Hadith The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa)

Was Muhammad a Prophet or a King?

MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 5 WAS MUHAMMAD A PROPHET OR A KING? THE REAL STATUS OF THE PROPHET By Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad, Missionary Incharge, USA The Holy Messenger of God (Peace and blessings of God be on him) had the real status of a Prophet and not that of a king or a ruler upon this earth. He was the ‘Seal of the Prophets,’ i.e., the best and the most perfect of the prophets; the embelishment and ornament of the prophets, instead of being a monarch or an emperor. Almighty God in His Holy Book, the Quran, described his status in this way: “And Muhammad is not the father to any men among you but he is a Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets” (33:41) Although his status was that of a Prophet of God and Seal of the Prophets yet there is no reason to doubt that from another aspect he could also aptly be regarded as a King. Looking back at his life in Medina, it becomes very clear that he was in fact not only a king, but was also truly an emperor. His position in fact, was so unique and multi-dimensional that even the question and the debate whether he was a Prophet or a king appears unnecessary. Apparently the topic chosen for this discussion reflects as if Pro- phethood and kingship are two totally separate positions, of which one was applicable to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the other was not. If we set aside the facts, this doubt grows even stronger. Look- ing at his life in Medina, the above mentioned calculation does not apply; this means that the title has some other connotations, and that according to his real status, he was a Prophet of God and kingship and kingdom were not his main aim. But as said in the holy Quran: “And in the Messenger of God, you have a perfect model” Because he was a perfect example for all walks of life, it was necessary that he be given kingship also, to enable him to demonstrate the supremacy of character and perfection of behavior which should be associated with kingship. This of course, was sub- sidiary to what he strived hard to achieve, the perfection of religious laws and human character and values, during the tenure of his THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 ministry. But while exercising the responsibilities of a king, he cer- tainly remained innocent of the ill-effects of character which sometimes accumulate in a person who is granted a kingship; and the opponents of Islam, placing and presenting him in the line of world- ly kings, have done great injustice to his noble person. In what follows I have tried to prove that the Holy Prophet (pbuh), from the study of his life and sayings, from his acts and excellent character, was not only a Prophet but was also free from all undesirable elements and blemishes associated with many worldly kings. On one side he was an ideal to follow in his deeds, sayings, character and excellence of behavior; on the other, he demonstrated such a perfect example of political acumen and supreme leadership that anyone could seek valuable guidance from him in this field also. The Orientalists and other Western scholars often misinterpret the life and work of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Their errors must be pointed out and refuted by facts. The renowned British historian, the eminent Arnold Toynbee, is clearly misguided in his writings about the character of the Holy Prophet. He is only an example of Euro-centric authors who, throughout the centuries have attempted to smear the innocent name of the Prophet of God who was named by Almighty Allah as Khataman Nabiyyeen, the “Seal of the Prophets”, the best and most perfect of all the Prophets of God, peace be upon them. Toynbee’s unfounded thesis alleges that the lifework of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was accomplished in two stages: “Beginning around 609 A.D., in the first stage, Muhammad was concerned .exclusively with his religious mission; in the second stage, the religious mission was overlaid, and almost overwhelmed, by the political enterprise.” Toynbee further states: “Muhammad left Mecca as a hunted fugitive. After seven years absence (622-629), he returned to Mecca, not as an amnestied exile, but as lord and master, not only of Mecca itself but of half of Arabia. It will be seen that the first state in Muhammad’s career is comparable to the career of Solon and the second stage with the career of Caesar.” Were Solon and Caesar appointed by God? Is the comparison apt? Fortunately, there are a few Western scholars who deal fairly with their investigations of Islam and the Holy Prophet (pbuh). It is a sad story that a famous historian, known for his liberal views, was MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 7 misled. Now when the facts were scrutinized and closely examined by other historians, they rejected Toynbee’s assertions outright. It may also be mentioned that Toynbee has most probably bor- rowed heavily from David Margoliouth’s Muhammadanism because he too mentioned that Muhammad (pbuh) may have changed. However, Margoliouth, although he tried his level best to establish that the Prophet (pbuh) had changed, had to admit that he never neglected his roles of preacher and teacher. A most biased enemy of Islam, Margoliouth contradicts the allegations of Toynbee and calls the Prophet (pbuh) Head of State as well as refers to his operations as a Prophet. He says: “His duties as a ruler of a constantly increasing realm and com- mander of a constantly increasing army were accommodated to and combined with his operations as a Prophet … the main doc- trines of Islam, the unity of Allah, and the future life, are no less repeatedly emphasised than before.” In Muhammad and Muhammadanism, R. Bosworth Smith admits the sincerity of the Holy Prophet’s belief up to the tune of Hijrah (i.e.