Not a day passes without some
depressing news from one Muslim country or another. Either it is a
terrorist attack in Afghanistan or the Syrian Air Force bombing
its own people. Iraq continues to be hit with violence of the most
gruesome kind. Mali now joins the list of Muslim countries facing
internal turmoil and external intervention. People continue to be
killed in Pakistan either in drone attacks by the US or in
inter-sectarian strife. Why?
I think no one who reflects on the worsening conditions in the
Muslim world can fail to ask these questions: Is this the
community envisaged by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who
was born on 12 Rabi Al-Awwal, and is this the world we would have
witnessed if Muslims had proved true to their religion and had
lived according to the guidance provided by their Prophet (pbuh)
and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an?
Muslims may complain of many things but they cannot complain that
they have no role model. They have the perfect role model in their
Prophet (pbuh). There is no other prophet on whose life so much
light has been shed. Living in the full glare of history, his
sayings and actions have been documented as no other prophet’s
have. Recorded in minute detail, their authenticity has not been
questioned by fair-minded scholars and honest historians.
It is extremely difficult for the Muslims of today to imagine and
much less to endure the hardships that the Prophet (pbuh) and his
companions underwent. In the ninth year of his mission, the
Prophet (pbuh) — having been persecuted and terrorized by his
people in Makkah — headed for Taif, home of the Banu Thaqif tribe.
If anything, he was treated even more rudely by the tribal elders,
who told him to leave the place and even sent street urchins after
him to beat him and pelt him with stones. He bled profusely. His
entire body was covered with blood and his sandals became clogged
to his feet because of the severity of the beating and torture he
was subjected to. Those who would resort to violence at what they
perceive to be insults to the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam should
realize that he bore no ill will toward his tormentors. Instead,
he made a heartrending invocation to God Almighty beseeching mercy
for the people who had persecuted him. Those Muslims who are
intolerant and become violent at the slightest provocation are
doing a great disservice to their religion and the principle of
tolerance it espouses.
When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) noticed the continued absence of a
woman in Makkah who used to insult him and throw garbage on him as
he walked the streets, he asked people about her and visited her
after learning that she had fallen ill.
Over 14 centuries have gone by since he left us, but his message
still lives on. It can lead us from darkness to light as it once
led the Arabs from backwardness to the heights of success and
glory. His life was one of mercy, compassion, care, consideration,
kindness and tolerance for all. His sayings, known as Hadiths,
bear testimony to this. One particular theme he was never tired of
stressing concerns the rights of women. You should look at what
the Prophet (pbuh) said and did in order to realize what an
honorable and respectable position Islam affords women. However,
it is sad to see that many Muslims ignore this or behave in a way
that gives a very wrong impression about women’s position in an
Islamic society. “Fear Allah in respect of women,” the Prophet (pbuh)
said. On another occasion he said: “The best of you are they who
are best to their wives.”
Here is another Hadith: “A Muslim must not hate his wife, and if
he be displeased with one bad quality in her, let him be pleased
with one that is good.” According to him, “The more civil and kind
a Muslim is to his wife, the more perfect in faith he is.”
In what was considered a revolutionary idea at that time, the
Prophet (pbuh) taught his companions to remain in their mothers’
service, saying that Paradise lies beneath their feet. Today, we
violate the Prophet’s teachings over this and so many other
things, which creates so many problems for us and brings a bad
name to our religion.
Start with the self-appointed guardians of faith. They preach
piety, but are they pious? Do they live by the tenets of Islam?
They preach, but do not practice. What about those who spew hate,
abuse and defame others – all in the name of religion? Have they
not read about the Prophet’s attitude and behavior toward all
those around him including the ones who abused him and tried to
Do people in authority follow the precepts of the Prophet (pbuh)?
If they did, so many Muslim countries would not be in ferment,
providing an opportunity for outsiders to intervene in their
affairs or to set one section of the people against another. Are
our bureaucrats punctual and sincere? Do they cater to the
public’s needs? The functioning of government departments
throughout the Muslim world in the holy month of Ramadan tells its
own story. Most of our problems are self-inflicted. There is no
point in crying that enemies are plotting our destruction or
hatching conspiracies against us. Of course that is what enemies
everywhere have been doing throughout history. The question is
whether we should help enemies by our own actions or inaction.
Take, for example, scientific progress and economic development.
Muslims once led Europe in science and the pursuit of knowledge.
All experts agree that without the Arabic numbering system, which
included decimals and the cipher (zero), modern science and
business would have been impossible. The first university of
Europe was established by Muslims in Spain. From the 8th to the
10th centuries, Baghdad flourished as the world’s most civilized
city. Its university was attended by 6,000 students from all over
Aristotle and Plato were rediscovered by Muslim scholars who
translated many Greek manuscripts into Arabic. Even non-Muslim
historians admit that Muslims were the originators of modern
chemistry, meteorology, mathematics, sociology and geography.
Muslim surgeons were also the first to dissect the human body. The
first known telescope was built for a Muslim ruler. We should
remember that we are the followers of a Prophet (pbuh) who said
that one should seek knowledge even if it means traveling as far
as China. Today, as we stumble through a confused and turbulent
world and as uncertainly and depression grip large parts of the
Muslim world, we should go back to the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh).
This is the only way to get rid of the social ills from which we
Unfortunately, we say one thing and practice something else. The
Holy Qur’an says: “Allah will never change the condition of a
people until they change what is within themselves.” Surah Al-Ra’d
- Ayah 11 (13:11). Let us teach ourselves and our children about
the life of the Prophet (pbuh) with a firm resolve that we will
use it in our daily lives. Let us be more tolerant, more forgiving
and show compassion to all people irrespective of their race or
religion. This is the best way to show our love and respect for
our Prophet (pbuh).
Editor in Chief of
Khaled AlMaeena is one of the most respected journalists in the
The above article was published in Saudi Gazette
on January 24, 2013 to commemorate the birth anniversary of
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)