Muhammad’s Character And High Morality
This article covers Muhammad’s Character and High Morality, written by M. Fethullah Gulen.
- If a man’s universally admired accomplishments, wealth, and fame do not change him, and he remains as humble as he was at the beginning of his career, this shows an impressive strength of character, morality, and virtue. Despite his unparalleled achievements, which force even non-Muslims and atheists to consider him the greatest person of all times, Prophet Muhammad was poorer and more humble when he entered Makka victoriously than he was at the beginning of his mission.
- One’s face reveals one’s inner world and character. Those who saw Prophet Muhammad could not help but admire his appearance and, if unprejudiced, acknowledge his truthfulness. For example, ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam, the most renowned Jewish scholar of the time, believed in him at first sight, saying: “One with such a face cannot lie.”
- If a firefly declares itself to be the sun, its lie lasts only until sunrise. Turkish people say that a liar’s candle only burns till bedtime, meaning that a lie is short-lived. So, a deceitful person pretending to be a Prophet would soon be unmasked, and no one would accept his or her claim.
- Even an unimportant person in a small group cannot lie shamelessly and openly without somehow being discovered. Prophet Muhammad challenged everybody to come until the Last Day. He gave many important speeches to a large community concerning a great cause, all with great ease and freedom, without hesitation or anxiety, with pure sincerity and great solemnity, and in an intense and elevated manner that provoked his enemies.
- An unlettered person cannot speak on something requiring expert knowledge, especially to specialists in that area. However, Prophet Muhammad spoke on every issue from theology and metaphysics to medicine and history, physics and biology, and has never been contradicted. He challenged his people’s strengths (literature, eloquence, and oratory), yet nothing they composed could compare with the Qur’an.
- People do not risk their life, wealth, and reputation, and bear hardship and persecution for a lie, unless they want even more wealth and higher worldly position. Before claiming Prophethood, Prophet Muhammad was well off and respected. After Prophethood, he confronted great hardship and persecution, and spent all he had for his cause. His enemies slandered, mocked, and beat him. Finally forcing him out of his homeland, they took up arms against him. He bore all of this without complaint and asked God Almighty to forgive them, for all he wanted was to see everybody believing in and worshipping the One God exclusively, thereby prospering in both worlds and being saved from the torments of Hell.
- History is full of people who, saying one thing and doing another, never attained a large and devoted following. Their ideas did not change people permanently, nor did their systems outlive them for any length of time. However, Prophet Muhammad sincerely and honestly practiced what he taught, and was the most obedient worshipper of the Creator and follower of the religious law. This shows his full conviction in his cause and that he is a Messenger of God sent to guide humanity to the True Path.
- People’s characters are usually well-established by the time they are 30, and do not change significantly after that. To change one’s character after 40 is practically impossible. If God forbid, there had been any imperfection and blemish in Prophet Muhammad’s character, it certainly would have appeared before his Prophethood. Is it logical that a person recognized by his community as its most honest and upright member would suddenly, at age 40, assume the role of a great liar and fraud to his own people?
- Liars can neither acquire nor maintain a large group of dedicated followers eager to sacrifice themselves. Even though being Prophets who never lied, Moses and Jesus did not have such devoted followers. The Jews betrayed their Prophet— Moses—when he left them for 40 days to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, by worshipping a golden calf made by Samiri. Even after so many years of intellectual and spiritual training in the desert, only two God-fearing men obeyed when Moses ordered them to fight the Amalekites. As for Jesus, one of his most devoted twelve followers [Judas Iscariot] betrayed him.
The Companions were so devoted that they willingly sacrificed everything for the Prophet Muhammad. Although brought up among a primitive, ignorant people without any positive idea of social life and administration or a Scripture, and immersed in spiritual and intellectual darkness, Prophet Muhammad soon transformed them into the masters, guides, and just rulers of the region’s most civilized, socially, and politically advanced peoples and states. Their subsequent rule has been widely admired ever since— even by those who continue to oppose Islam and Muslims.
Also, innumerable universally acclaimed profound scholars, famous scientists, and pure, spiritual masters have been produced by the generations following the Companions. How could they establish a civilization, the most magnificent and advanced of all times, by following a liar? God forbid such a thought!
Prophet Muhammad was the perfect exemplar of high moral conduct and virtue. He appeared among a desert people possessing only the most rudimentary level of civilization and devoted to immorality. Who brought him up as the most virtuous and moral person? His father died before he was born; his mother died when he was 6 years old. He was then raised by his grandfather and uncle, but how could they give these perfections to him when they did not embody them to such a degree? His teacher was God, as he himself said: “My Lord educated me and taught me good manners, and how well He educated me and how beautifully He taught me good manners.”
- History has seen many virtuous people. However, no one has ever combined all virtues and good qualities as perfectly as Prophet Muhammad. Many generous people cannot show enough courage when and where necessary, and many courageous people cannot be so lenient and generous. But Prophet Muhammad combined in his person all virtues and laudable qualities at the highest level.
Virtue and good morality require balance. Excessive generosity becomes extravagance, excessive thrift becomes miserliness, courage is confused with rashness, and dialectics or demagogy with intelligence. Virtue requires knowing how to act in certain conditions. For instance, the self-respect of the weak for the strong, when assumed by the latter, becomes self-conceit; the humility shown by the strong to the weak, when assumed by the latter, becomes self-abasement. A person’s voluntary forbearance and sacrifice (of one’s rights) is good and a virtue; when done on behalf of others, however, it is treason. People may bear their own conditions patiently, but they cannot do so for the nation. Pride and indignation on behalf of the nation are commendable, whereas they are not on behalf of oneself. Prophet Muhammad was perfectly balanced in his virtues and good moral qualities; perfectly courageous when necessary; perfectly mild, forgiving, and humble among people; perfectly dignified but gracious; and more generous than all others, but also thrifty and opposed to extravagance. In short, he was the most perfect balance of all virtues and good qualities.
According to Muslim theologians, there are six essentials of Prophethood: truthfulness, trustworthiness, communication of God’s commands, intelligence, infallibility, and freedom from any mental and physical defect. History records that Prophet Muhammad had these six essential attributes in the most perfect fashion.
- People often have to make quick decisions that might cause them problems in the future. Prophet Muhammad’s great achievements, made during the relatively short time span of 23 years, are without parallel in human history. He never faltered, and his decisions always proved to be correct. Moreover, his actions and words were both for his own people and for all future generations regardless of time and place. As none of his statements have ever been contradicted, no one can criticize his actions, words, and decisions. Can one who is not a Prophet taught by God, the All-Knowing, have such intelligence, foresight, sagacity, insight, sound reasoning, and prudence?
By M. Fethullah Gulen