SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency) – The Birth of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam (S.A.)
Muhammad (S.A.) opened his eyes to the world on the 17th of Rabi’ al-awwal of the 53rd year before the Hijrah (570 A.D.). His father, ‘Abdullah, was from the family of Hazrat Isma’il, and had died before he could see his son. His mother was one of the most pious women of that time. Muhammad (S.A.) was entrusted to a virtuous woman called Halimah, who suckled him and nursed him. One day, Muhammad (S.A.), who had not yet reached the age of four years, asked Halimah if he could go into the desert with the other boys… Halimah said: “I bathed Muhammad an anointed his hair with oil. I put collyrium on his eyes and hung a Yemenite stone on a string and put it round his neck so that no harm could come to him from the spirits of the desert. But Muhammad tore the stone from his neck and said, ‘Don’t worry about me. My God is taking care of me!”‘ So we see that from childhood he was the object of God’s favour and grace, and was always guided by Divine power and help in works that were in their right time and place. Muhammad’s behavior and speech in childhood were such that everyone’s attention was attracted. In his youth, also, he was far from that which tainted those people in his environment. He took no part in their riotous poetry gatherings. He drank no wine, was an enemy of the idols; he was perfect in speech and act. Years before he became a prophet, the people called him ‘al-Amin’ (the trustworthy one). He had a pure mind and radiant intellect, and a godly and heavenly character. Every year for one month he went to the cave of Hira and was with God in His mysteries and in prayer. At the end of the month, before returning to his home, he went to the Ka’bah and made seven or more circumambulations. At the age of forty, while busy in worship in the cave of Hira, he was elevated to the station of Messengership. For three years the Prophet of Islam (S.A.) received no command to call people openly to Islam, and during that time only a few people had faith in Muhammad (S.A.). Among men, the first person who loved and followed him was Hazrat ‘Ali (AS.), and among women, Khadijahl(Tarikh at-Tabari, vol. I, p. 240 – 245. ). Then after three years he received the command to invite people openly to Islam, and he called his close family to be his guests; about forty of these people assembled together. The food which the Prophet (S.A.) had prepared was no more than enough to satisfy the appetite of one man, but by the power of God that little food filled everyone, and this was the cause of much amazement. Abu Lahab, without thinking what he was saying, cried out: “Muhammad is a magician!” That day the relatives dispersed before the Prophet could speak, so he called them again the next day. After they had partaken of the food and hospitality, he spoke: “O Sons of Abdul-Muttalib! No youth has brought to his people better than what I bring to you. I have brought you the best of this world and of the world of the resurrection. I have been commanded by Allah to call you to Him. Which of you will extend his help to me and become my brother, executor and successor?” Apart from ‘Ali (A.S.), no one answered. The Prophet placed his hand on ‘Ali’s shoulder and said: “This is my brother, executor and successor among you. Listen what he says and obey him!”(Tarikh at-Tabari, vol.v 3, p. 1171-1173). One day the Prophet (S.A.) went up on Mount Safa and called the people around him. He said: “If I told you that an enemy, was going to fall on you this morning or this evening, would you trust me?” All together they replied: “Yes ! ” He said: “I warn you of a severe torment that is soon to fall on you.” Out of fear that the speech of Muhammad (S.A.) would take effect in the hearts of those present, Abu Lahab broke the silence and said to him: “Did we assemble here just to listen to this nonsense?” The Prophet of Islam (S.A.) started his call with the slogan of tawhid and the worship of one God, and established tawhid as the basis of all other beliefs. He made known to men Allah, who is nearer to man than man himself; he abolished all forms of idol-worship, revolutionised the atmosphere of Mecca, and drew people to his religion. Meanwhile, the Quraysh (( the most powerful tribe in Mecca, to which Muhammad (S.A) belonged,, were becoming ill at ease with the progress he was making and tried hard to stop his preaching, even once trying to kill him; but with the help and protection of Allah and with His care and intercession all their tortures, persecutions and schemes were without effect and came to nothing. Day by day the call to Islam, and also the acceptance by people, spread, even to those who came from outside Mecca. People rose up with their souls in answer to this Divine invitation. In the eleventh year of the prophethood, some people from Medina belonging to the Khazraj tribe came to Mecca to perform the ceremonies of Hajj. The Prophet invited them to Islam and they accepted, with this promise that when they went back to Medina they would call the people to Muhammad’s religion. They went to Medina and spread around the invitation of the Prophet (S.A.). The next year twelve Medinese accepted the faith of the Prophet of Islam (S.A.) at ‘Aqaba and resolved: not to associate any with Allah, not to steal, not to fornicate, not to indulge in infanticide, not to bring malicious accusations against anyone, not to disobey the Prophet in any thing which he indicated. Then the Prophet sent a man by the name of Mus’ab along with them to teach the Qur’an, and thus a large group in Medina pledged their faith in the Prophet.
