Understanding the last prophet of Islam

Understanding the last prophet of Islam

Not without reason has it been said that one cannot separate the message from the messenger: an observation so easily borne out in his case, for he not only preached, but also practiced, what was revealed to him.

When his wife, Aisha, was asked about his character, she replied, 'Haven't you read the Qur'an? He lived the Qur'an.' Little there was which he preached which he did not practice to a superlative degree, leaving behind him, thereby, a complete model for all humanity.

In the words of the Qur'an, 'Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for any who (rests his) hopes in Allah and the Final Day, and who remembers Allah much' (33:21).

It is beyond this column to do justice in portraying Muhammad. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made in a series of forthcoming articles to offer a glimpse of the character of this august personality.

Before delving into his character, his mission - uniting people in the worship of the One and only God as also training them in upright living according to divine commandments - and the level of success he attained to finally, needs to be first understood.

In a short span of 23 years he converted the situation in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula from idolatry to the worship of One God; from tribal wars to national solidarity; from drunkenness and debauchery to sobriety and piety; from lawlessness to disciplined living; from moral bankruptcy to moral excellence.

Such a complete transformation of a people or a place has been rare. The Encyclopedia Britannica calls him 'the most successful of all religious personalities of the world.' Indeed, no other human being ever accomplished so much, in such diverse fields and in so limited a space of time, as did Muhammad.

He was a religious teacher, a social reformer, a moral guide, a political thinker, a military genius, an administrative colossus, a faithful friend, a wonderful companion, a devoted husband, a loving father - all in one.