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have informed you of it. I have spent a lifetime among you before this. Do you, then, not use your reason? (10:16) This is indeed a very weighty argument in refutation of the unbelievers' allegation that the Prophet (peace be on him) had himself authored the Qur'an and subsequently ascribed it to God. So far as other arguments are concerned, they might be considered as somewhat remote. But the argument based on the life and character of the Prophet (peace be on him) was particularly weighty since the Makkans were thoroughly familiar with the whole of his life. Before his designation as a Prophet, he had spent a full forty years in their midst. He was born in their city. They had observed his childhood, and then his youth, and it was in their city that he had reached his middle age. He had also had a variety of dealings with them. He had social interaction, business transactions, matrimonial ties, and relationships of every conceivable nature with his people so that no aspect of his life was hidden from their view. Could there be a more powerful testimony to the truth of his claim to prophet hood than his blameless life and character? Two things about the life of the Prophet (peace be on him) were especially clear and were quite well known to all Makkans. First, that during the forty years of his life before his designation as a Prophet, he had received no instruction from, or even enjoyed the company of learned people which could have served as the source of the ideas which began to flow, as would a stream, from his lips as soon as he claimed, at the age of forty, that he had been designated as a Prophet. Before that he was never seen to have been concerned with the problems, or to have discussed the subjects, or to have expressed the ideas which frequently recur in the Qur'an. In fact none of his closest friends and relatives had foreseen in his pre-Prophetic life any signs indicative of the great message which he suddenly started to preach at the age of forty. These pieces of evidence, taken together, provide incontrovertible evidence that the Qur'an is not a product of the Prophet's mind; that it had come to the Prophet (peace be on him) from without. For no human being can produce something for which traces of growth and evolution are not found in the earlier period of his life. This explains the fact that when some of the more crafty Makkan unbelievers realized the sheer absurdity of their allegation that the Prophet (peace be on him) was the author of the Qur'an, they chose to propagate that there must be some other person who had taught the Prophet (peace be on him) the Qur'an. Such a statement, however, was even more preposterous since they failed to convincingly point out who that other person was who was the true source of the Qur'an. Even leaving aside Makka, the fact is that there was not a single person throughout the length and breadth of Arabia who possessed the competence needed for the authorship of the Qur'an. Had such an extraordinary person existed, how could he have remained hidden from the sight of others? Second, the pre-Prophetic life of Muhammad (peace be on him) clearly shows him to be a man of exceptionally high moral character for there was not the least trace of any evil - whether lies, deceit, vile cunning or trickery. On the contrary, all those who came into contact with the Prophet (peace be on him) were impressed by him as a person of flawless character, as one utterly truthful and trustworthy. An illustration in point is the incident related in connection with the re-building of the Ka'bah five years before his designation as a Prophet. There was a serious dispute between the various families of the Quraysh on the question as to who should have the privilege of placing the Black Stone in its place in the edifice of the Ka'bah, In order to reach an amicable accord, they resolved that they would abide by the ruling given by the first person who entered the Ka'bah the following day. The next day people saw it was the Prophet (peace be on him) who was the first to enter. They exclaimed: 'Here is a trustworthy man (amin). We agree [to follow his ruling]. He is Muhammad.' (Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat, vol. 1, p. 146 - Ed.)
