O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, and a bringer of good news and a warner, and a caller to Allah by His permission and a light-giving lamp.
(Surat al-Ahzab: 45-46)
The Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) Understanding and Loving Morality
Our earlier chapters concentrated on the physical and spiritual damage that terrorism inflicts, and described how conveying the morality of religion on the level of ideas is the most important step in the cultural struggle against terrorism. Explaining the features of proper morality described in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an, love, compassion, understanding and moderation, is the only way to do away with terrorism's endless bloodshed. In particular, the solution to terrorism in the name of religion in particular lies in religious moral values being correctly explained, in other words in understanding the model of morality we discussed earlier. Whatever model people adopt for themselves must be a source they can regard as a guide. That source is the Qur'an and the model is the life of our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This chapter examines his life in the light of the Qur'an and the hadiths—his teachings and sayings.
At every moment, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) displayed a morality that was pleasing to Allah and lived in the most perfect manner. Any society that models itself on the exemplary messengers of Allah will provide a most significant obstacle to social evils such as terrorism, which will be unable to survive in such an environment. Terrorists lack any concept of human love. Aggressive, uncompromising, intolerant, incapable of entering a dialogue with those who think differently, seeing no value in other people's ideas, they try to resolve every argument through violence. In any social morality built on love and compassion, they can never achieve their aims.
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was a man of understanding and love
In the time of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Arabia was home to communities of different religions, cultures and ideas. Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, Zoroastrians and idol worshippers all lived side by side, together with many different tribes hostile to each other. Yet no matter what their tribe or beliefs, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) called people to religion with affection, patience, compassion and love. In the Qur'an Allah describes his pleasing attitude to those around him:
It is a mercy from Allah that you were gentle with them. If you had been rough or hard of heart, they would have scattered from around you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them... (Surah Al 'Imran: 159)
As pointed out earlier, in the Qur'an Allah reveals that no one should be pressured to embrace Islam. Muslims are charged only with explaining the religion of Allah. No one can force anyone else to believe or worship. Only by the will of Allah can another find the true path and come to believe. Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) always scrupulously abided by that prohibition and stated frequently that a man could live by religion only when, in his heart, he really wanted to. Allah told our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in one holy verse how he should behave towards those around him:
We know best what they say. You are not a dictator over them. So remind, with the Qur'an, whoever fears My Threat. (Surah Qaf: 45)
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) once told the faithful, "I have been sent to show mercy."25 The key to his noble morality is also described in these terms:
Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful.26
A great many hadiths concern our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) compassion, affection and understanding. For example, he once said, "Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy."27 Other words of his include:
My Cherisher has ordered me nine things: To reverence Him, externally and internally; to speak true, and with propriety, in prosperity and adversity…28
I swear by whom my soul is in his hand, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other. Do you want me to guide you to something which if you practice, you will love each other? Spread greeting with peace among of you.29
In his collection of information from the world of the hadiths, the great Islamic scholar Imam Ghazali sums up our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) attitude to those around him in these terms:
... Everyone thought that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) honored him more. Whoever came to him could see his face.
Our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) love of his fellow man, his consideration and affection, tied those around him and encouraged them to believe. His superior example of morality is one that all Muslims should dwell on. In one verse Allah describes the features of our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that set an example to all mankind:
A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the believers. (Surat at-Tawba: 128)
Love and affection, understanding and compassion are common traits of the messengers whom Allah has sent as leaders to the true path. In the Qur'an Allah states that the other prophets have been honored with "loving sensitivity" and gives the Prophet John (peace be upon him), to whom He gave wisdom, as an example in this regard to all mankind. Allah describes that holy personage in these terms:
... and tenderness and purity from Us – he was conscientious. (Surah Maryam: 13)
Our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gentle consideration
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was in constant contact with all sections of society and spoke to everyone, from those at the very pinnacle of power to prisoners of war, children and orphans. With people of all different social standings, lifestyles, natures and customs, he established positive dialogues, winning their affection and treating them all with kind patience and pleasant understanding.
