Prophet Muhammad: Who is he?
The Prophet Muhammad (Saas) was born in 570 A.D. in the town of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He lived for 40 years in this town before God called him as a Prophet. The town was one divided into two classes, -the rich and affluent, and the poor and downtrodden. The majority of it's inhabitants were idol worshippers who worshipped the 360 idols which decked the Kaba (What the Kaba is, we will address shortly, inshallah.)
At the age of 40, Muhammad (saas) retired to a cave one evening, as was his habit from time to time, to take solitude and refuge from the bustle of Mecca's city life. It was on this occassion, that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a frightening vision. The angel ordered him to iqra (Recite/read) several times. -Muhammad (saas), being an illiterate, and enveloped in fear, said, "What shall I recite?" -It was then that the first verses of the Muslims Holy Book, the Qu'ran, was revealed to him:
إقرأ باسم ربك الذي خلق
Recite in the name of thy Lord, who Created!
After receiving these words, Muhammad (saas) fled from the cave in fear. It was then that he saw the archangel filling the whole of the sky. The angel said, "I am Gabriel, and you are a Messenger of God!"
From here, Ayesha (raa), wife of the Prophet Muhammad (saas), gives an account of what happened next:
The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospels in Arabic. Waraqa asked (the Prophet), "What do you see?" When he told him, Waraqa said, "That is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly. Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605:
New revelations eventually came from God commanding him to make known to Mecca, and the world, that there was only one God, indivisable, without beginning or end, mother or father, son or daughter, and that this God would hold people accountable for their actions on the Day of Judgement, and that he, Muhammad, was the final Messenger of this God.
As a result, for the next 13 years Muhammad (saas) and his followers recieved the bitterest of persecution from the people of Mecca. Muhammad (saas) himself was ridiculed and assaulted, slandered and abused. His followers were also tortured, oppressed, and the weaker among them were killed.
Eventually however, the city of Medina, a town which was a 13 day camel journey from Mecca, invited the Prophet Muhammad (saas) to come and live in their city and be it's leader in accordance with the rules of Islam. It was from here that a series of wars occurred between the Meccan's and the inhabitants of Medina, which resulted, eventually, in Muhammad's (saas) bloodless conquest of Mecca, in which he forgave all those who persecuted him.
From the time Muhammad (saas) recieved his first revelation, until the time of his death, he would recieve subsequent revelations from God, which were compiled into book form, and is what is known today as "The Qu'ran." (Arabic: Recitation.) He is believed by Muslims to be the last Prophet sent to humanity, after a long chain of Prophets that include Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jesus, May peace be upon all of them.
Prophet Muhammad: His Perfect Lineage
Muslims trace the lineage of Muhammad (saas) through Ishmael, the 1st son of Abraham. (It is important to note that in Jewish law, the 1st son is the one who recieves the inheritance of the father.) -The Bible in fact agrees that the Arabs were the offspring of Ishmael. The first son of Ishmael was Kedar (I Chronicles 1:29-33), and several Bible verses clearly indicate that these descendants inhabitated Arabia and became bedouins. (Isaiah 42:11, Ezekiel 27:21)
In fact, the Prophet Muhammad's lineage through Ishmael, (using the Arabic names, not the Hebrew) is memorized by Muslim scholars to this day. We see that according to the Bible, Ishmael would be blessed by God (Genesis 17:20) and God promises to make Ishmael's offspring a Great Nation, and reiterates this promise 5 times! (Genesis 15:5) (Genesis 16:10) (Genesis 17:20) (Genesis 21:13) (Genesis 21:18) -This of course makes Ishmael quite unique in the eyes of God!
Now, of the tribes of Ishmael, that is, the Arab tribes during the time of Muhammad (saas), -Muhammad (saas) was born in the most prestigious of them all. He states:
Indeed, God chose the tribe of Kinanah over other tribes from the children of Ishmael, and He chose Quraish over the tribes of Kinanah, and chose Banu Hashim over other tribes of Quraish, and He chose me among others from Banu Hashem. (Muslim 2776)
We see that, of all the tribes and sub-clans of Arabia, Muhammad (saas) was chosen from the most respected among them. The point is, from one of the best sons of one of the best Prophets, comes some of the most prestigious Arabian tribes, and from those most prestigious Arabian tribes, comes Muhammad (saas), with the purest lineage. However, one of Muhammads (saas) grandmothers was also Jewish, and thus Muhammad (saas) has the blood of both Isaac (2nd son of Abraham) and Ishmael in his veins!
The Perfect Character of Muhammad:
A contemporary, Anas ibn Malik, said of Muhammad (saas): The Prophet (Muhammad) did not swear at anyone, nor was he rude, nor did he curse anyone… (Sahih Bukhari 5684) Indeed, this is one of the reasons God chose him to be a Prophet. God comments on Muhammad's (saas) characer in the Qu'ran:
وإنك لعلى خلق عظيم
You (O Muhammad) have been blessed with great moral character.
When we look to Muhammad's (Saas) life, we see that he gave everyone due respect. Even Children! There is one particular historical account, in which people were passing around a water bowl to drink from. The custom was to pass any dish to your right side and let it go around a circle. When Muhammad (Saas) was handed the water bowl, and took a drink from it, he noticed some elderly men to his left and a child to his right.
