Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)

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Mohammed The Prophet
By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao,
Head of the Department of Philosophy, Government College
for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401
Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March
In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim
historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised. He is
to me the greatest mind among all the sons of Arabia. He means
so much more than all the poets and kings that preceded him in
that impenetrable desert of red sand.
When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing
a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a
new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which
extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and
life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe.
When I thought of writing on Mohammad the prophet, I was a bit
hesitant because it was to write about a religion I do not profess
and it is a delicate matter to do so for there are many persons
professing various religions and belonging to diverse school of

thought and denominations even in same religion. Though it is
sometimes, claimed that religion is entirely personal yet it can not
be gain-said that it has a tendency to envelop the whole universe
seen as well unseen. It somehow permeates something or other
our hearts, our souls, our minds their conscious as well as
subconscious and unconscious levels too. The problem assumes
overwhelming importance when there is a deep conviction that our
past, present and future all hang by the soft delicate, tender silked
cord. If we further happen to be highly sensitive, the center of
gravity is very likely to be always in a state of extreme tension.
Looked at from this point of view, the less said about other religion
the better. Let our religions be deeply hidden and embedded in the
resistance of our innermost hearts fortified by unbroken seals on
our lips.
But there is another aspect of this problem. Man lives in society.
Our lives are bound with the lives of others willingly or unwillingly,
directly or indirectly. We eat the food grown in the same soil, drink
water, from the same the same spring and breathe the same air.
Even while staunchly holding our own views, it would be helpful, if
we try to adjust ourselves to our surroundings, if we also know to
some extent, how the mind our neighbor moves and what the main
springs of his actions are. From this angle of vision it is highly
desirable that one should try to know all religions of the world, in
the proper sprit, to promote mutual understanding and better

appreciation of our neighborhood, immediate and remote.
Further, our thoughts are not scattered as appear to be on the
surface. They have got themselves crystallized around a few nuclei
in the form of great world religions and living faiths that guide and
motivate the lives of millions that inhabit this earth of ours. It is
our duty, in one sense if we have the ideal of ever becoming a
citizen of the world before us, to make a little attempt to know the
great religions and system of philosophy that have ruled mankind.
In spite of these preliminary remarks, the ground in these field of
religion, where there is often a conflict between intellect and
emotion is so slippery that one is constantly reminded of fools that
rush in where angels fear to tread. It is also not so complex from
another point of view. The subject of my writing is about the tenets
of a religion which is historic and its prophet who is also a historic
personality. Even a hostile critic like Sir William Muir speaking
about the holy Quran says that. "There is probably in the world no
other book which has remained twelve centuries with so pure text."
I may also add Prophet Mohammad is also a historic personality,
every event of whose life has been most carefully recorded and
even the minutest details preserved intact for the posterity. His life
and works are not wrapped in mystery.
My work today is further lightened because those days are fast
disappearing when Islam was highly misrepresented by some of its
critics for reasons political and otherwise. Prof. Bevan writes in
Cambridge Medieval History, "Those account of Mohammad and
Islam which were published in Europe before the beginning of 19th
century are now to be regarded as literary curiosities." My problem
is to write this monograph is easier because we are now generally
not fed on this kind of history and much time need be spent on
pointing out our misrepresentation of Islam.
The theory of Islam and Sword for instance is not heard now
frequently in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam
that there is no compulsion in religion is well known. Gibbon, a
historian of world repute says, "A pernicious tenet has been
imputed to Mohammadans, the duty of extirpating all the religions
by sword." This charge based on ignorance and bigotry, says the
eminent historian, is refuted by Quran, by history of Musalman
conquerors and by their public and legal toleration of Christian
worship. The great success of Mohammad's life had been effected
by sheer moral force, without a stroke of sword.
But in pure self-defense, after repeated efforts of conciliation had
utterly failed, circumstances dragged him into the battlefield. But
the prophet of Islam changed the whole strategy of the battlefield.
The total number of casualties in all the wars that took place during
his lifetime when the whole Arabian Peninsula came under his
banner, does not exceed a few hundreds in all. But even on the
battlefield he taught the Arab barbarians to pray, to pray not

