Our Prophet (PBUH) came as Divine Messenger to Arab people during a period that is famously known as the period of Jahiliyyah (ignorance). Arabs were living a barbaric life to the extent that they used to even bury their new born baby girls alive. One can very well imagine how hard and difficult it must have been for the Prophet (PBUH) to reform and educate these people. One must never lose sight of this aspect of the Prophet’s (PBUH) life.
People start citing that so and so was extremely barbaric person and became a staunch supporter of the Prophet (PBUH) and achieved greatness as a Momin and significantly helped the cause of Islam. But one has to reflect on how it all happened; that how their hearts changed in favor of Islam from extreme hostility towards extreme love for the Prophet (PBUH) and the Divine mission. This was the result of Prophet’s (PBUH) education, teaching, and moral transformative training to purify their hearts and minds. The Prophet (PBUH) sensed sparks of courage and resilience in his staunch opponents so much so that when once he was surrounded by difficulties and challenges from all sides, he (PBUH) prayed to Allah: O Allah! Please grant me either Abu Jahal or ‘Umar for Islam so that one of them might become my companion!
The Prophet (PBUH) observed that both of them had great abilities but they were wasting them. ‘Umar had great fortitude and used to roam around with sword in his hand; and Abu Jahal was a shrewd headstrong partisan operative. Both had the gift of great oratory. But Allah granted Prophet’s wish only in favor of ‘Umar. This gem was lying in the dust and Prophet’s (PBUH) extraordinary vision recognized it. What a contrast between ‘Umar’s previous life and his new life as Prophet’s companion! It didn’t happen by luck or by sudden random change in ‘Umar’s mindset. So, how did it happen? It was the cumulative result of Prophet’s teaching, training, sagacity, moral purification, and powerful wisdom that made a transformative change in ‘Umar’s (R) personality and character.
That is how the Prophet (PBUH) created an Ummah. The obligation and duty of رسالت (Risalat) was to continue after the Prophet (PBUH) since نبوّت (Nabuwwat) ended with him and Allah made this Ummah the inheritor of His final Book, the Quran. Allah took upon Himself the responsibility of protecting it until eternity. And as long as the Ummah was on the right track of رسالت (Risalat) as established by the Prophet (PBUH), Islam was being practiced as Deen and its beneficial results are forever shining like pearls on the historical landscape – and the whole world quotes those magnificent results.
When the Prophet’s (PBUH) people demanded the proof that he really is the Messenger of Allah, then instead of arguing with them, he presented his entire life as a proof thereof. He said that I have lived all my life among you. That is a proof to you whether my life is that of a truthful person or a liar when I tell you that Allah has chosen me as His Messenger to you.
Most important duty of a divine messenger
A Messenger just didn’t convey the divine message but his duties went much further beyond that. The Quran says that the Messenger presents the Divine Laws (the divine Book) to the people; and then explains to them the objective and wisdom behind them. He teaches and trains them; and he gives them a program of action and guides them to implement it in the society that will help nourish and develop their potentialities. This is not possible without a transformative change of hearts and minds on the lines of the divine mission. This is a difficult process which all messengers had to go through. That is why the Quran emphasizes it again and again. It says that there is a law for changing hearts and minds of people. It emphasizes that no change will occur in the condition of a human society unless there is change in the selves of individuals:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ
(13:11) – Verily, God does not change men's condition unless they change their inner selves. [Asad]
This is a universal permanent value i.e. it is a universal law.
How to create respect for Laws?
Respect for a law among people won’t happen until people understand its purpose, its goal, its reason; and how it benefits individuals and society as a whole. People must be made clear about it and they must understand why have the laws been designed? Every effort must be made to teach and educate people about the utility of the laws. Then only they will understand the implications of the laws and will be satisfied that the laws are for their own benefits, so, they should follow them willingly:
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
(62:2) – He it is who has sent unto the unlettered people an apostle from among themselves, to convey unto them His messages, and to cause them to grow in purity, and to impart unto them the divine writ as well as wisdom - whereas before that they were indeed, most obviously, lost in error. [Asad]
كِتَابَ (Kitab) in Arabic is book but it also means “Law.” And حِكْمَةَ (Hikmah) means wisdom and rationality that comes from knowledge, intellect, reason, and logical thinking.
The Quran says that: O Messenger! When a Momin brings any issue before you and you render the decision then he should not only accept it, but, being a Momin he must be satisfied wholeheartedly with your decision:
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
(4:65) – But nay, by thy Sustainer! They do not [really] believe unless they make thee [O Prophet] a judge of all on which they disagree among themselves, and then find in their hearts no bar to an acceptance of thy decision and give themselves up [to it] in utter self-surrender. [Asad]
They do not find any vexation in their hearts over what the Prophet (PBUH) decides, and they submit to the decisions wholeheartedly since the Messenger had already explained to them the wisdom behind the laws according to which he renders his judgements.