Naturally he wished to show preference to the elderly, but instead of doing what most adults would do, (ignore the child), he turned to him and asked, "Do you mind if I give the drink to them?" -The child insisted that he be given the water bowl, because he felt it was a great honor to drink from the same vessel as God's final Prophet, and Muhammad (saas) granted the child's request. (Sahih Bukhari 2319) Even though the last ten years of his life, he was the head of state, and ruler of Arabia, he still was very attentive to the needs of those around him.
The Prophet also loved for people to be reconciled rather than for them to fight each other, and whether or not they were Muslims was irrelevant. He once heard that fighting broke out between the people of Qubbah, a small city on the outskirts of Medina, and his immediate response was, "Come, let us go make peace between them." He was a just arbiter, and a trusted friend to any who crossed in his path.
Despite his desire to spread peace, he was not one to let men walk over him. When an action was wrong, he called it thus, and when an action was right, he praised it. He encouraged his followers to do the same. For he said, "If any of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand, and if he is unable to do so, then let him speak out against it, and if he is unable to do that, then let him feel bad about it in his heart, but this is the weakest of faith." (Sahih Muslim).
Another aspect is his devotion to his Lord. He worshipped God more than any of those around him. It has come down to us through history that the Prophet Muhammad (Saas) loved God so much that he would pray during the night for so long that his feet would swell and blister from standing (As Muslims stand in a certain part of their prayer). –One of his companions asked why he did this when God has considered him blameless, to which he replied, "Shall I not be a grateful servant?" (Bukhari 4557) There are other narrations from his companions in which they describe trying to pray behind him, but his prayers were so long that they couldn't keep up, and would retire to their houses whilst he stayed in the mosque and prayed.
Perhaps the most endearing quality he has to me personally is that he, despite the fact that he was a ruler of a continent by the time he died, still lived as a poor man, having given all his belongings and riches to the poor and needy. After his death, his wife, Ayesha (raa) used to comment on the state of his house and would say, "We sould sight three new moons (I.E. three months would pass) and we would not light a fire in the house to cook a meal." (Muslim 2972) Another friend of Muhammad's (saas) named Sahl bin Sa'd once said that the Prophet Muhammad (saas) never ate baked bread, and never saw a roasted sheep with his eyes. (Bukhari 5413)
Lest we forget an oft overlooked characteristic of Muhammad. His bravery. While he was a lover of peace, Muhammad (saas) also knew that given the nature of man, war was sometimes unavoidable. Thus his directive, "Do not desire an encounter with the enemy, but when you do encounter them, be firm." -And when he encountered the enemy, his bravery, and determination was unparalleled. Recalling a certain war known as the battle of Badr, his nephew Ali ibn Abu Talib (raa) said of him, "You should have seen him on the day of Badr! We sought refuge with the messenger of God! He was the closest among us to the enemy, and on that day the Prophet was the strongest one among us!" (Ahmed 654) We hear of another account in which an extremely loud noise was heard in the distance which frightened the inhabitants of Medina one night. The Prophet Muhammad (saas) was the first one to run to the direction of the noise to determine it's origin. (Bukhari 2751)
The last specific attribute (of many I could mention) was his willingness to be persecuted for the sake of God. It was said of him that while he wiped the blood from his brow he would pray, 'Forgive them, for they are unaware of what they are doing.' (Bukhari 3290).
One companion of Muhammad named Muneeb al-Aziz recounted the persecutions Muhammad (saas) endured: "I saw the Messenger of God in the era of ignorance saying to the people, 'Say there is none worthy of worship except God alone if you would be successful!' There were those who spat in his face, and those who swore at him until midday…" (Mujam al-Kabeer 805) There were occasions where they strangled him with his cloak (Bukhari 3643), threw rocks at him, and even would drop the entrails of slaughtered animals on his back while he prayed in front of his daughter (Bukhari 498).
To recant his belief that he was a Prophet would be easy if he were a falsifier, -but he was not a falsifier, and as he said, "Were they (The Meccans) to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I would not renounce my message, which is from God."
I suppose in summing up the excellence of his moral character, I cite another companion of his, who said of him, "The Messenger of God would busy himself with the remembrance of God, he would not talk in vain, he would lengthen his prayers and shorten his speech, and he would not hesitate to help and take care of the needs of the poor, the orphans, or the widows." (Ibn Hibban 6423)
I hope this has clearly shown why Muhammad (saas) was the best of people, and why Muslims love him so.
For an excellent, brief essay on the greatness of Muhammad (saas) written by a non-Muslim, please follow this link:
About the writer:
Omar Dunlap, is an American Muslim convert, living in Egypt He came to Egypt to study the Arabic language and hopefully to study at Al-Azhar University.
Omar has been a Muslim for 8 years, and have a lot of experience in Dawah, he has publically debated and had dialogues with Preachers, He delivered the English Khutba at his Masjid in America and was also a member of the Shura board of that same Masjid. He taught several classes at the Masjid in English to new Muslims as well as to born Muslims, on issues such as Tawheed, Usuul eldeen, and Sira [which he studied independently since became a Muslim]. He had also given lectures on Islam at Middle Tennessee State University, and Vanderbilt University on several occasions.
Omar is working now for Huda TV as a program presenter, a program preparer and also edit proofing translations from Arabic to English,
Omar has lately presented a couple of shows on Huda TV: Moments for the Heart and Let’s Talk.