THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him)
God sent his messengers for guidance, and to create love and brotherhood among the people but unfortunately the history of religion is full of bigotry and hatred. The messengers were always the victims of violence. From Adam to this time, all the prophets without any exception, passed through the same channel of hatred and persecution. How nicely the Holy Quran has described this fact in the following verse: Alas for my servants! There comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him. (Quran, 36:31)
Torah, Gospels and all other scriptures support the reality of the verse of the Holy Quran. Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ, they were all victims of violence, due to false charges leveled against them, and same was the fate of their followers. It is undeniable truth that in every age a great number of people labeled the true prophets as imposters and incited the general public against those innocent prophets. How great was the Messiah, Jesus son of Marry, but he suffered more than many other prophets by the hands of his own people. What was his sin? Nothing but the message of love. But how his message was distorted and misapprehended and finally due to false charges he was hanged on the cross. It is a shame for those who did that, and they would never be forgiven the crime they committed against a blameless person. Some one can say that they were uncivilized people. They were ignorant about the moral and ethical values, but that is not so, they were the most civilized people of their age, but still they committed the heinous crimes. That was not the first mistake committed, rather that was the crime committed in every age and against every prophet. Similar is the situation created by those who could not understand the message of the Prophet of Islam. Unfortunately his teachings are totally misunderstood due to prejudice and narrow-mindedness. A wonderful prophet who brought a fantastic message for mankind, and produced astounding result. His life is like an open book; nothing is hidden from birth to his burial. He appeared before the people as child, young and old, as son, father and husband, as subject and as ruler, as judge, king, general and prophet. He was really a wonderful man in every walk of his life. The prophet who is really the savior of mankind, is regrettably painted as terrorist in this age by some of the religious fanatics. I fear that the people should not be led astray by these religious extremist as it happened in the time of the other prophets, this is why this humble effort is being made to present the facts about the life of the Holy Prophet of Islam.
HIS EARLY DAYS
At the time of the birth of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the Arabs were sunk to a very low state. They were fond of intoxicants, gambling, and idol worship. Girls became such a shameful commodity among them that they would bury their infant girls alive for fear of disgrace.
Women among them were considered as a commodity that was to be inherited by her husband just as they would take over his money or livestock. Slavery was rampant throughout the land. Instead of worshiping one God, the Creator of the universe, they had gods of wood and stones, molded with their own hands. There were 360 idols in the Holy Kaaba which prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael had built in Mecca. The house which was the symbol of the unity of God was taken over by the idols and pagan customs. The system of pilgrimage which was established by prophet Abraham was totally distorted by the pagan rituals. Their pilgrimage was nothing but drinking, gambling and running naked around the idols clapping and whistling. Not only the Arabs were lost in the evils and immoralities, rather the whole world was deeply sunk in
the transgressions, crimes and sins. The Holy Quran has drawn the picture of that era in the following words:
Corruption has spread on the land and the sea because of what men’s hands has wrought, that He may make them taste the fruit of some of their doings, so that they may turn back from evil. (Holy Quran, 30:42)
That was the time when the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was born in Mecca in AD 570. He was born an orphan, as his father died a few months before his birth. The name Muhammad (the praised one) was given by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. It was a long-established practice for the people of Mecca to leave their babies in the care of desert’s wet-nurses so that they were brought up brave, eloquent and in touch with the realities of desert life. So, for that purpose, the little baby was handed over to Halima, the wet nurse, and he spent five years with her.
His mother died when he was about six years old, and his grandfather, who was his loving and devoted guardian, died when he was eight years old. He then passed into the care of his uncle, Abu Talib, the father of Hadrat Ali.
This is confirmed beyond any doubt that his childhood and youth remained very pure and clean in the corrupt and debased society of Mecca. He lived in Mecca, among the idol worshipers, but he never paid homage to an idol, never ate of anything presented as offering to an idol. He never touched liquor, neither gambled, nor took part in any of the frivolous activities of his fellow youths. It is beyond the shadow of doubt that Almighty Allah fully safeguarded him against every kind of lapse. He arrived at his full maturity without the slightest stain on his character.
