[Friday Sermon] Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him): Man They Ignorantly Misunderstood!
By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
ِAll praises are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, companions and those who follow him well until Judgement Day.
Dear brothers and sisters, today, one in every five persons on this earth firmly believes that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of Allah. He was a Muslim and there are more than 2 billion such Muslims around the world today. As the second largest religious following, Muslims are people who believe in and live by the teachings of Islam.
Not only individuals but entire countries take pride in declaring their allegiance to him. There are 54 such Muslim states today, ranging from those as large as Indonesia and Bangladesh, with populations of 200 and 125 million respectively, to those as tiny as the Maldives or Brunei with populations of 230,000 and 260,000. Even in non-Muslim countries, large Muslim populations constitute significant minorities; as much as 120 million in India and 20 million in China.
A Muslim-majority country is a nation where the religion of Islam is widespread. These nations are collectively known as the Muslim world or the Islamic world. There are no universal rules that identify what makes a Muslim-majority country, although many people go by the standard that a Muslim population of more than 50% constitutes a Muslim-majority nation.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are a total of 54 Muslim-majority nations in the world. However, according to World Atlas, there are 45 Islamic countries. Further data shows that these nations contribute about 8% of the world’s nominal GDP. The region with the most Muslims is the Middle East-North Africa region. Other areas with large percentages of Muslims include Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia-Oceania. There are smaller percentages living in the Americas and Europe.
Indeed, within the last half century, Islam, the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), has become the second largest religion in most European countries, as also in America and Canada.
Black and white, red and yellow, followers of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) come from all human races. Whether in Asia or Europe, Africa or America, in every nook and cranny of this globe, you are sure to find Muslims. They live in the most advanced, sprawling megalopolis as well as in the most primitive nomadic tent, village, hamlet, and even in the bush.
As now so always, down the centuries, across the planet, from end to end, billions and billions of men and women have lived all their lives, loving the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and trying to follow in his footsteps, as no one else has been so loved and followed. They have lived and died, believed and acted, married and raised families, worshipped and ruled, made war and peace, even eaten and dressed, walked and slept, just as he did or taught them to do.
Indeed, never in history has a man influenced mankind, even beyond his death, so deeply and so pervasively as he has. He brings light and peace to countless hearts and lives. Muslims love him more dearly than their own selves. In him they find their greatest source of inspiration and guidance. He is the ultimate norm and the perfect example for them. Faith in Allah and His Messenger is their mainstay and Allah is their chief source of support and comfort in all personal vicissitudes and tribulations. To him they also look to lead them through social and political turmoil. He has always inspired them to greater and greater heights of spiritual and moral upliftment and civilizational achievements. And still does.
In short, Muslims believe that through him, a human like themselves, Allah has spoken to them, and guided him to live amongst them, setting an example and a model for all times to come. Even today he motivates and induces whole populations to yearn and strive to shape their private lives, politics and policies according to Allah’s teachings.
• Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) – Mercy to Mankind
Respected brothers and sisters, at the end of sixth century AD humanity had lost all the guidance that came from its Creator and Sustainer as how to live, act and behave on earth. There were no human rights anywhere in the world. Under the domination of both the superpowers of the time, the Roman and the Persian Empires, only the ruling class was enjoying all rights and privileges.
The common man has no rights worth its name and was treated as serfdom. Women folk were treated in Christianity something as “untouchables” and under the fold of Hindu paganism, they had no right to live after the death of husband. They were to die with them alive due to age old prevalent custom of “sati.” Europe was grappling under its dark ages and America was not known at all to the civilised world of the time. Humanity was, thus, passing through dark pages of its history; its fate was lying in obscurity and apparently had no hopes in its “destiny.”
The Christian priests, saints and hermits of the time were all in waiting for the coming of a Messenger from a land in the desert covered with date trees as prophesies in Bible foretold. Only the City of Madinah in the heart of Arabian Peninsula fulfilled that criterion. They had established numerous monasteries at the northern arch of Arabian Peninsula. The monastery of Bahirah Rahib was one of them. Professor Taha Yaseen of Egypt has given a vivid description of these monasteries in his book of Seerah of Rasulullah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him) and has shown that how eagerly Judeo-Christian world was waiting for the new Messenger of Allah. The detail account given by Prophet’s beloved companion Salmanul Farisi of his reaching to Madinah in search of the Messenger as directed by Christian priests confirms the quest and long waiting of Christian world.
