the Peninsula were engaged in internecine wars and living in stark darkness: darkness of idolatry, social injustice, infanticide, alcoholism and all other social and moral vices of which one could think. He was born an orphan for his father died before his birth. Six years after his birth, he lost his mother. His compassionate grandfather, 'Abdulmuttalib took care of him in the best manner any grandfather could do, but he also died two years later. His charge was then passed on to his loving uncle Abu Taalib. Muhammad, as a child was known for earnestness and modesty; these are the traits that indicated the role he was destined to play later in his life.

The Prophet of Islam was raised illiterate, unable to read or write, and remained like that until his death. Among all his people, he was known as being truthful and trustworthy and as an embodiment of all noble and excellent traits. He was so peerless in honesty and probity that he was conferred with the titles of 'as-Saadiq' and 'al-Ameen' the honest and trustworthy.

During his early youth, he worked as a shepherd for bani Sa'd and in Mecca. At the age of 25, he went to Syria as a merchant for Lady Khadijah (RAA) who later on became his wife.

Captivated by Muhammad's good manners, honesty, thoughtfulness, sincerity and truthfulness, contrary to the norms, Khadijah (RAA) offered herself in marriage to Muhammad, having rejected many prominent men who had proposed to her. Muhammad humbly accepted the offer and they were later blessed with six children. They remained married until her death for twenty-five years, and during that period he didn't marry anyone else.

The Prophet of Islam later in his life, and after the death of his dear wife, Khadijah (RAA), married a number of wives. All but one of these women were widows and he married them not for lustful motives, as some detractors claim, but for humanitarian, political, social and legislative reasons. The rest of this discourse will be left to Dr Annie Besant, who, though a non-Muslim scholar, writes: "But do you mean to tell me that the man who in the full flush of youthful vigour, a young man of twenty four, married a woman much his senior, and remained faithful to her for twenty six years, at fifty years of age when the passions are dying married for lust and sexual passion? Not thus are men's lives to be judged. And you look at the women whom he married, you will find that by every one of them an alliance was made for his people, or something was gained for his followers, or the woman was in sore need of protection." (Dr. Annie Besant in 'The Life and Teachings of Muhammad,' Madras, 1932)

The Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) was, in his youth, a combination of the best social attributes. He was an exemplary man of weighty mind and faultless insight. He shunned superstitious practices but took an active part in constructive and useful dealings; otherwise, he would have recourse to his self-consecrated solitude. He kept himself aloof from drinking wine, eating meat slaughtered on stone altars, or attending idolatrous festivals. He held the idols in extreme aversion and most abhorrence. He could never tolerate someone swearing by al-Laat and al-'Uzzaa. Allah's providence, no doubt, detached him from all abominable or evil practices.

Even when he tried to obey his instinct to enjoy some of life's pleasures or follow some disrespectable traditions, Allah's providence intervened to curb any lapse in this course. Ibn al-Atheer reported Muhammad (SAAS) as saying: "I have never tried to do what my people do except for two times. Every time Allah intervened and checked me from doing so and I never did that again. Once I told my fellow-shepherd to take care of my sheep when we were in the upper part of Mecca. I wanted to go down to Mecca and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house of Mecca where I heard music. I entered and asked: 'What is this?' Someone answered: 'It is a wedding party.' I sat down and listened but soon went into deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went back to my fellow-shepherd and told him of what had happened to me. I have never tried it again."

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir ibn 'Abdullah (RAA) that he said: "While the people were rebuilding al-Ka'bah, the Prophet Muhammad went with 'Abbaas to carry some stones. 'Abbaas said: 'Put your loincloth round your neck to protect you from the stones.' (As he did that) the Prophet fell to the ground and his eyes turned skyward. Later on he woke up and shouted: 'My loincloth … my loincloth.' He wrapped himself in his loincloth." In another report: "His loins were never seen afterwards."

He proved himself to be an ideal man, who possessed a spotless character. He was the most obliging to his compatriots, the most honest in his talk and the mildest in temper. He was the most gentle-hearted, chaste, and hospitable and always impressed people by his piety-inspiring countenance. He was the most truthful and the best to keep a covenant. Thus, his fellow-citizens, by common consent, gave him the title of al-Ameen (trustworthy).

Truthfulness and altruism were part of overwhelming manifestations of his life. His beloved wife, Khadijah (RAA) gave an excellent summary of his conduct when she said: "Allah will never disgrace you. You unite uterine relations; you bear the burden of the weak; you help the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness."