Thus, before designating Muhammad (peace be on him) as a Prophet, God had the whole body of the Quraysh testify to his trustworthiness. No room was left, therefore, for suspecting that he who had never resorted to lying or deceit throughout his life would suddenly resort to fabricating a gigantic lie; that he would first compose something, then deny that it was his work, and would then ascribe it to God. In view of the above, God directs the Prophet (peace be on him) to ask the unbelievers to use their brains before leveling such a stupid allegation against him. For the Prophet (peace be on him) was after all no stranger to them; he had spent virtually a whole lifetime in their midst. In view of the well-known and uniformly high level of his conduct and character, how could it even be conceived that he would falsely ascribe the Qur'an to God if God had not actually revealed it to him. (For further elaboration see al-Qasas 28, n. 109.) (O Prophet,) you did not read any book before this, nor did you write any with your hand. If it were so, the worshippers of falsehood could have been involved in doubt. (29:48) This is the same argument that has already been given in Surahs Yunus and Qasas as a proof of the Holy Prophet's Prophethood. The basis of the argument in this verse is that the Holy Prophet was unlettered. His compatriots and his kinsmen among whom he had spent his whole life, from birth to old age, knew fully well that he had never read a book nor ever handled a pen. Presenting this actual fact Allah says: "This is a proof of the fact that the vast and deep knowledge of the teachings of the Divine Books, of the stories of the former Prophets, of the beliefs of the various religions and creeds, of the histories of the ancient nations, and the questions of social and moral and economic life, which is being presented through this ulettered, illiterate man could not have been attained by him through any means but Revelation. If he had been able to read and write and the people had seen him reading books and undertaking serious studies, the worshippers of falsehood could have had some basis for their doubts, that he had acquired the knowledge not through Revelation but through study and reading. But the fact of his being absolutely illiterate has left no basis whatever for any such doubt. Therefore, there can be no ground, except sheer stubbornness, which can be regarded as rational in any degree for denying his Prophet hood." These are, in fact, clear Signs in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge; and none deny Our Revelations except the wicked. (29:49) That is, "The presentation of a Book like the Qur'an by an unlettered person, and the manifestation by him, all of a sudden, of extraordinary qualities of character while nobody ever noticed him making any preparation for these previously, are in fact the clearest Signs which serve as pointers to his Prophet hood for those who are possessed of knowledge and wisdom. " If one reviews the life-story of any great historical personage, one can always discover the factors in his environment, which moulded his personality and prepared him for the excellences and qualities that emanated from him in life. There always exists a clear relationship between his environment and the component aspects of his personality. But no source whatever can be discovered in his environment of the wonderful qualities and excellences that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him) displayed. In his case, neither in the contemporary Arab society nor in the society of the neighboring countries with which Arabia had any relations can one discover those factors which could have any remote relationship with the component aspects of the Holy Prophet's personality. This is the reality on whose basis it has been asserted here that the Holy Prophet Muhammad's personality is not one Sign but a collection of many clear Signs. An ignorant person may not see any of these Signs but those who are possessed of knowledge have become convinced in their hearts by seeing these Signs that he is most certainly a true Prophet of Allah. Is this (Sign) not enough for these people that We have sent down to you the Book, which is recited to them? Indeed, there is mercy in it and admonition for those who believe. (29:51) That is, "A Book like the Qur'an has been sent down to you in spite of your being unlettered. Is it not by itself a great miracle which should convince the people of your Prophet hood? Do they yet
need another miracle after this? The other miracles were the miracles for those who witnessed them. But this miracle is ever present in front of them. It is being recited before them almost daily; they can witness it as and when they like. Even after such an assertion and argument by the Qur'an the audacity of those who try to prove that the Holy Prophet was literate is astonishing. The fact, however, is that the Qur'an here has presented in clear terms the Holy Prophet's being illiterate as a strong proof of his Prophet hood. The traditions which lend support to the claim that the Holy Prophet could read and write, or had learnt reading and writing later in life, stand rejected at first glance, for no tradition opposed to the Qur'an can be acceptable. Then these traditions in themselves are too weak to become the basis for an argument. One of these is a tradition from Bukhari that when the peace treaty of Hudaibiya was being written down, the representative of the disbelievers of Makkah objected to the word Rasul Allah being added to the name of the Holy Prophet. At this the Holy Prophet ordered the writer (Hadrat `Ali) to cross out the word Rasul-Allah and write Muhammad bin 'Abdullah instead. Hadrat `Ali refused to cross out Rasul-Allah. Then the Holy Prophet took it in his own hand, struck out the word himself and wrote Muhammad bin `Abdullah. But this tradition from Bara' bin `Azib appears at four places in Bukhari and at two places in Muslim and everywhere in different words: (1)At one place in Bukhari (Kitab-us-S, ulh) the words of this tradition are to the effect: "The Holy Prophet told Hadrat `Ali to