Unfortunately, at the end of 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, the humanity is experiencing as a whole more or less the similar situation as that of 6th century but in a different perspective. In 6th century, the causes of concern and waiting were genuine as all the previous guidance from Allah were either lost, or mutilated through human innovations and manipulations along with the life pattern of the previous Messengers too except with some scanty account that could not lead and deliver to human society a system and a model of their life-pattern to live with. In the context of the present world, both the Guidance from the Creator and Sustainer is available intact in its original form along with the life-pattern of the Messenger, the guide, the model as how to live, act and behave in the world in its minutest details. It is just the self-denial attitude of Judeo-Christian-Pagan world that is blind to its existence in its totality. It is due to age old prejudices, historical animosity and ignorance of an unprecedented nature; it is being ignored one way or the other.
Their blindness is by their free-choice and not by accident or any natural mishap. It can be termed as “day-light-blindness.” They are in disparate need of a system for getting justice, peace, security and an ideal model to lead a balanced and an organised life in their personal, family and society at individual, national and international levels. They are making blind rough shots here and there, grappling in darkness but having no semblance of light either in their vision, approach, programming or projections. They are seeing everything from the ken of mortal eyes and not as their urgent need for Divine Guidance and the life-pattern that the Messenger sets in its minutest details for human beings to follow. That is why man has failed in all its programming, projections and man-made systems whether it was feudalism, monarchy, capitalism, socialism, communism and secular democracy or military dictatorship. All have multiplied human problems and provided only some band-aid-treatment or some namesake temporary respite only. Problems are gradually heaping and pilling up in Himalayan size.
In sequence, humanity has lost all its hopes. The forthcoming era of Globalization, World Trade and forming of different Group Markets on the pattern of EUC are bound to fail as their objective is to exploit the human needs and meager resources of under-developed and developing countries around the world to add a few degrees to the standard of living of the developed countries at the cost of increasing the poverty level in the poor countries higher and higher. By denying the existing Divine Guidance and the role of the Messenger of time, humanity cannot survive anymore. It has no choice but to turn its face to follow the life-pattern of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) with all hopes and expectations and it would get it there. Let us see what hopes the life of the Messenger of the time, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has in store for the suffering humanity that all the secular isms could not deliver at all:
1. The first step towards building the fate of humanity
After his appointment as the Messenger of Allah in the cave of Hirah in 572 AD, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) concentrated, on individuals, the epic center of all troubles and corruptions on earth. He rightly concluded that if individuals are corrected, reformed and their character is re-build on the basis of the fear of Allah and accountability in the Hereafter, society as a whole can be reconstituted afresh on balanced moral grounds. As such:
– He cemented the relations of each individual with his/her Creator and Sustainer;
– Every individual is a trustee of what Allah has given him and not master or owner;
– Everyone is accountable to Allah for all his/her actions and deeds one earth in the Hereafter;
– He presented his life as ideal for all individuals to follow in every walk of life till eternity.
Dear servants of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) made every effort in remodeling their respective individual character on these principles and made them the most trustworthy people of the time. This was his team of workers that he first built and they were the instruments in changing the society altogether on the concept of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), Amanah (Trust), Akhirah (Hereafter) and his Prophethood. He purified individual’s character and motivated them to carry out the mission of Islam to the four corners of the world. His Kalimah (Slogan): La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammadun Rasulullah: There is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger was, in fact, the most revolutionary political slogan and a motivating force that kept his followers always active, motivated and involved in the service of mankind: to be good to others, in removing the evil from the society and establishing the Ma’aruf (all that is good) all around. This benevolent character that he created amongst his followers was by serving himself as its model in every walk of life. He, thus, transformed the Arab society of Jahiliyyah [ignorance] into a benevolent and Allah-conscious society all around in his life time within a limited period of 23 years. This is his prescribed, well-practiced and trusted model for mankind to follow till eternity. If humanity wants today to remove insecurity, corruption, favouritism, nepotism, racism, tribalism and discrimination in all its forms and shape from its ranks and files, this is the only way now left for mankind to accept and follow, the only hope to get justice, peace and a balanced harmonious growth in the world.
2. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) most inspiring character of history.