individually, but in congregation to God the Almighty. During the
dust and storm of warfare whenever the time for prayer came, and
it comes five times a every day, the congregation prayer had not to
be postponed even on the battlefield. A party had to be engaged in
bowing their heads before God while other was engaged with the
enemy. After finishing the prayers, the two parties had to
exchange their positions. To the Arabs, who would fight for forty
years on the slight provocation that a camel belonging to the guest
of one tribe had strayed into the grazing land belonging to other
tribe and both sides had fought till they lost 70,000 lives in all;
threatening the extinction of both the tribes to such furious Arabs,
the Prophet of Islam taught self-control and discipline to the extent
of praying even on the battlefield. In an aged of barbarism, the
Battlefield itself was humanized and strict instructions were issued
not to cheat, not to break trust, not to mutilate, not to kill a child
or woman or an old man, not to hew down date palm nor burn it,
not to cut a fruit tree, not to molest any person engaged in
worship. His own treatment with his bitterest enemies is the
noblest example for his followers. At the conquest of Mecca, he
stood at the zenith of his power. The city which had refused to
listen to his mission, which had tortured him and his followers,
which had driven him and his people into exile and which had
unrelentingly persecuted and boycotted him even when he had
taken refuge in a place more than 200 miles away, that city now
lay at his feet. By the laws of war he could have justly avenged all
the cruelties inflicted on him and his people. But what treatment
did he accord to them? Mohammad's heart flowed with affection
and he declared, "This day, there is no REPROOF against you and
you are all free." "This day" he proclaimed, "I trample under my
feet all distinctions between man and man, all hatred between man
and man."
This was one of the chief objects why he permitted war in self
defense, that is to unite human beings. And when once this object
was achieved, even his worst enemies were pardoned. Even those
who killed his beloved uncle, Hamazah, mangled his body, ripped it
open, even chewed a piece of his liver.
The principles of universal brotherhood and doctrine of the equality
of mankind which he proclaimed represents one very great
contribution of Mohammad to the social uplift of humanity. All
great religions have preached the same doctrine but the prophet of
Islam had put this theory into actual practice and its value will be
fully recognized, perhaps centuries hence, when international
consciousness being awakened, racial prejudices may disappear
and greater brotherhood of humanity come into existence.
Miss. Sarojini Naidu speaking about this aspect of Islam says, "It
was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for in
the mosque, when the minaret is sounded and the worshipers are
gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times
a day when the peasant and the king kneel side by side and

proclaim, God alone is great." The great poetess of India continues,
"I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of
Islam that makes a man instinctively a brother. When you meet an
Egyptian, an Algerian and Indian and a Turk in London, it matters
not that Egypt is the motherland of one and India is the
motherland of another."
Mahatma Gandhi, in his inimitable style, says "Some one has said
that Europeans in South Africa dread the advent Islam -- Islam
that civilized Spain, Islam that took the torch light to Morocco and
preached to the world the Gospel of brotherhood. The Europeans of
South Africa dread the Advent of Islam. They may claim equality
with the white races. They may well dread it, if brotherhood is a
sin. If it is equality of colored races then their dread is well
Every year, during the Haj, the world witnesses the wonderful
spectacle of this international Exhibition of Islam in leveling all
distinctions of race, color and rank. Not only the Europeans, the
African, the Arabian, the Persian, the Indians, the Chinese all meet
together in Medina as members of one divine family, but they are
clad in one dress every person in two simple pieces of white
seamless cloth, one piece round the loin the other piece over the
shoulders, bare head without pomp or ceremony, repeating "Here
am I O God; at thy command; thou art one and alone; Here am I."
Thus there remains nothing to differentiate the high from the low
and every pilgrim carries home the impression of the international
significance of Islam.
In the opinion of Prof. Hurgronje "the league of nations founded by
prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity of human
brotherhood on such Universal foundations as to show candle to
other nations." In the words of same Professor "the fact is that no
nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done the
realization of the idea of the League of Nations."
The prophet of Islam brought the reign of democracy in its best
form. The Caliph Caliph Ali and the son in-law of the prophet, the
Caliph Mansur, Abbas, the son of Caliph Mamun and many other
caliphs and kings had to appear before the judge as ordinary men
in Islamic courts. Even today we all know how the black Negroes
were treated by the civilized white races. Consider the state of
BILAL, a Negro Slave, in the days of the prophet of Islam nearly 14
centuries ago. The office of calling Muslims to prayer was
considered to be of status in the early days of Islam and it was
offered to this Negro slave. After the conquest of Mecca, the
Prophet ordered him to call for prayer and the Negro slave, with his
black color and his thick lips, stood over the roof of the holy
mosque at Mecca called the Ka'ba the most historic and the holiest
mosque in the Islamic world, when some proud Arabs painfully
cried loud, "Oh, this black Negro Slave, woe be to him. He stands
on the roof of holy Ka'ba to call for prayer." At that moment, the

prophet announced to the world, this verse of the holy QURAN for
the first time.

