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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Islam and the Right of Privacy

By Zeinab Hassan Ashry

In Islam, the right of privacy for every individual is highly respected.

Prying into people’s private affairs and spying on their secrets are not permitted even if they are engaged in sins as long as they do it privately and not openly.

Respect People’s Privacy

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ”Whosoever listens to people’s conversation against their wishes will have molten lead poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud and others)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:

“Beware of suspicion (about others), as suspicion is the most dishonest talk, and do not spy upon each other, and do not listen to the evil talk of the people about others’ affairs, and do not have enmity with one another, but be brothers. And none should ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his (Muslim) brother, but one should wait till the first suitor marries her or leaves her.” (Al-Bukhari)

Be a Big Brother/Sister

Islam builds its community on mutual love, brother-hood co-operation. Muslims are but brothers and sisters. The Qur’an states:

The believers are but a single Brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your brothers. And fear Allah so that you may receive Mercy.

A Muslim should guard the rights of brotherhood. He should do his best to show sympathy toward people and remove their difficulties.

He must strive to overcome his pride, anger, hatred, ill feelings, and jealousy toward people and humble himself toward them.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever covered a Muslim, Allah will cover him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet also said:

“Do not envy one another, and do not inflate prices one to another, and do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another, but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt.

Piety is right here,” and he pointed to his breast three times. “It is evil enough for a man to hold his Muslim brother in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for another Muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honor.” (Muslim)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s  The True Muslim, published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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Moral Teachings of Muhammad: Lessons from the Sunnah

By Editorial Staff

Prophet Muhammad had possessed an exceptionally moral character among his people from the very beginning of his life. God selected such a man to convey the message of Islam.

morals sunrays

The Prophet’s life mirrored the due harmony between faith and actions.

Muhammad perfectly fulfilled his message of responsibility of leading Arabia from the darkness and ignorance of Jahiliyyah to the light of Islam and its moral teachings which are actually offered to all humanity.

It was by the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them (O Muhammad), for if you had been severe or harsh-hearted, they would have dispersed from round about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when you are resolved, then put your trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

The Prophet’s life mirrored the due harmony between faith and actions. He is the exemplary and the prime model of conduct for all Muslims to follow.

The Qur’an emphasizes the exalted moral character of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

Nun. By the pen and by what you write, (Muhammad), you are not insane, thanks to the bounty of your Lord. You will certainly receive a never-ending reward. You have a sublime morality. (Al-Qalam 68:1-4)

Lessons from the Sunnah

The Prophet’s hadiths about righteousness, tolerance and moral conduct are the embodiment of his noble character.

Morality and moral conduct constitute a basic principle of Islam and one cannot be a true Muslims without good moral qualities.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“There are two characteristics which are not combined in a believer; miserliness and bad morals.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Ad-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“The heaviest thing which will be put on the believer’s scale (on the Day of Resurrection) will be good morals.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

Also, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah  said: “The fear of Allah and good morals (akhlaq) are the two major characteristics which lead to Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim)

The Best Believer

Allah’s Messenger also said: “The best amongst you are those who are best in morals.”  (Muslim)

An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an narrated, ‘I asked the Messenger of Allah about virtue and sin and he replied:

“The essence of virtue is (manifested in) good morals (akhlaq) whereas sinful conduct is that which turns in your heart (making you feel uncomfortable) and you dislike that it would be disclosed to other people.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“You (people) cannot satisfy people with your wealth, but satisfy them with your cheerful faces and good morals.” (Abu Ya`la and Al-Hakim)

Moral Conduct in Daily Life

Once the Prophet passed by an Ansari who was scolding his brother about his immodesty. The Prophet advised him to let him go as modesty was a branch of faith.

