Prophet Muhammad — The Greatest Redeemer (Part 1)

by Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad

The Light (Pakistan), 24th June and 1st July 1976 Issue (Vol. 56, Nos. 24–25, pp. 22–23)

The cultural life of humanity, like ex­ternal nature, periodically shrinks back into apparent lifelessness, awaiting the rise of a person pulsating with the urge of a new creation — a storehouse of a huge constructive energy. The view of such a person is not confined to the problems of surface-like politics, economics, race and the like, but goes deep down to the springs of human consciousness, the root of human activities — its passions and emotions. He turns the dissipated flow of man’s understand­ing and thought back to his own self — the basis of all cultural creations. Such a person is termed a religious leader, as distinguished from the other and minor leaders of humanity. In Arabic he is called Nabi, because he invariably draws from the Invisible Infinite, and transmits the cultural energy to visible humanity. In the world’s history, whenever the barren intellect of man has created social and cultural chaos, we find the mercy of God invariably raising such a Nabi or Redeemer.

The latest of these Redeemers is Muham­mad of Arabia. The 7th century of the Christian Era is pre-eminently a century of the death of the old civilizations. All the national and racial civilizations were, as it were, on their death-bed, as if to take room for a new and an international civi­lization. The Prophet Muhammad was born in the midst of this dying world at a spot most dead of all places. To be exact, he was born at Makka in the year 571 A.D. on Monday, the 12th of the Islamic month of Rabi al-Awwal.

It is interesting to note that his death in 634 A.D. also took place in the same month, though not on the same day.

He lost his father before his birth, and, at the age of six, lost his mother as well. The hard realities of life thus dawned upon him very early in his life. We find him in his adolescence forming a society for the protection of the weak. In his youth, we find him journeying hither and thither on business missions, impressing people with his uprightness. Then he married one of the richest women admirers of the city. By nature, charitably disposed, he was then in a position to take practical measures for the alleviation of human suffering; but his serious nature sought deeper remedies for the ailments of humanity existing then. This led him to increasing retirement, fasting and medita­tion in solitude.

At the age of forty he received what is called the Revelation of Prophethood [Wahy-e-Nabuwwat]. He appears to have been overwhelmed by this experience, but the timely encouragement of his beloved wife, with whom, by the way, he was to live an ideal monogamous life for 24 years, brought to him the need­ed relief.

Thus, a woman became the first believer and supporter of his mission — a great compliment indeed to her sex. For the next ten years of his ministry she, along with a small band of devoted followers, was a tower of strength and support to him in the face of the ridicule, opposition and persecution of his enemies. Indeed, from the beginning the spiritual and cultural history of Islam is deeply affected by the contributions of the fair sex.

Disliking to see persecuted followers, the Prophet advised them to leave the city of Makka for the tolerant, though distant, Christian land of Abyssinia. This, however, increased the fury of his enemies. So, at the end of the twelfth year of his ministry, when the deaths of his beloved wife and of his uncle, Abu Talib, removed the little social protection he had from the raging fury of the Makkans, he resolved to remove the centre of his activities from Makka to another city, 250 miles north, called Medina, where he and his fugitive followers received a cordial reception. This change of centre marks the beginning of the Muslim era, called Hijrah.

But the enemies of virtue and the moral standards for which the Prophet stood would not allow him a peaceful time even there. Organized invasions were directed against the weak city of the Prophet’s refuge, and these the Prophet had to resist with his small following. As long as the persecution was individual he and his fol­lowers showed an absolute example of non-violence — as this led to the spread of moral influence amongst the witness — and the most atrocious cruelties were suffered with cheerful patience. The organized invasion of one State by another, however, was devoid of such a moral bene­fit to the wrongdoer, and the Prophet and his followers exhibited the equally admir­able quality of putting up a resistance against great odds. Virtue being on their side, they ultimately came out victorious. So much so that, in the end, the city of Makka fell and the Prophet made almost a bloodless entry into that city. He did not talk of forgiveness so long as the ene­mies had the upper hand, because that would be meaningless. He, on the con­trary, struggled his way through till he got his enemies completely at his mercy, when he forgave them unconditionally. When the Makkan opponents, who had been the cause of so much suffering to the Prophet, his family and his followers for nearly twenty-two years, came before the Prophet, deserving all the punishment which the laws of hostility would prescribe, he said to them:

“There is no reproof against you today.”

Not long after this, when the forces of opposition had practi­cally acknowledged defeat and had bowed before this rising tide of a new moral force in the land of Arabia, the Prophet died of an attack of fever at the age of sixty-three, leaving behind him a revealed incorruptible guidance for his followers, a living faith in the God of virtue, and the seeds of a new international civilization that was to stir the world from its age-long slumber.