The Call to Worship the Lord
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) calls for an end to this defiance. He teaches that the rules and patterns of our life should conform to the system which governs the whole universe. A person should neither assume the right of legislation nor acknowledge the prerogative of any other person to enact laws for God’s creatures living on God’s earth. The only valid law is the law given by the Lord of the Universe. All other laws are false and void.
The Call for Rendering Obedience to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
We now come to the second point of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) message. He categorically declared: “I am the Messenger of Allah. Allah has sent His mandate for mankind through me. I, too, am subject to this mandate. I can make no alterations in it. I have been appointed to obey the mandate, not to introduce innovations into it. The Qur’an embodies the Law which Allah has revealed to me and my practice is the law which I promulgate by the order and sanction of Allah. I am the first render obedience to the Law of God, and having done so, I call upon all men to relinquish their allegiance to every other law and abide by the Law of God alone.”
Next to God, Obedience is due to the Messenger of God (PBUH)
No one should feel cynical as regards the query: How could the Holy Prophet (PBUH) be deemed to have obeyed and followed his own practise when it was really his personal precept or action? The truth of the matter is that just as the source of the Qur’an was God, so the source of all exhortations, prohibitions and regulations propagated by the Holy Prophet was also God. This is denoted by the term “Sunnah of the Prophet.” The Holy Prophet himself followed the Sunnah in the same manner as it is obligatory for all the believers to follow it. This point was made abundantly clear on occasions when, in certain matters, the illustrious Companions used to ask: “Allah’s messenger, are you conveying the Will of God or is this your personal view?” The Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to observe: “No, this is not the Will of God; it is my opinion.” On such occasions, the illustrious Companions differed with the Holy Prophet and put forth their own way of thinking and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) allowed their suggestions to supersede his own opinion. Similarly, this point also became obvious on occasions when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) took counsel with his illustrious Companions. This consultation in itself was proof positive that Allah had revealed no mandate regarding the matter under consideration, for had the Divine Will been known in the matter, it could not have become subject for discussion. Such occasions, which have been elaborately recorded in the collections of Traditions, often arouse in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. The illustrious Companions themselves have reported: “Never did we see a person who was engaged in counsel more often than the Holy Prophet (PBUH).” If you reflect on this point, you will realize that holding counsel in matters which God had not revealed His Will was also the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). When the Holy Prophet himself did not deem it proper to impose his personal opinion on the people as an inexorable law, what authority is there for another ruler to enforce his will upon the people? Thus did the Holy Prophet teach his Ummah to conduct their affairs by consultation and instructed the people to render unqualified obedience to the Will of God in those matters in which the Lord had not manifested His Will, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) exhorted people to exercise their right of freedom of speech without fear.
True Charter of Freedom
This is the “Charter of Freedom” which only the true religion has conferred upon mankind. The creature of Allah should be the slave of Allah alone and owe service to none else, nay, not even as a servant of the Holy Prophet. This charter freed man from offering worship to all others, save One God; and it terminated the divinity of man over man once and for all. Simultaneously, the greatest blessing conferred by this mandate upon mankind is the Supremacy of the Law, the Law which no monarch, dictator, democratic parliament or assembly of believers in Islam is empowered to tamper with for the purpose of altering it. This law bestows on man permanent values of Good and Evil, and no one has the power to transmute these values with a view to changing good into Evil or vice versa.
The third message which the Holy Prophet preached to the servants of God was: ” You are all answerable to God. You have been given unchartered freedom to act as you deem fit and to forage whatever pasture you like without being answerable to anyone. Rather you shall be held accountable before your Creator for each act, each word, in fact, for the whole course of your life wherein you have been given limited autonomy. You will be raised after death and presented in the court of your Lord for reckoning.”
When human conscience is permeated with such a stupendous moral force, it will be as if every human being were being guarded by a sentinel who challenges every evil thought that enters one’s mind and hinders all action that may arise from an evil thought. Irrespective of the existence or non-existence of a vigilant police force and a retributive government in the external world, a censor will always preside over the human soul, and fear of seizure will deter a person from transgressing the Will of God even in privacy, in darkness or in a deserted wasteland. No greater means than this can be devised for the moral degeneration of man and for the forging of a stable human character. All other means which purport to reform the moral aspects of human character do not go beyond the dicta that is in this world “Good begets good and Evil begets Evil ” and ” Honesty is the Best Policy.”
