On the occasion of Islamic Unity Week that bridges the two dates of the month of Rabi al-Awwal believed to be the birthday of the Messenger of Mercy, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), we have prepared a series of special programs for you.
Rabi al-Awwal 12 is considered to be that blessed date by Sunni Muslims on the basis of the narrations of the Prophet’s companions, who had no acquaintance with him before his formal declaration of his universal mission of Islam at the age of 40. Shi’a Muslims, however, attach more importance to accounts of the Prophet’s birth from the Prophet’s family and regard 17th Rabi al-Awwal as the date of birth of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger.
In 1979, following victory of the Iranian people’s grassroots movement, the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), initiated the Islamic Unity Week to bridge the short gap between these two dates in order to foster solidarity among Muslims of all denominations.
Yesterday we presented to you the first episode titled “Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in the Mirror of the Holy Qur’an”; please stay with us for our special feature titled: “Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), Role Model for Islamic Unity.”
Today, while Muslims worldwide are making sincere efforts to foster Islamic Unity, the enemies of the Ummah, such as the US and the Zionist entity, have not stayed silent and are busy trying to sow seeds of disunity, as is evident by their hold over the Arab reactionary regimes for use of their oil wealth to create divisions. We are, however, confident they will not succeed in their nefarious efforts, and Islamic unity will prevail all over the world, thanks to the foresight of Imam Khomeini in focusing on the significance of the birth anniversary of the Prophet of Islam, since the Seal of Messengers through his personal conduct set the lasting precedent for Muslims to mold their life upon. As God Almighty says in ayah 21 of Surah Ahzaab:
“In the Prophet of Allah there is certainly for you a good exemplar, for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah greatly.”
Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) practiced whatever he preached on the commandment of God, thereby showing the practicability of Islam and its dynamic laws. His impeccable characteristics, since childhood, had earned him the epithets of Sadeq or Truthful and Amin the Trustworthy. On formal announcement of his mission at the age of 40 in Mecca, he endured sufferings at the hands of the ignorant, arrogant and idolatrous Arab tribes, but continued to win adherents because of his patient and pious efforts to educate the underprivileged and removed darkness of disbelief from their life. Thirteen years later he migrated to Medina, where he convinced the Ows and Khazraj tribes which had been warring for over 120 years, to bury the hatchet and unite under the banner of Islam. During the years the Prophet was in Medina till the end of his life, he assumed the leadership of the Ummah molded Muslims into a formidable monolithic force, based on faith and high morals.
The Prophet’s cousin, Ja’far ibn Abi Taleb, who because of the persecution of Muslims by the pagan Arabs of Mecca, had sought refuge in Abyssinia or present day Ethiopia, explained to King Negus, the ruler of that land, the reasons for migration, the fundamentals of Islam, and the status of the Islamic community. The Arabs were people who worshiped idols, did ugly things, mistreated neighbours, and oppressed the weak, until God raised from among them the Prophet possessing the most excellent characteristics and instilling in the Arabs belief in the One and Only Creator of the universe. In other words, the Prophet created a model of unity and solidarity in Medina, centered on faith in monotheism, divine justice, and resurrection.
The holy Qur’an says in ayah 103 of Surah Aal-e Imran:
“Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sects]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers with His blessing.”
The message of Islam overcame all threats and divisions, enabling the Prophet to foster solidarity among what were fratricidal Arab tribes. God Almighty in the holy Qur’an set the criterion for superiority of any individual on piety and correct cognitions of the divine message, while the Prophet removed all racial prejudices and ethnic differences by making the Mohajer of the migrants from Mecca brothers with the Ansar or helpers of Medina. His companions included Belal the black Abyssinian, who was his Mo’azzen or the official caller to the daily ritual prayers, Sohayb the Roman, and Salman the Persian – from Iran who was hailed by the Prophet as “from us the Ahl al-Bayt” – prestige that no blue-blooded Qurayshite Arab was granted.
The Prophet of Islam, emancipated slaves and removed social barriers by mixing with all Muslims irrespective of their social status. Once, when he saw in the assembly a wealthy Arab folding up his cloak of fine cloth on seeing a poor man enter and sit near to him, the Prophet admonished him, saying: Do you think that you will lose your wealth because of proximity to the poor. The wealthy Arab felt embarrassed and decided to give half his wealth to the poor person, but the poor person politely refused. When asked the reason, he said he fears that richness will make him arrogant as well.
