Every year around 12 Rabi ul Awwal, the Muslim world once again wakes up from its slumber and starts the ritual of praises of Prophet Muhammad . Articles are published and speeches are delivered focusing on every aspect of the Prophet's life.
People are inspired by the character and the wisdom reflected in his actions. Yet memory is short lived and after a few days of celebrations, he is once again forgotten only to be remembered during the Friday sermons and an occasional gathering.
The day of the Prophet's birth should be a day of joy where we can all produce results for a better humanity as a sign of our commitment to him.
Within a short span of 23 years, Prophet Muhammad succeeded in establishing a state run by a community that had disciplined itself in following the eternal principles of justice and equality in all aspects of life. In an age where mass communication was by word of mouth only, the mission of one Prophet had become the call of over a million people.
|"We take great pride in recounting heroic tales of Islamic battles, but we must remember that the Prophet spent less than 20 hours in battles which cost less than 500 casualties, nearly half of them Muslims."|
During his life time, the Prophet motivated a whole generation of people on the basis of the divine teachings and his character. Only 24 years after the death of the Prophet, believers, who were expelled from their own homeland, now extended from North Africa to Central Asia including present day Afghanistan.
We take great pride in recounting heroic tales of Islamic battles, but we must remember that the Prophet spent less than 20 hours in battles which cost less than 500 casualties, nearly half of them Muslims. Yet he brought a peaceful world in existence where slavery was abolished, persecution of women was stopped and divisions on the basis of one's creed and color or status were destroyed.
He stood up for the rights of the neglected and marginalized and showed the utmost respect to those ordinary men and women who used legitimate means to earn their livelihood in a manner sanctioned by the divine guidance.
He was commissioned by the All Mighty to instill in humanity respect for character, sincerity and labor of all people. He worked to establish a culture where human resources would not be exploited by the powerful to serve their tribal and political interests. He visualized a world where people would rise about their sectarian and racial differences to identify with the concept of oneness of humanity.
He wanted the bloodshed in the name of religion and tribalism to come to an end. He wanted people to accept the differences they inherited. He promoted the idea of free will and free inquiry in determining one's own course of life. His plea was simple. Every human being has the capacity to discover his humanity to create a better environment for each and every human being and to live a dignified life.
Some 1419 years after his physical departure from the world, the number of those who love him has increased by millions and the number of those who are willing to die for him has also multiplied. But not many are there to live for him and live according to his teachings.
Against his teachings, the Umma is divided on sectarian lines, shia, sunnis, hanafis, shafais, malikis, tablighis, barelveis, deobandis and others. Every sect wants to own him and claims that it is following his path.
The Prophet was neither Shia or Sunni, shafai, or hanafi or Ismaili or Bori. Where is the sense of loyalty to him? What happened to his teachings that reminded people that you are one people and if one suffers than the others feel the pain. On the contrary, those who swear by his name take pride in killing each other in his name. If one just looks at the past 20 years, various sects and parties of Muslims have killed each other in millions and their leadership promises them a guaranty of paradise. How do these people celebrate the Prophet when they cannot even overcome their petty sectarianism? How do these people celebrate the Prophet when they are promoting bloodshed of the innocent?
With the example of his personal life, the Prophet encouraged a peaceful family life where love and compassion would dominate the behavior among spouses. Yet more than 40 percent Muslim women suffer from some kind of domestic violence. There are more than quarter of a million women who are bought and sold in black market all over the world every year by all kind of people including Muslims who claim their loyalty to Prophet Muhammad . How do these people identify with his life when they are violating every principle that he stood for?
The Prophet inspired the aspect of justice when he urged believers to give a labor his wages before his sweat is dried. But what an irony that the people who build mosques in his name, and monuments to civilizations give little concern to the rights of the laborer.
As the Umma of Prophet Muhammad we must take stock of our actions and make sure we work to build a model character within our selves and our families.
By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), - Verily Man is in loss, - Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy. (Quran 103:1-3)
We should understand that his struggles and his teachings were not only meant to be marveled during public meetings but to be lived in every day life. The true respect to the Prophet is when the principles that he stood for are lived by his followers. Otherwise, whatever we say and do will be nothing more than a ritual.
The fact that the Prophet was chosen by the Divine to communicate His message for the last time to humanity should remind us of our responsibility to humanity.
Let us remember the Prophet by striving within ourselves to build a model character.
You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of God. (Quran 33:21)
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor of the Detroit based English weekly, Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada, Las Vegas and the recently elected General Secretary of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relation.
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