“Who shares his life’s pure pleasure and walks the honest road; who trades with heaping measure and lifts his brother’s load; who turns the wrong down bluntly and lends the right a hand; he dwells in God’s own country and tills the holy land.” Louis F. Benson
This article is not new. It had been published in this column before. But it is being repeated here because of its relevance to the appreciation which humanity owes an exemplary orphan from Arabia whose mentorship rescued us from the crushing dangers of certain thorny paths of life.
No man in history has ever been as fitting to the above poetic description as Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the undisputable greatest man that ever lived. His legacy is the solid foundation upon which the contemporary civilization is built.
But despite the vivid feasibility of that legacy it remains invisible to many eyes that are alien to the light of Islam. Thus, the Prophet’s legacy is like the beaming sun which no blind person can see and no seeing eyes can perceive in its natural nakedness.
Yet, both the blind and the seeing feel its burning effect ‘willy-nilly’ even as it photosynthesizes the proverbial ‘plants’ around them and nourishes those ‘plants’ to fruition with sustainable potency.
This article is rather a token of an appreciation of Prophet Muhammad’s unprecedented accomplishments than the trivialization of those accomplishments in the guise of his birthday celebration called Mawlidun-Nabiyy by some people.
Muhammad, the son of Abdullah and Aminah was not born a Prophet. He only became a prophet by Divine ordination at the age of 40 years in 610 AH. Before then, his birth was neither remembered nor celebrated. And while he was alive, no one dared the celebration of his birthday.
Therefore, if anything were to be celebrated about the personality of this great man, it must be his Prophet-hood which was about his service to humanity.
The Prophet’s Biography
From the creation of Adam, (the first human being created by Allah), till date, no man’s biography has ever been so much written and read as that of Muhammad (SAW), the son of Abdullah and Aminah.
This man’s biography has been written from all perspectives, positive and negative, by various men and women of diverse races, tribes, ideologies and religions in the past over 1400 years or there about.
And the biography is still being written and re-written authoritatively and un-authoritatively, today, in uncountable languages.
Even those who are obviously bereft of writing prowess randomly resort to cartooning him just to seek relevance and curry ignominious fame.
Through the writings of Prophet Muhammad’s biography, some millions of people have zoomed into un-dream-able fame.
Some others have sunk into the abyss of a permanent oblivion. But virtually all the writers have benefitted from their writings directly or indirectly, in coins and in kind.
No other Prophet’s biography has attracted as many writers from among believers and non-believers, as well as from friends and foes alike, over the centuries, as that of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Every aspect of this Prophet’s life including the dresses he wore, the food he ate, the way he spoke, the steps he took, the laws he enacted, the wives he married, the children he bore, and the wars he was forced to fight, has formed the components of his biography.
In short, next to the Qur’an, no book is as much read daily in the world today as the biography of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in one form or another.
A vital Question
Given this situation, however, a vital question has arisen thus: why has there been so much global focus on this unlettered Prophet from Arabia for so many centuries? The answer to this question is not far-fetched.
The world has not produced any human personality comparable to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and, it will not.
He is the seal of all the Prophets/ Messengers of Allah and the epitome of human exemplariness. In him alone are found all the traits of what a perfect gentleman should be in all ramifications.
The ‘Ifs’ of His Life
The life of every human being is full of ifs. And, it is the conglomeration of those ifs that often form the particles of what is called profile or biography. For example, if Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had not been an orphan, he would not have been able to guide humanity on how orphans should be treated especially with regards to inheritance.
If he had not been a husband, his marital life would not have been an excellent template for others to emulate and women’s rights would have been permanently ignored. If he had not been a widower the world would not have realized the plight of widows and how to provide for them.
If he had not been a father, the proper parental care deserved by children would have been relegated to the background in Islamic doctrine. If he had not been trustworthy, the value of trust would have been totally lost in the lifestyle of mankind.
If this nonesuch Prophet of Allah had not been compelled to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, the culture of wayfaring and hospitality, which is universally imbibed today, would not have been in existence.
If he had not been forced to fight wars, the laws of war, armistice and reconciliation would have eluded humanity. If he had not diplomatically overcome the oppression to which he was subjected by his adversaries, the word magnanimity would not have found a place in the dictionary of the victors among warriors.
If the Prophet from Arabia had not been a judge, the virtue of justice would have been globally thrown to the winds and survival in all societies would have been for the fittest.
If this greatest Messenger of Allah had not been a democratic ruler, the relationship between the ruled and their rulers, all over the world, today, would not have been dissimilar from that of slaves and their masters and dictatorship in governance would have known no boundaries.
If he had not been poor despite being a Head of State, the policy of social welfare adopted in civilized societies today in favour of the poor, would not have been possible. If he had not been an illiterate, the world would not have known the difference between literacy and education.
And, if, despite all these qualities in him, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had not been humble and affable, arrogance would have been the main character of all privileged people in the world today.