A man who harasses his neighbor and makes him suffer any kind of damage is called cruel and stonehearted by the religion. In this connection the decision of the Prophet is:

“By God, he cannot be a believer; by God, he cannot be a believer; by God, he cannot be a believer. He was asked: ‘who’, He answered: ‘He from whose misdeeds his neighbor is not safe’.“ (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet advises his companions to keep away from the talk that is trash, the acts that are wicked, and the deeds that are senseless. He says:

“A person who believes in Allah and the Hereafter should speak about good things or else should keep quiet.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet’s Du`aa’ for Perfect Morality

Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah You have made my creation perfect, so make my moral characteristics also be the best.” (Ahmad)

Also, Qutbah bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to say:

“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from evil morals, deeds, passions and diseases.” (At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim)

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

First Muslim Community in Madinah & the Groundwork for Hijrah

It was 620, a year after the deaths of Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and his uncle Abu Talib, and the time of the yearly pilgrimage to the Ka`bah and Makkah’s annual market period was drawing near. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still dispensing his teachings in a climate of rejection, exclusion, and persecution.

Toward Exile

About a hundred Muslims now lived under protection in Abyssinia, but no solution seemed to present itself for the faithful who lived in Makkah.

The pilgrims, coming from all areas of the peninsula, started to settle in the Mina area, to remain there throughout the festival period. Muhammad often went there and conveyed his message to women and men who, in their distant dwelling places, had heard about it but did not know its actual contents. He was far from always receiving a favorable response.

At Al-`Aqabah, not far from Mina, the Prophet met a group of people from Yathrib. They were from the Khazraj tribe, one of the two great rival tribes in Yathrib (the other being the Aws), and he began to deliver his message to them. They had already heard of the message from the Jewish tribes who lived in their city, and they wished to know more about it. They listened to the Prophet and eventually accepted the message of Islam: they promised to inform the members of their tribe of the substance of the message and to keep in permanent contact with the Prophet. They went back home and started preaching in Yathrib.

In Makkah, conversions kept increasing, and Muhammad carried on with his public call. As far as his private life was concerned, many advised him to think of remarrying. Proposals had been made, but the Prophet had never pursued the matter. He had, however, had two dreams in which the very young `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter, who was then six years old, was offered to him in marriage.

When Khawlah, who had taken care of the Prophet’s needs since Khadijah’s death, advised him to remarry and suggested two names-Sawdah, a widow in her thirties who had very recently come back from Abyssinia, and `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter- Muhammad saw in this strange coincidence a sign of the truthfulness of his dreams, and he asked Khawlah to do what was necessary to find out whether the two unions were possible.

Polygamy was the norm in Arabia then, and the Prophet’s situation was the exception, since he had remained monogamous for twenty-five rears. The union with Sawdah was particularly easy to concretize: Sawdah immediately, and most favorably, answered the proposal made to her, and they married a few months later.

`Aa’ishah had already, in keeping with Arabian customs, been promised by Abu Bakr to Mutim’s son, and her father had to negotiate with Mutim in order to break the engagement. `Aa’shah then officially became Muhammad’s second wife, though the union would not be consummated for several years.

A year later, pilgrims and traders were again flocking to Makkah for the celebrations of 621. A second meeting was organized at Al-`Aqabah between the Prophet and the Yathrib delegation that had come to report on the evolution of the situation in their city. Twelve people from Yathrib, two of whom belonged to the Aws clan, took part in the meeting. They pledged allegiance to the Prophet, stipulating that they would worship only the One God, no others, and that they would honor the duties and interdictions of Islam.

They were therefore to constitute the first Muslim community in Yathrib. Muhammad sent back with them a Companion, Mus`ab ibn `Umayr, who had just returned from Abyssinia and who was known for his calm, his wisdom, and tile beauty of his recitation of the Qur’an.

Message of Brotherhood

Back in Yathrib, the delegation kept spreading the message and Mus`ab taught Islam, recited the Qur’an, and answered questions. In spite of age-old and still very sharp divisions between the Aws and Khazraj, members of both tribes converted to the new religion and realized that their former rivalries had become pointless: ’Islam’s message of brotherhood united them.

Clan chiefs nevertheless remained very reluctant to embrace Islam. Mus`ab never reacted to their attacks nor to their aggressive attitude; rather, he invariably answered: “Sit down and listen to the message: if you like it, accept it, if you do not, leave it.” As a result, the number of conversions was high, even among leaders.

