There are several misunderstandings about Islam, the Qur’an and the position of the Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of Islam (blessings and peace of Allah be with him). Many think that Islam is the youngest religion among the living religions of the world. It is a religion in a limited sense like any other religion such as Hinduism or Christianity, and the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Muslims alone, and the Qur’an, the sacred book of Muslims. These misunderstandings have been corrected by the contemporary Islamic scholars. Still, there are many who have a wrong perception. In contemporary times, it is forcefully argued that neither Islam is a religion in the sense a new religion is understood in the modern period nor the Prophet Muhammad is the Prophet of Muslims alone and the Qur’an is the book of Muslims alone.
Islam is not the name of a religion presented for the first time by the Prophet Muhammad. “The Qur’an makes it abundantly clear that Islam – the complete submission of man before God – is the one and only faith consistently revealed by God to mankind from the very beginning. Noah, Ibrahim, Moses and Christ – prophets who appeared at different times and places – all propagated the same faith. They were not founders of faith to be named after them: each reiterated the faith of his predecessor.”
In what way then the Prophet Muhammad is different from other prophets? It is also made clear in the Qur’an. He is the last Prophet of God. God did not send a new message or faith by him. The Prophet Muhammad revived the same message-Islam which had been conveyed by all the former prophets. The message conveyed by God had been corrupted, and split into various religions by people of different ages, who indulged in interpolations and admixture. Hence, these alien elements were eliminated by God, and Islam in its pure and original form was transmitted to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet Muhammad is not therefore the Prophet of Muslims alone. We have substantial reasons for our claim that he is not the Prophet of Muslims but rather the Prophet for all mankind, and for all times. His mission was to carry God’s message – Islam – to all mankind in all times. This is again confirmed by the Qur’an. One can raise here a fundamental question. Why one should follow whatever is mentioned in the Qur’an while the Qur’an is the sacred book of Muslims? The Muslims believe in it; therefore they should follow it. This question is also the result of a gross misunderstanding.
The Qur’an is not the sacred book of Muslims alone. The Qur’an is sent by God through the Prophet Muhammad as the book of guidance and the code of life for the guidance of mankind. The Qur’an is available with us as the book that makes the claim that whatever is mentioned in this book is not only true but rather beyond any doubt. All the truth revealed by God in this Qur’an is subject to scrutiny like any other book. To examine the truthfulness of the message of the Qur’an everyone is free. Whatever faculties and abilities one possesses can apply for the examination of the truth of the message of the Qur’an. If one cannot examine alone the authenticity of the Qur’an, he can take the help of anybody or everybody. This is the challenge given to mankind in the Qur’an itself. So far no examination, whether rational or empirical, has proved that the message of the Qur’an is false. If the message seems to be true and fulfil all the criteria of analysis and examination, then there is no reason for us not to accept the claim of the Qur’an. We have ignored or rejected the message of the Qur’an only due to our arrogance or ignorance and prejudice. We need to be reasonable and scientific in our attitude. Arrogance and ignorance, prejudice and bias attitude cannot help us except to destroy us, as it is observable in the contemporary times.
It is said in the Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad is sent as a messenger of God to all mankind. God has revived through the Prophet Muhammad the same message which was sent through all other messengers for the guidance of mankind so that mankind can follow the path of peace – Islam – the complete code of life.
We need to follow the right path in our life that guarantees peace in the world. There are two things that we cannot find ourselves though we possess the faculties of reasoning and sense perception. One being the knowledge of the metaphysical realities, and the other the fundamental principles of life and conduct. These are the things for which we are bound to depend on messengers and their message. The current crisis and chaos in human life is caused by the negligence of the message of the Prophet Muhammad. We have been, throughout history, subject to several fallacies due to our insistence on conjecture and speculation.
Instead of knowledge regarding the metaphysical realities and the principles of life and conduct, we depended on conjecture and speculation. Here is the role and the mission of the messenger who brings the message of God to equip us with knowledge of the metaphysical realities and the principles of life and conduct. It is obvious that the message brought by him enables us to gain that knowledge which helps us to distinguish truth from falsehood, explains in clear terms the way which leads us towards the path of peace, security and prosperity. This is the knowledge which is beyond the reach of our senses or scientific inquiry. “This sphere of knowledge does not submit to any instrument of scientific examination. Philosophy and science can only speculate about it. Human theories about ultimate realities based on reason never achieve the level of certainty, and their authors’ consciousness of their limitations does not present them as conclusively proved. In respect of these realities man is dependent on whatever knowledge is communicated to him by God.” How is this knowledge conveyed? To convey this knowledge to us, God chooses prophets as His messengers. He reveals the truth to them and they communicate it to us.
