A man, whoever he is and whatever he does, may regard his own occupation as more important, more necessary, more beneficial to social life and more difficult than others. However, although every occupation has some difficulty of its own and is of some degree of use for social life, educating people must be much more difficult than others and more necessary for a healthy social life.
To bring up distinguished people requires distinguished educators. Only an educator who has established his aim in educating people and practices what he plans to teach and advise to his students, only one who knows the character, potentialities, desires, and ambitions of his students, with the shortcomings and strong and weak spots and the level of learning and understanding of each, can be successful in educating people. Of course, this is not all that a good, successful educator must have. Furthermore, he must know how to treat his students in all circumstances, how to approach their problems and how to purify them of bad qualities and morals and, in place of them, inculcate laudable and good ones.
If an educator can change his students completely and, purify them of all bad habits and qualities which have long been ingrained in them and, in their place, establish good ones, he can form a community which will be a good example for future generations in all fields of life. What Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, achieved in educating people within so short a time, i.e. 23 years, is much more than what that educator does.
It is an important dimension of a good education not to resort to force. Therefore, convincing people of the truth of what we teach them and making it approved by them wholeheartedly is of vital importance in a good education. No one in human history has so far been able to know man with all the dimensions of his character as well as our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and there has never appeared a second one next to him who has made pitiless, crude, war-mongering, ignorant and unyielding individuals into a community which sets a perfect example for all the future generations in all aspects of life and good moral qualities. No one can guide people in every field of life. It is very difficult for one, however able and clever, to be both an able statesman and commander and a brilliant scientist and successful educator at the same time. However, Prophet Muhammad was the most perfect spiritual and intellectual master, the most able statesman and commander, the most efficient educator, and the greatest scholar history has ever seen.
In his preaching of the message and in his calling people to the truth, he displayed such steadfastness, firmness and courage that, in spite of the antagonism of big powers and great religions, and of his own people and tribe, even of his uncle, he never showed even the slightest trace of hesitation, anxiety or fear, and he successfully challenged the world, and, as a result, made Islam superior to all other religions and systems. This proves that there is not and cannot be anyone like him, in his preaching of and calling to the message of Truth.
Consider how, eradicating their evil and savage customs and immoral qualities to which they were so fanatically attached, he equipped and adorned the desperate, wild and unyielding people of the seventh-century Arabian peninsula with all the praiseworthy virtues, and made them teachers of all the world and masters, especially, to the civilized nations. His was not an outward domination; rather, he conquered their minds, spirits, hearts, and souls. He became the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, and the ruler of spirits.
Great leaders have appeared on the horizon of humanity. They have changed the course of history through either the states or empires they have established or the revolutions they have made. Nevertheless, almost none of them has been able to bring about among the members of their followers so strong a unity of belief, thought and ideal as that which the Prophet Muhammad, peace be to him, realised among the desert men of the seventh-century Arabia. Although he had never given any indication of political interest or activity for forty years until Prophet-hood, he appeared all of a sudden on the stage of the world as such a great political reformer and statesman that, without the aid of press or of any modern telecommunication means, he brought together the scattered inhabitants of a desert of twelve hundred thousand square miles – a people who were ignorant, unruly, uncultured, and plunged in tribal warfare – under one banner, one law, one religion, one culture, one civilization and one form of government.
A leader must know men very well in order to urge them to the realisation of a cause. In order to gain a following, most leaders make alluring promises to people, like power, wealth, position or a bright future. However, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, made no such promises to his followers. Nor did he resort to any force to realise his aim. He conquered minds and hearts and promised his followers only Allah’s good pleasure and Paradise. His followers sacrificed themselves in his way willingly and preferred to live a poor life in return for gaining God’s good pleasure and Paradise. His own family lived as the poorest of his community. He always sought to prepare them, as well as his Companions, for the eternal peace and permanent bliss while himself setting for them a good example of that peace and bliss.
Suppose you are a teacher at a school or a director in an institution. In order to bring up your students or the people under your command according to the ideal you pursue, you are determined to bear all hardships that may appear before you. Now, if they spit in your face when they are passing by you, if they put an animal abdomen over your head while you are in prostration before God, if they sometimes slap you in the face, if they throw stones at you and scatter thorny plants along the roads you pass, if they ambush you in corners with daggers in their hands, if they mock you in front of others, if they slander your wife, if they kill your relatives and cut their bodies into pieces, if they attack you many times and injure you, and if they expel you from your native land, can you still bear all such cruelties and continue your way without the least hesitation? More than that, can you forgive them, pity them and pray to God for them, saying: O God! Forgive them and guide them to truth, for they do not know. If you are taken to a Paradise-like place and left free to choose between living there and going back to serve your cause amid hardships, do you choose to go back among the people to continue your mission?
Our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was a great man. He was the greatest teacher ever and the least his students can do is to try to follow his teachings and to try to inculcate his way of life into their own lives. He was not sent on this earth to teach a group of Arabs, he was the teacher of all mankind.