Editorial: The Manliest of Men [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)]

The Light (Pakistan), 8th February 1937 Issue (Vol. 16, No. 6, p. 3)

باسیہ فاماں ید بیضاء کہ داد
مژدۂ لا قیصر و کسریٰ کہ داد

“Who was it to the blacks his white hand gave?
“Who was it the Caesars’ death-knell rang?”

Sweet indeed are the strains in which Iqbal sings of the man who, Dean Inge would have us seriously believe, had in him neither much of humanity nor much of chivalry. But sweeter by far is the music of this man’s workaday life of which human sympathy was the very keynote.

Bilal was not only black; he was ebony black, and a slave at that — a double stigma of social inferiority. Whether the ex-Dean of St. Paul’s would in this age of enlightenment at all let such a man step into his church we are not quite sure. Most churches meant for the white man would bang their doors against him. Even if some there be broadminded enough to let him in, he would be made to sit across the bar put up there to prevent the coloured convert rubbing shoulders with the white congregation.

Fourteen centuries ago, however, Muhammad not only rubbed shoulders with Bilal but actually embraced him. In the mosque of the Prophet, he occupied a position of pre-eminence, being entrusted with the most honourable function of the muezzin [caller to prayer].

“Arihna ya Bilal,”

Prophet would say when asking him to call out the azan [call to prayer]; that is,

“Give us a spiritual treat, O Bilal.”

Imagine a black of blacks, an erstwhile slave giving a spiritual treat to one in whose veins ran the bluest of blood and who was a messenger of God! Nay, more. Not only in this world, even in the world to come Bilal occupies a position of distinction.

“I can hear the sound of thy footfalls ahead of me in Paradise, O Bilal,”

said the Prophet. But, says Dean Inge, this man’s religion had not much of humanity!

“Among the poor do I love to lead my life,”

the Prophet would say.

“Among the poor would I love to die and among the poor would I love to be raised on the Day of Resurrection.”

Some human touch indeed!

“I am but the son of a woman who ate dried meat.”

Thus, did he once console a man who felt nervous in his presence.

It is related that a certain man invited the Prophet to dinner and served him a delicious dish of well-roasted meat. The Prophet took a jug of water and put it into the dish.

“Instead of enjoying a roast dish,”

he said,

“it is a greater joy to let the poor neighbours share the curry with us.”

And part of the dish thus enlarged was also distributed among the neighbours. We doubt if the Rev. ex-Dean of St. Paul’s has ever shared his beefsteak or roast chicken with the keeper of his church.

One day, it is recorded, the Prophet called on his daughter, Fatima-tuz-Zahra, wife of Ali. He found one of the walls of a room lined with a piece of cloth.

“Why drape stones with cloth,”

he observed as he pulled off the piece of cloth,

“while there are men in Medina going without any clothing?”

These are, however, just a few incidents that we have picked up offhand from the life of the Prophet. The fact is, every act of his life was steeped in fellow-feeling, and if there is one spot in his rich glorious personality which shines with the greatest lustre, it was his downright humanity. Human in his outlook, human in his sympathies, he was human to the very marrow of his bones. In fact, love of man was with him the only way to God. To say of such a man that his religion is lacking in humanity is an outrage on history. And that a man of Dean Inge’s learning should be guilty of this outrage is all the more deplorable.