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Books Section > by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian > The Triumph of Islam (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya) > Chapter 1: The Prophet of Arabia [Muhammad]
The Prophet of Arabia [Muhammad]:
"And We have not sent Muhammad but as a mercy to the nations" (The Quran: 21:107).
Before dealing with this first chapter, it may not be out of place to review briefly the conditions of people before the advent of the Prophet of Islam.
Before the birth of Islam, many people had strayed from the right path, and had fallen into many kinds of innovations and evil practices. Various cults of worship of different objects of nature had spread all over the world.
In addition to idol-worship, cults of the worship of many objects had spread all over the place, the original beliefs and principles having been contaminated both internally and externally. A beautiful green tree; a flame of fire rising from the earth; in fact, every object that excited astonishment was worshipped: the sun, the moon, fire, water and wind; stones and trees; birds and beasts; anything was exalted to divine honours.
In India, the poor people were oppressed. If a Shudra [member of the low-caste Hindus] over-heard a Brahmin [member of the high-caste Hindus] reciting the Vedas, he was to be punished by having molten lead poured into his ears.
Polygamy was practised to an unlimited extent. A woman was debarred from studying the Vedas; her religion was to serve her husband, and her eternal happiness depended on the performance of this duty.
Fire worship held sway over Persia. The kings were gods; they were absolute masters over the person and property of their subjects who possessed no rights.
Never was the condition of woman so bad than under the Mago-Zoroastrians. The Persian recognised no law but that of his own will. He could marry his nearest kindred, and divorce his wives at will.
The house of Israel was a wreck. Jesus had come and gone without producing any effect upon the Jews. Many a doubt had arisen in them. Not being content with the One True God, they had taken for themselves hundreds of different lords, and the worship of objects was rampant and rife amongst them to the utmost degree. Moreover, a great number of the Jews had fallen into the baneful belief, like the nature-worshippers, that the world was working in accordance with the firmly-fixed and set rules, and that God was unable to interfere in this law authoritatively, and this universe, ever since He had finished with its creation according to a certain measure, had been functioning automatically on the strength and fitness of its own parts, and the Lord of the worlds had no hand in the working of this machine, or could not introduce any change according to His own will and pleasure.
Believing God to be physical and corporeal, the Jews looked upon Him as a part and parcel of this material world, and ascribed to Him many things which are permissible only in the case of created objects. They did not consider Him as absolutely infallible and wholly above error. Some of them had relapsed into the doctrine of the transmigration of souls; some denied the Day of judgement altogether; some misunderstood metaphorical statements; some, denied Resurrection; some said that matter and soul were co-eternal with the Lord; some regarded soul to be perishable; and some believed that God was neither Master of the day of Requital, the Lord of the worlds, nor the All-Wise, All-Knowing Being.
The Christians, in a short space of time, had rendered their condition worse by falling from the practice of the teaching of the Gospel, and "this was the reason -- adds a Christian missionary why God did not check Islam in its rise to power, since He desired at the time that they should be punished, because they had forsaken the teachings of the New Testament." [Rev. Fr. Fender, Mizan al-Haq.]
In Arabia, utter darkness and barbarism prevailed. No social laws were observed, and the most despicable deeds were openly committed. An unlimited number of wives was taken and all prohibited things were made lawful. Rapine and incest raged unchecked; a widow (other than the mother) was considered an integral part of her deceased husband's patrimony, and passed into the use of the son. There was no vice which was not freely practised by the Arabs. To the outward eye, they had the form of man, but they were totally devoid of rationality, modesty and other human qualities. Their thirst for wine was excessive, and fornication was committed unscrupulously.
The advent of Prophet Muhammad, therefore, took place at a time when conditions prevailing over the world called for the appearance of a great Teacher. Divine Guidance at the time was a great need for mankind. Appearing at this juncture of human history, the Prophet of Arabia lit up a world with the philosophy of the Unity of God, with right conduct, and with a dire destruction of idolatry and all forms of the worship of nature. The truth of his claim is already proved, because in view of the general falling off from the right path, which prevailed at the time, the laws of nature demanded the advent of a divine guide, and the way divine attributes worked in this world also called for the appearance of a Reformer. When an intensity and hardness of any kind reaches the extreme limit, it has always been the changeless law of God from the ancient ages that His grace addresses itself to the task of eliminating it.