For the first forty years of his life, Muhammad had no prior knowledge of religion or any previously sent Message until al-Qur‘aan was revealed to him.


Call to Prophethood

By the time Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) was forty, he had already cultivated the habit of spending hours in retirement, meditating and thinking over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. His chosen location for this meditation was the Cave of Hira, in Mecca. He continued in this state until the first revelation of al-Qur‘aan came to him one day whilst in the cave.

This Qur‘aan, which is the peak of eloquence and clarity and recited by Muslims and committed to memory by millions of his followers worldwide, mentioned most of the accounts found in the previous scriptures, telling us about events in great detail. These accounts came precisely as they were found in the Torah sent down to Moses (AS) and in the Gospel sent down to Jesus (AS). Neither the Jews nor Christians of the Prophet's time were able to deny anything revealed in al-Qur‘aan about these two noble Prophets and their teachings.

Though Muhammad (SAAS) was popular among his people as the most-trustworthy one among them in whose hand they entrusted their valuables, he was never known as a statesman, a preacher or an orator before he attained the age of forty. He was never seen discussing the principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economics or sociology.

Did he possess an excellent character, charming manners and was he highly cultured? Yes! But was there anything so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him that would make men expect something great and revolutionary of him in the future? No!

He came out of the Cave of Hira with a new message, completely transformed. Is it possible for such a person of the above qualities to turn all of a sudden into 'an impostor' and claim to be the Prophet of Allah and invite all the rage of his people? One might ask: for what reason did he suffer all those hardships? His people offered to accept him as their King if he would leave the preaching of Allah's religion. But he chose to refuse their tempting offers and go on preaching his religion single-handedly in face of all kinds of insults, social boycott and even physical assault by his own people. Was it not only Allah's support and his firm will to disseminate the message of Allah and his deep-rooted belief that ultimately Islam would emerge as the only way of life for humanity, that he stood like a mountain in the face of all opposition and conspiracies to eliminate him? Furthermore, had he come with a design of rivalry with the Christians and the Jews, why should he have made belief in Jesus Christ and Moses and other Prophets of God (peace be upon them), a basic requirement of faith without which no one could be a Muslim?

Is it not an incontrovertible proof of his Prophethood that in spite of being unlettered and having led a very normal and quiet life for forty years, when he began preaching his message, all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder and was amazed by his wonderful eloquence and oration? The revealed texts of al-Qur‘aan were so matchless that the whole legion of Arab poets, preachers and orators of the highest calibre failed to bring forth its equivalent. And above all, how could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature contained in al-Qur‘aan that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time?

Last but not least, why did he lead a hard life even after gaining power and authority? Just ponder over the words he (SAAS) uttered while dying: "We the community of the Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity." (Al-Bukhari)

As a matter of fact, Muhammad (SAAS) is the last link of the chain of Prophets sent in different lands and times since the very beginning of human life on this planet.

As humans are wont to resist change, his people spurned his message, rejected him and persecuted him and his companions, and only few people initially believed in him. When the persecution became unbearable, he permitted his companions to migrate to Abyssinia, while he stayed back in Mecca to continue with the message of his Lord amid torrents of persecution until Allah (SWT) commanded him to migrate to Medina [known then as Yathrib].

His companions left gradually and unobtrusively, but Muhammad (SAAS) remained to the last. His plan for departure was soon discovered by the pagans of Mecca, who decided to slay him before he could escape. But Allah saved him from their evil machinations and he (SAAS), and his best companion, Abu Bakr (RAA) left Mecca. They arrived at Medina safely under the protection of their Lord. He was now free to preach, and the amount of his followers increased rapidly. The Muslims could now worship freely and live according to the laws of Allah (SWT).

Soon after his arrival and after making sure that the pillars of the new Islamic community were well established on strong administrative bases, and political and ideological unity; the Prophet (SAAS) commenced to establish regular and clearly-defined relations with non-Muslims. All of these efforts were exerted solely to provide peace, security, and prosperity to all mankind at large, and to bring about a spirit of rapport and harmony within his region, in particular. The Prophet (SAAS) decided to ratify a treaty with the Jewish community of Medina with clauses that provided full freedom in faith and wealth.

He (SAAS) meticulously respected the clauses of the Treaty and it was only after his partners in this treaty started behaving treacherously and undermining the security of the city in particular and the region in general that they were accordingly dealt with.