Who else can be compared to this greatest man that ever lived in history? And, in which any other single personality could all the aforementioned qualities have ever been found in history? There can be little wonder, then, why so much attention was and is still being focused on the personality of this extra-ordinary human being.
That is Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for you, the like of whom the world has never seen before him and will never see again after him.
If this man is celebrated anywhere in the world today or any other time, therefore, it is definitely not because he was born like any other man. Rather, it is because his achievements transcend ordinary birth.
But for him, the world would have remained in the dungeon of ignorance and primitivism without any distinction between humans and beasts.
It was he who brought back the manual of life to mankind after it had been lost to vanity through centuries of man’s peregrinations on earth.
That manual of life is the divine instruction called the Qur’an, which came gradually from Allah to mankind in accordance with the growth rate of human intellect.
After many decades of scientific experimentations, a German-born American physicist and Nobel Laureate, Albert Einstein the inventor of atomic bomb who is generally known as the 20th century creator of special and general theory of relativity wrote about Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
He compared the Prophet’s works with the contents of the Qur’an and concluded as follows: “Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind”. He then called on fellow scientists to endeavour to read the Qur’an without bias in order to know the true origin of science in human life.
Einstein was not alone in such unfaultable reasoning and advocacy. Other great contemporary scholars have made similar observations.
One of them is Professor Tagatat Tajasen, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. Through his deep research, this Professor had to accept Islam on the strength of just one scientific sign accurately mentioned in the Qur’an to his intellectual consternation.
He had spent a great amount of his time, as a Professor, in search of pain receptor. When his attention was drawn to the Qur’an, he did not believe initially that such a highly sophisticated aspect of science could have been mentioned over 1,400 years ago.
But when he confirmed it by himself in the translation of the Qur’an, he became so much impressed that he publicly embraced Islam which he accepted as a truly divine religion.
Perhaps, it was those attestations by great men of intellect that prompted one Michael Hart, a Jewish American Astrophysicist, to research into the personality of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) whom he named as the greatest man that ever lived, in his famous book entitled ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’. There are many more prominent scholars who, at one time or another, gave testimonies about the un-questionability of the divine mission of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). One of them was Alphonse de Lamartine of France, who had the following to say about the Messenger of Allah in his book entitled ‘Histoire de la Torque’:
“Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim since this aim was superhuman; to subvert superstitions which had been interposed between man and his Creator; to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured idolatry which were then in existence”. He went further thus:
He went further thus: “…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 before their very 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 the souls. On the basis of a book (the Qur’an), every letter of which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blended together peoples of every tongue and of every race…..”.
He then concluded thus: “As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured we may well ask, is there any man in human history that is greater than Muhammad?”
Napoleon Bonaparte’s Testimony
On his own, Napoleon Bonaparte, the great 18th century French conqueror of Europe was so much amazed by the traits of Islam which he saw in Egypt during his military expeditions that he made the following historic statement about that divine religion and its great Prophet:
“Muhammad, in reality, was a great leader of mankind. He preached UNITY among Arabs who were, till then, torn asunder due to internecine quarrels, sometimes resulting in bloody war fares.
He brought them out of the obscure world in a short time and the discipline which they maintained under his leadership was simply marvellous, and so was their bravery, courage and devotion to the cause which they loved and cherished”.
He also continued as follows: “…this, coupled with the contempt for death, as taught by their leader, made them great soldiers and fighters like of whom history rarely produces.
I simply marvel at the achievements of this great ‘Son of the Desert’ within a mere period of less than 15 years; a thing which Moses and Christ could not do in 15 centuries. I salute this great man; I salute his qualities of Head and Heart….”
George Bernard Shaw’s Comment
Meanwhile, in corroboration of the above highlighted testimonies, variously made by renowned men of letters and intellect, another foremost Orientalist, playwright and dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, had the following to say about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his book ‘The genuine Islam’ (vol. 1 No 8 of 1936):
“The Christians and their missionaries have presented a horrible picture of Islam. Not only that, they also carried out an organized and planned propaganda against the personality of Prophet Mohammad and the religion he preached. I have carefully studied Islam and the life of its Prophet.
I have done so both as a student of history and as a critic. And I have come to the conclusion that Mohammad was indeed a great man and a deliverer and benefactor of mankind which was till then writhing under a most agonizing pain. I have always held Islam in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality.
It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing face of existence which can make it appealing to every age. I have studied him-the wonderful man and in my opinion, far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of humanity.
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”.
These are just some of the facts that make an unlettered Arabian orphan, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the greatest human being that ever lived on earth.
If non-Muslims could go so far to analyze the facts above about Prophet Muhammad (SAW) without reference to his birth, what is expected of Muslims for whom his mission is primarily meant? The life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was about service to mankind and not self adoration in the name of birthday.
As we are now celebrating another Eidul Fitr, we pray the Amighty Allah to continue to bless the invaluable soul of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as well as those of his companions, his spouses and household till the Day of Judgment. Amin. Eid Mubarak!