Prophet Muhammad: The Embodiment of the Role and Features of Believers

Prophet Muhammad: The Embodiment of the Role and Features of Believers

By Abdur Raheem Kidwai

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) devoted himself heart and soul to the mission of Islam and achieved great success notwithstanding stiff opposition, in transforming the polytheistic Arabs into champions of monotheism. He drew upon every conceivable means for articulating the truth of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad: The Embodiment of the Role and Features of Believers

The Prophet was granted the following charter of social justice, which also spells out the role and features of believers.

His concern was so deep felt that he cried over the prospect of the inevitable divine punishment for those Arab unbelievers who refused to embrace Islam. The Qur’an, however, directed him not to grieve so much about the miserable fate of such unbelievers:

Perhaps you will kill yourself with grief because they do not become believers. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:3)

The Makkan unbelievers asked him to produce a miracle which they could see with their own eyes. They were told to look around them in that Allah’s distinct signs are scattered everywhere. He was, nonetheless, granted the miracle which we know as the Qur’an. For it embodies the light of Allah’s guidance and mercy.

Prophecies

The Qur’an recounts the prophecies about the Prophet Muhammad’s advent which featured in the earlier Scriptures, especially the Torah and the Gospels. Take this as illustrative:

And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah sent to you, confirming the Torah, which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me. His name shall be Ahmad.” (As-Saff 61:6)

Even in the face of such clear pronouncements in their own holy Books about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Jews and Christians of the day rejected and opposed him. They did so for their own selfish ends. For the radical message of Islam was set to destroy their vested interests, their degenerate way of life and their clergy that abused religion for pecuniary gain.

Overwhelming Victory

However, Allah promised and sent His help to the Prophet. For example, when the unbelieving Makkans mocked him for being without a son, Allah consoled and comforted him:

To you We have granted Al-Kawthar. Turn to your Lord in prayer and sacrifice. For he who hates you will be cut off (from future hope). (Al-Kawthar 108:1-4)

Allah blessed him with an overwhelming victory over the unbelievers, the Jews and Christians. Millions accepted Islam and country after country was won over to the Caliphs, who succeeded the Prophet, to lead the community of believers. As for the Prophet himself, he devoted more and more of his time to glorifying Allah and seeking Allah’s forgiveness.

As to the exalted rank which he enjoys in Allah’s sight, the following Qur’anic passage is instructive:

Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O Believers! Send your blessings upon him and salute him with all respect. (Al-Ahzab 33:56)

Allah also conferred another distinction on the Prophet – that of his Ascent and Night Journey to the heavens, which is recorded thus in the Qur’an:

Glory be to Allah Who took His servant (Muhammad) for the night journey from the sacred mosque to the farthest mosque, whose surroundings We have blessed in order that We might show him some of Our signs. (Al-Israa’ 17:1)

Our Role Model

More importantly, on that occasion, he was granted the following charter of social justice, which also spells out the role and features of believers:

Those who are constant in their prayer. And in their wealth there is a recognized right for the beggar and the deprived. (Al-Ma`arij 70:23-25)

And those who respect their trusts and covenants. They stand firm in their testimony. (Al-Ma`arij 70:32-33)

The same note of social justice permeates the Prophet’s sermon at `Arafat which he delivered on the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage.

It captures the essence of the mission which he professed and practiced throughout his illustrious life:

“No Arab is superior to a non-Arab and any non-Arab does not have superiority over an Arab. Piety alone confers honour on man. All men are from Adam and Adam was made of clay.

O people! Your lives, blood and property are sacred for one another … All of you will certainly appear before Allah and He will take you to account. Thus do I warn you. Whoever among you is entrusted with someone’s property shall return the trust to the rightful owner.

O people! Allah has laid down rights for everyone. No one should therefore, leave a will in favour of any of his heirs. Debt is to be repaid. Borrowed things are to be returned. It is not lawful to deprive anyone of what is due to him. Your wives have rights. They owe you obligations. Treat them well. For they are dependent upon you. If you follow the Book of Allah and my practice (Sunnah), which I leave behind with you, you will never go astray.”

This sermon stands out as his strong exhortation for cordial human relationships and a tension-free society.

