When the Revelation came to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the first order conveyed to him from Allah was:
“Read in the name of thy Lord who creates – man from a clot; Read and thy Lord is most Generous, who taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not.” With this Quranic verse Allah informed His Prophet that the basis of the Message was dependence on Allah and the Message itself would not be understood except through knowledge and learning.
The second time, the Revelation came with this:
“O, Thou who wrappest thyself up, Arise and warn; and thy lord do magnify; and thy garments do purify” pointing out to him that his mission was to purify people’s souls from dirt and evil and remove from their hearts all kinds of uncleanliness. Allah also ordered His Prophet,
“Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation.”
The Holy Quran which was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) contains the Islamic laws and rulings and these depend on two principles, emancipation and purification.
Regarding emancipation, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) freed minds from darkness, people from slavery, women from persecution and bondage, and people from domination. Islam mandates that all people are equal and demands that justice be sought for all. The Qur’an says :
“Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the measure that men may conduct themselves with equity. “
Regarding purification, Allah wants people to be clean and honest and communities to be friendly and compassionate, Islam dislikes cowardice, parsimony, flattery, hypocrisy and arrogance. To build up a welfare society, the Prophet asked the wealthy to help the poor and the needy and warned merchants to not give short measures and weights and refrain from deception.
On these two principles, emancipation and purification, Muhammad struggled all of this to achieve. And he was rewarded with victory.
“This day those who disbelieve your religion became despaired, so fear them not, and fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion”
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the most successful human being in all of history, was sublime in his manners and morals. Allah says in the Quran,
“And surely thou hast sublime morals”.
The word “morals” covers the whole range of human actions. It is not one aspect of human ethics, but is all inclusive of man’s behaviour with man, and man’s behaviour towards his Creator. Someone once asked Sayeda `Aisha about the manners and morals of the Prophet, and she replied: “His morals were the Quran”.
In other words, his daily life was a true picture of the Quranic teachings. He was an embodiment of all that is enjoined in the Holy Quran. Therefore, a believer has two standards of guidance, both the Quran and Muhammad’s life as a perfect example.
Muhammad stands unique as a perfect model to humanity in almost all spheres of life. For this very reason, Allah reveals in His Book:
“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much”.
This Quranic verse points to the most significant truth and distinguishing characteristic of the Prophet as the best example and the highest model of virtue for believers under all circumstances. If he had not overcome his persecuting enemies and forgiven them, if he had not overlooked the faults of those around him, he could not have been an excellent example. If he had not led the armies, he could not have served as a model for a general leading armies into battle. If he had not made laws for the guidance of his followers, he could never have been regarded as an outstanding example to a legislator. If he had not decided cases, he could not have served as a light to judges and magistrates. If he had not married, he would have left men unguided in practically half of their everyday duties and could not have shown how to be a kind and affectionate husband and a loving father. If he had not established the city state of Madina and had not worked as its supreme head, the statesmen and rulers of the world would have been left unguided.
The first and foremost quality of Prophet Muhammad’s character is his honesty and truthfulness. The Prophet’s truthfulness and honesty, even before the call to prophethood, were undisputed. The people called him “Al-Amin”, the trustworthy. Allah Himself reveals in the Quran :
“I have lived among you a lifetime before it. Do you not then understand?”
The argument is if he had never told a lie in his lifetime even for the sake of personal advantage, as even the Meccans admitted, how could he now, that he had passed the age of youth and passions, speak falsehoods?
The next great trait of his character was simplicity. In fact, this was the keynote of his character. He was simple in dress and simple in living. He had little attraction for comforts. He regarded poverty as his pride. No work was too low for him. Sometimes he would mend his own shoes and clothes and would work like a labourer with his Companions.
A radiant trait of his character was that he extended equal justice to all, irrespective of friend or enemy. The highest standard of justice placed before him by Allah was :
“Let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably. Be just; that is nearer to observance of duty. And keep your duty to Allah”
When a case between a Jew and a Muslim once came up before the Prophet for hearing, he decreed in favour of the Jew, regardless of the fact that the Muslim, even perhaps the whole of his tribe, might thereby be alienated.
Forgiveness was another great quality of the Prophet. Even Allah Himself praises his kind- heartedness and reveals in the Qur’an:
“And We have not sent thee but as a mercy to the nations.”
A single instance from his life is sufficient to prove his mercy and forgiveness. At the time of the conquest of Mecca, he declared a general amnesty and forgave his arch enemies. This stands un-paralled in the history of mankind.
Modesty was another bright feature of his character. According to him, “Modesty is a part of faith”.
From his earliest days he had a deep love and sympathy for the widows, the orphans and the helpless. Without fail, he would visit the sick to enquire about their health and console them. He would feed the hungry, himself going without food. Muhammad also laid down the best example of an affectionate husband and a loving father. He raised the standard of women and gave her a high and respectable position in a degraded society like that of Arabia. He is reported to have said: “The best of you is one who is best to his family, and I am best amongst you to my family”.
May Allah send His salam and blessings to our prophet Muhammed and his family.