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.
People who follow a particular religion are never of the same type. Variety is the essence of life. Life goes on through cooperation between people of different dispositions, jobs and professions. The spectrum of life needs to have kings and presidents; the rulers and their obedient subjects; judges and courts to maintain law and order; army commanders to defend peace; the poor and the rich; pious men of God who spend whole nights in prayer or those who strive in His path spreading His message during the day; family and friends; merchants and businessmen and spiritual leaders. In short, this world exists and goes on with the existence of all these different kinds of people. And all of them need a code, a discipline, a way of life to make them successful in their own field of activity and contribute to the total richness of human life. Islam calls upon all human beings to follow the Sunnah—the way of Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him). It clearly means that it can offer practical examples to all kinds of people from the life of its Prophet (Peace be upon him). This very idea proves the comprehensiveness of the Prophet’s life which contains practical lessons and guidance for people in every walk of life. A ruler’s life cannot become a complete model for the ruled. Similarly, a poor person’s life is not a complete and practical example which a wealthy person could follow. What is needed here is the universal example of the comprehensive life of the Prophet of Islam which, like a bouquet of flowers, contains all the different colours and shades of human life.
In addition to the variety of different classes of human beings, there is immense diversity in the actions of an individual human being in different situations. We walk about and sit down; we laugh and we cry; we put on and take off clothes; we give and we take; we learn and we teach; we kill and get killed; we save lives and we take lives; we eat and we feed; we do favours and we get favours; we sacrifice life and we rescue life; we worship and we do business; we become hosts and we become guests etc. For all these actions, mundane or sublime, we need to have practical examples which could show us the best way of doing a thing in ever changing situations and varying conditions of life.
Apart from these physical activities, there are the actions of heart and mind which belong to the world of emotions and feelings. With changing moments, we experience different feelings and emotions. Sometimes we are pleased and some times angry; some times happy and sometimes gloomy; we sometimes suffer hardship and sometimes indulge in luxury; sometimes we taste success and sometimes failure. In different situations we act under the influence of a variety of emotions. Our good moral conduct depends on the control and balance of these emotions. We need the sublime example of the selfless Prophet of Madinah which could inspire us to exercise control over the intensity of our basic desires and lead us safely through the ways he himself traversed under the Divine guidance.
In order to deal with many different situations of our life, we need to have certain qualities of mind and heart like courage, fortitude, will power, patience, gratefulness, faith, resilience, self-sacrifice, contentment modesty, humility etc. But only a practical example can inspire in us these noble emotions. Where else can we find them all in one place except in the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? If we look at the available information about Moses, all we get is the strength and bravety of a courageous leader but no examples of a kind and soft heart showing mercy to others. Christ’s life is full of love and mercy and kindness, but nothing to inspire the powerful emotions. In human life, we need a balanced blend of love and power. In Prophet Muhammad’s biography we can find an excellent balance of mercy and strength, showing numerous examples of both.
Only Prophet Muhammad’s personality displays miraculously balanced emotions found in a human being in a wide variety of situations. If you are wealthy, follow the example of the noble trader of Makkah and trustworthy custodian of the treasures of Bahrain. If you are poor, look at his example when he was confined to a place called Shi’b Abi Taleb outside Makkah for three years where even the bare necessities of life were denied to him and his children, or when he was forced to leave his hometown and emigrate to Madinah. If you are a king, learn about him when he became the absolute ruler of Arabia. If you are the ruled, look how he endured the oppression of Qureish in Makkah. If you are a victor, look at the commander of the battles of Badr and Hunayn. If you are a loser learn your lessons from the battle of Uhad. If you are a teacher, look at the noble teacher of Suffah (in his mosque in Madinah). If you are a student, look at the student receiving Allah’s Message from Gabriel. If you are a preacher, listen to the preacher of Madinah delivering his sermons in his mosque. If you have to raise the voice of truth against the evil powers of oppression, look at the lonely and helpless messenger of Allah conveying His message in Makkah. If you have, with Allah’s help, overcome your opponents and your enemies, watch the conqueror of Makkah in triumph. If you want to organize your business or worldly affairs, look at the administration of the owner of the lands of Bani Nudhair, Khyber and Fadak. If you are an orphan, look at the upbringing of the orphan child of Amenah and Abdullah. If you are a boy, watch him grow under the loving gaze of Halimah Sa’diyah (May Allah be pleased with her). If you are an adolescent, study the character of the shephard of Makkah. If you are a travelling tradesman, look at the examples set by the caravan leader of Basrah. If you are an arbitrator or a judge in a court of law, imagine him entering the holy Mosque of Makkah at dawn and settling the dispute among the blood-thirsty rival tribesman of Makkah, and preventing bloodshed in the holy House of God with his wise judgment. And watch the judge sitting in the courtyard of his mud-brick Mosque of Madinah, handing out impartial judgment in the cases of the high or the low, the rich or the poor with equal fairness.
