Mohammad, the Messenger of Merciful
Mohammad, the Messenger of Merciful
Truly, even thinking about the Prophet (saw) is extremely difficult and awe inspiring. A great personage like Ali (AS) said: "Whenever we found the situation to be grave, we used to take refuge in the Prophet (SAW) of God and sought the shelter of his presence in order to feel safe and protected in his loving company". How sublime and lofty was the personality of this great man. It is quite natural that our limited and little minds are unable to realize this greatness. The tools and criteria that we have to evaluate and measure men by, fail to assess and understand such a great being. Hence, we are compelled to understand him within the limits imposed on our intellects.
One of his characteristics indicates that no personage has existed in the annals of history in whose being both strength of character and popularity, at such a high level, were combined together in this way. In a personage of such greatness, which inspires awe, fear, and another quality; which fills the heart with a special kind of friendly love for him, has never been integrated with each other. The lovableness of the Prophet (saw) is separate from his Prophethood; for instance Moses (as), Ibrahim (as) and Issah (as) were also Prophet (saw)s and all of them were loved and respected by their people as Prophet (saw)s and apostles of God. But our Prophet (saw) possessed an additional quality, and that was the compassion of all who came in contact with him. (We who know and love the Prophet (saw) through his words alone can naturally imagine to what extent those who dealt with him personally, could love him.) This dimension of his personality was, in itself such a great force that many of his Companions were greatly affected by his words in such a way that they feared that the Qur'anic verses reflecting the Prophet’s (saw) utterances filled their hearts so full that even the words of the Qur'an might not fit. They were anxious to remember whatever he said; because they loved him so much they memorized his words by heart. Even today, after the passage of more than fourteen hundred years, his words are so familiar to the masses of Mecca and Medina, who now have no culture whatsoever and have fallen to the lowest intellectual level; it is as if the Prophet (saw) is still alive and speaking to them. His words, his reminiscences, his relics, his memoirs and all that belong to him are ever recounted by the people, as if he still resides in Medina. Even the drivers, grocers and vendors- those who are not acquainted with history, who have never read about his life and character and are illiterate still feel his presence among them. As if he was still alive, and in contact with them.
One of the characteristics of the Prophet (saw) was that he was from among common men. (Though this is an improper term a more suitable term does not exist.) He was absolutely and purely illiterate. What is training or education? To train means to mold and fashion a personality. What are the factors that are effective in training a human being?
In my view there are five factors that participate in the formation of an individual:
First, it is the mother who shapes the first dimensions of the personality of a child. Second, the father. Third; ideology, educational institutions and culture. Fourth: Civilization. Fifth: Essentially the spirit of the period in which you live. The Prophet (saw) of Islam did not enjoy any of these five factors effective in molding an individual's personality. His father died before he was born. Secondly, immediately after his birth, he was separated from his mother and taken to the desert to be nursed. He remained there for two years. He should have been brought back to his mother after that period, but on account of a plague, before his mother could embrace him he was again taken back to the desert. The plague prevented him from being brought up by his mother. Until the age of five, he neither saw his father nor his mother. At the age of five he was returned to his mother. The mother, who had lost her husband-and he was her only child, for the first time took him under her care and intended to take him to Medina so that he could visit his uncles, her father and her family. (The mother of the Prophet (saw) belonged to the tribe of Bani Najjar of Medina) But his mother died on the way to Medina and the child, Muhammad, was left alone in the middle of the desert.
The third factor is civilization, and the Prophet (saw) was born among the crudest of the nomadic people of the age. The Arabian Peninsula was also a peninsula from the cultural as well as the geographical points of view. Geographically it is a peninsula, a dry island. Culturally also it is a peninsula. On the one side Greek civilization, Palestine on the other; on this side Iran and Iraq, and India lies on that side- all these civilizations surrounded it, but none of the signs of the surrounding cultures ever penetrated it. Thus, the Prophet (saw) grew up in a virgin desert land, bereft of culture and civilization, and was brought up in a virtual cultural vacuum.
The fifth factor time was under the domination of the Roman culture, Alexandrian culture and Iranian culture. Time was controlled by these cultures. You can see that the Prophet (saw) was an individual who was not influenced in the slightest manner by any one of the five factors that play an active role in the training and raising of an individual. He grew up as a completely free being, independent of any influences. It is on account of this that he had an immense capacity to understand, and accept new concepts, meanings and values that humanity could not have comprehended. It is for this very reason that he was able to defeat and demolish all the old values and cultures, all the systems of education and training, all the beliefs, and all that was sacred to them.
He is the friend of the widows, the homeless and the strangers whom he saw in the streets of the city-the persons whom nobody greets with a salaam, and nobody bothers to return greetings. Sometimes, when passing he sees that these strangers, shepherds and paupers who are seated on the ground have spread a cloth laying their humble meal upon it, consisting of bread suitable for a camel only, they invite him to join them, and he eagerly sits down and shares their food. He sits and chats with them amicably and makes friends with them. He invites them to honor him by coming to his home for supper that evening.