HIS LOVE FOR GOD
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had great love for the Almighty God, and since his early age he was trying to establish his relation with him. This is why he used to spend lot of his time in praying and supplicating to God. He was not after material world; rather he was in search of his Creator. When he was about forty years old, it was his routine to take a very small quantity of food and water to a cave named Hira, near Mecca, and spend days in prayers and fasting, just to seek the pleasure of the Almighty God. And finally in such a situation he received the first revelation from God, through angel Gabriel. That was the first appearance of the angel to the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The angel said, “Read” and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I cannot read.” Again the angel said, “Read” and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave the same reply. Then for the third time the angel said:
Read in the name of thy Lord who created. Created man from a clot of blood. (Holy Quran, 96:2-3)
And the Prophet started reading. The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not a super being; he was a human chosen by God for the guidance of human beings. Almighty God has always sent the messengers from the people for their guidance, as the Holy Quran says:
Say, “Had there been in the earth angels walking about in peace and quiet, We would have certainly sent down to them from heaven an angel as a Messenger.” (Holy Quran, 17: 96)
All the messengers are like other men but it is their relation with God and the revelation they receive from Him which makes the difference as God revealed to the Holy Prophet of Islam:
Say, I am but a man like yourselves; but it is revealed to me that your God is One God. So let him who hopes to meet his Lord, do good deeds, and let him join no one in the worship of his Lord. (Holy Quran, 18:111)
So the best possible guidance from God comes to the people through the messengers in the form of revelations. And the relation of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with God was the best relation ever established by any human being with Him. The love of God was oozing every moment from every word of his speech. And his every action was a witness that he had reached the highest point in the love of God.
The love of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he had for his Creator is described in the Holy Quran in the following words:
And He found thee wandering in search for Him and guided thee unto Himself. (Holy Quran, 93:8)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had so much love for the Almighty God that even his opponents said that He was intoxicated in the love of his God. He loved God so much so that he became the beloved of God. Every moment of his life was a witness that he wanted to glorify and exalt the name of God. History is unable to produce a single example like him of any person who had so great a love for God. God loved him even more than that, and made him a victor in every field of his life. It was God who guided him and helped him at every step of his life.
He was the Prophet of God; during his lifetime he was a businessman, a preacher, a philosopher, a statesman, an orator, a reformer, a lawgiver, a fugitive, a king. In every position he was close to God and God was close to him.
Commendable Love of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for God
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) loved so much Almighty God that God commanded him to make it known to the believers, to follow his footsteps in this regard, if they needed the remission of their sins and wanted to be the beloved of God. As it is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
Say, If you love Allah, follow me; then will Allah love you and forgive you your sins, And Allah is Most Forgiving and Merciful.(Holy Quran, 3:32)
In this regard Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) writes:
Is it not a matter for wonder that a poor, powerless, helpless, and unlearned orphan who was alone at a time when every people possessed a plenitude of financial, military and intellectual means, brought such a bright teaching that he silenced everyone with his conclusive arguments and clear proofs? He pointed out the mistakes of those who were claimed as great philosophers. He exhibited such power that he pulled down rulers from their thrones and put poor people on them in their place. If this was not Divine support, then what was it? Can anyone overcome the whole world in reason, knowledge, strength and force without Divine support?
Who was with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he first announced to the people that he was a prophet? Did he possess the treasury of any king relying on which he took on the whole world as his opponents, or had he at his disposal a force relying on which he had become secure against the attacks of kings? Our opponents know that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was at that time alone and helpless and without any means. It was only God, Who had created him for a great purpose, Who was with him and was his sure support. (Braheen-i-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 1, pp. 119-120)
Again the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) says:
On five occasions, the life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was in serious danger and had he not been a true prophet of God, he would certainly have been destroyed. One was the occasion when the disbelieving Quraish had surrounded his house and had sworn that they would kill him that night. The second occasion was when pursuers had arrived with a large body of men at the entrance to the cave in which he had taken shelter along with Hadrat Abu Bakr. The third occasion was when he had been left alone in the battle of Uhud and the Quraish had surrounded him and attacked him in a body but were foiled of their purpose. The fourth occasion was when a Jewish woman gave him meat to eat which had been saturated with a fatal poison. The fifth occasion was when Khusro Pervaiz, Emperor of Persia, had made up his mind to destroy him and had sent his emissaries to arrest him. His delivery on all these dangerous occasions and his ultimate triumph over all his enemies is a conclusive proof that he was righteous and God was with him. (Chashma Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, pp. 263-264, footnote)
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had a great jealousy for the name and honor of God. He never liked that some one should laugh at or make fun of God or dishonor His name. Any negative remark of the enemy about himself did not bother him at all; but he was always worried about any humiliation to the name of God.
Such a situation appeared on one occasion during the battle of Uhud, which is recorded in Hadith. It shows how much the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was dedicated to the love of God. Hadrat Al Bara narrates:
We faced the pagans on that day (of the battle of Uhud) and the Prophet placed a batch of archers (at a special place) and appointed ‘Abdullah bin Jubair as their commander and said, “Do not leave this place; and if you should see us conquering the enemy, do not leave this place, and if you should see them conquering us, do not come even to help us.” So, when we faced the enemy, they took to their heel till I saw their women running towards the mountain. Abdullah bin Jubair said, “The Prophet had taken a firm promise from me not to leave this place.” But his companions refused to stay. So when they refused to stay there, Allah confused them so that they could not know where to go, and they suffered seventy casualties. Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said, “Is Muhammad present amongst the people?” The Prophet said, “Do not answer him.” Abu Sufyan said, “Is the son of Abu Quhafa (Abu Bakr) present among the people?” The Prophet said, “Do not answer him.” Abu Sufyan said, “Is the son of Al-Khattab (‘Umar) amongst the people?” He then added, “All these people have been killed, for, were they alive, they would have replied.” On that, ‘Umar could not help saying, “You are a liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what will make you unhappy.”