If you are a husband, study the pure and faithful life of the noble husband of Khadijah and Ayeshah (May Allah be pleased with them) If you have children, look at Fatimah’s father’s upbringing of her and her son Hassan and Hussain (May Allah be pleased with them). Whoever you are and whatever your circumstance, if you are looking for guidance, correctness of conduct and the bliss of life, you will always find it in the shining example of Allah’s last Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Whoever wants to shun the darkness of ignorance and prejudice and is looking for the light of truth and guidance, they will find it in the immaculate and perfect life of the holy Prophet, whose divinely guided and inspired life is the only source of salvation for mankind. One who has some understanding of The holy Prophet’s biography will feel that the lives of the other great prophets of Allah like Noah, Abraham, Job, Jonah, Moses and Christ (Peace be upon them all) are combined into one, represented in the holy Prophet’s life. The sublime examples of the nobility of the human character and morals that distinguish each messenger of Allah individually are found in the holy Prophet’s life collectively, for all those who seek truth and guidance from his life.
About forty years back, Hassan Ali, a well known teacher and preachar of Islam used to bring out a magazine from Patnah (India) called the “Light of Islam”. He has quoted some remarks in his magazine, from one of his non-Muslim friends. This friend, a well-educated Hindu, once said to him, “I consider your Prophet the greatest and most perfect personality ever to have lived in this world.” Hassan Ali asked him, How do you compare our Prophet (Peace be upon him) with Jesus (Peace be upon him). He said, compared to Muhammad, Jesus seems to me like an innocent little child talking sweetly in front of a great sage.” Then he asked him, ‘why do you consider the Prophet of Islam the most perfect man in human history’ He said that he saw in his life such conflicting and diverse qualities present at the same time as have never been combined into one single personality. He was a king who had absolute power over a vast country like Arabia and yet displayed such humbleness as if he had no power even on his own self and was totally dependent upon Allah. He was so wealthy that camel-loads of treasures were coming into his capital as a tribute and yet in his own house no fire was lit for months together, and he went without food for days. He was a militaiy commander of such calibre that he would enter into a battle with a handful of men against thousands of well equipped, armoured enemy and come out victorious. And yet he was so peace loving that when he had under his command thousands of warriors, who would gladly give up their lives for him, he signed a peace treaty without hesitation. He was so courageous that he would face thousands of enemies all alone and yet so kind-hearted that he did not shed the blood of a single human being with his own hand. So mindful of human ties that he would care for the well- being of his family, his countrymen, the poor and the needy, and would worry himself to death for the salvation of the whole human race. But when he stood in prayer before Allah, it seemed that he had known no one but Him. He never took revenge for himself, even from those who called him names and persecuted him. He forgave his worst personal enemies and wished them well. But he never forgave those who were Allah’s enemy and stood in the way of spreading the Truth. He always warned them of the torture of Hell and God’s wrath. Just when we think he is a fighting swordsman, he appears to be a hermit who stands in prayer all night long. We look at him in awe as a great conqueror but at the same time he appears before us as the innocent Messenger of Allah. We want to call him the emperor of Arabia, but find him sifting on a humble mat made from the date-palm leaves. There comes a time when the courtyard of his mosque in Madinah is piled up with spoils of war from all over Arabia, yet in his own home his children are starving. And when the prisoners of war are being distributed over other Muslim households, his own daughter Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) returns home empty handed though her hands are blistered and her body is scarred as a result of vigorous household chores. Half of Arabia has submitted to him, but when his companion Umar visits him, he finds him lying on a coarse mat which has left its marks on his bare shoulders. In a corner he finds a handful of barley and an empty jar hanging from a hook. Umar’s eyes are filled with tears at this austerity and self-denial. When he’s asked why he is crying, he says, “O Messenger of Allah! Can there be a greater reason for my crying? The emperors of the Persian and the Roman Empire are living in luxuries while you, the Prophet of Allah, live in such poverty” The Prophet says, “Umar! Aren’t you pleased to know that their lot is this temporary world and we are to get the eternal bliss in the Hereafter?’
