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Letters to the editor - 10/6/02

October 07, 2002|by Syed Qasim Burmi

The founder of the Islamic religion: A short history



Many great personalities walked on this earth. Most of them, however, excelled in only one or two fields. Today I want to share with you the story of a man who never had formal education, yet achieved so much in such diverse fields that he not only moved armies and empires, he also moved altars, gods and beliefs.

He is the one about whom the late George Bernard Shaw said, "He must be called the savior of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness."(The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No.8)

He was Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him, PBUH) who preached Islam, a religion with more than 1.2 billion followers now. He was born in the year 570 AD in Makka, Saudi Arabia. His father, Abdullah died before his birth and his mother, Aminah died when he was only six.

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Since his early life, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was known as "the trustworthy" because of his truthfulness and honesty. He detested the decadence of the society and used to meditate from time to time in a cave. At age 40, while engaged in such a meditative retrieve, he received his first revelation from God (called Allah by Muslims) through Angel Gabriel.

For three years he invited only his friends and close relatives to the new religion. Later he preached in public. He declared that there was only one true God worthy of worship. He asked people to believe in all prophets like Moses, Jesus (Peace Be Upon Them) and not to differentiate between them. He advised them to enjoin what is good and forbid the evil, warned them of a Day of Judgment when everyone has to account for his actions in this world and an eternal life after death where people will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds.

The opponents of Islam were furious as it challenged their evil practices. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was ridiculed; accused of being a sorcerer. He and his followers were boycotted for years, tortured; attempts were made to kill them.

Once he was pelted with stones so much that his whole body was covered with blood. But he would not curse them or call for their destruction. He rather prayed to God to give them guidance.

Failing that, they offered him wealth and kingship in exchange for not preaching the new faith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) responded, "I swear by the name of God even if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand in return for giving up this, I will never desist until either God makes me triumph or I perish"

When persecution intensified, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) migrated with his followers to Madinah, a city about 200 miles north of Makka in the year 622 AD leaving behind their possessions.

Opponents from Makka attacked Madinah three times; but the handful of Muslims thwarted their attempts to crush the new faith.

The message of Islam continued to spread. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) instructed his followers to pray five times a day, pay charity and fast from dusk to dawn in the month of Ramadan. He said, "All mankind is from Adam & Evea white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action," "Actions will be judged only by intention and man shall get what he intends," "There is reward for kindness to every living thing," "Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger."

In 630 AD Muslims took over Makka without resistance. Instead of punishing his oppressors Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared general amnesty!

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never claimed divinity and described himself as a servant and messenger of God. He used to milk his goat, mend his clothes and help his family with household works.

In 633 AD when he passed away almost the whole of Arabian Peninsula was under Muslim rule. He did not designate his descendants to be the rulers of Muslims and left behind only a mule, his arms and a piece of land, which he gave in charity.

In his famous book "The 100, a ranking of the most influential persons in history" Michael Hart chose Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to lead the list and wrote about him " he was the only man in history, who was supremely successful at both religious and secular levels.

"In fact, as a driving force behind the Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential political leader of all times.

"It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influences which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered as the most influential single figure in human history."

Unfortunately, many provide misinformation and distort facts about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) these days. I invite all to find the truth about this great man and his teachings and draw their own conclusions about him.

This article was submitted by the Islamic Society of Western Maryland.

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