Why We are So Fascinated by Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ): Man needs the light of past experience to brighten his present and future. So all the various segments of humanity which have done anything to make this world a better place to live in deserve our gratitude.
The most deserving of our gratitude are those whom we call the prophets of God. Each of them presented a winsome example of sublime conduct and moral behavior. If one was the model of forbearance, another one was an iconic figure in some other type of human conduct or characteristics. Others were the emblems and beacons of sacrifice, or selflessness. In a nutshell, each of them was a hurricane lamp for guiding humanity to the ultimate truth: ‘God.’ They showed in a crystal-clear way the exaltedness of just and compassionate behavior, the sublimity of righteous human conduct.
Man, however remained unfulfilled in his need for the ultimate guide who could illuminate the entire world while appealing to peoples of all places and times. It meant that man is in constant need of a perfect and universal exemplar who can portray a secure plan of practical life. So that every wayfarer may reach his destination safely and directly. This last exemplar is appended to the many before him in their mission to guide their peoples to the upright and straight way.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is the direct and trustworthy witness of God’s commandments, and bringer of glad tidings. Warning those who have gone astray and become heedless, He has summoned the erring to the path of God, the dazzling light which dispels the darkness and shows the straight path.
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When we discuss the human side of Prophet Muhammad, it can be seen that he was the embodiment of all good qualities demanded of any messenger propagating a divine message of moral and religious teaching. The dealings of prophet with various sections of society is enough to convince us to call Prophet Muhammad the ‘Father of Humanity.’ In an ideal and symbolic sense, the term ‘father’ is given to those who not only gives birth to a child, but especially to a progenitor who takes pains to provide the best care of those in his charge.
In this meaning, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was able to raise up an exemplary civilization to be imitated by the world till the annihilation of the globe. He led a society from out of the dark abyss of depravity and barbarity into the resplendent way of life maximally suited to all humanity.
This has been proven true in the first attempt of the Prophet to establish an unparalleled brotherhood between the different classes of society. When he tracked his journey to the peace and solace of Madinah —after being suppressed by his own people, relatives and friends in Makkah— those accompanying him wholeheartedly embraced the sweet essence of Islam.
He set up firm ties between those who endured all kinds of hardship to lay down their lives for the sake of God, on the one hand, and those who received those homeless immigrants with unselfish compassion on the other hand. Then what happened? History records by the attestation of renowned historians, the miraculous state of society which the world had never before witnessed.
This dazzling outcome demonstrates that the Prophet’s charisma merits for him the name ‘Father of Humanity’ in that he behaved with a parental sense of duty, in a time when people were separated from those who normally would take care of them. Beyond doubt, he produced single-handedly shelter and asylum for those who were stranded without home or family when they answered the call to form a godly society.
Arabia, known for its bestial mentality, blood-shedding battles between tribes, and blood-thirsty intellectual clashes between literary persons, was transformed to become the fountainhead of peace and tranquility. Then, it became a shining center of exemplary civilization, religion and dynamism. There hundreds of thousands of people from every nook and cranny of the world would converge together every year on Pilgrimage (Hajj) shouting aloud the praise of brotherhood and humanity.
Who could create this fabulous miracle? Is there any type of story and set of events to outshine the star of this miracle of astounding achievement? This is the factor, which inspired Michael H. Hart to select Prophet Muhammad as number one in his short list of 100 persons who most influenced the entire humanity by his mesmerizing influence.
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has given equal importance to the emotions and passions of people from all walks of society. His life, from birth to death, is before us like an open book. His companion knew him fully well and they took care to transmit properly whatever they knew about him. There was no span of time, howsoever small, unaccounted for, which the Prophet might have spent in seclusion away from the gaze of his contemporaries. We know about his birth and childhood, his boyhood and youth, his trade and commerce, his behavior with his friends, his marriage, and his participation in the Battle of Quraish [the conquest of Makkah].
It was reported by his followers that, in childhood Anas bin Malik (RA) was sent out by Prophet Muhammad to buy something. Even after a long while, Anas had not returned. Seeking him out, the Prophet found him playing with some of his bosom buddies. Prophet Muhammad had not wanted to stifle the pleasant mood of those children at play, so he did not call back Anas for punishment —as most of us would have thought to do. Instead, he allowed him to play and selected another hour of the day for giving him future jobs. In this psychologically sound means of dealing, the Prophet excelled in being an ideal father —or a ‘democratic’ father— who brings up children in a measured and sensitive way. What CAliyy bin Khattab said, years later, held true concerning these astounding activities of Prophet Muhammad. CAli said:
ربّو أولادكم غير تربيتكم لأنّهم خلقوا لغير زمانكم.
