The Prophet Muhammad

Photography: MD Phillips

“…of all men, [he] has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race.” -William Draper (History of the Intellectual Development of Europe)1

“He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.”Michael H. Hart(The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History)2

“As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he.” -Alphonse de Lamartine, (Famous French poet, politician and historian in Histoire de la Turquie)3

There can be no doubt that the Prophet Muhammad was the most influential man who ever lived. But do you know anything about him? Do you know how he has influenced your life?

The name “Muhammad” in Arabic
calligraphy. It means “praiseworthy.”

Muhammad was of medium height, very handsome, and strongly built. His skin was pinkish or reddish but not too white. His hair often reached the shoulders. His remarkable eyes were so affecting that, out of courtesy, he generally didnot gaze into people’s eyes for more than a moment. Many remarked about him and his appearance as being unlike anyone they’d seen before or since.

He was known to always be smiling and of very calm, gentle disposition.

Muhammad came from noble lineage (and was descended from Abraham through Ishmael) but lived a quiet, middle-class life until prophethood, during which he was often in great poverty.

Even before he became a prophet, Muhammad was known as saadiq (the honest) and ameen (the trustworthy). People in the city of Mecca would leave their goods with him for safe-keeping due to his impeccable honesty and outstanding morals.
Muhammad’s prophethood began with the revelation of the Quran in the year 610 AD. The Quran is the actual words of God and was verbatim recited by Muhammad to his people. It, along with the wisdom imparted by Muhammad himself (called the Sunnah), is the basis of Islam.

The Quran says that Prophets were sent to all nations throughout human history, calling their people to essentially the same teachings—worship only the Creator and act righteously. Hence all the prophets taught “Islam.”
So why did anyone believe Muhammad’s claim to prophethood as genuine? There were many reasons and they are perhaps even more compelling to us today.

First, like other prophets of God, Muhammad did perform miracles (through God’s power) to give legitimacy to the claim of delivering a message from the Creator. But his greatest miracle was the Quran itself—one which people of all places and all times could experience.

The Arabs prided themselves as the greatest poets in history. But the Quran’s eloquence simply defied belief. Yet its verses were not poetry—nor even prose! The Quran is a form of speech that has never been duplicated nor equaled in its majesty. It is utterly unique and inimitable, a sign that it is divine.

Moreover, Muhammad was neither a poet nor even literate! How could he have been its real source?
Remember, this claim of Prophethood was coming from a man renowned for his truthfulness. Why would he suddenly become a great liar?

Some might speculate that Muhammad decided it was okay to lie when it came to reforming society for the greater good of everyone. But claiming prophethood and standing against the entire religious system of pagan Arabia’s most holy city brought tremendous suffering upon him. Nearly all Arabia wanted him dead when the call to Islam began. The people of Mecca attempted assassination and tortured to death many of his followers. Eventually the Meccans threw him and his companions out into the desert where his beloved wife eventually succumbed and died from the hardship.

To simply reform society Muhammad didn’t have to go through all the trouble of claiming prophethood and constantly making up lies about receiving revelation from God. He could have compromised a little or started a movement for gradual change. In fact the Meccan leadership originally offered him the crown, wealth, women—whatever he desired—if he would just give up promoting a religion publically. But he said even if “they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left”4 this message from God for all humanity could never be abandoned.

So clearly Muhammad didn’t crave power, riches or lusts. He once said, “Richness is not having many possessions. Rather, true richness is the richness of the soul.”5

This is further confirmed by how he lived when later becoming leader of the city-state of Madinah and eventually all Arabia. For even then he would be “cleaning and mending his own garment, milking the goat, mending his shoes, serving himself…”6 His wife Aisha said, “At our home, fire would not be kindled (sometimes) for a whole month; we subsisted merely on water and dates.”7 The Prophet died owning almost nothing.

But could the Muhammad—the most influential and successful man in history—have been delusional or just crazy? Could he have erroneously believed that God commissioned him to prophesy? To put this suspicion to rest you just have to look at the Prophet’s own statements and the content of the Quran.

One of many examples is when there was a solar eclipse on the exact day Muhammad’s dear son died. People began to say it was a special gesture from the heavens. Prophet Muhammad corrected them by saying “The sun and the moon are two signs from God, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see them, hasten to remember God and to pray.”8

Wouldn’t a delusional man have seen the mark of his own divine importance by such a rare coincidence? Wouldn’t a liar have used the occasion to bolster the people’s belief in himself and his cause?