When a prolonged drought leads to a severe famine, and people begin to perish, God sends rain [The Quran: 7:57-58; 30:48-50]; when thousands of people begin to die of some epidemic, something happens at last to clear the air of that contamination, or some medicine is discovered which works as a cure against the prevailing disease. Or, when oppression at the hands of some heartless tyrant becomes unbearable, a just leader is thrown up by events who redresses the prevailing wrongs. [The Quran: 5:19; 28:47]" Similarly, when people lose sight, of the way which leads to the Lord, when they forsake the Unity of God, He endows someone with true insight and vision and confers on him the honour of inspiration and revelation in order to cure the ills humanity may happen to be suffering from, and to guide people on the right path.
Muhammad [The Prophet's best-known name is Muhammad, which means "the praised one". Another name by which he was known is Ahmad, meaning "the praising one."] was born in the year 571 of the Christian era (12th of the lunar month Rabi` I). Orphan from his birth, he lost even his mother when six years old. He came of the noblest family of the Quraish, yet, like the rest of his countrymen, he was not taught reading and writing. He tended sheep for some time, but in his youth he was chiefly occupied in trade. It was, however, his high morals that distinguished him from all his compatriots. The Quran, which contains the most trustworthy account of Prophet Muhammad's life, testifies to the fact that he was "the possessor of sublime morals [The Quran, 68 : 4]."
The Prophet's morals found full display on many occasions, and were put to test so that their truthfulness and veracity shone forth like the sun. The sublime qualities relating to munificence and generosity, self-sacrifice and chivalry, patience and piety, all beamed in his person with a dazzling light. God opened unto him the doors of innumerable treasures, all of which he spent devotedly in His way. The Prophet of Arabia lived all his life in a humble hovel which was no better than a poor man's hut. He requited evil with good, and alleviated the distress and suffering of his persecutors. He slept mostly on the floor, often going without food, eating plain barley bread. Abundance of wealth and riches of the world lay at his feet, but he besmeared not his holy hands therewith, and preferred the life of poverty and humbleness with contentment to the life of affluence and plenty. The furniture of his house was composed of a coarse matting of palm leaves for his bed, and an earthen jug for water. For days no fire would be lighted in his house to prepare food, the whole family living on mere dates. There was no lack of means to live a life of ease and comfort. The public treasury was at his disposal. The well-to-do among his followers, who did not shrink from sacrificing their lives for his sake, would have been only too glad to provide him with every comfort of life, should he choose to avail himself of it. But worldly things carried no weight in his estimation. From the first day of his life unto the day he breathed his last, he cared for none other than his Lord.
His opponents were challenged to point out a single black spot on his character during the forty years that he had spent among them before he received the divine Call [The Quran, 10 : 16]. It was in his youth that, on account of his pure and absolved character and his love for truth and honesty, he won from his compatriots the title of "the Faithful" (al-Amin).
Above all, his earlier life was marked by that rare characteristic, rarest of all in Arabia at that time, the love of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the weak, the helpless and the slave. Before he had affluence of means, he was one of the members who, taking an oath to stand by the oppressed, formed themselves into a league as champions of the injured. When at twenty-five he married a healthy widow, Khadija - who was fifteen years his senior, he spent freely for the help of the poor. No slave came into the household but was set free by him.
To these great qualities was added his anxiety for a fallen humanity. The Word of God refers to it repeatedly [The Quran: 9:128; 18:6; 26:3; 35:8]. As years went on, the gross idolatry of the Arabs and their evil ways pressed the more heavily on his heart, and he spent hours in solitude in the neighbouring mountains. Still later, he repaired for days to a cave at the foot of Mount Hira, and it was here that the Divine Light shone on him in its full resplendence.
Living , in a country in which polygamy was the rule, Muhammad had no liking for polygamy. He passed the prime of his life, up to fifty-four years of age, as the husband of a single wife, thus showing that the union of one man and one woman was the rule under normal conditions. But when abnormal situations arose, he did not, like a sentimentalist, shirk his duty. He saw that the chastity of a woman was at stake if polygamy was not allowed and, for the sake of a higher interest, he permitted polygamy as an exception to meet exceptional circumstances. Exactly thus he had to resort to war, though by disposition he was averse to it. Full forty years before the Call he had been living in a land where the sword was wielded as freely as a stick elsewhere, where fighting and feuds were the order of the day, where men would fly at each other's throats like animals, where there was no chance of survival for one who could not use the sword, yet not once during these forty years did he deal a blow at an enemy.