The people of Mecca, on their own part, did not want the religion of Islam to take root, so they waged a number of wars against him and, due to Divine Providence, they were disgracefully defeated. "They intend to put out the Light of Allah [i.e. the religion of Islam, this Qur‘aan, and Prophet Muhammad (SAAS)] with their mouths. But Allah will bring His Light to perfection even though the disbelievers hate (it)." (Al-Qur‘aan 61:8 - interpretation of the meaning)

In the year 622 AD, Muhammad (SAAS) fell sick after he had arrived from his Farewell Pilgrimage. The illness lasted for some fifteen days at the end of which his blessed soul departed this earthly world. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!

After his death, his followers faithfully carried on the message of Islam, and within 90 years, the light of Islam reached Spain, Africa, the Caucasus, China, and India.


Muhammad's Domestic Life

The Prophet of Islam (SAAS), in spite of the fact that he could afford the most luxurious life, decided to live a life of abstinence.

His wife, 'Aisha (RAA), said, "We would sight three new moons in two months without lighting a fire (to cook a meal) in the Prophet's houses." She was asked, "O Aunt, what sustained you?" She said, "The two black things, dates and water, but the Prophet had some ansaar neighbours who had milk-giving she-camels and they used to send the Prophet some of its milk." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Sahl ibn Sa'd (RAA), one of the Prophet's companions, said, "Allah's Messenger did not see bread made from fine flour from the time Allah sent him (as a Prophet) until he died." (Al-Bukhari and at-Tirmidhi)

His wife, 'Aisha (RAA), said, "The mattress of the Prophet, on which he slept, was made of leather stuffed with the fibre of the date-palm tree." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

'Amr ibn al-Haarith (RAA), another of his companions, said that when the Prophet died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land which he left to charity.( Al-Bukhari and Musnad Ahmad)

Muhammad (SAAS) lived this hard life until he died although the Muslim treasury was at his disposal, the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula was Muslim before he died, and the Muslims were victorious after eighteen years of his mission. Is it possible that Muhammad (SAAS) might have claimed Prophethood in order to attain status, greatness, and power? The desire to enjoy status and power is usually associated with good food, fancy clothing, monumental palaces, colourful guards, and indisputable authority. Do any of these indicators apply to Muhammad (SAAS)? A few glimpses of his life may help to answer this question.

Despite his responsibilities as a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, Muhammad (SAAS) used to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes, help with the household work, and visit the sick. He also helped his companions in digging a trench by moving sand with them. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.

Long before there was any prospect of success for Islam and at the outset of a long and painful era of torture, suffering, and persecution of Muhammad (SAAS) and his followers, he received an interesting offer. An envoy of the pagan leaders, 'Utbah, came to him saying, "If you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest one of us. If you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us..."

Only one concession was required from Muhammad (SAAS) in return for that, to give up calling people to Islam and worshipping Allah alone without any partner. Wouldn't this offer be tempting to one pursuing worldly benefit? Was Muhammad (SAAS) hesitant when the offer was made? Did he turn it down as a bargaining strategy leaving the door open for a better offer? The following was his answer: {In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful} And he recited to 'Utbah the verses 1-38 from suurat Fusselat (no. 41) of al-Qur‘aan. The following are some of these verses (interpretation of the meaning): "A revelation from (Allah) the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail - a Qur‘aan in Arabic for people who know. Giving glad tidings [of Paradise to the one who believes in the Oneness of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) and fears Allah much (abstains from all kinds of sins and evil deeds) and loves Allah much (performing all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)] and warning (of punishment in the Hell-fire to the one who disbelieves in the Oneness of Allah), but most of them turn away, so they hear not." (Al-Qur‘aan 41:2-4) (Ibn Hisham)

On another occasion and in response to his uncle's plea to stop calling people to Islam, Muhammad's answer was as decisive and sincere: "I swear by the name of Allah, O Uncle, that if they place the sun in my right-hand and the moon in my left-hand in return for giving up this matter (calling people to Islam), I will never desist until either Allah makes it triumph or I perish defending it." (Ibn Hisham)


Muhammad (SAAS) and his companions (RAA)

Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) possessed excellent human relation qualities, and these were clearly demonstrated in his relationship with his companions.

He greatly loved his companions because they accepted Islam and preached and protected it with their lives and properties when circumstances were most severe. The Prophet (SAAS) praised the companions (RAA) and warned Muslims against attacking or insulting them. For example, al-Bukhari, Muslim, and other collectors of hadiith relate from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (RAA) that Allah's Messenger (SAAS) warned: "Do not curse my companions! Do not curse my companions! I swear by Him in Whose Hand my life is, that even if one among you had as much gold as Mount Uhud and spent it in the way of Allah, this would not be equal in reward to a handful spent by them or even to its half."

