Although the picture of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) stands in the full light of history, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have increasingly experienced difficulty in grasping, appreciating and evaluating his life and times in historical reality. This is because the complexity of his life circumstances, the distortion of pious legend and the demonization of his personality by biased critics combine to obscure his historicity. The objective historian is thus caught between two traditions-a traditions of veneration and another one of denigration.

In Muslim communities, the personality of the Prophet went through a process of idealization which in its most extreme manifestation has quite transformed his historical character, while in the western world, it went through a different transformation which medieval Christian apologetics and polemics gave to it. Even in the modern world, underneath the cultural refinements and the assertions of objectivity, the old prejudices and passion can still sometimes be felt, often combined with new prejudices. The mutual suspicion between the Muslim East and the Christian West has contributed to the little intellectual curiosity displayed by both, particularly the non- clerics among them, about the religions of each other. While it is a little better with Muslims as there exist several Muslims who have taken interest in reading Christian works and Western religious traditions, there exist a comparatively lesser number of non- cleric Christians and western-oriented individuals who took similar interest in Islam.

The 9/11 saga of 2001 ironically played a positive role in this regard. It actually generated greater interest in the study of Islam and its Prophet and forced many Muslims to confront their identities; but in the not-too-distant past, the story was different. Supposed elites in the West knew almost nothing about Islam.  Grant Butler writes:

‘’During our first week at ARAMCO school on Long Island, questions were asked of us to ascertain our general knowledge about the Arabic world. The questions “WHAT IS ISLAM?” and “WHO WAS PROPHET MUHAMMAD?” brought forth some interesting answers. One of our members thought that Islam was a ‘’game of chance, similar to Bridge’. Another said it was a ‘’ mysterious sect founded in the South by Ku Klux Klan’’ One gentleman believed it to be ‘’an organization of American Masons who dress in strange costumes’’. ‘’Prophet Muhammad was thought to be the man who wrote the Arabian Nights’’. Another one said he was ‘’an American Negro Minister who was in competition with Father Divine in New York City’’. One of the more reasonable answers came from one our men who said ‘’Muhammed had-something to do with a mountain. He either went to the mountain or it came to him”.

Considering the fact that these were elites who had passed through higher institutions of learning and who had access to newspapers and magazines, their ignorance about Islam and its Prophet is appalling. It is interesting to note that even among Muslims, the ignorance of his true nature, mission and history is no less widespread.

It is therefore in light of the above, that I most sincerely thank the organizers of this conference which affords us a prayerful re-examination of the life of Prophet Muhammad and his position as a model for all times as well as deconstruct his mission and vision in light of contemporary challenges.

Who is Muhammad?

The search for Prophet Muhammad’s true identity was a favorite terrain tread by Muslims throughout the ages. This search, to the faithful, naturally resulted in increased veneration which went to the furthest’ limit only falling short of deification. To the western scholars since the medieval period, it was not a search but a reaction which produced some of the most grotesque, amusing and misleading accounts on the life and times of Prophet Mohammad (saw).

In these accounts, from the writings of chroniclers, apologists, hagiographers, and encyclopaedists of the Latin Middle Ages like Guibert of Nogent and Hildebert of Tours in the 11th century, Peter, the venerable in the 12th Century, Jacques de Virty, Martinus Polonus, Vincent of Beauvias and Jacobus A’Varagine in the 13th Century up to Brunetto Latini and his imitators and Dante and his commentators, we fine incoherent, inconsistent and conflicting reports that could not be said to refer to the same person. Yet, these contradictory reports unite in only one thing-the sustained and consistent spirit of vituperation and hostility.