-, migration to Medina) and says that any change in his character and aims must be considered in the context of the general conditions of his life. Contrary to To5Tibee’s assumption, Smith here states firmly that Muhammad (pbuh) “preserved to the end of his career that modesty and simplicity of life which is the crowning beauty of his character; …. the Prophet became more than a prophet; he became a temporal ruler, aided by the Holy Quran and temporal means”. The writer goes on to note how surprisingly little the Prophet changed, under very different circumstances, intimating that it is a misconception to attribute any moral decline to him: “If one reads the account of Muhammad’s entry into Mecca along with the account of Marius Sulla as he entered Rome, one would be in a position to recognize the magnanimity and modera- tion of the Prophet of Arabia. There were no proscription lists, no plunder, no wanton revenge.” Smith boldly asserts that “Muhammad never wavered in his belief in his mission nor, what is more extraordinary, in his belief as to its precise nature and well defined limits. He was a Prophet charged with a mission from God; nothing less.” Another example of enlightened scholarship and objectivity is to be found in Thomas Arnold’s The Preaching of Islam. He decries THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 the frequent assertion of some European writers that the Holy Pro- phet (pbuh) adopted an entirely new character from the time of the Hijrah. Arnold presses his case by saying that it is “false to suppose that Muhammad in Madina laid aside his role of preacher and a mis- sionary of Islam, or that when he had a large army at his command, he ceased to invite unbelievers to accept the new faith”. ^ In what follows, I have tried to discuss the life and character of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) by emphatically proclaiming that he never changed his mission from the time he was commissioned by Almighty Allah. The Holy Prophet’s life sketch, sayings, actions and loftiness of character prove positively that he was not only the greatest of all prophets but even in his secular role he was unique. The whole of his life is recorded in the minutest detail and is like an open book. Had he lived like an ordinary ruler, history would certainly have pointed out his acts of omission and commission and would never have spared him for any shortfalls in moral imperatives. Kings ordinarily are very fond of outward exhibitions of pomp and show and, in fact, this is one of their primary means of express- ing this exalted status. But the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was absolutely free from all such trappings. We do not find this grandeur in his life. In Hadith—which is a compilation of his sayings—it has been stated about him that someone sent a silk dress to him as a present. He put it on and offered his prayers. Afterwards he took it off and remark- ed: “For simple people these dresses are unsuitable.” (Bokhari) The Holy Prophet (pbuh) personified humbleness. This is obvious from the incident that once Hazrat Omar, thinking that, now and then, ambassadors and representatives from other places came to visit the Holy Prophet, he should wear impressive clothes on these occasions and also on religious gatherings like the Friday gatherings and the festivals of Eid. Once Hazrat Omar was walking with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in a shopping area where he saw some silk cloth; taking this opportunity he suggested to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that he should buy that cloth and wear it. But the Prophet (pbuh) replied: “Only he wears this who does not want any share from the life hereafter.” (Bokhari) Until the end of his life the Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to wear thick and coarse cotton dresses. MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 9 Once he was lying down on a coarse mattress. When he got up the impression on his back was so plain that his Companions said to him: “Shall we provide something made of soft material instead?” The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, “I have no connection with this world; my relation with this world is only of a transitory kind like that of a rider who stops by a shady tree while travelling. He rests for a short while in the shade and then takes off.” (Jamia Tirmidhi). Once during the period when the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was living separately, away from his family, Hazrat Omar went to see him. He was amazed at the sight of the place bereft of all comforts; the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was sitting in a small room with a loose cloth wound round his body; there was a bare cot and at the head of the cot was a pillow stuffed with date leaves. In one corner there was some barley and in another corner was a piece of animal skin to store water. Looking at this simplicity of the place where the king of kings was living, Hazrat Omar was overwhelmed and tears rolled down