A Mercy to Mankind
"And We have not
sent you except as a mercy to mankind"
(Qur'an Al-Anbiyah 21:107)
to Islam newsletter, Issue 1, May 1997
The year is
570 CE, five years after the death of the Roman Emperor Justinian.
An army of men, horses and elephants ruthlessly march towards the
city of Makkah, intending to wipe it out of existence. This is the
army of the Abysinnian warlord Abraha, who after conquering Yemen
is now advancing towards the sacred city of Makkah. One of the notables
of Makkah, Abdul-Muttalib, has ordered all the women and children
to go up into the mountains and take refuge there whilst the men
go and fight. However, the men of Makkah are of no match to the
deadly Abysinnian lancers who soon crush their resistance on the
borders of the city.
imminent for Abraha. Yet when the army advances to the fringes of
the city, headed by its lead elephant, the creature stops unexpectedly
and refuses to go any further towards the direction of Makkah. No
amount of budging will make this beast go towards the direction
of conquest, yet when the army turn it around, it is more than willing
to go back. Suddenly from the distant horizon, a huge flock of birds
is seen. Ominously it makes its way to the scene of the battle.
In their beaks and claws the birds carry with them stones. Like
lightning do they descend upon the confused army of Abraha and pelt
them viciously with the stones. The stones start to cut and tear
away at the bodies of these aggressors and reduce them to helpless
wretches. The army of the tyrant are sent back in humiliation. It
is no less than a miracle which has saved this sacred city.
This event was
to be remembered by the Arabs as the year of the elephant and was
to hold great significance in the balance of power in Arabia. But
it was the event which occurred fifty days later in the same year
which was not only to be remembered, but would also change the course
of history forever. It was on the 12th day of the month of Rabi-al-Awwal,
that in the house of Abdul-Muttalib a child was born. It was the
child of Amina, the wife of Abdullah, the son of Abdul-Muttalib.
This was the child who would change the way of life of all those
around him. This was the child who would unite all people under
one way. This was the child who would bring the great empires of
the world to a standstill.
This child was
Muhammed, the last and final messenger of Allah to mankind.
The name Muhammed
was given to the child by his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. The name
was one which was known amongst the Arabs at that time but was not
common. The literal meaning of Muhammed is 'the praised one', and
it is reported that upon being asked why Abdul-Muttalib had named
his grandson so, he replied: "I did so with the desire that my grandson
would be praised by Allah in Heaven and by men on earth". It
seems as if the desire of Abdul-Muttalib came true, for it was the
name of Muhammed (saws) which was to be uttered and praised more
times than that of any person in history. In fact it is not only
men who praise this remarkable man, but also the Creator of the
Heavens and the earth, Allah, and the inhabitants of the heavens,
Allah sends blessings upon the prophet, and his angels ask Allah
to bless him. Oh you who have believed ask Allah to send blessings
upon him and greet him with peace" (Qur'an Al-Ahzab 33:56)
of Abdul-Muttalib was destined to become the greatest man ever to
The early life
of Muhammed (saws) before his prophethood, is unknown to most people.
His life is highlighted by his sublime character and noble manners.
The world of Muhammed, (saws) was a world of idolatry, a world in
which women and slaves had no rights whatsoever, a world in which
men would cheat each other for a few dirhams.
(saws) was not like those around him. He was not known to swear
or talk in a vile manner, nor was he known to drink or gamble. His
honesty surpassed that of all others and he was known with the title
of 'Al-Amin' (The trustworthy). In fact it was this quality of honesty
which attracted so many people to his noble message.
The nature of
the Arabs at the time of Muhammed (saws) was very barbaric and they
would fight over the smallest of things, such as one tribes camel
grazing on the land of another tribe. This would often result in
wars which would last for years and take thousands of lives. In
the year 605 CE the Kaabah was accidentally burnt down and a massive
reconstruction programme had to be initiated. Many people were involved
in it's rebuilding. However, upon its completion, the issue of replacing
the black stone in its original place, the south east corner of
the Kaabah, arose. Each of the major tribes and clans wanted the
honour of placing the black stone in its proper place. Civil war
loomed over the Arabian peninsula. It was then suggested by Abu
Ummayah al-Mughira, one of the elders of Makkah, that the way to
settle this dispute was to let the first person to come through
the masjid gate the next morning, decide the fate of the matter.