Abu Sufyan, before his conversion to Islam was the biggest opponent of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). On the day of the holy Prophet’s triumphant entry into Makkah, he was watching along with the Prophet’s uncle, Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), the Muslim army march past them. When he looked at the wave after wave of the Muslim soldiers, the Arab warriors carrying their colourful tribal banners, he still could not perceive the deeper truth and remarked to the Prophet’s uncle, ‘Abbas!, your nephew has become a great king!” Abbas, whose eyes were looking beyond the apparent show, answered, “Abu Sufyan! This is not the show of power of a worldly king. It is the glory of Allah’s Prophet.”
Adi bin Hatim was the son of the legendary Arab, Hatim Al-Tai (kmown for his fabulous hospitality). He was a Christian when he came to the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). He saw the preparations being made for a military campaign and observed his companions’ overwhelming devotion to the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). He found it difficult to determine weather Muhammad was a king or the messenger of Allah. In the meantime, a poor slave girl of Madinah entered and said that she had a request to make. The holy Prophet at once stood up and said, ‘I am ready to listen to your problem at any place and any time in Madinah.’ And he immediately arranged to solve her problem. Adi, who had known the pomp and glory of the kings, did not take long to realize that no king could show such humility, modesty and kindliness towards a meagre slave girl. Certainly this was the glory of the Prophet of God. He made the decision in his heart. Immediately he removed the cross he was wearing and announced his devotion to the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him).
Whatever I have said so for is not a poetic praise of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). These are solid statements of his noble character taken from authentic history. Only such a complete and comprehensive life which can I produce numerous practical examples for the guidance and well-being of all kinds and classes of people in their varied situations and complexities of life deserves to lead the whole world in all times and in all places. He alone can produce shining examples from his own life to lead us through such diverse situations of life as love and sympathy yet wrath and anger; generosity and poverty and starvation; courage and bravery and mercy and kindliness; mundane household affairs and sublime relation with Allah; this temporary life and the eternity of the Hereafter. He not only gives the good tidings of success in this world but also gives a code of life which leads to the eternal bliss of the next world. It is generally believed that mercy and forgiveness, meekness and kindliness are the main traits of humanity, or perhaps the only virtues of perfect humanity. Therefore, whoever possesses these virtues must be the greatest teacher and well-wisher of humanity. But, are these the only powers created in a human personality? A human being shows other equally powerful emotions too, such as anger, generosity, love, hatred, greed, contentment, revenge and forgiveness which cannot be separated from human nature. Therefore, a perfect teacher and guide for all humanity can be one who can strike a balance between these diverse and sometimes conilicting human traits and give them a proper direction. The religions that claim that the biographies of their prophets are based only on mercy and love and forgiveness cannot show that they were able to follow their example collectively in their daily lives for long. Since the first great Christian king Constantine to the present day, the Christian world has produced many powerful and great rulers. But, did anyone of them ever base the law of his kingdom on the code of life of their prophet? If his own followers could not find guidance for all practical purposes in the life of their prophet, how can they claim that it can be a perfect and complete model for the whole world to follow?
The salient feature of Noah’s life is the outrage against the evil of a faithless society. Abraham’s life shows a fight against paganism. The life of Moses is a constant struggle against the powers of oppression and tyranny and then the establishment of administration and collective rules and regulations for a just social order. Christ’s life is a lesson in meekness, humility, mercy, forgiveness and contentment. Solomon’s life shows us the splendour of royal prerogatives. Job’s life is a model of patient acceptance of suffering. Jonah’s life gives the supreme example of repentance and seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. In Joseph’s life there is a lesson in preaching the truth even as a prisoner within the boundaries of a prison. David’s life is a story of celebrating Allah’s Glory and crying to him in humble prayers. Jacob’s life is an example of total surrender to Allah’s Will, and faith and hope in His Mercy. But if you look at Prophet Muhammad’s noble life history, you will find that it is a paragon of the virtues found individu ally in the lives of Allah’s Prophet Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Solomon, David, Job, Jonah, Joseph and Jacob (Peace be upon them all).