This sermon stands out as his strong exhortation for cordial human relationships and a tension-free society. His assertions about shunning violence and bloodshed, not usurping others’ belongings and refraining from betraying the trust reposed in one re-echo the Qur’an:

No prophet could (ever) be false to his trust. If any person is so false, He shall, on the Day of Judgment, restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due,- whatever it earned,- and none shall be dealt with unjustly. (Aal ‘Imran 3:161)

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (Forever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (An-Nisaa’ 4:93)

He is also seen reminding everyone of the need to discharge their obligations, especially those which they owe to fellow human beings in general and to their family members, friends and neighbors in particular. Man is asked to keep the trust placed with him as a responsible member of the society and as a good citizen.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Spirituality and Productivity: The Prophet’s Recipe

Spirituality and Productivity: The Prophet’s Recipe

nature-spirituality

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all.

Throughout the twenty-three years of his mission, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought the way to spiritual freedom and liberation. He received revelation, step by step, in the midst of the circumstances of life, as if the Most High was conversing with him in history, for eternity.

The Prophet listened to Him, spoke to Him, and contemplated His signs day and night, in the warm company of his Companions or in the solitude of the Arabian desert. He prayed while the world of humans was asleep, he invoked God while his brothers and sisters despaired, and he remained patient and steadfast in the face of adversity and insult while so many beings turned away.

His deep spirituality had freed him from the prison of the self, and he kept seeing and recalling the signs of the Most Near, whether in a flying bird, a standing tree, falling darkness, or a shining star.

Love & Unity

Muhammad was able to express love and spread it around him. His wives were gratified by his presence, tenderness, and affection, and his Companions loved him with an intense, profound, and extraordinarily generous love. He gave and offered his presence, his smiles, his being, and if a slave happened to address him or wanted to take him to the other end of the city)’, he went, he listened, he loved.

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all. When he gave someone his hand, he was never the first to draw it back, and he knew what light and peace can surge in the heart of a being who is offered a tender word, an affection ate name, comfort. Freed from his own self, he neglected nobody’s self. His presence was a refuge; he was the Messenger.

He loved, he forgave. Every day he begged God to forgive his own failings and oversights, and when a woman or a man came to him burdened with a mistake, however serious, he received that soul and showed her or him the way to forgiveness, solace, dialogue with God, and the Most Gentle’s protection. He covered other people’s mistakes from the sight of others, while teaching everyone the need for personal rigor and discipline.

Positiveness

When laziness moved anyone to ask him for minimal practice, he always answered positively and invited them to use their intelligence and their qualities to understand, improve, and free themselves from their own contradictions while accepting their own fragility. He taught responsibility without guilt and adherence to ethics as the conditions for freedom.

Justice is a condition for peace, and the Prophet kept insisting that one cannot experience the taste of equity if one is unable to respect the dignity of individuals. He set slaves free and recommended that Muslims pledge to do so constantly: the faith community of believers had to be a community of free beings.

Revelation showed him the way’, and, as we have often seen, he never ceased to give particular attention to slaves, the poor, and the lowly in society. He invited them to assert their dignity, to demand their rights. and to get rid of any feeling of inferiority; the message was a call for religious, social, and political liberation.

At the close of his mission, in the plain lying at the foot of the Mount of Mercy (Jabal Ar-Rahmah), men and women of all races, cultures, and colors, rich and poor, were present and listened to this message, which stressed that the best among people are so through their hearts, which are determined neither by class nor by color or culture.

“The best among you is the best toward people,” he had once said. (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

In the name of human brotherhood- addressing not just Muslims but all people (an-nas), as he did during me farewell sermon, he taught each conscience to transcend the appearances that might hinder its progress toward the Just (Al-`Adl). In the presence of God, nothing could justify discrimination, social injustice, or racism.

In the Muslim community, a black man called the believers to prayer, and a slave’s son commanded the army; faith had freed the believers from judgments based on deceptive appearances (linked to origin and social status) that stimulate unwise passions and dehumanize them.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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How Prophet Muhammad Expressed Grief: Lessons of Faith & Humanity

How Prophet Muhammad Expressed Grief: Lessons of Faith & Humanity

 

sadness_nature

Human beings, the Prophet among them, had to learn how to depart, and see their loved ones depart, in silence, with discretion.

During the tenth year of Hijrah (emigration from Makkah), young Ibrahim, who was then about a year and a half old, fell seriously ill. At the very time when the religion of the One was being established all over the Peninsula, with adversity constantly diminishing and the number of conversions continuing to grow, the Prophet saw his only son about to leave life and to leave him. He visited him every day and spent hours by his side.