The essence of these accounts is that Prophet Muhammad (saw) was an instrument used by Byzantine Monk who had already risen to the rank of a Cardinal in the Catholic faith but who had grudges against the church. To the medieval Christian historians, this Cardinal was the Syrian Monk, Bahirah, who met Muhammad (saw) on a trade expedition to Syria and prophesied that he would become a great prophet. To the medieval Church, the Syrian monk was the Cardinal Sergius, and Muhammad was a bishop called Mathomus by some, Mamutius by some and Macomethus by others. The two of them were reported to have jointly founded Islam as a rival faith to Christianity. In yet other medieval writings, the Prophet (saw) himself was identified as the Cardinal who was known as Pelagius in some writings and Nicholas in others, who founded Islam in vengeance because he was cheated in his bid to become the Pope! Similar to this fictional representation of the Prophet is Dante’s picture of the Prophet as a renegade monk who revolted against the church and consequently entered hellfire.

The modern period, however, produced a new attitude in the Judeo-Christian world. In 1730 and 1734 respectively, De Boullian Villiers wrote the ‘Life of Muhammad’ in French, and George Sale translated the Qur’an into English. In both works, the Prophet was presented as a ‘’Sage and Lawgiver’’ who introduced a religion conformable to reason instead of abstruse dogmas. For Thomas Carlyle, Muhammad was ‘’the spark fallen from heaven to set alight the apparently unnoticeable sand of the Arabian Desert; to gather together poor Bedouin tribes into a unity of irresistible power’’. For Voltaire and Lammens however, the story was different. They had access to Islamic sources but still went ahead to interpret them with the same prejudice and stereotypes of the medieval period thereby arriving at the same conclusions. 

Despite the spirited efforts of these western biographers to demonize his personality and obscure his historicity, the light of truth still shone forth from the pens of later western writers who, though not Muslims, gave premium to objectivity over prejudice. During the second half of the 19th century, in particular, orientalists began to explore more credible sources for the understanding of Prophet Muhammad’s life.

In 1860, the translation of the Sirah of Ibn Ishaq, the canonical biography of Prophet Muhammad (saw) was published.’’ After this initial effort, several enlightened studies written by Orientalists and Muslim biographers came out in quick succession. These studies engender a diversity of approaches and they have continued till this day.

These later writers understood both the personality of the Prophet and his essence. They were able to glean from his life history the difference between prophetic actions and prophetic intentions. Armed with this fact, they were able to understand the link between the text and the context of the Muslim scriptures. In other to understand this fact, I hereby reproduce excerpts from three non-Muslim western authorities to show that their appreciation of the Prophet went beyond mere biographical interest to a thorough comprehension of his essence. They are:

  1. Rev. Bosworth Smith in his ‘’Muhammed and Mohammedanism’’ (London, 1874) pg 93, writes:
On the whole, the wonder to me is not how much but how little, under different circumstances, Mohammad is different from himself. In the shepherd of the desert, in the Syrian trader, in the solitude of Mount Hira, in the reformer, in the minority of one in the exile of Medina, in the acknowledged conqueror, in the equal of the Persian Chosroes and the Greek Heraclius, we can still trace a substantial unity….
Head of a state as well as of the church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the regions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right of the divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without its instruments and without its supports. He was raised superior to title and ceremonies, the solemn trifling, and the proud humility of court etiquette. To hereditary kings, to princes born in the purple, these things are naturally enough as the breath of life; but those who ought to have known better, even self-made rulers, and those foremost in the files of time, a Caesar, a Cromwell, a Napoleon, have been unable to resist their tinsel attractions. Muhammad was content with reality; he cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life. God, says Al-Bukhari, offered him the keys of the treasures of the earth, but he would not accept them’’.
  1. Major Arthur Glyn Leonard in his ‘’Islam, her Moral and Spiritual value’’ (London, 1927) p20-21, writes:
‘’To thoroughly comprehend the spirit of Muhammad or the soul of Islam, the student himself must at the outset recognize that Muhammad was no mere spiritual peddler, no vulgar time serving vagrant, but one of the most profoundly sincere and earnest spirits of any age or epoch. A man not only great, but one of the greatest, i.e. truest men that humanity has ever produced. Great not simply as a prophet, but as patriot and statesman: a material as well as a spiritual builder who constructed a great nation, a greater empire, and more ever than all three, a still great faith; true, moreover, because he was true to himself, his people, and above all, to his God. Recognizing this, he will thus be acknowledged that Islam is a profound and true cult which strives to uplift its votaries from the depths of human darkness upwards into the higher realm of light and truth’’.
  1. Michael Hart in his ‘’The 100- A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’’ (Harper Collins U. S. A, 1983) p3, writes:
‘’His unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential figure in human History’’.

