Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, The Prophet of Islam (1)

Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, The Prophet of Islam [pbuh&hf] (1)

Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him and his family] as the last Prophet of Almighty Allah was born at the early dawn of the 17th of Rabi'u 'l-Awwal in the year 570 C E in Mecca. His mother's name was Aminah bint Wahb while his father was 'Abdullah, son of 'Abdul 'l-Muttalib, who had died in Madina on his return from Damascus, even before Muhammad's birth. As was the tradition of the Arabs of the time, Muhammad pbuh&hf] was sent to a wet-nurse while he was a child. For this, his grandfather and guardian 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib, selected an honorable lady named Halima, from the tribe of Bani Sa'ad who were famous for their bravery and eloquence.

When Muhammad [pbuh&hf] was six years old, he was taken by his mother to Madina, where his father was buried, to visit her relatives. At a place named Abwa', the mother died suddenly, leaving the child an orphan. Muhammad [pbuh&hf] was then taken into the custody of his grandfather who was also the chief of the Quraish tribe. After only two years, Abdul Mutalib died and the orphan boy was then taken into the custody of his affectionate uncle Abu Talib, a trader.

According to some historians, on one occasion when Abu Talib brought Muhammad [pbuh&hf] to accompany him on his trade caravan to Damascus, they met a Christian monk named Bahira at Basra, situated on the trade route. Bahira had noticed the shadow of a cloud keeping pace with the young orphan. After questioning Muhammad, Bahira knew that Muhammad was to one day become a Prophet and informed Abu Talib to protect him.

Due to his character, Muhammad grew up to be a respected youth and became known as 'Muhammad, the Trustworthy' or 'al-Amin'. It was for this honesty, trustworthiness and virtue that an honorable wealthy lady named Khadija, daughter of Khuwalid, sought to employ Muhammad, then twenty five years of age, to take charge and lead her trading caravan to Damascus and Basra.

The trip not only brought unprecedented profits but also revelations to Khadija from her servant Masara who was sent to accompany Muhammad [pbuh&hf], of his excellent character and generosity. According to most historians, Khadija, had been twice married and twice widowed. Some sources named Abu Halah and Atigh Makhzumi as former husbands. Due to the excellent reputation of Muhammad, she now decided to send her close friend Nafisa to speak to Muhammad (pbuh) about marriage.

The beautiful and most honorable lady of the Quraish, who had spurned the proposals of many Quraish aristocrats and rich men married Muhammad [pbuh&hf], who was twenty five years old, and fifteen years younger than she. Some historians say that Khadija had had two sons and one daughter from her earlier marriages. Though all historians agree that with Muhammad [pbuh&hf], Khadija bore a daughter called Fatimah Zahra, other children attributed to Muhammad cannot be ascertained whether were also his or from Khadija's previous marriages. These were Qasim and 'Abdallah, who died in infancy and three daughters; Zaynab, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum.

While polygamy was a common practice in Arabia at the time as well as in the history of earlier Prophets, such as Abraham [pbuh&hf], Muhammad [pbuh&hf] did not take another wife as long as Khadija was alive. And even after her death, various Hadiths or traditions of Prophet Muhammad [pbuh&hf], narrate how Muhammad [pbuh&hf] continued to cherish her.

While Muhammad [pbuh&hf] was unlettered and did not share the polytheistic beliefs of the Meccan Quraish, his stature among them none the less continued to increase due to his honesty and justice . When Muhammad [pbuh&hf] was thirty, the Quraish tribes decided to repair and rebuild the Ka'ba, then desecrated with pagan idols. They chose Muhammad [pbuh&hf] to arbitrate their dispute as to which tribe should have the honor of reinstalling the Black Stone. Muhammad [pbuh&hf] had the stone placed on a piece of cloth and asked members of each tribe to lift it together to the corner of the Ka'ba where it was to be placed and then raised it up himself.