When the child eventually breathed his last, the Prophet took him in his arms and held him against his breast, tears streaming down his face, so deep was his sorrow.

`Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, his faithful Companion, was surprised by those sobs, because he thought that the Prophet had previously forbidden such expressions of grief.  At first, Muhammad could not speak; then he explained to him that he had forbidden excessive manifestations of distress, through wailing or hysterical behavior, but not the natural expression of sorrow and suffering.

Then he gave verbal expression to his grief that, in effect , became a spiritual teaching, as he declared that his tears were “signs of tenderness and mercy.” He added a comment springing from his own experience, but which was also true in every Muslim’s daily life: “He who is not merciful will not be shown mercy.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Trying Times

In the difficult moments of life, kindness, clemency, mercy, and the expressions of empathy that human beings offer one another bring them closer to the One, Ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful). Through them, God reaches closer to the believer’s heart, offering the believer what the believer him- or herself has offered to a brother or sister in humanity.

The Prophet was intimately affected, and he did not hesitate to show and express his grief. He added: “The eye sheds tears, 0 Ibrahim, the heart is infinitely sad, and one must only utter what satisfies God.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

God had once more tested him through his humanity and his mission. He had lost so many loved ones-Companions, his wife Khadijah, three of his daughters, and his three sons.”

His life had been crossed with tears, but he remained both gentle with his heart and firm in his mission. It was this chemistry of gentleness and firmness that satisfied the Most Near.

At the time when, in this tenth year of Hijrah, the world seemed to open up to the Prophet’s mission, Muhammad’s human fate seemed reduced to that tiny grave where Ibrahim’s body was laid, and over which he then led the funeral prayer. The Prophet was one of the eject; the Prophet remained a human being.

tears

His life had been crossed with tears, but he remained both gentle with his heart and firm in his mission.

Lessons for Life

A few hours after his return from the graveyard, an eclipse of the sun occurred. The Muslims were quick to associate the eclipse with the death of the Prophet’s child and see it as a miracle, a kind of message from God to His Prophet. But Muhammad put an end to all such interpretations, saying forcefully:

“The sun and the moon are two of God’s signs. Their light does not darken for anyone’s death.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Muhammad was thus reminding his Companions of the order of things and of the necessity to make no mistake in interpreting signs, in order to avoid lapsing into superstition.

This was, for them as well as for himself, a spiritual teaching in restraint and humility: human beings, the Prophet among them, had to learn how to depart, and see their loved ones depart, in silence, with discretion, and amid the indifference of the order of things.

The trial of faith and of humanity, which made the Prophet shed tears, consisted precisely in learning how to find, at the heart of the eternity of creation and of never-ending cycles, the strength to face the finitude of the human, sudden departures, and death.

The sign of the One’s presence at the time of a person’s death lies not in the occurrence of any miracle but rather in the permanence of the natural order, in the eternity of His creation, crossed here and there by the passage of created beings, who come and depart.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation

Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation

The Day of Mercy

everything in moderation

Most traditionists report that the Prophet entered Makkah on the twentieth or twenty-first of Ramadan of the eighth year of hijrah (630 CE).

Muhammad (peace be upon him) had segmented his army into divisions that encircled the city (Makkah) and closed in on the center together. A few Quraish groups posted themselves on the hills, led by Suhayl, `lkrimah, and Safwan, but after the first confrontations, they realized that resisting was pointless.

Suhayl sought refuge in his home, and `Ikrimah and Safwan ran away. The Prophet had demanded that no fighting or battle should take place on that day, which he called “the day of mercy”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Some eight years before, the Prophet had left Makkah secretly, but with dignity and with his head held high. The Prophet now came back to Makkah in broad daylight, victorious, but this time he prostrated himself on his mount in thankfulness to the One as he recited the verses from the surah “AI-Fath” (The Victory):

Verily We have granted you a manifest victory, that God may forgive you your faults of the past and those to follow, fulfill His favor to you, and guide you on the straight path, and that God may aid you with powerful help. It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith. (Surat Al-Fath 48:1-4)

He entered Makkah expressing the deepest humility, and he required that the greatest kindness should be shown to the Muslims’ former foes. He performed the greater ablution and prayed eight cycles of voluntary ritual prayer before resting for a few hours.