Abu Safyan said, “Superior may be Hubal!” On that the Prophet said to his companions, “Why do you not reply him?” They asked, “What may we say?” He said, “Say: Allah is More Elevated and More Majestic!” Abu Sufyan said, “We have the idol, Al-’Uzza, whereas you have no ‘Uzza!” The Prophet said to his companions, “Reply to him.” They said, “What may we say?” The Prophet said, “Say: Allah is our Helper and you have no helper.” Abu Sufyan said, “This day compensates for our loss at Badr and in the battle the victory is always undecided.” (Sahih Bukhari)
The Prophet of Islam always trusted in God and never became dependant upon any one. God the Almighty was his refuge, in every moment of relieve or danger. When he started his mission as a prophet, he had great support from his uncle Abu Talib. But he never depended solely upon him, and never left God’s help aside. The unbelievers were frequently reporting to Abu Talib about the activities of the Prophet of Islam. And they asked him to advise his nephew to stop
preaching the name of God. One day Abu Talib spoke to the Prophet very softly and begged him to abandon his affair. To that suggestion the Prophet firmly replied;
“O my uncle, if they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to cause me to renounce my task, verily I would not desist there from until Allah made manifest His cause or I perished in the attempt.”
The Prophet, overcome by the thought that his uncle and protector was willing to desert him, turned to depart. But Abu Talib called him loudly to come back, and he came. Abu Talib said, “Say whatever you please; for by the Lord I shall not desert you ever.”
He was always very patient in hardship and suffering. He was never discouraged by adverse circumstances nor did he permit any personal desire to get a hold over him. His father had died before his birth and his mother died while he was still a little child. Up to the age of eight, he was in the supervision of his grandfather and then at his death he was taken care of by his uncle, Abu Talib. That was a very hard time for him but he always behaved in a dignified manner.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), throughout his life, had to encounter a succession of bitter experiences. After marriage, he had to bear the loss of several children one after the other, and then his beloved and devoted wife Khadija died. Some of the wives he married after Khadija’s death, died during his lifetime. Towards the close of his life he had to bear the loss of his son Abraham. He bore all these losses and calamities calmly, and none of them affected him in the least degree.
On one occasion he observed a woman who had lost a child occupied in loud mourning over her child’s grave. He admonished her to be patient and to accept God’s will as supreme. The woman did not know that she was being addressed by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and she said to the Prophet, “If you had ever suffered the loss of a child as I have, you would have realized how difficult it is to be patient under such an affliction.” The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I have suffered the loss not of one but of seven children,” and passed on.
The Day of Ta’if and the Patience of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
In the tenth year of the mission, the uncle of Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Abu-Talib and his wife Khadeejah both died. With their death the abuse of the Quraish increased manifold. Of those few people who were allowed to hear the Qur’an many became Muslims. However, due to continuous torture given by the Quraish, Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) decided to preach the word of God to the people of Al-Ta’if. So he traveled to Al-Ta’if to convey the message of God to people. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reached there, the elders incited the youth against him. The fanatic youth started throwing stones upon the Prophet of Islam, so much so that the Prophet was severely wounded; he was bleeding from top to tow. His shoes were filled with blood, and it became hard for him even to walk. That moment the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed to God the Almighty saying,
“O, my Lord, unto you I bewail my weakness, inability, and disregard of mankind towards me. O Most Merciful of the merciful, you are the Lord of the weak and my Lord. Unto whom shall you deliver me? Unto one who is distant and shall glower at me, or unto an enemy whom You have given authority over me? If You are not angry against me then I do not care what befalls me, as Your gifts of well-being are more commodious for me. I seek refuge in the light of Your face that has overcome all darkness, and through which all matters of this life and the hereafter have been established in justice, that Your retribution should fall upon me, or your
disdain should befall me. Unto You is all appeasement until You are appeased, and no one has power or ability except in You.”
At that time the Angel Gabriel appeared and addressed him saying: “Allah has heard what your people said to you, and how they have replied to you. Allah has sent the angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.”
The Angel of the Mountains then appeared and said, “O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I shall cause mountains surrounding Al-Ta’if, to fall upon them, and crush them into pieces.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “No, for I hope that there shall be among their children those who will worship Allah alone, and will worship none besides Him.” And he prayed, “O my Lord guide these people because they know not.”
He then returned to Mecca.
