by Khurram Murad
Part One: Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) Today
One in every five persons on this earth firmly believes that the Prophet Muhammad is the last Messenger of God. He was a Muslim and there are more than 1.3 billion such Muslims today.
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. Indeed, within the last half century, Islam, the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad, 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 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.Read more...
Abu Hurayra reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "No human child has ever spoken in the cradle except for 'Isa ibn Maryam, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the companion of Jurayj." Abu Hurayra asked, "Prophet of Allah, who was the companion of Jurayj?" The Prophet replied, "Jurayj was a monk who lived in a hermitage. There was a cowherd who used to come to the foot of his hermitage and a woman from the village used to come to the cowherd.
"One day his mother came while he was praying and called out, 'Jurayj!' He asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He concluded that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted to him a second time and he again asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He thought that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted a third time and yet again he asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He again concluded that he should prefer the prayer. When he did not answer her, she said, 'Jurayj, may Allah not let you die until you have looked at the faces of the beautiful women.' Then she left.
"Then the village woman was brought before the king after she had given birth to a child. He asked, 'Whose is it?' 'Jurayj's,' she replied. He asked, 'The man in the hermitage?' 'Yes,' she answered. He ordered, 'Destroy his hermitage and bring him to me.' They hacked at his hermitage with axes until it collapsed. They bound his hand to his neck with a rope and took him along to the king. When he passed by the beautiful women, he saw them and smiled. They were looking at him along with the people.
"The king asked, 'Do you know what this woman claims?' 'What does she claim?' he asked. He replied, 'She claims that you are the father of her child.' He asked her, 'Where is the child?' They replied, 'It is in her room.' He went to the child and said, 'Who is your father?' 'The cowherd,' he replied. The king said, 'Shall we build your hermitage out of gold?' 'No,' he replied. He asked, 'Of silver?' 'No,' he replied. The king asked, 'What shall we build it with?' He said, 'Put it back the way you found it.' Then the king asked, 'What made you smile.' 'Something I recognised,' he replied, 'The supplication of my mother overtook me.' Then he told him about it."
Taken from Parents: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari
It has been narrated on the authority of Hadrat Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that eighty persons from the inhabitants of Makka swooped down upon Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) from the mountain of Tan'im. They were armed and wanted to attack the Holy Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) and his Companions unawares. He (the Holy Prophet) captured them but spared their lives. So, Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted) revealed the verse:
"And It is He Who restrained your hands from them and their hands from you in the valley of Makkah after He had given you a victory over them." (48:24)
"By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and ill-tempered, they would have dispersed from round about you" [Qur'an 3:159]
About himself the Prophet (pbuh) said:
"Allah has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate perfection of character, refinement of manners and loftiness of deportment." [Muwatta; Musnad; Mishkat]
Prophets and Books
According to a report in Musnad Ahmed collection of Ahadith, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "From Adam to me, Allah sent a hundred and twenty-four thousand Prophets, of whom three hundred and fifteen were entrusted with a Book." The question is why were there so many more Prophets than Books? To reflect on this is to gain an understanding about the very institution of Prophethood. If the role of a Prophet were simply to deliver the Book, as some mis-guided people in our time try to argue, there should have been as many Books as Prophets. But the very fact that there have been many Prophets without a new Book, firmly establishes the need for the Prophets as a source of guidance in its own rights.
It had to be so because life emulates life. We need live human beings to inspire us; to show right from wrong in every day struggles of life; to confront us and pose questions; to answer questions; to clarify misconceptions; to hold our hand; to be the model. We certainly need principles to guide our thoughts and actions. But we also need real life examples to relate the principles to real life situations. For most of our living experience involves judgment calls. Politeness is a desirable moral value. But when does politeness turn into weakness? Firmness is also a desirable attribute. But when does it turn into arrogance? How do we balance our duties towards Allah with those towards other human beings? How do we balance both with duties towards ourselves? We are constantly faced with conflicting claims on our resources, energies, and attention. How do we resolve those conflicts, without doing any injustice? These are real life questions that require real life answers.
This point is beautifully established in the Opening Chapter (Surah Fatiha) of Qur'an. It is a short surah, consisting of only seven verses, and it consists of a prayer for guidance: O' Allah! Show us the Straight Path. Yet two of the seven verses are used to describe the Straight Path in terms of people. "The path of those on whom Thou has bestowed Thy Grace. Not the path of those who earn Thine wrath nor of those who go astray."
It would have been simpler to just refer to the Straight path as the Path of the Qur'an. But the longer description has been used to emphasis the fact that human beings need a human model to provide complete guidance.
Of course Prophets were sent to provide the needed guidance. It is also obvious that whatever a Prophet declares is binding on all his followers. "To accept a person as a Prophet of God and then to refuse to accept his commands, is so ridiculous that I would not have believed any sensible person would ever offer this proposition," says prominent Hadith scholar Maulana Manzoor Naumani. But this most irrational of ideas has been promulgated by a segment of Western educated Muslims. They say, without a sense of irony, that we accept the Qur'an but not the Hadith.
Anyone who says that he accepts the Qur'an but rejects the hadith cannot be serious. Or he has not read the Qur'an either. For the Qur'an says:
"And We have sent down unto you the Message so that you may explain clearly to the people what is sent for them and so that they may give thought." (Al-Nahal 16:44).
It also declares:
"Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, purifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while before that they had been in manifest error." (Aale Imran 3:164).
So it is the job of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to explain the Qur'an. And it is the job of the believers to obey him.
"He who obeys the Messenger obeys Allah indeed" (Nisa 4:80).
And even more emphatically it says:
"And obey Allah and obey His Messenger."( Al-Taghabun 64:12).
It is to be noted that here the Qur'an did not say "Obey Allah and His Messenger." By using the command "obey" independently the fact has been firmly established that the status of an order given by the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is the same as that given by Allah.
Even a casual reader of the Qur'an can notice that it gives commands without giving many details. For example it refers to salat (ritual prayers) 67 times. But it never explains how the salat has to be performed. The question is not just how a follower of the Qur'an is to follow that command, but the bigger question is: why the omission in the first place? Is it an oversight, in which case one cannot consider it to be the Book of Allah, or is it simply because another source for those details had been provided? Similarly the Qur'an approvingly mentions many other practices, like the call to prayer (adhan) and the Friday prayer, but never gives commands about them. Again, why? Is there any other explanation possible except for the obvious one that there is a parallel source of instruction in the person of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam?
Actually in the form of Hadith, Muslims have an unprecedented branch of knowledge. Just a list of all the books written on the subject would take several thousand pages, says prominent hadith scholar Habib-ur-Rahman Azami. Other religions also claim to possess revealed scriptures. But no other religion has an example corresponding to Hadith. "Hadith is a branch of knowledge whose equivalent is not to be found in other religions," says Dr. Hamidullah.
For the design-your-own-religion crowd, that may be a problem, But for the sincere follower, it is a great favor and blessing of Allah. We have been entrusted with a unique treasure trove of guidance. An appreciation of that favor is the first step towards benefiting from that treasure.