He (SAAS) was ever magnanimous and compassionate to them and would correct their mistakes in an admirable manner. One day a companion of his came to him and said: "O Allah's Messenger, I am doomed!" He (SAAS) said, "What is the matter with you?" The man said, "I had intercourse with my wife whilst I was fasting." Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said, "Are you able to set a slave free?" He said, "No." He (SAAS) said, "Can you fast for two consecutive months?" He said, "No." He (SAAS) said, "Do you have the wherewithal to feed sixty poor persons?" He said, "No." The Prophet (SAAS) said nothing more about the matter for a while, and whilst we were sitting there like that, a large basket full of dates was brought to the Prophet. He (SAAS) said, "Where is the one who was asking?" The man said, "Here I am." He (SAAS) said, "Take this and give it in charity." The man said, "Who is poorer than me, O Allah's Messenger? By Allah, there is no family in Medina poorer than mine." The Prophet (SAAS) smiled until his teeth were visible, then he said, "Feed your family with it." (Al-Bukhari)

Another manifestation of his compassion is what an-Nasaa‘ee reported on the authority of 'Abbaad ibn Shurahbil (RAA) who said: "I came with my (paternal) uncles to Medina, and we entered one of the gardens there. I robbed some of the wheat, and the owner of the garden came and took my cloak and hit me. I came to Allah's Messenger asking for his help. He sent for that man and they brought him to the Prophet. He (SAAS) said to him, 'What made you do that?' He said, 'O Allah's Messenger, he went into my garden and robbed some of my wheat.' Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said, 'You did not teach him if it was the matter of him not knowing, and you did not feed him if it was the matter of him being hungry. Give him back his cloak.' And Allah's Messenger (SAAS) ordered that I should be given a wasq or half a wasq (measure of wheat). [Wasq is a measure equal to 135 kg approx.]"

Allah's Messenger (SAAS) would inquire about his companions if they were conspicuously absent, he would visit the sick among them, console the bereaved with soothing words and settle whatever rifts that occurred among them with wisdom.

A remarkable example of the concern he (SAAS) showed for his companions (RAA), regardless of their sex or race, is what is vividly manifested in the following narration: Abu Huraira (RAA) narrated that there was a black woman who used to take care of the mosque. Suddenly, Allah's Messenger (SAAS) missed her and when he asked of her, he was told that she had died. Allah's Messenger (SAAS) then said: "Why have you not informed me?" It was as if they had considered her unimportant. He (SAAS) then said: "Show me her grave." (And when it was shown to him), he performed funeral prayer on her and then said: "These graves are full of darkness for their inhabitants. Allah will illuminate them for their dwellers because of my prayers for them." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

He (SAAS) would encourage his companions (RAA) to love one another and he (SAAS) would say: "You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salaam (the greeting) amongst yourselves." (Muslim, Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi)

He (SAAS) would also admonish his companions (RAA): "The Muslim's rights upon his brother are six: greet him when you meet him, accept his invitation when he invites you, give him advice if he requests it, invoke Allah's blessing on him when he sneezes and praises Allah, visit him when he is sick and follow his bier to the cemetery when he dies." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

His companions (RAA) also loved him (SAAS) more than they loved their own selves and close relatives. And they demonstrated this on many great occasions.

Muhammad (SAAS) was the farthest person from racialism history has ever known. He (SAAS) never distinguished between his companions (RAA) on the basis of lineage, colour, social status or wealth. This had to be so because he, along with his followers, were addressed in al-Qur‘aan with the following words (interpretation of the meaning): "O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has at-taqwaa [i.e. he is one of the muttaqoon (the pious)]…" (Al-Qur‘aan 49:13)

He (SAAS) also said, addressing his followers (RAA): "O people! Verily your Lord is One and your father [Adam] is one. An Arab is no better than a non-Arab, and a non-Arab is no better than an Arab; a red man is no better than a black man and a black man is no better than a red man – except if it is in terms of taqwaa (piety)…" (Reported by Imam Ahmad, as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah)

It was narrated that Abu Dharr (RAA) said: "There was a quarrel between me and another man whose mother was a non-Arab and I called her bad names. The man mentioned (complained about) me to the Prophet. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "Did you abuse so-and-so?" I said: "Yes" He (SAAS) said, "Did you call his mother bad names?" I said, "Yes". He (SAAS) said, "You still have the traits of (the Pre-lslamic period of) ignorance." (Al-Bukhari) According to another report: "…I (Abu Dharr) said to him: 'O son of a black woman', and the Prophet (SAAS) said: 'In you there is jaahiliyyah' – i.e. one of the characteristics of jaahiliyyah."