He comes lower and lower, as if there is no one humbler in Medina. Returning from (the battle of) Bani Mustalaq. Among the inhabitants of Medina nobody was left except old women, the crippled and children, for all the warriors had gone to the battlefront, and now the army was returning home they all went to receive the triumphant soldiers, under the command of the Prophet (saw). All the women, children, families, old and elderly persons and respectable citizens of Medina and those who stayed behind had formed rows. When the Prophet (saw) saw that the people have come to greet him and formed rows, he unmounted his horse and passed through the rows of the people, shaking hands with everyone.
Despite saying that the Prophet (saw) was a simple person, there are still other such qualities that are specific to his and his personality alone. One of these qualities is his discipline. His life was very simple and at the same time very regular and exact.
Whenever the Prophet (saw) closed his prayers he used to stand beside the pulpit, so that anybody who wished to discuss their problems could come forward. A person cheated in certain deal, would come and give an account of his difficulties. A woman unhappy about her husband would come and discuss her problems. Two people, who have quarreled, come and explain their dispute. Someone has used abusive language to someone in Medina, the aggrieved party comes to him. Whoever wants to come comes and says whatever he or she wants to say. But sometimes he needs to hold a commission meeting. The chiefs of the tribes have come to discuss with him something that is related to the destiny of Islam. He ought to take an account of the matter. But still he does not go behind closed doors; he sits beside a pillar. While he is seated beside a particular pillar, all the Muslims who enter the mosque understand that the Prophet (saw) is holding a commission meeting, and that it is not the time for them to sit beside him. It is obvious that he has foreign visitors. That he is busy in important political talks, and therefore it is not a proper time to interrupt him (they can do so later on). They leave the place, for when the Prophet (saw) is busy with important discussions, order should be maintained. But his simplicity is still evident. No line is drawn and no walls are raised, but discipline is observed and everybody knows the nature of this business.
His order and discipline reached such proportions that the household goods acquired specific names, whose list is given in the Biography of the Prophet (saw) written by Ibn Hisham. He had several donkeys and mules, each of whom was given a name. (He did not say; "bring the black- tailed mule", it had a name.) He had several caps; there were four quadrangular caps that he used to wear during battle. He had two or three turbans which he used to wear on Fridays, and on the occasion of peace talks and other important social ceremonies. Each of these turbans had a certain name. This naming of the caps is indicative of his keenness to have order in every matter.
Mr.Bazargan, (May God reward him amply for his service) has performed a mathematical study of the Quranic verses regarding their order and their length, and arranged them according to their length. All the verses revealed during the span of twenty- three years the duration in which the Qur’an was revealed-into twenty- three grades, and has put them together according to their length in their respective grades. What is the result of this? We have the following:
In the first year, 2500 words were revealed to the Prophet (SAW). In the second year, 3000 words were revealed. In the third year, 3500 words were revealed. In the fourth year, 4000 words were revealed. In the fifth year, 4500 words were revealed. In the sixth year, 5000 words were revealed. In the seventh year, 5500 words were revealed. In the eighth year, 6000 words were revealed. In the ninth year, 6500 words were revealed, and so on. Here we are face to face with a scientific order and discipline, not with a normal human personality. The Prophet (saw) is indeed a clear sign similar to the day and night, the sea, sun and stars. He is a cross- section of the cosmos, or rather a cosmos in itself.
More beautiful than all the periods of his life, was his death. We have been in the habit of considering death always as an uproarious affair. But we cannot feel and comprehend a peaceful death with all its tragic profundity, greatness, beauty and lesson. It is for this reason that we still are not totally aware of the dimensions of the Prophet’s death. Otherwise, for anybody who is capable of feeling and understanding such things, the death of the Prophet (saw) is a more sorrowful, tragic, profound and undoubtedly more glorious incident than the martyrdom of Hussein (as). The period of the Prophet’s last protracted illness lasted one year. From the time of the Hajjat ul-Widah -the Last Pilgrimage up to the time he could speak no more and was preparing himself for death. During this year his behavior radically changed and his speech assumed a completely different style. His relations with the Companions became calculated; and every one was treated in a particular manner, expressing a definite meaning. In his relationship with Ali (as), he grew more dependent upon him daily. He is obviously worried about the fate of this man and also seems to be anxious about the destiny of his own mission.
Man always conceals his true self throughout his life. He is always concealed from others behind the appearances that he assumes. It is usually on two occasions in his life that he raises this veil from his face: inside a prison cell and on his death bed. As soon as man smells death, he becomes cordial and sincere. One reveals his real self on his death bed. The dread of death overtakes him in such a manner that he finds no time for simulation .The soul steps out from its hiding place, where it had concealed itself all throughout life from the public view.
The wonderful Prophetic mission of Muhammad (saw) has come to an end. The army is to be inspected for the last time. Whatever has been instructed during the span of twenty- three years is to be reviewed once again. A thorough and comprehensive inspection, an all- embracing study of general issues, without ignoring a single detail is to be carried out, lest a single point remains untold and the things that are already mentioned remain unheeded. All these tasks are to be taken care of in advance before this (final) journey.
The headache has started. The Prophet (saw) cannot sleep at night. He feels the steps of death approaching and sees the black clouds gathering on the horizon with alarming speed. It is midnight and the stillness is dreadful. The sorrow and distress that could never disturb his energetic soul during a life full of hazards and risks, has overcome his spirit. The light of the world has passed away.
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