No community has been without its righteous guides and teachers to help its people towards the truth and to lead them from the depths of darkness to the light of Islam. The Prophets of Allah Subhanahu wa Taaala received the message and direction that enabled them to counsel their contemporaries. Through the ages, the earlier messages were distorted. Mankind having lost sight of the Shariah was in dire need of divine guidance. It had degenerated inwardly and outwardly to an abominable and immoral course of conduct. In the midst of spiritual decay, Allah opened a door of Hidayah, sending His mercy to all of mankind, His Final Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), to guide them from the darkness of Jahiliyyah to the light of Islam.
Alif. Lam. Ra. (This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto you (Muhammad) that thereby you may bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise. (Suratul Ibrahim 14:1)
He it is who blesses you, and His angels (bless you), that He may bring you forth from darkness unto light; and He is Merciful to the believers. (Suratul Ahzaab 33:43)
A messenger reciting unto you the revelations of Allah made plain, that He may bring forth those who believe and do good works from darkness unto light. And whosoever believes in Allah and does right, He will bring him into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to abide forever. Allah hath made good provision for him. (Suratut-Talaaq 65:11)
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) was sent as a teacher and role model for all of mankind. He was sent as a warner of Allahs wrath and punishment, a bearer or good tidings, as well as a guide to Paradise.
O Prophet! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner and as one who invites to Allah (alone) by His permission and as a lamp that gives light. (Suratul Ahzaab 33:45-46)
The above verse tell us that Allah has sent the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) as a lamp that gives light, which means that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) is the source of guidance. He spreads light and mercy through the instructions, teachings, and practice of the Quran and Sunnah.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) has the best personality, characteristics, and morals. Once when Aisha (radiyyallahu anha) was asked about the life and conduct of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), she replied, Have you not read the Quran? His character is the complete explanation of the Quran. This means that his daily life was a living illustration and explanation of the Quran. He did and said everything in accordance to the teachings of the Quran and his life is the reflection of the Shariah of Allah. He maintained the best characteristics in his roles as father, husband, friend, ruler, governor, teacher, statesman, protector of the weak, widows, and poor, a guide to the rich, a guardian of the orphans, and a servant of Allah. No one could ever equal the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) in the whole history of mankind and no one ever will, insha Allah.
And verily, you are on an exalted standard of character. (Suratul Qalam 68:4)
When the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) came into this world, the community at that time was known as ummi, meaning illiterate. They did not know how to read or write. They did not know the potential of a human being. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), himself, also was not educated. He had never even seen the face of a teacher, nor had he ever picked up a book and read even a sentence. On one hand, we have a community and on the other hand, we have the Prophet who was sent to guide them and both are ummiilliterate. Allah commanded the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam):
Arise and warn! (Suratul Muddath-thir 74:2)
So the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) stood up and made two major claims:
1. I have been sent into this world as an educator and warner.
2. I have been sent into this world to perfect the best of moral conduct in human behavior, to educate and purify them.
These were two of the biggest challenges that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) had to face and two of the biggest goals he had to accomplish throughout his prophethood.
In a period of twenty-three years, when the last sermon was given in the field of Arafat, there were approximately 124 to 144 thousand Muslims present. There was no other period of time in the past two millenniums that one person has changed the lives and minds of so many people in a period of twenty-three years.
A professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at Edinburgh University, who wrote a biography of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) called, Muhammad in Mecca, Muhammad in Medina, stated: One thing baffles me. I cannot understand how one man, who has no formal education, could lead a community, who behaved like animals and created those same human beings into men the world had never seen.
The Weekly News Magazine, TIME, dated July 15, 1974, carried a selection of opinions by various historians, writers, military men, businessmen, and others on the subject: Who Were Historys Great Leaders? Some said that is was Hitler; others said Ghandi, Buddha, Lincoln, and the like. But Jules Masserman, a United States psychoanalyst put the standards straight by giving the correct criteria wherewith to judge. He said: Leaders must fulfil three functions:
1. Provide for the wellbeing of the led.
2. Provide a social organization in which people feel relatively secure, and
3. Provide them with one sent of beliefs.
With the above three criteria, he searches history and analyzes Hitler, Pasteur, Caesar, Moses, Confucius, and the lot, and ultimately concludes:
People like Pasteur and Salk are leaders in the first sense. People like Gandhi and Confusius, on the other hand, and Alexander, Caesar, and Hitler on the other hand, are leaders in the second sense and perhaps the third sense. Jesus and Buddha belong in the third category alone. Perhaps the greatest leader of all times was Muhammad, who combined all three functions. To a lesser degree, Moses did the same.
A Christian Reverend and commentator of the Bible, followed by that of his Master, said: The ultimate criterion of a true prophet is the moral character of his teachings.
The men that have been quoted above, who have praised the Noble Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) are not Muslims, but they are those who have studied Islam and understood that Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) was no ordinary man.
When the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) sent a letter to Caesar, the King of Rome, inviting him to embrace Islam, Hercules summoned Abu Sufyan bin Harb, who was the archenemy of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) and the believers at that time, and questioned him about this man, who was claiming to be a prophet of God. Abu Sufyans testimony went as follows:
Muhammad descends from a noble family. No one of this family happened to assume kingship. His followers are deemed weak with numbers ever growing. He neither tells lies nor betrays others, we fight him and he fights us, but with alternate victory. He bids people to worship Allah Alone with no associate, and abandon our fathers beliefs. He orders us to observe prayer, honesty, abstinence, and maintain strong family ties.
