Homage to the Prophet Muhammad
by Mumtaz Ahmad Faruqui
The Islamic Review (UK), October 1980 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 2)
Every man ought to be judged by what he does, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) accomplished within twenty years what centuries of the labours of other reformers could not accomplish, notwithstanding the temporal power at their back. He swept away centuries-old idolatry, superstition, credulity, ignorance, prostitution, gambling, drinking, oppression of the weak, internecine war and a hundred other evils from a whole country. History cannot show any other reformer who wrought so wonderful and complete a transformation on so large a scale within so short a time. Never was reform more hopeless than at the advent of Muhammad, and never was it more complete than when he departed.
“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius,”
writes the distinguished French writer Alphonse de Lamartine in his Histoire de la Turquie (1854),
“who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world: and more than that, he moved altars, gods, religions, ideas, beliefs and souls. On the basis of a Book, every letter of which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blended together peoples of every tongue and of every race. He has left us as the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality, the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and Immaterial God. This avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followers of Muhammad; the conquest of one-third of the earth to his dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of a man but that of reason. The idea of the unity of God, proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of fabulous theogonies, was in itself such a miracle that upon its utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and set on fire one-third of the world. His life, his meditations, his heroic revilings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen years at Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being a victim of his fellow-countrymen: all these and, finally, his flight, his incessant preaching, his wars against odds, his faith in his success and his superhuman security in misfortune, his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold: the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words.
“Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire; that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask: Is there any man greater than he?”
A life so great cannot be devoid of potentialities as great for the future. It is the life of a man who lived for God and died for God. It cannot but inspire into any heart the noblest ideas of service to humanity.