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Prophet Muhammad and Human Dignity
Saturday January 3, 2015 3:12 PM, Professor Shakeel Samdani

On 30th September 2006, a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was published in Denmark lampooning the exalted Prophet by depicting him wearing a headscarf resembling a time bomb. Carrying lethal weapons in his hands he was surrounded by ladies. It was a deplorable and outrageous attempt to project the Prophet in a manner which was completely alien to him. The thesis which was sought to be built up if the Prophet of Islam what he was shown to be; the common Muslim must be a nightmare for the humanity . Notwithstanding the attempts to deride the Prophet , one must objectively examine the multifaceted personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Prophet Mosque

It seems pertinent to point out that in the seventh century, rapid tides of Islam overwhelmed non- Muslims particularly Christians and Jews. They tried to thwart the spread of Islam but they ultimately failed. Two tyrant superpowers of that time Rome and Iran were blown over by the Islamic volcano. It happened during the reign of the second caliph Hazrat Umar. Islam swelled to two-third of the known civilized world within a short span of time and Islam ruled for at least eleven century.[1] When the evil elements did not succeed in blocking the Islamic tides, they adopted dubious means and false propaganda which is continuing till date. It is being claimed that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is responsible for making Muslims violent by introducing them to the concept of Jihad. He spread Islam by power of sword. Through his teachings Muslims became terrorists and status of women was reduced to that of a jail inmate. It is due to all these facts that there is violence in the world and the Muslims are responsible for all that is evil.

Let us discuss the issue objectively. The charge that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught Muslims to use violence and Jihad is baseless because during his life time Muslims fought almost all wars, necessarily remaining in a disadvantaged state in respect of numbers and arms. They had no sophisticated weapons. They were empty pocket and lacked horses and soldiers. Despite all these handicaps, they came out victorious in all battles. One of the most important point often overlooked is that the count of all dead from both sides was between one thousand to twelve hundred in all the battles fought during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Main reason behind such a low causality is that after wars, Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) always forgave enemies and that resulted in large scale conversion to Islam too. If he would have subscribed to the violence and terrorism, then after the victory over Mecca at least thousands of people should have been killed.

One of the foremost fundamental rights as taught by Islam is the right to live and respect for human life. "If any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole of mankind "[2]

The question of taking life in retaliation for murder or the question of punishment for spreading corruption on this earth, will be decided only by a proper and competent court of law. At another place the Quran says: " Do not take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause".[3] Here "just cause" means punishment of death given in accordance with the Shariah. At a number of other places as well, the Quran has ordered not to take a person's life because Allah has made it sacred.

In the sermon of the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet of Islam declared: " (I warn you that) your lives, your properties and your honour is as sacred to one another as this sacred Day, as this Sacred Month and this Sacred city." [4] Islam has provided full security of life to every person. The Holy Quran says: " And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of whole of mankind.[5]

In this way Islam has not only forbidden to kill or murder a person but has also ordained to save a person from death. Thus, Islam guarantees full security of life to each and every person.

Historical evidences unveiled tell us that both Rome and Iran indulged in creating towers of human heads after victory but the Prophet of Islam never adopted such repressive means to celebrate victory hence, it is almost certain that the charge of terrorism, violence and Jihad is completely baseless otherwise Islamic armies would have been responsible for the genocide of people in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jerusalem, Spain etc after their thumping victories. They were in a position to enslave men and women, shown disrespect to women folk and may have destroyed cities and towns.