One of Prophet's prominent companions was Bilal ibn Rabah (RAA), a manumitted black Abyssinian slave, whom he (SAAS) chose as his muezzin "caller of the prayer".


The Prophet (SAAS) and Women's Rights

One would want to ask about how Muhammad (SAAS) treated women. Was he an overbearing father or a heartless husband as some mischievous writers would want us to believe or a compassionate and dutiful father and loving and caring husband, who not only treated female members of his family kindly but all women in general, as the case really was?!

The answer to this question is not far-fetched. Muhammad (SAAS) gave women their due honour at a time when women were regarded as a commodity that can be purchased and discarded at will; at a time when some nations who now claim the monopoly of civilization were yet to decide whether a woman is a human being or not; and at a time when she was deprived of her right to inheritance and possession of properties, among other rights.

To start with, it is very essential to hear some of what al-Qur‘aan, the Book revealed to Muhammad (SAAS), has to say about women. Al-Qur‘aan regards men and women as equal halves that complement and complete one another. It treats both men and women fairly as far as rights and obligations are concerned. The following verses of al-Qur‘aan are enough testimony (interpretation of the meaning): "And among His Signs is this that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect." (Al-Qur‘aan 30:21)

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:32)

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether, the property be small or large - a legal share." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:7)

Every aspect of a woman's life is adequately addressed by al-Qur‘aan. Concerning the divorced woman, al-Qur‘aan says (interpretation of the meaning): "And for divorced women, maintenance (should be provided) on reasonable (scale). This is a duty on al-muttaqoon (the pious)." (Al-Qur‘aan 2:241)

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means, and do not harm them so as to straiten them (that they be obliged to leave your house). And if they are pregnant, then spend on them till they lay down their burden. Then if they give suck to the children for you, give them their due payment, and let each of you accept the advice of the other in a just way. But if you make difficulties for one another, then some other woman may give suck for him (the child on the father's behalf). Let the rich man spend according to his means; and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease." (Al-Qur‘aan 65:6-7)

The Messenger of Islam (SAAS) was very kind in his treatment of his wives, very affectionate with his daughters and very sympathetic with the womenfolk in general. Though he married more than four wives, he painstakingly treated them equally. He (SAAS) commanded his companions (RAA) to do the same and would tell them: "The best of you are those who are best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives." (At-Tirmidhi)

He sternly warned against injustice in treating women. It was narrated from Abu Huraira (RAA) that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "Whoever has two wives and inclines more towards one of them, he will come on the Day of Resurrection with half of his body leaning." (Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa‘ee and ibn Maajah) [This inclining has to do with actions; treating them both equally with regard to spending, dividing time and providing accommodation.]


The Prophet (SAAS) and Children

The Prophet of Islam was the example of how children could be loved and shown affection. He regarded children as great blessings of Allah that should be covetously guarded, loved and cared for. He showed love and compassion for them and regarded whoever does not do so as heartless and merciless. He would hold his children, grandchildren and children of his companions in his lap and kiss them.

His houseboy, Anas ibn Malik (RAA) said: "I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah's Messenger (SAAS). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Medina. He (SAAS) would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back." (Muslim)

Another companion of his, Usaamah ibn Zaid (RAA) said: Allah's Messenger used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put al-Hasan ibn 'Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say, "O Allah! Please be merciful to them, as I am merciful to them." (Al-Bukhari)

Another glittering example of his compassion for children is what he did whenever he performed the prayer which is the greatest act of worship in Islam. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child's mother." (Al-Bukhari)

And he commanded his followers to treat their children equally, irrespective of their sex or age. He (SAAS) said: "Fear Allah and treat your children [small or grown] fairly (with equal justice)." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


His Dealing with Non-Muslims

When the Prophet of Islam (SAAS) migrated to Medina, he was keen on establishing friendly relations between the Muslims and the non-Muslim tribes of Arabia. He established a sort of treaty aiming at ruling out all pre-Islamic rancour and inter-tribal feuds. The following were the clauses of the treaty:

  1. The Jews of bani 'Awf are one community with the believers. The Jews will profess their religion, and the Muslims theirs.