During the following year’s pilgrimage, the Prophet met an important delegation of Yathrib. Muslims, composed of seventy-three people, two of them women. They belonged to both me Aws and the Khazraj, and they had come to bring the Prophet the good news of their commitment to Islam. After a few discussions about the nature of their future relationship, they concluded a second covenant stipulating that the Yathrib.

Muslims pledged to protect the Prophet, as well as Makkah’s Muslim women and children, against any aggression. This second covenant, granting refuge and protection and a commitment of Yathrib Muslims to support their Makkan brothers, opened before the Prophet the prospect of a promising future.

From then on, Muhammad encouraged Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib discreetly, while his closest Companions still remained by his side.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Foundations of Good Moral Character: The Prophet’s Excellent Example

Mere teachings and commands of Do’s and Don’ts do not form the foundations of good moral character in a society, because these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society.

Perfect Trainer

The teachings of fruitful good conduct requires long training and constant watchfulness.

The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.

The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feel the urge to follow his footsteps.

For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.

The Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate the call he was giving to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.

`Abdullah ibn `Amr says:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas says: “I served the Prophet for ten years. He never said ‘Uf’ (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that.” (Muslim)

It is also reported by him: “My mother used to hold the Prophet’s hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person’s hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Lady `A’ishah says: “If there were two alternatives, the Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from anybody. Yes, if Allah’s command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah’s Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands. neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: ‘0 Muhammad! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.’ The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

`A’ishah has reported that Allah’s Messenger has said:

“Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for anything.” (Muslim)

In another tradition it is stated: “Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly.”

Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said:

“The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favorite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue.”(At-Tabarani )

`Abdullah ibn Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (At-Tirmidhi)

`A’isha was asked what did Prophet do at home?

She replied:” He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu `Umayr. He had a sick sparrow, who was called ‘Nagheer’. Allah’s Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : ‘0 Abu `Umayr! what has happened to your Nagheer” (Al-Bukhari)

Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was just, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.

The same Qur’an, Same Criterion, Same Yasin, Same Taha

Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.

Surely there is in the person of Allah’s .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Qazi A ‘yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night

the people of Medina were terribly frightened. Some people proceeded towards the sound ( which was probably the

cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was

the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he

was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.

Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.

Jabir ibn `Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.

Lady Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation:

“You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth.”

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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His Life New Muslims

A Blessed Birth of a Noble Prophet

In his seminal authoritative book on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ibn Hisham – the author of the first account of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, which has come down to us as As-Seerah An-Nabawiyah (The Prophet’s Life) – informs us that Ibn Ishaq has clearly and precisely established the Prophet’s birth date:

peace be upon him

He was orphaned and poor, and for that reason he is reminded and ordered never to forsake the underprivileged and the needy.

“The Messenger (God’s peace and blessings be upon him) was born on a Monday, on the twelfth night of Rabi` Awwal, in the year of the elephant.”

Other accounts mention other months of the year, but throughout history there has been broad acceptance of that date among scholars and within Muslim communities. The Muslim calendar being a lunar one, it is difficult to determine exactly the solar month of his birth, but the “year of the elephant” to which Ibn Ishag refers corresponds to 570 CE.

Noble Birth… Noble Origin

The Last Prophet was born in one of Makkah’s noble families, Banu Hashim, which enjoyed great respect among all the clans in and around Makkah. This noble descent combined with a particularly painful and debilitating personal history. His mother, Aminah, was only two months pregnant when his father, `Abdullah, died during a trip to Yathrib, north of Makkah.

Fatherless at birth, young Muhammad was to live with the tension of the dual status implied in Makkah by a respectable descent, on one hand, and the precariousness of having no father, on the other.

Ibn Ishaq reports that the name Muhammad, quite unknown at the time in the Arabian Peninsula, came to his mother in a vision while she was still pregnant. (Ibn Hsham, As-Seerah An-Nabawiyah)

This same vision is also said to have announced to her the birth of the “master of this people” (sayyid hadhihi al-ummah); according to the vision, when he was born she was to say the words “I place him under the protection of the One (Al-Wahid) against the treachery of the envious.