Moreover, the prophecies of Muhammad are astonishing in their accuracy. Here are just a few of many we are witnessing today:

  1. “The dishes will communicate continuously and people will sever their family ties.”9 Think of the impact of satellite dishes upon the world and their effects on family relations—both in terms of limiting family time as well as the message of materialism and extreme individualism their content promotes.
  2. “markets will come closer, time will pass rapidly…”10 Markets—whether speaking of international market integration or stores bunched together in malls and plazas—are definitely getting closer. Likewise everyone feels time inexplicably passing faster and faster and the speed of travel continuously increases making everything closer.
  3. “Usury will spread (everywhere).”11 Today the entire world’s banking and economic system is fundamentally based on one thing—usury. This was unthinkable throughout most of human history.
  4. “That you see barefoot, unclothed Bedouins competing in the construction of tall buildings”12Today’s tallest building, BurjKhalifah, was built by people who were simple bedouins just a few decades ago. Immediately after its construction, other Arabs competitively announced that they would build one even taller by 2019. So people who were or are still Bedouins can be seen competing to build tall buildings.
  5. “When you see tunnels built in Mecca and its buildings taller than mountains…”13

Mecca today.

(click here for more of his prophecies)

The prophethood of Muhammad brought profound guidance for humanity with its spirituality, compassion and ethics. He said:

“Love for humanity what you love for yourself.”14

 “So show mercy to whatever is on Earth, then He who is in heaven will show mercy to you.”15

“May God have mercy on a man who is kind when he buys, when he sells, and when he makes a demand.”16

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote:

“I have read…the sayings of the Prophet with much interest and profit. They are among the treasures of mankind…”17

His Prophethood brought the first great legislation in human rights and even animal rights. Among his words about kindness to animals:

“Fear God in your treatment of these (animals) who cannot speak.”18

And,

The Companions asked“O God’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving animals?”He replied: “There is reward for serving any living being.”19

It boldly abolished extreme nationalism and racism centuries before the West and created the first and only true world nation.

“There is no virtue of an Arab over a foreigner nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?”20

It even inspired modern European legal systems (via the Napoleonic Code).

Napoleon Bonaparte once said:

“I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of the Quran which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness”21

The Quran encouraged mankind to think about the universe, seek knowledge and to challenge age old myths to the extent that it inspired the first scientific and technological revolution in human history.

Could it all have come from the wild imaginings of a madman?

It was precisely at the time of Muhammad’s life (and in part due to it) that the nations of the world began the process of becoming globally intertwined. For the first time in history, a universal system of spirituality and ethics was needed—one that could serve believers and non-believers.

Would not God provide this guidance for humanity and make it abundantly clear that he did so?

“O Humankind, there has come to you a conclusive proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear light.” (Quran 4:174)

This is given in the Quran and the wisdom of the Prophet:

“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you….”(Quran 9:128)

Indeed in the Messenger of God is an excellent pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in God and the Last Day and [who] remembers God often.(Quran 33:21)

Is it really so hard to believe that Muhammad was what he and the Quran claimed he was: God’s last Messenger to mankind?

Taken from:

  1. Draper, J.W. History of the Intellectual Development of Europe. Harper and Brothers Publishers. 1905, Vol. 1, pp. 329-330.
  2. Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33.
  3. Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie, Paris, 1854. Tome 1 et Livre 1, p. 280. Or see Lamartine, Alphonse de. History of Turkey, Volume 1, New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1854, p. 155. Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?. Accessed 29 March 2018.
  4. Narrated by Ibn Ishaaq in al-Maghaazi (1/154)
  5. Narrated by Bukhari
  6. Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad
  7. Narrated by Tirmidhi
  8. Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim
  9. Narrated by Tabarani
  10. Narrated by Ahmad
  11. Narrated by Muslim
  12. Narrated by ibn Abi Shaybah
  13. Narrated by Bukhari, Tareekh al-Kabeer
  14. Narrated by Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi
  15. Narrated by Bukhari
  16. Ghandhi, Mohandas K., Foreword to The Wisdom of Muhammad by Allama Sir Abdullah Al-Mamun Al-Suhrawardy, Philosophy Library, 2010.
  17. Narrated by Abu Dawud
  18. Narrated by Bukhari
  19. Narrated by Ahmad
  20. Letter to Sheikh El-Messiri, (28 August 1798); published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol.4, No. 3148, p. 420; quoted in Christian Cherfils, Bonaparte et Islam,Pedone Ed., Paris, France, 1914, pp. 105, 125.
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