Life Sketch of the Greatest Prophet (S.A.W.)
Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi
As I have said before, society needs rules and laws to preserve peace and justice, that the law cannot be free from inequities unless it is given by Allah. But I have told you earlier that Allah cannot be seen, He cannot appear Himself before human beings to give them His law.
Therefore, Allah appoints somebody to represent Him on the earth. That Viceregent of Allah is called "Prophet." As a mirror has a bright side to receive light and another side to reflect that light, so a Prophet has the highest spiritual purity which enables him to receive the divine message and a human body which enables him to communicate that message to his fellow human beings. The purpose of Prophethood is two-fold: First to bring people nearer to Allah and the Second to bring peace and happiness in the world.
According to our belief, all the Prophets were infallible and sinless. Suppose that there is a man who, just like ourselves commits or can commit sins or wrongs, and then such a man claims that he has been sent by Allah as a Prophet to lead people on the right path. Naturally, the people cannot believe that what he says is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; because his every word is liable to be wrong. So he cannot command unreserved respect and indubitable obedience from his people. Therefore, to carry out the mission of Allah, it was necessary that the Prophets be infallible and sinless.
The Prophets were given miracles as their credentials. Miracles, according -to our belief, are such performances which are not impossible, but which cannot be done without apparatus, medicine or practice. But the Prophet performs them without any practice and without any machinery. Curing the blind persons or lepers is not impossible. But Jesus Christ cured them without any medicine, and that was his miracle. Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) had innumerable miracles, but his greatest living miracle is the Qur'an.
When Prophet Muhammad (S) went to heaven in his lifetime and narrated the happenings after his return, his enemies said, "How was it possible to go to heaven with body?" But we believed from the beginning that if an infallible Prophet says that he did go to heaven, it was not impossible. Now the recent advent of science has proved that we were right. Where scientists are trying to go by spaceships Muhammad (S) went without any aid from any machine and that was his miracle.
The Qur'an says that Allah sent Prophets in every part of the world. Their basic Faith was the same. According to common belief, one hundred twenty-four thousand prophets were sent by Allah from time to time. Adam was the First of them and Muhammad (S) was the Last.
Muhammad (S) brought Islam which is the last Divine Religion and which cancels all previous religions. Islam is intended for all the world without any distinction of colour or origin. Islamic teachings are embodied in Qur'an which is the Book of Allah. It was revealed to Muhammad (S) in the course of twenty-three years of his Prophethood.
A brief sketch of the life of the Prophet of Islam will not be out of place here. Muhammad (S) was born in the year 570 A.D., at Mecca. He was the only son of `Abdullah and Aminah. His grandfather,`Abd al-Muttalib son of Hashim was a Chief of Quraysh. `Abdullah, father of Muhammad (S), died about four months before his birth and he lost his mother when he was in his sixth year. The charge of the orphan was undertaken by his grandfather, who also passed away when Muhammad (p.b. u.h.a.h.p.) was eight years old. `Abd al-Muttalib at the time of his death, entrusted the boy to the care of his son, Abu Talib, who was poor but very respected person. Abu Talib and his wife, Fatimah hint Asad showered upon Muhammad (S) more love and care than they ever did for their own children.
From his early childhood till the age of forty, Muhammad (S) showed all the noble traits of highest human character that commanded respect from everyone who knew him. The Arabs conferred on him the title "as-Siddiq al-amin" (The Truthful and Trusted One). At the age of twenty-five he married a noble lady, Khadijah, who gave birth to his only surviving child, Fatimah, the Lady of Paradise.
At the age of forty he was called to the mission of Prophethood by Allah. The first to accept his call were those who were nearest to him in the daily life. Khadijah, his wife, was the first to accept Islam. His cousin, `Ali, son of Abu Talib, was his first male follower. Then come the names of Zayd ibn Harith, Abu Bakr, Arqam and so on.
The propagation of Islam, at first was a secret mission. But three years after the first revelation, came the command: "And warn your nearest relations" (26:214)
Having got this command, the Prophet ordered Ali to prepare a feast. When all the members were assembled and the feast began, the Prophet said, "I have been sent to you by Allah and I have brought to you the good tiding for this world and for the life hereafter. Who among you will help me in this great task? Whoever accepts this responsibility will be my wazir (vizier), my brother and my successor." No body came forward, only `Ali stood up and said "O! Prophet of Allah! I will help thee and I am ready to sacrifice everything on thy command." Three times the Prophet asked them the same question and three times it was only `Ali who gave assurance to help him with all his power. At last the Prophet declared: "O! People of Quraysh! Listen to me! Here is `Ali who is my wazir, my brother and my successor. Listen to him and obey him." The people left the place cutting jokes with Abu Talib, father of `Ali, telling him he should obey his own child. The coming years proved that it was not a laughing thing.
The hurling of open denunciation at the ancestral idols of Quraysh by the Prophet set all Arabia ablaze. The resentment, at first, let them to approach his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib, to persuade him to silence his nephew. Abu Talib conveyed their message to Muhammad. Muhammad replied: "Uncle dear, even if they place the Sun in my right hand and the Moon in my left hand in order to turn me away from the work which I have been entrusted by Allah to do, I will not listen to them." Saying this he burst into tears. Abu Talib said: "Go in peace, my son! and do what thou wilt for, by God! I will not abandon thee." This decision of Abu Talib infuriated the Quraysh. As a last attempt they approached Muhammad himself. They told him: "If your ambition is to acquire wealth, we will amass wealth for you as much as you may ever desire; and if you are aspiring for power and honour, we are prepared to accept you as our King and overlord; and if you have any fancy for beauty, you shall have the hand of the fairest maiden in the land." Muhammad's reply was short and clear: "Neither I want wealth nor do I want power or beauty. I have been commissioned by Allah as a warner to the mankind, I am communicating His message to you. If you accept it, you shall have facility in this life and the life hereafter and should you reject it, verily, Allah will decide between you and me."