his face. The Holy Prophet inquired, “Omar, why are you crying?” Hazrat Omar replied, ‘ ‘Why should I not cry? I can see the marks of weaves of the cot on your body. On one side I look at your humble belongings and on the other, I imagine the luxury of the kings of Egypt and Persia. They are enjoying such an easy life and you are living in such hardship. To this the Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, “O, Omar, would you not like that they take this world and I get the Hereafter?” (Muslim). In short, what else could be simpler than when the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was sitting amongst his Companions and wanted to go to his house, he just got up and walked to his house barefooted. It has been mentioned in Abu Daud: “The Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to sit on the floor and we used to sit around him. He used to get up and if he intended to return, . he used to take off his shoes.” I have briefly described from the thousands of examples of the life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), his simplicity, unostentatiousness and humility. When this is compared with the pomp and show of worldly kings, we are left with a feeling of utter amazement. In ordinary dealings and conversations, wordly kings have a peculiar style of ceremony and grandeur; but the Holy Prophet (pbuh), while talking to and dealing with thousands of people, never even let them feel that they were conversing with a superior person and kept such a low profile that he appeared as just an ordinary person. It has been reported that, in Medina, he owed some money to a Jew who came 10 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1965 to him and demanded it in a haughty and insolent manner; address- ing the Prophet (pbuh) he said: “You people from Banu Hashim, whenever you take anything you are reluctant to pay back.” Hazrat Omar who was present at the occasion was very upset with the nasty attitude of the Jew; but the Prophet (pbuh) said, “O, Omar, you should advise both of us, to the person who lends that he should demand in a nice way, and to the indebted that he should repay promptly.” Similarly, once a Beduin came and demanded a debt from the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in a harsh manner. The Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were around him at that time. They were very annoyed at that and said to the Beduin; “Do you know to whom you are talking?” On which the Beduin reiterated that he was demanding his right. On this, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “It is the right of a lender to demand the return of his debt.” Once the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was with his Companions in a jungle where they were getting ready to cook. He distributed the work-load and himself participated in making food. (Seerat Khairul Bashaf). In spite of being the benefactor for the whole world, he worked like an ordinary person. In household chores, his participa- tion was a routine. His wife Hazrat Ayesha used to say that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) worked in the house like an ordinary person and never gave the impression of being a superior person than the rest. Once he came out of his house and the Companions who were waiting outside, stood up as a mark of respect; upon which he said: “Do not stand up like the people of the Ajam, (i.e., as is customary among Non-Arabs) on seeing me.” (Abu Daud) It has been narrated that once a person came to see the Holy Pro- phet (pbuh) and was so impressed by his personality that he started trembling from nervousness; at this the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do not be afraid; I am the son of a Quraishi woman who used to eat simple dry meat.” (Tirmidhi). Have ever worldly kings bowed low in such humility? If the Holy Prophet (pbuh) had been a king in the ordinary sense, he would have shown the usual arrogance, pride and pompousness of the kings. Kings ordinarily find it hard to keep their covenants and easily break them if they find it convenient. About Henry the Third it has been mentioned that “He promised to keep the Great Covenant several times but always went against it.” (History of England by Garette, p. 30). The Kaiser, disregarding treaties, pushed his forces MAY1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 11 from Belgium to Paris without the slightest hesitation. On the con- trary, looking at the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the picture is basically different. Abu Rafi’ was a slave and a disbeliever; he was sent to Medina as an ambassador by Meccans. Reaching Medina, he was so impressed by the truth of Islam and by the personality of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that he wanted to accept Islam and remain at Medina. But the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said to him, “It is a treaty among us and Meccans that we cannot hold you; so you should go back to Mecca and if you still feel the same way, only then can you return and embrace Islam.” (Abu Daud). About the Treaty of Hudaibia it has been written that while the terms of truce were being written, Abu Jandal managed to come to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) while still in chains, from Mecca, and re- quested help from the Holy Prophet. The companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were immensely moved when they saw him in that pitiable condition; but the Holy Prophet (pbuh) respecting the prior covenant with the Meccans, said, “If a new Muslim convert at Mec- ca will make his way to Medina, he will be returned to Mecca.” He addressed Abu Jandal saying, “O, Abu Jandal, we cannot break our covenant. God Almighty will open some new doors for you.” (Bukhari). At the battle of Badr, the odds were against the Muslims; the enemy was heavily armed and outnumbered the believers. On the other hand, the Muslims were fewer in number; they did not have enough equipment, were practically starving, being short of food and other supplies. But they had trust in Allah. In this precarious condition, two Muslims from Mecca approached the Holy Prophet (pbuh). They told him that they had a pact with the Meccans stipulating that they could go to Medina but were not permitted to take part in any fighting against Meccans. They now sought permis- sion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to take part in the battle of Badr along with the other Muslims. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) answered, “you will honor the pact in any case. You should not take part in the fighting. We only need the help of God.” (Muslim). Can anybody describe a person with a character like that of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), as a king in the ordinary sense? There have been thousands of kings in this world. Can anyone present a single example akin to this? A philosopher had a saying: “Revenge is a natural instinct and is universal to all mankind; the tortured one avenges not only the 12 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 tortured but all human beings.” The worldly kings operate exactly according to the above saying. Thousands of examples can be cited where kings took revenge for their personal grievances. But the Holy Prophet (pbuh) never took revenge for personal rancours. Hazrat Ayesha, the wife of the Holy Prophet narrates: “The Holy Prophet (pbuh) never took revenge for a personal grudge; the only time he would react was for the sake of God and His Commandments.” (Bukhari). It happened in the early days of Prophethood, when the Holy Pro- phet (pbuh) went to Taif for propagation of Islam. The people of Taif treated him badly; so much so that they threw rocks at him, thereby hurting his feet so badly that they became soaked with blood. But inspite of the Divine indication of the destruction of the people of Taif, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) uttered a prayer: “God, grant them understanding because they do not know what they are doing, and bring them into the embrace of Islam.” Some of the very same people came as a delegation in 9th Hijra, to Medina. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) treated them very hospitably and took the best care of them and even arranged their stay in the Holy Mosque. (Abu Daud). The above mentioned examples of forgiveness and leniency shown to his deadliest opponents by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) are unique and are not to be found anywhere else in recorded history. There was a time when he was weak and helpless and could not punish his enemies. But a time soon came when he became powerful and his enemies were lying prostrate before him and completely at his mercy; but with the exception of a few murderers, all others were pardoned. The worldly kings are usually greedy; to add to their piles of riches is their fondest aim. In the case of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), it was quite the opposite. Valuables and riches came to him in abundance, but he never let a night pass without distributing everything among his followers. Hazrat Abu Bakr said that once he was passing by the mountain of Ohad in company with the Holy Prophet (pbuh). On this occasion, he said, “If the mountain of Ohad turns into gold for me, I will not let three nights pass with even a dinar with myself.” (Bukhari). Once a rich man from Fidak sent four camel loads of grain. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) asked Hazrat Bilal to sell the grain and to distribute the cash received from the sale. At the end of the day, Hazrat Bilal returned and said that he could not find many people, MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 13 therefore, all the money could not be distributed. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) did not go home that night; he spent the whole night in the mosque until the following day when Hazrat Bilal came with the news that he had distributed the entire amount. Only then did the Holy Prophet (pbuh) go home. (Abu Daud). In this connection there is another example. Once he received a huge amount of valuables from Bahrain. He had never received so much booty before. He had it all piled up in the courtyard of the Mosque and then started distributing it. Whoever came, he gave him according to his share. He gave Hazrat Abbas, who had grown poor after the Battle of Badr, so much that he could hardly carry it. When all of it was gone, he brushed his hands clean and went away. (Bukhari). In contrast to what the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did, wordly kings are so greedy that some of them are jealous even of their own people if some of them are a little better off. About Henry the Seventh, it is written that once he went to see the Earl of Oxford. After meeting him, when the king was going to return, the guards of the Earl, in splendid uniforms, were lined up as a mark of respect for the king. The king thanked the Earl