  2. The Jews shall be responsible for their expenditure, and the Muslims for theirs.

  3. If attacked by a third party, each shall come to the assistance of the other.

  4. Each party shall hold counsel with the other. Mutual relation shall be founded on righteousness; sin is totally excluded.

  5. Neither shall commit sins to the prejudice of the other.

  6. The wronged party shall be aided.

  7. The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.

  8. Medina shall remain sacred and inviolable for all that join this treaty.

  9. Should any disagreement arise between the signatories to this treaty, then Allah, the All-High and His Messenger shall settle the dispute.

  10. The signatories to this treaty shall boycott Quraish (the people of Mecca) commercially; they shall also abstain from extending any support to them.

  11. Each shall contribute to defending Medina, in case of a foreign attack, in its respective area.

  12. This treaty shall not hinder either party from seeking lawful revenge.


What Others Say About him (SAAS)

During the Crusade Era, many lies were concocted by the missionary and western writers to discredit the Prophet of Islam, his message and teachings. This continued until recently when scientific discoveries and freedom of thought changed many people's perception of things, and it became increasingly difficult for falsehood-mongers to pull wool over peoples' eyes. The following are some testimonies that some non-Muslim scholars, thinkers and political icons had to give about the Prophet of Islam.

    Lamartine, the French scholar says: "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 imposture 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 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. 276-277)

    Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley say: "It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which 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 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." (Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley, History of the Saracen Empire, London 1870, p. 54.)

    Bosworth Smith says: "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 Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports." (Bosworth Smith, Muhammad and Muhammedanism, London, 1874, p. 92)

    Annie Besant says: "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, p. 4)

    Mahatma Gandhi, speaking on the character of Muhammad, says in (Young India): "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."

    Prof. C. Snouck Hurgronje has the following to say: "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."

    Prof. Ramakrishna Rao says: "The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the Prophet. There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Statesman; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Reformer; 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."

    George Bernard Shaw says: "If a man like Muhammad were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness."

    In the Encyclopaedia Britannica it is stated: "Muhammad is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities."


Aspects of his Excellent Qualities

The Prophet (SAAS) was noted for superb eloquence and fluency in Arabic. He was remarkable in position and rank. He was an accurate, unpretending and straightforward speaker. He was well-versed in Arabic and quite familiar with the dialects and accents of every tribe. He spoke with his entertainers using their own accents and dialects. He mastered and was quite eloquent at both Bedouin and town speech. So he had the strength and eloquence of Bedouin language as well as the clarity and the decorated splendid speech of town. Above all, there was the assistance of Allah embodied in the revealed verses of al-Qur‘aan.

His stamina, endurance and forgiveness — out of a commanding position — his patience and standing what he detested — these were all talents, attributes and qualities Allah Himself had brought him on. Even wise men have their flaws, but Allah's Messenger (SAAS), unlike everybody, the more he was hurt or injured, the more clement and patient he became. The more insolence an ignorant person exercised against him the more enduring he became.

'Aisha (RAA) said: "Allah's Messenger, whenever he is given the opportunity to choose between two affairs, he always chooses the easiest and the most convenient. But if he is certain that it is sinful, he will be as far as he could from it. He has never avenged himself; but when the sanctity of Allah is violated he would. That would be for Allah's sake not for himself." (Al-Bukhari)

He is the last one to get angry and the first to be satisfied. His hospitality and generosity were matchless. His gifts and endowments manifest a man who does not fear poverty. Ibn 'Abbaas (RAA) said: "The Prophet (SAAS) was the most generous. He is usually most generous of all times in Ramadan, the times at which the angel Gabriel (AS) comes to see him. Gabriel used to visit him every night of Ramadan and review al-Qur‘aan with him. Verily Allah's Messenger (SAAS) is more generous at giving bounty or charity than the blowing wind." (Al-Bukhari) Jabir (RAA) said: "The Prophet would never deny anything he was asked for." (Al-Bukhari)

His courage, his succour and his might were distinguishable. He was the most courageous. He witnessed awkward and difficult times and stood fast at them. More than once, brave men and daring ones fled away leaving him alone; yet he stood with full composure facing the enemy without turning his back. All brave men must have experienced fleeing once or have been driven off the battlefield at a round at a time, except the Prophet (SAAS). 'Ali (RAA) said: "Whenever the fight grew fierce and the eyes of fighters went red, we used to resort to the Prophet for succour. He was always the closest to the enemy." (Ash-Shifaa‘)