– He was very kind and merciful and full of concern for believers in Allah [Qur’an, 9: 128];
– He was at the highest order of morality [Qur’an, 68: 4];
– His morals were the embodiment of the Qur’an [Hadith]
– He confirmed, “I have been appointed to perfect the good morality.” [Hadith]
– He was the Messenger for entire mankind [Qur’an, 7: 158]
– Arabs acknowledged him unanimously and used to call him Al-Ameen (the Trustworthy).
– He never speaks out of his own desire and that [what he coveys to you] is but [a Divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired.” [Qur’an, 53: 3-4]
– He said, “Ana Afsahul Arab” [I am the most eloquent person amongst the Arabs].
– An Extraordinary advocate and promoter of knowledge in the society: Acquiring knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim [and Muslimah] – [Hadith]
– He was the most ideal and perfect Caller to Allah for all time to come.
– He declared the first Charter of Human Rights in 631 AD from the Mount of Arafah when he performed his first and the last Hajj.
– He was the most ardent advocate of human rights, wage-earners rights, very benevolent to slaves, care takers of the wayfarers and the oppressed, the orphans and the rights of women.
– He established the concept of equality amongst human beings, eradicated all kinds of discrimination on account of colour, race, wealth, language and geographical boundaries. He made Bilal Bin Rabah, an African from Ethiopia the Mu’azzin (caller for prayer) of his Mosque and his personal exchequer;
– He was an affectionate father, a dutiful and loveable husband, an ideal neighbour, a trustworthy and honest trader, an efficient administrator, a foresighted statesman and a brilliant general. In short he was the most accomplished human being. Whosoever came in contact with him adored him, including his adversaries. He is the most perfect ideal in every walk of life for any individual and society to follow as model, the only hope of mankind to deliver good to all who resolve to follow him and his teachings.
3. Building a model human society
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) first built his team of workers on the lines stated above. We call them Sahabah (Companions) out of reverence. He built it through person to person contacts who in turn became the kingpins of the Islamic society that he established in Arabian Peninsula based on the principles of equality, justice and complete social security for the poor, needy, destitute, underfed, unemployed, incapacitated and wayfarers – the have-nots, through a well-established social-welfare system of Islam that advocates:
“Collect from your affluent and return it back to your poor and needy.” [Hadith]
He build a society in which justice was free, education was obligatory and free for all. It was free of corruption and favouritism. Rate of crime was extremely low to the extent that often jails were found empty. Situation of law and order was so perfect that an old lady could travel from Sana’a to Hadaralmaut, a distance of about 1,000 miles with gold in her hands and she had no fear except that of Allah. Adiy Bin Hatim, confirmed it by his own observation.
Dear brothers and sisters, the forgoing proves beyond any shadow of doubt the life pattern that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) demonstrated to the world and the system of life that he delivered to mankind are now the only hope of mankind to get justice, peace and security on earth. The more its adoption is delayed, the more it is drifting away from its cherished goal to attain perfection in transforming the abode of man into the cradle of peace and free of exploitation; where both the affluent and the poor will feel contented in their respective field and where the opportunity of progress will be available to all and sundry without any prejudice as a right of all human beings. Humanity can attain this goal only when it would accept the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the only hope of its survival.
Respected brothers and sisters, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was the kindest of men in the same way as he excelled all others in courage and valour. Being extremely kind-hearted, his eyes brimmed with tears at the slightest sign of inhumanity. A Companion, Shaddad Bin Aws, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, Allah has prescribed Al-Ihsan (i.e. performing an action in a perfect and kind manner) towards everything. Thus, if you kill (anyone for some justified reason), kill (him/her) humanely; and when you slaughter (an animal), slaughter (it) in a good way. So, each one of you should sharpen his blade and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably.” [Muslim]
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that a man threw a goat on its side and then started sharpening his knife. When the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) saw him he said:
“Do you want to kill it twice? Why did you not sharpen the knife before throwing it on the ground?”
