Muhammad (Sm), Hazrat

Muhammad (Sm), Hazrat Prophet Muhammad (Sm) was born in the Year of the Elephant (Amul-e-Fil), when the Yemeni ruler Ashabul Fil Abraha tried to attack the Holy Ka'ba (Baitullah) with an army and elephants in his train. It was on a Monday in the month of Rabiul Awwal in the Arabic calendar that Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) was born. There are four different dates cited by various authorities as his birthday: the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th day of the month of Rabiul Awwal. But there is no doubt that he was born on the Monday that fell between the 8th and 12th that month. Majority of Islamic scholars believe that the 12th of Rabiul Awwal is the most probable date. Hafiz Ibne Hazar Al-Askalani and Ibne Aseer are among those who have accepted this date. It should be noted that according to some historians the Prophet's date of birth coincided with the attack that was carried out by Abraha on 20 April 570 or 571, although others have mentioned 19 April and 21 April as possible dates.

Muhammad's (Sm) father Abdullah died when he was still in his mother's womb. After he was born, his mother named him Ahmed. However, his grandfather Abdul Muttalib named him Muhammad (Sm) since he desired his grand-son to be admired by everyone in all ages. His Akika or naming ceremony was organised a few days after his birth by his grandfather. Muhammad (Sm) was at first suckled by his mother Amina. After two or three days he was breast-fed by Suwaibah, a slave-girl of his uncle Abu Lahab. As was the practice in the then aristocratic Arab families, he was given over to a wet nurse named Halima Sadia belonging to the Taif's Sad tribe, who was also entrusted with the responsibility of bringing him up. He spent the first five years of his life with her.

Muhammad (Sm) used to graze goats and sheep in the fields with his foster-brother Abdullah. But he would not then indulge in childish pranks or pick up quarrels, as boys are wont to do. While shepherding a flock of goats and sheep two angels once made an incision into his heart and purified it by extracting a black clot of blood from it. The black clot of blood was the source of all sin and evil designs. When Muhammad (Sm) was six years old his mother Amina died. His grandfather Abdul Muttalib then took the responsibility of bringing up the child.

However, he was not able to enjoy the benefit of his grandfather's affection for a long time since he too died when the Prophet was only eight years old. His uncle Abu Taleb was then entrusted with the duty of raising him. The young boy used to busy himself with the shepherding of the flock in the fields and with household works. His school was the open sky and the desert landscape and mountains where he worked. When the Prophet (Sm) was twelve years old Abu Taleb took him along on a business trip to Syria. According to the custom of his family, the Prophet entered business at the age of twenty.

In his dealings and transactions, Muhammad (Sm) earned a great reputation for his honesty, magnanimity, virtuous conduct, and trustworthiness. In fact, he won the confidence and trust of everyone and was thus given the title of 'Al-Ameen' for his probity and reliability. It was due to this fact that the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) was entrusted with the responsibility of re-establishing the sacred Hazre Aswad when the Holy Ka'ba was re-built.

On hearing about Muhammad's (Sm) diligence, sense of responsibility, honesty, and other remarkable qualities, Khadija (R), an intelligent and sagacious lady having exceptional moral standards together with profound experience in worldly affairs, invited him to become her business partner. Muhammad (Sm) agreed to her proposal and set out on a business trip to Syria in this capacity. During this trip he handled the business dealings skillfully and managed to make a handsome profit by selling the goods he had brought along. He purchased different commodities from Syria and handed them over to Khadiza (R). When he returned to Makkah Khadija (R) earned a big profit by selling these commodities. A servant of Khadija (R) named Maysara accompanied Muhammad (Sm) on two of his Syrian business trips. He reported to Khadija (R) about Muhammad's (Sm) good manners, business skill and honesty. He also told her about Muhammad's (Sm) gentle behaviour, humility, and overall excellence. Highly impressed by these qualities of head and heart Khadija (R) wanted to marry Muhammad (Sm). He responded to her proposal positively and with Abu Taleb's blessings they soon got married.