A scholar of the holy Prophet’s traditions, Khateeb Baghdadi, relates (though his report is not considered totally authentic by some scholars) that at the time of the holy Prophet’s birth, a voice from the realm of the un known was heard calling, Take Muhammad to all the worlds, and into the depths of the oceans, and to the realms of the jinns and humans, birds and animals, to all living beings, so that the whole universe may know his name. Give him Adam’s morality, Seth’s God-consciousness, Noah’s cour age, Abraham’s loyalty, Ismail’s speech, Isaac’s acceptance, Saleh ‘s eloquence, Lot’s wisdom, the strong will of Moses, Job’s patience, Jonah’s obedience, Joshua’s struggle, David’s voice, Daniel’s love, the dignity of Elias, John’s piety, Christ’s self-denial, and bathe him in the ethics of all the Prophets of Allah.” The scholars, who have considered this report authentic and have mentioned it in their collection of traditions, actually mean to emphasize the comprehensive and universal nature of the holy Prophet’s character. What was given to all the Prophets individually, was blended into Prophet Muhammad’s person collectively.
If you look at the different aspects of the holy Prophet’s life, this quality of comprehensiveness will stand out quite clearly. Watch Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Makkah to Madinah, Does it not remind you of the flight of Moses from Egypt to Madayin? There is a remarkable similarity between Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) meditating on Mount Hira and receiving the first revelation from Allah and Moses observing Allah’s Glory on Mount Sinai. The only difference is that Prophet Muhammad’s meditation was directed inwards, and Moses was looking with open eyes. Imagine Christ’s preaching from Mount of Olives and Prophet Muhammad’s call to the Qureish of Makkah from Mount Safa. How similar is the Prophet leading his forces against the Arab non-believ ers to Moses fighting against the infidels of Palestine! When the holy Prophet prayed to Allah for the destruction of seven evil mongers of the tribal leaders of Makkah, he was like Moses who prayed to Allah to destroy the Pharoah and his followers who had rejected the Truth even though they had seen the clear signs of his prophethood from Allah. When the holy Prophet prayed to Allah to forgive his blood-thirsty enemies in the battle of Uhad, he was at that time like Christ showing mercy and kindness. If you look at Prophet Muhammad handing out judgment in the court of his holy Mosque in Madinah, or in his fight against non-believers, it would seem as if you were looking at Moses. But if you look at him in his humble residence or in a cave or in the loneliness of dark nights, deep in meditation and prayer to his Lord, you might see the very picture of Christ. If you listen to the supplications constantly on his tongue celebrating the Glory of Allah, you will be reminded of David singing the praise of Allah. If you look at him leading a victorious army into Makkah, you may imagine the power and glory of Solomon. Imagine his three years confinement outside Makkah, where it was hard to get any food, you can see the picture of Prophet Joseph in the Egyptian prison.
Moses was given the Divine Law, David celebrated Allah’s praise, Christ’s predominent virtue was piety and morality, But Prophet Muhammad was given the Law, the Prayer the Supplication and the Moral Code. The sum of these is found in the holy Quran in the form of words, and in practice it is reflected in the whole personality of the holy Prophet (Peace he upon him).