"O mankind, surely we have created you, families
and tribes, so you may know one another.
Surely, the most honorable of you with God is MOST
Surely, God is Knowing, Aware."
And these words of the holy Quran created such a mighty
transformation that the Caliph of Islam, the purest of Arabs by
birth, offered their daughter in marriage to this Negro Slave, and
whenever, the second Caliph of Islam, known to history as Umar
the great, the commander of faithful, saw this Negro slave, he
immediately stood in reverence and welcomed him by "Here come
our master; Here come our lord." What a tremendous change was
brought by Quran in the Arabs, the proudest people at that time on
the earth. This is the reason why Goethe, the greatest of German
poets, speaking about the Holy Quran declared that, "This book will
go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence." This is
also the reason why George Bernard Shaw says, "If any religion
has a chance or ruling over England, say, Europe, within the next
100 years, it is Islam".
It is this same democratic spirit of Islam that emancipated women
from the bondage of man. Sir Charles Edward Archibald Hamilton
says "Islam teaches the inherent sinlessness of man. It teaches
that man and woman and woman have come from the same
essence, posses the same soul and have been equipped with equal
capabilities for intellectual, spiritual and moral attainments."
The Arabs had a very strong tradition that one who can smite with
the spear and can wield the sword would inherit. But Islam came
as the defender of the weaker sex and entitled women to share the
inheritance of their parents. It gave women, centuries ago right of
owning property, yet it was only 12 centuries later , in 1881, that
England, supposed to be the cradle of democracy adopted this
institution of Islam and the act was called "the married woman
act", but centuries earlier, the Prophet of Islam had proclaimed
that "Woman are twin halves of men. The rights of women are
sacred. See that women maintained rights granted to them."
Islam is not directly concerned with political and economic
systems, but indirectly and in so far as political and economic
affairs influence man's conduct, it does lay down some very
important principles to govern economic life. According to Prof.
Massignon, it maintains the balance between exaggerated
opposites and has always in view the building of character which is
the basis of civilization. This is secured by its law of inheritance, by
an organized system of charity known as Zakat, and by regarding
as illegal all anti-social practices in the economic field like
monopoly, usury, securing of predetermined unearned income and

increments, cornering markets, creating monopolies, creating an
artificial scarcity of any commodity in order to force the prices to
rise. Gambling is illegal. Contribution to schools, to places of
worship, hospitals, digging of wells, opening of orphanages are
highest acts of virtue. Orphanages have sprung for the first time, it
is said, under the teaching of the prophet of Islam. The world owes
its orphanages to this prophet born an orphan. "Good all this" says
Carlyle about Mohammad. "The natural voice of humanity, of pity
and equity, dwelling in the heart of this wild son of nature,
A historian once said a great man should be judged by three tests:
Was he found to be of true metel by his contemporaries ? Was he
great enough to raise above the standards of his age ? Did he
leave anything as permanent legacy to the world at large ? This list
may be further extended but all these three tests of greatness are
eminently satisfied to the highest degree in case of prophet
Mohammad. Some illustrations of the last two have already been
The first is: Was the Prophet of Islam found to be of true metel by
his contemporaries?
Historical records show that all the contemporaries of Mohammad
both friends foes, acknowledged the sterling qualities, the spotless
honesty, the noble virtues, the absolute sincerity and every
trustworthiness of the apostle of Islam in all walks of life and in
every sphere of human activity. Even the Jews and those who did
not believe in his message, adopted him as the arbiter in their
personal disputes by virtue of his perfect impartiality. Even those
who did not believe in his message were forced to say "O
Mohammad, we do not call you a liar, but we deny him who has
given you a book and inspired you with a message." They thought
he was one possessed. They tried violence to cure him. But the
best of them saw that a new light had dawned on him and they
hastened him to seek the enlightenment. It is a notable feature in
the history of prophet of Islam that his nearest relation, his
beloved cousin and his bosom friends, who know him most
intimately, were not thoroughly imbued with the truth of his
mission and were convinced of the genuineness of his divine
inspiration. If these men and women, noble, intelligent, educated
and intimately acquainted with his private life had perceived the
slightest signs of deception, fraud, earthliness, or lack of faith in
him, Mohammad's moral hope of regeneration, spiritual awakening,
and social reform would all have been foredoomed to a failure and
whole edifice would have crumbled to pieces in a moment. On the
contrary, we find that devotion of his followers was such that he
was voluntarily acknowledged as dictator of their lives. They
braved for him persecutions and danger; they trusted, obeyed and
honored him even in the most excruciating torture and severest
mental agony caused by excommunication even unto death. Would
this have been so, had they noticed the slightest backsliding in