The Prophet’s Mission
Lover of nature and Quite, worried about human sufferings, Muhammad very often retired toMount Hira’ for meditations. One night, laylatu’l-qadr(the Night of Majesty) a voice addressing him, commanded O Recite in the Name of the Lord. O Deeply excited by the strange phenomena of Divine Visitation, Muhammad hurried home to his wife , Khadijah, who listened to him attentively and said that ” I bear witness that you are the Apostle of God.” After an interval, the voice from heaven spoke again “magnify the Lord.” This was a signal for him to start preaching the gospel of truth of One God. In the beginning Muhammad invited only those near him, to accept the new Faith. The first to embrace Islam among women was khadijah and among men ` Ali. Soon after, Zayd ibn al-Harithah become a convert to the new faith followed by abut baker and ` Uthman. ‘ Umar hitheto a violent opponent of Islam, notorious for the persecution of the Muslims and a bitter enemy of the Prophet, embraced Islam, later. (The Brief History fourteen Infallibles of Islam, P. 18)
The Message of Islam
The spirit of the message of Islam can be summed up and shown in this phrase: La ilaha illa’llah.”- There is no god but Allah. It means that, apart from the One and Only Allah, nothing must be worshipped. This is the great, fruitful, abundant secret of the tree of Islam. For if we compare Islam to a tree, and its ideology to the seed or the root, we must realise that the health and fruitfulness of the tree is connected to the health of the roots. And then we see how strong, how steadfast and steely the basis of the ideology of Islam is, as revealed in this one phrase.
Contentment and Faith Go Together
If all man’s wishes were rooted in material things alone, and man felt no desire in his soul to transcend the material world, happiness would come from securing material things. But we know and see that man screams out with the voice of his spirit against the depths of technology and materiality. With every increase in material things the craving of society for the spirit and for spiritual wants increases, and this phenomenon is clearly evident in the recalcitrance and disorder in society. The proof is the complete disruption and crisis which has cast its shadow over civilised societies since the beginnings of the twentieth century, to the point where the spiritual upheaval of society, especially among the young, is out of control. The Russian psychologist and sociologist, Sorokin, said: “Because, in the culture of a materialist civilisation, man is only an organism with life, and is in no way attributed with the values and absolutes of goodness, beauty and wisdom, no way has been envisaged to reach spiritual perfection and spiritual wants.” Unless the sublime spirit of man which, like the keen-winged falcon, desires the exaltation of flying above the mountain ridges and peaks, soars to places far from human hands, and unless it is refreshed at the source of spiritual virtues, it will not be free of these disruptions and outbursts. All the crimes and desires for gratification are signs of the breaking of natural roaring waves which will not be quiet until they reach the safety of the shore. And the shore of safety is only faith in One Limitless Power, Infinite Knowledge, Pure Perfection and keeping away from imaginary gods. By remembering such a power, and having true faith in it, the heart finds contentment. The Qur’an recites this great truth in the shortest of sentences: “In remembrance of Allah are the hearts at rest.” (XIII:28)
Indeed the peace of hearts is only in remembrance of Allah. Only leaning towards and attention to God can regulate human nature and guide it to happiness. Islam weighs the value of man by this very standard and criterion and says: “Surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most godfearing of you.” (XLIX:13)
The aim of Islam is to show, to indicate the better and higher horizons, and to save man from the ash-cloth of his material skin and his lusts, so that man may know the real pastures of green and luxuriant pleasures, and desist from journeying in the furnace of material ways and walk in the true way of contentment. “O ye who believe! Respond to Allah and His messenger when He calls you unto that which will give you life.” (VIII:24) By acquiring knowledge of Islam, the dead soul and dormant faculties of man will be made alive, will rise up and grow, and this life will reach the source through the windows of the laws and the perspective of the aims of Islam. Now let us look at some of these perspectives:a Islamic fraternity; watchfulness by the people; the status of knowledge; work and effort; the structure of the family.
Islamic brotherhood is based on the highest human virtue, for it is far from hollow rootless formalities. It is a reality for the strengthening of self-sacrifice in the Muslim individual and the keeping alive of the spirit of purity, sincerity and faith. One of its direct practical results is the creation of responsibility and sympathy between individuals in all aspects of life. On the basis of this brotherhood, a Muslim cannot refrain from sharing his brother’s difficulties. The project of initiating Islamic brotherhood in the first days of Islam was so skillfully and interestingly put into action that the poor and the rich were brothers in heart and soul. The Prophet (S.A.) explained Islamic brotherhood in this easy and expansive way: The believers are brothers one to the other, and are in the likeness of one man in that if one part is in pain, the other parts will not be at peace.” Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said: “The spirit of Islamic brotherhood does not allow you to be full and your thirst quenched while your Muslim brother is hungry and thirsty, nor that you should be clothed and your Muslim brother naked. You must wish for him what you wish for yourself. Support him as he supports you. When he is traveling, guard his property and honour. When he returns, hurry to see him, give him respect as if you were his and he were yours. If he is fortunate, give thanks to Allah for his gladness. If he is in difficulty, help him.”