Islam teaches certain fundamental aspects during warfare, accordingly the following acts are forbidden during the warfare: [6]

a) Cruel ways of Killing - The Prophet (PBUH) has said, "Fairness is prescribed by God in every matter; so if you kill, kill in a fair way." [7]
b) Killing of non-combatants - Combatants are those who are physically capable of fighting. Women, minors, hermits, physically disabled, insane, and the like are example of the non-combatants.
c) Killing of persons of war.
d) Mutilation of human beings as well as beasts.
e) Unnecessary destruction of harvest and cutting of trees.
f) Adultery and fornication with captive women.
g) Killing of envoys even in retaliation.
h) Massacre in the vanquished territory.
i) The use of poisonous weapons on the people other than the combatants.[8]

And during the course of war, the following acts are permitted:

a) The combatants must be killed till the enemy surrenders. Kasani says: " And the principle therein is that all those who are potentially capable of fighting may be killed, no matter whether they actually fight or not. And all those who are potentially incapable of fighting actually or potentially such as by means of opinion, influence, inciting and the like" [9]

b) The all kinds of weapons may be used. Catapults Manjaniq, an Arabicisation of the Greek word 'mechanic', was used by the Prophet (PBUH) in the siege of Taif. The Muslims of Spain used in the seventh century of Hijrah what might be considered a crude form of cannon.[10]

c) During the Crusades the Muslims used a kind of Masnic mine.[11] Abbas bin Finas (d.275/888) was the first person who perfected a man propelled aero plane. [12]

d) Recourse must be had to powerful propaganda. The Quranic verse relating to the Islamic budget allots a portion of income for propaganda. Justice Abu Yala Farra writes that this Quranic term includes four categories:
i) Those whose hearts are to be won to help the Muslims.
ii) To persuade them to abstain from doing harm to Muslims.
iii) To induce them to embrace Islam.

There are precedents of the Prophet (PBUH) in which he sent secret agents to cause misunderstanding between different sections of the enemy. [13]

History stands as witness that all the Islamic rulers especially the rightly guided Caliphs and majority of the later rulers, such as Mohammad bin Qasim, Tariq bin Ziyad and Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi had spread love, affection, compensation and peace after their victory and that attitude is one of the most important factors behind rapid rise of Islam.

Another charge leveled against followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is that he had spread Islam through the power of sword. I fail to agree with any such false propaganda. History stands witness that Muslim rulers never forced their people to convert to Islam. if they had adopted such dubious means, then after nearly 1000 years Muslim Rule in India, the Muslims would not have been in minority at all. If such a trend would have been used, then the slave of second Caliph Hazrat Umar Farooq would not have been a Christian till dying days of Hazrat Umar Farooq and after, who never forced him to change his religion.

As Islam recognises human rights in peace times, it also recognises rights of the men during the war. Islam established the rules and principles of war for the first time. Islam made distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Regarding non-combatants the Holy Prophet(PBUH) instructed the believers- " Don't kill any old person or any women or child, don't kill the monks in monastery and don't kill the people who are sitting in places of worship." [14]

As far as combatants are concerned the Holy Quran says: " When you have thoroughly subdued them, bind firmly; thereafter either generosity or ransom; until the war lays down its burdens". [15]

The western world has formulated the right of prisoners of war only after Geneva Convention in 1949. The so called protectors of human rights violated these rights in almost every war and adopted double standards. The recent happenings in Iraq provide illustrative example. [16]

Islam teaches that the prisoners of war should be treated humanely. One of the best examples in this regard is the appointment of prisoners of battle of Badr as teachers of Muslim children. The Holy Quran exhorts the Muslim to feed the prisoner even if they themselves are in need of it: "And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive, (saying) we feed you for the sake of Allah alone." [17]

The Islamic provision in this respect are:
i) The prisoners must be fed and well treated until a declaration is reached regarding them.[18]
ii) They are not to be charged for their maintenance. This is to be borne by the capturing Islamic State. [19]
iii) Arrangements is to e made to do away with their discomfiture like sickness, etc. [20]
iv) They have the right to draw up wills for their property at home, which would be communicated to the enemy. [21]
v) The near relatives are not to be separated from each other. [22]
vi) The position and dignity of the prisoners is to be respected. [23]
vii) There is no evidence in the early Muslim history exacting labour from prisoners. [24]
viii) A prisoner cannot be held responsible for mere acts of belligerency. [25]
ix) The prisoners can be tried and punished for crimes beyond the rights of belligerency. The two prisoners of the battle of Badr were beheaded by the order of the Prophet (PBUH). [26]

