Dear friends! Today’s talk marks the end of our month-long meetings. As you know, it is the eighth meeting of this series. I had intended to present to you at least the essential aspects of Islam in my last two speeches but it seems that a lot more time is needed to do justice to the subject. However, to sum up let us return to the basics of which the first principle is the Oneness of God.
My dear friends! How should the messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) be followed, and why? For that purpose we have to show you, in today’s talk, the practicability of his life pattern. At this point in history, this chapter is almost entirely empty regarding other messengers of Allah or the founders of other religions. But this very aspect of Prophet Muhammad’s biography is the fullest and the longest chapter of his life. And this very point should be enough to decide who can rightfully be the leader and Seal of Prophets”. There is no shortage of good instructions, sound advice and sweet words in this world, but what matters most is good deeds. If we go through the available histories of various religious leaders, we will find interesting philosophies, fascinating parables, great pieces of oratory and artistic use of words, which will certainly move us and please us momentarily. But what is lacking there is the practical application of those words of wisdom and proving their goodness and effectiveness through personal example.
Gentlemen! Every religion has shown to human beings how they could become worthy of achieving God’s love, and that usually meant following the good advice of the founder or the prophet of that particular religion. But Islam has done still better. It presents the practical example of its Prophet to everyone. The means to receiving God’s love is through following His Prophet example in every undertaking of life. Therefore, Islam is based on two things: the word of God and its application as shown in the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The word of God, or the Kitab means the Commandment of Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and Sunnah, the Arabic term stands for the holy Prophet’s practice. Literally, it means the ‘way”, therefore, Sunnah is the way how the Prophet lived following Allah’s Commands. It is the practical example of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) that has been completely and fully preserved in the books of the Prophet’s traditions. In short, a Muslim’s success and spiritual flulfilment lies in following the holy Prophet’s Sunnah.
Let us now consider the life of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) in the light of the four criteria set forth in our pervious talk.The first one is “historicity”. In this regard, the whole world agrees and marvels at the way the followers of Islam have meticulously preserved not only the record of their Prophet’s life but also everything even remotely concerned with his noble personality. There have been narrators and biographers who devoted their life in collecting, recording, classifying and narrating the Prophets sayings, his deeds and everything related to his life. These biographers include his own worthy companions who were his direct disciples, and then those who learnt from them, and then the generation coming immediately after them. In addition, the collectors of the holy Prophet’s sayings and his traditions and his biographers include persons up to 4th century since the Prophet’s migration to Madinah. When all this heritage was collected, written and arranged, the personal information about each narrator was also recorded which included such important features as the narrator’s name and family background, his life history, his moral and ethical conduct, etc. The number of these biographical notes is nearly one hundred thousand. This collection is known as Asma-ur-Rijal.
Only the noble and the ideal life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) can be a universal and eternal example for mankind to follow.
The life around us is full of all kinds of wonders. Scattered in the world are different creatures with distinct qualities and characteristics. A close look at Allah’s creation shows that from inanimate things to the human beings there has been a gradual progress of sense, perception and will. The basic forms of inorganic matter show a complete lack of sense and perception. Some other kinds of material show a faint trace of some kind of life. In growing plants involuntary presence of senses can be felt. In the animal world along with the senses there is some kind of will. In human beings, the power to control their thoughts, actions and desires makes them the most responsible of all created beings. The degree of responsibility in other creatures is proportional to the degree of free will given to them. The inorganic things are entirely free from all responsibility. Plants are subject to the laws of life and death. In the animal world, the responsibilities are increased further but it is mankind that is bound by obligations all over. Within their own kind, the mentally ill, the idiots and children on the one side and the adults, the learned, and the intellectuals on the other have to bear the burden of responsibility according to the power of perception and will present in them.
The following few lectures about different aspects of the life of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) were delivered under the patronage of the Muslim Educational Society of Madras, India, in 1925. For the past few years, it has been a regular practice in Madras that every year some distinguished scholar of Christianity gives lectures on Christianity and Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him), which are received with great interest. This gave the idea to certain well educated Muslims of Madras that a similar attempt should be made for the benefit of the Muslim students of English-medium schools there. Every year, the services of a Muslim scholar should be acquired to give lectures about Islam and the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him), and these lectures should suit the taste of the students of English-medium schools and appeal to the modern mind. Fortunately, Seth M. Jamal Mohammad took upon himself to sponsor these lectures and it is hoped that his good work will continue for a long time to come and this series of the “Islamic Lectures of Madras” will be popular and fruitful.