After that, he mounted his camel, Qaswaa’, and went to the Ka`bah sanctuary, where he performed the seven rounds of circumambulation. Then, with his stick, he pulled down the idols and destroyed them while repeating the Qur’anic verse “Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish.” (Al-Israa’  17:8 1)

He had the keys to the sanctuary brought to him and required that all religious images be obliterated, in order to reconcile the House of God with its essence, which was to celebrate the worship of the One, Who cannot be represented and must not be associated with any image:

There is nothing whatever like Him, and He is the One that hears and sees. (Surat Ash-Shura 42:11)

This gesture of destruction by the Prophet was, in appearance, the exact antithesis of all that he had usually been doing since leaving Makkah, as he had had mosques (devoid of any image) built to mark the sacred space of worship of the One God.

On the level of the spiritual message, however, this gesture was exactly of the same essence, since by breaking the idols that lay inside and near the Ka`bah he was destroying what had, in the course of centuries, perverted the cult of the Transcendent.

With this act Muhammad turned the Ka`bah into a real mosque, in which henceforth only the One was to be worshiped.

The Quraish people were gradually coming out of their homes and gathering inside the sanctuary enclosure. After destroying the idols, the Prophet exclaimed: “There is no god but God, the One, Who has no partner.”

He has fulfilled His promise, supported His servant, and routed the enemy clans; He alone (has done that). (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Then he turned toward the Quraish, told them about the rules of Islam, and recited this verse:

O humankind! He created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you (the most deeply aware of God’s presence). And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

After that, he asked them “how they thought he was going to deal with them. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah) They replied that as “a noble brother, son of a noble brother,” he would certainly deal with them kindly. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Forgiveness and Moderation

At that point, the Prophet recited the verse that punctuates the story of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) when he was reunited with his brothers, who had wanted to kill him: “This day let no reproach be (cast) On you: God will forgive you, and He is the Most-merciful of then who show mercy.” (Yusuf 12:92). Then he exclaimed: “Go on, you are free!” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

The Prophet granted his forgiveness to all the women and men who came to him or to a Companion. Wahshi ibn Harb, who had killed Hamzah, was also forgiven, but the Prophet asked him to refrain from appearing in his presence in the future.

Many Quraish converted to Islam on Mount As-Safa in front of `Umar; some years before, the Prophet had been called a liar on that same spot. When `Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl came to the Prophet, the latter warned his Companion: “`lkrimah, Abu Jahl’s son, is coming to you as a believer. Do not insult his father, for insulting the dead hurts the living without reaching the dead.”

He thus reminded them not only to forgive him but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes. not even their father’s, according to the meaning of the Qur’anic verse “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”. ( Surat Al-Israa’ 17:15) Prudence was required, as well as nobleness of soul.

The Prophet stayed in Makkah for two weeks, and the situation been to settle down. He sent expeditions to make sure that his alliances with the nearby tribes were solid and that those who had announced they accepted Islam had given up all idol worship.

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed had been entrusted with such a mission among the Banu Jadhimah, who eventually surrendered, but Khalid decided, against Abd Ar-Rahman ibn `Awf advice, to execute the prisoners toward whom he harbored particular resentment.

After executing some of them, he stopped at Abd Ar-Rahman’s insistence, the latter having made it dear to him that his behavior was motivated by other intentions than faith in God and justice. The Prophet got very angry when he heard of Khalid’s behavior; he decided to pay blood money for all the dead, and he kept repeating aloud: “0 God, I am innocent of what Khalid ibn Al-Waleed has done”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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The Prophet with Non-Muslims: Real Life Lessons

The Prophet with Non-Muslims: Real Life Lessons

The Prophet was a living model of equity toward those who did not share his faith. His attitude towards Non-Muslims is a lifelong lesson.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had always retained very strong ties with the members of different clans and with his kin who had not accepted Islam. His uncle Abu Talib, whom he loved so much and whom he accompanied until he breathed his last, was one such example.

non-Muslims

The Prophet established his relationships in the name of trust and the respect of principles, not exclusively on the basis of similar religious affiliation.

Another uncle, Al-`Abbas, remained by the Prophet’s side even though he had not yet converted.

Muhammad’s trust in him was tremendous, and he did not hesitate to confide in him or have him take part in private meetings involving the future of the community (later, Al-`Abbas would be present when the second covenant of Al-`Aqabah was concluded; the Prophet would also keep him informed of the highly confidential preparations for his emigration to Yathrib).

His remaining a polytheist never prevented the Prophet from showing him the greatest respect and deepest confidence in situations where his very life was at risk.