Shi‘b Abi Talib
The tenth year of the Prophethood was a year of intense persecution and suffering in the life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Quraish and the other tribes had continued their boycott of the Bani Hashim and the Muslims for about three years and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the people of his family and Companions lay besieged in Shi‘b Abi Talib. The Quraish had blocked up this vicinity from every side so that no supplies of any kind could reach the besieged people. This boycott continued uninterrupted for about three years and had broken the back of the Muslims and the Bani Hashim; so much so that at times they were even forced to eat grass and the leaves of trees. At last, when the siege was lifted, Abu Talib, uncle of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who had been shielding him for ten long years, died, and hardly a month later his wife, Hadrat Khadijah, who had been a source of peace and consolation for him ever since the beginning of the call, also passed away. Because of these tragic incidents, which closely followed each other, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to refer to this year as the Year of Sorrow and Grief.
But all this period of suffering was spent with patience and with great tolerance.
Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (peace be upon him) of the age, says about the Holy founder of Islam:
The calamities and hardships that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to endure during the thirteen years of his Meccan life cannot be imagined. Our heart trembles when we think of them. They demonstrate his high resolve, generous heartedness, perseverance and steadfastness. What a mountain of steadfastness he was that no difficulty could shake him in the least. He did not slacken for a moment in the discharge of his duty, nor was he sorrowful. No difficulty could weaken his resolve. Some people out of misunderstanding enquire: why did he have to encounter all these misfortunes and difficulties when he was the loved one of God and His chosen one? I would say to them that water is not discovered till one digs into the earth and splits it through several feet. It is only then that agreeable water is found which is the basis of life. In the same way, delight in the cause of God Almighty can be procured only by steadfastness and firmness under difficulties and misfortunes. How can those who have no experience of these ways imagine and feel that delight? How can they be aware that when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to endure trouble a spring of delight and comfort welled up in his heart, and his trust in God, love of God, and faith in Divine help were strengthened? (Malfuzat, Vol. II, pp. 307-305)
Again Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (peace be upon him) of the age wrote about the Holy founder of Islam regarding his patience and steadfastness:
Prophets and saints are raised so that people should follow them in all their moral qualities and that all seekers after truth should tread the path along which God has made them steadfast. It is obvious that high moral qualities are proved by their exercise on the proper occasion and it is only then that they are most effective. For instance, forgiveness is praiseworthy when the wronged one has the power to take revenge, and piety is trustworthy when it is exercised at a time when means of self-indulgence are at hand. God’s design with regard to Prophets and saints is that every type of high moral quality should be manifested by them and should be clearly established.
To fulfill this design God Almighty divides their lives into two parts. One part is passed in hardships and under calamities, in which they are tormented and persecuted so that those of their high moral qualities might be manifested which can only be manifested during great hardship. If they are not subjected to great hardship, it cannot be affirmed that they were faithful to their Lord in the face of all calamities and pressed further forward in the face of hardships. They are grateful to God Almighty that He chose them for His favors and considered them worthy that they should be persecuted in His cause. God Almighty afflicts them with misfortunes so that their endurance and steadfastness and fidelity might be manifested and they might illustrate the proverb that, “Steadfastness is higher than a miracle.”
Perfect steadfastness is not manifested in the absence of great hardships, and is appreciated when a person is greatly shaken. These calamities are spiritual bounties in the case of Prophets and saints, through which their high qualities, in which they are matchless and peerless, are manifested and their ranks are promoted in the Hereafter. If they were not subjected to severe trials, they would not be awarded these bounties, nor would their sterling qualities be demonstrated to the common people. Their high resolve, fidelity and bravery would not be universally acknowledged. They became matchless, peerless, unique, unreachable, and so perfect and brave as if each of them were a thousand lions in one body and a thousand leopards in one frame. Thus, their power and strength held high in everyone’s estimation and they arrived at high ranks of nearness to God.
The second part of the lives of prophets and saints is perfected in victory, prestige and riches, so that such of their high qualities might be demonstrated for which it is necessary to be victorious, to possess prestige, riches, authority and power. To forgive one’s tormentors, and to forbear from one’s persecutors, and to love one’s enemies, and to wish well to one’s ill-wishers, not to love riches nor to be proud of them, and not to be miserly and to open wide the gates of beneficence and generosity, and not to make riches the means of self-indulgence, and not to make power an instrument of tyranny and transgression, are all qualities for the demonstration of which it is necessary to possess riches and power. These qualities are demonstrated when a person possesses both wealth and authority.