So began the bitterest persecution of Muslims in the first years of its birth at the hands of the Meccans. Islam was making slow but steady progress. At the same time, the persecution and the torture of the poor Muslims was growing in its intensity day by day. The Prophet ordered some eighty Muslims of both sexes to seek refuge in the Christian country of Abyssinia. Ja'far, the third son of Abu Talib was the leader of this caravan. Negus, the Ethopian King of that time received them with honour, and as the history says, after a short period, he himself became converted to Islam. Africa can be proud of the fact when Islam was being persecuted in the land of its origin, Africa gave shelter to the poor Muslims, and whenever any list of the Muslim Kings will be prepared, the name of Negus, the African king, will be on the top.
After seven years of these atrocities, Quraysh decided to boycott Banu Hashim, the Family of Muhammad, becausethey had persistently refused to disown him. Three years of the cruelest hardships passed and Banu Hashim suffered such tortures that were beyond human endurance. At last, the Quraysh themselves were ashamed of their inhuman behaviour, but still they did not lift the ban. Then a miracle occurred and the ban was lifted after more than three years.
Shortly afterwards, as a direct result of these sufferings both Abu Talib and Khadijah died. Just at the time when Muhammad stood sorely in need of the protection of his loving uncle and the comfort of his wife, the hand of death snatched them both away from him. Now Quraysh had a free hand in dealing with Muhammad and his followers. And they lost no time in deciding that Muhammad should be killed on a certain night. Muhammad under the divine guidance, asked `Ali to sleep in his bed to keep Meecans unaware of his absence, and he left Mecca to Medina, 280 miles from Mecca. Abu Bakr accompanied him on his own accord. This epoch-making event in the history of Islam marks the beginning of the Muslim Era, called "Hijrah. "
The Meccans did not let Muhammad remain in peace even at Medina. They waged war after war against him. After six years of continued anxieties, Muhammad concluded a peace treaty with Meccans on apparently humiliating terms, in order to keep peace in the land. But the Quraysh violated even that treaty within two years. Now seeing that there was no alternative left, Muhammad marched and made a bloodless entry into Mecca, from which, eight years before, he had fled a hunted fugitive. The Meccans, remembering fully well their own dark past and shameful record, were apprehensive of him. But they were surprised to hear the Prophet speaking: "There is no reproof against you. May Allah forgive you, for He is Merciful and Loving; Go, you are free."
Three months before his death, the Prophet went for his last pilgrimage to Mecca. In the return journey he ordered the caravan to halt at a place named Khumm. It was a place where several routes met. It was mid-day and the Sun of Arabia was pouring its full heat upon the parched earth. A temporary platform was prepared for the Prophet and he delivered a long Khutbah, (lecture) at the end of which he asked the Muslims: "Have I not more authority upon you than you have got upon yourselves?"
All of them responded by saying: "Surely O Messenger of Allah!" Then, the Prophet took the arms of `Ali, and showing him to the audience, declared: "Whomsoever I am master, `Ali is his master too."
Saying it, he took the arms of 'Ali and showed to the audience. Then he ordered them to go and greet 'Ali as their Amir (i.e. Leader and Guide). Less than three months after this declaration the Prophet died at Medina.
The announcement at Khumm: The detailed account is given in, besides hundred of books, Kanz al-'Ummal, the famous book of traditions, (vo1.6, pp.390, 397 & 399) and Khasa'is (by an-Nasa'i, p.48). From these accounts the following words of the Prophet should be copied here: "Remember! I am leaving behind among you two most precious things - One of them is greater than the other - i) The Book of Allah, which is the rope of Allah from the heaven up to the earth, and the other ii) My Descendants who are my family-members. So look how you deal with them, and verily, both will not be separated from each other until they come to me (in Qiyamah) at the Kawthar. . . Verily, Allah is my Master and I am Master of every believer." Then he took the hands of `Ali in his hands and said: "He whose Master am I, `Ali is His Master. . ." This tradition, jointly and severally, are narrated, in every book of tradition which is worth its name.
There is no argument about the fact, though some Muslims try to interpret it in some other way, but the fact is undisputed. The famous Scholar of Ahl-i hadith (generally known as al- Wahabiyyah) Nawwab Siddiq Hasan of Bhopal, says: "Hakim Abu Saeed says that the traditions of "two most precious things" and "Whose Master am I, `Ali is his Master" is `mutawatir' i.e. narrated by so many people that no doubt can be entertained about its authenticity, because a great number of the companions have narrated it, so much so that Muhammad ibn Jarir has written these two traditions by 75 (seventy-five) different chains.
I have left many events in the life of the Prophet because most of them are common knowledge. Here I have mentioned only those events which, though commonly narrated in Arabic histories, traditions and commentaries of Qur'an, are not known, for one reason or another, to non-Arabic-speaking public.
 Minhdj al-wusul, page 13