Prophet: Say I am only a mortal like you

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In the following article Javeed Akhter reviews the life of Prophet Muhammad in light of many of the recent incidents that have promoted violence as a response to real or perceived denigration of the Prophet .


Respond to hate with love.

A reading of Prophet Muhammad's life, and the life of his companions, teaches us how to react to real and perceived insults. Whenever the Prophet was insulted he responded with stoic calm, answered hate with love and hostility with graciousness. He was called names, trash and even thorns were thrown in his path. Enemies would surround him and talk loud to drown him out when he spoke in public. It is reported that the fellow who negotiated the Hudaybia treaty with him would touch his beard in an unwelcome show of familiarity infuriating the Prophet's companions. But for all of the real and perceived insults his response was to remain calm and ask his companions not to get angry. His logic was simple; even the worst offenders could turn around and become friends and even followers. An angry response would be counterproductive. 

The way to show love for a person you admire is to emulate his behavior and not get emotional and angry to the point of killing someone or getting killed. Those who promote this type of angry response need to go back and read and reflect on the Seerah (Biography) of the Prophet. The strongest among people, he taught, is one who can overcome anger.

The near deification of Prophet Muhammad

The visceral reaction some Muslims have to denigration of the Prophet may have to do with how his persona is looked upon by many Muslims. As seen in the yearly Milad-un-Nabi celebrations amongst South Asians, the veneration of the Prophet reaches the level of near deification. He is the perfect man (insane-e-Kamil), sinless and flawless. The sinless part is true but there were minor errors that the Qur'an alludes to as in the Chapter "He Frowned" (Abasa). I have met intelligent, educated folks who with a straight face have stated that Prophet Muhammad is alive and also present (Hazir wa Nazir) and listening to the supplications of his followers. This cult like veneration of Prophet Muhammad that includes periodic viewing of his hair, is exactly the opposite of how he wanted to be remembered. That is why he was so against any depiction of him in art or sculpture. He was fearful of being turned in to a deity. There are no renderings of him but the veneration that is behind the blasphemy laws in several Muslim countries belies his hope to be viewed and followed as a human.

Prophet Muhammad human.

One can almost hear the Prophet's protestation as recorded in the Qur'an; "Say: I am only a mortal like you (Qul innama ana basharun mithlukum). My Lord inspireth in me that your God is only One God. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none share of the worship due unto his Lord." (Qur'an 18:110)

The Qur'an repeatedly stresses his mortality; "Muhammad is no more than an Apostle. Apostles before him have passed away. If he dies or is slain, will ye then turn on your heels? And he who turneth on his heels shall not in the least injure Allah. And Allah will soon reward the grateful." (Qur'an 3:144

Abu Bakr in his wise and poignant speech at the Prophet's death made this point clear; "O men, If you have been worshipping Muhammad , then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping Allah, then know that Allah is living and never dies."

The Qur'an points out that not just Prophet Muhammad but all of the messengers were human; "And We sent none before thee, but men to whom We made revelation -- question the People of the Remembrance, if you do not know -- nor did We fashion them as bodies that ate not food, neither were they immortal." (Qur'an 21:7-8

The Qur'an makes it clear that he is not an angel, or an incarnation of God but a human being who would live and die like other humans ; "What kept men back from Belief when Guidance came to them, was nothing but this: they said "Has Allah sent a man (like us) to be (His) Messenger? Say "If there were settled, on earth angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for an messenger." (Qur'an 17:94-95)

A thoroughly modern argument.

In the same vain Allah avoids giving him the type of supernatural miracles that were given to earlier messengers. "They say: "We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water. Or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen), against us; or thou bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face. Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we could read. Say: "Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man, a messenger?" (Qur'an 17:90-93)

When people asked the Prophet to show "signs" to support his claim to messenger hood, the Qur'an uses thoroughly modern arguments to support the presence of a purposeful and divine design for human existence. It repeatedly draws our attention to the balance in nature and the marvel of our own creation; when nature itself is so miraculous, the argument goes, why do we need supernatural miracles?

Much to emulate in the Prophet's life.

The excessive veneration of the Prophet Muhammad and the violence as a way of showing devotion to the Prophet shreds these Qura'nic teachings and Seerah lessons. Muslims need to love and respect him, analyze his acts, learn from his words and emulate him the best they can. Muslims are particularly fortunate to have the example of Prophet Muhammad to emulate. The various phases his life went through make it easier for us to understand the teachings of the Qur'an and give us a model to emulate. In Qur'an's own words; "Indeed there is for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern." (Qur'an 33:21) Two such lessons are to remember he was a human and that overcoming anger is a high virtue.