As without passing through a time of trial and misfortune, and also a time of prosperity and authority, these two types of high qualities cannot be manifested, the Perfect Wisdom of the Divine demanded that prophets and saints should be provided with both these types of opportunities, which comprise thousands of bounties. But the sequence of both these conditions is not the same for everyone. Divine Wisdom ordains in the case of some that the period of peace and comfort should precede the time of troubles, and in the case of others, troubles precede Divine help. In some these conditions are not apparent and in others they are manifested to a perfect
degree. In this respect the foremost was the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for both these conditions were imposed upon him in their perfection in such order that his high qualities were illumined like the sun. (Braheen-i-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 1, pp. 276-292, footnote 11)
KIND TREATMENT OF WOMEN
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was very serious in improving the condition of women in society and on securing for them a position of dignity and fair and equitable treatment. Islam was the first religion, which conferred upon women the right of inheritance. The Quran makes daughters along with the sons heirs to the property left by their parents. In the same way a mother is made an heir to her son’s or daughter’s property, and a wife is made an heir to her husband’s property, when a brother becomes an heir of his deceased brother’s property, a sister is also an heir to that property. No religion before Islam had so clearly and firmly established a woman’s right of inheritance and her right to possess property. In Islam a woman is the absolute owner of her own property and her husband cannot obtain any control over it by virtue merely of their relationship. A woman is at full liberty to deal with her property as she chooses.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful with regard to the kind treatment of women that those around him who had not previously been accustomed to looking upon women in the light of helpmates and partners found it difficult to accommodate themselves to the standards that the Prophet was anxious to see set up and maintained. Hadrat ‘Umar relates, “My wife occasionally sought to intervene in my affairs with her counsel and I would admonish her, saying that the Arabs had never permitted their women to intervene in their affairs.” She would retort: “That is all past. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lets his wives counsel him in his affairs and he does not stop them. Why don’t you follow his example?”
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful concerning the sentiments of women that on one occasion when he was leading the Prayers he heard the cry of a child and concluded the service quickly, explaining thereafter that as he had heard the cry of the child he imagined that the child’s mother would be distressed at its cry and he had therefore concluded the service quickly so that the mother could go to the child and look after it.
When during any of his journeys women were also among the party he always gave directions that the caravan should move slowly and by easy stages. On one such occasion when the men were eager to push forward, he said: “Take care of the glass! Take care of the glass!” meaning thereby that women were of the party and that if camels and horses were put to the gallop they would suffer from the jolting of the animals. (Sahih Bukhari)
During a battle confusion arose among the ranks of the mounted soldiers and the animals became unmanageable. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell from his horse and some of the women also fell from their mounts. One of his Companions, who was riding a camel immediately behind the Prophet jumped down and ran towards him crying, “May I be your sacrifice, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet’s foot was still in the stirrup. He released it hastily and said to his Companion, “Don’t worry about me, go and help the women.”
Just before his death, one of the injunctions he addressed to Muslims and laid stress upon was that they should always treat women with kindness and consideration.
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a man has daughters and he makes arrangement to have them educated and takes pains with their upbringing, God would save him from the torment of Hell.” (Tirmidhi)
It was a common practice with the Arabs to inflict physical chastisement upon women for every little fault. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught that
women were equal to men as the creatures of God, and were not the slaves of men and should not be beaten. The Prophet admonished men and told them that those who treated women with unkindness could never win the favor of God. Thereafter, the rights of women were established, and for the first time women began to be treated as free individuals in their own right.
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful of the feelings and sentiments of women that he always exhorted those who had to go upon a journey to finish their errands quickly and return home as soon as possible so that their wives and children should not suffer separation longer than was necessary. Whenever he returned from a journey he always came home during the daytime. If he found night approaching towards the end of his journey, he would camp outside Medina for the night and enter in the morning. He also told his companions that when they returned from a journey they should not come home suddenly without giving a notice of their return.
It is misunderstood that Islam neglects the women and does not give any right to them, or women are considered inferior to men. It is a lack of Islamic knowledge. If the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) be studied, it becomes very clear that it is Islam that has really elevated the status of women. Before Islam, women were sold as personal commodities. Female children were buried alive because they were considered as curse for family. It is Islam that gave every respect and honor to women, and brought them at the level of men; otherwise women were mistreated in every sphere of life. Islam always provides equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women, as the Holy Quran says:
Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him—Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. (Holy Quran, 33:36)
It is misunderstood that Islam does not permit equal opportunities to women to seek knowledge with men. It is entirely a wrong notion; such concept is never presented by Islam. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says in this regard, “It is the duty of every Muslim man and Muslim woman to seek knowledge”.
The Holy Quran says:
He it is who created you from a single soul and made there from its mate, that he might find comfort in her. And when he knows her, she bears a light burden and goes about with it. And when she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah, their Lord, saying, ‘If thou gives us a good child, we will surely be of the thankful.’ (Holy Quran, 7:190)
Woman has different roles in the society. Some time she appears as mother, some time as wife and some time as daughter, all these roles are respected and dignified in Islam.