He was the finest embodiment of modesty, and deeply abhorred arrogance and haughtiness. Almost all of his companions in the early days were poor and oppressed people, as he was the champion of the downtrodden and the defender of the deprived masses.
Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) lived in a modest house built of clay bricks, palm leaves and trunks, despite being the head of the Islamic state. His food was simple like that of the poor, consisting mostly of barley bread. There were occasions when he might skip that meagre meal too. He socialised with his companions as one of them: talking, listening, smiling and displaying a sense of humour. Sometimes he might join in their laughter to cheer their spirits up. He would visit them when they fell sick or accept an invitation for a meal irrespective of whether the person concerned was poor, a slave or any other. In case a companion of his died, he used to participate in the funeral procession, walking alongside the bier.
The Prophet, owing to his great modesty, normally preferred riding a mule while moving around, using a saddle made of date-palm fibre. Sometimes he also rode his she-camel. If he was riding and somebody wished to accompany him on foot, he would ask him either to mount behind, and if the man declined out of respect, he would ask him to go ahead and await him at the fixed place, because he did not like the sight of people following him on foot, while he himself was mounted.
So modest was he that he hated to see people rising to their feet when he entered an assembly. And on entering he used to sit at the nearest vacant spot, so that his companions might not think that he was sporting an air of superiority over them. His magnetic personality drew love and respect from all. He used to sit on the ground, even while eating, and slept on the ground with a simple mat serving as his bed. He greeted even small boys, as well as women. If some man shook hands with him, he would not unclasp his hand till the other did it first.
Once, a Christian chieftain named Adi bin Hatem at-Ta’i, came for an audience with the Prophet of Islam, who happened to be sitting on a cushion. On seeing the visitor he took the cushion from underneath and offered it to his Christian guest, himself preferring to sit on the ground. This admirable display of modesty by the great Prophet so deeply affected Adi bin Hatem at-Ta’i, that the Christian chief immediately embraced Islam.
This is how Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) taught us best of morals and excellent manners. By living a simple and ordinary life and treating everybody alike with courtesy and respect, he was able to spread the light of Islam. His immaculate personality and lofty character, coupled with his honesty and wisdom, attracted multitudes of people towards truth and justice.
The Messenger’s social ties with his companions portrays the most wonderful picture of Islamic brotherhood ever heard of.
The following narratives give us a glimpse of his firm ties with the society in which he lived:
Anas bin Malik, who was a servant of the Prophet, says that whenever the Prophet missed any one of his companions for a period of three days, he used to inquire about that person, would pray for him and if he happened to be ill, would pay him a visit.
Another companion Jarir bin Abdullah, says that once the Prophet entered a house, and soon it was full of people. When Jarir went in, he found no vacant spot and therefore sat outside. The Prophet observing Jarir took a piece of his clothing, rolled it up and threw it, indicating him to spread it underneath him. Jarir says he caught hold of the clothing, put it on his face and kissed it.
These actions of the Prophet provide us the finest example of a leader unaffected by power and position whereas when we look at the lives of despots and other petty potentates, we see them sporting arrogant airs, trying to humiliate people, and always keeping a distance from the oppressed and the downtrodden.
It will not be out of context here to cite another example from the Prophet’s life. Once a man came to the Messenger of Allah but on entering his presence, started trembling with fear. Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), seeing the visitor terribly shaken and nervous, smiled and comforted him with utmost tenderness, saying: “Be at ease. I am no king but the son of a Quraishite woman who used to eat dried meat”
How wonderfully he comforts a frightened Arab nomad, who accustomed to the days of Jahiliyah was scared to death on entering the Prophet’s presence. This is one of the many instances which prove that Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), was indeed the Mercy for the entire creation, as God says in the holy Qur’an, and was not one of those power-drunk despots who kill and terrorize Allah’s creatures.
Such supreme examples of kindness and generosity helped build a strong and coherent society and spread love and affection among the believers. Therefore it is obligatory for Muslims to learn a lesson from these admirable manners and tread the brilliant path blazed by Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). All Muslims should endeavour to acquire these lofty morals; especially those invested with power and authority, so that peace, love, harmony and unity may prevail all around. If it is a real Islamic society, it will naturally be just and free, where everyone can defend their right and even advise those in authority if they happen to err.