Torn between her grief at her husband’s death and the joy of welcoming her child, Aminah said repeatedly that strange signs had accompanied the gestation, then the extraordinarily easy birth of her child.

The Desert

Aminah soon became aware that she was the mother of an exceptional child. This feeling was shared by Muhammad’s grandfather, `Abdul-Muttalib, who took responsibility for him after his birth. In Makkah, it was customary to entrust infants to wet nurses belonging to the nomadic Bedouin tribes living in the nearby desert.

Because he was fatherless, one nurse after another refused to take the child into her care, fearing that his ambiguous status would bring them no profit. Halimah, who had arrived last because her mount was tired, decided with her husband that it was better for them to take the child, although he was an orphan, than to risk being mocked by their tribe when they went home. They therefore went back with the infant Muhammad, and Halimah, just like Aminah, tells of many signs that led her and her husband to think that this child seemed blessed.

For four years, the orphan was looked after by Halimah and lived with the Banu Sa`d Bedouins in the Arabian desert. He shared the nomads’ life in the most barren and difficult natural environment, surrounded, as far as the eye could see, with horizons bringing to mind the fragility of the human being and spurring contemplation and solitude.

Although he did not yet know it, Muhammad was going through the first trials ordained for him by the One, Who had chosen him as a messenger and was, for the time being, his Educator, his Rabb (Lord).

Why Orphan?

The Qur’an would later recall his particular situation as an orphan as well as the spiritual teachings associated with the experience of life in the desert:

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? And He found you wandering, and He gave you guidance. And He found you in need, and made you independent. Therefore (for that reason), do not treat the orphan with harshness, nor chide him who asks. But the bounty of your Lord, proclaim! (Ad-Duha 93:6-11)

lighthouse

For each human being: never to forget one’s past, one’s trials, one’s environment and origin, and to turn one’s experience into a positive teaching.

Those verses of the Qur’an carry several teachings: being both an orphan and poor was actually an initiatory state for the future Messenger of God, for at least two reasons. The first teaching is obviously the vulnerability and humility he must naturally have felt from his earliest childhood.

This state was intensified when his mother, Aminah, died when Muhammad was six. This left him utterly dependent on God, but also dose to the most destitute among people. The Qur’an reminds him that he must never forget this throughout his life and particularly during his prophetic mission. He was orphaned and poor, and for that reason he is reminded and ordered never to forsake the underprivileged and the needy.

Considering the exemplary nature of the prophetic experience, the second spiritual teaching emanating from these verses is valid for each human being: never to forget one’s past, one’s trials, one’s environment and origin, and to turn one’s experience into a positive teaching for oneself and for others.

Muhammad’s past, the One reminds him, is a school from which he must draw useful, practical, and concrete knowledge to benefit those whose lives and hardships he has shared, since he knows from his own experience, better than anyone else, what they feel and endure.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Prophet Muhammad: A Morality Message for All Time

A few months after his return to Medina, in the eleventh year of hijrah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) decided to send an expedition to the north, near Mu’tah and Palestine, where a few years earlier Ja`far ibn Abi Talib, `Abdullah Ibn Rawahah, and Zayd ibn Harithah had been killed.

nature-peace

The Prophet had taught in various circumstances about warfare, respect for nature, or how to treat animals.

To everyone’s surprise, he gave the command to young Usamah, Zayd’s son, who was only twenty years old, though this three-thousand-strong army included such men as `Umar and other experienced Companions.

This choice gave rise to much criticism, but the Prophet reacted very promptly and put an end to all arguments when he proclaimed:

“You criticize the choice of Usamah to command the army as you had formerly criticized that of his father Zayd. Usamah is truly worthy of the command I entrust him with, as his father was before him.” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah)

Qualifications-based

In the past, some Muslims had reacted to the choice of Zayd because they still considered him as a slave, though he had been freed; now some opposed the choice of his son, perhaps because of his father, but mostly because of his young age.