for his hospitality and also charged him a huge sum to pay him immediately. (History of England by Garette). In this connection, Garette further records that in the last days of his rule, Henry the Seventh grew even more greedy, and for this reason lost his popularity. He always used to think of ways to squeeze money out of his people. Look at the noble actions and examples of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and see the contrast with the doings of the worldly kings. Is there any comparison at all? Not to speak of any accumulation of wealth, he does not let anything stay with him, but is in great hurry to distribute whatever he gets. Is there any such example in the life of any king? In dealing with near relatives, his attitude was quite different from worldly monarchs who, to gain benefit for their near ones, get all sorts of loopholes in regulations and even make changes in laws when needed. They strive hard that after their death, their family continues to live in luxury. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) had quite a dif- ferent approach and advice for his relatives. He was so imbued with righteousness and meekness that he advised them all to follow righteous and simple life styles, rather than join in a race for worldly 14 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 riches. He directed their attention towards the Quranic verse: “The most honored among you is one who is the most righteous.” His daughter, Hazrat Fatima (God be pleased with her), was very dear to him and whenever she came to see him he used to stand up and offer her his seat. As his dear daughter, she used to complain to him about hard household work, grinding flour herself and bringing water for household use and so she requested for a helper. His response was: “Unless we can make some arrangements for Ashabe Suffah (i.e., those living entirely on charity), we cannot do anything for you.” (Abu Daud). In another narrative it has been mentioned that addressing his daughter, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “On you the orphans of Badr (the children of those who laid down their lives in the battle of Badr) have preference.” (Abu Daud). In short, what he gave his dear daughter was the advice to recite Subhan Allah (God is exalted), thir- ty three times before going to sleep at night. He added, ‘ ‘All else that you are asking me is not even remotely related to the benefits which would accrue to you by reciting praises of Allah. This will be far bet- ter for you than helpers.” (Abu Daud). Can anyone present even a single example from the worldly kings who could do that? Most kings and sometimes even their near ones are regarded as above the law of the land in most cases. But the Holy Prophet (pbuh) never considered himself above the law. Once he hit one of his Companions accidentally and quickly offered him to hit him back or accept compensation. At the time of the battle of Badr, his uncle Abbas was among the prisoners of war. After paying ransom adequately, some of the prisoners were being released. Some of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) thought that his uncle could perhaps be shown some leniency. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) came to know of it and said: “I swear to God! I would not allow him the benefit of one dirham (i.e., slightest preference) in treatment over others.” Once a woman from the tribe of Mukhzoom was caught stealing. Osama Bin Zaid, who was very close and dear to the Holy Prophet (pbuh), was sent to him to gain favor on her behalf, to lessen the punishment for the woman; upon which he said, “Are you trying to get a favor against the decree of God?” Then he said: “Nations have perished before because if a wealthy person com- mitted a crime they used to excuse him and if an ordinary person MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 15 did the same, they used to punish him. I swear to God that if my daughter Fatima would have committed ‘theft, I would have ordered her hand severed.” (Bukhari) Worldly kings are usually very fond of praise and flattery and when someone showers on them exaggerated praises they love that gesture. Elizabeth I of England and Henry VIII were particularly known for this trait. But our Prophet (pbh) was quite different from the worldly rulers. There was of course, no question of tolerating false or exaggerated praises, even that which was his due was also discouraged by him. Once Abdullah Bin Sakhir came to see him and addressed him with the words “Our Master”. But the Holy Prophet (pbh) forbade him from uttering such platitudes. He was called by different names, such as Muhammad, Abul Qasim and so forth; but was never called by the title “emperor”, “king” or the like. Likewise, he never built any castles or thrones and he never kept bodyguards, which are so common for all worldly kings. Reverend Gulam Masih writes about him: “His names and labels reflect his character and personality: Muhammad, Shahid, Nazir, Bashir, and Rasool Allah, and are well-known. Out of these names we do not find any chiefs, such as “Chief of Quarish”, “Chief of Arabs”, “Conqueror of Arabs” or “king of Arabs”. This really amazes us. No doubt the history of Islam has mentioned in his life sketch his contributions, his bat- tles and victories, his bravery and boldness, but has never mention- ed any throne, castle, crowns or special robes or dresses. In all his life, he only got one building constructed, and that was Masjid-i- Nabwi, which