Categories
His Life New Muslims

The Prophet’s Life and Mission As the Qur’an Depicts Them

By Abdur Raheem Kidwai

The Qur’an depicts a clear picture of the Prophet’s life and mission, his place in Islam, and his coveted position in the sight of Allah. So, what does the Qur’an say about that?

Those who believe and do good deeds and believe in the revelation sent down to Muhammad – for it is the truth from their Lord– He will remove from them their misdeeds and improve their condition. (Muhammad 47:2)

Although there exist many standard biographies of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in every major world language, the Qur’an itself brings out the outstanding features of his illustrious life and career.

Reading the Qur’an one gets a clear picture of his message and mission and the central place he occupies in Islam. In the above verse of the Qur’an Muslims are promised forgiveness for their sins, if they follow the divine message sent down to the Prophet. This underscores the Prophet’s coveted position in the sight of Allah. Without the pledge to abide by his teachings, no salvation is possible. His message is hailed as the truth revealed by Allah.

More remarkably, Allah promises that one’s commitment to it is bound to bring success in both worlds. For he is part of the chain of Allah’s messengers who conveyed divine guidance to mankind. Rather, he stands out as the final Messenger, marking the end of messengership:

And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. And Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot. Each one (of them) did We prefer above (Our) creatures, with some of their forefathers and their offspring and their brethren; and We chose them and guided them unto a straight path. Such is the guidance of Allah wherewith He guides whom He will of His bondmen. (Al-An`am 6:85-88)

Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

To Teach & Purify

Muhammad (peace be upon him) belongs to the progeny of the Prophet Ishmael, son of the Prophet Abraham. His advent in seventh century Makkah marks Allah’s acceptance of the supplication made by the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael:

Our Lord! Raise up for them (the children of Ishmael) a Messenger from among them who will recite to them Your revelations and will teach them the Book and wisdom and will purify them (of sin and unbelief). Surely You alone are Almighty, the Wise. (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

There is ample evidence to prove that he accomplished his fourfold mission well. At the time he appeared on the scene, the Arabs had discarded and corrupted the divine message conveyed to them by the Prophet Abraham. All sorts of evil – social, moral and economic – had crept into their way of life.

They were given to drinking, causing bloodshed and sexual licentiousness. They had grown so callous that they used to bury their daughters alive. They had installed hundreds of idols in and around the Ka‘bah and openly indulged in polytheism. As a pious person even in his pre-prophetic life, Muhammad felt disturbed over the degeneration which he observed in his society.

When he was 40 years old, Allah appointed him His final Messenger, directing him to convey divine guidance in both word and deed. The Archangel Gabriel transmitted to him the opening verses of Surat Al-`Alaq (the 96th chapter of the Qur’an), which constitute the first installment of divine revelation.

Throughout the 23 years of his Prophetic career he received at intervals its other parts, which taken together comprise the Qur’an, the final Book of guidance for all mankind, regardless of time and place. His main assignment consisted in giving the good news to believers and warning unbelievers. At several places the Qur’an projects him in this role:

Lo! We have sent you (O Muhammad) with the truth, a bringer of glad tidings and a warner. And you wilt not be asked about the companions of hell-fire. (Al-Baqarah 2:119)

O Prophet! Lo! We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. (Al-Ahzab 33:45)

Abraham’s Way

He made plain his adherence to the Prophet Abraham’s way with a view to reminding fellow Arabs of their original faith. So doing, he emphasized also the cardinal principles of monotheism in faith:

(Abraham declared) “As to me, I have set my face firmly and truly towards Him Who created the heavens and earth. Never shall I ascribe partners to Allah. (Al-An`am 6:79)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) presented the essence of the creed of earlier messengers, asserting that he was there to confirm the Scriptures originally sent down to mankind. The Qur’an stresses the essential similarity between its message and that of the Books revealed to other messengers. For all of these originated from the same source – Allah. Since earlier Scriptures had been corrupted by the wicked beyond recognition, there was a need to revive the original divine message.