Friends! Let me demonstrate another side of the comprehensive nature of the holy Prophet’s life history. There are usually two kinds of educational institutions in the world. Some are meant for specialized professional training such as a medical college, an engineering college, an arts school, a commerce college, an agricultural institute, etc. All of them produce doctors, engineers, artists, experts in business and agriculture respectively. Similarly, a military college will train only soldiers. And then there are bigger institutions, or universities, which usually include all these various schools and colleges. These universities have a much wider scope of knowledge where students come from different places and choose their particular field of study according to their inclinations and needs. Thus generals and soldiers, judges and lawyers, business executives and doctors and professionals of all sorts are produced. But the human society cannot be formed by just one kind of education or one kind of professionals. It comes into being and exists with the sum of all these different branches of knowledge. If this world were to have one kind of knowledge or one kind of vocation, the complex machine of this civilization would immediately come to a standstill. Likewise, if this world is filled with ascetics and recluses, it will not achieve perfection. Now, let us look at the available biographies of different Prophets of Allah from this angle. According to a saying of Christ (Peace be upon him), a tree is known by its fruit. Similarly, an educational institution is judged by the achievements of its students. If you look at those schools of human society where the teachers are the Prophets of Allah, you will find the number of disciples credited to each Prophet from ten, fifteen, fifty, seventy, a hundred to a maximum of twenty thousand. But the Last Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) had over a hundred thousand disciples at one and the same time. If you want to learn about the pupils of the earlier Prophets and ask where they were from; who they were; how they were trained; what their habits and morals were like; what their spiritual and other achievements were in life; what effect their education and training left on their societies, you cannot find any answer to these questions. But the disciples of Prophet Muhammad have a well documented history. You can find out the name, personal details, education and spiritual training and its influence on others etc. of any of the holy Prophet’s pupils, securely recorded in the history of Islam.
Look a step further. Nearly every religion claims that its doors are open to all human beings. But the history of its founder, its first teacher will tell you that in his lifetime only one nation, one country, one race or one tribe entered that particular religion. Did they have a universal appeal or a common call for every human being? All the Prophets of Torah never addressed their call beyond Iraq or Palestine or Egypt. They remained confmed in their own homeland and concentrated on their own nation or their own race. Most of them focused on the Children of Israel. The early Arab Prophets too were responsible only for their own nations. Even the Disciples of Christ did not include any non-Israelite. He was only looking fbr the ‘Lost Sheep of the House of Israel’. It is also mentioned in the Bible that teaching non-Israelites was like throwing his children’s food to the dogs. The preachers of Hinduism never thought of taking it out of the sacred boundaries of the land of Aryan India. Granted that some Budhist king carried his message beyond India but, like the Christians, it was the idea of his followers. The history of the founder is silent on this point.
Let us consider some of the outstanding pupils of the great Arab Prophet’s School. Here are Abu Bakr, Umar, Othman, Ali, Talha and Zubair (May Allah be pleased with them all). They belong to the Qureish of Makkah. Then there are Abu Zhar and Anas, from the Ghaffari Tribe of Tihama, from outside Makkah. Abu Hurairah and Tufail bin Amr are from the Dossy tribe and have come from Yemen. Abu Mousa Ashary and Mu’azh bin Jabal are also from Yemen but from other tribes. Dhimmad bin Tha’albah is from the tribe of Azd, Khabbab bin Al-Arrt from Tamim, Munqizh bin Habban and Munzhir bin Ayezh have come from Bahrain from the tribe of Abd Al-Qais. Obaid and Jaffer are Omani chiefs. Here is Bilal, a Negro from Ethiopia and Suhaib, the Roman, and Salman, the Persian. Firoz Dailmi is from Yemen, and Seekhab and Markabud come from Iran.
The Treaty of Hudaibiyah in 6 AH calls for peace, which is the very meaning of Islam and its most cherished goal. It stops fighting between the Qureish and the Muslims and gives the Muslims a free hand to preach their religion whenever they want. What did the holy Prophet do after this great achievement? The same year, he sent letters to kings and leaders of many nations of the world calling them to the worship of One God and following the way of Islam. Dehya Kalbi carried this letter to the Roman emperor, Abdullah Ibn Huzafah Sehmi to the Persian king and Hatib bin Balta to the Egyptian ruler. Amr bin Umayyah was sent to the king of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia), Shua’a bin Wahab Al-Asadi to the Syrian chief Harith Ghassani and Sulait bin Amr to different tribal chiefs in Yamama. This shows that the admission to holy Prophet’s school was open to all.
The sending of the holy Prophet’s emissaries in his own lifetime, carrying Allah’s Message to various nations living in different parts of the world makes it quite clear that His message was universal. It was not meant for the Arabs alone. It was meant for all mankind. Regardless of their colour, country, race, nation, tribe or language it called all individuals, families, tribes and nations to the worship of Allah, the one and only God, their Lord and the Lord of the worlds. And this call remains the same today and for ever, for all the people all over the world.