In the administration of justice, the Prophet was scrupulously even-handed. Muslim and non-Muslim, friend and foe, were all alike in his eyes. Even before the Call his impartiality, his honesty and integrity were of household fame, and people would bring their disputes to him to settle. At Medina, the Jews and the idolaters both accepted him as the arbitrator in all their disputes.
The Prophet's integrity and sincerity were of universal fame throughout Arabia. His worst foes had often to confess that he had never told a lie. When he once pledged his word, he kept it under the most trying conditions and even at a heavy cost. Despair and despondency were unknown to him. Hemmed in as he was on all sides by a gloomy prospect and severe opposition, his faith in the ultimate triumph of the Truth was never for one moment shaken.
The idea of the oneness of humanity is Muhammad's greatest contribution to human civilisation, and it came as a natural sequel to that foundation-stone of his teachings, the Unity of God. A perusal of world history shows the idea of the whole of humanity being a single nation as first dawning upon the Prophet's mind. It was a revelation from on High in the truest sense of the word. No country was more unsuited than Arabia, either to give birth to such an idea or to see its accomplishment. The whole country was rent into innumerable petty states, each clan forming a separate and independent political unit. Each tribe had its own chief who would lead it in battle against a hostile tribe. The whole people were on the verge of a fiery abyss [The Quran, 3 : 102].
Here dawned the idea for the first time in human history, not that the Arabs were one nation, but that the whole of humanity was a single nation: "Mankind is a single nation. So Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth [The Quran: 2:213. Note that as all people are a single nation, God, too, has been revealing Himself to all.]."
Another great contribution made by the Prophet of Islam to human civilisation was the idea of human dignity. This, too, was a natural sequel to the idea of the oneness of God, on which he laid so much stress. Man was the noblest of the Creator's creation, and it was degrading for him to worship things or to bow before things which he really excelled: "Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah, while He has made you excel (all) created things? [The Quran: 7:140]"
The association of anything with God made a man fall from the high position which nature had given him: "Shun the filth of the idols and shun false words, being upright for Allah, not associating aught with Him. And whoever associates (aught) with Allah, it is as if he had fallen from on high, then the birds had snatched him away, or the wind had carried him off to a distant place [The Quran: 22:30-31]."
According to him, man's position in nature was that of a conqueror; he had been created to control all the forces of nature and to rule in the earth, not to bow before them: "When thy Lord said to the angels, I am going to place a ruler in the earth . . ." [The Quran: 2:30. This shows the high place that man was destined to hold in the whole of creation].
From the slave of nature's forces which man was generally at that stage of human civilisation, Muhammad thus raised him to the dignity of the master and the ruler, and it was due to this realisation of man's position in the universe that the Muslims in their very early history took vigorous strides towards the expansion of knowledge and the advancement of the sciences. Reading and writing was within a few years spread throughout the whole of Arabia and other countries which came under the influence of Islam, and the Muslim State so encouraged the pursuit of study and scientific research that centres of learning sprang up throughout the empire of Islam.
Another remarkable service which Muhammad rendered to humanity was to give an impetus to work and to dignify labour. The principle was laid down at the very start in the most unequivocal terms that no one who does no work should hope to reap any fruit and that the worker should have his full reward: "That man can have nothing but what he strives for: And that his striving will soon be seen. Then he will be rewarded for it with the fullest reward [The Quran: 53:39-41]."
The Prophet himself was an indefatigable worker. While he passed half the night, and even two-thirds of it, praying to God, he was doing every kind of work in the day-time. No work was too low for him. He would milk his own goats, patch his own clothes and mend his own shoes. In person he would dust his house; he would tie his camel and look after it personally. He would assist his wife in her household duties. In person he would do shopping, not only for his own household but also for his neighbours and friends. He worked like a labourer in the construction of the mosque. Again, when a ditch was being dug round Medina to fortify it against a heavy attack, he was seen at work among the rank and file. He never despised any work, however humble, notwithstanding the dignity of his position as prophet. He thus demonstrated, through his personal example, that every kind of work dignified man, and that a man's calling, whether high or low, did not constitute the criterion of his status. A roadside labourer, a hewer of wood and a drawer of water were as respectable members of the social order founded by the Prophet Muhammad as a big merchant or a high dignitary.