their master?
Read the history of the early converts to Islam, and every heart
would melt at the sight of the brutal treatment of innocent Muslim
men and women.
Sumayya, an innocent women, is cruelly torn into pieces with
spears. An example is made of "Yassir whose legs are tied to two
camels and the beast were are driven in opposite directions",
Khabbab bin Arth is made lie down on the bed of burning coal with
the brutal legs of their merciless tyrant on his breast so that he
may not move and this makes even the fat beneath his skin melt.
"Khabban bin Adi is put to death in a cruel manner by mutilation
and cutting off his flesh piece-meal." In the midst of his tortures,
being asked weather he did not wish Mohammad in his place while
he was in his house with his family, the sufferer cried out that he
was gladly prepared to sacrifice himself his family and children and
why was it that these sons and daughters of Islam not only
surrendered to their prophet their allegiance but also made a gift of
their hearts and souls to their master? Is not the intense faith and
conviction on part of immediate followers of Mohammad, the
noblest testimony to his sincerity and to his utter self-absorption in
his appointed task?
And these men were not of low station or inferior mental caliber.
Around him in quite early days, gathered what was best and
noblest in Mecca, its flower and cream, men of position, rank,
wealth and culture, and from his own kith and kin, those who knew
all about his life. All the first four Caliphs, with their towering
personalities, were converts of this period.
The Encyclopedia Brittanica says that "Mohammad is the most
successful of all Prophets and religious personalities".
But the success was not the result of mere accident. It was not a
hit of fortune. It was a recognition of fact that he was found to be
true metal by his contemporaries. It was the result of his admirable
and all compelling personality.
The personality of Mohammad! It is most difficult to get into the
truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic
succession of picturesque scenes. There is Mohammad the Prophet,
there is Mohammad the General; Mohammad the King; Mohammad
the Warrior; Mohammad the Businessman; Mohammad the
Preacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman;
Mohammad the Orator; Mohammad the reformer; Mohammad the
Refuge of orphans; Mohammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad
the Emancipator of women; Mohammad the Law-giver; Mohammad
the Judge; Mohammad the Saint.
And in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of

human activities, he is like, a hero..
Orphanhood is extreme of helplessness and his life upon this earth
began with it; Kingship is the height of the material power and it
ended with it. From an orphan boy to a persecuted refugee and
then to an overlord, spiritual as well as temporal, of a whole nation
and Arbiter of its destinies, with all its trials and temptations, with
all its vicissitudes and changes, its lights and shades, its up and
downs, its terror and splendor, he has stood the fire of the world
and came out unscathed to serve as a model in every face of life.
His achievements are not limited to one aspect of life, but cover
the whole field of human conditions.
If for instance, greatness consist in the purification of a nation,
steeped in barbarism and immersed in absolute moral darkness,
that dynamic personality who has transformed, refined and uplifted
an entire nation, sunk low as the Arabs were, and made them the
torch-bearer of civilization and learning, has every claim to
greatness. If greatness lies in unifying the discordant elements of
society by ties of brotherhood and charity, the prophet of the
desert has got every title to this distinction. If greatness consists in
reforming those warped in degrading and blind superstition and
pernicious practices of every kind, the prophet of Islam has wiped
out superstitions and irrational fear from the hearts of millions. If it
lies in displaying high morals, Mohammad has been admitted by
friend and foe as Al Amin, or the faithful. If a conqueror is a great
man, here is a person who rose from helpless orphan and an
humble creature to be the ruler of Arabia, the equal to Chosroes
and Caesars, one who founded great empire that has survived all
these 14 centuries. If the devotion that a leader commands is the
criterion of greatness, the prophet's name even today exerts a
magic charm over millions of souls, spread all over the world.
He had not studied philosophy in the school of Athens of Rome,
Persia, India, or China. Yet, He could proclaim the highest truths of
eternal value to mankind. Illiterate himself, he could yet speak with
an eloquence and fervor which moved men to tears, to tears of
ecstasy. Born an orphan blessed with no worldly goods, he was
loved by all. He had studied at no military academy; yet he could
organize his forces against tremendous odds and gained victories
through the moral forces which he marshaled. Gifted men with
genius for preaching are rare. Descartes included the perfect
preacher among the rarest kind in the world. Hitler in his Mein
Kamp has expressed a similar view. He says "A great theorist is
seldom a great leader. An Agitator is more likely to posses these
qualities. He will always be a great leader. For leadership means
ability to move masses of men. The talents to produce ideas has
nothing in common with capacity for leadership." "But", he says,
"The Union of theorists, organizer and leader in one man, is the
rarest phenomenon on this earth; Therein consists greatness."
In the person of the Prophet of Islam the world has seen this rarest