Apart from these three, there exist several non-Muslim scholars who have written wonderful epithets on the Holy Prophet (saw) but those writings cannot be cited here because of time. What however concerns us is not that they have praised the Prophet, but rather, why? In order words, what did they see? What made them pour encomiums on the Prophet of Islam despite not being his followers? The answer is complex but it can be made simple. In sha Allah, it will be understood in the course of this presentation.

Of all the biographies published on the Holy Prophet Muhammad however, two great works stand out. These are Muhammed Husayn Haykal’s “Life of Mohammad” and Bashir ud Din Mahmud Ahmad’s “Holy Prophet Muhammad- A life Sketch”. These two studies bring to the fore the true identity of the Prophet. While the former removes the garment of the mythical coloring of the Prophet’s personality and describes him in a historically verifiable manner using empirical data that would appeal to elites and academic researchers, the latter, in particular, brings the Prophet’s personality closer, making him accessible to the average seeker after truth.

According to them, the Prophet was a man, not a deity. An unlettered man indeed, whose conduct was exemplary. He claimed no superiority for himself. To him, all power belongs to Allah, Whose mission he carried. He taught a rational creed which is accessible to all regardless of intellectual capacity. His teachings are not shrouded in any philosophical contemplation or by complex theosophical theorizations. The imperative of his message is twofold-personal and societal; and it consists of duties to the Creator, Allah, and duties to His creatures.

The Prophet, according to these two authorities, asserted that neither man nor the world was created in vain. Man’s purpose in life is the realization of a Divine Trust which neither the heavens, the earth, the mountains, and the Angels were capable of realizing. This trust entails striving by man to realize the will of Allah which He has concealed within natural laws because the only man has the volitional gift of accepting or rejecting the Divine.

According to the Holy Prophet, man is a cosmic bridge through whom the moral law as Allah’s eminent will and desire may be fulfilled in space-time. Man’s self, therefore, has to be molded along this line. Because he is free and he is not under any compulsion by virtue of the volitional capabilities given to him, man is responsible either for his salvation or perdition. His salvation depends on how well he realizes the moral order of the cosmos which is the divine law and his perdition depends on his rejection or refusal to discover the Divine pattern and scheme for the world despite his being perfectly equipped for the task.

The Holy Prophet thus preached and exemplified the goal of man as ‘’a mission to bring about universal brotherhood under the moral law instituted by the Divine. Because his fate is inextricably attached to the fate of fellow men, a man should therefore not see himself as a passive object of history but rather, as history’s active subject and as the second master of creation.

Muhammad: A Model for All Time

The divine programme of transforming man into a being whose action conforms to the divine intent and purposes cannot be successful if it relies on rational arguments alone. It is a fact of history that divinely inspired teachings are not embraced unless they are supported by a strong personality appeal. The utility and workability of the precept taught must be displayed by the teacher if he must have followers. This is the reason why the earliest followers of the Prophets of Allah got converted by the personal charisma of the Prophets and not by arguments.

Philosophers and political leaders in history captivated men with their polemics and rhetoric and evoked feelings of awe and admiration from them but did not succeed in transforming and refining their lives towards noble actions. They only succeeded in helping men to clarify their thinking without converting them through their personal conduct into a more wholesome way of life. Prophets, on the other hand, do both. They stimulate intellectual discourses and revolutionize hearts through their personal examples. Their teachings sharpen the understanding of men while their life experiences and the divine succor they enjoyed as a result of their exemplary conduct promote certainty of faith and spiritual fervour.