Notwithstanding the fact that the transcendental truths and fine principles and infallible arguments on religion and divine knowledge, and other subtle secrets incorporated in the Quran, are generally of a nature that no human power or wisdom and philosophy has ever been able to make them, as is also borne out by history, yet God's sublime knowledge was conferred upon and granted to an unlettered (ummi), who had never attended a school, nor ever sat in the company of learned people, but lived all his life among the savages of the desert. This fact is not unknown to any student and scholar of Islamic history. The Quran says that "He it is Who raised among the illiterates a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His messages and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom - although they were before certainly in manifest error [The Quran: 62:2]." And, addressing Muhammad, God says: "Thus did We reveal to thee an inspired Book by Our command. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor (what) Faith (was), but We made it a light, guiding thereby whom We please of Our servants. And surely thou guidest to the right path [The Quran: 42:52. See also 7:156-158; 29:48-49]."
From these verses, the fact of Muhammad being an unlettered is proved conclusively. The claim had not been made in a country the people whereof were ignorant of his life-history. They were, on the other hand, a people among whom he had been brought up right from his childhood. If he had not been an unlettered, he could not possibly have made that claim in the face of the people, from whose penetrating eyes none of his affairs had been hidden and concealed.
For every objection which the opponents raised against Muhammad, they were given a satisfactory reply. For instance, when some ignorant people of Mecca objected to the Divine Unity preached by the Quran proclaimed that they could accept only such a book as sanctioned the worship of their idols, or that the present Quran might be amended accordingly, the Almighty revealed the following reply to His Messenger as was based finally on his life-history: "When Our clear messages are recited to them, those who have no hope of meeting with Us say: Bring a Quran other than this or change it. Say: It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I follow naught but what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the chastisement of a grievous day. Say: If Allah had desired, I would not have recited it to you, nor would He have made it known to you. I have lived among you a lifetime before it. Do you not then understand? [The Quran, 10:15-16]"
In short, the fact of the Prophet's being an unlettered was so well-known to the Arabs and the Jews and the Christians that they dared not question it. They would, on the other hand, interrogate him, by way of test, in reference to certain texts of the Torah. And when they got correct replies, the learned amongst them would bow before him and believe in him: "Thou wilt find the nearest in friendship to the believers to be those who say, We are Christians. That is because there are priests and monks among them and because they are not proud. And when they hear that which has been revealed to the Messenger thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth they recognise. They say: Our Lord, we believe, so write us down with the witnesses [The Quran, 5:82-83. See also 17:107-109]."
Such was the condition of those among the Jews and the Christians, who had been endowed with knowledge and fair-mindedness. On the one hand, they believed that Muhammad was an unlettered, who had not learnt a single word of knowledge; had not attended any literary meeting, nor ever lived among a civilised people. On the other, they found in the Quran not only narratives of the previous Scriptures but also hundreds of such sublime and transcendental truths as either existed not in the previous Books, or existed in an obscure and hazy condition. When they saw the dreadful darkness and iniquity of the age prevailing on one side, and exalted knowledge and wisdom and supreme spiritual light on the Prophet's side, they became completely convinced of his divine mission.
If these Christian scholars had not been overpowered by their own judgement, how could it have been possible for them to give up their own religion, which had the great Roman Empire on its back, and had spread far and wide in the vast continent of Asia as well as in the Western world? It is thus clear that the only reason which diverted and drew their mind towards Islam was that they found Muhammad a mere unlettered, but endowed with inspiration from God, and the Quran as far above the power and capacity of human beings. They had also read the prophecies in the ancient Scriptures about the advent of the Last Prophet. So, the Almighty opened their hearts for the reception of Truth, to which they turned out to be so faithful that they hesitated not to lay down their lives in His way.