Although at the time of their marriage he was twenty-five years old and she was forty, their married life was one of complete bliss. The marriage resulted in two (or three) sons, Qasim and Tahir (Tahir was also called Abdullah) and four daughters [Zaynab (R), Ruqayya (R), Umme Kulthum (R), and Fatima (R)]. Khadija (R) was the mother of all of the Prophet's children except his third son Ibrahim (R), who was born to Maria Kibtia. However, all the male children died in their childhood. The Prophet did not remarry till Khadija's (R) death at the age of sixty-five.

From his childhood, Muhammad (Sm) was a man of thoughtful persuasion. As he grew up, he began to reflect on the barbaric and irrational practices, such as idol worship, feud, drinking, violent crimes, gambling, incest, etc. and began meditating on the solutions to the situation. He used to leave his home and go to the Hera caves in Jabal Nur, located two miles away from Makkah. Here he would spend his time in prayer and meditation and return home now and then. On one such occasion he saw a divine light and heard sounds of a kind that he had never heard before. From this time he began to receive messages in his dreams (Ruia Sadeqa). Those dreams would later come true. One day, God's messenger and courier of Ohi Hazrat Jibrail (Gabriel) came to him and recited five verses of Sura Alaq. He was forty years old then. The time for his elevation to prophethood had come.

After receiving the revelation, Muhammad (Sm) was in a daze for a while. When he recovered, he was able to see Jibrail on a throne. The amazing sight perplexed him so much that he came back home and lied down folded in garments. It was then that the seven verses of Sura Muddathir were revealed to him. The first two revelations were very significant: 'He is the Creator Who leads His creations to perfection step by step. He is the most exalted, and read in His name. He has taught the use of the Pen,- taught man that which he knew not. He is the source of all knowledge; hence the use of the Pen to acquire knowledge and seek Him in all things - from a termite to man. When one recalls that the Prophet (Sm) was illiterate, this revelation acquires a special significance. By manifesting such a view, the Prophet beckoned towards a world of unbridled knowledge. The second revelation was as follows:

'O thou wrapped up (in a mantle)! Arise and deliver thy warning! And thy Lord do thou magnify. And thy garments keep free from stain! And all abomination shun! Nor expect, in giving, any increase (for thyself)! But, for thy Lord's Cause, be patient and constant! (74:1-7).

The Prophet (Sm) began to spread the Word of islam cautiously among his near and dear ones in the Quraish tribe. Among the first to respond to his call and convert to Islam were Khadiza (R), Abu Bakr (R), Ali (R), his foster-son Zaid (R), and his nurse Umme Aiman (R). At Hazrat Abu Bakr's (R) call Zubair (R), Talha (R) and a few others embraced Islam. In this way the Prophet (Sm) preached Islam secretly among his closest people for three years before preaching it openly in the fourth year of his elevation to prophethood in accordance with the following revelations: 'And admonish thy nearest kinsmen' (26:214), and 'Therefore expound openly what thou art commanded' (15:94). The Prophet (Sm) ascended to the Safa Mountain and in a loud voice summoned all members of his Quraish tribe to assemble and accept the invitation for conversion to Islam. However, they declined his invitation to join his religion. From this time the people of Quraish began to oppress the Prophet (Sm) and his followers.

The Quraish were respected throughout Arabia as the custodians of the Holy Ka'ba. They used to get special trading privileges in Makkah and outside the city for this reason. They apprehended that they would be deprived of some of the benefits they enjoyed traditionally if they embraced Islam, and hence they opposed the Prophet (Sm) actively. Part of their strategy was to cast aspersions on the Prophet (Sm) and use force to restrain him and his followers from spreading Islam. The Prophet (Sm) then advised his followers to flee to Habsha (Abbysinia) to avoid oppression. In the month of Rajab in the fifth year of the Prophet's (Sm) election, twelve male and four female followers of the Prophet (Sm) fled to Abbysinia. Then eighty-three more of his followers, including Zafar Ibne Abu Taleb (R), also fled to that country. Najashi, King of Abbysinia welcomed the exiles and treated them honorably. On hearing about the kindness shown to the exiles the Quraish sent Amar Ibnul Aas and Abdullah Ibne Rabi to the court of the King and made futile attempts to persuade him to hand them over to their representatives.