Woman as a mother
In connection with the respect, honor and status of woman as a mother, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has a great regard. Once a Companion consulted him to seek advice to participate in a war, when he said, “Do you have a mother?” He said, “Yes.” Then Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Be with her, because paradise is under her feet.” (Nasa’i)
“Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers.” This indicates the outstanding status of woman in Islam far superior than granted by any other religion of the world. No other religion comes close to the prominence given to women by the Holy Prophet of Islam.
To strive for caring for one’s parents is considered an honor and a blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that not only we pray for our parents, but also act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us over themselves. Mothers are particularly honored. In Islam, serving one’s parents is one of the greatest duties. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old age becomes difficult for them. The Quran says:
Thy Lord has commanded that ye worship none but Him, and that ye show kindness to parents. If one or both of them attain old age with thee, never say to them as much as ugh nor reproach them, but always address them with kindly speech. And lower them the wing of humility out of tenderness. And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me when I was a little child.’ (Holy Quran, 17:24-25)
Once a Companion of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked, “O Apostle of Allah! To whom should I show kindness?” He replied, “Your mother, next your mother, next your mother, and then comes your father, and then your relatives in order of relationship.” (Abu Dawud)
Woman as a wife
Woman as a wife has also a very special status in Islam as it is described in the teachings of the Holy Quran and sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of Islam.
Holy Quran says:
And of His Signs is that He has created wives for you from among yourselves that you may find peace of mind in them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that, surely, are Signs for a people who reflect. (Holy Quran, 30:22)
Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Best of you is one who is best in his treatment of his wife and I am the best of you in this treatment.” (Tirmidhi)
In his farewell address, after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had glorified and praised Allah, he drew special attention of men towards their wives in the following words:
“Be ever mindful of the duty you owe to Allah in respect of your wives. You have married them with the guarantee of Allah’s name, and you have made them lawful for yourselves in accordance with Allah’s word. So be mindful of your covenant. They owe you fidelity; for any default on their part you may correct them gently. You owe them suitable maintenance.” (Tirmidhi)
Woman as a daughter
To take care of a daughter tenderly is much emphasized in the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of Islam. For example, Hadrat ‘Aisha, the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: A woman came with her two daughters, asking charity but she did not find with me anything except a date. I gave it to her and she divided it between her two daughters, and did not eat it herself. Then she got up and went out, and the Prophet of Islam entered on us, and I informed him about it. So the Prophet said: Whoever is thrown into trial on account of these daughters, they (the daughters) are a screen for him from Hell fire.
LOVE FOR THE POOR
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined upon Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, zakat, and in other ways. Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says as it is narrated by Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri, one of his the Companion:
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: If any Muslim clothes a Muslim when he is naked, Allah will clothe him with some green garments of Paradise; if any Muslim feeds a Muslim when he is hungry, Allah will feed him with some of the fruits of Paradise; and if any Muslim gives a Muslim drink when he is thirsty, Allah will give him some of the pure wine which is sealed to drink.” (Abu Dawud)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says, “Do you love your Creator? Then love your fellow beings first.”
Again the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says, “It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path that leads to bliss.”
He did not prohibit or discourage the acquisition of wealth but insisted that it be lawfully acquired by honest means and that a portion of it should go to the poor. He advised his followers, as it is narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar:
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Give the laborer his wages before his perspiration dries.’ (Tirmidhi)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) always encouraged his followers to work instead of begging from others, as it is mentioned in the hadith:
Allah is gracious to him who earns his living by his own labor, and that if a man begs to increase his property, Allah will diminish it and whoever has food for the day, it is prohibited for him to beg. To his wife he said, ‘O Aisha, love the poor and let them come to you and Allah will draw you near to Himself.’ (Sahih Bukhari)
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was much worried about the people who were underprivileged in the society. Once Ibad Bin Sharjil, a man from Medina was starving. He entered an orchard and picked some fruit. The owner of the orchard gave him a sound beating and stripped off his clothes. The poor man appealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who remonstrated the owner in the following words: “This man was ignorant, you should have dispelled his ignorance; he was hungry, you should have fed him.” His clothes were restored to the Medinan and, in addition, some grain was given to him. (Abu Dawud)
A debtor, Jabir Bin Abdullah, was being harassed by his creditor as he could not clear his debt owing to the failure of his date crop. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went with Jabir to the house of the creditor and pleaded with him to give Jabir some more time, but the creditor was not prepared to oblige. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then went to the oasis and having seen for himself that the crop was really poor, he again approached the creditor with no better result. He then rested for some time and approached the creditor for a third time but the latter was adamant. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went again to the orchard and asked Jabir to pluck the dates. As Allah would have it, the collection not only sufficed to clear the dues but also left something to spare. (Sahih Bukhari)
His love for the poor was so deep that he used to pray for himself in these words:
“O Allah, keep me poor in my life and at my death, and raise me at resurrection among those who are poor.” (Nasa’i)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) throughout his life encouraged the people to a have independent and noble living. He always pushed his followers to be hard working, make an honest living and discouraged them from seeking charity. He did not condemn wealth and the wealthy; however, he was concerned for his followers that they may not get obsessed by wealth and wealth may not corrupt them.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself could have been the wealthiest man in the history of Arabia, however, he preferred to live simply and use his wealth to please God. As the leader of the Islamic nation, he received great wealth; however, he hated for that wealth to remain in his home for more than a day without having distributed it in charity. At times he would distribute tens or hundreds of thousands of dinars at a time as soon as he received them. He lived according to his supplication:
O my Lord, indeed, true life is only the afterlife, and what have I to do with this life? The similitude of this life and me is as a traveler who stopped to take shelter in the shade of a tree and then arose and left it.