Again, from a consideration of those among the Arabs, the Jews and the Christians, who were mischievous, it appears that they believed the Prophet to be an unlettered and it was for this reason that when they got silencing replies about certain texts of the Bible, on which they interrogated him by way of test, they had not the courage to say that he was a literate person. But, like the man who, despite being vanquished, would still argue, they offered the most puerile excuses, saying: "This is nothing but a lie, which he has forged, and other people have helped him at it [The Quran, 25: 4]." And the following reply came from God: "Say: If men and jinn should combine together to bring the like of this Quran, they could not bring the like of it, though some of them were aiders of others [The Quran, 17:88]."
Whatever the case may be, if the unbelievers had not been fully convinced that the Prophet was an unlettered, they would have left no stone unturned to prove that he had received his education in such and such an institution.
Living in a country in which idol-worship was the basis of the everyday life of the community, Muhammad, like most of the ancient teachers, hated idolatry from his childhood, and the Quran is again our authority for the statement that "he never bent his forehead before an idol [The Quran, 109:4]." On the contrary, by preaching the Unity and Oneness of God, he antagonised all the religious sects and all the nations of the world sunk in polytheism. His own kith and kin whom he tried to dissuade from the worship of idols were the first to take up cudgels against him. Relations became strained with the Jews whom he tried to wean off from the worship of the created beings and other evil practices. And when he admonished them to desist from denouncing and defaming Prophet Jesus, they became his bitterest enemies and conspired against his life.
The Christians, likewise, became offended and annoyed when Muhammad taught, contrary to their belief, that Jesus Christ was neither God, nor the Redeemer who atoned for the sins of other people by killing himself on the cross. The worshippers of fire and heavenly bodies, too, were nettled and enraged when they were discouraged from bowing their heads before those inanimate objects, and the criterion of deliverance was said to be the worship and adoration of the One True God only, the Creator of the Universe.
Was it the way of winning the world that the followers of every faith should be told things which provoked and aroused them to stand against him? Without gaining any following or power to be able to repulse an attack, the Prophet opposed all the peoples to such an extent that they became his mortal enemies. It would have been in keeping with political skill and ingenuity that if he had censured some people to be in error in the matter of their religious beliefs, he should have assured others that they were on the "right path", so that if the former would turn against him, the latter might come to his help. And had he told the Arabs that their idols were "true gods", they would have fallen at his feet, ready to yield obedience to him. Then, what worldly expediency could it be that he antagonised all -- kinsmen, friends and others -- and held fast to the doctrine of Divine Unity which was, in those days, the most dreaded and repulsive idea? What personal interest could possibly be served by this doctrine, a mere mention of which drew a veritable hell upon the new converts to Islam? Could it be a plan for any worldly gain that everyone was turned into a mortal enemy by flinging in his face the bitter word which was disagreeable and repugnant to his own mind?
There are some people who argue that if the divine power, which is said to be a sure sign of the revealed news, had been with the Prophet of Islam, he would not have suffered so much persecution.
It must be noted here that the authoritative announcement of the revealed news is quite different from Muhammad's persecution, which has a lot of providential wisdom behind it. In fact, the tortures suffered by all prophets and reformers are not troubles, but blessings granted to such persons who are favoured with divine grace; these blessings in disguise bestow a number of benefits on the prophets as well as on the whole world. The existence of prophets and apostles is meant for the purpose that people may follow their example in moral actions, and seekers-after-truth may walk after them on the true path of righteousness and rectitude, revealed unto them by God. It is but obvious that a man's moral actions get to the degree of excellence and approval only when they are displayed at the proper time. It is only then that they produce their effect on human souls.
The divine will, with regard to prophets and reformers, is that every trait of their high moral character should be put into action and displayed. That is how God divided Prophet Muhammad's life into two distinct periods: the period of sufferings and persecutions, and the period of triumph and prosperity.
The thirteen years at Mecca represent the time of suffering, and a study of his life during that tune clearly shows that there is not a single moral quality which could be manifested in suffering by the righteous that was not displayed by the Prophet. His complete trust in God, his refraining from showing the slightest impatience, his calm and serenity, his noble and dignified manner, his unshaken activity and zeal in the performance of the duties entrusted to him, his perseverance, his fearless courage, and numerous other moral qualities so deeply impressed that even the unbelievers bore testimony to the great miracle of his perseverance under the hardest trials and sufferings, and were ultimately convinced that all this was because of his perfect trust in God.