The Quraish were even more shocked when they came to know that the valiant Omar (R) had converted to Islam. With the turn of events they began to dread the consequences of a further increase in the number of conversions. They decided unanimously that the two clans of Banu Abdul Muttalib and Banu Hashim would have to hand over Muhammad (Sm) to them or else they would sever all ties with them. Since the clans of Banu Abdul Muttalib did not agree to their demand they prepared a document that said, 'All relations with the members of the clans of Banu Abdul Muttalib and Banu Hashim are hereby severed. The Quraish pledged themselves to refrain from intermarriage or commerce with the Hashimids. All necessary actions were taken to that effect. Except for Abu Lahab, all members of the family of Hashim and those of Banu Mutalib and their associates were confined to a gorge in Shib-e-Abu Taleb, regardless of whether they were Muslims or not. During confinement there, they faced immense difficulties. Their provisions were soon exhausted and out of hunger they even began to feed on leaves. The siege was however later lifted. But although the siege was over, ten years after Muhammad's (Sm) elevation to prophethood Abu Talib died in the middle of the month of Shawal. Three days later Khadija (R) died too. The two sudden demises overwhelmed the Prophet (Sm) with grief. The Prophet (Sm) therefore decried the year of these deaths as Amul Huzn or the Year of Grief.

The miracle of Mi'raj, a momentous event in the Prophet's (Sm) life, also took place that year. The Prophet (Sm) ascended from the Masjid-ul-Haram (the holy Ka'ba) in Makkah to the Masjid-ul-Aqsa in Jerusalem and soared across the seven heavens afterwards. This event occurred on the 27th night of the month of Rajab when the Prophet (Sm) was lying down at the Hatim-e-Ka'ba. Jibrail (A) mounted Prophet Muhammad (Sm) on the horse named Buraq. Within the split of a second he was transported to Al-Aqsa mosque. All previous Prophets had assembled there to pay respect to the Prophet Muhammad (Sm). Jibrail (A) recited the call to prayer to assemble all the previous Prophets as a mark of respect to the Prophet Muhammad (Sm). Prophet Muhammad (Sm) led the prayer as the Imam of this unique congregation of all apostles. Then Jibrail (A) took the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) on his tour of the seven heavens. Afterwards, the Prophet (Sm) proceeded towards Sidaratul Muntaha. On his way he crossed Hause Kausar and entered heaven.When he came out of heaven he was presented with a view of hell. The Prophet (Sm) proceeded beyond Sidaratul Muntaha but Jibrail (A) halted and did not proceed further. It was then that the Prophet (Sm) had the unique privilege of Deedar or Glimpse of Allah and was blessed with the opportunity to talk to Him directly. It was at that time that prayers five times a day was made obligatory. The Prophet (Sm) returned to Baitul Mukaddes and from there he mounted Borak once more, this time to return to Makkah. This glorious ascent to heaven or Miraj strengthened his confidence to a great extent.

The Prophet (Sm) received several indications or forenotices through some verses of the Sura Isra (Sura Bani Israiel). For example, (i) hint on Hijrat (emigration to Medina) in the verse: 'Say: O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honour' (17:80); (ii) indication of imminent victory: 'Say: Truth has arrived and Falsehood perished, for Falsehood is bound to perish. (17:81); (iii) the way the Prophet (Sm) led the prayer congregation of the apostles in Al-Aqsa mosque implied his excellence above all other prophets; (iv) the indication of the eventual defeat of the Jews of Medina and the Quraish of Makkah (17:4-8). The Miraj and the prophecies above enabled the Prophet (Sm) to overcome any feeling of frustration. After the death of Abu Talib, the hostility of the Quraish towards the Prophet (Sm) increased fiercely. Not only did he find preaching Islam difficult but even staying in Makkah proved to be impossible for him.

