How do you start describing a man whose actions are alive in millions of people, whose name is more popular than any and among countless other attributes, he is still spoken about more frequently than the most powerful leaders of our time? The only way you can start is to acknowledge Muhammad ﷺ as the one man who changed the destiny of humankind.
Humankind has see an array of leaders, conquistadores, tyrants, missionaries and oppressors whose name litter history books as freedom fighters to some, terrorists to others and some camouflaged as great because their masters wrote their story. The authentic leaders however, live in the hearts of the sincere. They are uprooted by harsh critics into the public space only to be given reverence because of their unblemished recorded history. In that space their influence spans across the vastness of the earth’s landscape and became legends in their own lifetime. Today, the landscape is full of these luminaries but, only one stands out as the master all leaders. His name is Muhammad ﷺ.
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart, that places Muhammad ﷺ as number one and then too, it was a controversial matter for critics but, the author stood his ground. On the grounds of men who stand for their beliefs let us begin to know who Muhammad ﷺ is. The beginning of this discussion is to look into history and reflect on how the facts show a reality we tend to miss all because we are so close to the mirror that we forget the huge picture behind our face.
Behind the face of Genghis Khan is the largest contiguous empire in history that remains unparalleled though it does not exist anymore. Furthermore keeping in mind that 1 in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan, the Mongols’ influence should be dominant or at least strong enough to have a universal impact striking relevance in this century. However, this is not so and the only remnant of the colossal empire of Genghis Khan is a Thirteenth Century Stone turtle carving. Even if other discoveries of the huge empire is unearthed, the reality before us is that legacies are not written in stone but in character. 1422 years has passed and the character of Muhammad ﷺ is admired and no matter how his character has been slandered it has stood the test of time because of the man he was. Muhammad ﷺ legacy is written in the lineage of all Prophets, peace be upon all them, such that he was known to them even before his eventuality on earth as a Prophet. Confirming his legacy the Holy Quran speaks:
﴿٤٠﴾ مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا.
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is Allah’s Messenger, and the Seal of the prophets. And Allah knows everything.(33:40)
The only remnant of Genghis Khan’s empire is this stone turtle. The Holy Quran is the living legacy of Muhammadﷺ
Legacies that are cast in stone like that of the Stonehenge stand as evidence of a people that exist no more. It has no conclusive evidence of its exact origins and its masons but it stands as a reminder that it represents a people from the Bronze Age. Today it is a heritage site that has become a tourist attraction at best and is not universal in its appeal. The pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj has an overwhelming universal attraction of Muslims from across the world and its not a mere tourist destination. Nay! It is a momentous achievement of a life goal that commemorates the life of Ebrahim/Abraham (PBUH) his wife Hagar (PBUH) and their son, Ismaeel (PBUH). Their nobility of sacrifice and obedience to Allah, the High the Great, is personified in the life of Muhammad ﷺ who established the Hajj in the ritual and form Muslims will practice until the end of time. The Hajj of Muhammad ﷺ culminated in a last message that set the tone for what human rights will always be.
Muhammad’s ﷺ sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H. in the ‘Uranah valley of Mount Arafat’ (in Makkah).
After praising, and thanking Allah he(SAW) said:
“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…
Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.
Thus the beloved Prophet(SAW) completed his Final Sermon, and upon it, near the summit of Arafat, the revelation came down:
“…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Grace upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion…” (Quran 5:3).
In recent times I listened to the rhetoric of leaders and found no substance that gave humanity hope rather it made me think deeply on what they really believe in. Watch this video and ask yourself what will be the legacy. The legacy will be one that will not last because it is based on hate. In comparison to the last speech of Muhammad ﷺ how do they compare? In essence, the words of Muhammad ﷺ expresses a man of wisdom with foresight for the whole of humanity. In the clip below you see leaders addressing a largely and only Indian population in India but are also spread across the world. Can you imagine how they will transmit the message? Clearly, it will be transmitted with emotive trappings of hateful propaganda. The consequences are left to your vivid imagination. Muhammad ﷺ spoke 1422 years ago, his message is still alive as the foundation of the declaration of human rights. The messages are worlds apart.