This task was performed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Life of a True Believer

Not only did he transmit faithfully the Word of Allah, he also demonstrated the way of life of a true believer. His distinguished life and conduct serve as the role model for all time and place. For example, Allah directed him to engage sincerely in worshipping Him in order to achieve closeness to Him.

Moreover, he displayed exemplary bravery, courage and tact in overcoming the unbelievers on the battleground:

When you climbed (the hill) and paid no heed to anyone, while the messenger, in your rear, was calling you (to fight). Therefor He rewarded you grief for (his) grief, that (He might teach) you not to sorrow either for that which you missed or for that which befell you. Allah is Informed of what you do. (Aal `Imran 3:153)

And if We had not strengthened you, you would have almost inclined to them a little. (Al-Israa’ 17:74)

These and many other points are cited in the Qur’an in order to vindicate his genuine Messengership. The following passages, in particular, adduce arguments in support of his designation as Allah’s Messenger:

Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe (with him); and Allah is the Protecting Guardian of the believers. (Aal `Imran 3:68)

But Allah (Himself) testifies concerning that which He has revealed unto you; in His knowledge hath He revealed it; and the angels also testify. And Allah is sufficient Witness. (An-Nisaa’ 4:166)

Rather, Allah promised him the highest reward imaginable – that of elevating him to the station of praise and glory:

Your Lord will raise you to the rank of praise and glory. (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

And We have exalted your fame. (Al-Inshirah 94:4)

The Last Messenger

Another of his distinctions is that he is the last Messenger in the chain of Allah’s envoys. What this signifies is that Islam as revealed to and preached by him will serve as the final message for all time to come. The universality and timelessness of his mission are special to him:

Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

As part of His grand plan for the guidance of mankind, Allah sent the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) down as the mercy for all the worlds:

And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107)

Abiding by his directives amounts to obeying Allah. This underscores his pivotal position in matters of faith. Hadith and Sunnah, his sayings and deeds respectively, are therefore, of the utmost importance in Islam and constitute the primary sources of faith. The Qur’an commands Muslims to obey him unquestioningly:

And obey Allah and the Messenger, that you may obtain His mercy. (Aal `Imran 3:132)

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. (An-Nisaa’ 4:80)

A Human

Notwithstanding his many special features, the Prophet is a mortal human being, a servant of Allah, chosen by Him to convey His message to man. He does not share any trait of divinity. Nor does he have access to the realm of the Unseen which is only Allah’s prerogative. The Islamic concept of messengership is marked by balance and moderation.

Unlike Christianity, it does not elevate the Prophet to Godhead. And, unlike some other faiths, it does not project a tainted picture of messengers, given to worldliness and vice. In keeping with its cardinal principle of monotheism, the Qur’an denies any superhuman feature to him:

(O Muhammad) Say: “I do not tell you that the treasures of Allah are with me. Nor do I know what is hidden. Nor do I tell you that I am an angel. (Al-An`am 6:50)

They ask you concerning the Hour – when it is to come. Say: “Its knowledge is with my Lord alone. None can disclose its time but He” … Say: “I have no power over any good or harm to myself except as Allah wills. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, I would have amassed all good and no evil should have ever touched me. I am only a warner and bring glad tidings to the people who believe.” (Al-A`raf 7:187-188)

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

 

Soucre Link
Categories
His Character New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: The Embodiment of the Role and Features of Believers

By Abdur Raheem Kidwai

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) devoted himself heart and soul to the mission of Islam and achieved great success notwithstanding stiff opposition, in transforming the polytheistic Arabs into champions of monotheism. He drew upon every conceivable means for articulating the truth of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad: The Embodiment of the Role and Features of Believers

The Prophet was granted the following charter of social justice, which also spells out the role and features of believers.

His concern was so deep felt that he cried over the prospect of the inevitable divine punishment for those Arab unbelievers who refused to embrace Islam. The Qur’an, however, directed him not to grieve so much about the miserable fate of such unbelievers:

Perhaps you will kill yourself with grief because they do not become believers. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:3)

The Makkan unbelievers asked him to produce a miracle which they could see with their own eyes. They were told to look around them in that Allah’s distinct signs are scattered everywhere. He was, nonetheless, granted the miracle which we know as the Qur’an. For it embodies the light of Allah’s guidance and mercy.

