By S G. Geelani
NEVER has so much been written by so many on the life of one human being, of any time, than on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Eminent people from other faiths, too, have showered him with praise.
Thomas Carlyle was not the only one to pay him tribute in his lecture on ‘Hero as a Prophet’, choosing him over all those mentioned in the Old Testament, from Adam through Abraham, to Moses and Jesus.
Napoleon Bonaparte in Bonaparte et Islam is quoted as saying: “Moses revealed the existence of God to his nation. Jesus to the Roman world, Muhammad [PBUH] to the old continent…. Arabia was idolatrous when, six centuries after Jesus, Muhammad [PBUH] introduced the worship of the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Moses and Jesus.
“The Aryans … had disturbed the tranquillity of the East by agitating the question of the nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Muhammad [PBUH] declared that there was none but one God who had no father, no son…. I hope the time is not far when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of the Quran which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.”
And this from George Bernard Shaw: “If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe, within the next hundred years, it could be Islam. I have always held the religion of Muhammad [PBUH] in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him, the wonderful man, and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.
“I believe that if a man like him were to assume the [leadership] of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much-needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad [PBUH] that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”
Muslims everywhere, too, shall pay the Prophet special tribute in this month of Rabi-ul-Awwal to celebrate his birthday. Many will rejoice, as there will be illuminations, particularly in the mosques. Religious scholars will recount anecdotes from his life, highlighting his character and achievements, and recalling his sayings on different aspects of human life before gatherings of devotees. Naat recitations and milads (sessions singing praise to the Prophet) will be held everywhere.
Scholars will dwell upon his attribute of Rahmatalil Aalemeen (‘Mercy for all the worlds’ —including those of the birds and beasts, of insects and worms, etc.), because a Muslim is adjoined to not hurt any living being except in the way of God. Scholars will explain what the Prophet said to his followers about how to treat women, how to interact with people of other faiths and how to carry oneself in one’s everyday life.
Yet, unfortunately, many will forget the profound and inspired discourses as they leave their respective congregations. A few of those who may be swaying in ecstasy at the mention of the Holy Prophet’s name would go back to indulge in sectarian hate and killing, as we have been witnessing in Pakistan.
As Rahmatalil Aalemeen, the Prophet gave protection to Christians through a covenant signed in 628 CE, when a delegation from St Catherine’s Monastery visited him seeking his protection. (The monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai, is the world’s oldest, and a treasure house of rare manuscripts, icons and Christian history.) The covenant’s words are as follows:
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
“Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
“No compulsion is to be on them … Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
“No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to Muslims’ houses.
“Should anyone take any of these [belongings], he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter….
“No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. Muslims are to fight for them.
“If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
“Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor [barred] the sacredness of their covenants.“No one of the nation is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (of Judgment),”
It is important to remember that this covenant was made binding on all Muslims for all times, past, present and future, till the Day of Judgment. How this covenant has come to be violated in some Muslim countries, including Pakistan, should shame anyone who claims to love or follow the Prophet of Islam.
Here, they have ransacked and burnt churches; they have killed not only Christians, but also Muslims — for instance, for sympathising with an oppressed Christian as in the case of Aasia Bibi. It’s time we took stock of such violations of the Islamic code of respectful coexistence amongst faiths.
Source: The Dawn, Karachi