The Quran was the source of our Prophet’s decision making process. Because:
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
(5:44) – they who do not judge in accordance with what God has bestowed from on high are, indeed, deniers of the truth! [Asad]
Education and Wisdom
Education and Wisdom are two different aspects: education provides intellectual satisfaction to the mind; but wisdom provides satisfaction to the heart and builds moral character. One may have seen highly intellectual people but would have also noticed their malicious and immoral character. So, what was the benefit of their extraordinary knowledge and intellect? This occurs purely at the mental level but their hearts did not improve. The divine messenger’s duty is not only to educate his people but also to purify their hearts; and to improve their moral character by transformative experience. This produces respect for divine laws in their hearts. So, they naturally tend to obey them whether or not some enforcing agency is watching them.
What about the next thing the Quran mentions: وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ (62:2)? This is a great thing. This means to nourish and to develop abilities and to actualize them that are hidden inside human beings in latent form. Once these abilities are actualized they must be channeled in the right direction within the limits set by the Quran to produce proper results. This is called self-purification. Otherwise, these abilities create destruction just like a river does when it floods beyond the limits of its shorelines.
The duty of رسالت (Risalat) was:
يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
(2:129) – who shall convey unto them Thy messages, and impart unto them revelation as well as wisdom, and cause them to grow in purity: for, verily, Thou alone art almighty, truly wise! [Asad]
The Messenger teaches the Momineen and explains to them the why and wherefore of the divine code of law (Kitab) (6:116). He would also establish a system wherein human potentialities would be actualized and utilized according to Allah’s Guidance; and such a system can only be established by the one who possesses power blended with wisdom.
The teaching that does not include wisdom – that does not include why and wherefore and essence of things – is not education but provides only information and literacy. The root of word “education” is derived from Latin words Educare and Educere. The word educare means to nourish, to bring up. The word educere means to lead forth, to draw out. Therefore, education is the process of facilitating learning.
This was the duty of رسالت (Risalat); this is now the duty of the Ummah; this is the goal and purpose of Deen. The first question must be what kind of Ummah this will be before anything else? If this is not done first according to the Quran, then we can do whatever we want, the result will never be good. What kind of humans are behind the system who run it, is what really counts in the eyes of Allah.
These were the people that the Prophet (PBUH) had to deal with to whom no messenger had come prior to him. The Quran says:
وَآخَرِينَ مِنْهُمْ لَمَّا يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
(62:3) – and [to cause this message to spread] from them unto other people as soon as they come into contact with them: for He alone is almighty, truly wise! [Asad]
The message of the Messenger was not confined to his nation only. The message was also for those who will come after these people. In other words, the Messenger has been sent to humanity at large, the present as well as future generations. That is why the Quran has been preserved for all times to come until eternity. The Messenger’s task of passing on the message would continue forever by his followers, through the Quran. This has been done under the command of Allah, Who alone is All-Mighty and truly All-Wise.
The Quran says further:
ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
(62:4) – Such is God's bounty: He grants it to anyone who is willing [to receive it]: for God is limitless in His great bounty. [Asad]
Bestowing Divine Revelation is the sole and exclusive prerogative of Allah the Almighty. For this exalted status He selects whoever He wills. It is also a fact that the guidance which is given through this Revelation, is one of His supreme absolute blessings. It is available to all those who want to benefit from it. Revelation was send down by Allah only to the Messenger; but guidance through this Revelation is available to everyone. What a sublime act of grace it is that Allah provided humankind with means of nourishment, to meet their physical needs; and provided guidance of Revelation for the development of their human life. He truly is the Master of magnificent bounties.
The Quran says that this Final Eternal Divine Revelation is for the entire humanity. Therefore, it is not restricted to any space and time. Any time when humanity knocks at the door of the Quran and wants to tread on the shining footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH), then it will come out of their current darkness of hell and the world will turn into shining light of heaven. Then only the humanity will truly understand what a Grace and Sublime Gift is this Revelation that was given to humanity by our Prophet (PBUH)!
The Quran provides witness of the Prophet (PBUH) being at the pinnacle of lofty human character and a role model for all of humanity for all time to come:
وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ
(94:4) – And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held) [Yusuf Ali]
Let us then pray and show our deep commitment to the Prophet (PBUH) by following in his exemplary and sublime footsteps forever shining on the historical landscape:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
(33:56) – Verily, God and His angels bless the Prophet: [hence,] O you who have attained to faith, bless him and give yourselves up [to his guidance] in utter self-surrender! [Asad]