Prophecies

The Qur’an recounts the prophecies about the Prophet Muhammad’s advent which featured in the earlier Scriptures, especially the Torah and the Gospels. Take this as illustrative:

And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah sent to you, confirming the Torah, which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me. His name shall be Ahmad.” (As-Saff 61:6)

Even in the face of such clear pronouncements in their own holy Books about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Jews and Christians of the day rejected and opposed him. They did so for their own selfish ends. For the radical message of Islam was set to destroy their vested interests, their degenerate way of life and their clergy that abused religion for pecuniary gain.

Overwhelming Victory

However, Allah promised and sent His help to the Prophet. For example, when the unbelieving Makkans mocked him for being without a son, Allah consoled and comforted him:

To you We have granted Al-Kawthar. Turn to your Lord in prayer and sacrifice. For he who hates you will be cut off (from future hope). (Al-Kawthar 108:1-4)

Allah blessed him with an overwhelming victory over the unbelievers, the Jews and Christians. Millions accepted Islam and country after country was won over to the Caliphs, who succeeded the Prophet, to lead the community of believers. As for the Prophet himself, he devoted more and more of his time to glorifying Allah and seeking Allah’s forgiveness.

As to the exalted rank which he enjoys in Allah’s sight, the following Qur’anic passage is instructive:

Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O Believers! Send your blessings upon him and salute him with all respect. (Al-Ahzab 33:56)

Allah also conferred another distinction on the Prophet – that of his Ascent and Night Journey to the heavens, which is recorded thus in the Qur’an:

Glory be to Allah Who took His servant (Muhammad) for the night journey from the sacred mosque to the farthest mosque, whose surroundings We have blessed in order that We might show him some of Our signs. (Al-Israa’ 17:1)

Our Role Model

More importantly, on that occasion, he was granted the following charter of social justice, which also spells out the role and features of believers:

Those who are constant in their prayer. And in their wealth there is a recognized right for the beggar and the deprived. (Al-Ma`arij 70:23-25)

And those who respect their trusts and covenants. They stand firm in their testimony. (Al-Ma`arij 70:32-33)

The same note of social justice permeates the Prophet’s sermon at `Arafat which he delivered on the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage.

It captures the essence of the mission which he professed and practiced throughout his illustrious life:

“No Arab is superior to a non-Arab and any non-Arab does not have superiority over an Arab. Piety alone confers honour on man. All men are from Adam and Adam was made of clay.

O people! Your lives, blood and property are sacred for one another … All of you will certainly appear before Allah and He will take you to account. Thus do I warn you. Whoever among you is entrusted with someone’s property shall return the trust to the rightful owner.

O people! Allah has laid down rights for everyone. No one should therefore, leave a will in favour of any of his heirs. Debt is to be repaid. Borrowed things are to be returned. It is not lawful to deprive anyone of what is due to him. Your wives have rights. They owe you obligations. Treat them well. For they are dependent upon you. If you follow the Book of Allah and my practice (Sunnah), which I leave behind with you, you will never go astray.”

This sermon stands out as his strong exhortation for cordial human relationships and a tension-free society.

This sermon stands out as his strong exhortation for cordial human relationships and a tension-free society. His assertions about shunning violence and bloodshed, not usurping others’ belongings and refraining from betraying the trust reposed in one re-echo the Qur’an:

No prophet could (ever) be false to his trust. If any person is so false, He shall, on the Day of Judgment, restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due,- whatever it earned,- and none shall be dealt with unjustly. (Aal ‘Imran 3:161)

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (Forever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (An-Nisaa’ 4:93)

He is also seen reminding everyone of the need to discharge their obligations, especially those which they owe to fellow human beings in general and to their family members, friends and neighbors in particular. Man is asked to keep the trust placed with him as a responsible member of the society and as a good citizen.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

Soucre Link