was a place of worship. Shall we not be amazed at the knowledge of these facts?” He goes on to say: “It is hard to believe, me being a Christian and following the common belief of Christians, that I will exaggerate the qualities of the Holy Prophet and would try to project an elevated impression of the Holy Prophet which would be out of the knowledge of educated people. Nevertheless, from a Christian who is unbiased, the pious-.personality of the Prophet can be expressed if he is really an impartial Christian who has studied the Islamic literature in depth.” Would that these people, who consider the Holy Prophet (pbh) as a worldly king, study the Islamic literature in depth and get to know the truth. Kings in general fight battles, usually for selfish reasons; and in- stead of maintaining peace and harmony in the world, create calamity 16 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 and chaos. But the Holy Prophet (pbh) fought battles for the sake of establishing peace and maintaining freedom of conscience. The critics have said that if the Holy Prophet (pbh) was not a king, why did he fight battles? But if we look carefully, it is very obvious that the cir- cumstances in which he took up arms were quite unavoidable and that all the wars were forced upon him and were merely defensive in nature. None of his battles were for worldly gain, as has been clearly mentioned in the Holy Quran, and even by some of his opponents. Historians write that the first verse which permitted taking up arms was revealed to the Holy Prophet (pbh) on 15th August 623, one year after his arrival in Medina. The verse runs as under: “It is allowed to Muslims to take up arms against those who make -war against them because these (Muslims) are transgressed upon and definitely Allah has all the power to help them. They were unjustly expelled from their homes, the only reason being that they said that Allah is their Lord and Guardian. And if Allah did not allow defensive wars, then the places of worship of Jews, Christians, and Muslims where God is oft remembered, would be destroyed by each other’s transgressions and Allah surely supports His helpers and He is indeed Powerful, Mighty and Prevailing.” (Holy Quran, 22:40-41) The purpose of Islamic wars has been very well defined in the verses above mentioned. In the book Sirat Khatam-un-Nabiyeen, (Life of the Holy Prophet), Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad has written an elabo- ration of the verses mentioned above, which is one of the best illus- trations in this regard. Part of his Commentary is presented below: “If we look carefully, we deduce four points from the verses. First, that the wars were initiated by the non-believers, as is obvious from the words ‘against whom war is made’. Second, that the non- believers used to beat Muslims with utmost cruelty and this cruelty was the cause of religious battles, as is clear from the words ‘because they have been wronged.’ Third, that the purpose of non-believers was to destroy Islam with sword, as is reflected from the word ‘pulled-out’. Fourth, that the declaration of war by the Muslims was in self-defense, is clear from ‘if Allah did not repel some men by means of others’. In short, the main reason for this verse is to indi- cate that the reason for defensive war by Muslims was to protect themselves and to guard against the transgressions of the non- believers, who wanted to destroy Muslims by the might of the sword.” In a nutshell, this single verse is enough to rebut all of the objec- tions which are often raised by critics regarding the wars waged by the Muslims, which were purely defensive. MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 17 Christian writers often present the incident of the Banu-Qureza as an example of transgression by the Holy Prophet (pbh). There is no doubt that the incident happened; but the circumstances under which it occurred are such as would clarify and justify the steps taken by the Holy Prophet (pbh) in this regard. This is not the occasion to go into details of the incident, but the following account by a Christian writer may clarify some of the doubts. He writes: “The Great Invasion (Battle of Ahzab) which Mohammad declared had been miraculously frustrated, was due to, or believed to be due, to the propaganda of members of Banu-Nazir, whom the Prophet (pbh) had punished with banishment only. Should he banish the Qureza, he would thereby be setting free a fresh set of propagandists. On the other hand, those who had taken part openly with the invaders of Medina could not very well be permitted to remain there. To banish them was unsafe; to permit them to remain was yet more dangerous. Hence, they must die.” (Margolis) In fact, these people were traitors and never kept their promises. Even then, the Holy Prophet (pbh) did not make any decision himself, but the Qurezas themselves picked Saad Bin Maaz as an arbitrator, and there was no direct involvement of the Holy Prophet (pbh) in the decision. This is particularly noticeable that the purpose of battles fought by the Holy Prophet (pbh) was never to acquire or conquer territory or to kill or to exterminate people. If it had been so, he would never have issued an order to keep peace in the area, and to avoid damage to pro- perty and crops or damage to anything of public utility; nor would he have issued orders not to harm women, children and the old and the sick. These are factors which are entirely overlooked by worldly kings. It is said in Hadith that