Muhammad never took personal revenge and forgave easily and quickly. He forgave even his worst enemies. His forgiveness and grace toward Hind, on whose urging Hamzah was murdered and mutilated, stands as a witness to his extraordinary compassion. He was always courteous to his enemies and those who pretended to be allies. He knew that some of the pseudo allies would participate in congregational prayer. He was fully aware of their hypocrisy, but never confronted them.

Any faith with more than a billion adherents, over 1400 years of history, varied cultural heritage and experiential diversity is bound to have differences in how it is understood and practiced. This diversity and even heterodoxy is understandable and completely predictable. It is when some of these heterodoxic ways of thinking that seem to become main stream then it is time to worry. Unfortunately this appears to be true with the blasphemy laws in countries like Pakistan.

So if someone maliciously insults the Prophet react with calm, try and befriend them, have them volunteer time with a Muslim charitable group, or NGO, or live in a Muslim household that is following his precepts and educate them on his Seerah. Let common sense prevail.

 

Javeed Akhter, is the Executive Director of the Chicago based International Strategy and Policy Institute and he is the author of the book "The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life,"

Click Here to read book review of The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life



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  16 Comments   Comment

  1. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    The aim of Daawah is to inculcate desires in the hearts of Muslims

    for the love of Deen promoting social intercourse by showing respect

    to each other.There is the need for sincerity in all our activities

    doing things only to please Allah in the manner shown by

    Rasulullah.There is the need for consultation known as Shura and our

    tongue should be sweet and our hearts soft.It is our duty to invite

    the whole humanity toward Allah Uduu ila sabili Rabbika bil hikmah.

  2. Sam from South Africa

    Please show me a single Muslim that worships the beloved Prophet,upon Him peace and blessings.

  3. Babandi A.Gumel from U.K

    Allah (S.W.T) chose Rasulullah and made him best example and a

    model to follow for the whole humanity.Whether we like it or not

    Allah says in His Holy Book "Say I am a mortal like you and

    Sayyidina Abubakar whom Allah destined to make him become the

    first Caliph for the Ummah after the demise of the beloved

    Prophet settled the matter of the Prophet's argument being

    mortal. At that time almost every one was confused when they

    heard that the beloved Prophet passed away including Sayyadina

    Umar who brought out sword saying he will chop the head of

    anyone who says Rasulullah is dead".After Abubakar went to see

    the dead body of the Prophet he kissed his forehead and came

    back to calm the people and the commotion which ensued due to

    this saddest news and then made the famous statement quoting the

    Verses of the Quran" Wama Muhammadun Illa Rasul.....Muhammad is

    no more than Apostle of Allah.Prophets before him have passed

    away.If he dies or is slain will you turn on your heels? And he

    who turns (away) shall not in the least injure Allah, and Allah

    will soon reward the grateful.So may Allah make us grateful! So

    the Prophet has been sent to be obeyed copied and followed in

    all his ways of life.He was the best example and the best role

    model for the whole humanity from cradle to grave.No one can

    change the words of Allah "Say I am a mortal like you" is not my

    saying or your saying or anybody's but Allah's therefore

    Sadaqallahul Azeem. Every Muslim needs to obey and respect Allah

    and His Prophet.Non is worthy of Worship except Allah and

    Muhammad is His Final Messenger.May Allah give all of us hidayah

    and taufiq to see Haq as Haq and the ability to follow it and

    Baatil as Baatil and the ability to shun it Ameen.

  4. Sam from South Africa

    If the beloved of Allah is like you and I take anything of the BELOVED Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) at random and compare it with YOURSELVES. Let's take the beloved hands, the most beautiful of all creation, for example..

    The blessed hands of the Prophet,were as beautiful and pleasing to gaze upon as everything else about Him. They were white and fleshy, with slightly tapering fingers. His boy-servant, Anas ibn Mlik, said on more than one occasion, "I have never touched any silk or brocade that is softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah, nor have I ever smelled musk or scent more fragrant than the fragrance of the Messenger of Allah,

    W'il ibn Hajar said, "Whenever I shook hands with the Prophet, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, or my skin touched his skin, I smelled the scent of musk on my hand for three days."