Of all the religious teachers sent by Allah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S. A. W.) enjoys a unique position. Apart from the fact that he came with the final law for mankind, he is the only Prophet whose life history is documented in such minute details that make his life an open book. Though it is true that this abundance of recorded facts has given undue opportunities to malicious critics, it is also true that when the criticisms have been examined and disposed of, the faith and devotion which result cannot be inspired by any other life.

Obscure lives do not attract criticism and can only exist in the fantasies of people. Personalities whose lives are well documented however attract positive and negative criticisms which provoke polemics that ultimately lead to awe, submission and then an attitude tilt. A life as rich in recorded detail as Holy Prophet Muhammad’s inspires reflection and, then, conviction. When criticism and false attributions have been clarified, such a life will continue to glow in celestial splendour.

It is perhaps necessary to assert that it seems Allah has destined only the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) to be the perfect exemplar for mankind. This is because we do not find in all the scriptures of world religions and their commentaries, details of the life and times of their Prophets as we see the accounts of the Holy Prophet’s life in books of Hadith. No wonder Allah declares:

‘’Verily, you have in the messenger of Allah an excellent model, for him who fear Allah and the last day and who remember Allah much. Q33:21.

It is obvious that if it had been the intention of Allah to use the other Prophets as models for all times, He would have preserved their history. For example, we often have records of how prophets were born but not how they spent their marital lives; how they converted their followers but not how they lived with them.

In other words, we do not have enough information about them that would make their lives resource materials for us, and not ordinary reference materials. In the case of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), this is not the case. We have in detail records of his birth, early childhood, later childhood, life as a youth, bachelor, a married man, an employee, an employer, a husband, Father, Leader, Ruler, Statesman, Military Commander, Trader, Legislator, Shepherd, and Sufferer. It is thus obvious that only he has been decreed to serve as a model for mankind. Whatever our position in life is, we are sure to find in him the best example.

Human success is often attributed to a number of factors among which parental background and family support occupy a prominent position. It is as if Allah removed all pillars of support from him that nobody may claim the credit for his achievements.

The misfortune of his background did not deter him from distinguishing himself as a trustworthy person; the persecution of his followers did not make him vengeful, and his eventual acquisition of authority did not turn him into a transgressor. In everything, he radiated love and compassion.

From his early years, he was one great model of resoluteness and steadfastness. Allah seemed to have prepared him for the great task ahead by teaching him self-reliance from birth. His father died while he was still in his mother’s womb and the mother herself died when he was only six years old. He then came under the care of his grandfather who also died when he was eight. He was then brought under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib, a poor merchant; a fact which accounted for his illiteracy as literacy then was only within the reach of those who could afford it.

From this early period, the Prophet exhibited such traits that stood him out. He never engaged in frivolities and childish pranks. He was always in a contemplative mood even as a little boy. His foster mother, Halimah once reported that he never joined the other children in playing pranks upon the weak and the elderly. He might have felt the loss of his parents deeply, but this did not deter him from being successful in life. Within the little opportunity available, he distinguished himself as a diligent and honest lad. He was nicknamed ‘’Al-Amin’’ (The Trustworthy) by his peers.

As a youth, he did not indulge in the pastime of the average Arab youth of his time which included hunting, visiting drinking taverns and reveling in dilly-dallying with women. On the contrary, he felt the weight of the social iniquities of his people and formed a group with his friends. This group was called ‘’hilf-al-fudul’’. They took an oath among themselves to stand by the needy and assist the weak. Widows, orphans and the disabled benefited immensely from their activities.

During this time, he joined the services of a rich widow, Khadija, who became attracted to him because of his reputation as a trustworthy person. He and Maysarah, one of Khadija’s trusted aides had gone on a trade trip to Syria. It was during this trip that Maysarah became enchanted by him. Two factors were responsible for this. It happened that their caravans stopped at a place close to Syria for rest and while Maysarah was busy doing something, the Prophet sat under a tree. A Christian Monk living nearby called Bahirah saw him and inquired from Maysarah about him. Maysarah told him that he was a youth from among the Quraysh, but the Monk said that the person he was looking at under the tree is a great Prophet.

