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The Prophetís Personality

Sayyid Qutb

Arab News, 5/16/04

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent

They also say: ďWhat sort of messenger is this, who eats food and goes about in the marketplaces? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give warning alongside him?

ďOr why has not a treasure been granted to him? Or he should have a garden to provide his sustenance.Ē The wrongdoers say: ďThe man you follow is certainly bewitched.Ē

See to what they liken you. They have certainly gone astray and are unable to find a way back.(The Standard, Al-Furqan: 25: 7-9)

The first point the unbelievers make concerns the status of Muhammad (peace be upon him): They wonder why he eats food and goes about in the streets and market places. Why is he an ordinary human being, doing what humans do? This is an objection all communities made against every messenger God chose to send them. How could such a person, raised by such a family, living with them and behaving like them in all respects, be a messenger from God, receiving revelations from on high? How could he have contacts with another world, receiving knowledge that is unavailable to them when he is just one of them, while they receive no such revelations and know nothing about this other world?

From this angle, the whole idea seems unlikely. However, taken from another angle, it seems perfectly natural. God has breathed of His own spirit in man, and with this breath man has become distinguished among all Godís creation, and placed in charge of the earth. Yet human knowledge, experience, and abilities remain limited and inadequate. God would not leave him without support and guidance to show him the way to fulfill his trust. Hence, He has given him the potential to be in contact with Him through the breath of the divine spirit that distinguishes him. It is no wonder that God should choose a human being who has the spiritual potential to receive His message and impart to him what guides him and his fellow humans along the right way whenever they are lost, giving them the support they need.

This is an aspect of the grace God bestows on man, which appears amazing in one way and perfectly natural in another. But those who do not know the value of this creature and the true nature of the honor God has bestowed on him deny that a human being should be in contact with God through divine revelations.

They refuse to acknowledge that such a person should be chosen by God as His Messenger. They think that angels are better placed to have such a role: ďWhy has not an angel been sent down to him to give warning alongside him?Ē But God had ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before man as He granted him superior qualities associated with the breathing of Godís spirit in him.

It is divine wisdom that determines sending a human messenger to a human community. Such a messenger shares their feelings, experiences, hopes and sorrows. He knows their aspirations, needs and limitations. Thus, he understands their weaknesses, taps their strengths, and leads them along the way, step by step, knowing their motivations and reactions. After all, he is one of them, guiding them toward gaining Godís pleasure, supported by His revelation and guidance.

On their part they find in Godís human messenger an easy example to follow. He is one of them who takes them gradually along the road to a sublime standard. He lives among them implementing the moral standards, the actions and the duties God requires them to observe and fulfill. Thus, he personally serves as a practical implementation of the faith he preaches. All his life and behaviour is presented to them so that they take every detail of it and aspire to follow his example, knowing that it is within the capability of man. Had Godís Messenger been an angel, they would not think about his actions and behavior, and would not even attempt to follow his suit. They would feel that since he has a nature different from theirs, they could not aspire to reach his standard or follow his example.

We see how Godís infinite wisdom, which ordains all things in due proportions, has determined that His Messenger should be a human being so that he could fulfill the role of leading mankind along the way He has laid down for them. To object to this choice is to betray ignorance of such wisdom and the honor God has granted to mankind.

Another absurd objection points out that Godís Messenger walks about in the marketplaces to earn his living. His position would have been recognized had he been granted great wealth to save him the trouble of working for his living: ďOr why has not a treasure been granted to him? Or he should have a garden to provide his sustenance.Ē

But God has willed that His Messenger should not have a treasure or a garden, because He wants him to be a perfect example to be followed by his community. He should fulfill the great tasks of delivering his message while he works at the same time to earn his living. Thus, none of his followers could argue that the Prophet was freed from the responsibility to work, and thus was able to devote all his time to his message. None will take this as an excuse for not fulfilling his duty toward the divine message. We see clearly that the Prophet worked for his living while he also worked for his message. It is right, then, that everyone of his followers should do the same, so as to fulfill his own task toward the divine faith.

Wealth was later given in abundance to the Prophet so as the first experience should be completed and the example he provided should be perfected. He did not allow such wealth to become his preoccupation, preventing him from the fulfillment of his task. Indeed, his generosity was so superior that it was likened by his companions to unrestrained wind. He showed a perfect example of resisting the lure of wealth so as to enable his followers to look at it in the proper perspective. Thus, no one could say that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to fulfill the duties of his message because he was poor, having no preoccupations of wealth, free of the task of looking after it. He indeed fulfilled his duties in both situations of poverty and riches.

Besides, what value is wealth, treasures and gardens when compared with contact between man, a weak mortal, and God the Eternal? What significance has this earth and all that it contains, or indeed this whole universe, when compared to contact with God the Creator who grants everyone all that they have? But unbelievers appreciate nothing of this.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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