I fully realize that Prophets come from noble families; he does not affect any previous example of prophethood. Since none of his ancestors was a monarch, we cannot then allege that he is a man trying to reclaim his fathers monarchy. So long as he does not tell lies to people, he is, for the more reason, immune to telling lies as regards Allah. Concerning his followers being those deemed weak with numbers ever growing, it is something that goes in agreement with questions of Faith until this latter assumes its full dimensions geographically and demographically. I have understood that no instance of apostasy has as yet appeared among his followers and this points to the Bliss of Faith that finds its abode in the human heart. Betrayal, as I see, is alien to him because real Prophets hold betrayal in abhorrence. Bidding worship of Allah with no associates, observance of prayer, honesty, and abstinence and prohibition of paganism are traits bound to subject to him all my possessions. I have already known that a Prophet must arise, but it has never occurred to me that he will be an Arab from among you. If I was sure, I would be faithful to him, I might hope to meet him and if I were with him, I would wash his feet.
Even, Abu Sufyan, the most staunch enemy of Islam before he converted, had to testify to the excellent behavior and truthfulness of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) and because of that, even Hercules said that if he were present with the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), hed wash his feet with his own hands.
Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example to follow for him who hopes (in the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. (Suratul Ahzaab 33:21)
One time, Umar ibn al-Khattab (radiyyallahu anhu) told the Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) that he loved him more than anything in the world except for his ownself. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) told him it was not sufficient, so Umar (radiyyallahu anhu) told the Final Messenger that he loved him more than his ownself. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said that he had attained what is proper. He stated: No one of you has a true faith until I am dearer to him than his father, his children, and all of mankind. This was recorded in Bukhari and Muslim. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) is the most beloved creation to Allah and no one else could surpass this love of Allah that He has for His noble creation. If one does not love what Allah loves, then he is bound to be destroyed.
Sahih Al-Bukhari narrates a hadithi qudsi on the authority of Ata (radiyyallahu anhu), which comprehends most of the characteristics of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam):
O Prophet! We have surely sent you as a witness, a bringer of good tidings, a warner, and a protector for the Ummis. You are my chosen servant and Apostle. I have named you the Trusting, since you trust Me in every matter. You are neither rough mannered nor hard-hearted. Nor do you uproar in the market place. You never requite evil for evil, but forgive and overlook. Allah will not give you death till He has brought your stray nation on the right path through you and has given light to the blind eyes of the unbelievers and has opened their deaf ears and closed hearts. I will refine you with all that is noble; and endow you with every noble habit; and will make tranquility your attire and trait; and piety your conscience; and wisdom the substance of your thought and knowledge and truthfulness and sincerity your nature; and forgiveness and good works your custom; and justice your practice, truth your rule, righteousness your guide, and forge the followers of Islam into a community. Your name is Ahmad. Through you, I will show the people the right path after deviation from it; and bestow knowledge and wisdom upon them after their complete ignorance. Through you, I will raise my creatures from the abysmal to the zenith of perfectionand will make your Ummah the best Ummah for the guidance of mankind.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) is the best role model for mankind and it is incumbent upon each and every believer to obey and follow the messenger if they hope for Paradise and the pleasure of Allah, Most High, the Exalted. He was the most reliable, trusted, and loved. He was the most generous, keen and most attentive to the peoples trust and was very careful to pay peoples due in full. He never betrayed nor deceived nor lied.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said: The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me (Quran and Sunnah) is like abundant rain falling on the earth. Some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rainwater and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. Another portion of it was hard and held the rainwater and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking and to irrigate the land for cultivation. A portion of it was barren which could neither hold water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allahs religion (Islam) and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah Taaala has revealed through me and learns and then teaches it to others. The (last example is that of a) person who does not care for it and does not take Allahs Guidance revealed through me. (He is like that barren land.)
Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to convey the Message) and you (are responsible) for what is placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messengers duty is only to convey (the Message) in the clear way. (Suratun-Nur 24:54)
As a child, as a boy, as a youth, as a man, as a laborer, as a husband, as a father, as a companion, as a businessman, as a preacher, as a teacher, as a religious reformer, as a soldier, as a general, as an administrator, as a planner, as a ruler of a state, as a leader of the faithful, as a protector of the weak, widows, and poor, as a guide to the rich, as a guardian of the orphans, and as a servant and messenger of Allah, the Beloved Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) has no equal, no parallel, and no peer in the entire history of mankind. He stands head and shoulders above all other human beings in the nobility of his character and the piety of his soul. In all these walks of life and in all of these departments, the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) is a hero and the best role model for mankind.
I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess the assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every ageI believe that if a man like him (Muhammad) were to assume dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness
--G.B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No. 81936
May Allah shower His choicest blessings upon the Beloved, Honored Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), his companions, and all those that follow him till the Day of Judgement. And may Allah include us among those who love the Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) more than anyone and anything else in the world and may Allah give us the ability to perfectly imitate the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam). Ameen, Alhumdulillahi Rabbil Alameen.