The second factor for Maysarah’s admiration was when he noticed that in the heat of the sun, an unseen presence provided shade for Muhammad. He then became sure that he was not with an ordinary person. All these, he narrated to Khadijah who became intrigued particularly when she also discovered that the profit made on that trip had never been recorded before by any of her workers. She thus sent Maysarah to Muhammad to propose to him on her behalf, although she was fifteen years older than him.

While many other youths would have taken the old lady for granted, he remained devoted to her and even after her death, he continued to revere her. He was a loving husband and father. His marriage to KHADIJAH was blessed with two boys and four girls. Throughout their lives together, he was caring to the utmost and she herself was a paragon of virtues. His life with Khadijah was to provide an example for monogamous marriages. However, after her death, he married other women. Had he not done so, his role as a model would have been incomplete.

Medieval Western writings are full of colourful innuendoes about the supposed voluptuous sensuality of the Prophet. Any unbiased critic will, however, admit that a sensual person would seek young and beautiful ladies instead of the widows and divorcees the Prophet married. Of all his wives, only Aishah was married a virgin. Most of the other women ranged between forty and fifty years of age. Obviously, there was no dearth of young ladies who were interested in the Prophet. Several offered themselves or were offered by their parents and the Prophet married them off to other people.

In the treatment of women, he was a perfect model. He enjoined his followers to take care of their wives. Some of these injunctions in this regard include.

  1. A) The best of you is he who is best in the treatment of his wife.
  2. B) A woman is like a rib, and the rib is crooked. If you want to straighten her by force, you will only break her but if you want to enjoy her, you will still enjoy her despite her crookedness.
  3. C) Let no man hate his wife. If he hates a thing in her, he should remember that there are other things in her which he loves. He should, therefore, overlook her weaknesses.
  4. D) The best wealth a man can spend is what he spends on his family and what he spends in the way of Allah.

The Holy Prophet was also the ultimate symbol of humility and kindness. He never looked down upon anybody. He related with his followers not as a ruler but as a comrade even after the conquest of Makkah when he had become ruler of Arabia. He enjoined and practiced justice. He exhibited simplicity. He related to people in accordance with their level of understanding. He preached his message with love. He enjoined good treatment of the poor, the needy and the weak. He advised traders to trade with the fear of Allah. He enjoined parents to instill love in the heart of their children and not fear. He encouraged the kind treatment of employees and enjoined loyalty to employers.

The Holy Prophet was the supreme example of patience, perseverance, and determination. He showed unprecedented patience and forbearance in the face of persecution and tribulations. He told his companions that there are two days in the life of a man, a day for him and a day against him. He also taught them that the stair of success can only be climbed by those who can bear pain and hardship. With his own life, he showed how dogged strivings and concerted efforts pay. He did not preach a message of cheap salvation. He insisted that man must work hard and pray hard. This according to him is a natural law.

Understanding the Muhammadan Essence

In our exploration of “who is Muhammad?” it is also necessary to explore “what is Muhammad?” It was a realization of the ethico-juristic significance of the Prophet and its revolutionizing tenor, in order words, an acknowledgment of the Muhammadan Essence that forced non-Muslim biographers to write wonderful epithets on him.

It was the great Andalusian Mystic, Muhyi-d- Din Ibn Arabi, who first drew attention to the existence of a Muhammadan Essence or Reality {al-haqiqat-ul-Muhammadiyyah} by which he hypostasized the personality of the Prophet as an emanation of Supreme Divinity. This notion has been criticized severally by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars that it smells of strong Christian influence. The truth however is that there are ample references in traditional Islamic sources that provide a strong basis for Ibn Arabi’s opinion, though it is pertinent to mention that the major weakness of his thesis is that he neither explained it in non-complex, non-philosophic diction, nor did he link it with the practical experiences of the common man.

