Posted By: Femi Abbason: December 25, 2015
This is a season which some Muslims celebrate as a festival. They call it Eidul Mawlid (meaning festival of birth). Their intention is to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This, in Islam, does not anyway enhance the great Prophet’s achievements. If anything, it trivialises such achievements.
No man in history is as great as Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He is, no doubt, the indisputable greatest man who ever lived. His legacy is the solid foundation upon which the contemporary civilisation is built. But despite the vivid visibility of that legacy it remains invisible to many eyes that are alien to the light of Islam. Thus, the Prophet’s legacy is like the beaming sun which no blind person can see and no seeing eyes can perceive in its natural nakedness. Yet, both the blind and the seeing feel the burning effect of the sun ‘willy nilly’ even as it photosynthesises the plants around them.
This article is not meant to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for which last Thursday was declared a public holiday in Nigeria.
As far as ‘The Message’ is concerned, what is to be celebrated about this great Prophet is by far beyond his birthday. His achievements clearly transcend his birth. Thus, there is no need wasting time on celebrating his birthday.
The Prophet’s biography
From the creation of Adam, the first human being, till date, no man’s biography has been so much written and read as that of Muhammad (SAW) the son of Abdullah and Aminah. This man’s biography has been written from all perspectives, positive and negative, by various men and women of diverse races, tribes, ideologies and religions in the past 1437 years or there about. And the biography is still being written and re-written authoritatively and un-authoritatively, today, in uncountable languages.
Through the writings of this Prophet’s biography, some people have zoomed into un-dreamt fame. Others have sunk into the abyss of permanent oblivion. But virtually all the writers have benefitted from their writings directly or indirectly in coins and in kind. No other Prophet’s biography has attracted as many writers from believers and non-believers, from friends and foes alike as that of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Every aspect of this Prophet’s life including the dresses he wore, the food he ate, the way he spoke, the wives he married, the children he bore, and the wars he fought, has formed the basis of his biography. In short, next to the Qur’an, no book is as much read daily in the world today as the biography of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in one form or another.
But there is a vital question: why is the global focus so much on this unlettered Prophet from Arabia? The answer to this question is not far-fetched. The world has not produced any other personality like him and it will not. He is the seal of all Prophets and the epitome of human exemplariness. In him alone are found all the traits of what a perfect gentleman should be in all ramifications.
If Prophet Muhammad had not been an orphan, he would not have been able to guide humanity on how orphans should be treated, especially with regards to inheritance. If he had not been a husband, his marital life would not have been an excellent example for others to emulate and women’s rights would have been permanently ignored. If he had not been a widower the world would not have realised the plight of widows and learnt how to provide for them. If he had not been a father, the proper care for children by parents would have been relegated to the background in Islamic doctrine. If he had not been trustworthy, the value of trust would have been totally lost on mankind.
His migration from Makkah to Madinah paved way for the culture of hospitality universally imbibed today and the wars he was forced to fight engendered the law of war, armistice and peace. Without his conquests in some wars, the word magnanimity would not have found a place in the dictionary of man and if he had not suffered defeat in war, the vanquished would not have learnt the act of gallantry. If the Prophet had not been a judge, the virtue of justice would have been globally thrown to the winds and survival in all societies would have been for the fittest.
If he had not been a democratic ruler, the relationship between the ruled and their rulers, all over the world, today, would not have been dissimilar from that of slaves and their masters and dictatorship in governance would have known no bounds. If Prophet had not been poor despite being a Head of State, the policy of social welfare adopted in civilised societies today in favour of the poor, would not have been possible. If he had not been an illiterate, the world would not have known the difference between literacy and education. And, if, despite all these qualities in him, he had not been humble and affable, arrogance would have been the main character of all privileged people in the world today.
Who else can be compared to this man called Muhammad (SAW) in history? And, in which anyone else could all the aforementioned qualities have been found in history? There can be little wonder then why so much focus was and is still being beamed on the personality of this extra-ordinary human being. That is Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for you, the like of whom the world has never seen and will never see again. If this man is celebrated anytime, anywhere, in the world, it is definitely not because he was born. His achievements transcend his birth and to concentrate on the celebration of his birth is to trivialise his achievements.
But for him, the world would have remained in the dungeon of ignorance and primitivism, while humanity would have remained at the level of crude beasts. It was he who brought back the manual of life to mankind after it had been lost in the search for sheer vanity. Manual of life is the divine instruction which came gradually from Allah to mankind according to the growth rate of human intellect. But such manual is not peculiar to man alone. All other organisms have their own instructions from Allah which in a way constitute their own manuals of life.
The path and the pathfinder
However, due to the intellectual superiority of man, the various divine instructions to other organisms were incorporated into man’s own manual of life. This is to enable man understand the complexity of his environment vis a vis the essence of his own existence and thereby act effectively as Allah’s vicegerent on earth. Although because of the differences in times and methods, Allah’s message is perceived differently, the fact remains that the message is only one coming from only one and the same God. This message is the ‘RIGHT PATH’ to salvation which came to mankind after several millennia of wandering in the wilderness of ignorance and vainglory. And the man, Muhammad (SAW), through whom that Message reached us is the ‘PATHFINDER’. Thus, the quality of the message is vividly manifest in the personality of the Messenger. There are many attestations to this.
For instance, after many years of scientific experiments, a German-born American physicist of Jewish ancesary and Nobel Laureate, Albert Einstein, the inventor of atomic bomb who is generally known as the 20th century creator of special and general theory of relativity, compared his works with the contents of the Qur’an and concluded as follows: “Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind”. He then called on fellow scientists to endeavour to read the Qur’an without bias in order to know the true origin of science in human life.
