Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) by no doubt, was and is the greatest man of humanity with virtues/qualities true to self. Not just in Islam but people throughout the world consider him to be the Savior of Humanity. He was an ordinary man with an extraordinary mission – to establish Islam, to be the Messenger of Almighty Allah for the sake of his people and he strongly worked for it, established it and did as per the will of Allah, the Almighty. There has been no evidence or portrait of how physically Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) looked or the face he had and on the other side, historians have tried to give him a physique or a face but it was never considered to be the true part of him. Unlike our other Prophet, Jesus Christ whom people easily emulate or idolize with an innocent face, a lean body etc , it isn’t the same with our greatest Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Over the last decade, across nations people have resorted to various claims and disrespectful cartoons of him that definitely hurts the fraternity of Islam – every individual is shaken when the man who laid down the foundation of your religion is misunderstood, laughed at or disrespected. Nobody could accept such a humiliation.
With the recent incident in France where a teacher portrayed/showed the cartoon of our messenger and how he was beheaded, it was definitely not the right way to teach someone a lesson but it could have been dealt in the most non violent way. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself never supported violence. Going by history, there have been battles that were fought, he was also the commander in chief but he never himself agreed to it, he always loved brotherhood over bloodshed. He was and is the best example of a true man with the right virtues one should possess, I can always relate and draw, from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Everyone has the right to know about him and the fact of how depicting a great figure disrespectfully cannot be tolerated at any level.
During Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) entire lifespan he responsibly played various roles of a son, husband, father, preacher, reformer, leader, commander in chief and Prophet. Every phase of his life was an example for all people not only during that age/century but even now, centuries later. There are so many wonderful qualities/virtues one can draw and learn from his life’s teachings and the way he lived his life. In this blog, I will be covering his many virtues, his lifestyle, his thought process and how people are wrong to depict him in a sense that demeans him in every way people resort to in the current scenarios.
Unlike other prophets, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had a very humble beginning. He was born to a very poor widow, Aminah who brought him up with great love and devotion. She is considered to be the noblest of all women of Islam to have given birth to the leader of the Messengers, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Referring to a quote here where Aminah said, “When I delivered him, a light came out with him that illuminated all that was between the East and the West. The light illuminated palaces and markets of Syria until I saw the necks of the camels in Basra. I saw three erected flags: one at the East, one at the West and the third over the Ka’bah (the Holy place of Worship)”. At the age of 6, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lost his mother, Aminah as she fell ill and succumbed to her sickness. He wept bitterly for his mother as she would never return. Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) emotions were as natural as of any human being, though he was always considered the greatest Man of all times. His emotional sense of being was always strong and sensitive like any of us. Throughout his life, he also underwent losses like us losing his mother, his daughters, his wife who died in front of his eyes but he had the courage and willpower to believe in the plans of Almighty Allah and surrender himself to the Will of Allah.
A lot of wonderful qualities one can learn from him and imbibe in themselves to lead a peaceful life and have an honest and great attitude towards living – listing out some of them that can truly inspire us in all ways of life –
- Courage and Willpower – Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) humble upbringing under the guidance of his uncle, Abu Talib and his wife Fathima who took care of him as their own son. As Abu Talib was a businessman looking after trades, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began to assist him in the trades and business deals and slowly began to learn it all. This showed his willpower to learn and assist his uncle at such a tender age. He had excellent habits and an unimpeachable character. He always believed that honesty and truthfulness command respect and honour. When Prophet Muhammad realized he had a mission to accomplish, to be the Messenger of Allah and spread the good word of Islam, his determination, courage and willpower to submit himself to Allah and to do as commanded, for the betterment of Islam and the community, he strived hard convincing people of his responsibility, what Allah wills and wants each one of us to do, spreading the good word during the course of which, he faced a lot of denials, vengeance, people refusing to believe in him and creating more nuances for him as they believed he was going against the will of their ancestors to idol worship and the practice of worshipping many gods.
