What is the meaning of the verse, ‘We sent you as kindness for all people’ (Al-Anbiya:107)? Rephrased, “You were sent as a benefactor of humanity”. This implies the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the patron of humanity, a leader who helps his followers to achieve their purpose of life, by sharing his wise and wonderful way of living. He is a generous guide who supports his followers in many ways to live a pure life.
What is the meaning of Rahmat-al-lil-alimeen? Allamah Alusi in his commentary explains, “He is the root, and the world is the branches, a metaphor that emphasises the eminent position of the Messenger. The root provides an anchor, stability, and nourishment. So that, the branches, leaves, buds, flowers, and fruits can bloom. Without the root, the tree would fall, wither, and die”. Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the backer, supporter and champion of humanity. A humanitarian leader helping people to achieve success and the goal of paradise.
He is the Benefactor of Humanity
Human history has produced many great leaders who left a mark on different walks of life, philosophers, scholars, saints, conquerors, poets, musicians, inventors and scientists. They changed the course of history. The Prophet of Islam occupies a unique place amongst this galaxy of great men.
Prof Michael Hart in his book, ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History‘, places the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the top of the list, ahead of Jesus Christ who comes at number three, just behind Isaac Newton.
Hart said, “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels…Muhammad founded and spread the world’s great religion and today, fourteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive… Muhammad was responsible for the theology of Islam and its moral principles. In addition, he played a key role in preaching the new faith, and in establishing the religious practices of Islam. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence, which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.” (Hart Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1978, page 33).
There are many contributions of the Messenger (peace be upon him), however, I am going to focus on the major three:
1. He defined human identity, purpose and meaning of life
His teachings about human identity, as the Divine representative. Khlifatullah is the most impressive and powerful lesson. Without this, we are lost, and life becomes meaningless. Moreover, this gives dignity, and respect to humanity. Before him people had sunk low, and were slaves of their passions as well as of feudal lords, kings and idols. Men and women were sacrificed to please idols. That is why, Muhammad (peace be upon him) the benefactor of humanity declared that man is the most valuable gem on earth, and humans are the vicegerent of God.
The crown of creation, their importance can be gauged from the Lord’s assertion, “He created all that’s on earth for you” (Baqarah: 29). And in another place “We honoured the children of Adam by giving them mastery over land and sea; and gave them provision from pure things and made them outstanding in our creation” (Isra: 70). This submission to the Lord is real freedom. He (peace be upon him) said, “The whole creation is Allah’s family and the dearest to Allah is the one who treats others kindly” (Sunan Baihaqi).
2. He lived a pure life and purified humanity
Both physical and spiritual cleanliness are at the centre of Islamic teachings. Moreover, the Fiqh books predictably open with a chapter on Taharah, personal hygiene, and a requirement for worship. He (peace be upon him) stated, ‘cleanliness is half of faith’. But the inner purification is equally important. Until intention and attitude are pure, a person will remain anxious, stressed and depressed. The antidote to these mental problems is moral teachings of kindness, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude and patience. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) lived these values and presented a model. He (peace be upon him) said, ‘The best is the one with strong character.’
3. He taught accurate, authoritative, and authentic knowledge
We live in the age of artificial intelligence, remarkable scientific discoveries, and amazing medical technology. It is reliable, so we let the neurosurgeon drill into our skulls and play with our grey matter. Truly miraculous. On the contrary, the human sciences, which study human nature, psychology and relationships are much less developed. Although they claim they know human beings well. Take the teachings of Freud which shaped the West, and see the devastation they have caused to these societies. The fallout of those misguided philosophers continues to blight society. As a result, a society loses its modesty, decency and sense of right and wrong. These teachings decimated the family institution.
On the other hand Muhammad (peace be upon him) had accurate and authentic knowledge about human inner workings, he knew what was good for the soul, and what made it sick. He knew the sickness of the human heart lies in arrogance, anger, jealousy and greed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave perfect antidotes to them. Furthermore, He (peace be upon him) prescribed the moral values that make a strong character. The endemic poor mental health is a result of these misinformed human philosophies. That’s why we need to rediscover the gems of Muhammadan teachings.