Then followed the life of Muhammad at Medina, a period of triumph and prosperity, suited for the display of another division of moral qualities. His forgiveness, charity, sympathy, courage, were so well displayed during this period that a large number of the unbelievers embraced Islam. He freely forgave those who had persecuted him, extended shelter to those who had expelled him from Mecca and showed kindness to his bitterest foes when their lives were completely at his mercy. Their inveterate hatred was, by these noble morals, at once converted into fast friendship.
It has been supposed that Islam was propagated by the sword. As we have seen, temperamentally, Muhammad was not inclined to war; he had not once handled the sword in actual fighting up to the fifty-fifth year of his age, and this in a country where, owing to constant internecine warfare, fighting had become a vocation for the people. The religion which he preached, Islam [Islam, literally means "peace" or "submission"], was a religion of peace, laying stress on prayer to God and the service of humanity, and he was required to preach this religion; to deliver the message, not to enforce it on others: "There is no compulsion in religion [The Quran: 2:256]."
Again: "The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve [The Quran: 18:29]." And again: "We have truly shown him (man) the way; he may be thankful or unthankful [The Quran: 76:3]."
But war was being forced on Muhammad, and it was his duty, he was told, to defend his oppressed community who had twice fled their homes from the persecutions of a cruel enemy to a distant place: "Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is able to assist them [The Quran: 22:39]."
Why were they expelled from their homes? Why was war made on them? What was their offence? The Quran replies in the following words: "Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah [The Quran: 22:40].''
To worship Allah, to say that He is our Lord, was an offence in this land, the punishment for which was that the men who worshipped God, and the places where He was worshipped, should be destroyed. So the Muslims were required to defend all houses of worship, whether they belonged to the Jews or the Christians or their own community: "If Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters, and churches, and synagogues, and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered, would have been pulled down." [The Quran: 22:40. -- The religious freedom which was established by Islam thirteen hundred years ago has no yet been surpassed by the most civilised and tolerant of nations. It deserves to be noted that the lives of Muslims are to be sacrificed not only to stop their own persecution by their opponents and to save their own mosques, but, to save churches, synagogues and cloisters as well.]
There was no question of converting anyone to Islam by force; it was the enemy that wanted to turn back the Muslims by force from Islam: "They will not cease fighting you until they turn you, back from your religion, if they can [The Quran: 2:217]."
Therefore, the object of the wars undertaken at the bidding of the Prophet of Arabia was not to cause bloodshed. The Muslims had been expelled from their homes to seek shelter elsewhere and many innocent among them, men and women, had been murdered in cold blood. But their relentless persecutors would not stop there. In obedience to the divine commandment of self defence, the sword was allowed to be taken up against those who had first drawn the sword. The object of these wars was, therefore, to remedy an evil by abating the bloodshed caused by the persecutors of the believers. Had the Muslims not defended themselves under these circumstances against the outrages of their persecutors, the result would have been the slaughter of more innocent lives, including women and children, and Islam would have been nipped in the bud.
Is it not wonderful that a poor, destitute, helpless, unlettered orphan should bring the brilliant teaching of the Unity of God in an age wherein every nation of the world was fully equipped with wealth, knowledge and military strength? Besides, in spite of his poverty and helplessness, he displayed such a high degree of power that he overturned kings from their imperial thrones, and installed the poor thereon. Who was with Muhammad when, in the beginning, he proclaimed himself as the Prophet of God to the people of Mecca? Which large army had he collected under him that he felt safe and secure from the attacks of all the rulers? It is well-known that the Prophet of Islam, at that time, was all alone, friendless and helpless. What was then the secret of the success of the most successful of all the religious personalities of the world?
Casting a glance on the events of the Prophet's life, one can unhesitatingly conclude that he was honest and sincere, and his heart crystal-clear, without any trace of dissimulation or double-dealing. He was devoted to the Almighty to the perfect degree and was totally heedless of the hope and fear of this world. He reposed all his confidence in God and, losing his own self in the will and pleasure of the Supreme Being, harboured not the smallest care and anxiety in his mind as to what a hell of distress and calamity would be let loose upon him on account of his preaching the Unity of God, and what a terrible misery he would have to suffer at the hands of his enemies. He endured all the afflictive persecutions, and carried out the commandments of his Lord, fulfilling the conditions of strenuous struggle and effort in preaching.