And as if responding to Einstein’s call, Professor Tagatat Tajasen, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Chiang Mai University in Thailand accepted Islam on the strength of just one scientific sign accurately mentioned in the Qur’an. He had spent a great amount of his time, as a professor, in search of pain receptor. When his attention was drawn to the Qur’an, he did not believe initially that such a highly sophisticated aspect of science could have been mentioned over 1,400 years ago. But when he confirmed it by himself in the translation of the Qur’an, he became so much impressed that he purposely attended the 8th Saudi Medical Conference held in Riyadh where he publicly embraced Islam.
Another leading scientist, Professor Marshall Johnson, the Head of the Department of Anatomy, a Director of Daniel Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, USA, was asked to comment on the verses of the Qur’an dealing with embryology. In response, he said it was probable that for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to have given such vivid description of foetus, he must have had a powerful microscope. But when he was reminded that the Qur’an was revealed over 1400 years ago and that the invention of microscope took place only a couple of centuries ago, Professor Johnson laughed and made the following remark: “I see nothing here in conflict with the concept that divine intervention was involved when Muhammad recited the Qur’an….”.
Yet another Embryologist, Professor Keith Moore of the Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Canada, after carefully examining the translation of the Qur’anic verses presented to him admitted thus: “most of the information concerning embryology mentioned in the Qur’an is in perfect conformity with modern discoveries in the field of embryology and does not conflict with them in any way”.
Professor Moore had no prior knowledge of anything leech-like about embryo until he read chapter 96 of the Qur’an where Allah says “Read! In the name of your Lord who created. He created man out of a leech-like clot…” He then went to verify this fact in an embryo under a powerful microscope and compared his observation with a diagram of a leech. He was astonished at the resemblance of the two. That prompted him to go fully into studying the Qur’an and Hadith to acquire more knowledge until he was able to answer about 80 hitherto unanswered questions in that field.
His discoveries thus, influenced the correction of the contents of his book ‘The Developing Human’ which he published earlier and re-published in 1982. It was with that revised edition that he became the recipient of an award for the best medical book written by a single author in the 20th century. That book has been translated into many major languages of the world and is mostly used as textbook of embryology today in the first year of medical studies in various Universities in the world.
Sciences and signs
Yet, despite talking about all sciences, the Qur’an is not a book of Sciences but that of ‘Signs’. Those ‘Signs’ invite man to realise the purpose of his existence on earth and live in harmony with nature.
Judging the above verses of the Qur’an revealed over 1400 years ago with the wonderful reality of scientific civilisation of today, what further proof does anybody need of the genuineness of the Qur’an? And who else can give better guidance than the Supreme Creator Himself? And who else can be better called the ‘PATHFINDER’ than Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who showed humanity the way to that all time guidance?
Perhaps, this was why Michael Hart, a Jewish American Astrophysicist, named Prophet Muhammad the greatest man that ever lived in his famous book entitled ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’.
If all the descriptions given above about Prophet Muhammad (SAW) sound exaggerated because they are given by Femi Abbas, a Muslim and an ardent follower of that Prophet, and if Michael Hart is seen as crazy in his judgment, let us read the views and impressions of some other non-Muslims about this great Prophet. One of them (Alphonse de Lamartine of France) had the following to say in his book ‘Histoire de la Torque’:
“Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim since this aim was superhuman; to subvert superstitions which had been interposed between man and his Creator; to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry, then existing.
Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design, no other instrument than himself, and no other, except a handful of men living in a corner of a desert…. If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled before their very eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. On the basis of a book, every letter of which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blended together peoples of every tongue and of every race…..As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man in human history greater than Muhammad?”
On his own, Napoleon Bonaparte, the great 18th century French conqueror of Europe was so much amazed by the traits of Islam which he saw in Egypt during his military expeditions that he made the following historic statement about that divine religion and its great Prophet:
“Muhammad, in reality, was a great leader of mankind. He preached UNITY among Arabs who were, till then, torn asunder due to internecine quarrels, sometimes resulting in bloody war fares. He brought them out of the obscure world in a short time and the discipline which they maintained under his leadership was simply marvelous, and so was their bravery, courage and devotion to the cause which they loved and cherished. This, coupled with the contempt for death, as taught by their leader, made them great soldiers and fighters like of whom history rarely produces. I simply marvel at the achievements of this great ‘Son of the Desert’ within a mere period of less than 15 years; a thing which Moses and Christ could not do in 15 centuries. I salute this great man; I salute his qualities of Head and Heart….”
George Bernard Shaw
And, in corroboration of the above statements, variously made by renowned men of letters and intellect, another foremost Orientalist, playwright and dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, had the following to say about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his book ‘The genuine Islam’ (vol. 1 No 8 of 1936):
“The Christians and their missionaries have presented a horrible picture of Islam. Not only that, they also carried out an organized and planned propaganda against the personality of Prophet Mohammad and the religion he preached. I have carefully studied Islam and the life of its Prophet. I have done so both as a student of history and as a critic. And I have come to the conclusion that Mohammad was indeed a great man and a deliverer and benefactor of mankind which was till then writhing under a most agonizing pain. I have always held Islam in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing face of existence which can make it appealing to every age. I have studied him-the wonderful man and in my opinion, far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of humanity. I believe that 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 it the much needed peace and happiness.
I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today”.
For confirmation of Bernard Shaw’s remark quoted above, see ‘The Genuine Islam, vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.
These are just some of the facts that make an unlettered orphan like Prophet, Muhammad (SAW), the greatest man that ever lived on earth. None of the attestations above made any reference to his birth or birthday because they knew that his birth had no contribution to his achievements. If non-Muslims could go as far as shown above to benefit from the greatness of Prophet Muhammad’s mission on earth what is expected of Muslims for whom that mission is primarily meant should not be mere celebration of his birthday.