whenever he would send a section of his arm- ed people on assignment, he would advise them: “O, Muslims! Go in the name of Allah and fight only for the sake of Allah! But beware, do not be dishonest in what you get and do not cheat or break promises or covenant with your enemy. Do not kill children, women, the old, or the clergy; and maintain law and order and treat people nicely, and God likes people who treat other people nicely.” It has been said of Hazrat Abu Bakr that he used to advise his army not to cut fruit-bearing trees and not to make barren areas that were inhabited by people. In the light of these facts, can it be said that the Holy Prophet (pbh) took up arms to kill, destroy or conquer? In worldly kingdoms, people want to keep close contact with the 18 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 monarchs and are obedient to them only to gain material and political favors. Their hearts are far from what they outwardly show to their rulers. But the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbh) had real love and devotion for him in their hearts. Their minds and bodies moved in total compliance with his wishes because they obeyed him from the core of their hearts. Such devotion is unsurpassed in history. Americans, in spite of their efforts, have failed to control abuse of alcohol; on the other hand, with just one word against its use, all the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbh) suddenly and completely abandoned the use of alcohol. It has been narrated by Anas Bin Malik that when consumption of alcohol was forbidden, the Holy Prophet (pbh) asked one of his Companions to declare it in the streets of Madina. Anas said that at that time “I was serving Abou Talha An- sari and some other Companions with drinks when we heard of this new order. Upon hearing this, Abou Talha said: ‘Let us investigate what this new order is so as to obey it as soon as possible.’ Then, without even confirming it, he said, ‘Let us first break our containers of alcohol.'” (Bukhari.) Does the personality of a worldly king have such a profound and lasting effect on his people? It was only the Holy Prophet (pbh) who generated such a charisma, charm, devotion and loyalty never before seen in anyone else. From what I have stated so far, it will be clear that the Holy Pro- phet (pbh) had none of the ordinary qualities of worldly kings; on the contrary, whatever he did or said was to exhort simplicity, meekness, hospitality, selflessness, equality, peace, and love and ser- vice to all human beings. Knowing this, it would be decidedly unfair to describe him as an “ordinary king”. The Holy Prophet’s kingdom was, in fact, the Kingdom of the heavens. It is obvious that the Holy Prophet (pbh) was not a king in the ordinary sense of the word. As is customary, worldly kings are called by certain titles, such as emperor, Kaiser, and so forth, which the Holy Prophet (pbh) never assumed. Then the question arises: What shall he be called, bearing in mind that at one time he had con- trol and command of several dominions like an emperor? For this purpose, we turn to books and literature from which we find that kingship has two forms. One form is called dominance (Taglab) and another is termed leadership (Imamat). The worldly kings belong to the former and the Holy Prophet (pbh) belonged to MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 19 the latter. That is why it is written that “kingship and politics have two forms; one is perfect politics, called Imamat; the second is im- perfect politics called taglab. The former teaches character and obe- dience in a sublime order and the ruler is just and humble and con- siders his people as brothers and friends; and he, himself, is never swayed by selfish motives. The latter is autocratic, stubborn, and believes in self-aggrandizement. From what is stated above, it is clear that the kingship under con- sideration in regard to the Holy Prophet (pbh) was of the order of Imamat, not taglab. And not only ordinary Imamat. His leadership, or Imamat, was of the highest order, the kind such as the like of which had never been seen., We can say that Imamat and Khilafat are one and the same thing. Imamat, according to the saying: “The king is the shadow of God” bears a perfect description of the Holy Prophet (pbh). That is why throughout his life, all of his actions were the reflection of Divine attributes. Whereas on one side his Pro- phethood is glittering with grace and grandeur, on the other side his kingship is studded with the heavenly qualities. Maulana Shibli, in his well-known book on the Holy Prophet (pbh), aptly describes him thus: “In spite of the fact that he owned all the wealth of Arabia, in his simple house he never had a cushioned bed, luxurious food, flashy robes or gold and silver in his possession. Looking at the degree or obedience that his words carried, one could be mistaken in considering him as Kaiser, a king, or an emperor; but in reality, he looked more like the simply clad orphan of Mecca, in the form of an angel.” His life in Medina is proof that he was a true vicegerent of God on earth. When his state of helplessness was transformed into that of sovereignty in Medina, even then he shunned every form of pomp and show, arrogance or grandeur, and remained the same simple in- dividual that he was previously. As Noldeke states: “On the whole, after he became ruler of all Arabia, he maintain- ed the original poverty and simplicity of his establishment; he never stored up