Consequent upon the propagation of Islam during the season of hajj, and because of the proselytizing activities of Muslims, Islam spread in Medina. Ultimately the migration of Muslims fleeing persecution took more of them to the city. The first conversion of the people of Medina took place in a mountain called Akaba where six citizens of Medina embraced Islam. The Prophet (Sm) himself converted these people who were on a pilgrimage. Their efforts made Islam spread throughout Medina very quickly. The next year 12 more citizens of Medina secretly converted to Islam in the darkness of night in Akaba. This is known as the First Pledge of Akaba (Bai'atul Akaba). This is known as the second pledge of Aqaba. During the pilgrimage season in the following year 72 more citizens of Medina came to the same place late at night for a similar ceremony. They bravely declared their intention of even taking the risk of war against all the Unbelievers throughout Arabia for the sake of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (Sm) asked the Muslims of Makkah to be ready to migrate to Medina. In the face of the numerous obstacles put in their path, Muslims began leaving Makkah. Many left behind their possessions and dear ones and joined the emigration with empty hands. The Muslims of Medina welcomed the exiles from Makkah and forged deep and fraternal ties with them. At last, the Prophet (Sm) himself decided to migrate to Medina. This infuriated the leaders of the Quraish and they resolved to assassinate him. On the other hand, the Prophet (Sm) was directed by Allah to migrate to Medina and headed for the city with Abu Bakr (R). On their way, they took refuge in a cave in the Thawr Mountain. After staying there for three days the two resumed their journey to Medina. According to most historians it was on the 8th day of the month of Rabiul Awwal in the thirteenth year after he had been elevated to prophethood that Muhammad (Sm) arrived in Quba, a suburb of Medina located three miles from the city. He built a mosque threre, which happens to be the first mosque in the annals of Islam.

On the way to Medina the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) offered the Friday Prayer for the first time and delivered a sermon to the tribe of Banu Salim. Volunteers (Ansars) from all the tribes came in groups to welcome him. When the Masjid-e-Nababi was built in Medinah, a quarter adjoining it was constructed for the Prophet (Sm) and lodgings for his followers were also built. On one side of the mosque a courtyard called 'Suffa' was built where the immigrants were quartered. This courtyard also housed the first Islamic institution of learning.

With a view to ensuring the safety and security of Medina and engaging all its inhabitants in the development of the country, the Prophet (Sm) decided to turn Medina into a state comprising Muslims, Jews and Mushriks living there. To this end, he called for a convention of Muslims, Jews and Mushriks in Medina. A Charter was unanimously adopted in this convention. The details about security arrangements of the city, duties and the reciprocal obligations to be followed by Muslims, Jews and Mushriks, as well as the judicial system were spelled out in writing in the Charter. The Charter also mentioned the names of a few idolatrous sects and acknowledged their independent rights. The Prophet (Sm) was elected the Chief of this social system. The Prophet (Sm) personally went to the habitats of the Oddam and Julashira tribes and urged their leaders to agree to the Charter and also persuaded them to sign it. In this manner he laid the foundation of a nation by granting full religious freedom to the non-Moslems through this historic Charter. The city of Medina was also made secure against all possible attacks and dangers through the combined efforts of various tribes and sects. Medina was thus turned into an Islamic state.

In the month of ramadan of the second Hegira year, 1000 Quraish warriors of Makkah threatened to assault Medina. The Prophet (Sm) advanced with a band of 313 of his followers to repulse their attack. Their arms and provisions were extremely inadequate. On receiving information from an advance scout, the Prophet (Sm) raised a camp on the plain of Badr on the 17th of Ramadan. A fierce battle ensued in which the Quraish were completely routed and only 13 Muslims were martyred. 70 members of the Quraish were killed while 70 others were captured by the Muslim army. The Battle of Badr was a turning point for the new religion. From this point onwards Islam marched towards a comprehensive victory over the enemies around.

The practice of the obligatory fasting in the month of Ramadan and the system of Sadqat-ul-Fitr (almsgiving on eid-ul fitr) were established in this second year of Hegira. It was after his return to Medina after the Battle of Badr that the Prophet (Sm) offered for the first time the Eid-ul Fitr prayers. Also in this year the prayers for Eid-ul Azha and Qurbani (sacrifice) were made wajib and the zakat farz (obligatory).