Carried to the logical conclusion it clearly implies that if evil and dishonesty be found profitable for policy reasons, these should be freely practised without compunction. It is in consequence of this philosophy of life that the same person who behaves well in his private life turns to being faithless, deceptive, rapacious, callous and ruthless in the conduct of his public life-nay, even in their private life, such people are good only in certain respects and very wicked in many other ways. You will find that, on the one hand, these people are fair and courteous in their business dealings, while on the other hand they are the worst drunkards, fornicators and gamblers, being the most depraved and wicked of people. Their motto is that a man’s public life and his private life are two different spheres, distinct from each other.
To one who accosts them on some faults in their private life, they offer a tailor-made answer, ” Mind your own business.” Contrary to this, there is the belief in Eternity which enjoins that evil remains evil in all circumstances, regardless of whether it proves profitable or disadvantageous in the world. The dichotomy between public and private spheres cannot exist in the life of a person who has a sense of accountability to God. This person does not adopt honesty just because it is the best policy, but because the person has cultivated honesty in his soul and nothing could be more distant from his thoughts than the practise of dishonesty. His belief teaches him that dishonesty must debase him to a level inferior to that of animals.
As the Holy Quran observes: “We created Man in the finest form and then we turned him upside down and degraded him to a position lower than the lowest.” In this way, by the kindly favour of the Holy Prophet’s guidance, man has not only obtained an immutable law embodying permanent moral values, but also an unshakeable foundation on which to build individual and national moral character. Man, therefore, does not require the agency of a government, a police force or a court of law to deter him from crimes and keep him on the right path.
Practise of Morality in the Mundane Activities of Life: Monasticism Rejected
The Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) call bears yet another important message for us, which is that morality is not the preserve of the monks, to be practised in the monasteries, nor the privileged of the mystics, to be observed within the precincts of the shrines. Morality is meant for practical application in all spheres of life. The highest spiritual and moral standards which the world sought in monks, priests and the mystics were transferred to the Holy Prophet to the seat of Government and the Judges’ bench. He exhorted the businessmen to fear God and practise honesty in their dealings and transactions. He taught the policemen and the soldiers the lesson of piety and restraint. The Holy Prophet dispelled man’s misconception that one who renounced the world and commemorated God in the wilderness was the friend of God.
He denied that true fellowship with God consisted in being a hermit. On the contrary, true saintliness consisted in participating in the affairs of the world as a ruler, magistrate, army commander, police inspector, businessman, and industrialist. In fact, displaying through all other activities of the temporal life, a pious and honest character whenever one’s faith is put to the test. In this way, the Holy Prophet retrieved morality and spirituality from the restrictions of monasticism and brought them into all spheres of practical life. He enforced morality and spirituality in economic, social and political affairs and in the conduct of peace or war, establishing the supremacy of the righteous moral code in all these fields of life.
The Blessings of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) Teaching
It was through this blessed guidance that those whom the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had found to be thieves at the beginning of his Prophet hood were transformed into trustworthy protectors of life, prospect and honour of the common people by the time the Holy Prophet departed from the mortal world; those whom he had found usurpers of rights were remoulded by him into upholders, protectors and champions of the rights of the people. Prior to his time, the world had known only rulers who issued their “Divine Writs” from magnificent palaces and held their subjects down by repressive measures.
The Holy Prophet gave the world rulers who walked in the bazaars like ordinary people and held sway over the hearts of the people through an administration of justice and equity. Before him, the world had known armies penetrating into a country carrying fire and steel in all directions, raping the women of the prostrate people. The Holy Prophet introduced the world to the armies which after a triumphant entry into a city molested none except the enemy troops; and after a departure from a captured city returned the very taxes already received from its inhabitants.
Human history is replete with accounts of conquests and victories over cities and countries. But the conquest of Makkah has no parallel in history. The Holy Prophet’s triumphant entry into the city whose inhabitants had persecuted him and his adherents for thirteen long years was marked by glorious humanity, his sacred forehead leaning on the saddle of his camel in a posture of bowing before God. In his demeanour there was no trace of pride and arrogance. When the same people who had tormented him for thirteen years and forced him to migrate from the city of his birth, and even after his migration, had fought battles against him for eight years, were brought before him as supplicants, they begged him for mercy. Instead of wreaking vengeance upon them, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) observed: “Today there is NO censure upon you, now go, you are free.”
Gentleman! The personality of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a vast ocean of wisdom, and no work, however elaborate, can encompass it. A single address could hardly do justice to this subject. Nevertheless, I have endeavoured to focus attention on some of the outstanding aspects of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) personality. Fortunate, indeed, are those who follow the lead of this Supreme Guide.
In the end, we should say that all Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe. Concluded.