strike out the words. He submitted that he could not do that. At last, the Holy Prophet crossed them out with his own hand." (2) In the same book the second tradition is to the effect: "Then he (the Holy Prophet) said to `Ali: Cross out Rasul-Allah. He said: By God, I shall never cross out your name. At last, the Holy Prophet took the document and wrote: This is the treaty concluded by Muhammad bin `Abdullah." (3) The third tradition, again from Bara' bin `Azib is found in Kitab-ul-Jizia in Bukhari to the effect: "The Holy Prophet himself could not write. He said to `Ali: Cross out Rasul-Allah. He submitted: By God, I shall never cross out these words. At this, the Holy Prophet said: Show me the place where these words arc written. He showed him the place, and the Holy Prophet crossed out the words with his own hand." (4) The fourth tradition is in Bukhari's Kitab-ul-Maghazi to the effect: "So the Holy Prophet took the document although he did not know writing, and he wrote: This is the treaty concluded by Muhammad bin `Abdullah." (5) Again from Bara' bin `Azib there is a tradition in Muslim (Kitab-ul-Jihad) saying that on Hadrat `Ali's refusal the Holy Prophet himself wiped off the words Rasul-Allah. " (6) The second tradition from him in the same book says, "The Holy Prophet said to `Ali: Show me where the word Rasul Allah is written. Hadrat `Ali showed him the place, and he wiped it off and wrote Ibn `Abdullah. The disparity in the traditions clearly indicates that the intermediary reporters have not reported the words of Hadrat Bara' bin `Azib (may Allah be pleased with him) accurately. Therefore, none of these reports can be held as perfectly reliable so that it could be said with certainty that the Holy Prophet had written the words "Muhammad bin `Abdullah with his own hand. Probably when Hadrat 'Ali, refused to wipe off the word Rasul-Allah, the Holy Prophet might have himself wiped it off after finding, out the place where it was written, and then might have got the word Ibn `Abdullah substituted by him or by some other writer. Other traditions show that there were two writers who were writing down the peace treaty; Hadrat `Ali and Muhammad bin Maslamah (Fath al-Bari, Vol. 5, p. 217). Therefore, it is not impossible that what one writer did not do was got done by the other writer. However, if the Holy Prophet actually wrote his name with his own hand, there are plenty
instances of this in the world. The illiterate people learn to write their own name although they cannot read or write anything else. The other tradition, on whose basis it has been claimed that the Holy Prophet was literate, has been reported by Ibn Abi Shaibah and `Umar bin Shabbah from Mujahid. It says: "The Holy Prophet had learnt reading and writing before his death." But in the first place, it is a weak tradition on account of its links as said by Hafiz Ibn Kathir: "It is weak: it has no basis." Secondly, it is weak otherwise also, for if the Holy Prophet had really learnt reading and writing later in life, it would have become a well known fact. Many of the Companions would have reported it, and it would also have been known from which person (or persons) he had learnt this. But no one except one man, 'Aun bin 'Abdullah, from whom Mujahid heard this, has reported it. And this 'Aun was not even a Companion,, but a follower of the Companions, who does not at all tell from which Companion (or Companions) he got this information. Evidently, on the basis of such weak traditions nothing which contradicts well known facts can become acceptable. The revelation of this Book is, without any doubt, a great bounty of Allah, and it contains great admonitions for the people. But only those people can benefit by it, who believe in it. You never hoped that the Book would be sent down to you. Only through your Lord's mercy (has it been sent own to you)… (28:86) This thing is being presented as a proof of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's Prophethood. Just as the Prophet Moses was wholly unaware that he was going to be appointed a Prophet, and sent on a grand mission-when he had never even expected or wished for such a thing, but had been suddenly called upon while on a journey and made a Prophet and assigned a mission which had no relevance with his previous life-so was precisely the case with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him). The people of Makkah knew full well what kind of life he was leading till a day before the day when he came down from the Cave of Hira' with the message of Prophet hood. They were fully aware of his occupations, of the topics of his conversation, of the nature of his interests and activities. No doubt it was a life which was an embodiment of truth, honesty and righteousness, a model of nobility, peacefulness, fulfillment of obligations and rights of others and of the service to humanity, but there was nothing in it which could give somebody any idea that the righteous man was going to make a claim to Prophet hood the next day. There was no one among his most intimate friends and relations and neighbors, who could say that he had already been preparing to become a Prophet. No one had ever heard a word on the themes and problems and topics from him, which became the subject of his daily conversation all of a sudden after the revolutionary moment in the Cave of Hira'. No one had heard him employing the kind of diction and words and terms, which the people started hearing from him in the shape of the Qur'an. He had never stood up for preaching, had never given a message or started a movement, and none of his activities had ever indicated that he was anxious to undertake a programme for the solution of the social problems or for religious or moral reformation. Till a day before this revolutionary moment he was leading the life of a trader, who earns his living by fair and lawful means, who lives a happy life with his family, receives his guests, helps the poor and treats his relatives well, and at times retires from society into seclusion for the sake of worship. For such a person it would be a great change if he started making, all of a sudden, world-moving orations, preaching a revolutionary message, producing a sublime literature and propounding an enduring philosophy of life and a profound system of thought and morality and social life. For psychologically too, such a change is not possible through any kind of preparation and conscious effort. Any such effort and preparation, in any case, has to pass through certain evolutionary stages, which cannot remain hidden from the people among whom a person is passing his life. Had the Holy Prophet's life passed through any such stages of gradual development, hundreds of the people in Makkah would have come out to say, "Did we not tell