It was a similar attitude of trust that had made it possible for Muslims to emigrate to Abyssinia, under protection of a king whom the Prophet trusted even though he was not a Muslim.

This attitude is to be found throughout the Prophet’s life: he established his relationships in the name of trust and the respect of principles, and not exclusively on the basis of similar religious affiliation.

The Companions

His Companions had understood this as well, and they did not hesitate to develop solid ties with non-Muslims in the name of kinship or friendship, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, even in perilous situations.

Thus, Um Salamah, who had been separated from her husband, found herself alone with her son on her way to Medina. `Uthman ibn Talhah, who was not a Muslim, offered to escort and protect her until she reached the place where her husband was. She did not hesitate to trust him: he accompanied her and her son to their destination, then took leave of them in the most respectful manner.

Urn Salamah was often to tell this story, always p raising `Uthman ibn Talhah’s noble character.

Examples of this nature abound, and neither the Prophet nor the other Muslims ever restricted their social and human relations to their coreligionists.

Non-Muslims in the Qur’an

Later, the Qur’an was to establish the rightfulness and the principle of such relationships formed on the basis of mutual respect:

God does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you for (your) faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly (showing affection) and justly with them: for God loves those who are just. God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support Others in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection) . It is those who turn to them (in these circumstances) who do wrong. (Al-Mumtahanah 6o:8,9)

The Prophet himself was a model of equity toward non-Muslims; those who did not share his faith. Through all the years of his mission, he had continued to receive important deposits from non-Muslim traders who went on dealing with him and wholly trusted him.

On the eve of his departure for Medina, Muhammad asked `Ali to give back one by one to their respective owners the deposits be still held; he scrupulously applied the principles of honesty and justice that Islam had taught him, whomever he dealt with, be they Muslims or non-Muslims.

During the same period, the Prophet also showed a most understanding attitude toward those who, under persecution or pressure from their families, had left Islam. This was the case with two young Muslims, Hisham and `Ayyash, who abjured Islam after prolonged resistance.

Respect for Freedom

No particular decision or sanction was taken against them. Later on, `Ayyash again came back to Islam, full of remorse and sadness. Revelation was subsequently to ease his exceedingly harsh vision and judgment about himself:

Say: “O Moses who have transgressed against themselves! Do not despair of God’s mercy: for God forgives all sins; for He is the All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. Turn to Your Lord and submit to Him, before the chastisement comes on you: after that you shall not be helped. (Az-Zumar 39: 53-54)

On hearing those verses, Hisham also came hack to Islam. Yet one who did not return was `Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh, who had gone to Abyssinia with the first group of emigrants and who had then converted to Christianity and abandoned his wife, Um Habibah bint Abi Sufyan. (Um Habibah was later to marry the Prophet.)

Neither the Prophet, from Mecca, nor any of the Muslims who lived in Abyssinia took any measure against him: he remained a Christian until he died without ever being harassed or ill-treated.

This attitude of respect for non-Muslim and for everyone’s freedom remained constant throughout the Prophet’s life, and the authoritative accounts of his life contain no mention whatsoever of a different attitude.

Later on, in Medina, he was to speak out harshly and take firm measures against those who falsely converted to Islam for the sole purpose of gathering information about the Muslims, then denied Islam and went back to their tribes to bring them the information they had managed to obtain.

These were in fact war traitors, who incurred the penalty of death because their actions were liable to bring about the destruction of the Muslim community)”.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Muhammad: An All-time Example of Moral Conduct

For forty years Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was leading a normal life. Suddenly he became a political leader, military leader, religious leader, law maker, teacher, imam, an all-time exemplar of moral conduct and ethics.

And all of that was done within twenty three years. Impossible, right?

Now we’re studying the life of the greatest man that ever set foot on this earth, and this man is Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Muhammad was a man that came more than fourteen hundred years ago into an environment in 7th century Arabia where men were burying their daughters alive, and he stopped this evil practice and when women were being abused and prostitution was rife.

There was economic injustice and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) came and brought peace and tolerance and justice, not only to the 7th century Arabia, but to the whole world.

The desert Arabs were rude to him and he never returned their rudeness with rudeness, he smiled on their faces, he returned their bad manners with good character, he said: “keep relations with those who cut you off, and do good to people even if they harm you, and speak the truth even if it is against yourself.”

The Prophet was a living example for –not only Muslims- but all humanity to follow. Watch the video below to learn about his everyday manners in dealing with people around him…

 

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Source:  ILM 12 YouTube Channel

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