The revelation of Quran took place over the period of 23 years. Quran was revealed in parts, verse by verse, to the Holy Prophet. The period of revelation of Quran can be divided in to 2 main parts which are Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s life in Makkah which is 13 years and after His (PBUH) migration to Madinah which is 10 years. Beginning from the first revelation that he was the chosen Messenger of Allah to the verses of the Quran one after another, these revelations of Quran were difficult, he struggled to interpret, envision and take ahead but he tried his best to understand the message that Allah wanted his followers to know, the truth of Islam and the teachings and preached the followers. His sheer determination and willpower to do as Allah commanded, shows his focus for fulfilling his responsibilities and role of the Messenger of Almighty Allah.
- Respect for women and treating them equal to men – Khadija, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad employed Muhammad when he was in his early 20s to manage a caravan to Syria and subsequently offered him marriage. According to most sources, she was about 40 years old. They had age difference but the kind of respect Prophet Muhammad had for his wife was very respectful and noteworthy. Prophet Muhammad’s treatment or respect for women was praise worthy. He treated them equal to men, such that post marriage he allowed Khadija to manage her business and trades and did not stop her from doing it. During his preaching of Islamic teachings, Prophet Muhammad banished female infanticide. He helped orphans and widows both in Mecca and Medina during his entire tenure. He always believed and strongly stood by the right that women could own rights in property and have share. Going by the details of history, it is well known that Prophet Muhammad had married other women post the death of his first wife Khadija but these were done not for any pleasures or selfish purposes but in order to give them protection and safeguard their dignity. It was hoped that the Muslims would follow his example and provide protection to aged women, widows and their orphaned children. One of his wife, Juwayriyyah, was a widow and he married her to set free the slaves. He married her after emancipation. Another main reason for his multiple marriages, was also to forge friendly relations. ome marriages were entered into in the hope of establishing friendly relationships with some tribes in order to blunt their enmity towards Islam. Prophet Muhammad as a husband was more responsible, chivalrous, caring and understanding. He always helped his wives with household work and never threw any male egoistic attitude or believed that household chores can only be done by women and men manage the home and trades/businesses outside. Prophet Muhammad is deemed to be the best epitome of love and also respect of how a man should treat his wife or any woman for that matter.
- Great example of Simplicity and modesty – Prophet Muhammad never liked worldly pleasures. The cities like Mecca , Medina were known for trades, businesses flourishing during those times and rich people getting richer with their profits etc but he never fell for worldly pleasures. He loved simplicity in all ways from his way of living, to wearing clothes, to the home he lived in that was built of mud, sand and palm trees around. He had a mat/rug with him always upon which he sat and had conversations with people who came visiting him or for his prayers. His simplicity and truthfulness is worth admiring during situations where he had to leave the city of Mecca and moved to Yathrib (the now Medina), he was the first to move to another community leaving the tribe. Before he moved out of Mecca, he paid all his debts and remained truthful to the best of his ability. When he moved to Medina, he did not move there as a conqueror like any ruler, king or someone with great power, but he went there as a refugee. This shows his down to earth attitude and the strong focus to remain grounded in his values and virtues.
- Interest in Meditation and no love for ego – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) believed in spiritual existence. The Prophet Muhammad meditated consistently, and in fact was in a state of meditation when first receiving the revelation of the Qur’an upon Mount Hira. Meditation, or a state of present moment awareness, is essential in Islamic spiritual practice, particularly in Islamic prayer (salah) and meditation (dhikr). He had said, “One hour of meditation is sometimes better than one year of praying”. Prophet Muhammad used to go to spiritual seclusions and extended retreats of meditation into Mouth Hira near Mecca. It is during one of such meditation retreats (in the holy month of Ramadan) in a defining moment of extra-cosmic enlightenment, Divine revelations started to reveal to him.
The well-preserved collection of such Divine revelations later came to be known as Quran which literally means recitation because the Prophet following the inspirations, used to recite it to others including his companions. Prophet Muhammad always believed in humility and always mesmerized people with his down to earth attitude. His various life incidences, his discussions with different people on their questions of his ever forgiving attitude, the rules of Islam, the teachings around it, the lessons they learnt from observing his daily life etc have all been very inspiring.
