When the third month of Islamic calendar ‘Rabbi-u-Awwal’ comes, Muslims throughout the world celebrate the blessed birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in different ways: by organising processions, conferences and rallies, reciting poems in his praise and discussing his noble character. Indeed, the birth of the Prophet (PBUH) is a blessing for the whole universe, as the Quran says, “And We have sent you (O Muhammad (PBUH)) not but as a mercy for the whole universe” [Al-Anbiya, 21:107].
There’s no doubt that the blessed birth of the Prophet (PBUH) has a great significance in Islam and it’s not something which can be dragged into the battlefield of sectarian conflicts; doing that is sheer ignorance. Being a Muslim, we should always remember that just celebrating the blessed birth or decorating the mosques & buildings is not enough to prove our love for the Prophet (PBUH). If we truly love Allah and His Messenger, then we must follow the teachings of Islam; only than our love would be accepted in the divine presence, as Quran declares, “Say, (O Prophet (PBUH)), ‘If you should love Allah, then follow me, (so) Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [Ale-Imran, 03:31].
So, as per Quranic commandment even our love for Allah is not acceptable without following the Prophet (PBUH) then how it’s possible that our love for the Prophet (PBUH) would be easily accepted without following the Prophet (PBUH)?
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was chosen and sent by Allah Almighty to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all other Prophets, peace be upon them. It’s not possible to discuss the personality and the noble character of Prophet (PBUH) in detail in this short article; there are thousands of books written on his excellent biography which offers lofty moral lessons and renders a great service to humanity. The fundamental factor that brings reverence and respect to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in both Islamic and non-Islamic circles is his noble character. He was the best in character, as Quran says: “And assuredly, you are placed high on the most glorious and exalted character” [Quran 68:04].
Selflessness & Forgiveness: The first thing we must understand is that all Prophets were sent by God on earth and they were selfless, with their only objective being to fulfil the order of God. They did not undertake any action out of their personal desire and will. The extent of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) selflessness can be seen from the example of His preaching in the valley of Taif, where people urged naughty children to throw stones at him while he was preaching. He had to run for his life and he was all covered in blood. But still he did not complain to God and rather while wiping the blood off his face he said, “O Lord! Forgive my people, for they know not” [Bukhari, 6929]. Therefore, throughout life he was selfless and every moment of his life was for the sake of God and spreading His message.
Mercy & Compassion: Allah made Islam a religion of mercy, ease, moderation, clemency and temperance. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a Prophet of mercy; he was sent as mercy; and he is full of piety and compassion. Once someone said to him, “O Allah’s Messenger! Invoke curse upon the polytheists”, whereupon He replied: “I have not been sent as the invoker of curse, but I have been sent as mercy” [Muslim, 2599]. Emphasising on mercy, the Prophet said: “The merciful are shown mercy by Ar-Rahman (The Merciful). Be merciful on the earth, and you will be shown mercy from Who is above the heavens” [Tirmidhi, 1924].
Love & Kindness: In his social life as well as his family life, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was always kind, affectionate and respectful to people. He was known to have a pleasant smile on his face which never faded away. He took the lead in extending greetings to those he knew and those he did not know, including children and slaves. On the importance of love, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “By the one in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another” [Tirmidhi, 2688]. In this particular narration, the Prophet (PBUH) has described love as the basic condition to be a believer and to enter paradise. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) also showed significant love and tenderness to children; he seated them on his lap, put them on his shoulders and kissed them.
Peace & Integration: Islam itself is peace and the Prophet (PBUH) was a lover of peace. One of the companions of Prophet (PBUH), Hazrat Abu Umamah (ra) said: “Our Prophet commanded us to spread peace (everywhere)” [Ibn Majah, 3693]. At another place, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Should I not guide you to something doing which you will love one another: ‘Spread peace among you” [Abi Dawud, 5193]. He wanted people to live in harmony and always encouraged people to resolve their differences by opting for peace, integration and reconciliation instead of going for violence. It comes in a hadith that once the people of Quba fought with each other till they threw stones on each other. When the Prophet was informed about it, he said: “Let us go to resolve the situation and make reconciliation between them” [Bukhari, 2693].