Let us look at the nature of the holy Prophet’s centre of learning at Madina. Was it like a school where only one kind of knowledge was imparted? Or was it like an all-round magnificent university where people from different countries and different nations came and received knowledge and education according to their needs and capacity? Compare this with what is known from the life history of Moses (Peace be upon him). All we have there is a few military officers and men, some judges and religious authorities. Look for what is known of Christ’s disciples. You will find no more than a few ascetics, roaming in the streets of Palestine. But amongst those taught and trained by Prophet Muhammad, you will fmd such men of diverse accomplishments as the King of Abyssinia, Asmaha; the Chief of Ma’an, Farwah; the Chief of Himyr, Zulkala’a the Chief of Hamadan, Amer bin Shahr; the Yemeni Chief Firoz Dailmi and Markabud; and Omani Chief, Obaid and Ja His students include men of the calibre of Bilal, Yasir Suhaib, Khabbab, Ammar and Abu Fukayha. There were also slave girls like Sumayyah, Lubaina, Zinnira, Nahdiyah and Umm-Obais. These men and women were the very symbol of the struggle for freedom against the powers of oppression. Among the holy Prophet’s disciples, you will find kings, chieftains, the poor and the rich, the slaves and the masters, standing shoulder to shoulder in one row.
Prophet Muhammad’s education has produced great men of wisdom, scholars, leaders of men and rulers administering vast territories. In the forefront are Abu-Bakr Siddique, Umar Al-Farooq, Othman Ghani, Ali Al Murtadha and Mua’wia bin Abu-Sufyan (May Allah be pleased with them all). Their benign and just rule extended from east to west, from Africa to the borders of India, setting up examples of civil administration and establishing new social, political and legal orders. Their decisions based on fairness and wisdom made the Roman and Persian systems look ineffective and worthless, and buried them in the pages of history forever. They have left such shining examples of fair, efficient and just rule that the whole history of mankind cannot match the standard set up by them.
IThen you have such courageous and resolute military leaders like Khalid bin Waleed, Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas, Abu Obaidah bin Jarrah and Amr bin Al-Aas (May Allah be pleased with them all) who shattered the most powerful oppressive regimes of their era in a matter of years and proved to be the most powerfiui conquerers of their time who are still held by the world in awe. Sa’ad conquered the mighty Persian empire, Khalid and Abu Obaidah turned the Romans out of Palestine and restored the land of Abraham (Peace be upon him) to its rightfiul owners. Amr bin Al-A’as conquered the land of Pharoas. Abdullah bin Zubair and Ibn Abi Sarah marched in triumph across North Africa. These are the men whose miIitary ability was recognised by the world, and history remains a witness to their greatness.
In addition to some of these great examples, we have scores of other companions of the holy Prophet, who served humanity by their fair and efficient administration of different regions and cities of the ever expanding Islamic rule. Some of the outstanding names are Bazan bin Sasan who ruled over Yemen, Khalid bin Saeed over Sanaa, Muhajir bin Omayyah over Kinda, Ziyad bin Labeed (Hadhr Maut), Amr bin Hazm (Najran), Yazid bin Abi Sufyan (Taima), Ala bin Hadhrami (Bahrain).
There is an illustrious list of scholars and experts in Islamic law. Leading amongst them are Umar bin Khattab, Ali bin Abi Taleb, Abdullah bin Abbas, Abdullah bin Masood, Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas, Ubai bin Ka’ab, Mu’azh bin Jabal, Zaid bin Thabit, Ibn Zubair and the holy Prophet’s wives Ayesha and Umm Salma (May Allah be pleased with them all). They are the pillars of Islamic law whose judgments and opinions are still highly regarded by the Muslim world and they have a special place among the leading law givers of the world. There is yet another group of specialized scholars who focussed on compiling the historical and biographical details of the holy Prophet’s life. They include hundreds of the holy Prophet’s companions, prominent among them being Abu Hurairah, Abu Moosa Ash’ary, Anas bin Malik, Abu Saeed Khudri, Obadah bin Samit, Jabir bin Abdullah and Bar’a bin Azib. Then comes a dedicated group of self-sacrificing, self-denying men of God, whose only interest in life was the pursuit of Divine knowledge. They were seventy in number and their only worldly possessions were the clothes they had on their bodies. They lived on a terrace in the holy Prophet’s mosque. They spent all their time in worship. Learning the Divine message and teaching it to others was the only purpose of their life.