The special characteristics of the Prophet of Islam

The holy Prophet

The Holy Prophet, Muhammad bin Abdullah (Peace be on him and his progeny), with whom Prophethood came to an end, was born in 570 AD at Makkah. He was raised as a Prophet when he was 40 years of age. For 13 years He preached Islam in Makkah, where he underwent great many difficulties and hardships. During this period he trained a few selected persons. Thereafter he migrated to Madina where he established his centre. For ten years he openly propagated Islam there. He fought a number of successful battles against the arrogant Arabs whom he finally subdued. By the end of this period the entire Arabian Peninsula had embraced Islam. The Holy Qur'an was revealed on him piecemeal over a period of 23 years. The Muslims showed a wonderful devotedness and reverential attachment to the Holy Qur'an and the person of the Holy Prophet, who passed away in 11 A.H. in the 23rd year of his Prophetic mission when he was 63 years of age. He left behind a nascent society full of spiritual zeal, believing in a constructive ideology and conscious of its world responsibility.

There were two things which gave this new-born society a spirit of enthusiasm and unity. One was the Holy Qur'an which inspired the Muslims. It was always recited by them. The other was the lofty and penetrating personality of the Holy Prophet of which they were greatly enamoured. Now we briefly discuss the personality of the Holy Prophet:

His Childhood:

He was still in his mother's womb, when his father, returning from a business trip to Syria died in Madina. Thereafter Abdul Muttalib, his grandfather took over his custody.

From his very childhood the signs of the Holy Prophet's great future were evident from his features, his conduct and his demeanor. Abdul Muttalib intuitively detected that his grand son had an exceptionally bright future.

The Holy Prophet was only 8 years old when his grand father also passed away and according to the will of the old gentleman, the guardianship of the child passed to his elder uncle, Abu Talib, who was also surprised to see that the boy's behaviour differed from that of other children.

Unlike the children of the neighbours he was never covetous of food, and unlike the prevailing custom of those days he always kept his hair combed and his face and body clean.

One day Abu Talib wanted him to change his dress in his presence before going to bed. Muhammad (Peace be on him and his progeny) did not like the idea. But as he could not flatly refuse to obey the order of his uncle, he asked him to turn his face away, so that he could take off his dress. Abu Talib was naturally surprised, as even the Arabs of mature age during those days were not averse to become totally naked in the presence of others. Abu Talib says: "I never heard him telling a lie, nor did I see him doing anything indecent. He never laughed unnecessarily, nor was he desirous of taking part in the games of the children. He preferred to be alone and was always modest".

Abhorrence of Idleness and Lethargy: 

He disliked idleness and laziness. He used to say: "Allah! I take refuge in You from laziness, lethargy, disability and worthlessness".

He always exhorted the Muslims to work hard and to be industrious, and used to say that adoration had seventy parts, the best of them is to earn one's livelihood lawfully.

Honesty: 

The Holy Prophet, prior to his being raised to Prophethood, made a journey to Syria on behalf of Khadija who subsequently became his wife. This journey, more than ever before made his honesty and efficiency clear. His honesty and reliability became so well known that he received the epithet of Muhammad, the trust-worthy. People entrusted their valuables to him for safe custody. Even after his being raised to Prophethood despite all their hostility to him, the Quraysh continued to deposit their valuables with him, for safe keeping. That is why at the time of his migration to Madina he left behind Imam Ali for a few days to return the deposits to their original owners.

Combat with Tyranny: 

During the pre-Islamic period a pact was concluded by the victims of cruelty and tyranny with a view to make common efforts for the protection of the oppressed against the unjust tyrants. This pact which is known as "Hilful Fuzul" was arranged in the house of Abdullah ibn Jad'in in Makkah by certain important personalities of the time. Later during the period of his Prophethood, the Holy Prophet often mentioned this pact and said that he was still willing to participate in a similar pact and not to violate its provisions.

