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Islamic Personalities (13 Sep 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)



The Noble Persona of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) As Mirrored In the Qur’an

 

 

 

 

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

Muslim as well as non-Muslim scholars tend to devote their scholarship to the institutional history of the Prophet drawing almost entirely on the Prophet’s classical biographic accounts (Sira). However, the classical Sira is based almost entirely on the earliest biographic account compiled by Ibn Ishaq (d.151 AH/768 CE) more than 125 years after the death of the Prophet and edited and published some fifty years later by Ibn Hisham (d. 218/834). This work, based entirely on popular oral accounts in circulation is suffused with speculative accretions and sensational and emotional underpinnings to meet the taste and temperament of the audience [1]. Besides, it was inevitably informed by the literary style of the era that was characterised by exaggeration an embellishment [2]. Accordingly it is replete with fanciful conjectures and inaccuracies. Through countless repetitions down the centuries, the fanciful conjectures and inaccuracies of Ibn Hisham’s work have become institutionalized and taken for granted as the representation of the Prophet’s personal life and mission. However, since the Qur’an predates it by at least a hundred 175 years and was recorded in full light of history, the data it furnishes or otherwise yields by omission can be taken as historically accurate [3]. Besides, as an unaltered Word of God and text on hand, its record must be treated as authentic and command unqualified privilege over the classical biography of the Prophet. Hence this exercise!  

One problem that is often faced in constructing the personality of the Prophet prior to the revelation from the illustrations of the Qur’an is its near silence on the Prophet’s life from birth through to the onset of the revelation. It does not name, nor bear any information about his parents, wives, offspring, friends or acquaintances, though it leaves the following laconic remarks about his early life:

“Did He (God) not find you (O Muhammad) an orphan and give shelter (93:6)? And He found you wandering, and gave guidance (7); and He found you needy, and gave sufficiency” (93:8)

The Qur’an, however, abounds with comments on the immediate circumstances of the Prophet with the unfolding of the revelation. These comments - though mostly cryptic and in the passing can be scanned to construct the persona of the Prophet.

As the Prophet began to recite the revelations as he orally received, they (the Meccans) took Muhammad for a joke: they laughed at his followers, winking at each other as they passed by and made fun of them as they reached home (21:36, 25:41, 83:29-31). They called Muhammad an impostor, a madman (30:58, 44:14, 68:51) and an insane poet” (37:3) They questioned why Muhammad could not show any miracles (6:37, 11:12, 13:7, 17:90-93, 21:5, 25:7/8, 29:50), and why the Qur'an was not revealed to a man of importance from the two cities” (43:31). They also declared that other people coached him or dictated to him morning and evening (25:5, 44:14).

We notice that all these charges were centered round the revelation; they never ever questioned the moral character of the Prophet. This clearly demonstrates that he must have been a person of impeccable moral character, who never gave himself to any form of vices – social, moral, political or ethical, indicating that he was a quiet and unobtrusive person, who never meddled in anyone’s affairs. Delving into the Qur’an further we see it asserting that unless God willed, the Prophet would not have recited the revelation to his audience, nor God would have taught it to them - it asks his audience to reflect on this as he had lived with them for a lifetime before the revelation commenced (10:16, 12:3, 42:52). This demonstrates that the Prophet had not displayed any literary or poetic genius or any philosophical, psychological, political or theological insight all his life prior to the revelation. This in turn indicates that the Prophet neither had any aptitude, nor grooming, nor ambition to found a faith or lead a faith community, let alone becoming the virtual ruler of the whole of Arabia towards the end of his life. His greatest gifts, apart from the power of revelation, were his noble personal qualities.

The Qur’an goes on to testify that the Prophet was mild to his men even after their lapses in Uhud expedition (3:159). He readily excused others from taking part in Tabuk expedition (9:43). He offered food to uninvited guests, and cordially entertained them, even if they caused him annoyance by staying on after the meal for socializing (33:53). The Prophet also displayed the most pristine form of generosity by praying for the forgiveness of his enemies (9:80/84/113). Accordingly, the Qur’an describes him as a noble messenger (81:19), endowed with a sublime character (68:4), and an unshakeable stability that prevented him from the prompting of his enemies to making some compromises (17:74).He was faithful to his trust (amin, 81:21),and (a manifestation of God’s) mercy to the believers (9:61), and to all humanity (21:107). 