By confirming his choice, Prophet Muhammad informed them that neither a man’s social origin nor his age should prevent him from exerting authority and power if he possessed the spiritual, intellectual, and moral qualities required. One had to show discernment by offering the most destitute in society real equality of opportunity and trusting the young so that everybody could express their skills and talents.

On a more general level, trust was a fine lesson in humility addressed to older Companions: they were to experience the inner, greater jihad of obeying a man who could have been their son, and in so doing remember that their time was limited, like any man’s.

By that choice, Prophet Muhammad taught them that time naturally erodes one’s energy, and one must be wise enough to learn to step aside, to delegate authority to those who are young and strong enough to create and build.

The Prophet gave young Usamah his recommendations and asked him to set out promptly. However, the Prophet’s sudden illness was to delay that departure, and the army waited near Medina during all those days of doubt about his condition.

Prophet Muhammad & War Ethics

A few weeks later, Abu Bakr was, according to the Prophet’s wish, to ask Usamah to carry out the expedition. He reminded him of the Prophet’s teachings concerning war ethics, for the latter had constantly insisted on the principles Muslims must respect when dealing with their enemies:

“Do not kill women, children, and old people,” Abu Bakr ordered him.

Literally, “Let the blood of women, children and old people never soil your hands.”

“Do not commit treacherous actions. Do not stray from the right path. Never mutilate. Do not destroy palm trees, do not burn houses and cornfields, do not cut down fruit trees, and do not kill livestock except when you are compelled to eat them …. As you move on, you will meet hermits who live in monasteries and serve God in seclusion. Leave them alone; do not kill them and do not destroy their monasteries.”  (At-Tabari)

Those teachings were essential, and they were conveyed to Usamah in the light of what the Prophet had said in various circumstances about warfare, respect for nature, or how to treat animals.

In a few sentences, Abu Bakr was synthesizing the essence of the Messenger’s teachings in this respect.

Years before, at the end of the Battle of Hunayn, the Prophet had passed by a group of people standing around a woman who lay on the ground, and heard that she had been killed by Khalid ibn Al-Waleed (who was then a recent convert). He was deeply angered and asked that Ibn Al-Waleed be told: “God’s Messenger forbids killing children, women, and slaves.” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah)

The Prophet’s Mercy

He had also blamed him when he had killed men who had already surrendered after a battle. In both cases, then, the message was the same: one should fight only enemy soldiers, while sparing all those who did not directly take part in armed conflict or could no longer cause any harm.

The Prophet had clearly stated before sending the Mu’tah expedition:

You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children nor the inhabitants of hermitages (ashab as-sawami`).” (Ibn Hanbal)

War was never desirable, but when Muslims were compelled to it because they were attacked or because their survival was threatened, they had to keep strictly to what was needed to fight enemy forces who were armed and/ or determined to fight. If the latter wished for peace or surrendered, the war must be stopped, according to the Qur’anic injunction:

But if they incline toward peace, do you (also, in the same way) incline toward peace, and trust in God, for He is the One that hears and knows (all things). (Al-Anfal 8:61)

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation

Most traditionists report that the Prophet entered Makkah on the twentieth or twenty-first of Ramadan of the eighth year of hijrah (630 CE).

The Day of Mercy

moderation_nature

The Prophet taught his Companions not only to forgive, but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) had segmented his army into divisions that encircled the city (Makkah) and closed in on the center together. A few Quraish groups posted themselves on the hills, led by Suhayl, `lkrimah, and Safwan, but after the first confrontations, they realized that resisting was pointless.