Family Behaviour: 

He was kind to his family. To his wives he was never harsh. The Makkans (people of Mekkah) were not generally familiar with such a good behaviour. He tolerated the stinging remarks of some of his wives, though they were resented by others. He emphatically counseled his followers to be kind to their wives for, as he often remarked, men and women both had good and bad traits. Man must not take into consideration only the unpleasant habits of his wife and divorce her for that reason. If he disliked some qualities of his wife, she must be possessing some other qualities which he liked. Thus the whole thing was balanced. The Holy Prophet was extremely affectionate to his children and grand-children and showed love and tenderness to them. He loved them, seated them on his lap, put them on his shoulders and kissed them. All this was contrary to the custom and usage of the Arabs of those days.

The Holy Prophet showed love and affection to the children of the common Muslims also. He seated them on his lap and passed his hand on their heads. Mothers often brought their children to him for his blessing. Sometimes it so happened that some child urinated on his clothes. On such occasions mothers were upset and felt ashamed. Some of them tried to stop the child from making water. But the Holy Prophet asked them not to interrupt the child and said that he himself would clean his clothes, if they became dirty.

Treatment of Slaves: 

He was extraordinarily kind to the slaves. He told people that the slaves were their brothers. He said: 

"Give them of the same food of which you eat yourselves, and provide them with the same kind of clothes as you put on yourselves. Do not force them to do jobs which are too difficult for them. Share with them their jobs and help them in the performance of them. Do not call them slaves, for all men are the bondsmen of Allah, who is the real Master of everyone. Call your male slaves young man and your female slaves young woman." 

Islam gives to the slaves all possible facilities leading to their complete liberation. The Holy Prophet described the slave-trading as the worst occupation and said that those who traded in human beings were the worst people in the sight of Allah.

Cleanliness and Use of Perfume: 

The Holy Prophet was greatly interested in cleanliness and was fond of the use of perfume. He urged his friends and followers also to keep their body and house clean and perfumed. He especially exhorted them to have bath and use perfume on Fridays so that bad odor might not cause inconvenience to the congregation.

Social Behaviour: 

In his social life the Holy Prophet was always kind, cheerful and courteous to the people, took a lead in greeting all, including the children and the slaves. He did not stretch his feet in front of anyone and did not recline in the presence of others. In his company all sat in a circular form, and none had any distinct place or position. He was watchful of his companions and if he did not see anyone of them for two or three days, he inquired about him. If anyone of them was ill, he went to see him and if anyone had any trouble, he made every effort to solve his problem. In a gathering he did not address or pay attention to any one individual, but equally attended to all. He did not like that he should be sitting and others be serving him. He personally took part in all that was to be done. He used to say that Allah hates to see a man who considered himself to be superior to others.

Soft as well as Tough: 

In his personal matters the Holy Prophet was soft, sympathetic and tolerant. His tolerance on many historical occasions was one of the reasons of his success. But in the matters of principle where a question of public interest or of law was involved, he was tough and never showed any leniency. At the time of the conquest of Makkah and his victory over the Quraysh he overlooked all the wrongs which they had committed against him over a period of 23 years and declared general amnesty. He accepted the apology of the murderer of his well-beloved uncle, Hamzah. But on that very occasion he punished a woman of Banu Makhzum, who had committed theft. This woman belonged to a very respectable family, who regarded the enforcement of a punishment against her as a great insult to them. They persistently requested the Holy Prophet to pardon her. Some prominent companions of the Holy Prophet also interceded on her behalf. But the Holy Prophet said angrily that the Divine law could not be suspended for the sake of any individual. In the evening on that day he delivered a speech and said:

"Former nations and communities declined and ceased to exist because they discriminated in the enforcement of the Divine law. If an influential person committed a crime, he was let off and no action was taken against him, but if an unimportant and weak person committed it, he was punished. I swear by Allah in whose hands my life is that I will be ruthless in the enforcement of justice even if the culprit be one of my own relatives".

Continue in the next article: ( Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, The Prophet of Islam (2) )

Sources:

"Man and universe" By martyred teacher "Ayatullah Mutahhari".