Furthermore, the Qur’an’s omission of the names of his most eminent and learned companions who were later to become Caliphs, Governors and Generals, who all accepted his leadership as most humble and obedient followers, clearly shows his exclusive and extraordinary position in the community. According to early reports, the very presence of the Prophet had a compelling appeal, and his personality radiated some beautiful characteristics and aura (kiramat) that only those who were present in his company could perceive. As a result of these extraordinary virtues and characteristics, the Prophet developed a very special relationship with his companions that impressed all the contemporaneous observers and has perplexed his opponents ever since. This goes to explain why his companions would defy and sacrifice everything for the sake of the Prophet.

However, on a personal level, the Prophet was a mortal like others (3:144, 18:110, 41:6). He had no power to avert harm from himself, or to benefit himself, or to harm or guide others (7:180, 10:49, 72:21). Like most of fellow Meccans, he was unlettered (7:157/158), and could not read a book - for had it been so, the prattlers would have been sceptical (29:48). He was a messenger of God and his only mission was to convey (God’s message) ( 5:99, 7:158,13:40, 42:48)  with clarity (5:92, 16:82, 24:54); that he may deliver humanity out of darkness into Light (14:1, 57:9).

It also goes without saying that as the conveyor of the divine guidance, and exemplifier of the Qur’an (33:21) the Prophet must have personally actualised its do’s and don’ts. It may therefore be reasonable to infer that he forgave others and avoided arguments with the ignorant (7:199); he helped even unfriendly neighbours (4:36, 42:40) and those who tried to harm him previously (5:2); he spent for the needy even in bad times by making personal sacrifices (3:134, 108:2); he suppressed anger and forgave others even in state of anger (3:135, 42:37); he was courteous in returning greetings to others (4:86); he refrained from speaking ill of others (4:148); he spoke good of others to help avoid conflicts in the society/ family (17:53). he behaved graciously at places of worship (7:31), walked humbly and invoked peace on the ignorant when they addressed them (25:63); he was neither wasteful, nor miserly but took a position in between (25:6); he spoke what was just and relevant (sadida) (33:70), fair and reasonable (ma‘ruf) (4:5) in a goodly manner (hasana) (2:83) and a soft tone (31:19). He said with his mouth what was in his heart (3:167).

Ascribing the don’ts of the Qur’an to the Prophet, he kept away from what is vain, gross and ignoble (23:3); he did not walk, speak or behave arrogantly (17:37, 31:18/19); he did not speak in a deceitful or ostentatious manner (22:30); he was not miserly and did not encourage others (to be) miserly (4:37); he did not hide whatever he possessed to avoid sharing it with the needy (4:37); he believed in wealth sharing – that he had only a share in his income (4:32) as much as the needy had a share in it (70:24). He never held back from spending for the needy in the community (47:38) and was not miserly when affluent (92:8-11); he never mocked other people (49:11) or found fault in others (49:11) or insulted them with (insulting) nicknames (49:11); he was not excessively suspicious of others (49:12), did not backbite others, and did not amass wealth (104:2).

The synopsis omits any references to the Prophet’s conjugal life as the Qur’anic references to his spouses are limited to a few verses and passages, which have, however, been interpreted in a highly colourful and embellished manner by the early / classical biographers.

To sum up, let this write up shed light on the noble persona of the Prophet and reassure the readers in general that no matter what the propagandist literature contrives, the Islam.crtical and revisionist politicians claim, the cartoonists draw, or the film makers produce, Muhammad was indeed a noble man, even if he is not given the credit of being God’s messenger. As for the Muslims exposed to any unsympathetic account of the Prophet or his wives or marriages, they must understand that these are invariably extracted from the Prophet’s early biographic accounts which are largely embellished and speculative, verging at times on the fantabulous, the grotesque and the bizarre [4].

As for the cunning and malicious provocateurs and Islam.critical Muslims as well as non-Muslims, assassinating the character of the Prophet or spinning colourful stories about his wives by drawing on his highly embellished biographic accounts, the Muslims must ignore their machinations in the spirit of the following Qur’anic pronouncements.