We may state here that no other instance can be cited of reposing such a complete faith in God in the presence of most dangerous difficulties and of continuing to preach openly against polytheism, and of showing such a high degree of firmness and fortitude in the face of so many foes. It should be appreciated how all these facts prove the internal purity and truthfulness of Muhammad. Besides, if people reflect over the conditions prevailing at the time of his appearance - that it was an age which required urgently the direction and guidance of a divine Teacher, and that the teaching imparted by him was true and comprehensive enough to meet the needs of the age, producing such a marvellous effect as to draw thousands of people towards Truth and Righteousness and imprint indelibly on their souls the stamp of "there is no god but Allah'' -- they will arrive at the conclusion that he was, forsooth, a true Spiritual Guide sent by the Lord.
Therefore, the secret of the Prophet's success a success admittedly unparalleled to this day -- lay in his strong faith in God. He had a deep conviction that the Almighty had a plan for the uplift of man, to bring to perfection not one nation or one people but the whole universe, and that no power in the world could frustrate the divine purpose. His firm conviction in his final triumph at the time of the severest opposition, when there was not a ray of hope otherwise, may be read through almost every page of the Quran. To Muhammad the Holy Book was the great spiritual force bound to influence the whole world: "If there could be a Quran with which the mountains were made to pass away, or the earth were cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak - nay, the commandment is wholly Allah's [The Quran: 13:31. See also 59:21]."
The Prophet was sure that all opposition to his mission would fail and that he would succeed in bringing about the reformation with which he was charged. The stronger the opposition grew the deeper became his faith in his ultimate success and in the failure of opposition. In another early revelation, it is said, after speaking of Pharaoh and other opponents of the Truth: "We overtook them with the seizing of the Mighty, the Powerful. Are your disbelievers better than these, or have you an immunity in the scriptures? Or say they: We are a host allied together to help each other? Soon shall the hosts be routed and they will show (their) backs. Nay, the Hour is their promised time, and the Hour is most grievous and bitter [The Quran, 54:42-46]."
The man who has faith in God is like a live wire, and those who come in contact with him imbibe faith from him. Full of faith as the Prophet's own heart was, full to overflowing, it had a manic effect on those who came in contact with him, and their hearts were filled with the same strong faith.
It is established on the basis of historical evidence, conceded even by the unbelievers that at the time of Muhammad's advent the calamity which prevailed was that the people of all nations had abandoned the right path of the Unity of God, of sincerity, and of devotion to justice. It is also a well-known fact that the Teacher, who rectified the situation of this wide-spread disorder and decadence and brought mankind back to the right path, was Muhammad. The valid conclusion which flows from these facts is that he is the true messenger of God, as stated in the Quran itself: "We certainly sent (messengers) to the nations before thee, but the devil made their deeds fair-seeming to them. So he is their patron today, and for them is a painful chastisement. And We have not revealed to thee the Book except that thou mayest make clear to them that wherein they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe. And Allah sends down water from above, and therewith gives life to the earth after its death. Surely there is a sign in this for a people who listen." [The Quran: 16:63-65. The water from heaven is the Divine revelation, the death of the earth is its corruption, and the giving of life signifies its spiritual awakening, marvellous signs of which had already appeared in Arabia.]
The firmness and fortitude with which Muhammad stuck to his claim from the beginning to the end, in spite of many dangers and implacable enemies who had stood against him, is worth consideration. For years, he suffered such terrible tyranny and torture at the hands of his opponents that the possibility of success seemed to have been precluded altogether. With the ever-increasing opposition, on the one hand, and his patience and forbearance, on the other, the achievement of any worldly purpose could not even be thought of. By one word claiming prophethood, he lost even his previous position and social status, and thrust his head into the nest of thousands of deadly hornets. He was driven into exile, and pursued to be put to death. Poison was administered to him many a time. Those who had been well-wishers turned into evil-minded malevolents; friends became foes. For a considerably long time, he had to suffer a persistent persecution which certainly could not be forborne so steadily by an impostor.
