A General Introduction: Who Is Muhammad?
This article covers the answer to the question: “Who Is Muhammad?“
I would like to introduce the reader to the exemplary life of the blessed Prophet Muhammad1 and his distinguished, exalted personality. The “water of life” for the salvation of humanity should be made known to everyone.
Prophet Muhammad is the pride of humanity. For the past fourteen centuries, many thinkers, philosophers, scientists, and scholars, each a radiant star in our intellectual world, have stood behind him in respect and admiration, and taken pride in belonging to his community.
It is enough to appreciate and understand his greatness that even after so many antagonisms (toward religion), we still hear the words “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God” from minarets five times a day. We rejoice while his name is being proclaimed from minarets, as do the dead and other spiritual beings. Despite concerted efforts to corrupt our young people and lead them astray, they continue to hasten to him, although they cannot perceive the full reality of the Messenger of God.
Time has not caused us to forget the truth about him. He is so fresh in my mind that if I mention his holy name, it is as if I am about to meet him. Once, while on pilgrimage to his radiant city, Madina, I felt that he was about to appear and welcome us. As time progresses, some thoughts become obsolete, but he remains as fresh as a rosebud in our hearts. And so whenever we hear his name mentioned from the minaret, we immediately abandon our work and, accepting his invitation, hasten to the mosque.
If we had been allowed to describe him as others have been described, if we had used the social and educational institutions, then perhaps our young people would be following his way. Despite our shortcomings, many pick up their “glasses” and run to fill them from this “pure spring.” In every part of the world, including the United States, England, France, and Germany, an Islamic revival is occurring. Muslims are sowing these lands with the seeds of a happy future. Islam is everywhere healthy and flourishing as it did during the Era of Happiness—the time of Muhammad.
The same is true of predominantly Muslim lands. Those Muslims whose devotion to Islam was largely unconscious and devoid of deep perception or research have given way to a new generation who are consciously following the Messenger of God in the light of science and advances in knowledge. Those who previously exploited schools and universities on behalf of unbelief are now running to him. Even such well-known people as Maurice Bucaille and Roger Garaudy have seen the falsehood of their systems and are hastening to him.2
The Most Beloved of Hearts
I wonder whether we have fully recognized the most beloved of hearts. Even I, who have been performing five daily prayers since the age of five and striving to be a servant at his door, wonder if I can recognize him. Have we been able to enthuse love into the hearts of our recent generations by describing the ultimate source of all love and enthusiasm?
If only humanity had known the Prophet, they would have fallen in love with him as Majnun fell in love with Layla.3 Whenever his name is mentioned, they would tremble with joy in anticipation of entering the ethos that surrounds him and those following his way wholeheartedly.
We can love only those whom we know and only to the extent of our knowledge. Our enemies have tried to make us forget him, to ensure that his name is no longer mentioned. Since he is supported by God, all obstacles have been torn down, and the younger generation submits to him as joyfully as one dying of thirst does upon finding water. His mighty tenderness and compassion will embrace every “thirsty” person who comes to him.
You must have noticed that when you come to the Friday prayers, the congregation consists mainly of young people. Have you ever asked why, despite the prevalence of misguidance and rebellion, young people come to mosques and sit despite cold and other difficulties? There is only one attraction: Prophet Muhammad. Whether we can grasp it or not, souls and hearts rush to him as moths to a candle. Even those “winter flies” who have not been so fortunate will soon turn to him. Scientists and great thinkers will study him. Those who are currently enemies will soon be bosom friends, and will take refuge in his warm welcome. In his time, even his enemies admired him.
He once related a dream: “They weighed me against ten people of my community, and I outweighed them. Then they weighed me against a hundred and then a thousand, and I outweighed them all.”4 He also related: “I was weighed against my whole community, and I outweighed it.”5 He outweighs all people of intellect, piety and spirituality, and faith and knowledge, for all other beings were created because of him. It is reported that God said to him: “But for you, I would not have created the spheres.”6
Describing the Meaning of Creation
The universe is a book. If the Prophet had not been created, this book would not have been understood. To create an incomprehensible book is a waste of time and effort. As God is beyond such things, He created Muhammad to describe the meaning of creation to humanity. God would be his teacher, and the Earth and firmaments would be subjected to him. He would answer all the eternal questions: “Who and where am I?” “Why have I been created?” “What is my ultimate destination?” and “Who is my guide during this journey?”