In fact the provisions of Islam are much ahead of the Geneva Convention. [27]

When Salahuddin Ayyubi captured Jerusalem he did not kill even a single Christian or Jew whereas Christians had taken over Jerusalem, they had inflicted wholesale genocide on Muslims. Historians of repute tell us that the lanes were full of Muslim blood. But this brave general pardoned all Christians and Jews by imposing a nominal tax and those who were unable to pay this nominal tax were freed as charity, a characteristic exclusive to Muslim rule only. The humanly attitude of Salahuddin Ayyubi had impressed the common Christian and Jew to that extent that thousand of them embraced Islam by their own will. If Islam had been spread by the sword and its followers were cruel and terrorists, then it may not have spread so fast over the globe and the history may not have documented such glaring example of humanism and kindness. If we go through the battles fought by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during his life time we find that in all these battles only 759 non Muslims were killed while 259 Muslims were martyred. This leaves us with a total of 1018 causalities. Such a low number of causalities in the greatest revolution of human history itself proves that it was a bloodless revolution. We have seen that in the French and Russian revolutions millions of persons lost their precious life. Given this, it is hard to indorse the tendentious view of some anti Islam polemicists that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) accomplished his mission by the power of sword. [28]

This can also be refuted by the following observation of Bosworth Smith, "He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports." [29]

The famous Indian poetess Sarojini Naidu says about the political philosophy of Prophet : "It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: "God Alone is Great..." [30]

Islam accords great importance to the sanctity of the human life. The Islamic concept of human fraternity underscores its respect and concern for the human life. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) instance on this issue is illustrated at its sharpest by the Quranic verse which proclaims that killing a single human being amounts to killing entire mankind. conversely, saving the life of an individual may be likened to rescuing the entire human kind. [31]

One of the many bright sides of the teachings of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is that while western countries and anti-Islamic forces induce women to wear indecent cloths and reveal their body, Islam forbids such vulgar display. In western countries fashion shows, modeling competitions and dress shows are the order of day in which female bodies are exposed only next to naked. Women folk are dignified and Islam respects their individuality. it is for this reason that the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Islam provide respectful space to women instead of using them as commodity.

The greatest men of the world have refuted the claim that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and their followers conquered world through the power of sword. The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi says "...I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble." [32]

If we analyse all the battles fought by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Muslims in the last one thousand years , the outcome will be revealing and surprising. During these one thousand years the Muslims did not kill more than 20 million people during wars, which were fought between Muslims and non Muslims. In the same period of one thousand years, European, American, Christians and Jews have killed many a million people. Injured many be counted in hundreds of millions. When the followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were living in peace and were engaged in spreading knowledge of science and mathematics, Europe was at war spanning over 'thirty years'. Uncounted people were killed in pre and post French Revolution. When political power ceased to be in the hands of Muslims in 20th century, about 16.5 to 30 million people were killed in the First World War and about 60 to 85 million saw death in the Second World War. Millions were killed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Yugoslavia and Chechnya. About 7.5 million people were killed in Chinese Civil War (1927-1949), about 5 to 10 lac people were killed in Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), about 5 lac people were killed in Angolan Civil War (1975-2000), about 2 to 8 lac people died during War Lord Era in China (1916-1928) and in Vietnam war about 8 lac to 3.1 million men, women and children were killed. The total number of injured during these conflicts can be imagined by the readers themselves.33 And all this was the end result of the wars fought by Christians, Jews and Communists. Islam or its followers have no hand in these killings.