There are some unique individuals too, like Abu Zhar Ghaffari who is matchless in his outspoken support and love of truth. He had such strong faith in Allah that he would not save anything even for the next day’s meal, trusting that Allah would provide it for him. The holy Prophet had given him the title, “Islam’s Christ.” Salman Farisi, who came from Persia, was a living picture of piety and God-consciousness. Abdullah bin Umar, who spent thirty years in sincere service and devotion, was offered the opportunity to be the caliph. He refused to accept it saying he could not tolerate the shedding of a single drop of blood of a Muslim under his rule. Musab bin Umair, who used to live in luxury before embracing Islam wearing clothes made of costliest silks, had patches sown on his clothes made from a coarse material. When he was killed fighting for Islam, his cloak was not long enough to cover his whole body, so his feet were covered with grass when he was buried. Othman bin Mazoon is known as the first mystic of Islam. There is Muhammad bin Salamah who used to say he would rather be killed by a Muslim than draw his sword against him. And there are men like Abu Darda who used to spend his days fasting and nights praying.
Among Prophet Muhammad’s men there are such resourceful and wise personalities as Talha, Zubair, Mughira, Miqdad, Sa’ad bin Mu’azh, Sa’ad bin Ubadah, Usayyed bin Hudhair and Asad bin Zararah (May Allah be pleased with them all). There are eminent traders and wealthiest of men like Abdur Rahman bin Ouf and Sa’ad bin Zubair (May Allah be pleased with them) from Makkah, and there are great farmers from Madinah.
Still there is a group of innocent martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the path of Allah, spreading the message of Truth. They preferred to give away their lives rather than give up the Truth. The holy Prophet’s wife Khadija’s son from her previous marriage, Halah, was put to sword. Ammar’s mother, Sumayyah (May Allah be pleased with her) was killed at the hands of Abu Jahal. Yasir was tortured to death by the non-believers of Makkah. Khubaib was killed on the cross. Zaid was put to sword. Haram bin Milham, along with sixty-nine of his companions, was treacherously killed at Bir Mauna by the tribes of Osayyah, Ra’al and Zakwan. At Rajee’a, Asim and his companions were killed by a hundred archers of the tribe of Banu Lehyan. In 7 AH, the Banu Salim killed Ibn Abi Al-Owaja and his forty-nine companions. Ka’ab bin Umar Ghaffari, along with his friends, was martyred at Zhat Al-Atlah. A world religion is very proud of its cross. But in Islam you find not one cross but innumerable men and women were put on the cross. They sacrificed their lives for the sake of Truth, for the sake of Allah.
Be it a cross or the edge of a sword or the point of a spear, it is a means of inevitable torture to test the human will. Their pain is sharp but short lived. A far greater test of will and patience is for those who spent long years of persecution, mental torture and suffering but never wavered from the path of truth. There were those who were dragged on the hot sands of Makkah, or laid on burning coal that was extinguished by their blood and smouldering fat. Some were dragged on the hot sand with heavy rocks tied to their chests but they remained steadfast forever chanting the words of faith they had learnt from the Prophet of God—There is no one worthy of worship but Allah. Some of them survived by eating the leaves of Talh, a tree found in Makkah. Sa’ad bin Waqqas (MayAllah he pleased with him) says that in those days of social boycott, he could not stand the pangs of hunger one night and roasted a dried piece of leather he had found somewhere and gulped it down with water. Otbah bin Ghazwan says that there were seven of them together who had injured their mouths by eating such unnatural food. When Khabbab announced his Islam, he was made to lie on burning coal.
Bilal was a slave when he became a Muslim. His master would put a heavy stone on his chest and made him lie on hot sand. A rope was tied around his neck and he was dragged in the streets of Makkah. Abu Fukayha was similarly dragged in the streets. Ammar was made to lie on the hot sand and was mercilessly beaten. Zubair’s uncle would wrap a mat round him and force him to inhale smoke. Saeed bin Zaid was often tied and beaten. Othman’s uncle used to tie him down and beat him. But they were like men possessed. None of these measures could take them away from the path of truth that was shown to them by the holy Prophet (Peace he upon him).
