Dr Altaf Hussain Yatoo
Dr Ali Sharieti, one of the great ideologues of the contemporary resurgence in the world of Isalm, says that ‘the best way to judge a world movement is to judge it through the role played by its leader and the guide-book he put forth’. It simply means that the leader should not only abide by the teachings of the book but he has also to become an ideal and model for the human emulation. This is because if the leader doesn’t become an embodiment of the teachings of the book, he would not be able to lead the people successfully at any front. And when the leader gets possessed by the book, he becomes a personification thereof which the people around him find easy to follow.
As such, the person of the leader and the spirit of the guide-book must go hand-in-hand. This is the purport of the famous reply of ‘Aisha, the Prophet’s (SAW) wife, who, while replying the query ‘what were the life-etiquette of the Prophet (SAW)’, had said that ‘his life was the personification of the Qur’an’ (kaana khuluqu hu al-Qur’an)! That is, what had been ordained in the book by God was being exemplified and symbolized by the Prophet (SAW). This is the reason that the non-believers’ plea for an angel as a prophet was rejected outrightly, because mankind could in no way emulate an angel and consequently an angel could have never become a model for the mankind. And, if, for the sake of argument, God had willed to send an angel as a prophet, He would have sent it in human shape and posture so as to make it a model for mankind to follow.
So, prior to his vocation as the final Prophet, Muhammad (SAW) was the final model in the making. His being an ‘ordinary’ being with extra-ordinary traits right from his birth suggests this fact. It was divinely destined that Muhammad (SAW) would be an orphan so that intrinsic quality of generosity would develop in his self towards this class of society in particular and the helpless sections of it in general because the orphanage is nothing but extreme helplessness, a condition vulnerable to every kind of exploitation. He was exposed to the ignorant and arrogant behavior of his fellow beings so that an inner urge for the remedy of these wrongs would arise from his sensitive soul. This is what God reminds him in the Qur’an that ‘It is He (God) Who found you an orphan and gave him shelter and found you seeker of guidance and guided him’. What a composition of the book and his person has his mission been!
During his childhood, Muhammad (SAW) reared herds of sheep and goats. This job of the Prophet (SAW) was in accordance with the tradition of the prophets (AS) of yore, because the prophets (AS), according to a tradition recorded by Bukhari have reared herds. That is why the Israelite traditions call the prophets as ‘shepherds’ as well although the term also means that the prophets (AS) have been keepers of the mankind. This means that the Prophet (SAW) learnt the lessons of wisdom directly from the vast lap of nature instead of a school, college or academy as had been the case of philosophers. Since he had to be the recipient of the divine revelation, his heart and mind had to be as neat and clean as distilled water. So, he was not among the only seventeen persons who were literate in Makkah according to the research of Dr Muhammad Hamidullah. As such, there were no chances of a mix-up between the divine and human. Thus he became the medium through which the divine commandments based on wisdom reached to the mankind.
Muhammad (SAW) dyed himself with the dye of God and delivered the divine message to the mankind. In this process he influenced one and all. However, a small number of people thronged to him, because the antagonism of the Qurayshite stalwarts was a direct result of their fear of losing their position and status which they have had as per the existing system. Nevertheless, the Prophet (SAW) succeeded in extracting the cream of the Makkan soil to establish a system based on the divine teachings in Madinah. Hollow sloganeering had nothing to do with the establishment of this system. Its pillars were the divine teachings borne out by selfless practice and sacrifice with Bilal (RA), Khubayb (RA), ‘Ammar (RA) and the people of their ilk as the symbols thereof. The Prophet (SAW) had consoled ‘Ammar (RA, one of these three) and his family at Makkah by saying, “sabran ya aali yasir; mau‘idukum al-Jannah”-Patience, O family of Yasir; Paradise is your promised abode! And when ‘Ammar ibn Yasir reached Madinah after leaving his possessions earned by him with hard toil for the Makkan ‘greats’, the Prophet (SAW) saluted him with these words: “What a great bargain has ‘Ammar made!”
‘Ali (RA) once approached the Prophet (SAW) with a request for some servants so that burden of hard domestic labour could be lessened off from Fatima (RA). The request was not only turned down by the Prophet (SAW) but a spiritual prescription was offered for Fatima (RA), still known as tasbih-i Fatima. This simply suggested that Muhammad (SAW) had not come to the world to excel the Byzatines and the Sassanids. Rather, he had been assigned the task of spiritualization of the physical realm. When one of his sons died in infancy, people, influenced as they were by the Persian psyche of hero-worship, started commenting that the lunar eclipse was caused by the death of the Prophet’s (SAW) son. The Prophet (SAW) not only reprimanded them for these comments but also told them that ‘these (eclipses, etc) were some of the signs of God’.
Therefore, the movement of Islam succeeded only because its leader, the Prophet (SAW) personified and internalized its guide-book, the Qur’an and thus became the model for all humanity. This is what the advent of the Prophet (SAW) stands for.
The writer is the author of The Islamization of Kashmir (A Study of Muslim Missionaries), The Emergence of Islam in Kashmir (A Study of Hazrat Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani) And Islam: The Noble Path. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org