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Epitome of Peace

The Holy Prophet Muhammad – The Epitome of Peace

When we look back to the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), we see how this blessed man was indeed put to task for the reformation of society. By the end of the twenty-three years of the Divine Call, virtually all of Arabia was bowing down before Islam. Could this have possibly been achieved through aggressive warfare? No, it was never by means of a conquest of might, but by a conquest of the heart.

After the Divine Call, the first thirteen years were spent in Makkah, at a time when Muslim men, women, and slaves were being butchered shamelessly, only because they professed their faith in Islam and the Holy Prophet. Within those first few years, when persecution was severe, the Holy Prophet had advised the weaker of his companions to advance towards Abyssinia. Jaf’ar ibn Abi Talib, the head of the refugees, upon entering Abyssina addressed the then King in the following words, which painted a true picture of what was being taught and endured by the Muslims in Makkah:

“O King! We were an ignorant people, given to idolatry. We used to eat corpses even of dead animal, and do all kinds of disgraceful things. We did not make good our obligations to our relations and ill treated our neighbors. The strong among us would thrive at the expense of the weak, till, at last, God sent a prophet for our reformation. His descent, his righteousness, his integrity and his piety are well-known to us. He called us to the worship of God, and exhorted us to give up idolatry and stone worship. He enjoined us to speak truth, to make good our trusts, to respect ties of kinship, and to do good to our neighbors. He taught us to shun everything foul and to avoid bloodshed. He forbade all manner of indecent things. – telling lies, misappropriating orphans’ belongings, and bring false accusation against the chastity of women. So we believed in him, and followed him and acted upon his teachings. Thereupon our people began to wrong us, to subject us to tortures, thinking that we might thus abjure our faith and revert to idolatry. When, however, there cruelties exceeded all bounds, we came out to seek asylum in your country, where we hope shall come to us no harm.”

At one point, the Quraish, a leading tribe in Makkah, hostile towards the Muslims had tried to compromise the Holy Prophet’s character through bribery, by sending deputations with the offer:

"If your ambition is to possess wealth, we will amass for you as much of it as you wish; if you aspire to win honour and power, we are prepared to swear allegiance to you as our overlord and king; if you have a fancy for beauty, you shall have the hand of the finest maiden of your own choice."

But to their surprise, the Holy Prophet replied: "I want neither riches nor political power. I have been commissioned by Allah as a warner to mankind. I deliver His message to you. Should you accept it, you shall have felicity in this life as well as in the life to come; should you reject the word of Allah, surely Allah will decide between you and me."

The Prophet spoke these words at very difficult times, when persecution was very severe. This speaks volumes about the Holy Prophet’s character. Had he truly craved lust or power, he would have accepted this offer in his great moment of trial and a life and death struggle. The Prophet was made to stand firm as Allah tells us in the Qur'an: "And if We had not made thee firm, thou mightest have indeed inclined to them a little" (Qur'an 17:74).

When the Muslims had found refuge in Madinah, a city 260 miles to the north of Makkah, a thirteen days journey, here too were they not left alone. It was then revealed to the Holy Prophet:

"Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made, because they have been wronged --- and God is well able to help them. Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly, only for saying, `Allah is our Lord'. And if God had not allowed one group of people to repel another, then there would have been pulled down cloisters and synagogues and churches and mosques, in which God's name is remembered." (Qur’an 22:39-40)

It would thus be in the 53rd year of the Holy Prophet's life in old age that he would first take up arms to fight in self defense. Had the Holy Prophet Muhammad ever had any inclination for warfare, then he would most certainly have taken part in the tribal warfare's that were the order of the day in the society in which he grew up in. But the fact that he did not, shows he was never a man of war, but a man of peace, and it was only when such strenuous, life threatening circumstances were presented to him and the welfare of the Muslims, did he take up arms, but in the most noblest of causes.

It would be for another near seven years that the Quraish would put up greater numbers in the battlefield and wage aggressive warfare against the Muslims. Finally, after almost two decades of Makkan tyranny, a peace treaty was concluded at Hudabiyyah, in which it was stated there would be absolutely no war for ten years. This peace treaty belies the allegations that the Holy Prophet was compelled to use force. The Holy Prophet was acting upon the Qur’anic teaching: "And if they incline to peace, do thou incline to it and trust in Allah; He is the Hearing, the Knowing. And if they intend to deceive thee, then surely Allah is sufficient for thee." (8:61-62)

At that time the Muslims whom accompanied the Holy Prophet Muhammad with the signing of the truce numbered fifteen hundred. And yet it was only two years later, that the terms of the truce was violated, when a tribe in alliance with the Quraish slaughtered many innocent Muslims. The Quraish refused to dissociate themselves with this tribe in alliance with them, and refused to renew to the terms of the Truce. It was then the Holy Prophet made preparations to march onward to Makkah, the city from which he had been exiled from seven years earlier.

