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If we ponder over our contemporary world, we have to end up accepting that the humanitarian values, moral principles, ethics and our ethos all have taken a backseat and have provided ample room for materialism, hatred and chauvinism.
According to Alfred Adler, the urge to dominate is a very potent instinct embedded in the human nature. The 20th century itself can give testimony for this greed for dominance. Capitalism vs. communism, World War I and II, Israel–Palestine conflict, Gulf War, Vietnam War, etc. (counting such events in itself is a formidable task), all were uncannily, if not directly, connected with this idea of dominance over others. In India, Maoist attacks (which according to HT has killed 1597 people since 2007), the demand of sovereignty by ULFA and the ruckus Bal Thackeray and his stooges create from time to time in Maharashtra can be regarded as exemplary affairs to prove Adler’s point.
But one thing that cannot be ignored and is quite evident is that because of this lust to dominate, the meaning and essence of the words like love, peace, unity, tolerance, moral values and ethics have been blown into smithereens. Gujarat pogrom of 2002, Genocide of 1984, the predicament of the people of Kandhamal (2007-2008), ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, racial discrimination in Australia and other parts of the world, and ordeal of the people of Gaza, can corroborate to the fact of our dehumanisation. Dehumanisation to such an extent that destroying the whole country to catch one man is justified.
As it is now evident that our contemporary world is plunging deeper and deeper into the gloom of hatred and chauvinism, what can be the remedy, what can be the way out, who can be looked up to as a role model for us to follow, who can guide humanity from the narrow and dingy lanes to the illuminating boulevard, who can throw away our ego and restore humanitarian values in our hearts, who can replace hatred with love, who can bring hope in place of despair and who can strewn smiles all over the world again.
The emphatic answer according to me is none other than Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him), the Last Prophet, the benefactor of humanity, the saviour of the world, the bearer of glad tidings and the mercy to the whole of humanity.
A Prophet, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is a person sent by God to teach people and give them the message from God. And almost all the major religions of the world like Islam, Christianity and many minor religions like Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, etc. all agree to the fact that there is one supreme Lord of the world, the Lord who is controlling all the affairs. And hence it becomes quite rational to look up to the Prophets of God Almighty for proper guidance and smooth sailing of humanity, since God has made prophets a link between Him and the humanity at large to transfer His divine message.
The above sentence is nothing but the reiteration of one of the ayaat (verses) of the Holy Qur’ān:
“Indeed in the messenger of Allah (Muhammad), you have a good example to follow.” (33:21)
The present scenario of the world does not augur well for the peaceful existence of different nations. The only thing which the people of this world yearn for is love and in fact the world desperately needs it to restore its position as a haven for all.
It is the love between the people which breeds peaceful existence among them. If this peaceful existence is without love, it will be nothing more than a compromise which can be ruptured with the slightest instigation and provocation from any side, whether it be a nationalistic instigation, regional or communal. And if this peace among humans is flanked by love for each other, it will give rise to oneness and brotherhood which eventually will increase tolerance and hence foster unity.
Many people argue how a man, who lived 14 centuries ago, could be considered a source of inspiration and a role model in solving the conundrums of the contemporary world.
Let us now analyse what great historians and philosophers say about this man, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him).
Lamartine, a famous French writer, poet and a politician quotes in Historie de la Turquie:
“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and outstanding results are the three reasons to judge a man’s genius, who could dare to compare any man from the modern history with Muhammad.”
In the above statement, Lamartine clearly specifies in a succinct manner, that there is no one in the modern history to be compared with Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him), and hence he becomes the ultimate choice for us to refer to.
Lamartine also pointed out how Prophet Muhammad shunned all racial discrimination and what makes him different from the rest of statesmen.
“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 (Muhammad) not only moved armies, legislations and empires, but he also moved ideas and beliefs, he founded upon a book, of which each letter becomes law, a spiritual nationality embracing all languages and races.” (Historie de la Turquie)
H. G. Wells, an English author, historian, teacher, and journalist, writes in his book The short history of the world: “Although the sermons of human freedom, fraternity and equality were said before also, and we find a lot of them in Jesus of Nazareth, but it must be admitted that it was Muhammad who for the first time in history established a society based on these principles.”