Lo and behold the first man to enter the masjid the next morning
was indeed Muhammed (saws). Upon seeing him some of the Arabs exclaimed
with joy, "here is the trustworthv one, we shall agree to his decision
- he is Muhammed". Muhammed (saws) asked for a sheet or a robe to
be brought to him and to have the black stone placed in the middle
of it. He then asked the elders of each of the major tribes to lift
up the sheet from each of the corners. The elders did as they were
instructed and took the black stone over to the south east corner.
Muhammed (saws) then took the stone and placed it firmly in its
resting place And so it was Muhammed (saws) who with wisdom and
honesty saved the Arabs from self-destruction.
early life was wrought with unhappiness as he never saw his father
Abdullah who died before he was born. At the age of six his mother,
Amina passed away and he was entrusted into the care of his beloved
grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. However, at the age of twelve, Abdul-Muttalib
also passed away and Abu Talib, the uncle of Muhammed (saws), took
charge of him. With such distress and heartache so early on in life,
one would imagine that this boy would grow up to be rebellious and
troublesome, as is the case in so many of our societies today.
But this was obviously not to be.
It was Abu Talib
who then reared and brought him up. Abu Talib was a trader and businessman
and he sometimes took his nephew along with him on his trade journeys.
It was these trade journeys which eventually formed the alliance
between Muhammed and his future wife Khadija (RA). Khadija was a
wealthy widow from Makkah who was known for her noble character
and morals. Soon Muhammed (saws) was working for Khadija as a manager
for her trade caravans. It was his honesty and efficiency which
led to Khadija's proposal, and soon after Muhammed (saws) had returned
from a trade journey to Syria, they were married.
It was in the
year 610 CE that the prophet Muhammed (saws) received the first
revelation. It was the practice of Muhammed (saws) that he would
often go up to the cave of Hira to meditate and pray to Allah alone.
One night during the month of Ramadaan while he was meditating,
an angel appeared before him. This was the angel Jibraeel (Eng.
Gabriel), the very same angel who had brought down revelation to
the earlier prophets of Allah such as Jesus (as) and Moses (as).
ln a thundering voice the angel commanded him "READ" . "I cannot
read",  replied Muhammed honestly. The angel grabbed hold of
him and squeezed him so hard that Muhammed thought he would die
of suffocation. "READ", the angel commanded again. Muhammed's reply
was the same. So the angel squeezed him again and again, each time
harder than the previous, and Muhammed replied the same, each time
thinking that he would die of suffocation. The angel then released
him and spoke the words which would be remembered as the first words
of the final revelation to mankind:
in the name of you Lord, Who Created. Who Created man out of a
clot of blood. Read, and your Lord is the Most Bountiful. It is
He who has taught man the use of the pen. Taught man that which
he did not know."
(Qur'an Al-Alaq 96:1-5)
This was the
start of the revelation from Allah to humanity. It was the final
incorruptible message by which mankind would have to live by and
worship according to. And it was Muhammed (saws), the son of Abdullah
who was chosen to spread this good news.
It is the character
of the prophet Muhammed (saws) which was one of the main reasons
for the spread of his noble message. As mentioned before, he never
swore and he never spoke vilely about anyone. But after his appointment
as a prophet of Allah, he not only observed these excellent qualities
for himself, but also ordered all the Muslims to live their lives
according to these noble traits. This is why we find that lying
and cheating are totally forbidden in Islam, and about lying the
prophet (saws) said: "Lying leads to obscenity and obscenity leads
to the fire of hell" . For the Arabs to stop cheating and lying
it would mean that the whole of their lives would have to be turned
upside down. Cheating and lying during business transactions was
a regular practice for the Arabs, and it was from this behaviour
that the racist slogan "you cheating Arab!" was derived. Backbiting
and slandering one another were totally forbidden and the prophet
(saws) was instructed by Allah to inform the people that backbiting
another Muslim was like:
. . eating the dead flesh of your brother" (Qur'an Al-Hujjarat
was known to laugh very little, if at all. Rather when he was happy
he would express his delight by smiling and he is reported to have
said: "Too much laughter kills the heart" . Likewise when he
was angry, he would not fly off the handle or start a tantrum, but
rather the complexion of his face would simply turn red.