As reported by those companions who were close to him, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was "most kind, morally above reproach, graceful, amiable and considerate." His words, "I have been sent to perfect good qualities of character"31 are an expression of his lofty nature. Aisha, who knew him very well, described his pleasant morality in the following words: "The Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) nature was the Qur'an."32
Anas, who was brought up in the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) house and served him for years, describes his courtesy in these terms:
Allah's Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), when he shook hands with anyone, he did not withdraw his hands till the other man withdrew his. Similarly, he did not turn away his face from anyone till that man turned his face to the other side. And he was never seen to put forward his knees in front of one with whom he was sitting.33
Throughout his life, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) educated thousands of people. Through his influence, people who knew nothing about religion came to be considerate, willing to make sacrifices, have a pleasing attitude and possess a superior morality. Even now, centuries after his death, our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) remains the very best guide and teacher, whose words and morality continue to inspire billions.
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) advised the faithful to be full of love
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) declared it was particularly important for the faithful to love one another with sincere affection, taking no account of personal interests, and never to harbor negative emotions like hatred, anger or jealousy.
In the Qur'an (Surat ash-Shura: 23), Allah commands His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to say the following:
That is the good news which Allah gives to His servants who believe and do right actions. Say: "I do not ask you for any wage for this–except for you to love your near of kin. If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful."
Some hadiths regarding our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) affection, friendship and brotherhood read:
A believer loves for others what he loves for himself.36
Allah's Apostle (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return.37
He who is presented with a flower of sweet basil should not reject it, because it is light in weight and pleasant in odor. 38
Don't hate one another, don't envy one another don't sell over the sale to another, don't dispute with one another and don't back-bite one another. The servants of Allah are brethren to one another.39
The habits of earlier generations have attacked you–envy and hatred. Hatred is shaving. You will not enter Paradise till you believe. You will not believe till you love one another. Shall I not inform you what thing will establish you on it? Spread peace among you.40
The strong man is not the one who is strong in wrestling, but the one who controls himself in anger.41
Beware of envy, for envy devours good [deeds] as fire devours firewood.42
Muslims are brothers to one another. They should neither cheat, lie, nor humiliate each other.43
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) commanded justice
With the rules he gave to the Muslims; with his just and understanding attitude towards other religions, languages, races and tribes and in his equal treatment of everybody, rich and poor, our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is a great example to all of mankind. In one verse, Allah tells him "But if you do judge, judge between them justly. Allah loves the just." (Surat al-Ma'ida: 42). The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never made the slightest concession on that justice, not even under the most difficult conditions.
Many incidents from his life bear witness to the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) exemplary attitude. In the land where he lived, a variety of religions, races and tribes all lived together. These communities found it very difficult to live together in peace and security, much less restrain those who wanted to sow dissent. However, our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) justice was a source of peace and security, as much for these non-believers as it was for Muslims. During his lifetime, everyone on the Arabian Peninsula— Christian, Jew or pagan—was treated justly, with no discrimination.
Our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) pleasing attitude, in conformity with the Qur'an, sets an example for those of different religions and shows how they should behave to one another. His justice brought about compromise between people of different races. In many of his addresses, even in his Farewell Sermon, he made it known that no one's race or class endowed him with any superiority. This lay only in godliness, as Allah has revealed in the Qur'an: Mankind! We created you from a male and female,and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other.The noblest among you in Allah's Sight is the one with the most piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat Al-Hujurat:13) The hadiths on this subject say:
You are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust. Let the people cease to boast about their ancestors.44
These genealogies of yours are not a reason to revile anyone. You are all children of Adam. No one has any superiority over another, except in religion and taqwa [Allahliness].45
Our prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) always favored peace
Our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never desired war and over the years he made great efforts to spread Islam by peaceful means. He was patient in the face of severe assaults and pressure,. Only when dealing with such pressure became imperative did he give permission for war, in the light of a revelation from Allah. He never declared war so long as there was still the slightest possibility of peace, and as long as an enemy's attacks and pressure represented no mortal danger.