    The baraka of the Prophet,radiated powerfully from his hand, so that when he placed it on the sick and the injured they were cured, when he touched food it increased manifold, when he placed it on someone's chest he removed doubts and disbelief, when he gave his Companions dry, wooden sticks they turned into swords, when he threw gravel or dust at the face of the enemy, it separated into guided missiles striking their targets in the eyes.

    When Qatda ibn al-Nu'mn was wounded in the eye by an arrow on the day of Uhud, his eyeball was dislodged and hung on his cheek. His companions wanted to cut it off, but decided to consult the Prophet first. He said, "No!" then ordered Qatda brought to him, pushed his eyeball back into place with his hand, blowing some of his spittle on it then said, "O Allah, give him beauty!" It became Qatda's best eye and when the other eye suffered from infection, that one never did.

    Can you, O human do these with your hands AND YET YOU want to say the beloved is like you and ME....

  5. Babandi A.Gumel from U.K

    Istiqamah i.e to be steadfast with following the Sunnah ways of the

    Prophet (S.A.W) is better than Karamah showing miracle once in a

    blue moon.Allah wants us to be steadfast as HE said Fastaqim kama

    umirta thou this is command to Rasulullah but He said Innal Lazina

    Kalu Rabbunal Lahu Summas taqamu..... THose who say our Rabb is

    Allah and they are steadfast the Angels will be descending on them

    (at the time of death) no fear no sorrow.Whether we like it or not

    Allah says Kul Innama ana basharun mislikum yuha...Say Iam a human

    like you so what else do we need.

  6. sam from South Africa

    I have met intelligent, educated folks who with a straight face have

    stated that Prophet Muhammad is alive - let me respond to this

    statement by relaying one of the most famous incident proving the

    Prophet's (upon Him peace and blessings) is ALIVE occurred in the

    12th century when Sayyid Ahmad Rifai'i, a descendant of the Blessed

    House, visited the tomb of his forefather.

    A man of modesty, Sayyid Rifai'i had not dressed himself in the

    travelling garb that Prophetic descendants did in those days. So

    when he requested permission to enter the chamber - a privilege

    allowed to the Sayyids - the guard had stopped him, asking him for

    proof of his lineage.

    Disappointed, Sayyid Rifai'i had cried out:

    "As-salamu 'alaikum, ya jaddi."

    (Peace on you, my grandfather).

    To everybody's amazement, the Prophet (upon Him peace and blessings)

    had answered:

    "wa 'alaikum salam, ya walidi."

    (And peace on you, my son).

    Then the Prophet (upon Him peace and blessings) had extended his

    hand out from the grave and Sayyid Rifai'i had kissed it.

    For those modernists who would like to write this off as a fairy

    tale,Sayyid Rifai'i's kissing of the Prophet's noble hand was

    witnessed by hundreds. It caused states of ecstasy and set off a

    frenzy - so much so that people slashed and stabbed themselves with

    their swords and daggers.

    When they came round there were many injured and Sayyid Rifai'i was

    forced to pray for their healing, which the Creator permitted, the

    wisdom being that had the incident of the Prophet (upon Him peace

    and blessings) proffering his hand to Sayyid Rifai'i been unpleasing

    to Allah, he would not have granted His Mercy.

    Rasullah is Truly ALIVE

  7. Babandi A.Gumel from U.K

    Man's existence in this world and the creation of the entire

    universe are not mere accident or products of a fortuitous

    nature according a French Scientist Dr Maurice Bucaille.He said

    this Universe every single atom of it manifests and points to

    the realization of a Loving,Merciful and All Powerful

    Creator.Without a Creator nothing can exist as simple as

    that.Every single soul knows that he is existing and his

    existence is dependent on a Creator he knows for sure that he

    cannot create himself therefore it is his duty to know his

    master creator-God. "Do not the unbelievers see the heavens and

    the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation) Before

    We (God)clove them asunder.(Quran 21:30) That is the message of

    Rasulullah (S.A.W) sent to the whole humanity and Universe.

  8. sam from South africa

    Love and veneration for the Prophet has no limits besides one;

    that a person does not exceed the limits as the Christians did in regards to their Prophet Jesus (peace be upon Him):

    "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Maryam, for I am only a slave. So call me the slave of Allah, and His Messenger."

    [Bukhari, Vol.4, Hadith no. 654]

    This, the Beloved Prophet said as a warning so that none would take him as a deity (na'uzubillah) for Allah alone is worthy of worship; and also out of humility for he was known for his deep modesty and noble character.So praise the beloved how much even to the extreme as long as you do not worship him and no Muslim for over 1433 years have ever worship or will ever worship the beloved of Allah.So the arthur is incorrect that MusLim will ever make the beloved of Allah a deity.Ashtugfirullah.