The Messenger’s compassion towards the believers was of the utmost degree. The Qur’an describes his compassion in the following verse:
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you [i.e. your guidance] and to the believers is kind and merciful.” [Qur’an, 9:128]
Sa‘ad Ibn Ubadah, may Allah be pleased with him, once became ill, so Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) visited him in his house. On seeing his faithful Companion in a pitiful state, he was moved to tears. Then, he said:
“Allah does not punish because of tears, nor because of grief, but He punishes because of this.” -, and he pointed to his tongue.” [Al-Bukhari]
The prisoners of war taken captive at the battle of Badr were amongst his bitterest enemies. Nevertheless, he (Peace be upon him) made sure that they were given the best of treatment. Among them was Suhail Ibn Amr who was a fiery speaker and was denouncing the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, one of the Prophet’s closest companions, suggested that two of his lower teeth be pulled out so that he might not be so vile in his speeches. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) replied:
“Were I to do this, Allah would disfigure me on the Day of Judgement, despite the fact that I am His messenger.”
In Makkah, his people inflicted him with every kind of suffering, eventually forcing him to migrate to Madinah, and then waged war on him for five years. However, when he conquered Makkah without bloodshed in the twenty-first year of his Prophethood, he asked the unbelievers in Makkah who were awaiting his decision about them:
“How do you expect me to treat you?”
They responded unanimously:
“You are a noble one, the son of a noble one.”
He announced to them his decision:
“You may go free! No reproach this day shall be on you; may Allah forgive you.”
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was also very kind and affectionate towards women. Women were very badly treated in those times. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) gave them honour and dignity at par with men in the community. Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“We did not have much regard for women while we were in Makkah, but they were better treated in Madinah. Allah’s Messenger established women’s rights through his sayings and commandments, which improved their position and status.”
Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was particularly compassionate towards children. When he saw a child crying, he sat beside him or her and shared his or her feelings. He felt the pain of a mother for her child more than the mother herself. Once he said:
“I stand in prayer and wish to prolong it. However, I hear the cry of a child and cut the prayer short for the anxiety which the mother is feeling.” [Al-Bukhari]
He would take children in his arms and embrace them. He was once hugging his beloved grandsons, Hasan and Husain, when Aqrah Ibn Habis told him:
“I have got ten children. So far, I have not kissed any one of them.”
Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) responded:
“The one who does not treat others with mercy will not be treated mercifully.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
According to another version, he said:
“What can I do for you if Allah has removed from you the feeling of compassion?” [At-Tirmizi]
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) strongly enjoined the duty of kind and generous treatment upon slaves, servants and labourers engaged in manual work. Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Feed them with the food which you eat, clothe them with such clothing as you wear, and do not cause trouble to Allah’s creatures.”
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) also said:
“Those whom Allah has made your dependents are your brothers, servants and helpmates. Anybody whose brother has been made subservient to him ought to feed him with the food he eats and clothe him with the clothes he wears; he should not command him to do that which he is unable to do, and if it becomes necessary to do so, then he should help him in doing the job.”
His compassion encompassed not only human beings, but also animals. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) forbade his companions to keep the unintelligent creatures hungry or thirsty, to disturb or to overburden them. He commanded that kindness and putting them at ease were meritorious acts tending to bring man closer to Allah. Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“A traveler who was thirsty saw a well on his way. He got inside the well and when he came out he saw a dog licking mud due to thirst. The man realised that the dog was as thirsty as him, so he got into the well again, filled his leather sock with water and carried it out holding it with his teeth. Thus, he quenched the thirst of the dog. Allah was pleased with this act of kindness and pardoned his sins.”
The Companions asked:
“O Messenger of Allah, is there recompense in the matter of beasts and wild animals also?”
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) replied:
“There is recompense in regard to every creature that has a living heart.”
Abdullah Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“A woman was punished and entered Hellfire because she kept a cat in captivity until it died, she neither fed it nor gave it water to drink; nor did she set it free so that it could eat from the vermin of the earth.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Once on return from a military campaign, few Companions took away the chicks of a bird from their nest to stroke them. The mother bird came back and when it could not find its chicks in the nest, it began to fly around screeching. When informed of the matter, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) became angry and ordered the chicks to be put back in the nest. [Abu Dawud]
Dear Servants of Allah, the love and compassion of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) for all kinds of creatures was not of the kind claimed by today’s so-called ‘humanists.’ He was sincere and balanced in his love and compassion. He was more compassionate than any other person. He was a Prophet raised by Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all beings, for the guidance and happiness of conscious beings – mankind and jinn – and the harmony of existence. Therefore, he lived not for himself but for others; he is a mercy for all the worlds.
“Indeed, in this [Qur’an] is notification for a worshipping people. And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Qur’an, 21:106-107]
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Muharram 15, 1442 AH (September 4, 2020).
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