If we leave old testimonies and come down to 20th and 21st century, then also we see that after the fall of Ottoman Caliphate in Turkey (1924), the Muslims became weak in all matters and the Christian and Jews registered tremendous power. In this way they all, including Communism collapsed in 1990 an Christians and Jews did not develop in a manner they were poised to. All the reports of electronic media, print media and researched data suggests that the Islam is galloping all over the globe. In Europe and America, larger numbers of people are embracing Islam, France and England are also following suit. According to a report Islam is the fastest growing religion. In 1990, 935 million people were Muslims and this figure had escalated to around 1.2 billion by 2000, meaning that around one in five people follow Islam. Although the religion began in Arabia, by 2002 80% of all believers in Islam lived outside the Arab world. In the period 1990-2000, approximately 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity. (Guinness World Records 2003, page 102) (Emphasis added). [34]

According to Reader's Digest Almanic Year Book, Islam grew by 235% in 50 years between 1934-1984. [35]

According to CNN "the second largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam is also the fastest growing religion. In the United States, for example nearly 80% of more than 1200 mosques have been built in the past 12 years. Some scholars see an emerging Muslim renaissance as Islam takes root in many traditional Christian community. Islam has drawn converts from all walks of life, most notably Africans-Americans. [36]

In this connection the observation of George Bernard Shaw is worth mentioning : "I believe 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 much needed peace and happiness.

I have studied him - the man and in my opinion is far from being an anti–Christ. He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammad that it would be acceptable the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today." [37]

Famous singer of Europe, Cat Stevenson or the correspondent of Britain's ABC, Yvonne Ridley who was freed by Taliban, Daniel Streich (Swiss Politician), Louis du Couret (French explorer and military officer), Divine Styler (American Hip-Hop musician), Lady Evelyn Cubbold (Scottish noble woman), Frank Rubery (French footballer), Mark Hanson (American Islamic scholar), Jemima Goldsmith (daughter of the billionaire Sir James), Jermine Jackson (brother of Michael Jackson), Julia Volkova (Russian singer and actress), Lary Johnson (American basketball player), Lim Yew Hock (Singapore's second Prime Minister), Margret Marcus (Mariam Jamilah, the famous author), Michael Wolf (American poet), Mohammed Knut Bernstrom (Swedish Ambassador), Tiera Jacquelina (Malaysian actress), Mohammad Ali Clay or Michael Jackson or famous singer of India A.R. Rahaman or thousands of those who are embracing Islam are proving that Islam is a religion of peace. Most strikingly a number of U.S Marines in Iraq have reportedly taken to Islam and this is not an isolated case as there are similar reports from Afghanistan. Further, an unconfirmed source reveals that many U.S soldiers on duty in Guantanamo Bay, after being influenced by their Muslim captives, embraced Islam and, thus, had to be shifted out from there by the United States Government. It is common knowledge today that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and, thus, it is no wonder that such reports are coming in from United States and form all over Europe as well. Yet, Muslims are the most ghettoized people in the world today and Islam's so called "sword" is at its weakest. If Islam is spreading at a time such as this we can safely say that it is because of its mass-appeal.

These developments suggests that teachings of Islam are for all mankind and people are joining it by their free will.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a famous man of letters, who is somewhat for his candid and forthright views and for his iconoclasm, states: "there is only one person who can resolve the complicated problems of our time; he is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)". He continues in the same vein: "Islam is the only faith system which will dominate England and throughout Europe in the next century. I greatly value Prophet Muhammad's faith. For it is characterised by its amazing energy. This is the only faith which, in my opinion, has the capacity for adopting to the ever changing times. Islam offers appeal and attraction for all ages" [38]

Islam teaches its followers to draw solace and inspiration from its teachings and of course from the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and yet remain fully committed to tolerance and diversity while other would burn the earth to cinders. It is now, for the world to see, just who has in the past and in the present day, where there are numerous examples in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Palestine, attempted to burn communities, nations and the world. And we can be sure of one thing that Islam is not responsible for these miseries.