of Muhammed (saws) was so great that one of his companions, Ibn
Abbas described his huge generosity as being like ". . . the blowing
wind" . To give charity during those days was outdated and those
who gave charity were very rare in that troublesome society. But
the trends of society were nothing to this man, who simply wished
to attain the pleasure of Allah by helping those who were less fortunate
then himself. In fact his giving of charity often meant that he
had to sacrifice the pleasures of life for himself and his family.
His wife Aisha (RA) reported that ".... three consecutive days would
not go by without the family of Muhammed not eating their fill"
between Muhammed (saws) and women has been subject to vicious attack
by many western writers. He has been accused of being sexually immoral
and depraved by his enemies. Many a feminist has accused him of
depriving women of their rights. Yet the reality of this man is
unknown to many of these ignorant people. When Muhammed (saws) left
the cave of Hira, trembling and shaking like a leaf, who was the
first person that this alleged male chauvinist turned to? When spreading
the message of Islam who was the first person to respond to this
so called "patriarchal"  religion? The answer is Khadija, his
wife, a woman. It was Khadija who comforted him during these initial
days of anxiety. It was Khadija who reassured him of his role by
accepting his message. And it was Khadija who gained so much respect
and admiration from this remarkable man.
Arabia was characterised by the evil crime of burying baby girls
alive because they were seen as a shame to the family. Yet it was
this man Muhammed who spoke out vehemently against this great social
crime. In fact he stated the great blessing and reward of having
and rearing female children : "Whomsoever brings up two girls upon
this religion, then me and him shall be like this in paradise [and
he joined his forefinger with his middle finger]". His conduct
with women was not like that of the men today, rather he treated
the women as they deserved to be treated. He did not openly parade
women about like cattle, as was done before the coming of Islam
nor did he seek to please them by showing off his masculinity. Rather
he as described as being "......more shy than a virgin behind a
veil". For a man who achieved so much in his lifetime it would
be expected (by corrupt western standards!) that Muhammed would
abuse his power with regards to women. Yet we do not find a single
instance in his life in which he went out raping and destroying
the honour of the women folk who were captured. Rather it was the
women of Arabia who came forward in their droves to accept the message
of this man, who came to liberate humanity from the oppression of
By the time
of his death in the year 632 CE almost the whole of the Arabian
peninsula had been conquered. A million square miles lay at his
feet. Yet such was the humble nature of this man that he would mend
his own shoes, sew his own clothes and milk his own goats. Such
behaviour has become awe inspiring for millions of people and has
thus led them to the beauty of this religion. As a leader for his
people he was a great example of humility and mercy. When his companions
walked past his house they could hear him crying in his prayer,
so much so that it was like a "... boiling pot". He would continuously
pray during the nights to such an extent that his feet would swell
up. Upon observing this his wife Aisha (RA) asked him "..why do
you pray so much, when your Lord has forgiven your past sins and
your future sins?" and the reply from the prophet (saws) was "should
I therefore not be a grateful servant of my Lord (by praying at
The famous conquest
of Makkah is an event which shall be remembered for the justice
and mercy which were shown that day. Even though he had the option
to punish those who were guilty of oppressing the Muslims, Muhammed
(saws) issued a general amnesty by which many people were forgiven.
It was this behaviour which saw the amazing acceptance of Islam
by almost the whole population of Makkah literally overnight.
and conquest comes fame but fame did not affect this man whose only
aim was to establish the religion of Allah on earth. His position
as a messenger of Allah was not exaggerated. His insistence on being
a mere mortal like others was firm. And his desire to single out
Allah alone for worship was stressed wholeheartedly. It is for this
reason that he ordered his followers not to make any pictorial representations
or statues of him. Before his death he condemned the ". . .Jews
and Christians for taking the graves of their prophets and pious
people as places of worship". By implication this made it haram
(prohibited) for the Muslims to take the grave of Muhammed (saws)
as a place of worship. For all those who call the Muslims 'Muhammedans',
then this is the response which we as worshippers of Allah bring
forward. Throughout history leaders of nations, ideologies and empires
have often ended up becoming objects of worship. We find statues
and pictures of Marx, Lenin, Caesar, Jesus, St Paul, Hitler, Napoleon,
Confucius and so many others. Yet despite all the reminders of these
people, it is still this man Muhammed (saws) who has had the most
influence upon history, despite the fact that we find no 3-D visual
image of him . This is indeed a mercy from Allah.
