Celebrating the Prophet (peace be upon him)
The Gift of Islam’s Peace & Light – Celebrating the Last of God’s Messengers
In a fragile World where people are persistently rattled by the provocative chants of anti-Islam politicians and figureheads, claiming to promote in universal values, yet stoking the fire of fear and hatred against people of faith and love for the Prophet, there is no place to hide our hearts. We need to contrast darkness with the exposure and light of hope which his personality inspires in the lives of millions of everyday, ordinary Muslims.
We celebrate Islam’s fluorescence with the arrival of the last great Messenger, who was born and chosen to deliver a light from God to all mankind. The reason we are able to enjoy this gift of sight into the unseen is through the life and example of one inspired man—the last of the blessed lineage of Prophets—raised to help guide humanity along the path to Paradise, a mercy to all, regardless of race, nation or colour: Muhammad, (peace be upon him).
My view of Islam and Muhammad (peace be upon him) before reading the Qur’an
I was like many people in the West; blessed with immense material advancements, superb technology and highly evolved political systems, but brought up almost in a state of embarrassing poverty regarding knowledge and information about Islam. Images of Muslims as racial aliens, with strange religious customs, genies, magic carpets, moons and stars, war and bloodshed, the crusades, dominated my view—there was hardly anything presented to me which could be said to represent the Islam, until I actually discovered it when given an English translation of the Qur’an, back in 1975.
Unifying Script of Humanity Under One God
The very first lesson that I learnt from the Qur’an, was the message of Unity and peace. This was not that dark, foreign religion which I had expected. First it was talking about belief in One God Lording over all people, creatures and events in this matchless Universe —talking about us as Adamic in nature, children of humanity from the same Parents, Adam and Eve, belonging to one family.
The verses also talked about other Prophets as brothers preaching the same unifying script of mankind, showing every man and woman the way to Paradise. I saw the names of Jesus, of Moses, of Abraham, of Jacob, of Noah and the name of this last messenger, the last Messenger of God, Muhammad (peace be upon them). There was no division I could see between the essential teaching of all Prophets and wise men of religion. The Qur’an pointed to a universal statement that defined true faith and religion—it said:
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces toward East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him for your kin for orphans for the needy for the wayfarer for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient in pain and adversity and throughout all periods of crises. Such are the people of truth the God-conscious. (The Qur’an, 2:177)
Because there was no sign of discrimination or separation between the Prophets, I slowly began to realise that this book was truly a Revelation from the One God. From that moment I knew that there was nothing left for me to do but to be a Muslim—and that was what I did, over forty years ago.
My discovery of the Sunnah, the life-example of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
One of the most amazing things after embracing Islam, was to discover the unique life and story of the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) in explaining and demonstrating a practical walking example of the Glorious Qur’an.
In human history, there are thousands of men who have influenced the course of humanity, all have left their mark on the pages of time; kings, warriors, philosophers, writers and poets, but how many have passed without leaving any permanent record and image of their personality or moral imprint; how many have left us with such a perfect documentation of their sayings and conduct, which continues to influence to the potential and future well being of Mankind?
This is why today, in Madinah in the Arabian peninsular, we find an endless stream of humanity visiting and giving the salutations of peace and invoking God’s blessings on the messenger of Mercy—Muhammad al Mustafa (peace be upon him).
From how he combed his hair to the way he walked, from details of his intimate moments with his family, to the Prophet’s pronouncements and utterances related to the discourse between religions and nations, every moment of his Prophetic life and teachings have been scrupulously saved, committed to writing, and followed. The greatest legacy is that which benefits the widest number of people for the longest period without limit to value. No one but the Prophet Muhammad was given such a pivotal role as the seal of God’s message. The Qur’an confirms:
You have indeed, in the messenger of Allah, a beautiful pattern of (conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and who engages much in the remembrance of Allah. (The Qur’an, 33:21)
One of the most important objects of his life and mission was the calling of humanity to the unity of purpose of the universe. The fact that the Prophet cared for every human being and tried his best to ensure their security in the hereafter is the most telling of his compassionate and merciful character.
Once Allah’s Apostle said, “There is none who witnesses sincerely that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger, except that Allah, will save him from the Hell-fire.” His companion, Mu’adh said, “O Messenger of God! Should I not inform the people about it so that they may have good news?” He replied, hesitatingly, “(Maybe) When the people hear about it, they may only depend on it.” (Bukhari)
The Judaeo-Christian Link Explained
Many ardent promoters of Western culture and values seem intent to build a wall between what they deem as their ‘Judaeo-Christian’ background and Islam, making ‘Islam’ look completely alien to their landscape of history and religion. However, this is totally misleading and it contradicts the very cornerstone of Muslims belief. A simple glance at the contents of the Qur’an would show any unbiased reader that the religion of Islam is built upon the immovable foundations of Abraham and the messages of the prophets who followed him, such as Jacob, Isaac, Moses, David, Solomon, John and Jesus. There is no religion on earth which can claim to be the most natural heir of the Judaeo-Christian legacy than Islam. In fact, this was one of the biggest reasons I felt I—as a Westerner—could whole-heartily embrace its message. The Quran demands that all believers must also believe in previous original revelations, specifically naming the Torah, the Gospel and the Scrolls of David and Abraham. How can anyone after any serious study of Islam continue to deny Muslims’ relation to the Judaeo and Christian Tradition?
While Islam is projected today as inimical and hostile to Christianity, Judaism and other religions, the truth is that the Prophet was the great educator, his role was to reassert the meaning and explanation of the original faith and religion of God, as taught by previous prophets and messengers.
Say, ‘We believe in God and what He has revealed to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and their descendants, and what was revealed to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among them and to God we have submitted ourselves.’ (The Qur’an, 2:136)
Love and Mercy
I end with a conclusion, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught for those who want to learn Islam, and benefit from the Mercy which the Prophet distributed to all people, he said, “You will not enter heaven until you believe; and you will not believe until you love one another. Should I not guide you to a thing that if you do it will increase love amongst you? spread ‘As salam’ (peace be with you)”