Holy Prophet Muhammad as Teacher and Guide

by Ambreen Muzaffar

The Light (UK), July 2005 Issue (pp. 7–8)

It is a historical fact that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, was the

“most successful religious personality of the world.”

He was not just a “hero” as Thomas Carlyle has called him. According to the Holy Quran, he was

اُسۡوَۃٌ حَسَنَۃٌ

“an excellent exemplar” (The Holy Quran, 33:21)

for mankind, who has shown us the way of achieving “real” success in this life.

By studying the life of the Holy Prophet (saw), we can learn those important principles which he followed in his life and helped him to achieve unprecedented success. In short, the Prophet of Islam was a positive thinker and a pragmatic leader in every sense of the word. All his activities, decisions and directives were result-oriented. He completely refrained from idealism and always aimed at achieving goodness and nobility.

First Principle:

To start with, the possible. This principle has been well-explained in a saying of Hazrat Ayeshah, wife of the Holy Prophet. She said:

“Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always opted for the easier choice” (Al-Bukhari).

It means to begin from the possible, so that one could utilise energy and resources available to him and is sure to achieve success, accordingly. In other words, it also means that one should be practical in planning one’s course of action.

Second Principle:

To achieve advantage in a disadvantage situation. In the early days in Makkah, the Holy Prophet of Islam faced extreme opposition and persecution. At that time, a verse of the Holy Quran was revealed:

فَاِنَّ مَعَ الۡعُسۡرِ یُسۡرًا ۙ﴿۵﴾ اِنَّ مَعَ الۡعُسۡرِ یُسۡرًا ؕ﴿۶﴾

“With every hardship there is ease, with every hardship there is ease” (The Holy Quran, 94:5–6).

This means that if there are problems, then one should not lose heart but exert one’s efforts by availing all the opportunities to find solution accordingly. This is a positive way of facing problems. Determination to work with a faith that after hardship one is bound to achieve success is the key to success.

Third Principle:

To change the place of action. This principle is derived from the Holy Prophet’s migrating from Makkah to Madinah, which is called Hijrah or Migration. It was to find a more suitable place to carry on his Mission. And, ultimately, Madinah became the centre of Islam.

Fourth Principle:

To make a friend out of an enemy. The Prophet of Islam was constantly subjected to antagonism and persecution by the unbelievers of Makkah. The Holy Quran exhorted the believers to observe patience and maintain norms of good morals and nobility. In other words, to return good for the evil. And the Holy Quran assured them that in this way they would ultimately win over the enemy:

الَّذِیۡ بَیۡنَکَ وَ بَیۡنَہٗ عَدَاوَۃٌ کَاَنَّہٗ وَلِیٌّ حَمِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۴﴾

“You will see your direst enemy has become your closest friend” (The Holy Quran, 41:34).

The life of the Holy Prophet of Islam demonstrated such an honest and sincere behaviour that even his opponents would trust more in him than any other person. That is why he was called Al-Ameen, the most trustworthy person.

Fifth Principle:

To look for lasting results rather than grab at immediate benefits. After the Battle of Badr, about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as prisoners of war. According to Arab custom, they were to be released on the payment of ransom money, which at that point in time was much needed. But the Holy Prophet cared more for the far-reaching effects of getting his own people educated. As these prisoners of war were educated people, the Holy Prophet announced that if any one of them would teach ten Muslim children or adults to read and write, he would be freed. This was how the “first school” in the history of Islam started even though the teachers were from the enemy rank.

Sixth Principle:

Peace is stronger than violence. When the city of Makkah was conquered, and all the leading opponents of the Holy Prophet of Islam who were war criminals were brought before him, he did not order them to be killed. Rather, he ordered a general amnesty. This extremely kind and generous gesture on the part of the Holy Prophet of Islam won their hearts and most of them saw the latent power of the truth of Islam and entered its fold.

Seventh Principle:

To be receptive and not dogmatic. In the famous battle of Mawta, Khalid bin Walid, the commander of the faithful, decided to withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that the enemy outnumbered them. When the Muslim army reached Madinah, some of the Muslims received them with the words:

“O Furar” (O deserters)!

The Holy Prophet said:

“No, they are Karrar” (those who planned to advance in future).

The people in Madinah were thinking about the immediate results and wanted to go ahead with what was decided. In their view, the Muslim army should have either fought at the battlefield or retreated. But they did not visualise that the Muslims should evenly assess the situation and act accordingly. Fighting should be only a last resort. The Prophet said:

“No. There is also a third option, and that is to avoid war. Either negotiate peace or gain time to strengthen yourself.”

History tells us that the Muslims, after three years of preparations, advanced again towards the Roman army and won a resounding victory.

Eighth Principle:

To plan for the ultimate peace in a conflict. The occasion is that of Hudaibiyya, where Muslims were withheld from proceeding towards Makkah. At that time, the Holy Prophet of Islam and his companions set out with the sole object of performing Pilgrimage to Makkah. The unbelievers, finding the situation in their favour, were determined to engage the Muslims in fighting. But the Holy Prophet, instead of fighting, negotiated peace on their terms unilaterally. It was a ten-year peace treaty. Until then, the meeting ground between Muslims and non-Muslims had been on the battlefield. Now the area of conflict shifted to the ideological field. Within two years, interaction between Muslims and unbelievers increased and the Muslims so impressed the latter that the superiority of the simple and ennobling teachings of Islam dawned upon their hearts. Thus, Islam emerged as victorious.

Ninth Principle:

Peaceful persuasion, rather than force and persecution, brings lasting results. This principle is well-established by a saying of the Prophet of Islam, recorded in Al-Bukhari. Hazrat Ayeshah says that the early verses of the Holy Quran related mostly to faith in God and the accountability of one’s actions in the next life. These teachings of the Quran, its moral and social discipline imparted by the Holy Prophet of Islam, turned the hard-hearted Arabs into kind-hearted and civilised people. Ten long years of persecution resorted to by the unbelieving Arabs and unbelievable perseverance and high moral character shown by the believers worked wonders. The worst evils, like adultery and drinking, were eliminated all together. This is clear proof that in order to bring social change evolutionary method yields more lasting results than resorting to force.

Tenth Principle:

To be objective and not subjective in negotiating over a dispute. During the drafting of the peace treaty at Hudaibiyyah, the Holy Prophet dictated the words:

“This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of God.”

The leader of the Quraish delegation raised objections over the words. The Prophet of Islam did not insist on the words; rather, he had more concern for the lasting results which he was to get by these apparently humiliating terms of the peace treaty. He asked Hazrat Ali, who was taking the dictation, to remove the words

“Messenger of God”

and instead write the words

“Muhammad, son of Abdullah.”

So, at that point in time, peace was the objective and not the words.