By SALEEQAH ASHRAF
Prof. Koneru Ramakrishna Rao is a philosopher, a psychologist, an educationist, teacher and an administrator. He was the Head of the Department of philosophy, Government College for women, Mysore, Karnataka when he wrote a booklet, “Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam” on the life of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam). Currently, he is serving as chancellor of GITAM University, Vishakhapatnam, India. He has been awarded Padma Shri in Literature and Education categories by the Government of India in 2011.
The main focus of the author, in the booklet, is on the marvelous character of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam). The booklet, with 32 pages, is divided into six parts. Each part reveals different aspects of the life of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) to the reader.
Professor Rao begins the book by praising the Prophet of Islam(Sall Allahu alyhi wassalla) . To the Professor, Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam j)is the greatest minds among all sons of Arabia and the status of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) is above all the kings and poets. The author has expressed his views about Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) after a thorough study of his life. Every aspect of Muhammad’s (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) life is discussed -describing his moral, ethical, social, political character. The main focus is on the wise, noble and gentle character of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam). It is these attributes that have impressed Professor Rao so much that he has decided to write on the religion of Islam and the great personality of the Prophet (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)
According to Professor Rao, ‘it is a delicate matter to talk about any religion’. The Professor then writes, “Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) was a chosen personality who created a new world out of nothing, a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom, which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced Asia, Africa and Europe. He(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)taught the Arabs self control and discipline to the extent of praying even on the battlefield”.
The good author then adds that there have been misrepresentations about the religion of Islam and its alleged rulings about the sword. To disabuse readers of this notion, Professor Rao posits that “after repeated efforts at conciliation by Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam), had utterly failed, circumstances arose that dragged him (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) into the battlefield purely in self defence”. He adds, in the process that “ even the battlefield was totally humanised, every inhuman act like killing of children, women, old was strictly prohibited; so was destruction of natural resources like trees and so on. Strict instructions were given for not molesting the people (of different faiths)”.
After the conquest of Makkah, Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) pardoned all his enemies, even ones who had ruthlessly killed the beloved companions and the beloved uncle, Hazrat Hamza (Radhi Allahuanhu) of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam). Professor Rao finds the forgiving and clement nature of the Prophet of Islam(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)amazing and defined by nobility. The good professor, admiring the Prophet(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) calls into attention that while all religions preach the same doctrine, but Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)put theory into practice, made the concept of discrimination amongst humans redundant, and developed the concept of strong universal brotherhood. The Professor, cites the example of Hazrat Bilall (RadhiAllahuanhu), to validate these points.
The author also quotes various scholars and writers who have written about this great Prophet of Islam and Islam itself. For example, he quotes Sarojini Naidu, who has stated:
“It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the Azaan (the Muslim call to prayer) is sounded and the worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim ,’God alone is great’”. The great poetess of India then adds:” I have been struck over and again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother. When you meet an Egyptian, an Algerian, an Indian and a Turk in London, what matters is that Egypt is the motherland of one and India is the motherland of another “.
Professor Rao also quotes Gandhi in his ouvre:
“Someone has said, that Europeans in South Africa dread the advent of Islam – Islam, that civilized Spain; Islam, that took the torch of light to Morocco and preached to the world the Gospel of Brotherhood. The Europeans of South Africa dread the advent of Islam, as they claim equality with the white races. They may well dread it. If Brotherhood is a sin, if it is equality of the coloured races that they dread, then their dread is well founded’’.
In the succeeding four chapters of the book, Professor Rao has discussed many other aspects of Muhammad’s (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) life and teachings. He has observed that Islam maintains the balance between exaggerated opposites and emphasizes the building of character, which is the basis of civilization. The good professor praises the Prophet of Islam’s (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) noble, honest and trustworthy character in which even polytheists of Arab firmly believed and gave him(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)titles like ‘’Al-Ameen’’ and ‘’Al-Siddeeq’’. Moreover, Arabian polytheists could not deny the Prophet’s((Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) truthfulness and honesty even after he presented the message of Quran to them. Newly converted Muslims sacrificed their lives in the love of the Prophet of Islam(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam).
Professor Rao posits that Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)was a perfect model for all generations to come. The professor calls to attention that versatile character of the Prophet(Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) which emanates as a warrior, prophet, statesman, the orator, reformer, protector of slaves, emancipator of women, a businessman, refuge of orphans, the judge, the saint. Despite being an illiterate, who had not gained any knowledge from Athens, Greece or Rome, Professor Rao calls him the rarest phenomenon on earth.
The good Professor , calling attention to Islam’s achievements and contributions in the fields of science, and quoting from Robert Briffalut’s well known book ‘The Making of Humanity’, posits:
“The debt of our science to the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories. Science owes a great deal more to Arab culture: it owes its existence”. The same writer adds:” The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized but the patient ways to investigation, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation, and experimental enquiry, were altogether alien to Greek temperament. What we call science arose in Europe as a result of new methods of investigations, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of mathematics in a form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and these methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs”.
In the concluding chapter, Professor Rao states that “Islam is a complete way of life; it is based on correct faith and right actions”. What this means is that that only being a believer is not enough. A Muslim must follow the teachings of Quran and Sunnah and should also apply in his everyday life as mere contemplation is not the goal and divine law is law of efforts not of ideals. The Professor then writes that “the final goal for man is to become, on one hand the master of the universe and, on the other , to see that his soul finds rest in his Lord, that not only his Lord will be pleased with him but that he is also pleased with his Lord”. Rao then quotes Thomas Carlyle to buttress the point:
“And Then also Islam – That we must submit to God; That Our whole strength lies in resigned submission to Him, whatsoever He does to us, the thing He Sends to us, even if death and worse than death, shall be good, shall be best; resign ourselves to God”. The same author adds:”If This Be Islam” says Goethe, “ Do we not all live in Islam?”.
Carlyle himself answers this question of Goethe, “ Yes, all of us that have any moral life, we all live so. This is yet the highest wisdom that heaven has revealed to earth.The word of such a man (Muhammad), is a voice direct from nature’s own heart: men do and must listen to that, as to nothing else; all else is wind in comparison….” (Heroes and Hero-Worship)
In my opinion, Professor Ramakrishna Rao has written the booklet under review after a thoroughly deep and exhaustive study on the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam)and to some extent he has been able to do justice to the reality and character of Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam) and the teachings and purity of our religion Islam. Altough Professor Rao has not yet himself reverted to Islam, but this booklet displays persuasively the great nature of the religion of Islam and its great prophet, Muhammad (Sall Allahu alyhi wassallam).
—The author is PG Islamic Studies ,University of Kashmir, and can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org