Anas (RAA) said: "One night the people of Medina felt alarmed. People went out hurriedly towards the source of sound, but the Prophet had already gone ahead of them. He was on the horseback of Abu Talha which had no saddle over it, and a sword was slung round his neck, and said to them: 'There was nothing to be afraid for.'" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

He (SAAS) was the most modest and the first one to cast his eyes down. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (RAA) said: "He was shier than a virgin in her boudoir. When he hates a thing we read it on his face." (Al-Bukhari) And he did not stare at anybody's face. He always cast his eyes down. He looked at the ground more than he looked sky-wards. His most enduring looks at people were merely glances. He was willingly and modestly obeyed by everybody. He would never name a person whom he had heard ill-news about — which he hated. Instead he (SAAS) would say: "Why do certain people do so…"

The Prophet (SAAS) was the most just, the most decent, the most truthful at speech, and the most honest of all. Those who had exchanged speech with him, and even his enemies, acknowledged his noble qualities. Even before the Prophethood he was nicknamed al-Ameen (i.e. the trustworthy). Even then — before the advent of Islam - they used to turn to him for judgment and consultation.

At-Tirmidhi reported on the authority of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (RAA) that Abu Jahl one of the staunchest enemies of the Prophet (SAAS) once addressed him (SAAS): "We do not call you a liar; but we do not have faith in what you have brought." So Allah, the Exalted, revealed concerning them (interpretation of the meaning): "…It is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (al-Qur‘aan) of Allah that the dhaalimuun (polytheists and wrongdoers) deny." (Al-Qur‘aan 6:33) (Mishkaat-ul-Masaabiih)

Even when Heraclius asked Abu Sufyan: "Have you ever accused him of lying before the ministry of Prophethood?" Abu Sufyan (a non-Muslim at that time) said: "No." (Muslim)

He (SAAS) was most modest and far from being arrogant or proud. He forbade people to stand up at his presence as people usually do for their kings.

Visiting the poor, the needy and entertaining them were some of his habits. If a slave invited him, he (SAAS) would accept the invitation. He always sat amongst his friends as if he were ordinarily one of them. 'Aisha (RAA) said that he used to repair his shoes, sew or mend his dress and to do what ordinary men did in their houses. After all, he was a human being like others. He used to check his dress (lest it has some insects on). Milking the she-sheep and catering for himself were some of his normal jobs. (Mishkaat-ul-Masaabiih)

The Prophet (SAAS) was the most truthful to his pledges, and it was one of his qualities to establish good and steady relationships with his relatives. He was the most merciful, gentle and amiable to all people. His way of living was the simplest one. Ill-manners and indecency were two qualities completely alien to him. He was decent, and did not call anybody names. He was not the sort of person who cursed or made noise in the streets. He did not exchange abuses with others. He pushed back an offence or an error by forgiveness and overlooking. Nobody was allowed to walk behind him as a bodyguard. He did not feel himself superior to others not even to his male and female bondsmen as far as food or clothes were concerned.

He always served those who served him. And he never said 'ugh' (an utterance of complaint) to his servant; nor was his servant blamed for doing a thing or leaving it undone. Loving the poor and the needy and entertaining them or participating in their funerals were things the Prophet (SAAS) always observed. He never disdained or disgraced a poor man for his poverty. Once he (SAAS) was travelling with his companions (RAA) and when it was time to have food prepared, he asked them to slaughter a she-sheep. A man said: I will slaughter it, another one said: I will skin it out. A third said: I will cook it. So Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: I will collect wood for fire. They said: "No. We will suffice you that work." He (SAAS) said: "I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a slave of His privileged to others." So he (SAAS) went and collected fire-wood. (Kholaasat-us-Siyar)

Hind ibn Abi Halah (RAA) gives us some of the apt description of him (SAAS): "Allah's Messenger (SAAS) was continually sad, thinking perpetually. He never took a long rest. He only spoke when it was necessary. He would remain silent for a long time, and whenever he spoke, he would end his talk with his jawbone but not out of the corners of his mouth, i.e. (snobbishly). His speech was inclusive. He spoke inclusively and decisively. It was not excessive nor was it short of meaning. It was amiable. It was in no way hard to understand. He glorified the bounty of Allah; even if it were little. If he had no liking for someone's food, he would neither praise nor criticize.

He was always in full control of his temper and he would never get angry unless it was necessary. He never got angry for himself nor did he avenge himself. It was only when Allah's sanctity was violated that he got angry.