The world of Muhammad ﷺ on the Hajj of Muhammad ﷺ was made of more than 100 00 of his companions (Allah be pleased with all of them) the likes of Bilal, a former slave from Africa and a host of others from across the world who took the message of Islam to the corners of the globe on the strength of Muhammad ‘sﷺ message, character and on the revealed scripture namely the Holy Quran. The transmission was never adulterated with propaganda and emotive overtones to incite hatred or division. In fact the traditions of Muhammad ﷺ known as the hadith still exists. This hadith is further emboldened by the reality that each narrator of a tradition has his/her biography documented to authenticate what is said to be true. This study of a man’s life remains unparalleled. In addition, one has to marvel at the Holy Quran which is the word of Allah, revealed to Muhammadﷺ. Really, it has not changed and it is still recited as how it was revealed. Surely, only a man of greatness could be a recipient of Allah’s word and tasked with the responsibility to transmit it. In this way too, Islam spread and became global. Strange but true, Cheraman Perumal Rama Varma Kulashekhara was said to be the king of Kerala at that time who witnessed the splitting of the moon embraced Islam in the time of Muhammad ﷺ. He was driven by truth to seek out Muhammad ﷺ and he did so. The message reached him by the splitting of the moon indicating that the message of Muhammad ﷺ moves beyond the perceivable and it has withstood all criticism and insults.
King Cheraman declared his conversion to Islam in the presence of the Prophet and adopted a new name, Thajuddin. He later performed Haj. As per the wishes of the Prophet, a team of his companions led by Malik bin Dinar started their journey with Thajuddin to propagate Islam in Kerala. (https://www.arabnews.com/node/406092)
Today we witnessed the insulting remarks of President Macron of France on Muhammad ﷺ and it has caused a stir of mixed reactions that defiled the leadership of Mr Macron and elevated the curiosity on Muhammad ﷺ to the extent that more people are reading, writing and researching on Muhammad ﷺ than on Mr Macron. This is evident that there is something truly attractive in the lifestyle of Muhammad ﷺ which will continue beyond our time in this world too. This is the man, Muhammad ﷺ whose legacy is protected by those who have not seen him and not heard him talk but who fell in love with him and became Muslim. How many leaders can lay claim to this kind of spiritual love and following? Really not many. Today, leaders have a following that lasts as long as their political term in office or their sway of power. Beyond that they have become hidden in the shadows of history waiting to be taken out for some selective accolade.
Muhammad’s ﷺ accolades continue to enliven the world regardless of the slander about him because his remarkable character stands the test of time. Character defines man and to know man is to know his character. Rumi describes man best when he says: “When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.” exemplifying where legacies are written. Muhammad ﷺ lives in the hearts of men such that his name alone will invoke love and tears of longing to meet him. You will ‘meet’ him in the actions of men who in their nature seek justice but whose mercy outweighs their anger.
Anger is sharper than a sword and quicker than lightening but, it takes real character to keep the sword in the scabbard and to halt the blurt of the tongue. One day a man urinated in mosque of Muhammadﷺ. The Prophet calmed the upset onlookers, and told them to leave the man alone. He reminded his companions that they were sent to make things easy on people, not difficult. The bedouin later recounted his experience with the Prophet: May my mother and father be sacrificed for him. He did not scold or insult me. He just said, ‘We do not urinate in these mosques-they were built for prayer and remembrance of Allah.’ Then he called for a bucket of water to be poured on the ground. (Ibn Majah and authenticated by Al-Albani). I am certain our reaction would have been very different and disastrous too. Muhammad ﷺ is grace personified in deed and in action. Little did he campaign on who is was, his character was a campaign itself.
The USA election results are all based on huge expense budgets for campaign trails to convince people to vote. Who remembers Mr Obama who led the greatest volley of drone bombings on Muslim lands? Who will remember Mr Trump after this election for the misery he caused? American presidents will come and go but the grace of Muhammad ﷺ will outlast them. The challenge is to learn about the man, Muhammad ﷺ. The reading of this article would have enticed you into doing some research on Muhammad ﷺ and if it does not I am sure the this video would make you rethink and get you started to learn more about Muhammad ﷺ the man who graced the earth.