The above tribute to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) is not given by one of his ardent followers, but from a man who had criticised him much.
Yet Wells agrees to the fact that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) not just taught and preached freedom and equality, but more importantly, he is the only man in the known history, who for the very first time established a society with all good characteristics.
In the late 70’s of the 20th century, Michael Hart, an astrophysicist and a historian, paid tribute to Prophet Muhammad in his book The 100: A Ranking of Most Influential Persons in History. The book is basically a selection as well as gradation of the most influential persons in history.
Besides being a Christian, he places Prophet Muhammad at the top and Jesus (peace and blessing of Allah be to them both) at number three, and he writes in his book that naturally I owe an explanation to this and writes: “because he is the only person supremely successful in religious as well as secular fields”.
Michael Hart reiterates what Lamartine said approximately two centuries ago.
Prophet Muhammad, throughout his life has, been known for his kindness, compassion, generosity and truthfulness. Even the mushriks of Makkah gave him the title of As-sadiq and Al-ameen (Truthful and Trustworthy). Throughout his life at Makkah, he never raised his hands at anyone, although he was born in the times of tribal warfare and bloodshed.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) was a man of sound intelligence. He was the man who united the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, and brought truce between the warring tribes of Makkah as well as Madinah.
This quality of the Prophet, to unite people irrespective of their caste, colour, creed and ethnicity was noticed by Thomas Carlyle.
Thomas Carlyle, a writer as well as a historian writes in his book Heroes and Hero Worship:
“How one man singlehandedly could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades!”
Prophet Muhammad established the system of congregational prayer, which is embodied by his followers even today, in the same fervour. This congregational practice is done five times a day, everyday in cities, towns and villages across the globe. Nearly a quarter of people on earth stand shoulder to shoulder, bound together by the enduring spirit of Islam.
Sarojini Naidu, the first Indian Woman President of the INC expresses this beauty of unity in her book Ideals of Islam as,
“When the call for prayer is sounded and the worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day, when the peasant and the King kneel side by side and proclaim God alone is great. I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively brother.”
It has been 14 centuries since Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) departed from this world, yet the overwhelming respect for him in the hearts of many non-Muslims and the umpteen numbers of tributes leave no doubt in the minds that indeed Prophet Muhammad was the greatest man ever walked the surface of the earth.
Prophet Muhammad had a very tolerant and peace loving nature. He was tolerant in every field, whether it was a matter of religion or personal grudge.
Even after becoming the statesman in Madinah, where he had the full authority, he never forced a single non-Muslim to convert to Islam, and this rule was what Sahabas (companions) adhered to, when they started preaching Islam.
Once Prophet Muhammad went to Taif to seek help from the tribes living there, but instead of getting any help, the tribesmen told the street urchins to chase him and oust him from Taif. The street urchins threw stones on the Prophet’s shin such as his shoes were full of blood. On this an angel appeared and said, “If you say, I will crush this city between the two mountains.” But Prophet Muhammad said, “No, maybe Allah will give them hidaya (guidance) later.”
This story of the Prophet is in itself sufficient to describe how peace loving and tolerant a person he was. He did not let his personal grudge for the people of Taif to overcome his tolerant nature.
Prophet Muhammad was the man who throughout his life, disseminated and propagated love and humanitarian values, which is the very essence of his message to humanity.
In the last sermon Prophet Muhammad destroyed racial discrimination and undue precedence of any group over others by quoting:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
Finally I conclude by a quotation from George Bernard Shaw, an author, critic and a political activist.
Shaw rightly opines that only Prophet Muhammad can bring this world a much needed peace. He writes: “He must be called the saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness.”
But Prophet Muhammad will not come to the earth again, hence it is incumbent upon us to study the Seerah (biography) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him), and to come up with solutions to the problems of humanity and can establish a Just World Order where everyone will be taken care of.