The writer, Alhaj Murtaza Somji (Nairobi, Kenya) is the Director of Eyestyle Opticians and and someone who has held many diverse roles in community service.
This article forms part of the series ‘ Muhammad – A Beacon of Hope, a Shining Star’ – an initiative to recall and appreciate the messages and lessons behind the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, its relevance, and connection to life today, for both Shi’a Muslims and the rest of the global population.
In order to do justice to this article, it is imperative that we first explore the genesis of the title Muhammad – The Beacon of Hope.
The question that begs an explanation is: What led us to imagine that indeed; Prophet Muhammad [SWT] is the ‘Beacon of Hope’.
As we start peeling off the petals to internalize the above statement, we need to studiously study three important aspects of this journey
- Character, Demeanor and a Merciful mindset.
- What did He impart on each step of the way?
- As His followers, how have these lessons impacted our lives?
Islam believes in the elevation of the human being, that the human species is a great and dignified creation, far above the animal world. Mankind has been proudly proclaimed by the Lord Almighty as being ‘Ashraful Makhlukaq”. This denotes that human-beings are the most ethical, supreme and the finest creatures in the universe.
Right from his childhood, the Prophet (SAW) was known for being noble, Just and Trustworthy. His virtuous and lofty conduct rested on more than 88 attributes and were far removed from the prevalent vices of the day; like dishonesty, gambling, idolatry, drinking etc. His noble character stood him out as the most impeccable one ever, to the point that people saw him become almost sublime, gaining him dignified titles like ‘As-Sadiq’ (the Truthful) and ‘Al-Amin’ (the Honest). His smiling and graceful demeanor, humility, courage and compassion were the cornerstones of his effort into mending the fractured mirror of Humanity. In the days when Jahiliyyat and injustice ruled the day, he came with a message of Peace, Hope and Reform.
Slowly and steadily, through his upright character and humane characteristics, a transformational journey of restoring humanistic self-esteem and dignity began to emerge. These traits rested squarely on formidable pillars of Respect, Tolerance, Honesty & Trust, upon which stretched a generous canopy of perpetually transcending Mercy. A message complemented with compassion and humility combined well with his humble approach and amenable demeanor thus, crafting a legacy that remains unmatched to-date.
On its part, Divine providence was at work, grooming, inspiring and educating him; and finally introducing him as a model of emulation and messenger for all of mankind.
His pristine purity was indicative of his future greatness. This, led to the transformation of the warring tribes as they observed his code of conduct from childhood onto his trading deals, his respect and empathy, sympathy during grief, morality and nobility. They developed immense trust in him and were absolutely certain of his judicial impartiality in disputes. Thus, he won over many a heart as people realized that he was not self-centered, rather all he wanted was that Humanity would practice ethical traits that would rise them above their own limitations.
He used to often proclaim:
“The most complete in faith among the believers is he who has the best manners.”
“’I was sent to perfect the ethical conduct’ [Holy Prophet (s)]
Word of his Justice and magnanimity travelled far & wide and when he finally imparted his call of the Oneness of God, there were scores who yielded to his message.
As expected, initially the call to shun polytheism was met with stiff negation, aggravation and much animosity. However, his traits of decency complemented with resolute support by H. AbuTalib, Bibi Khadija and Imam Ali A.S. prevailed upon the restive masses and suddenly the religious doctrines started to make sense. Their patronage was so rock-solid that the Hole Qur’an narrated verses in Sura Ad-Dhuhaa; proclaiming ‘Do not despair; your Lord has not abandoned you. Did HE not Guide and shelter you?’
The quintessence characteristic of transforming revenge into mercy was the one most telling aspects of his teachings. His main attribute was that ‘If someone does wrong to you, forgive them and also do them a favor’. These traits worked so magnanimously that he garnered over 100,000 followers in the four years after Hijra. He was suddenly an embodiment of Maqarimul Akhlaq, shining bright in a rotten society of prejudice, debauchery and corruption.
An exemplary and most significant change he brought about was the emancipation and empowerment of Women. This he did by preaching and promoting the Rights of women and their right to Inheritance. He provided them a chance of being counted, of being respected and conferred upon them the honor of offering bayyat (in water). In the land where Human blood was cheap, young females were interred alive, civilization had taken a back-seat and hopelessness was a ruling phenomenon, Muhammad [SWT] instilled Ethics and preached game-changing Ethos, thereby becoming a Beacon of Hope.
Muslims around the world have been following his doctrines over the last 1400 years and the message continues to grow exponentially. The impact his movement created in those times is still ricocheting today; infact growing steadily across nations. Many an example has been derived especially in the fields of establishing prayer, moral uprightness, Honesty and Generosity. Despite being persecuted across the Globe, Muslims have stood the test of time and have demonstrated steadfastness in their beliefs, leaving the perpetrators gaping in amazement. With these doctrines entrenched firmly to its core, Humanity is trying to rise to the position of Ashraful makhlooqat as it continues to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet [SWT] in all walks of life.
There are however many more milestones to be achieved, especially in the field of forging unity amongst the sects. Muslim communities have been consciously divided so that they keep on fighting amongst themselves and take time to lick their wounds. The aim is to ensure that they do not start thinking and exploring; lest they supersede their own expectations. History is awash with examples of early civilization Muslim who were at the forefront in education, innovative ideology and an acute business acumen. If these qualities are given a chance to thrive, they can re-emerge and take over world economics. Lack of Education, creativity and cognition has made matters worse. Geo-politics continue to play an immense role in this struggle, but many insightful inroads have been explored and are gaining ground, rising above man-made rubrics.
On the other hand, Interfaith discussions have helped shape dialogue, demystifying the obscure doubts of mistrust and misconception. Dissonance is giving way to dialogue and brother to brother have started talking again, discussing salient points and the actual Sunah of the Prophet. [SWT]. Pulpits are delivering meaningful messages and throwing challenges at the intellect. The esteemed yet simple message of the Prophet [SWT] is starting to re-emerge with a deeper meaning. Cultural captures are loosening their grip and transitioning towards a more level ground. The discordant cacophony is ebbing, allowing tolerance, understanding and respect to seep in.
In our own small way, we all need to be part of this arduous journey. Following the core message in the Holy Qur’an and emulating the Prophet [SWT] are the only traits left for humanity to rise above the mediocre and elevate to that which is sublime. We all need to take a solemn oath of reflectively following on the path laid out by the Prophet [SWT] and his esteemed Progeny. Only then do we stand a chance of being honored as Ashraful Makhlooqat. The time is now!