During our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) lifetime, the Mu'tah Expedition was the bloodiest and most difficult waged by the Muslims. He appointed Zayd ibn Harithah to command the army and admonished the troops:
Wage war in the name of Allah, on the path of Allah, against those who deny Allah. Engage in no treachery. Do not cut off ears and noses and other parts of the body. Do not kill women and children, the elderly, and men of religion in their places of worship. Do not cut down date and other trees, and do not tear down buildings.46
Based on the prophetic orders on war, the following principles, which may be called "The Islamic Principles of Combat", are outlined by Muslim scholars:
1. War is to be waged only against those who encourage and engage in it.
The Treaty of Medina, signed by our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the Jewish and polytheist communities in the city, was also an important example of justice and mutual respect between different communities. The treaty, drawn up to establish a kind of constitution between communities of different beliefs and allowing each one to observe its own principles, brought peace to those who for years had been hostile to one another. One of its most striking features was how it enshrined freedom of belief. The article on that subject reads:
The Jews of Banu ‘Awf are one nation with the Muslims; the Jews have their religion, and the Muslims have theirs…48
Article 16 of the Treaty of Medina reads, "The Jew who follows us is surely entitled to our support and the same equal rights as any one of us. He shall not be wronged nor his enemy be assisted."49 The Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) successors stayed loyal to that rule he agreed to, extending it even to Berbers, Buddhists, Hindu Brahmans and those of other beliefs.
One reason why the time of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was blessed with peace and security was his position of justice, so in line with the morality of the Qur'an. Foreign writers, too, have been impressed by his superior character and praise our Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) morality in their works. In The Genuine Islam, George Bernard Shaw described these superior traits:
In our own time as well, abiding by the Qur'an's morality is the only answer to all the conflicts, fighting, and instability of the world. Like our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), never we should depart from the path of justice, and should always respect the rights of different communities and individuals, whatever their beliefs and identities may be.
26. Tirmidhi Hadith
27. Sahih Bukhari, Number 91
29. Sahih Bukhari, Book 8, Number 40
30. Imam Ghazzali's Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, The Book of Religious Learnings, Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2001, Volume II, p.240
31. Miskhat Shareef
32. Sahih Muslim Hadith
33. Maulana Muhammad Manzoor No'mani, Ma'ariful Hadith, (Meaning and Message of the Traditions), Darul – Ishaat Publications, Karachi, Volume 4, p.334
34. Shamaa-il Tirmidhi Contents, (334) Hadith Number 9
35. Shamaa-il Tirmidhi, Islamic Book Service Publications, New Delhi, 2000, Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2000, p. 362
36. Imam Ghazzali's Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings), Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2001,VolumeIII, p.68
37. Sahih Bukhari, Islamic Book Service Publications, New Delhi, 2002,Volume 3, p. 597
38. Riyad-us-Saliheen, Volume 2, Compiled by Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi, p. 1330
39. Imam Ghazzali's Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings), Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2001,Volume III, p.124
40. Imam Ghazzali's Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings), Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2001,Volume III, p.167
41. Sahih Bukhari Hadith
42. Abu Dawud Hadith
43. Tirmidhi Hadith
44. Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5097
45. Ahmad, 158/4
47. Ahmet Hamdi Akseki, Abdurrahman Azzam Pasa'nin "Allah'in Peygamberlerine emanet ettigi ebedi risalet", Diyanet Isleri Baskanligi Nesriyat, Ankara, 1948, önsöz
48. The Constitution of Madina, http://www.islamic-study.org/jews-prophet-p.-2.htm
49. The Constitution of Madina, http://www.islamic-study.org/jews-prophet-p.-2.htm
50. Sir George Bernard Shaw in 'The Genuine Islam,' 1936., http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/9192/mainquote2.html#shaw