The world of
the 7th century was a crumbling place. The empires of Rome and Persia
were locked in constant battle. The Chinese and Indian civilisations
were in moral decline. Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism
were all religions which were fast losing momentum. The case of
the Arabs was clear to everyone and they were regarded as being
at the bottom of this decaying pit. It was among this decadence
that Allah sent Muhammed (saws). He was like the light to this world
of ignorance. Like a lamp did he shine in this abyss of darkness.
From the confines of Arabia it was his light that would reach the
farthest regions of the earth and release the people from their
prophet. Verily We have sent you as a witness and a bearer of
glad tidings and a warner, and as one who invites to Allah by
His Permission, and as a lamp spreading light" (Qur'an Al-Ahzab
for small mercies" goes the saying of old. But the mercy which we
have been given is far from small. Rather the greatness of this
mercy will enable us to live and die upon a way of success and contentment.
This mercy is the Sunnah (way) of the prophet Muhammed (saws) and
through it we -by the will of Allah- will enjoy an everlasting life
in the messenger of Allah you have the most beautiful pattern
of conduct for him who hopes in Allah and the last day, and remembers
Allah much" (Qur'an Al-Ahzab 33:21)
- 1 Surah Al-Anbiya
2 This incident is the subject of Surah Al-Fil (The Elephant)
the 105th chapter of the Qur'an
3 The 3rd month of the Islamic calendar
4 The History of Islam and the Muslims - Iqbal Mohammed, Vol 1
5 This fact is even attested to by the non-Muslims, e.g. see the
Guinness book of Records.
6 Surah Al-Ahzab 33:56
7 This was one of the forms of currency in Arabia at that time
8 The History of Islam and the Muslims - Iqbal Mohammed, Vol 1
9 In modem western societies much of the social problems are as
a result of dysfunctional families.
10 The 9th month of the Islamic calendar and the month in which
fasting is obligatory.
11 Muhammed (saws) could not read or write - This is one of the
many proofs to show that he could not possibly have made the Qur'aan
up by himself.
12 Surah Al-Alaq 96:1-5
13 Reported in Saheeh Muslim (Eng. trans Vol. 4 p.1375 No.6307)
14 Surah Al-Hujjarat 49:12
15 Reported by At-Tirmidhee and Ahmed
16 Reported in Saheeh Muslim (Eng trans Vol. 4 p.1241 No.5718)
18 Male dominated
20 In pre-Islamic Arabia women were subjected to intolerable humiliation,
and they were often paraded naked during the festivals which were
held by the pagan Arabs.
21 Reported in Saheeh Muslim (Eng trans Vol. 4 p.1244 No.5739)
22 Despite the constant barrage of distortion against Islam, it
is a fact that more then 70% of those people who become Muslim
in the west, are women.
23 Abu Dawud (Eng Trans Vol. 1 p.230 No.903)
25 How different is this behaviour from that of the non-Muslim
conquerors such as the crusaders, who upon the conquest of Jerusalem;
raped, looted and burnt their way to success.
26 Reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng trans Vol. 1 p.255 No.427)
27 This was the name used for Muslims during the middle ages.
It means one who worships Muhammed (saws). Unfortunately through
their ignorance many westerners still know Muslims by this name.
28 This fact has even been attested to by Christians, such us
professor Michael Hart in his book "The 100: The most influential
men in History". Despite the fact that professor Hart casts doubt
upon the source of the prophet's law, he still cannot help but
admit that this man exercised more influence on humanity then
anyone else. It is for this reason that he places Muhammed (saws)
in the No.1 position, even ahead of his lord Jesus, whom he places
3rd just behind St Paul
29 Surah Al-Ahzab 33:45-46
30 Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21