A non-Muslim Michael Hart has himself given fitting reply to those who accuse Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in several ways. He has compiled a list of hundred most respected, powerful, kind and successful men of history. He has put the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on top at a number one. Hart is, no doubt, a committed Christian, however, his assessment is based upon strict criteria. As a result, he accords the pride of place to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the galaxy of political leader, messengers, scientists, philosophers, thinkers and reformers. He has devoted the opening chapter of his work to the Prophet, underscoring, as it does the dominance of the Prophet's position in human history. Another equally significant point is that Hart is a scientist by profession. As a Christian or as a scientist he should have naturally bestowed this honour upon Prophet Jesus or Newton. However, rejecting their claims to primacy, he presents Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the most influential figure in human history. [39]

Despite being Christian, he has placed Prophet Jesus Christ at third place. in the whole book only two Muslims have figured, one Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and second Hazrat Umar (R.A) at number 52. He has also given logic behind placing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over Prophet Jesus. [40]

As an objective scholar engaged in the quest of truth he pays a rich tribute to the Prophet's accomplishment in concluding "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 level." He further writes that, "we know that the victories of Arabs in seventh century have left a lasting impression and shaped the history of mankind. It is a mixture of religious and worldly effects. It is the main reason due to which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is placed at the top of the list of hundred personalities". [41]

About the personality of Prophet Muhammad and the attraction of his personality Annie Besant says: "It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher." [42]

A dispassionate analysis indicate that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had brought the message of love and peace for whole of mankind. The world mired in violence, disturbances, disruptions and deprivations in that people hardy adhere to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Islam. If the world dreams of a peaceful, hospitable and affectionate tomorrow then we all must embark upon the path shown by Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

True to his title 'Rahmatulil Alameen' his teachings are braced for heralding a new era of hope for the mankind.

[Prof. Shakeel Samdani, Faculty Of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh(UP). President, Sir Syed Awareness Forum, Aligarh. He can be contacted on]

1 Gulen, M. Fethullah, The Infinite Light, New Delhi (2012), p.306
2 Quran, 5:32
3 Quran, 17:34
4 Sahih Bukhari; Sahih Muslim; Abu Daood, etc.
5 Quran, 5:32
6 Gilani,Dr.Riaz-ul-Hasan, The Reconstruction of Legal Thought in Islam,Markazi Maktaba Islami Pub. New Delhi, 2006, p.334
7 Sahih Muslim, V.2, p.72
8 Sarakhi; Shrah al-Siyar, v.3, p.294
9 Kasani; Badai as-Sanai, v.7, p.101
10 Scot, S.P, History of Moorish Empire in Europe, v.4, p.635.
11 Lawrence, Principles of International Laws, p.511
12 Al-Maqqari, Nafh at-Tib, v.2, p.254
13 Ibn Hisham, p.894
14 Abu Daood
15 The Holy Quran, Muhammad, 4
16 Qasmi, Dr.M.Saud Alam, Human Rights in Islam, A.M.U, 2005, p.26
17 The Holy Quran, Al Insan, 8-9
18 Abu Yusuf, Kitabul-Kharaj, p.88
19 ibid
20 Ibn Athr, Kamil, v.4, p.99
21 Sarakhsi, Sharhal-Siyar, v.4, p.229
22 Ibid.,p,241.
23 Maqrizi, v.I, p.297
24 Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State, p.216
25 Dabusi, Asrar, p.148
26 Tabari, v.p.1337
27 Supra note 6, p.320
28 MahmoodurRahman .Dr, Prophet Muhammad-His Glorious Life and Illustrious Career, Jaipur, p.29, See also Gulen, M. Fethullah, The Infinite Light, New Delhi (2012), p.251
29Smith Bosworth, Mohammed and Mohammadanism, London 1874, p. 92
30 Naidu,Sarojini, Ideals of Islam, Speeches and Writings, Madaras, 1918
31 Quran, Surah, Al Maida 5:32
32 YOUNG INDIA, 1924
33, visited on 05.01.2014
34 visited on 05.01.2014
35 visited on 05.01.2014
36 Ibid
37 Shaw, George Bernard - The Genuine Islam Vol.No.8, 1936.
38 supra note. 29 at 12
39 Id at 11
40 See Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33
41 Ibid
42 Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras 1932, p.4


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