Bring up your children [in a way] other than your [own] upbringing, because they were created for other than your time.
The criteria for determining an ideal father or a loving father is the mindful dealing of the man with his children in a psychologically sound way. Keeping this fact in mind when we scrutinize the life of Prophet Muhammad, it is unquestionably true that his charisma qualifies him to be a so-called ‘father’ —to his community of believers, his Ummah— by his gracious dealings.
On a blissful day of CEid when everyone was caught up in celebration, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) happened to see a desolate child looking inwardly at the sky where pretty birds were chirping with glee and exhilaration. Discerning that he was an orphan with no one to take care of him and give him shelter, Prophet hugged him with an open mind and a welcoming heart. Then he brought him to the holy mosque of Madinah entrusting him to the beloved Mother of Believers CAishah (RA) to adorn him with new dress after meeting his basic needs. After putting on fine, new clothes, Prophet Muhammad brought him to a playground there, where cheering children were indulging in celebratory play. Giving supreme happiness to the boy, he proclaimed, “My dear son, from today on I am father to you and my wife CAishah (RA) is your mother.” What a fantastic proclamation! Becoming the solace of the shelter-less, father of the desolate, asylum of the grieving, the Prophet excelled his counterparts in being the Father of Humanity.
There are many other shining examples to demonstrate the character of Prophet Muhammad, and to make his name synonymous with ‘Father of Humanity. Once the Prophet came to know that one of his Companions would beat his slave indiscriminately for any displeasing act. Thereupon his face blazed with anger and wrath; he said: “The power that God has over you is more than what you have over this slave.” Islam did not immediately abolish slavery and bondage from the earth; but the Prophet was the first man who set into motion the plan to emancipate slaves from their piteous predicament of life. He put their rights in their proper place, rendering a special status and right to them.
This allowed Bilal, the emancipated slave of Umayyah Ibn Khalaf to be the first to call the people to Prayer when the Prophet brilliantly conquered Makkah in a blood-less coup. It was by the presence of the legendary aristocratic members of the Quraish family. How heart-rending was his dealing and deed in this milestone event. Truly poignant was his charisma. Even Abraham Lincoln, the one who abolished slavery in America is indebted to Muhammad (ﷺ). Why? Because twelve centuries before Lincoln’s birth, Prophet Muhammad paved the way for his historic proclamation in nineteenth century North America.
As the world would draw nearer to the pinnacle of civilization, Martin Luther King was compelled to struggle against the starless midnight of racial segregation. He shouted until his voice broke in marches and rallies to line up the blacks at the bottom of the social ladder. He stood firm in the face of the gross provocation of white supremacists until his life was cut down by an assassin’s bullet. His vision, views, perceptions remained unfulfilled in his lifetime, though new generations still echo his famous phrase, “I have a dream.”
However, in the case of the Prophet, there was a remarkable ‘landslide victory’ in his lifetime against unspeakable opposition and obstacles. Then those from all levels of society lined up behind him: Abû Bakr, the aristocratic family member; Bilal, the raven black emancipated slave; Salman Farsi, the white man from Persia. All in the same line, and all bowing down in front of God Almighty in the same way, at the same time, in the same place. These demonstrated the real role of a human ‘Father of Humanity’ in bringing about the ideal society.
To highlight the nobility and impartiality of the Prophet, we do well to mention an event, which took place in the prophetic period. A woman from Bani Makhzum (an upper-class family) was caught in the act of stealing. Due to the aristocracy of her family, many people came to the Prophet to intercede for clemency toward the offender, whereupon prophet became heated and said:
“Believers…. Lo, I would cut off the hand of the thief — even it were to be my beloved daughter Faṭimah.” (Ṣaḥîḥ Al-Bukhârî, Book 4, No. 681)
In a nutshell, even though Prophet Muhammad was an ascetic in regard to worldly affairs, he would worship God throughout the night, he was the brave and courageous soldier who himself fought hard and led the way for later conquest of far-flung nations for the sake of God. He slept on a mat of straw and a pillow filled with coarse fiber. People crowned him as the Sultan of the Arabs and the King of the Arabian Peninsula, yet his family lived a simple life, and he endured the umpteenth hardship and the most laborious task so as to lead his society out of the unfathomed chasm of savagery to the most resplendent path for humanity.
Truly, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) deserves the title ‘Father of Humanity’! That is why we are so fascinated by him.