In the third Hegira year Abu Sufiyan was elected leader of the Quraish. Under his leadership a huge army comprising some three thousand soldiers advanced twards Medina. At the head of the army was the idol of Hubal and 14 women whose role was to incite the men to war by singing and reciting verses. The Prophet (Sm) built a defensive shield consisting of one thousand soldiers against the advancing army.

When his soldiers reached the battlefield the Prophet (Sm) directed them to divide themselves into formations. He deployed fifty archers to defend the mountain-pass and gave them strict orders not to leave the mountain-pass under any circumstances. In the face of the stiff resistance put up by the Muslim forces the enemies began retreating. Convinced that they had attained victory, however, some of the archers under Abdullah ignored the instruction of their leader, abandoned their positions, and began to celebrate their 'victory'. Taking advantage of the situation, the enemy soldiers attacked them from the back. This sudden assault bewildered the Muslim army. Their standard bearer, Ibne Umair, was martyred. But soon they regrouped and put up stiff resistance. In the face of their counter-attack, the enemy soldiers soon fled away. 70 Muslim soldiers embraced martyrdom in this attack. In the thick of the fight on the plain of the Prophet (Sm) prayed, 'God, give my forces strength for they are not ready'. Muslim women such as Ayesha and Fatema nursed the wounded Muslim soldiers. Showing immense courage, Umme Amara plunged into the battle, sword in hand, and has become immortal for her valour ever since.

In the sixth Hegira year, Muslims fought the enemy on six occasions. This was the year when drinking was banned. Four clashes took place in this year. The most significant of them was Battle of the Trench, also known as the Battle of Khandak since Khandaks or trenches were dug in the east of Medina to repulse the Quraish army. When they failed to negotiate the trenches the enemy forces began to throw spears and stones at Muslims. But unable to make any headway against the stiff resistance put up by Muslims, the infidel army lifted their siege of Medina and returned to Makkah. It was in the fifth Hegira year that the veil for women, courteous behavior, punishment for those who cast aspersions on women without proof, directives for Li'an (a form of divorce) and reforms in the Zihar custom of divorcing one's wife were introduced.

After the Battle of Badr the Prophet (Sm) prepared for a total holy war. In the sixth Hegira year, the Prophet (Sm) and fourteen hundred of his followers headed for Makkah to perform the Umrah. It was on his way to Makkah that Sura Fateha was revealed to him. They were stopped on the way at a place called Hudaybiyah, and the Prophet (Sm) signed a treaty with the Quraish at Hudaybiyah. According to the terms and conditions of the treaty the Prophet (Sm) and his followers returned to Medina without performing the Umrah. The Treaty has been hailed as a 'clear victory' in the Holy Quran' ['Verily We have given thee a clear victory' (48:1)]. The position of both sides was now secured. Now that Muslims had been guaranteed security, many Arab clans were able to interact with Muslims. Some of these tribes now embraced Islam. Other tribes with whom the Prophet (Sm) had kinship signed peace treaties with him, strengthening the Muslim nation. During the period of peace made possible by the Treaty of Hudaybiyah the Prophet (Sm) was able to send messengers to many feudal chieftains inviting them to embrace Islam.

In the seventh Hegira year the Battle of Khayber took place. By this time the Prophet (Sm) had expelled the Jews of Medina for their treacherous conduct. The expelled Jews went to Khayber and mobilized the Jews of the place to unite against Islam. The Prophet (Sm) attacked Khayber with fourteen hundred of his followers and captured it. Ninety-three Jews were killed in this battle and fifteen of the Prophet's (Sm) followers were martyred in the process. Khayber thereby became part of the Islamic State of Medina.