The Prophet provides creation with meaning and answers such questions. If he had been fully recognized, he would have been truly loved. Although we only know him a little, we still love him.
Let me narrate an incident that occurred during a visit to the Prophet’s holy city. The atmosphere was overpowering.
Something occurred to me: I pray to God every morning, saying seven times: “O my God, save me from Hellfire and make me enter Paradise among the company of the godly people.” There can be no believer who does not wish to enter Paradise. However, in this environment, I asked myself: “If they were to invite you to Paradise through any of its seven gates, which would you prefer, entering into the rawdah (the area in the mosque next to the Prophet’s tomb) or entering Paradise?” Believe me, I swear by God that I said to myself: “This place is more dear to me. I have had the chance to rub my face against the soil of my master, at whose door I prefer to be a chained slave rather than anything else in the world. I do not want to miss this chance.”
I believe this is the desire of every believer. When I was blessed with this great opportunity, I was with Mr. Arif Hikmet, who was then a member of the Turkish Parliament. He told me he had promised himself that he would roll in the soil like a donkey when he stepped across the border and entered the land of Madina. This great man kept his promise. When I remember this incident, I cannot prevent my eyes from watering.
A Message That Embraces Humanity and Jinn
Since the Prophet came with a sacred Law that will never be abrogated, a Message that embraces humanity and jinn, and has hundreds of miracles excelling those of all other Prophets, he is the head of all Prophets. Therefore, he has the core of all their miracles and their unanimous confirmation. In other words, all other Prophets’ agreement on the same faith and the testimony of their miracles support the Prophet’s honesty and truthfulness. He is, at the same time, the master and leader of all saints and scholars of purity and profound knowledge who have attained perfection through his teaching and guidance, and through the light of his sacred Law.
In addition, he has the core of their wonders, their unanimous affirmation, and the strength of their verified conclusions. Since the way they have followed to reach the truth was the one opened and left open by him, all of their wonders and conclusions established through meticulous research and intuition, as well as their consensus on the same faith, support his Prophethood and truthfulness. This is why his coming was promised by all the Prophets before him. God made a covenant with them that they would believe in him and support him.
God took a covenant with the Prophets: “
I have given you of Book and Wisdom; then there shall come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you—you shall believe in him and help him.” He said: “Will you affirm this, and take My load on you in this matter?” They answered: “We affirm it.” He said: “Bear witness, and I shall be with you among the witnesses.” (3:81)
All of the Prophets led their lives in perfect loyalty to their promise. When Prophet Muhammad was about to make his mi‘raj (Ascension to the Heavens), he led the prayers before the souls of all the other Prophets.7 All of them, including Abraham, Moses, Noah, and Jesus, displayed their desire to become his muezzin (the one who calls to prayer).
In the Bible, Jesus repeatedly gave his disciples the glad tidings of the final Prophet’s coming. According to John (see 14:16, 26, 30; 16:7), he said:
It is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the helper will not come. I have much more to tell you, but for now it would be too much for you to bear. When, however, the spirit of the Truth, the lord of the world, who reveals the truth about God comes, he will lead you to the truth.
I wonder if we realize how unique he was as the head of family. Do we know how he brought up his children or grandchildren, each of whom would have been a great leader in any succeeding century? He dealt with his wives so successfully that there was no serious disagreement among them. He is beyond all comparison as father, husband, or human being.
He had such sublime virtues in his blessed being, such exalted qualities in his Messengership, and such precious merits in the religion and sacred Law that he preached, that even his bitterest enemies could find no fault with him. Since he combines function, religion, and the most praiseworthy virtues in his personality, he is certainly the embodiment, master, and representative of all perfections and high, laudable virtues found in creation.
This perfect commander challenged the world with only a few followers. He repelled all who opposed his teachings and was never defeated, although he had no mortal teachers and never attended a military academy. He was so informed about science that he told his followers about almost all the major events that would occur until the Last Day. It was as if he were watching television or reading from an unseen tablet.8
Some time ago, a friend brought me a video cassette in which Keith Moore, a Canadian embryologist, who had realized how the Qur’an describes the development of the human embryo in the womb, declared his conversion to Islam. On the same tape, a Japanese psychologist who had discovered that Islam explains many problems that baffle modern scientists, was trying to get his tongue around the Arabic words to make the same declaration.