Urwah narrated that ‘Aisha, the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said to me: O my nephew! We used to see the crescent, and then the crescent, and then the crescent, in this way we saw three crescents in two months and no fire (for cooking) used to be lit in the houses of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). I said, “O my aunt! Then what used to sustain you?” Aisha said, “Two dates and water.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Abu Dharr narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
If I had gold equal to the mountain of Uhud, it would not please me that any of it should remain with me after three nights, except what I would keep for repaying debts. (Sahih Bukhari)
MARRIED LIFE OF THE PROPHET OF ISLAM
At the age of twenty-five he was employed by Khadijah, a noble lady of Mecca, as her agent in a caravan that was about to set out for Syria on a mercantile mission. And Muhammad acquitted himself so well in the discharge of his duties that she was deeply impressed by his honesty, integrity, business acumen and his pleasing and attractive personality.
Khadijah was a widow, after married twice, and had children from both marriages. Now she sent the proposal of marriage to Muhammad through one of her maids. Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was surprised and took counsel with his uncle, who favored the proposal and the match was arranged. At that time Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was twenty-five years of age and Khadijah was forty. That was the first marriage of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The marriage, despite the disparity in age and prosperity, proved to be a very happy one. This marriage lasted for 25 years.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was 50 years old when Hadrat Khadijah died at the age of 65 years. After the death of Hadrat Khadijah, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married to an old lady named Sowda Binte Zamah. She was the widow of Sakran Bin Amar, who was one of the servants of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Up to the age of 50 years the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had only one wife. After the death of Hadrat Khadijh, he married more wives. Polygamy was a common practice of the society. There was not any limit to the number of wives one could have. Abraham had three wives, David one hundred, and Solomon over seven hundred. But the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), according to God’s command limited polygamy to marry up to four wives. All his wives when he married were widows or divorced, except Hadrat ‘Aisha, the daughter of his beloved companion, Abu Bakr Siddique, who became
the first successor after the demise of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). She was about nine years old when her parents requested to perform her Nikah, and that was according to the Arab customs. But she was married to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when she was 12 years of age and well matured. That was the time when people used to arrange marriages for their girls at a very young age. Because of the hot environment of that land the girls reach to the age of puberty in a very young age. As in America a good percentage of girls reaches to the age of puberty just at nine. And that is the natural phenomenon of maturity of age, or the age of marriage by nature. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had a very successful and happy married life. It was a personal sacrifice on the part of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to have contracted the marriage, and especially with the women older in age to him. The ladies who married the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did so of their own preference. None of them was forced into marriage.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was extremely kind and fair towards his wives. He established an excellent example in respect of dealing with wives of different age groups having different temperaments and social status.
Hadrat Khadija was his first wife, and she had made great sacrifices in his cause. She was much older than the Prophet. After her death he married younger women but he always remembered her. Whenever any of Hadrat Khadija’s friends visited him he would stand up to receive her.
If he chanced to see any article that had belonged to or had been connected with Hadrat Khadija, he was always overcome by emotion. He often praised Hadrat Khadija to his other wives and stressed her virtues and admired the sacrifices that she had made in the cause of Islam. On one such occasion, Hadrat ‘Aisha was irritated and said, “O Messenger of Allah, why go on talking of the old lady? God has bestowed better, younger and more attractive wives upon you.” The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was overcome by emotion at hearing this and said: “O no, Aisha! You have no idea how good Khadija was to me.” The similar love and affection he had for the other wives.
He was very cooperative to his wives in his day-to-day life. He not only helped them in their household activities, but also he always tried to do his personal works with his own hands. In this regard Hadrat ‘Aisha says: ‘He would patch his garments and sole his sandals.’ She was once asked, ‘How was he with his family?’ She responded, ‘He was in the service of his family until it was time for Prayer, at which time he would go and pray.’ The Messenger of Allah never denigrated any type of food, if he liked it he ate it, and if he disliked it he left it alone. (Bukhari and Muslim)
There is another similar statement of Hadrat ‘Aisha, the wife of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, milking his sheep, and doing his own household tasks. (Tirmidhi).
