Muhammad, A Guidance to follow
Muhammad as a man had already died, but as a Prophet he left behind him a legacy in the form of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He stressed the urgent need to hold firmly to these two sources during his Farewell speech in the valley of Arafat. If people hold fast to them, they will never go astray.
The teachings he left for us if put into practice in their true spirit and proper way will bring a happy life in this world and besides the indubitable rewards that will be received by those who believed in them in the life after death.
In this sense, Islam is a worldly religion which cares first for the worldly affairs of humanity. The hereafter is merely a continuation of the worldly life. It is difficult to portend that man can be saved in the hereafter without being saved in this world. The safe way is to follow the way shown to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). When his wife, 'Aishah, was asked by a companion about the Prophet's daily conduct, 'Aishah replied that the conduct of the Prophet is the Qur'an which is the guidance from Allah and Muhammad was given authority by Allah to interpret it. That is why his conduct is exemplary of human conduct. Islam as brought by the Prophet Muhammad is very much misunderstood as a religion of rituals only like prayers, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage. Thanks to the new developments in the world, Islam is now looked upon In a wider perspective than the narrow-minded view.
The increased interest in Islamic studies by Muslims and non-Muslims supported by the advanced printing technology, has begun to open the eyes of the world about the true teaching and intrinsic values of Islam.
In the field of economic development, the goal is not material gain, but human welfare in general. Islam exhorts that the balance between the material and physical aspects, between the individual and societal needs, be maintained in order to narrow the gap between two opposite sides of human world. It is stated in the Qur'an:"Say, who is there to forbid the beauty which Allah has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance. Say, they are for those who believe (in Allah) In this worldly life, to be theirs alone in the Hereafter on the Day of Resurrection .. Say, the only things my Lord forbids are the shameful deeds, be they open or secret, the sin, unjustified envy, the ascribing of divinity to aught beside Allah, and the attributing unto Allah of aught of which you have no knowledge"
So everyone is free to conduct any business he likes outside the harmful circle he has been warned not to indulge in. If he does not listen to this warning, he will be in trouble. Every good quality as precondition to a successful business is encouraged by Islam.
The Prophet himself was a businessman before he was appointed as a Prophet. His ability to run business prudently, by his fairness and truthful conduct in dealing with people had won him the heart of his employer, Khadijah who later offered him m&riage. He advocated Muslims to follow the spirit of Prophet Daud (David) of hard work, earned his living from his own labour. He also said that faith of a Muslim is not complete If he is not good in his profession. He said: " ".
If he works in the production line, his products must be compatible with products of other companies or factories. In order to be marketable, it must suit the taste of buyers and their standards of living. In this regard, Islam teaches not to cheat in offering the product to the market. It must be shown as it is without any publicity it does not deserve. In the life time of the Prophet, he found many cases in market places where the merchants tried to cheat the customers. The Prophet said to them: "".
Islam laid many regulations in the field of economy such as trade, leasing, business transaction, contract and others to prevent unfair dealing within the community and in the world of business at large. What is also prevented by Islam is a monopoly and exploitation -by one man or one group at the expense of the others.
The first thing in the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad is the care of cleanliness. The concept of cleanliness in Islam covers physical and spiritual, mundane and religious domains.
Before performing any rituals, prescribed by Islam, one should cleanse his body, and his dress, his place of worship and his environment should be clean.
Before performing his prayers or starting for pilgrimage, one has to make his ablution (wudu'). If he or she is in a state of unclean after having had a lawful Intimate intercourse or post-natal period or other reasons, he or she has to take a complete bath by pouring clean water over the whole body.
In the case of daily prayer, every Muslim has to clean his/her private parts, face, hand, feet, mouth, nose and ears at least five times every day for the five daily prayers. This also reminds him/her to keep his/ her soul clean from unlawful deeds.
Cleanliness is not in the physical sense only. The body should be purified as well from evil doings that might harm his relationship with others and with God. He has to clean his mind from bad intentions or committing unlawful acts. He has to clean his heart from jealousy, hypocrisy and other evil desires. He has to embody hope, truthfulness, forgiveness, compassion, holiness, the sense of brotherliness, neighbourliness and other noble qualities.
He has to pay special attention to his diet against all unhealthy food medically and religiously. He has to keep his eyes, ears, tongue from evils. These are among the noble characteristics as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad.
To clean the wealth, Islam instituted the zakat system (way of purifying wealth). A person whose wealth has reached a certain point is obligated to pay zakat (alms) which is a duty enjoined by God and undertaken by Muslims in the interest of society as a whole.
For those able persons whose wealth does not reach the minimum rate point, he can also give voluntary contribution to the needy. This does not mean that the needy should always be receiving help from the able.
Prophet Muhammad said: "The upper hand (giver) is better than the lower one (receiver of help)."
If the receiver of zakat can grasp the spirit of the Prophet's saying, he will try his best to be the giver instead of the receiver by endeavouring to better his life as encouraged by the teachings of Islam.
In Islam the possession of more wealth does not raise a man's dignity, nor does poverty degrade him. It is true that wealth is necessary for man to live on this earth, but It is only a means, not the end. The end is happiness in life by attaining the higher values and not losing sight of in the pursuit of wealth.
Among the great virtues of Islam is the command to do good and the prohibition to do evil. The good should be preserved and the evil should be discarded. In short, Islam is actually composed of a series of commands and prohibitions. All the commands and prohibitions are for the good of humanity. Allah the Most Knowing, the Most Merciful, did not decree any law and regulations but for the good and benefit of his creatures.
The prohibition was decreed because of its evil implications to humanity. The evils were created to test the human conscience and challenge their freewill in choosing between right and wrong.
All the commands and prohibitions from Allah as transmitted through His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was intended to purify the human soul in order to live a pure and clean life adored by Allah and human genesis.