In the eight Hegira four famous battles were fought: Mutah, Hunain, Tayef, and the expedition that led to the conquest of Medina. Mutah is a place that is next the to Syrian city of Balka. A holy war was fought between Muslims and the Romans there. Surahbil, the Christian ruler of Sham (Syria) in the Roman empire of Heraclius, murdered the Prophet's (Sm) messenger Harris Ibne 'Amar Gassani (R). The Prophet (Sm) then felt the importance of framing a law which would ensure that an envoy should be treated as sacrosanct in international affairs. The Prophet (Sm) sent an army of three thousand men under the command of Zaid Ibne Harisha (R), Zafar ibne Abu Talib (R) and Abdullah ibne Raowah (R) in succession Mutah. All three of them embraced martyrdom. The mantle then fell on Khalid ibne Walid (R). After the war had continued for a number of days, the Roman army fled from the battle-field and Muslims became victorious.

In the eight Hegira year the Quraish nonbelievers broke the truce of Hudaybiyah. They and their allies attacked a tribe that had an alliance with Muslims and killed many of them. When the peace treaty was violated, the Prophet (Sm) advanced towards Makkah with a band of ten thousand men. The enemy commander Abu Sufyan submitted to him and embraced Islam. The Prophet (Sm) entered Makkah victorious without having to fight anyone. He performed the Tawaf (circumambulation) when he reached the holy Ka'ba. 'Truth has now arrived, and Falsehood perished: For Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish. (17:81) Reciting this verse of the Holy Qur'an, the Prophet (Sm) knocked to the ground 360 idols in the Ka'ba with his stick one after the other. Following his command, Umar (R) removed all idols from the Ka'ba. The portraits of Ibrahim (A), Ismail (A), Mariam and Isa (A) were erased from the walls. The victorious Muhammad (Sm) won over the hearts of the people of Makkah by his mercy and compassion and by choosing to shun any vindictive or punitive measures. The bitterest enemy was converted to the dearest friend. The men and women of Makkah embraced Islam in crowds.

With the conquest of Makkah most of the people of Arabia came under the fold of Islam. However, the Hawazins and the Sakeef, the two tribes who lived in the south and east of the Hijaz, advanced towards Makkah to attack Muslims. On receiving this information, the Prophet (Sm) organised an army of twelve thousand men to fight the non-believers. Among them were ten thousand Muhajirs (refugees) and Ansars (volunteers) and two thousand other persons who had embraced Islam soon after the conquest of Makkah. When on the 6th day of the Shawal the Muslim army reached Hunaiyn. The enemy forces suddenly sprang on them from their hideouts. Because the Muslim army had been caught off guard and was not yet ready to fight, their advancing flanks were forced to retreat. Shaken by their plight, the forces in the rear also started to withdraw. But just when the Muslim army seemed to be dispersing in confusion the Prophet (Sm) instructed Abbas (R) to gave a valiant call. This enabled the Muslim army to reorganise and resist the enemy. Both sides fought fiercely. In the end, however, the enemy forces were routed and they fled the battlefield in complete disarray.

Subsequently, the Prophet (Sm) took the battle to the Banu Sakeef and Banu Hawazin by attacking Taif. After a siege of eighteen days these tribes were forced to surrender. After these expenditions the Prophet (Sm) decided to perform umrah. After performing his Umrah in Makkah he traveled to Medina. He returned to the city on the 6th day of the month of Zul-Qada in the eight year of Hegira. Representatives from various tribes visited him throughout the year. As a result, these tribes embraced Islam.

To destroy the nascent Muslim State, the Roman emperor Heraclius dispatched an army of about forty thousand soldiers consisting of recruits from the South Arabian Christian tribes such as Gassan, Lakhum, and Juzam. The advanced units of this combined army had marched up to Balka. The Muslim army rose to the occasion and tried their best to procure fund, clothes, arms and provisions. The Prophet (Sm) headed for Tabuk with an army of thirty thousand. In the face of the Muslim build-up, the Romans ultimately fled. The Tabuk campaign was the last of the Prophet's (Sm) military campaigns.

