>> Thursday, August 2, 2012
I happened to stumble on your blog and hope you wouldn't mind a question from a non-Muslim reader interested in knowing more. My basic question is this: how do you compare between Prophet Mohammed's character and Jesus's character. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon. InterestedDear Interested,
Of course, I wouldn't mind a question from a Christian reader :) Thank you for reaching out to us and for having the courage to turn in your question :)
As for your question, that's an interesting one to say the least.
One thing we have to understand is that in Islam, both Prophet Mohammed and Prophet Jesus are highly revered and respected. Both were prophets who came with the same message: to worship God, alone. We don't say that one came with a better message than the other; they came with the same message. And in many ways, despite what the popular media depicts, they were quite similar: forgiving, merciful, peaceful, and clement.
Forgiving? Merciful? Prophet Mohammed?
What do you say we take a quick look at his life and you decide what you think of his character?
First, let's go back to the time that Prophet Mohammed was living in: the Pagan Arabs were a very tribal people and would often fight over the most ridiculous things. In fact, a war occurred for more than 40 years over a "camel". Bloodshed was common and the strong preyed over the weak. Yet, even before the Revelation of the Quran, Prophet Mohammed was known among his people to be different. He was a person who preferred peace to fighting. In a well reported incident, Prophet Mohammed helped prevent an escalating fight (which was looking to become bloody) and came up with the idea of all of the tribes holding the Black Stone ( a stone believed to have come down from heaven) together.
Not only did he seek peace before the Revelation, he continued to live by it, after Revelation.
First, when the Prophet brought the message of Islam (where he told his people to worship God alone and take care of the weak and vulnerable, etc.) he was met with violence. The Pagan Arabs ridiculed him, tormented him, and physically abused his followers…
And when we say abuse, we mean serious abuse. Like the story of Bilal, who was a slave. He was taken to the desert, stripped of his clothes, laid down on the burning sand, and had a huge boulder placed on his chest. There's also the case of Sumayah, a woman—she was the first "martyr" in Islam. The point being, the Pagan Arabs were callous and extremely violent.
Yet, Prophet Mohamed did not fight back. He encouraged his people to remain patient. For 13 long years, he and his followers endured unimaginable pain. In fact, the Pagan Arabs actually boycotted Prophet Mohammed and his followers: so much so, they didn't give them any food and basically left them to starve. Prophet Mohammed's wife, Khadijah ultimately didn't survive and she later died, out of malnutrition.
It reached a point where things were getting pretty bad and Prophet Mohammed decided to seek refuge in another city: Taif. He walked there (around 90 kms) and presented to them the message of Islam. He asked them to at least consider the message/ or not tell the Pagan Arabs about his visit. Yet the people of Taif had their children throw stones and rocks at the Prophet. Feet bloodied, he tried to run away from them/hide and he found shelter in a cave. It is reported that the angels of the mountains told him to give him permission and crush the people of Taif (have the mountains come together). Prophet Mohammed refused that.
The angel of the mountains called, and saluted me saying: "Oh Muhammad, what I do will be as you request. If you want, I close the two mountains on them?" The Prophet, Peace be upon him, replied: "Instead of that, I am hoping that Allah (the Al mighty) will create from their offspring people who worship Allah alone, without ascribing partners unto Him" .
The Pagan Arabs even decided to assassinate Prophet Mohammed (even though they left their valuables with him. He was so trustworthy that he was like his people's free banker). However, God told Prophet Mohammed of their plans and gave permission to the Prophet to emigrate to a different city. And yet, even though his people were literally planning to murder him, Prophet Mohammed didn't curse them or pray against them. Instead, he actually made sure that their were plans to give back all of their valuables. He commanded his cousin Ali to give them back their belongings. He thought of them when all they wanted was to kill him.
Anyways, finally, he reached Madinah. Yet, the Pagan Arabs didn't stop attacking the Prophet. We know of how they allied themselves with groups within and out of Madina to fight against the Prophet. Even when they fought him, he still did not stop thinking of them. He still wanted desperately for them to be guided and to accept the message.
In the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet was wounded and his face was covered with blood, but he was saying, “0 Allah! Guide my people, for they are ignorant” (Bukhari).
Do you know that they continued to attack the Muslims to the point of even causing Prophet Mohammed's own daughter, Zainab, to suffer a miscarriage? Still, Prophet Mohammed would choose peace.
Like the time when he had a dream that he was performing pilgrimage in Makkah and he tried to go back with a large number of Companions.When the Pagan Arabs saw them, they refused to let them go to the Kabah. Prophet Mohammed didn't command his people to fight the Makkans. Instead, he agreed to what seemed like a very unfair peace treaty: one that favored the Makkans over the Muslims. This was known as the Treaty of Hudaibah.
And finally, when Prophet Mohammed returned to Makkah…with an army of 10,000 people. After all that they did to him….the 20 years of fighting him and persecuting him for no reason but that he called on people to worship God. At the time when he could have done with them whatever he wanted/ exacted revenge on them? You know what he chose, right?
He didn't fight them.
HE chose to forgive.
There are numerous narrations the Companions reported about Prophet Mohammed's mercy and forgiveness.
It was reported that Abu Huraira, May Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, Peace be upon him, was asked to invoke Allah (the Almighty) against polytheists. He replied: "I was not sent out for cursing, I was sent out as a mercy" narrated by Muslim.
It was reported that Jabir-bin-Abdullah, May Allah be pleased with both of them said: "Oh! "Messenger of Allah, we have been hit severely by the fire arrows of Thakif (a tribe name), invoke Allah (the Almighty) against them. The Prophet, Peace be upon him, said: "Oh Allah! I call upon you to favour Thakif with your guidance" narrated by Al-Tirmizi with a sound reference.
We've also mentioned another story before on this blog. The story of Abdullah bin Ubai. He was one of the leaders of the hypocrites in Madinah. He did everything he could to undermine the prophet's authority (encouraging more than a third of an army to leave a battle). He even spread horrible rumours about the Prophet's own dear wife.
So why do I bring him up? Because of what happened after he died.
Narrated Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): When 'Abdullah bin 'Ubai died, his son 'Abdullah came to Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) and asked him to give him his shirt in order to shroud his father in it. He gave it to him and then 'Abdullah asked the Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) to offer the funeral prayer for him (his father). Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) got up to offer the funeral prayer for him. Sayyidina 'Umar got up too and got hold of the garment of Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) and said, "O Allah's Messenger! Will you offer the funeral prayer for him though your Lord has forbidden you to offer the prayer for him ?" Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) said, "But Allah has given me the choice by saying:-
'Whether you ask forgiveness for them, or do not ask forgiveness for them; even if you ask forgiveness for them seventy times never will Allah forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people..' (9:80)So I will ask more than seventy times."
And finally, remember, it's one thing to want to choose to "Turn the other cheek" for personal injuries, and it's another thing to be the Head of State, repsonsible for the citizens of your country and their "cheeks". Prophet Mohammed never repaid personal injuries with meanness; he followed the example of Prophet Jesus praying for his enemies guidance. However, as Head of the State, he did have to go to battle to defend his citizens from attacks by others and oppression. Whenever he could, though, he would try to find ways to solve the problems through peace.
There are actually many more stories in Prophet Mohammed's life but I felt that I couldn't delay replying to you :) I encourage you to read more about him and to keep writing to us.