you beforehand that this man would one day make a tall claim?" But history bears evidence that no one in Makkah ever made such an objection although the disbelievers of Makkah raised all sorts of other objections against the Holy Prophet. Then another thing: the Holy Prophet himself never wished for or expected or awaited his appointment to prophet hood, but he came across this experience all of a sudden quite unexpectedly. This is supported by the event that has been reported in the Traditions in connection with the beginning of Revelation. After his first meeting with the Angel Gabriel and the revelation of the initial verses of Surah Al-`Alaq he rushes back home from Hira' trembling with fear, and says to his wife, "Cover me with a cloak! Cover me with a cloak!" After a while when he recovers a little from the state of anxiety, he relates what he had experienced to his wife and says, "I feel there is danger to my life!" She responds, "No, never! Allah will never bring you to grief: you render the rights of your kindred, you support the indigent, help the poor, treat your guests well, and are ever ready to contribute to a good cause."Then she takes him to Waraqa bin Naufal, who was her cousin and a righteous and knowledgeable person from among the people of the Book. Hearing from him what had happened, Waraqa says without any hesitation, "The one who came to you is the same Namus (the specially appointed Divine Messenger), who used to come to Moses. I wish I were a young man and could live till the time when your people will expel you." The Holy Prophet asks, "Will my people expel me?" He replies, "Yes; no one has passed before, who brought same thing that you have brought, and his people did not turn hostile to him.” This whole event depicts the state which a simple man will naturally undergo when he is confronted unexpectedly by a most extraordinary experience all of a sudden. If the Holy Prophet had already been anxious to become a prophet and thinking that a man like him ought to be a prophet, and had been meditating and straining his mind and awaiting the arrival of an angel with a message, he would have been filled with delight at the experience in the Cave, and descending from the mountain would have gone straight before his people and proclaimed Prophet hood. But, quite to the contrary, he is confounded at what he had seen, reaches home trembling and lies in bed fully covered up. When he is composed a little, he tells his wife quietly what had happened in the solitude of the Cave, and expresses feelings of anxiety and insecurity. How different is this state from the state of a candidate for prophet hood! Then, who can be better aware of the husband's life, his ambitions and thoughts, than the wife? If she had perceived before-hand that the husband was a candidate for prophet hood and had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the angel, her reply would have been different from what Hadrat Khadijah said. She would have answered, "Dear husband! Why are you so agitated? You have got what you have been longing since long. Now, flourish as a saint: I too shall get ready for collecting gifts and offerings." But on the basis of what she had seen of her husband during her 15-year-long companionship, she did not take more than a moment to understand that Satan could not have come to a righteous and selfless man like him, nor could Allah have put him to a severe test. Therefore, whatever he had seen was the very truth and reality. The same is also true in the case of Waraqa bin Naufal. He was not an outsider, but a member of the Holy Prophet's own clan and a brother-in-law by a close relationship. Then being a knowledgeable Christian he could discriminate the prophet hood and book and revelation from fabrication and fraud. Being the Holy Prophet's senior by many years his whole life since childhood had been spent before him. Therefore, when he heard what the Holy Prophet had to say about his experience in the Cave, he at once said that it was most surely the same Angel who used to bring Divine messages to the Prophet Moses. For in this case also precisely the same thing had happened as in the case of the Prophet Moses. He also was a pure and righteous person, simple in thought and without any preconceived notions about prophet hood; he also had experienced the same thing unexpectedly in full consciousness similarly. Therefore, without the least hesitation, he was led to the firm conclusion that there was no self-deception or satanic insinuation involved but whatever the truthful man had seen, without any will or desire on his own part, was in fact, an experience of the Reality. This is such a clear proof of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's Prophet hood that a realistic person can hardly deny it.
That is why it has been presented as a proof of Prophet hood at several places in the Qur'an. For example, in Surah Yunus it has been said: "O Prophet, say to them: Had Allah willed so, I would never have recited this Qur'an to you, nor would He have told you anything (about its existence). I have already lived a lifetime among you before its revelation. Do you not use common sense?" (v. 16) And in Surah Ash-Shura it has been said: "O Prophet, you did not know at all what was the Book and what was the Faith but We made that Revelation a light by which We show the way to any of Our servants We will." (v. 52)
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