But with how many men did the Prophet Muhammad march to Makkah with? Was it with the 1,500 from two years ago? No, this time, they numbered 10,000! Within those two years of peace something remarkable happened; thousands upon thousands voluntarily joined Islam, such that the prophecy of the Truce being a "great victory" (see Qur'an 48:1) would be fulfilled, even at a time the terms seemed quite humiliating to the Muslims.

One must ask what was the reason for this remarkable wave of conversion? Before the Truce his enemies, as they do to this day, the latest being with the debacle of the Danish Caricatures, had been trying to create this dark, sinister, and grim picture of him. But when the saw the Holy Prophet for whom he really was, they saw him not to be the man of terror as they had once imagined. They saw the great moral and spiritual transformation had he brought about in his people In effect, their hearts were conquered. How true we read in the Qur’an:

"Repel evil with what is best, when lo! he between whom and you there is enmity will be like a warm friend." (41:34)

When the Holy Prophet Muhammad re-entered Makka after suffering from years of persecution along with his followers, it would most certainly have been justified to take firm action towards his persecutors, but did he? Did the Holy Prophet return to Makkah with the mindset of revenge or vengeance? No! He forgave them! The Holy Prophet provided a general amnesty stating: I say as my brother Joseph said - "No reproof be against you this day; Allah may forgive you, and He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy." (Qur’an 12:92)

This was indeed the greatest act of forgiveness ever witnessed in all of history, an act that would ultimately unite all of Arabia!

Maulana Muhammad Ali writes in his biography of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad the Prophet: "World history fails to produce the like of the Holy Prophet’s generous forgiveness of such arch-enemies. No example of such magnanimous forgiveness is met with in the life of any other Prophet. Christ indeed preached forgiveness to enemies, but he had no occasion to exercise the quality of forgiveness for he never acquired power to deal with his persecutors."

This long on-going struggle was well known throughout Arabia, and now that they had seen the remarkable triumph against all odds, tribe after tribe began to declare their allegiance to Islam; such tribes that had been in constant feud with one another for countless of years. They would all be virtually united under the banner of Islam - Laillah illalah Muhamamdar Rasullah! - there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

It was only two years after the peaceful conquest of Makkah, that not 10,000, but 124,000 Muslims would witness the Prophet's farewell pilgrimage, a day to which he was destined to live, to have these words revealed to him from God.

“This day have those who Reject Faith given up All hope of your religion: Yet fear them not But fear Me. This day have I Perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, And have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Qur'an 5:3)

Why was it named Islam? Because Islam incorporates those very same basic universal principles as taught and preached by all the Prophets, and is not limited to one geographic location. Each of the Prophets had brought part of Islam with them. Islam ('entering into peace' and 'surrender' to the will of God) was now perfected and completed with the seal of the Prophets.

Unfortunately, today the Muslims have regressed from the potential that could be achieved if they truly did abide by the teachings of the Qur'an. Cultural narrow intolerant and cruel practices have been replaced by the most elegant and noble teachings of Islam! Little wonder is it then of the state of affairs we see in the Muslim world today; instead of placing the blame with themselves, many look to the West to blame their misfortunes.

We find amongst Muslims today rank prejudice and hatred for one another simply due to the country, or organization, party, etc they have associated themselves with. The open hostility and animosity present in our times amongst ourselves has sadly made us our own worst enemies. It is this outright hostility that has caused sectarianism, and not so much of the names one has come to associate him or herself with. This very lack of tolerance and understanding, and narrow-mindedness has put us on halt to any progress in the modern world. It is also true some false teachings amongst Muslims lend support to the view of Islam being inherently violent. (i.e. blasphemy, stoning, and apostasy laws present in Muslim countries that really stem from Judaism). The lessons to be learned from the peaceful example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have become void amongst the Muslim governments of today.

Thus, for those Muslims who think that waging their war-like Jihads on non-Muslims will resolve these issues have a false perception of reality for Allah says in the Qur’an: “Surely Allah changes not the condition of a people, until they change their own condition” (Qur’an 13:11), and that condition is of the inner-self; the heart! There must be real reform from within before there can be reform from without.

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