One of the other teachings of Islam is about orderliness. Discipline, regulation, management, planning and all other terms relating to organisation are mostly. understood as alien to Islam. On the contrary, Islam exhorts people to live in orderliness and to put the right thing in the right place. The foundation of Islamic order rests on two main principles, the crucial -faith in one God (Allah) and the oneness of humanity. All the frame works were laid down in the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad applied himself to working out the essential details of that order.
One of the great values taught by Islam in this regard is to make use of the time left to humanity. The Qur'an and the Sunnah (Traditions) mentioned about time, day, week, month, year and century. People are lost if they did not spend the time available to them during this life for good things. It is a great loss if people have to waste the valuable time they have at their disposal for useless activities. It is true that life should be enjoyable but not at the expense of human resources and values which are essential for the continuation of their wellbeing.
Allah the Most Knowing had created time and space suitable for human activities for they can attain achievements in life. There are times for work, study, recreation, resting and even celebration. All are parts of activities in worshipping Allah and serving His cause. The Qur'an says that Allah had created day for earning and night for resting and enjoyment. He created the sun, the moon and all outer-space objects co that man on the earth can fix the time and arraflge the calendar. By having a standard time and standard calendar and the movements of astronomical objects, people are able to regulate their time table in choosing the right moment for them in doing business and carrying out their activities.
Islam prescribes certain times for the daily prayers, certain month for the obligatory fasting and certain time during life time for performing the haj pilgrimage which indicates that the religion brought by Prophet Muhammad places the life of Muslims in systematic order. For every move and occasion made by Muslims there is a rule governing it, be it in the form of advice, spiritual guidance or practical directive. If all these directives are followed and understood properly, people will have high discipline and a well-managed life.
Islam encourages people to think correctly before taking any action. This means planning. There are many verses in the Qur'an admonishing against doing things unthinkingly and jumping to conclusions.
The Prophet also showed good example in fulfilling promise and staying true to treaty, agreement or contract made between parties.
As a man of honour he always remained true to the principles agreed in the treaty, depicting his high discipline and inclination of doing everything in proper order.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a warmhearted and faithful friend. He loved his companions. He extended greetings to those he knew and to those he did not know. He treated all people around him with kindness and affection.
He was very courteous to all those who met him. He never contradicted anybody who is not opposed to the teachings of Islam. He treated equally the humble and the lofty. He claimed no distinction and lived amongst his companions as if he was not their leader.
He regarded the neighbours as brothers and sisters because of their closeness and living in the same vicinity. He once smelt the aroma of the soup cooked by his wife. He told her to give some of it to the neighbours who also smelt it. He said it was not right for a Muslim to sleep with a full stomach after having had a good meal but let his neighbour starve. He laid the foundation for a friendly relation and cooperation among neighbours exemplifying that living as a neighbour one has one's right and responsibility.
In regard to the rights of a neighbour, the Prophet said: "Help him if he asks your help; give him relief if he seeks your relief; show him concern if he is distressed and when he is ill; attend his funeral if he dies; congratulate him If he meets any good; sympathize with him if any calamity befalls him; do not block his air by raising your building without his permission and do not harass him."
He was a good exemplar to those who subscribe to a harmonious society. Islam exhorts people not to violate the rights of others and injure their interest, but should positively cooperate with each other and establish a mutual relationship and social cohesion.
To safeguard the unity and solidarity of the nation and to achieve the welfare and wellbeing of the community, Muslims have been enjoined to avoid mutual hostility, social dissension, backbiting one another, and hurting others with their hand or tongue.
Islam as brought by the Prophet Muhammad exhorts Muslims to visit the sick, to help the needy and assist the weak. Islam makes no discrimination on the basis of race, colour or language. Its appeal Is to the entire humanity.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought changes for the betterment of women.
Woman is recognised by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father, she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is no less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are many qualities and so much humanity as there are In her partner.
She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds.
She is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge.
Islam enjoined the seeking of knowledge upon Muslims, it makes no distinction between man and woman.
She is entitled to freedom of expression as much as man is. Her sound opinions are taken into consideration and cannot be disregarded just because she is a female.
Islam grants woman equal fights to contract, to enterprise, to earn and posses independently. Her life, her property, her honour are as sacred as those of man.
Islam has also given woman a share of inheritance. Before Islam, she was not only deprived of that share, but was herself considered as property to be inherited by man.
When Prophet Muhammad arrived at Madinah, he initiated the formation of an Islamic state. After establishing political brotherhood and the authority of the state of Madinah, he began negotiations with various tribes around the dy and made treaties with them.
When the Makkan unbelievers launched a series of attacks on Madinah, Prophet Muhammad was able to confront them, and when the Makkans were finally defeated in the battle of the Trenches (Al-Khandaq), he was able to make truce with them at Hudaibiyah for ten years. This treaty was a masterpiece of practical statesmanship on the part of Prophet Muhammad.
His diplomacy in sending and receiving envoys to and from the various chiefs of tribes and foreign rulers, his fairness In conducting judiciary, and his general pardon at the liberation of Makkah, was another proof of his lofty statesmanship.
The State he established in Madinah was not a matter of chance. It was the very nature of his mission that he would establish a state to enforce the way of Allah. People might accept a new faith but it would take time to change their habits, custom and way of life. And even If a small group of people succeeded In changing their way of life, there would be many others who would not let these people practise their belief and try to stop them by force. So the Islamic State became an urgent necessity to protect the Islamic way of life.
The State founded by Prophet Muhammad was invested with physical force, as every State must necessarily be, to fulfil its function of stopping aggression and oppression.
A democratic system In Islam is expressed through the term shura (council). The Qur'an says: "And those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer and their affairs (of government) is by council among themselves and who spend out of what we have given them.".