My dear friends! Let us pause for a moment and consider some questions. Aren’t these the same Arabs who were barbarians, nomads, uncivilized, pagans and immoral? Why this sudden revolution? How did an unlettered Prophet’s education enlighten their minds, their souls and their hearts? How did it transform them into broad-minded, civilized law-abiding and law-giving people? How a defenceless, lonely messenger’s missionary zeal gave those insignificant, humble Arabs new sources of courage and power, and turned them into brave leaders of men? Those who did not even know the name of God, became pious, God-conscious, obedient, bowing their heads in prayer and meditation all night. I have tried to let you have only a glimpse of Prophet Muhammad’s centre of learning or the University of Madinah and you have seen some of its students with their varied accomplishments. You have seen scholars, law makers, military commanders, judges, administrators, governors. You have seen the rich and the poor, the slaves and the masters, warriors and martyrs dying for the sake of Truth. Now, what conclusion have you reached? Can there be any other verdict except that Allah’s Prophet, Muhammad’s personality reflects the best and the noblest side of human nature. In him we find the noblest of virtues combined in one person. His many-sided virtues are reflected individually through his companions, like Abu Bakr and Umar, Othman and Ali, the first four Caliphs of Islam. His courage and bravery would show up in the battle field in the shape of Khalid, Abu Obaidah, Sa’ad, or Ja’afer Tayyar. His devotion to Allah and his piety could be seen in Ibn Umar, Abu Zhar, Salman and Abu Darda gracing the Mihrab of a mosque. His knowledge and wisdom would spring up through such illustrious scholars of Islam as Ibn Abbas, Ubai bin Ka’ab, Zaid bin Thabit and Abdullah bin Masoud. Sometimes his fortitude and patience would reflect in the suffering of Bilal, Suhaib, Ammar and Khubaib. His blessed presence was like the sun that shines over the whole world.Its high mountains and vast valleys, running rivers and green fields benefit from its light and warmth according to their own nature and capacity. Or like a cloud full of rain that falls over mountains, forests, fields and deserts and each absorbs it according to its capacity, resulting in lush trees, green fields and flowers of many colours and shapes.
There was a unity in variety in the diverse virtues displayed by the companions of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). Outstanding in them all was the power or faith which worked like lightning. It was this spirit which inspired them all. It was the faith in one God, sincerity of purpose, selfless spirit of serving others, sympathy and love for fellow human beings and, above all, the intention to please Allah in whatever they did and wherever they went that inspired everyone. It was this spirit that moved a king or his subjects alike, the rich or the poor, a judge or a witness, an officer or a soldier, a teacher or a student, an ascetic or a trader, a warrior or a martyr. They were different in their colour, their temperament, their race but they believed in one Allah, the same Prophet, the same book and bowed in prayer in the same direction. They all worked for a common pur pose—to uphold the Truth, to serve one God and bring His Message to all mankind binding them in one common faith and to make this world a better place to live.
My dear friends! In today’s talk I have tried to show you the many- sided virtues collectively present in one person, the holy Prophet Mu hammad (Peace be upon him). If, after your observation of nature, you believe that this world of ours is a mixture of varied human talents, capabilities and temperaments, you will agree with me, that no one other than Prophet Muhammad can be the eternal and universal leader of humanity. The reason is that he was chosen by the Creator of this universe for this eternal role. In the following verse of the holy Quran, the last message to humanity from Allah, it is stated very clearly:
Say: If ye do love god follow me god will love you
For those who love God and want to be loved by God, there cannot be any other choice, because Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has shown the way of love by living every moment of his life in Allah’s love. Therefore only he can proclaim, ‘Follow me!” Whether you be a king or a subject, a commander or a soldier, a teacher or a student, rich or poor and helpless, in whatever capacity you want to serve Allah and His creatures, follow the example of the holy Prophet and you will never fail to find the best example in his practice.
O Allah, send Your Mercy and Blessings on him, his family and his Companions.