To deconstruct the concept of Muhammadan Essence is to answer the question: “what is Muhammad?” In other words, it is to explore how the Prophet, his lifestyle and teachings can be translated into ethical signposts for all. The historic Muhammad has two manifestations and these are typified by his two names with which Allah refers to him in the Qur’an- Muhammad and Ahmad. While Muhammad means the praised one, Ahmad means he who praises Allah much. That the Prophet of Islam has been given both names shows that he was destined to be the supreme symbol of life and the ultimate marker of cosmic dichotomies.

His illustrious life at Makkah and Madinah represented the two dimensions of human reality. His stay at Makkah was characterized by suffering, hardship, and persecution while his sojourn in Madinah heralded the period of peace and stability. The names, Muhammad and Ahmad thus picture these two experiences. When he was enduring persecution at Makkah, he was the great praiser of Allah who would not bulge nor refrain from praising his Creator despite his unfavorable condition. His condition and state reflected the name, Ahmad. He praised, worshipped and glorified Allah despite the fact that he and his followers were suffering. He praised Allah not because of what he needed from Allah, but because he knew Allah was Praiseworthy. His devotion to his Creator was not transactional.

After 13 years of suffering in Makkah, the rejected and despised praiser of Allah migrated to Madinah in 622 C.E and there he became the focus of all kinds of praise. The praiser (Ahmad) thus became the praised one (Muhammad). The rejected man from Makkah became the most honoured man in Madinah. This historical reality then became an ethical essence. Every man who aspires towards any goal, be it material or spiritual, must embrace this essence. Man must persevere in the face of all odds by praising Allah without losing hope in Him. When he does this despite his difficulties, he puts on the garment of Ahmad. He continues to bear his hardship undeterred in his praise of his Lord. When this reaches the prescribed limit, he will also migrate to a new situation and he will be praised by all. He thus becomes Muhammad, the praised one. This sums up the Prophetic declaration:- Al- yaumu yaumaani, yaumun laka wa yaumun alayke’’  i.e. ‘’there are two days in the life of man, a day for you and a day against you’’.

When the day is against you and you put on the garment of Ahmad, it will surely hasten another day when you will be given the garment of Muhammad so that the day would be in your favour. This is the first aspect of the Muhammadan Essence.

The second aspect is to accept the Prophet as an active intelligence- a force that governs all ethico-spiritual affairs. He is thus a symbol of Allah’s guidance. He is the ethereal being that appears in dreams to give right guidance. He is the theopathic suggestion that guides man to the right decisions when he is confused. He is the boat of salvation that has guided mankind over the years in different lands and clime.

He is the positive force emanating from the Divine mind. He is the Melchizedek of Judeo-Christian traditions. He is the Khidr of Muslim Tradition. He was at the beginning of time, and he shall be till the end of time, a light which is neither of the East nor of the West; La Sharqiyyah wa la gharbiyyah. This is the second aspect of the Muhammad Essence.

How true is this couplet in praise of this enigma called Muhammad.

تمت عليه صفات كل مزيّة…….ختمت به نعماء كل زمان

‘’Qualities of all outstanding men found perfection in him; He is the culmination of the virtues of all time.’’

Indeed, positive attributes with which Prophets before him excelled are found in him with extra lustre and grandeur; the forthrightness of Nuh, the steadfastness of Ibrahim, the courage of Musa, the versatility of Dawud, the wisdom of Sulayman, the tenderness of Isa as well as the submission and devotion of the Angles. Such was Muhammad (S.A.W).