- Promoter of equality, freedom, justice and brotherhood – As mentioned earlier, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been a promoter of equality – in terms of gender, stature, caste or creed. He was against societal gaps where the rich always had the upper hand over the poor. For him, everyone was equal. Almighty Allah chose him as the Messenger for laying the foundations of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lived up to it not just by his teachings but by his way of life. People believed he was the perfect human being, as through him they could connect to Allah and worship Him. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always promoted brotherhood, sending a message to the community in and around Mecca and Medina to all the people that we should live in peace, with our families, with our relatives etc. He promoted Allah’s remembrance among the believers in the form of prayer, Namaz but he also believed in people being truthful and just. His message had been, “Pray but do good. Don’t just pray but do good to society too”. In terms of justice, people always flocked to his home to get his advice and guidance every time there were rifts amongst themselves and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always stood with what was right and enlightened people to always do what is right to all their fellow human beings. There is one best incident that I read about his life, when he chose an African slave to use his human voice for the call of prayer. This shows how much he believed in equality and strengthened the message that all are one in the eyes of Almighty Allah.
- Supporter of tolerance and patience – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) knew his responsibilities and duties towards being chosen as the Messenger of Almighty Allah. He struggled hard, yet went by his amicable ways to preach people about Islam, convey Allah’s messages, show them the right ways and he did patiently. His ways of convincing people about the religion of Islam were never authoritative or dictating, instead he chose to start small and slowly convinced people to convert. He was a strong believer in free will to accept Islam – he did not use any kind of force or compulsion. He allowed people to convert as a personal choice. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shared the news with his wife, Khadija of how Angel Gabriel came to him and conveyed Allah’s will and how he was the chosen Messenger of Allah and slowly began to share the messages, Khadija was the first one to convert to Islam and she did it in free will, he did not force it on her. To this day it is believed that his uncle, Abu Talib, the head of the tribal clan did not convert to Islam neither Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forced him into it. The saying goes – “Laqum belakum valiyadeeni (To you your religion, to me mine)”. Mecca and Medina were full of muslims, Jews and other tribal clans who all co-existed in harmony during his time. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always believed in promoting tolerance and free will.
- Goal oriented – Like everyone else, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also had his goals in life. Along with living a normal family life, he was also entrusted upon the biggest responsibility of bringing Islam to the world. He was the chosen one in the eyes of Almighty Allah and he dedicated his entire life to the purpose. He spent hours day and night preaching people the importance of prayers, giving alms to the needy, living life in simple ways and every other core values of Islam that one ought to know and learn. When he began preaching the core values of Islam and spoke to people in the way of making them believe, he did face a lot of challenges. The city Mecca was well known for trades, business and idol worship. People worshipped multiple idols in blind faith, which is why when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began sharing the teachings of Islam that spoke against idol worship and how there is only one God, but Allah, many people disliked him. Even to this day, when people speak against one’s faith no one can withstand it. He faced the same criticism, dislike and refusals from the people of Mecca, as they felt he was going against their ancient scriptures. But he kept his patience. He faced a lot of hardship, fought battles against the Jews, spread the message of Islam via Quran – the Holy Book revelations and he stood strong and for the right and today the result can be easily seen of how Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) hard work, efforts is what swept the nations with the charm of Islam, that always supports doing good and standing with the just.
- Advocate of Non-violence and equality – With the current world scenario where people resort to violence in protests against the wrong or even the terrorist attacks that various so-called Islamic organizations are resorting to, Muslims fail to realise that they are portraying their religion in the worst manner and this was not what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) supported or stood for. Violence, killing, bloodshed, hatred not only among fellow muslims but also of those of the other religion – this was always disapproved by Prophet Muhammad during his times and it is what we all should stand for.