When Islam predominated in the long last, and the era of power and prosperity ushered in, the Prophet treasured no gold for himself, built no palace, no audience hall, nor other things of kingly pleasure and comfort. Rather, whatever he had, he spent on the orphans and the widows, the poor and the needy, and for the relief of those held in debt, and himself had not even one square meal at a time.
Just as from these premises flows the undeniable proof of the truth of Muhammad's prophethood, similarly, his greatness stands proved. For, he had to contend against the forces of evil which held the whole world in their grip, the mission and the task entrusted to him having been so vast and so difficult that it called for the endeavour of a great prophet. And since it was the divine purpose that all humanity should be brought together as one nation, God sent down the final guidance as the common inheritance of all mankind.
It may be added that the endeavour of the earlier prophets was limited since their missions were to some nations or groups of mankind, while the mission entrusted to the Prophet of Islam was universal. Besides, it is a self-evident fact that refutation of idolatry, and the establishment of the grandeur of the Lord, and of the philosophy of life based on belief in the Unity of God is the highest kind of virtue. Apart from the Quran, what law is there down here that has kept millions of people firm on the fundamental principle of the Unity of God? When at the tenth year of the Hijra, Muhammad set out to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, there was not a single idolater in the huge concourse of 124,000 pilgrims assembled at Mecca from all corners of the country. The very spot where he was only twenty years ago a rejected person, to whose word no one was willing to lend his ear, was now the scene of marvellous devotion to him. To whichever side he turned his eye, he saw hosts of devoted friends who recognised him both as their temporal and their spiritual leader -- an inspiring manifestation of divine power to him as well as to those who had assembled there.
It was here on the ninth day of Dhul Hijja, the day of the assembling of the pilgrims at Mount Arafat, that he received a revelation [This revelation is a clear testimony to the perfection of religion in Islam, no such claim being made by any other book or religion.] from on High which sent a thrill of joy through the vast gathering: "This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion [The Quran: 5:3]."
Obviously Muhammad perceived that the message of the perfection of religion meant his approaching end. Here he delivered the following sermon to the whole of Arabia through representatives of tribes coming from every quarter:
"O people! Lend an attentive ear to my words, for I know not whether I shall ever hereafter have the opportunity to meet you here . . . I apprise you that your lives, your properties and your honour must be as sacred to one another as this sacred day in this sacred month in this sacred town. Let those present take this message to those absent. You are about to meet your Lord Who will call you to account for your deeds. . . "O people! This day Satan has despaired of re-establishing his power in this land of yours. But should you obey him even in what may seem to you a trifling matter, it will be a source of pleasure for him. So you must beware of him in the matter of your faith.
"O my people! You have certain rights over your wives and so have your wives over you . . . They are the trust of Allah in your hands. So you must treat them with all kindness . . . And as regards your slaves, see that you give them to eat of what you yourselves eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves.
"O people ! Listen to what I say, and take it to heart. You must know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal, and members of one brotherhood. It is forbidden to any of you to take from his brother save what he should willingly give. Do not do injustice to your people [Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Knowledge : 62.]."
After delivering this sermon, the Prophet of Arabia cried at the top of his voice: "O Allah! I have delivered Thy message," and the valley resounded with the words: "Aye! That thou hast."
This is known as the Prophet's Farewell Pilgrimage. A little while after his return to Medina, he fell ill. After about twelve days' illness, on the 12th of Rabi` I, on a Monday in the 11th year of the Flight, (8th June, 632 A.C.) at the age of sixty-three, he commended his soul to his Maker, his last words being: "Blessed companionship on High."
The promises of triumph and glory held out by the All-powerful to a powerless, penniless, and unlettered man -- as against all the world at large, all the opponents of Truth, disbelievers, kings, philosophers, wealthy, and the systems of religion are remarkable. It was that solitary man who uttered the prophecy of the spread and ascendancy of Islam at a time when he had nothing with him except a few destitutes who could easily be wiped out of existence by the people of the desert. He had to stand against such people who were rulers of the land. He also had to confront those nations that were, in spite of their huge numbers, unanimously determined to annihilate the Muslims. Today, those few and humble people have grown into millions all over the world.
This page was printed from the 'Official Website of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-e-Islam Lahore (Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam)'
located at http://aaiil.org or http://www.aaiil.org