Though several things are yet to be mentioned, I cannot resist the urge to conclude with Stanley Lane Poole’s description of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). He writes:

‘’In his habits he was extremely simple, although he bestowed great care on his person. His eating and drinking, his dress and his furniture retained, even when he reached the fullness of power, their almost primitive nature. The only luxury he indulged in were arms, which he highly prized. And a pair of yellow boots, a present from the Negus of Abyssinia. Perfumes however, he loved passionately being most sensitive to smells; strong drink he abhorred.’’
‘’He was gifted with mighty powers of imagination, elevation of mind, delicacy and refinement of feeling. ‘He is more modest that a virgin behind her curtain’, it was said of him. He was most indulgent of his inferiors, and would not allow his little page to be scolded whatever he did.
‘Ten years’ said Anas, his servant, ‘I was with the Prophet, and he, never said as much as ‘UFF’’ {Fie} to me’. He was very affectionate towards his family. One of his boys died on his breast in the smoky house of the nurse, a blacksmith’s wife. He was very fond of children; he would stop them in the streets and pat their little heads. He never struck anyone in his life. The worst expression he ever made use of in conversation was ‘what had come to him’ May his forehead become darkened with mud’! When asked to curse someone he replied, ‘I have not been sent to curse but to be a mercy to mankind. He visited the sick, followed any bier he met, accepted the invitation of a slave to dinner, mended his own clothes, milked the goats, and waited upon himself, relates summarily another tradition. He never first withdrew his hand out of another man’s palm, and turned not before the other has turned.’’
“He was the most faithful protector of those he protected, the sweetest and most agreeable in conversation. Those who saw him were suddenly filled with reverence; those who came near him loved him; they who described him would say, ‘I have never seen any him like either before or after, he was of great taciturnity; but when he spoke it was with emphasis and deliberation and no one would forget what he said.’’
“He lived with his wives in a row of humble cottages separated from one another by palm branches cemented together with mud. He would kindle the fire, sweep floors and milk the goats himself. The little food he had was always shared with those who dropped in to partake of it. Indeed, outside the Prophet’s house was a bench of a gallery, on which were always found a number of poor who lived entirely upon his generosity, and were hence called the people of the bench. His ordinary food was dates and water, or barley bread: milk and honey were luxuries of which he was found, but which he rarely allowed himself. The fare of the desert seemed most congenial to him even when he was sovereign of Arabia’’.
“There is no something so tender and womanly and with it also heroic, about the man, that one is in peril of finding the judgment unconsciously blinded by the feeling of reverence, and well-nigh love that such a nature inspires. He who, standing alone, braved for years the hatred of people, is the same who was never the first to withdraw his hand from another’s clasp; the beloved of children, who never passed a group of little ones without a smile from his wonderful eyes and kind words for them, sounding all the kinder is that sweet-toned voice. The frank friendship, the noble generosity, the dauntless courage and hope of the man, all tend to melt criticism into admiration.’’
“He was an enthusiast in that noblest sense when enthusiasm becomes the salt of the earth, the one thing that keeps men from nothing whilst they live. Enthusiasm is often used despitefully, because it is joined to an unworthy cause, or falls upon barren ground and bears no fruit. So was it not with Muhammad.
His was an enthusiasm needed to set the world aflame, and his enthusiasm was for a noble cause.
“He was one of those happy few who have attained the supreme joy of making one great truth their very life-spring.
He was the messenger of the one God, and never to his life’s end did he forget who he was or the message which was the marrow of his being. He brought his tiding to his people with a grand dignity sprung from the consciousness of his high office together with a most sweet humility.’’

This was Muhammad (S.A.W) in the eyes of a non-Muslim. How then would a Muslim see him? We should all translate this noble personality into precepts that will guide our steps; we should convert him to a garment that will cover our flaws, we should make him a mirror that will reflect our world and an elixir that will cure our ailment. He is no doubt a model for all time. His name dwells on the lips of millions, and the hearts of millions of people palpitate when it is mentioned. He did not only limit his message to those things we experience today, but he also warned us of things that would happen in the future. He was a model in his lifetime and remains a model even in death.

May the peace and blessings of Allah abide with him, his household and his companions and all those who believe in his message till eternity.


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