The word Ummah or the community, was a term coined in the city of Medina (where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) moved to), to mean as the entire community. People misinterpreted and added their definition of Ummah being just about Muslim community. This was not what Prophet Muhammad did when he had people of various religions, customs living around him in the city of Medina. He always believed that Medina was a state of plurality – one with many faiths and many ways – all capable of being called a community, an Ummah together. When people visited him he never drew barriers of any sorts to people. People of all faiths came to him, to talk to him, to listen to his teachings and he never disregarded or disrespected anyone just because he/she were a Jew or of another community. The entire world has defied examples of Prophet as muslims and have now marginalised it. One of the Quran revelation on oppression has also been misinterpreted. It was mentioned of how it was important to stand against wrongdoings or those who resorted to it, and he was always against war. During his time, the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud took place and he himself was the one who led these battles as a commander in chief but the other truth is also that he always wanted to buy out with peace talks with the tribe, Quraysh but the ill treatment and wrong doings of the Quraysh were unbearable , leaving no resort but war. Quraysh made things difficult for the Prophet’s followers, who faced violence, were beaten and were not allowed to pray or stay together. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always believed and said, “When one is being attacked/oppressed, you have a right to resist” and people misinterpreted this as war and the current situation of the world has clearly taken the wrong path and resorted to terrorism, violence all in the name of the Holy Prophet and the religion. This only defames Islam and throws bad light on every muslim in the world.
- True leader and great listener – Prophet Muhammad played many roles from being a normal trader in his twenties helping Khadija, a business woman to becoming the Messenger of Allah and spreading the good word via the revelation of the Holy book, the Quran. He was a preacher and a political leader. He fought many battles being the commander in chief/general.
During one of the Quranic revelations, he was told that the direction of prayer had to be changed from Yathrib (the now Medina) to Mecca where the Holy Kaaba was structured. Upon hearing this, the Jews were hurt. This revelation meant that the face of prayer was being changed from the side of Jerusalem, the holy place of the Christians to the side of Kaaba, the holy place of Mecca. The Jews, who were ardent followers of the Prophet , then chose to deceit him and later cheated him. These resulted in the wars, the Battle of Badr, Battle of Uhud and the Battle of Trench. During the Battle of Badr, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prayed and led his men , who were few in number compared to the Quraysh’s side and his side won. Subsequently, they lost the second battle of Uhud.
Excerpt from Wikipedia – During the third battle, the battle of Trench – In December 626, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb led a confederate army of the Quraysh, the Banu Kinanah, the Ghatafan and the Banu Nadir, the exiled Jewish tribe from Medina, numbering around 10,000, to besiege Medina. Muhammad was able to prepare a force of about 3,000 men, and held another council of war to decide the course of action. Adopting a new form of defence, unknown in Arabia at that time, Muslims dug trenches wherever Medina lay open to cavalry attack. Abu Sufyan’s troops were unprepared for the fortifications they were confronted with, and after an ineffectual siege, the coalition decided to go home. The campaign lasted 27 days. The immediate cause was harsh winter weather, making the mid-April date inconceivable. This was a very clever tactic by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his army and this helped them win.
During 627 AD, Prophet Muhammad became powerful but he remained modest. As mentioned earlier, people visited his home at all times to seek advice. From Jews, to Christians to Muslims, everyone came visiting him. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a great listener. He always listened to people, their questions, their problems, their pains, their joys etc. This was one of his greatest qualities of a true human being where he was modest, down to earth and humble at all times.
The Arabic term islām, literally “surrender,” illuminates the fundamental religious idea of Islam—that the believer (called a Muslim, from the active particle of islām) accepts surrender to the will of Allah (in Arabic, Allāh: God) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) truly surrendered his life towards establishing the religion of Islam. Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life is truly an inspiration for one and all. The one man who truly led his life by example in all means from believing in equality, respecting women, standing with what is right and just, being humble, kind and patient with life’s testing times and so much more.
We must respect the pains and troubles he took to establish the beautiful religion of Islam whose 5 pillars have been outlined in the most humble manner – from confirming their faith to performing daily prayers to giving alms to the poor, to fasting in the holy month of Ramzan to purify the mind, body and heart and to perform pilgrimage once in a lifetime. Islam always stood for the right and just and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his life is the best example of Islam and it’s values.