“Thus we made for every messenger an enemy - Satans from among men and jinn, some of them inspiring others with seductive talk (in order to) deceive (them), and had your Lord pleased, they would not have done it. Therefore, leave them and what they forge” (6:112)

“Thus we made for every messenger an enemy among the criminals - but enough is your Lord (O Muhammad,) as a Guide and Helper” (25:31)

Notes 

1.       This can amply be demonstrated by the following illustrations from his work:

One section of the work shows a martyred companion of the Prophet, Khabib, articulating his deep parting emotions in a poetic imagery as he stood on the gallows just before he was hanged [5]. Another section contradicts this imagery suggesting that the martyr was weeping unceasingly as he stood on the gallows [6].

The work quotes the parting dialogue between the propagandist poet Ka‘b Ibn Ashraf and his wife, just as he was coming out from ‘under the blanket’ at the call of Abu Naila, who had gone to his house to kill him [7]. The poet was killed suddenly, and it is inconceivable that his widow would tell the parting words of her slain husband to those who killed him. The quoted words were obviously speculative.

2.       Contemporaneous reports describe King Solomon embedding with all his one hundred wives one night [8], and Sir Key of King Arthur’s court throwing a stone ‘as large as a cow’ to dislodge the ‘stranger’, who had leaped up to the top of a tree, two hundred cubits high in a single bound [9].

3.       To quote Maxime Rodinson, an internationally acclaimed biographer of the Prophet, otherwise sceptic of the divinity of the revelation: “the Qur’an “does provide a firm basis of undoubted authenticity.”[Muhammad, English translation, 2nd edition, London 1996, p.x, Foreword

4.       This is demonstrated by quoting the following account the Prophet reportedly narrated to the Prophet Adam relating to his ascension to haven during his Night Journey, of which all that the Qur’an says is this: “Glory to Him who journeyed His servant by night, from the Sacred Mosque, to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him of Our wonders. He is the Listener, the Beholder.”

“Then I saw men with lips like those of camels. In their hands were balls of fire which they thrust into their mouths and collected from their extremities to thrust into their mouths again. I asked, ‘Who are these O Gabriel?’ He said, ‘these are men who robbed the orphans.’ …. I then saw women hanging from their breasts and asked, who are these, O Gabriel? He said, ‘These are women who fathered on their husbands’ children, not their own.’… He then took me into Paradise where I saw a beautiful damsel with luscious lips. As I was attracted by her, I asked her, ‘To whom do you belong?’ She answered, ‘To Zayd Ibn Harithah.’”- Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, English translation by Ismail Ragi, 8th edition, Karachi 1989, p. 143.

5.Ibn Hisham, Sirrat un Nabi, Urdu translation by Gholam Rasul, Delhi 1984, Vol.2, Chap.124, p. 197.

6. Ibid., Vol. 2, Chap.124, p. 198.

7. Ibid,, Vol.2, p. Chap.109, p. 35.    .

8. Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.7, Acc. 169.

9. Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, USA 1988, P. 23

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-personalities/muhammad-yunus,-new-age-islam/the-noble-persona-of-prophet-muhammad-(pbuh)-as-mirrored-in-the-qur’an/d/8657

 




TOTAL COMMENTS:-   13


  • Dear Raihan Nizami,

    Where had you been for such a long time. I am so glad to see you back for a human I do get relief and joy if someone puts in a nice word for the article, which I frame painstakingly as I cannot afford to make any error, though as a human I cannot be infallible. 

    The problem, as you will know is that the embellishments in the classical biography of the Prophet has spawned a rival scholarship with the Muslims glorifying, venerating and even deifying him and his opponents - some non-Muslims and radical Muslim scholars projecting him as an evil incarnate.

    As exaggerated glorification and veneration of the messenger can shift focus away from the message and projection of the Prophet in lurid light affect interfaith relations, belie history and feed Islamophobia,
    there is a pressing need to have a clear window into the persona of the Prophet. This is only possible by closely scrutinizing the Qur’anic glimpses on the Prophet’s life as attempted in this article.