phenomenon walking on the earth, walking in flesh and blood.
And more wonderful still is what the reverend Bosworth Smith
remarks, "Head of the state as well as the Church, he was Caesar
and Pope in one; but, he was pope without the pope's claims, and
Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without an standing army,
without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If
ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine It
was Mohammad, for he had all the power without instruments and
without its support. He cared not for dressing of power. The
simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life."
After the fall of Mecca, more than one million square miles of land
lay at his feet, Lord of Arabia, he mended his own shoes and
coarse woolen garments, milked the goats, swept the hearth,
kindled the fire and attended the other menial offices of the family.
The entire town of Medina where he lived grew wealthy in the later
days of his life. Everywhere there was gold and silver in plenty and
yet in those days of prosperity many weeks would elapse without a
fire being kindled in the hearth of the king of Arabia, His food being
dates and water. His family would go hungry many nights
successively because they could not get anything to eat in the
evening. He slept on no soften bed but on a palm mat, after a long
busy day to spend most of his night in prayer, often bursting with
tears before his creator to grant him strength to discharge his
duties. As the reports go, his voice would get choked with weeping
and it would appear as if a cooking pot was on fire and boiling had
commenced. On the very day of his death his only assets were few
coins a part of which went to satisfy a debt and rest was given to a
needy person who came to his house for charity. The clothes in
which he breathed his last had many patches. The house from
where light had spread to the world was in darkness because there
was no oil in the lamp.
Circumstances changed, but the prophet of God did not. In victory
or in defeat, in power or in adversity, in affluence or in indigence,
he is the same man, disclosed the same character. Like all the
ways and laws of God, Prophets of God are unchangeable.
An honest man, as the saying goes, is the noblest work of God,
Mohammad was more than honest. He was human to the marrow
of his bones. Human sympathy, human love was the music of his
soul. To serve man, to elevate man, to purify man, to educate
man, in a word to humanize man-this was the object of his
mission, the be-all and end all of his life. In thought, in word, in
action he had the good of humanity as his sole inspiration, his sole
guiding principle.
He was most unostentatious and selfless to the core. What were
the titles he assumed? Only true servant of God and His
Messenger. Servant first, and then a messenger. A Messenger and
prophet like many other prophets in every part of the world, some

known to you, many not known you. If one does not believe in any
of these truths one ceases to be a Muslim. It is an article of faith.
"Looking at the circumstances of the time and unbounded
reverence of his followers" says a western writer "the most
miraculous thing about Mohammad is, that he never claimed the
power of working miracles." Miracles were performed but not to
propagate his faith and were attributed entirely to God and his
inscrutable ways. He would plainly say that he was a man like
others. He had no treasures of earth or heaven. Nor did he claim to
know the secrets of that lie in womb of future. All this was in an
age when miracles were supposed to be ordinary occurrences, at
the back and call of the commonest saint, when the whole
atmosphere was surcharged with supernaturalism in Arabia and
outside Arabia.
He turned the attention of his followers towards the study of nature
and its laws, to understand them and appreciate the Glory of God.
The Quran says,
"God did not create the heavens and the earth and
all that is between them in play. He did not create
them all but with the truth. But most men do not
The world is not illusion, nor without purpose. It has been created
with the truth. The number of verses inviting close observation of
nature are several times more than those that relate to prayer,
fasting, pilgrimage etc. all put together. The Muslim under its
influence began to observe nature closely and this give birth to the
scientific spirit of the observation and experiment which was
unknown to the Greeks. While the Muslim Botanist Ibn Baitar wrote
on Botany after collecting plants from all parts of the world,
described by Myer in his Gesch. der Botanikaa-s, a monument of
industry, while Al Byruni traveled for forty years to collect
mineralogical specimens, and Muslim Astronomers made some
observations extending even over twelve years. Aristotle wrote on
Physics without performing a single experiment, wrote on natural
history, carelessly stating without taking the trouble to ascertain
the most verifiable fact that men have more teeth than animal.
Galen, the greatest authority on classical anatomy informed that
the lower jaw consists of two bones, a statement which is accepted
unchallenged for centuries till Abdul Lateef takes the trouble to
examine a human skeleton. After enumerating several such
instances, Robert Priffault concludes in his well known book The
making of humanity, "The debt of our science to the Arabs does
not consist in starting discovers or revolutionary theories. Science
owes a great more to Arabs culture; it owes is existence." The
same writer says "The Greeks systematized, generalized and
theorized but patient ways of investigation, the accumulation of
positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and
prolonged observation, experimental inquiry, were altogether alien
to Greek temperament. What we call science arose in Europe as