By Sadia Dehlvi
Dec 16, 2016
This month of Prophet Mohammad’s birth invites reflection on his message and teachings. He inspired with the words, “I have been sent only to perfect the noble qualities of character”. Ayesha, his wife once commented, “His character was the Quran. He approved of what the Quran approved and disapproved of what the Quran disapproved”. The Quran has passages in which the Prophet’s character is exalted. Prophet Mohammad said the bankrupt ones are those who despite good deeds of prayer and worship, abuse one another treat neighbours badly and lack virtue.
The Prophet’s character was based on moderation, generosity, justice, dignity, moral excellence, humility, bravery, sympathy for others, detachment of the world, and constant fear of the Lord. He chose poverty over wealth, sleeping on the floor with a bed made of stuffed palm fibers.
Mohammad’s kindness extended to all beings particularly towards women, children and animals. On seeing the Prophet kissing his grandchildren, a companion remarked that he had ten children but had never kissed any of them. Mohammad commented, “He who does not show mercy will not receive mercy”.
The Prophet taught to love the One God, emphasising that the path leading to Him consists of kindness, compassion and moderation. He taught that women be respected and accorded a high status to mothers declaring, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of the Mothers”. Laying emphasis on purification the heart he said, “Surely in the breasts of humanity is a lump of flesh, if sound then the whole body is sound, and if corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Is it not the heart?” On another occasion, he said, “the most excellent jihad is to speak up for the truth, in the face of a tyrannical authority”.
A man once asked Prophet Mohammad for advice, and he said, “Do not become angry”. The man asked the question again and he got the same reply. The man questioned him a third time and the Prophet repeated his advice. Prophet Mohammad said that the strong man is not one who can wrestle people, but one who controls himself when angry.
The Prophet promised paradise to a sinful woman who fetched water for a dog and saved him from dying of thirst.
On another occasion when a cat slept on the Prophet’s garment, he cut the sleeve to leave the cat undisturbed while he got up to offer prayers. Once, while heading for an armed conflict, the Messenger noticed a bitch delivering her litter and asked his followers to change tracks, ensuring that the animal did not get trampled.
Laying great emphasis on the heart, Mohammad spoke of it as a repository of knowledge, sensitive to the needs of the body. In established narrations, the Prophet said: “When in doubt ask your heart for a fatwa, ruling, for virtue is when the heart and soul are at peace”. Another time he said, “The best Islam is feeding the hungry and spreading peace amongst those you know and those you do not know”.
Today we see Islam being hijacked by the discourse of anger and the rhetoric of hate. We must remember that Prophet Mohammad, called us to moderation often repeated warnings of extremism, He said, “beware of extremism, for it was extremism that destroyed the communities before you”. He also said, “Moderation. Moderation! Moderation. For only with moderation will you succeed”. The “middle way” of the Prophet must be restored, one that defines Islam as an authentic summon to cultural and spiritual renewal.