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What They Say About Muhammad (PBUH)

What They Say About Muhammad (PBUH)

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WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MUHAMMAD
W AMY Series on Islam No. 4
During the Crusades, all sorts of slanders were levelled against theProphet Muham m ad. With the birth of the m odern age, which ischaracterized by a greater degree of religious tolerance and freedomof thought, there has been a change in the approach of westernauthors who study the Prophet's life and characters. A sam pling of th eir views is given below.Unfortunately, the West still has not realized the greatest aspect of the Prophet: he is the last of the prophets sent by God to guidem ankind to the truth. In spite of its great advances in other areas of life, the West still has not m ade a sincere and objective attem pt tounderstand the m essage brought by the Prophet. Although som epeople have seen him as a person worthy of high praise and havepaid him glowing tributes on the levels of personal integrity andachievem ent, his claim of being the Prophet of God has alm ost alwaysbeen rejected, either explicitly or im plicitly, as false. It is tim e totreat this last claim with a spirit of true objectivity and open -m indedness.Just who was Muham m ad? According to all accounts, which areauthentic and accepted by all Muslim scholars, up until the age of forty he was known to his people as a decent m an. He was not astatesm an, a preacher, or an orator. He was never seen discussingprinciples or theories associated with m etaphysics, ethics, law,politics, econom ics, or sociology. He possessed an excellent character,charm ing m anners, and was highly cultured. But his characteristicsare not so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary that peoplewould expect som ething great and revolutionary from him in thefuture.One of Muham m ad's custom s was to retire to a nearby cave forprivate sessions of thinking and m editation. This in itself was notunusual, for other people also did this. But when he cam e out of hiscave after receiving the first revelation, he was com pletelytransform ed.Several questions need to be asked here. Is it possible for a personknown and respected for his honesty and trustworthiness toannounce suddenly that he is the Prophet of God and then begin to
 
call upon his people to abandon their old lives and beliefs for newones? Also, if he were a false prophet, why did he suffer through allof the hardships that his people im posed upon him ? And why, whenhis people offered to accept him as their king and to lay all the richesof the land at his feet, if only he would cease and desist, did herefuse to do so? Why did he continue to preach Islam in the face of all kinds of insults, social boycott, and even physical assault by hisown people?Was it not only God's support, along with his firm will, to dissem inatethe Islam ic revelation and his deep-rooted belief that ultim atelyIslam would em erge as th e sole universal religion, that he refused tobe cowed and swayed by any of the opposition and plots launchedagainst him by his enem ies? Furtherm ore, if he intended to useIslam as a rival religion against Judaism and Christianity, why did hem ake belief in Jesus Christ, Moses, and all of the other prophets of God a basic requirem ent of the Islam ic faith?Is it not an incontrovertible proof of his prophethood that, despitebeing unlettered and having led a very norm al and quiet life forforty years, that all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder of hiswonderful eloquence and oratory when he began to preach Islam ? Itwas so m atchless that legions of Arab poets, preachers, and orators of the highest caliber failed to produce a com position that couldcom pare with or equal it. And, above all, how could he state scientifictruths that would not be known by to the rest of hum anity forcenturies and that he could not learn about in any other way exceptthrough divine revelation?Last but not least, why did he lead an even harder life after gainingpower and authority? Just ponder the words he uttered when he wasdying: "We, the com m unity of the Prophets, do not inherit. All thatwe leave is for charity"Consider what others have said about this extraordinary m an:
If greatness of purpose, sm allness of m eans, and astoundingresults are the three criteria of hum an genius, who could dareto com pare any great m an in m odem history with Muham m ad?The m ost fam ous m en created arm s, laws and em pires onlyThey founded, if anything at all, no m ore than m aterial powerswhich often crum bled away before their eyes This m an m oved not only arm ies, legislation, em pires, peoples and dynasties, bu
 
m illions of m en in one-third of the then-inhabited world; anm ore than that he m oved the altars, the gods, the religions, theideas, the beliefs and souls.... His forbearance in victory, hisam bition which was entirely devoted to one idea and in nom anner striving for an em pire, his endless prayers, his m ysticconversations with God, his death and his trium ph after death-all these attest not to an im posture but to a firm convictionwhich gave him the power to restore a dogm a. This dogm a wastwofold: the unity of God and the im m ateriality of God; theform er telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not;the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words. Philosopher, orator, apostle,legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rationaldogm as, of a cult without im ages; the founder of twentyterrestrial em pires and of one spiritual em pire, that isMuham m ad. As regards all standards by which hum angreatness m ay be m easured, we m ay well ask, is there anym an greater than he?- Lam artin eHistoire de la Turquie, Pans 1854, Vol. 11, pp. 276-77.It is not the propagation but the perm anency of his religionthat deserves our wonder; the sam e pure and perfect im pression which he engraved at Mecca and Madina ispreserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by theIndian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran...The Mahom etans have uniform ly withstood the tem ptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level withthe senses and im agination of m an. I believe in One God and Mahom et is the Apostle of God' is the sim ple and invariableprofession of Islam . The intellectual im age of the Deity hasnever been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of theprophet have never transgressed the m easure of hum an virtue;and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of hisdisciples within the bounds of reason and religion.- Edward Gibbon and Sim on OcklayHistory of the Saracen Em pire, London 1870, p 54.He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope'spretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without astanding arm y, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without 

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