    As long as these bounds are respected, the Ummah is safe.

    Following the Beloved Messenger leads to Allah's Pleasure, and following his Sunnah leads to strength in faith - and you cannot be sincere in these actions if they do not come from the love within your heart.

    "Say (O Muhammad): 'If you do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'" [Qur'an 3:31]

    Truly, love needs no justification nor does it require reasoning or proof; it just is.

    And Allama Iqbal once said,

    "Love of the Prophet is like blood in the veins of the Muslims."

  9. sister sarah al-mubarack from usa

    what this shows people is they can achieve all the moral improements that the prophet brought. by us being human beings not animals. those who dont make it allah ar rahmaan shows us that the animals are better than them for allah ar rahmaan has given them a degree of care for each other and they never lose it.

    our beloved prophet came to improve character and we all need to pay attention to this. ameen

  10. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    Think of any profession in the world the Prophet (SAW) has excelled or groomed followers who became better human beings like the Sahabah and their followers and those who followed them with Ihsan who became the best examples and samples for the whole humanity up to the Day of Judgement. Previously before Islam Sahabah were the worst at the time of Jahiliyyah.Allahu Akbar and few years after embracing Islam they became samples that could not be found anywhere in the world as human beings.They used to drink alcohol,gambling womanising prosetitution,and al kinds of evils name it.With the advent of Islam they stopped all these evils.Tell me which Religion apart from Islam could stop all these kinds of evils that are seen in our society who can stop them.Everyone is following his desires how can they stop evil.Therefore Rasulullah is no doubt the real teacher of the whole humanity guiding them to the right path which brings salvation to the whole humanity.We are all searching for peace and tranquility only Islam can bring the real peace and unity among the humanity . So without doubt Rasulullah was our model as ruler,professional soldier judge,husband, father,teacher,philosopher,scientist,Imam,Pius worshipper who feared His Rubb,trained the trainers people like Abu Huraira,Imam Bukhari true journalists,and broadcasters who never concocted lies and stories in order to impress the public or the society.They were guided by the guidance of the Prophet and followed his ways meticulously as a human being.His ways are there to be examined by anybody who doubts that Rasululah is the real Prophet of Allah who was sent to the entire mankind.May Allah give us taufiq and ability to follow him as a human being like us.The title really befits the exalted status of Rasulullah although sent to the entire mankind yet he says "Say I am only a mortal like you".As He lived and died examplary simple life we also want follow and copy him in life and death and invite the whole humanity same.

  11. Muzammil from Malaysia

    Willy, there is the phrase after prophet name, peace be upon him. But, it is shown in Arabic, sollollohu'alaihiwassalam (small thing there)

  12. Ahmad from UK

    Re. willy USA

    Due respect has been shown, "peace be upon him" is written each time his name is mentioned, but in Arabic. So if you can't read Arabic, you won't understand it, or your browsers can't render the character properly and you see something else, maybe an empty space.

    The article itself does raise some valid points, worthy of note.

  13. willy from USA

    it seems to me that in this article disrespect was shown to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH by the lack phrase after his name. why was this?

  14. parrotfish29 from ph

    i ope all muslims will follow propher muhammad... peace not war..

    please

    parrotfish29

  15. M. Aftab from USA

    There has never been a cult or sect in Islam that has actually deified the Prophet (pbuh). The people you mention, who believe that he (pbuh) is alive, is flawless, responds to salawat, and venerate his person belongings, base their reverence on their understanding of the Quran, Hadith, Seerah and Sunnah. There maybe disagreement on these issues, but we should learn to tolerate and respect different schools of thought.

  16. Zainib Ahmad from USA

    Alhamdolilah! May Allah reward and bless the brother for such an excellent article. This is the message we urgently need to get out to all Muslims everywhere. This is what should be the substance of juma khutbas and lectures. It must be made loud and clear that anyone who resorts to violence to "defend" the Prophet(pbuh) is only doing damage to Islam, and would surely have faced disapproval from the Prophet himself, if he had witnessed such actions in his life. Blasphemy laws are the cancer of Islam and we all must work hard to fight them. I shall print this article out to read to my children. Keep up the good work Islamicity!

    Sincerely,

    Zainib Ahmad