    Kindly read my latest articles if you have time and post your comments.

    By muhammad yunus - 1/27/2014 6:09:30 PM



  • Janab Mohammad Younus sb: Assalam alaikum! I saw this great piece of intellectual writing again today, based on Islamic knowledge, especially throwing lights upon the Zat-e-pak of our prophet Hazrat Mohammad (pbuh), and I could not resist myself from thanking you once again for the untiring efforts that you have taken to guide us.
    By Raihan Nezami - 1/27/2014 10:29:29 AM



  • Dear Hassan Abbas Saheb. Did you read this piece (posted article)?. If not kindly read it.
    As to your question, accepting or rejecting a scientifically established premise/ theory/ is up to any body. There are many highly educated people/ scientists who do not believe in man's landing of moon.      
    You will also know that in Government sponsored committees, people are appointed on connection and clout and party affiliation rather than expertize in the field. An active leader of a riot or genocide can become chairman of a public welfare committee. Please read my piece and comment and if you think others should know it, ask others to read.
    By muhammad yunus (1) - 10/9/2012 8:20:37 PM



  • Dear Muhammad Younus Saheb. Please comment on the following: A Republican congressman who sits on the science committee of the House of Representatives has dismissed evolution, the Big Bang theory and embryology as "lies straight from the pit of hell".
    Paul Broun, who is running for re-election as Georgia representative this November unopposed by Democrats, made the comments during a speech at a baptist church last month.
    By Hasan Abbas - 10/9/2012 12:10:47 PM



  • Suraiya Sultana. Thanks for posting your comment. You should share the article with other educated ladies in your circle and get them to read this immensely valuable piece and post a one line comment. 

    By muhammad yunus (1) - 9/24/2012 9:51:22 PM



  • The life and deeds of our prophet Muhammad (saw) as witnessed by Qur'an Kareem is described in an exemplenary manner by Janab Mohammad Younus Sb. Here is a great message by the writer in the words below, "As for the cunning and malicious provocateurs and Islam.critical Muslims as well as non-Muslims, assassinating the character of the Prophet or spinning colourful stories about his wives by drawing on his highly embellished biographic accounts, the Muslims must ignore their machinations in the spirit of the following Qur’anic pronouncements. " This article is a source of guidance at a time when the critics of Islam are attacking vememently, so all the readers must have alook at it.
    By Raihan Nezami - 9/24/2012 2:43:39 PM



  • The description of our Prophet's character by Md. yunus in a jist, and that too, in just a few words, is a remarkable feat.
    By Suraiya Sultana - 9/24/2012 1:14:55 PM



  • Aiman, Will Durant does grossly exaggerate the atrocities committed by Muslim conquerors, probably to mitigate what the Europeans did in the New World as well as in Europe itself.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/14/2012 1:05:03 PM



  • Javed Ghamdi says here even if the Hadith literature goes missing, the Qur'an is enough to present a pure picture of the blessed Rasool.
    Seerat preserved in the Qur'an: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjP6d9HZeFE&feature=relmfu
    Please watch
    By Mubashir - 9/14/2012 10:30:11 AM



  • Will Durant writes in his fourth volume of 'The Story of Civilization', 'The Age of Faith', about Muhammad (pbuh): "He was a man of dignity. He could readily forgive a disarmed and repentant foe... His ten wives and two concubines have been a source of marvel, merriment and envy to the Western world...He took polygamy for granted, and indulged himself in marriage with a clear conscience and no morbid sensuality...Women and power were his only indulgence, for the rest he was a man of unassuming simplicity...IF we judge greatness by influence, he was one of the giants of history. He restrained fanaticism and superstition, but he used them. He built a religion simple and clear and strong, and a morality of ruthless courage and racial pride, which in a generation marched to a hundred victories, in a century to empire, and remains to this day a virile force through half the world."

    The reason Igave this long quotation is because I want the readers of Newageislam to read this book. It is a gem. We also get to see a neutral side, Will Durant is not biased, though there are some errors in his work, but no work is perfect.


    By Aiman Reyaz - 9/14/2012 8:33:29 AM



  • As the biography of the Messenger was written long after he passed away, and regurgitated by others as mentioned; it formed the basis of the corpus hadis and is its integral part.

