World peace is a possibility. It is no utopia. It is not a mirage, or a hallucination. It is obviously not any day-dream. There is only one proviso. Man must accept Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be with him) as the Saviour, which he is undoubtedly.
World peace needs a proper code of conduct and role model. The teachings of the Prophet provide the desired code of conduct (i.e. the law) and the life of the Prophet is the reference point, the role model. Men need the code and the role model in all their capacities: be that inner self and faith as individuals, or behaviour in familial life or social order, or national character as citizens, or international relationship on the basis of mutuality between countries. World peace will be possible only after all the aspects of human beings are addressed in a just manner on a common and inclusive impartial value system.
The code of conduct provided by Prophet Muhammad (peace to him) is popularly known as the shariah. Its ingredients comprise the book provided by Allah to the humanity through the Prophet, and the traditions of the Prophet.
The Holy Qur’an, the book of Allah, is addressed to the humanity at large. It is an authentic document that is, unlike most – if not all – of other religious texts, safe from any corruption or later years additions or deletions. It is as it was provided by the Prophet. It is not only a written document, but also memorised by scores of people in all generations including today, another unique and unparallel phenomenon.
Another feature of the book is that it was not provided by Allah in one go. It has been revealed in phases during 23 years in varied situations, from the moment Muhammad (peace to him) was declared as the prophet till his demise. In effect it is a book of action revealed in the course of action. It deals with varied situations that the Prophet and his followers faced. The movement spearheaded by the Prophet passed through many phases and the revelations received from Allah have a direct bearing upon and relationship with those varied conditions. Now, any individual or group of men in any situation will find resemblance with specific commandments in the book. That is the beauty of this book of action.
Apart from providing commandments in different conditions confronted by the Prophet and his followers, the book presents analogy with similar conditions faced by earlier Prophets and their addressees. Hence, it is an analysis and a record of historical events that are relevant to the man-today. Further, even if no analogy with any event in history, including the history of the period of the last Prophet, is available the book provides the set of needed values that is sufficient to cope up with any new situation of today or tomorrow.
The traditions of the Prophet comprise the records of what he said (hadith), what he did (sunnah) and what he let his followers do by maintaining a silence on the existing practices. The demarcation between what the Prophet said or did is not easy because in the same tradition recorded through his followers a description of the both may be contained. Hence, the two words hadith and sunnah have become synonymous. The Prophet’s silence is taken as approval as he would not have allowed his followers to do anything undesirable.
The traditions of the Prophet have been recorded with utmost care. It can be safely claimed that such detailed records prepared with so much pain and caution are not available with regard to any other human being.
These traditions are descriptive, additive and confirmative of the commandments of the book. These describe the intent of specific commandments of Allah and demonstrate, rather translate, them in practice. In many cases the book provides basic information whereas their details are found in the traditions of the Prophet. Hence, despite being mutually exclusive, the book and the traditions are closely related and interdependent. One is the theory, the other is the practice. One is the brief, the other is the detail. The book has to be understood in the light of the traditions. In fact, the book itself commands to follow the Prophet.
At this stage it is proper to assert that clear cut line of demarcation is to be maintained between the book (words of Allah revealed through the Prophet), the translations and tafseer of the book in different languages (the human efforts to understand and communicate the message of the book), the traditions (sayings and deeds of the Prophet including his silence), and the story of the life and times of the Prophet (the seerah).
The traditions of the Prophet relate to a variety of situations, almost all situations that any human being is likely to encounter. We have recorded, vivid and living example of the Prophet as to how he acted in different circumstances. This record relating to 63 years of the life and times of the Prophet is unique, apart from being authentic and detailed, in the sense that it describes the person (peace to him) who changed the course of history.
THE CODE OF CONDUCT
The code of conduct encompassing faith, self discipline, family life, social structure, politico-economic system and international law derived from the above mentioned basic sources of the book and the traditions has certain typical features that make it applicable to all times and all places in all communities and races. The system deals only with the basic laws. Only fundamental issues relevant to all human beings have been covered, leaving men free to adopt the methods and systems required by them in other cases. Human endeavour has been encouraged within the limits set by the central issues for which instructions have been provided. In other words, the commandments are related only to the principles of the principal issues. Guidelines for other issues have been provided and man is to himself find his way in other matters in their light. Those guidelines are the values that have to be considered while dealing with any new situation.
Another remarkable feature of the system of life that we have got through the Prophet is that the commandments have to be applied with a sense of proportion. Everything ordered is not of the same degree. Similarly, everything forbidden is not of the same intensity. This sense of proportion in applying the system is enshrined and this has very clearly been described by the legal experts of the system. This remarkable feature of the system brought by the Prophet is not generally understood and so there is a need to ponder and describe the same.
For example, some commandments have been established by Allah in his book and made obligatory. A person denying these obligations, in effect, denies the commandments itself. The book has to be accepted in totality as the words of Allah and no one can take the position that he accepts a portion of it and denies other portion. Denying one bit would amount to defying the whole. Further, some obligations, like attending to the last rights of the dead persons, are imperative upon the community: at least some of them must perform them, otherwise everyone will be accountable. Beginning with this highest degree of the obligations we have the case of wajib that is although obligatory and its non-performance amounts to sinning but its denial is not infidelity. Then there is the case of actions that are recommended, or desirable. On the other side there are actions that have been forbidden (haram) and others that are makrooh (allowed without any praise or blame). This sense of proportion with relation to the degrees of approval and disapproval of any action has to be understood very clearly so that the versatility, flexibility and ability of the system, emanating from the Prophet, to adjust in varied conditions may be appreciated.
THE ROLE MODEL
The role model provided by Prophet Muhammad (peace to him) is versatile and all-pervading and its reach permeates to all possible human circumstances. For example, the role model is available as a son, as a father, as a husband, as a guide, as a ruler, as a commander, as a negotiator for agreements, and as an obedient servant of Allah. This characteristic of the Prophet’s life is distinctive trait not found elsewhere. There is no doubt that all prophets provided distinctive role models. But the irony is that no complete role model, other than that of Prophet Muhammad (peace to him), is recorded and preserved in the history so vividly and with so many details.
Hence, despite our faith in all the prophets, there is no hesitation in saying that the only person whose life serves as the guide towards world peace is that of Muhammad, the last Prophet (peace to him).