When he pointed at a thing he would do so with his full hand-palm, and he would turn it round to show astonishment. If he were angry he would turn both his body and face aside. When he was pleased, he cast his eyes down. His laughter was mostly smiling. It was then that his teeth which were like hail-stones were revealed.

He never spoke unless it was something closely relevant to him. He established brotherhood among his companions; and eliminated all causes of enmity from their midst. He honoured and respected those who were honourable among their people and assigned them as governors over their own peoples. His cheerfulness was never withdrawn at anyone's face; even at those whom he warned his people from or those whom he himself was on the alert of. He visited friends and inquired about peoples' affairs. He confirmed what was right and criticized the awful and tried to undermine it. He was moderate in all affairs. He was equal to others and was not privileged. He would never act heedlessly, lest the others should get heedless. Each situation was dealt with in its proper due.

Righteousness was his target; so he was never short of it or indifferent to it. People who sat next to him were the best of their people and the best of them all were — for him — those who provided common consultations. For him, the greatest ones and the highest in ranks were the best at providing comfort and co-ordination and succour. Remembrance of Allah was a thing he aimed at and established whenever he sat down or stood up. No certain position was assigned for him to sit on. He sat at the end of the group, seated next to the last sitter in the place. He ordered people to do the same. He treated his audience in social gatherings with utmost equality so much so that the one he addressed would think that he was the most honourable in his sight. Whenever a person approached him for advice or a need, that person would be the first and last to speak. The Prophet (SAAS) would listen to him patiently until he ended his speech. The Prophet never denied a request to anyone.

His magnanimity, broad-mindedness and his tolerance embraced all people; a trait that made him the father of all. In (i.e. regarding) justice, all of them were equal. Nobody was better than another except on the criterion of piety.

The Prophet (SAAS) was the most pious and most righteous. His assembly was a meeting of compassion, modesty, patience and honesty. In his presence, voices were not raised and sacred things were never violated.

Allah's Messenger was always cheerful, easy, pleasant-tempered and lenient. He was never rude or rough nor clamorous or indecent. He was neither a nagger nor a flatterer. He overlooked what he did not desire, yet you would never despair of him. Three qualities he disposed of: hypocrisy, excessiveness, and what was none of his concern. People did not fear him in three areas — for they were not qualities or habits of his: He never disparaged, or reproached nor did he seek the defects or shortcomings of others. He only spoke righteous words. When he spoke, his companions would attentively listen, casting down their heads. They only spoke when he was silent. They did not have disputes or arguments about who was to speak first. He who talked in his presence would be listened to by everybody until he finished his talk. Their talk would be about the topic discussed or delivered by their first speaker. Allah's Messenger used to laugh at what they laughed at and admired what they used to admire. He would always show patience with a stranger's harshness at talk. He (SAAS) used to say: 'When you see a person seeking an object earnestly, assist him to get his need. And never ask for a reward except from the reward-Giver, i.e. Allah.'" (Ash-Shifaa‘)

Kharijah ibn Zaid (RAA) said: "The Prophet was the most honoured among the people with whom he sat. His limbs could hardly be seen. He was often silent and rarely talked when speech was not a necessity. He turned away from those whose speech was rude or impolite. His laughter was no more than a smile. His speech, which was decisive, was neither excessive nor incomplete. Out of reverence and esteem and following the example of their Prophet, the companions' laughter at his presence — was smiling, as well." (Ash-Shifaa‘)

On the whole the Prophet (SAAS) was ornamented with peerless attributes of perfection. No wonder he was like that for he was nurtured, educated and taught by Allah, the Lord of Majesty. He is even praised by his Lord: "And verily, you [O Muhammad (SAAS)] are on an exalted (standard of) character." (Al-Qur‘aan 68:4 - interpretation of the meaning)

Those were the attributes and qualities that the Prophet (SAAS) enjoyed that endeared him to hearts and souls. Those traits made him so popular that the restraint and enmity of his people grew less and they started to embrace Islam in large crowds.

Details of Prophet Muhammad's excellent life are certainly beyond any human's coverage. The preceding was the extent to which the writer could go in the light of what the time and resources could permit, for a detailed explanation of his traits would require writing of a voluminous book.

The reader should feel free to contact us (www.islamway.com) for any clarifications, elucidations, suggestions or comments.

We beseech Allah (SWT) to bestow blessings and peace upon Muhammad (SAAS), the Messenger of Guidance and Mercy and upon his companions (RAA) and members of his household (RAA) and all those who follow his guidance until the Day of Resurrection.


Added to our page on Tuesday the 14th of Safar, 1427/the 14th of March, 2006



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