Polygamy and the Prophet of Islam
Long before the appearance of the prophet of Islam polygamy was being practiced by the Biblical prophets. Abraham had three wives, David one hundred, and Solomon over seven hundred. That was a very common practice of the society to marry more than one wife, and there was not any limit for that. And polygamy was not only in Arabia rather it was being practiced in the entire world.
So according to the custom of the time prophet of Islam also practiced polygamy, and it was when he was over fifty years old. But later it was revealed to the prophet, as God’s command that the Muslims can practice polygamy, under certain restrictions as the Holy Quran says:
And if you fear that you will not be just in dealing with the orphans, then marry of other women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three, or four; and if you fear you will not be able to do justice, then marry only one or marry what your right hand possess. Thus it is more likely that you will not do injustice. And give the women their dowries willingly. But if they, of their own pleasure, remit to you a part thereof, then enjoy it as something pleasant and wholesome.(Holy Quran, 4:4-5)
So Islam permitted polygamy, and the limit of wives was narrowed down to four, while there was not any such limit before. And that permission was under certain conditions, like to take care of the wives properly and to deal with them justly. Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married more than one wife according to the Arab culture, but of course he had some other privileges also.
1. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was required to present to humanity an ideal and perfect model for all stages of human experience. As a husband he was kind, he lived with one wife and with more than one, with the old and the young, with the widow and the divorced, with the pleasing and the moody, with the overconfident and the humble; but in all cases he was the symbol of benevolence and comfort.
2. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed the Quranic commands and regulations and solved difficult problems concerning Muslims, in social and political life. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged Muslims to convey the knowledge they had gained to other Muslims. To educate the female population he needed female helpers, and for that purpose the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) required fully trained ladies. The ideal way to solve this problem was to personally train some ladies, and no one can be better in this field, than the wives.
3. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) eliminated racial, ethnic, cultural, tribal and national distinctions and prejudices through these marriages, and encouraged piousness as criterion of reliability and superiority. He married some of the humblest and poorest women, a Coptic girl from Egypt and a Jewess. That was the time when divorced women were looked down upon as inferior in status and were usually not allowed to remarry. By marrying a divorced lady the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught that such a marriage is not only lawful but also desirable to grant a divorced woman an honorable status in the society.
4. Islam spread rapidly as compared to any other religion, and because a number of commandments and regulations concerning women could be propagated only through wives, so the wives of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from different places and clans having diverse tastes, habits and temperaments, became helpful to educate the women folks properly.
5. Some of the Holy Prophet’s marriages were in order to wipe out certain prevailing evil customs and practices. For example, there was a common practice that an adopted son was considered as a real son, and he was entitled to all civil liberties like a real son, while the other close relatives were ignored and their rights were neglected. So Islam drew the line between blood relations and the adopted children, and gave them proper rights what they deserved. Practically to make the difference between the real children and the adopted ones, Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married Hadrat Zainab, the divorced wife of Hadrat Zaid, a freed slave and the adopted son of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This way he established correct status of an adopted child. Before that it was not allowed to marry the widow or the divorced wife of the adopted son.
6. Widows and the orphans were totally neglected in the Arab society, so the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) tried his best to elevate their status, to help solve the problem of providing care and protection to widows and their children in peace as well as in war when due to death of large number of male members, women were left without any support. He made his followers realize that they should take care of them with respect, dignity and honor. And one of the best possible ways to establish the relation with them was through marriages. So Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set up his own example for his followers by marrying with widows.
7. In the time of the prophet of Islam the prisoners of war were taken as slaves. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set up an example by freeing them on ransom and on several occasions without charging any thing. They were also encouraged to settle down by working, educating people or through legal marriages. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) not only set the slaves free, but also married two of the captive women, to set up a personal example for the believers.
8. Some of the marriages of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were to unite his followers with different clans and tribes in mutual love and affection, and that was the object in marrying Juwairiyah (may Allah be pleased with her), daughter of Harith, the Chief of Bani al-Mustaliq. Similar was the reason of marring Safiyah (may Allah be pleased with her) who belonged to a Jewish tribe. And by marrying Maria the Copt, (may Allah be pleased with her) the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) established close relations with an Egyptian ruler.
MERCY FOR MANKIND
Holy Prophet of Islam was a great benefactor of mankind, and throughout his life he helped the poor and the needy to his utmost ability, and showed mercy to them. He was the most kind and compassionate person ever appeared in the history. Almighty God says in the Holy Quran:
And We sent thee not but as a mercy for all mankind. (Holy Quran, 21:108)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) becomes an active member of the league, “Hilful-Fu