No battle took place in the tenth Hegira year. The Hajjatul Bida was performed in this year. While in Makkah the Prophet (Sm) used to perform Hajj shunning totally the tribal rites of idolatry and other nuisance. He had acquired through knowledge about Hajj through the detailed regulations revealed to him earlier. But it is in the tenth Hegira that he had the opportunity for the first time to perform the holy Pilgrimage. And this was the one and only Hajj that he performed. More than a lac of his followers reached Makkah to perform Hajj that year. The Prophet (Sm) directed the Ibrahimite Hajj rituals cleansed from the shirk and established these. What is more, the sermons that Muhammad (Sm) he delivered at Makkah, Arafa and Mina will forever testify to immense success in his Prophethood. Through these historic sermons did his thought and idea about the society and the state blossomed into full bloom. At thousand of his farewell Address on the plain of Arafat was revealed the last wahi. 'This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion' (5:3).

After completing the Hajj, the Prophet (Sm) spent ten days in Makkah and then returned to Medina. He fell ill in the month of Safar in the eleventh Hijra year. After continuing to lead the prayers in this state for some time, he transfered the responsibility to Abu Bakr (R). One day the followers were waiting for him to arrive and lead the Zohar prayers. He performed his ablution but lost consciousness when trying to stand up. After recovering consciousness he did his ablution once again but again lost his senses. When this happened for a third time, Abu Bakr (R) had to begin the prayers. The Prophet (Sm) was sitting next to Abu Bakr (R). When Abu Bakr (R) attempted to relinquish his position as the Imam of the prayers, the Prophet (Sm) gestured to him not to do so. It was thus that the prayer was completed. After the end of the prayer the Prophet (Sm) gave a brief speech.

The Prophet's (Sm) character was a marvelous blend of all the virtues that a man can have. Though unlettered, he was very learned in both in secular and metaphysical forms of knowledge. He was indeed a fountainhead of such knowledge. He was the greatest of teachers the world has even known. He emphasized the importance of knowledge of all kinds. He was uncompromising in the struggle against untruth and single-minded in his determination to preach truth. Even in the face of extreme threats to his life, he remained unswerving. Although he had become the head of a large country, he continued to live simply. Always reliable and diligent in performing his duties, he was a family man who was over ready to sacrifice everything for the good of others. He was a loving husband, a devoted father, a reliable friend, and merciful even towards those who had been his most relentless enemy. His self-confidence, resolute character, and far-sightedness are unique qualities that make him stand out even among Prophets. Such enlightened directives such as 'there can be no coercion in matters of religion' and 'win over to your Lord with sagacity and correct advice' were the main foundations of his humane and enlightened proselytizing. His life was devoted to relieving the sufferings of orphans and distressed and poverty-stricken people and to helping relatives, neighbours, and the oppressed. He dedicated his life to serving society. He was a reformer, a discerning judge, and the founder of an empire as well as a religion. He was able to bring together an Arab nation that had been driven by conflicts and that had split into innumerable factions. He united feuding and barbaric tribes and was able to reform and shape them into a nation and a state that was suited for all times. By establishing sacred and inviolable laws, he was able to give new life to mankind.

Not only Muslims but innumerable non-Muslim men of letters such as Michael Hart, Alfred De Lamartine, John William Draper, and George Bernard Shaw, have acknowledged Prophet Muhammad (Sm) as the greatest of all sages and most successful person the world has ever seen.

Eulogising Prophet Muhammad (Sm) as the most successful man in history, Michael Hart has stated in his book The Hundred: 'My Choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers 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.'

The Prophet's (Sm) contribution in advancing wisdom and promoting freedom of thought is undeniable. In this context the orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad! As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than heFoodgrain' (Histore de la Turquie, 1854).

The impact of the Prophet's (Sm) ideas on the European world is acknowledged by one and all. John William Draper who has unhesitatingly declared that 'Renaissance owes its birth to Islam', has stated in A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe: 'Four years after the death of Justinian, in Ad 569, was born at Makkah, in Arabia, the man (Muhammad) who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race.'

The great writer Bernard Shaw has declared, 'I have studied him - the wonderful man - and in my opinion far from being an Anti-Christ he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much-needed peace and happiness.'

No wonder, Encyclopaedia Britannica has also acknowledged: 'Muhammad is the most successful of all prophets and religious personalities' (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, article on 'Koran'). [AHM Mujtaba Hossain and Syed Ashraf Ali]