The Prophet Muhammad brought the message of God to mankind. Therefore, he is considered the mercy to all mankind. “We have sent you as a mercy for mankind,” God declared in the Qur’an. We need to understand in what way the Prophet Muhammad is mercy to us. The Prophet Muhammad’s appointment as the messenger is a result of God’s mercy towards mankind. The Prophet Muhammad brought together in his humanity all truth about man in his various modes. He is the whole true man in whom all human virtues and aspects are in perfect balance. He is therefore regarded as the norm of true humanity manifesting the truth of individual and communal man in equilibrium. Every prophet, in his age, was a revolutionary who introduced a radical change without creating bloodshed. The prophets have been distinguished from ordinary reformers and secular revolutionaries. The change brought by them in social order, and the moral means they adopted were totally different and unique. It is well-known that the Prophet Muhammad was known as the truthful and the trustworthy one even before his appointment as the Messenger of God. Yet we find that there was acute opposition to the Prophet’s mission. The reason is clear. “He sought to change the entire priorities within the community, and to establish a community based on universal principles incomprehensible to a mind brought up in tribal traditions. Power was henceforth to be harnessed for completely novel uses. Honours were to go not to nobility of birth but of conduct, and superiority in knowledge. Increase in the power of an individual was now to mean only an increase in his responsibilities. The weak and the needy within the community were given a right to be protected and provided for”.
The Prophet Muhammad is related to every human being whether we believe in Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or any other ism and ideology, he is our Prophet. He is the Prophet to us who wants to guide us to the right path of peace and prosperity which we lack badly. It is a fact of our life that in spite of several claims of peace and prosperity, the majority still suffer from poverty and ill-health. Only a small number is enjoying all the material goods of this world.
The mission of the Prophet Muhammad is to elevate our position among all other creatures of this world. We are told during the modern period that we are ‘animal beings’, ‘economic beings’, ‘libidinal beings’, ‘consumer beings’ etc. The Prophet Muhammad is inviting our attention to think about our position and purpose of life. He is asking us to think: Are we simply created to be the victim of our circumstances as claimed by the modern western world? Do we simply need to follow the whims and trends of society and consider life as fun and enjoyment without recourse to any code of conduct or values? Can we be the silent observer and allow our society to adopt Hollywood and Bollywood culture of singing and dancing? What would be the result of this culture? One can expect nothing except increase in crimes. Underage young girls and boys are becoming the victims of human trafficking.
The Prophet Muhammad presents before us certain empirical evidences and tells us that we are above the ‘animal beings’ not created for bodily pleasure and fun and enjoyment alone. According to the message of the Prophet Muhammad, we are spiritual and moral beings who possess knowledge and wisdom and refuse to follow human conjecture and ignorance. The Prophet Muhammad warns people against ignorance and conjecture and asks them to follow knowledge that has been revealed to him. Hence, we all are subject to the Prophet’s guidance. If we reject him and his guidance we turn this world into the world of violence, terror, oppression, injustice, corruption, crisis and chaos. Whereas, we want to bring peace and prosperity in our life.
We are intelligent and free beings, as God created us, responsible for spiritual, moral and ethical development of humanity. But due to the negligence of the message of the Prophet Muhammad we have created corruption and disorder in all most all modern societies and shed a lot of blood. God created us and expect us to become one family, doing duties to each other as assigned by Him, and by taking care of each other and sharing natural resources. But following conjecture we divided one single family of human being into several nations. Each nation fears another nation. To gain the sense of security, small or big, every nation spends the maximum part of budget of the national government on weapons. How much wealth of the world is altogether spent on weapons? How much of the wealth of the world is spent for the production of the movies of terror and violence? Who are spending this amount of wealth on weapons? Civilized nations of the so-called civilized world? In spite of all this, no nation and no one feel secure and enjoy peace.
In this peace-less world we need the path of peace. Islam means peace. All the prophets of Islam showed the path of peace. But we divided all these prophets in several groups. Each group fears another group. We are told clearly in the Qur’an that all the messengers preached the same message – the message of peace and showed the path of peace – Islam. But, we consider Islam the religion of Muslims who are different from us. We are Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Asian, Americans, etc. We forgot that we all belong to the family of God who created the earth, sun, moon, water, air, vegetables, fruits, minerals and so many things and we benefit from all these things. The same God sent through the messengers the message of peace – Islam, and showed the path of peace – Islam. But we do not benefit from Islam – the guidance of God. We consider it a religion – religion of a different nation. We therefore reject Islam – the path of peace.
The sun, moon, air, water, and all other things of this world are common property of mankind. In the same way, the Prophet Muhammad is common to all of us. He is my prophet, your prophet, our prophet and prophet of all human beings who has been sent by God towards us as mercy, as the guide to the path of peace, security, and prosperity for all mankind. Do we have time to reflect on the nature of the relationship between ourselves and the Prophet Muhammad? Can we consider him our own Prophet? If I am convinced, then am I ready to accept the Prophet Muhammad as my Prophet? or I want to continue to think that the Prophet Muhammad is the Prophet of Muslims and deprive myself from the blessings of God and mercy – the path of peace and prosperity.