    What is written in these documents about Muhammad and has been preserved for over millennia, which Muslims revere over Quran and even call it hadis sharif, puts the reader to shame unless one is looking for filth to be dumped on his character!

     

    Therefore it is astonishing to note the very same people get…….themselves in knots when others present and use the same material as reference for their vested interest! So, may not one ask as to what is the SOURCE of the problem? If they can burn ‘Stannic Verses’, what are they waiting for?

     

    It is recorded that Ibn Ishaq was exiled from Madinah for narrating false hadis!


    By Rashid - 9/14/2012 1:06:24 AM



  • Yunus sahab's serious and authoritative depiction of our Prophet's persona is very timely when attempts to defame him are at a crescendo. A true appraisal of his impact on history is necessary in order to appreciate him.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/13/2012 3:32:35 PM



  • The article below by Muhammad Yunus is worth reading.
    Most Muslims have known Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from a singular point of view - that he was the prophet of God, and some have even ascribed divinity to him. I did not connect with that aspect of Islam, and left the religion some 45 years ago. I do know that, most people in different faiths make their spiritual master untouchable and divine, almost like God, Muslims are no different.
    But then after 30 years of searching for the truth, I chose Islam to be my religion, however, I have always maintained and will continue to see the wisdom and beauty of each faith, and how it makes a better person out of each one of us. And I will not claim my faith to be superior to any as that amounts to arrogance, and God does not like arrogant people, arrogance breeds conflicts, it is indeed anti-peace and goes against the essence of Islam; peace.
    Whereas humility builds bridges, and that is the reason, you'll find in every form of worship the emphasis is laid on humility through the act of looking up, bending, kneeling or prostrating. Islam indeed has placed many systems in its practices for one to be humble including the Salat (congregational prayers) fasting, tithe (zakat) and other practices.
    Prophet Muhammad was inclusive in his approach as were other prophets. Quran acknowledges other religions and their respectful space there of, indeed, it could not have been clearer than saying whether you are a Jew, Chrsitian or other, you need not worry, God knows what you do and he will recompense you... This is Quraan sayingand Muhammad delivering, it is a lesson to be learned.
    The consistency of the message is mind boggling. God says, do not treat one prophet over the other... had God said, Prophet Muhammad is superior to the others, it would have bred arrogance, the root cause of all conflicts from familial to national to global. This is one of the reasons you will not find (with exceptions ofcourse) that Muslims will ever denigrate Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others, indeed, it is a requirment to believe in them to be a Muslims, without which your faith is incomplete. It is this inclusive approach of Quraan, Islam and Prophet that appealed to me and learned from non-Muslim writers like Karen Armstrong. I am glad I did, if not I would have had a blind faith.
    Three critical factors influenced my decision to choose Islam as my religion, and one of them was reading Karen Armstrong's book Muhammad - I understood Muhammad as an individual who lived his life as a normal human, and lived as a model citizen to create a cohesive society where no one has to live in the fear of other. I related with him and I connected with him through her book. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is one of me three mentors, some one I look up to in living my daily life of being an Amin - the trustworthy and the truthful committed to justice and peace and building cohesive societies. That is the Sunnah (practice) of the Prophet, I enthusiastically follow.
    When I read up Yunus' article (below), it appealed to me and hence my note above. I do hope you read up on the prophet from various angles including Michael H. Hart's book, "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History". Read what the some of the bad guys write and learn to understand and cope with them, so you can see what they see and help them with additional versions.
    Yunus writes, "Qur’an is near silence on the Prophet’s life from birth through to the onset of the revelation." Indeed, it may have been intentional wisdom to prevent people from making a God out of him, as some stories abound about the star rising some place and the miracles .... No, Prophet Muhammad does not need miracles, his messages is important and it is full of wisdom. Indeed his humility made him ask the people not to draw his images or make statutes out of him, he was bent on getting the message out, rather than people focusing on him, that is humility and that is the spirituality and that appeals to me.
    Mike Ghouse, www.WorldMuslimCongress.org
    By Mike Ghouse - 9/13/2012 12:36:10 PM



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