money or estates nor did he spend his time eating and drinking and wearing soft clothing. He continued to fast and watch and pray after his earlier fashion; and that was plainly out of a heartfelt need and without any ostentation.” (Ecyclopedia Britannica) Washington Irving, a renowned Christian writer, relates: “His Captains were sent on more distant expeditions than 20 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS MAY 1985 formerly, but it was always with a view to destroy idols and to bring idolatrous tribes to subjection; so that his temporal power kept pace with the propagation of his faith.” Again, Irving says: “His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vainglory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power, he maintained the same simplici- ty of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial of respect was shown to him.” (Muhammad and His Successors) Will Durant, in his voluminous book, The Age of Faith, writes about the life of the Holy Prophet (pbh) in Medina: “The furniture (in his rooms) was a mattress and pillows upon the floor. He was often seen mending his clothes or shoes, kindling the fire, sweeping the floor, milking the family goat in his yard or shopping for provisions in the market … his staple foods were dates and barley bread; milk and honey were occasional luxuries … he put on none of the pomp of power, rejected any special mark of reverence, accepted the invitation of a slave to dinner and asked no service of a slave that he had time to and strength to do for himself. Despite all the booty and revenue that came to him, he spent little upon his family, less upon himself, much in charity.” Such was Muhammad, the Holy Prophet (pbh) the like of whom the world never knew before nor would it ever witness again till the end of time. It is not our intent, nor is it our purpose to shower unmerited praises on a person to whom we owe allegiance in some form or other. But the language of history is such that no impartial person can ignore it except at his own undoing. The Orphan of Mecca indulged throughout his life in the sort of activity which built its own field of reference. His career was crowned with success at every level. But nothing ever changed his lifestyle. The lonely preacher who roamed the streets of Mecca for thirteen long years, unmoved and undaunted by a most primitive opposition, never changed his frugal habits even when he became the undisputed ruler of the whole of the Arabian peninsula. Despite the affluence at Medina, he spent litle upon his family, less upon himself, much in charity. From the above, it is abundantly clear that Arnold Toynbee, with all his flamboyant knowledge of history, missed the mark completely when he asserted that the Holy Prophet (pbh) and preacher of Mecca, on attaining power at Medina, was overlaid and overwhelmed MAY 1985 THE HOLY PROPHET—PROPHET OR KING? 21 by political enterprise. This assertion is not borne out by history. The Holy Prophet (pbh), in his dying hour, when there could be no longer a worldly motive for deceit, still breathed the same religious devotion and the same belief in his apostolic mission. The last words that trembled on his lips were a muttered trust that he would soon be entering into blissful companionship with the One Whom he had loved throughout his life—Allah the Merciful, the Benevolent. Michael H. Hart, in his famous book “The 100”, ranked the most influential persons in history. He designated neither Jesus nor Marx but Muhammad as the most influential man in history. This, he said, was because: “Muhammad was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level. The influence of Muhammad through the medium of the Koran had been enor- mous. It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus and St. Paul on Christianity.” MEANING OF REVELATION Revelation does not mean that an idea should arise in the mind of a person who sets himself to ponder over a thing as, for in- stance, a poet having thought out half a verse seeks the other half in his mind and his mind suggests the other half. This is not revela- tion but is the result of reflection, in accordance with the law of nature… Revelation is the living and powerful converse of the Holy and Mighty God with a chosen servant of His, or with one whom He designs to make His elect… Sometimes revelation is vouchsafed to a person by way of trial and is not equipped with full blessings. In such a case, the recipient is put on his trial at this elementary stage so that having tasted somewhat of revelation, he should order his life along the lines of those who are true recipients of revelation, in default of which he would encounter frustration. If he does not adopt the ways of the truly righteous, he is deprived of the fullness of this bounty and is left only with vain boasting. Millions of the virtuous have been recipients of revelation, but they were not of equal standing in the estimation of God… Revela- tion is a pure divine grace and is not evidence of exaltation; that being according to the degree of truth, sincerity and faithfulness of the recipient, which is only known to God… There is no doubt that if revelation takes the form that the recipient submits a question and God responds to it, and there is a sequence between question and answer, and the revelation is characterized by divine majesty and light, and comprehends knowledge of the unseen and true understanding, it is truly the word of God. (The Teachings of Islam, by the Promised Messiah) ^