Suhayl sought refuge in his home, and `Ikrimah and Safwan ran away. The Prophet had demanded that no fighting or battle should take place on that day, which he called “the day of mercy”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Some eight years before, the Prophet had left Makkah secretly, but with dignity and with his head held high. The Prophet now came back to Makkah in broad daylight, victorious, but this time he prostrated himself on his mount in thankfulness to the One as he recited the verses from the Surat “AI-Fath” (The Victory):

Verily We have granted you a manifest victory, that God may forgive you your faults of the past and those to follow, fulfill His favor to you, and guide you on the straight path, and that God may aid you with powerful help. It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith. (Al-Fath 48:1-4)

He entered Makkah expressing the deepest humility, and he required that the greatest kindness should be shown to the Muslims’ former foes. He performed the greater ablution and prayed eight cycles of voluntary ritual prayer before resting for a few hours.

After that, he mounted his camel, Qaswaa’, and went to the Ka`bah sanctuary, where he performed the seven rounds of circumambulation. Then, with his stick, he pulled down the idols and destroyed them while repeating the Qur’anic verse “Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish.” (Al-Israa’  17:8 1)

He had the keys to the sanctuary brought to him and required that all religious images be obliterated, in order to reconcile the House of God with its essence, which was to celebrate the worship of the One, Who cannot be represented and must not be associated with any image:

There is nothing whatever like Him, and He is the One that hears and sees. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

This gesture of destruction by the Prophet was, in appearance, the exact antithesis of all that he had usually been doing since leaving Makkah, as he had had mosques (devoid of any image) built to mark the sacred space of worship of the One God.

On the level of the spiritual message, however, this gesture was exactly of the same essence, since by breaking the idols that lay inside and near the Ka`bah he was destroying what had, in the course of centuries, perverted the cult of the Transcendent.

With this act Muhammad turned the Ka`bah into a real mosque, in which henceforth only the One was to be worshiped.

The Quraish people were gradually coming out of their homes and gathering inside the sanctuary enclosure. After destroying the idols, the Prophet exclaimed: “There is no god but God, the One, Who has no partner.”

He has fulfilled His promise, supported His servant, and routed the enemy clans; He alone (has done that). (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Then he turned toward the Quraish, told them about the rules of Islam, and recited this verse:

O humankind! He created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you (the most deeply aware of God’s presence). And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

After that, he asked them “how they thought he was going to deal with them. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah) They replied that as “a noble brother, son of a noble brother,” he would certainly deal with them kindly. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Forgiveness and Moderation

At that point, the Prophet recited the verse that punctuates the story of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) when he was reunited with his brothers, who had wanted to kill him: “This day let no reproach be (cast) On you: God will forgive you, and He is the Most-merciful of then who show mercy.” (Yusuf 12:92). Then he exclaimed: “Go on, you are free!” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

The Prophet granted his forgiveness to all the women and men who came to him or to a Companion. Wahshi ibn Harb, who had killed Hamzah, was also forgiven, but the Prophet asked him to refrain from appearing in his presence in the future.

Many Quraish converted to Islam on Mount As-Safa in front of `Umar; some years before, the Prophet had been called a liar on that same spot. When `Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl came to the Prophet, the latter warned his Companion: “`lkrimah, Abu Jahl’s son, is coming to you as a believer. Do not insult his father, for insulting the dead hurts the living without reaching the dead.”

He thus reminded them not only to forgive him but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes. not even their father’s, according to the meaning of the Qur’anic verse “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”. ( Al-Israa’ 17:15) Prudence was required, as well as nobleness of soul.

The Prophet stayed in Makkah for two weeks, and the situation been to settle down. He sent expeditions to make sure that his alliances with the nearby tribes were solid and that those who had announced they accepted Islam had given up all idol worship.

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed had been entrusted with such a mission among the Banu Jadhimah, who eventually surrendered, but Khalid decided, against Abd Ar-Rahman ibn `Awf advice, to execute the prisoners toward whom he harbored particular resentment.

After executing some of them, he stopped at Abd Ar-Rahman’s insistence, the latter having made it dear to him that his behavior was motivated by other intentions than faith in God and justice. The Prophet got very angry when he heard of Khalid’s behavior; he decided to pay blood money for all the dead, and he kept repeating aloud: “0 God, I am innocent of what Khalid ibn Al-Waleed has done”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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