Opinion Editorials, April 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: ww.aljazeerah.info
A Source of Eternal Inspiration and Guidance
Arab News, 5/2/04
After the Sept. 11 attacks against the US, some sections of the US media have been carrying on a campaign of vilification against Islam and its Prophet (peace be upon him). Sad as it is, we should not ignore the brighter side of the picture. This brighter side is that more and more people in the West are now evincing a keen interest to know more about Islam and its Prophet. This is especially welcome because most of the misunderstandings and the resultant hatred among nations and communities are a result of ignorance. The real problem, as I see it, is not clash of civilizations but our ignorance of civilizations other than ours.
We, Muslims, are not entirely blameless on this score. We have not made any serious effort to explain to others what Islam and its Prophet stand for. Not many non-Muslims know how the Prophet welded a strong nation out of warring Arabian tribes based on a message of peace and brotherhood.
The Prophet was born on Rabiul Awwal 12. His birth took place in a modest house in Makkah on a Monday in the Year of the Elephant, which corresponds to 571 C.E. Both his father, Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, and mother, Amina bint Wahab, were well-known people. The Prophet never knew his father, who had died in the months before his birth. It was left to his grandfather to name him Muhammad.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to know the teachings of the Prophet and to abide by the Qur’an, which was revealed to him. They should emulate his behavior and realize the importance of tawhid (monotheism) with which he began his message, as shown in Allah’s direction in the Qur’an: “Say (Muhammad), I pray unto Allah only, and I ascribe to Him no partner.” (Surah Al-Jinn 72:20).
The Prophet Muhammad is the role model for every Muslim. We should follow his guidance in all things, large and small. Almighty Allah has blessed this Ummah by preserving the Sunnah and Sirah of His messenger. Despite the passage of time, both remain as though we are seeing and hearing them today. They provide a living example of the life of the Prophet. They also instill love and respect for him in the hearts of Muslims. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example to follow.” (Surah Al-Ahzab: 33:21).
The world is passing through a very dangerous period. Wars, famine, hunger and disease are ravaging parts of the globe. Even in the so-called advanced societies, life is far from trouble-free. We find violence in schools and on the streets, depression, poverty, dysfunctional families and a host of other problems that appear to be proliferating instead of showing any signs of abating.
To make matters worse, there is a crisis of identity in the Muslim world. While social problems are few thanks to our strong family values, there is a growing indifference to other challenges that confront us. The terrorist bombings in Riyadh this month and the earlier ones should serve as a wake-up call. Intolerance is a rising menace. So are extremism and obscurantism.
We are in the habit of blaming others for our own ills. As a people we are not given to soul-searching or introspection. We have failed to question why we are in this position.
What have we done to alleviate our own suffering? We grovel in mortification and wallow in self-pity, unable to muster the courage to call a spade a spade and find solutions to our problems. We don’t have to imitate others. The life of the Prophet Muhammad is itself a beacon of light — a light of guidance that, if only we follow it, will lead us to safety. Those of us who are in prominent positions in society should lead by example, for it would be disastrous if we ourselves lacked true awareness and piety.
If we love the Prophet and believe in his message, then we have to follow him in everything we do. We must leave behind anything that is abominable — all that is indecent, whether in speech or in action. If an injustice is done to you, respond with a kind act by forgiving the one who wronged you. Do not take revenge; vengeance is the province of Allah. Free yourself by forgiving others and working to strengthen your relationships.
The Prophet has taught us how we should treat the less privileged among us. He never tired of urging us to help the weak, the needy and women. Work hard and share with other workers, even if your work is digging in the ground or removing rubble; and be happy in carrying out the tasks you are performing to show your humility.
Do not use abusive or rude language, even in jest. Do not direct evil deeds at any of your brothers or sisters. Let politeness and propriety in speech be your way of life. Be merciful to people and to animals. Be unafraid to speak the truth, even if it is against you.
We must have role models. Let us seek them from people around us but never forget the one God has sent as a Messenger. Of all the prophets, there is none whose life has been as open to scrutiny as that of the Prophet Muhammad.
We owe it to ourselves to learn everything about him. Can there be a more ennobling experience than to follow the example of a man who was sent by God as an example for the entire humanity?
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