Justice & Equality: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a just and noble individual. He emphasised that all members of society are equal and duty bound to resist oppression and should not be content as onlookers. Justice and equality were of paramount importance to him. He was meticulous and resolute in administering this. While counselling his companions on this, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Do not be a people without a will of your own, saying, ‘If people treat us well, we will treat them well; and if they do wrong, we will do wrong,’ but accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and do not behave unjustly if they do evil” [Tirmidhi, 2007]. At another place the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed one.” When his companions asked him how they should help an oppressor, he replied, “By preventing him from oppressing others” [Bukhari, 2444].
Honesty: Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) truthfulness and honesty were famous among his most noble attributes. It is mentioned in a hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Abide by truthfulness. For indeed truthfulness leads to righteousness. And indeed, righteousness leads to Paradise” [Tirmidhi, 1971]. This characteristic of his reached the extent that almost everyone in Mecca would put their money, valuables, and savings in the hands of Prophet (PBUH) for safekeeping. Even after he was called for Prophethood, despite all their hostility to him, the Quraysh continued depositing their treasure with him.
Generosity: Generosity is another hallmark of the personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was the most generous person there could ever be. He preferred others over Himself and always fulfilled the needs of anyone who came to Him to ask for something. Hazrat Ibn Abbas (ra) says that “Allah’s Messenger was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan” [Bukhari, 3554]. At another place the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘I do not mind if I have the (equivalent of) Uhud (mountain) in gold, provided that I know how much it is and I would dispose of it in charity” [Ibn Majah, 1787]. His generosity is something that Muslims should aspire to and spread the examples of his generosity to other people as well so that the world could become a better place.
Cooperation: Prophet (PBUH) is the best and the highest among people. He was cooperative towards people and helped others in doing the chores in any way He could help them. He never treated Himself as someone special, rather he would mix with common people and cooperate with them in any way he could. As one of his companions narrates regarding the battle of Trench: “I saw the Messenger of God on the Day of the Trench carrying dirt (that was dug from the trench) until His chest was covered with” [Bukhari, 3034].
Modesty: Another striking personality attribute of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is his modesty. About modesty he said, “Modesty is part of Faith” [Muslim, 36]. He also said, “Modesty does not bring anything except good” [Bukhari, 6117]. The Prophet (PBUH) never encouraged any kind of vulgarity; rather he was bashful and strongly encouraged modesty in his followers. He said: “One of the sayings of the early Prophets is, ‘If you don’t feel ashamed, do whatever you like” [Bukhari, 6120]. Thus, modesty is imperative in Islam in every respect.
Humbleness: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led a very simple and humble life. He advised his followers to be likewise and content with what they had. He said: “Look at those who are beneath you (in wealth) and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah” [Ibn Majah, 4142]. At another place the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Allah has revealed to me that you should be humble towards one another and should not wrong one another” [Ibn Majah, 4214]. He achieved great success and victory, including the conquest of Makkah. The city which had treated him so cruelly and driven him away, was given back to him without the need for any bloodshed. The Prophet (PBUH) rode into Makkah in complete humility and delivered a sermon to the assembled people. He spoke of brotherhood and equality of man.
Pleasantness: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most pleasant person. He would greet everyone with a smile and always spoke to people with gentleness. One of His companions Hazrat Ibn Jaz (ra) said: “I have never seen a man who smiled as much as the Messenger of Allah” [Tirmidhi, 3641]. This shows that the personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was pleasant and gentle. The Prophet (PBUH) also said, “Every good is charity. Indeed, among the good is to meet your brother with a smiling face” [Tirmidhi, 1970]. A person who would smile most of the times ought to leave a good impression on people, and wherever he goes, he ought to spread love and pleasantness.
These were some glimpses of the Prophet’s (PBUH) Sirah, which every Muslim should know and understand because right understanding of the Sirah is the right understanding of Islam. May Allah Almighty grant us opportunity to adopt the Sirah of the Prophet (PBUH), hence to follow the true teachings of Islam. Ameen!
The writer is a research scholar at the Department of Islamic Studies, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), Rajouri. He can be reached at [email protected]