Who taught all these scientific facts to the Prophet? Certainly, he did not speak on his own. Whatever he spoke was a Revelation revealed to him by his teacher, the One Who knows everything, Who is All-Knowing and All-Aware. As science advances, humanity will come to discover a new aspect of his personality and will regret not having known him earlier.
His Companions knew him and loved him more than they loved themselves. They were prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect him. For example, he dispatched a group of teachers to the Hudayl tribe at their request. The Hudayli unbelievers betrayed their teachers and killed most of them. Zayd ibn Dasina and Hubayb were handed over to the Quraysh, then enemies of the Muslims.
When they were about to be executed, someone asked Hubayb: “Don’t you wish that Muhammad were in your place so that you could be with your family in Madina?” Hubayb was startled and replied: “I would rather be cut into pieces than wish Muhammad was in my place. I don’t want even a thorn to hurt his blessed foot in exchange for my being returned to my family.” Hubayb prayed that God would convey his wish of peace and greetings to His Messenger, and inform him that he had remained loyal to him until he died. Meanwhile, the Prophet informed his Companions of Hubayb’s martyrdom and returned his greetings.9
Sumayra, from the Dinar tribe, hurried to the battlefield when she learned that the Muslims had experienced a reverse in Uhud. They showed her her father’s corpse, and those of her husband and sons, but she ignored all of them. She just kept asking what had happened to the Prophet. When somebody guided her to him, she threw herself to the ground at a short distance from his feet and exclaimed: “All misfortunes mean next to nothing to me, provided that you are alive, O Messenger of God!”10
He was so loved that his Companions would have given their lives if it meant that he could live forever. But, of course, he was mortal like other created beings. The appointed hour drew near, and he had to say farewell to his friends of 23 years. Mu‘adh ibn Jabal had been shuttling between Madina and Yemen carrying the Prophet’s Message. On the day he was about to leave, the Messenger of God told him: “Mu‘adh, leave now for Yemen. When you come back, you will probably visit my mosque and my tomb.” These words were enough to bring Mu‘adh to the point of emotional collapse.11
Following the Prophet
The problems of our time will be solved by following the way of the Prophet. This has been acknowledged by unbiased Western and Eastern intellectuals. As Bernard Shaw once admitted, humanity can solve its accumulated problems by turning to Prophet Muhammad, who solved the most complicated problems as easily as one drinks coffee.
Humanity is waiting for the return of the Muhammadi spirit, for the Message of the Prophet. When they turn to him to solve their problems, they will be saved from exploitation, freed from misery, and attain true peace and happiness. This second revival has already begun, despite the aversion of unbelievers:
They desire to extinguish the light of God with their mouths; but God will perfect His light, even though unbelievers are averse. He has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, even though the polytheists are averse. (61:8-9)
God will uplift His religion, and people will run to Prophet Muhammad. In him, they will find peace and happiness. Humanity finally will learn to live in security through him, and it will seem as if they are already living in Paradise despite still being in this temporary world. This will take place despite the presence in every country of unbelievers, wrongdoers, hypocrites, and those who ignore him. The lord of the Prophets, whose name we proclaim from our minarets five times a day, sooner or later will enter the hearts of all human beings. And since Prophet Muhammad was a man of peace, humanity will attain happiness through the Message he brought: Islam.
By M. Fethullah Gülen
1. In any publication dealing with the Prophet Muhammad, his name or title is followed by the phrase “upon him be peace and blessings,” to show our respect for him and because it is a religious requirement to do so. A similar phrase is used for his Companions and other illustrious Muslims: “May God be pleased with him (or her).” However, as this practice might be distracting to non-Muslim readers, these phrases do not appear in this book, on the understanding that they are assumed and that no disrespect is intended.
2. Maurice Bucaille is a French physician and scientist who accepted Islam about 25 years ago. Roger Garaudy is one of the ideologies of communism of our age and a previous general secretary of the French Communist Party. He chose Islam about 20 years ago.
3. Majnun and Layla are two legendary figures who loved each other very deeply. (Tr.)
4. Qadi Iyad, Shifa’ al-Sharif, 1:173.
5. 400 Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2:76.
6. Al-Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’, 2:232.
7. Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami‘ al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil Ay al-Qur’an; Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya wa al Nihaya, 3:139.
8. Sahih al-Muslim, “Fitan, 22-25”; Ibn Hanbal, 1:4.
9. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, 4:76.
10. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, 4:54; al-Haythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 6:115.
11. Ibn Hanbal, 5:235.