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Prophet or King?

Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad
The Review of Religions, November 1992

The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, had the real status of a Prophet and not that of a ruler upon this earth. He was the seal of the Prophets i.e., the best and the most perfect of the prophets, the embellishment and ornament of the prophets, instead of being a monarch or an emperor. Almighty God describes his status in the Holy Quran:

And Muhammad is not the father to any men among you but he is only a messenger of God and the seal of the Prophets. (33:41)

Although his status was that of a Prophet of God and Seal of the Prophets yet there is no reason to doubt that from another aspect he could also aptly be regarded as a king. Looking back at his life in Medina, it becomes very clear that he was in fact not only a king, but was also truly an emperor. His position, in fact, was so unique and multi-dimensional that even the question and the debate whether he was a Prophet or king appears unnecessary.

The title of this article that Prophethood and kingship are two totally separate positions, of which one was applicable to the Holy Prophet of Islam and the other was not. If we set aside the facts, this doubt grows even stronger. Looking at his life in Medina, the above mentioned calculation, does not apply. The Holy Quran says:

Verily, you have in the Prophet of Allah an excellent model. (33:22)

Because he was a perfect example for all walks of life, it was necessary that he should be given kingship also to enable him to demonstrate the supremacy of character and perfection of behaviour which should be associated with kingship. This, of course, was subsidiary to what he had striven hard to achieve, i.e., of his ministry. But while exercising the responsibilities of a king, he certainly remained innocent of the ill-effects of character which sometimes accumulate in a person who is granted a kingship, and the opponents of Islam, placing and presenting him in the line of worldly kings, have done great injustice to his noble person.

In what follows I have tried to prove that the Holy Prophet of Islam, from the study of his life sayings, actions and excellent character, was not only a Prophet but he was also free from all undesirable elements and blemishes associated with many worldly kings. On one side he was an ideal to follow in his deeds, sayings, character and excellence of behaviour; on the other, he demonstrated such a perfect example of political acumen and supreme leadership that anyone could seek valuable guidance from him in this field also.

The orientalists and other Western scholars often misrepresent the life and work of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). Their errors must be pointed out and refuted by facts. The renowned British historian, the eminent Arnold Toynbee, is clearly misguided in his writings about the character of the Holy Prophet. He is only one example of Euro-centric authors who, throughout the centuries, have attempted to smear the innocent name of the Prophet of God who was named by Almighty Allah as Khatamun Nabiyyeen, the Seal of the Prophets, the best and most perfect of all of the prophets of God.

Toynbee’s unfounded thesis alleges that the lifework of the Holy Prophet was accomplished in two stages:

Beginning around 609 A.D., in the first stage, Muhammad was concerned exclusively with his religious mission; in the second stage, the religious mission was overlaid, and almost overwhelmed, by the political enterprise.

Toynbee further states:

Muhammad left Mecca as a hunted fugitive. After seven years’ absence (622-629), he returned to Mecca, not as an amnestied exile, as lord and master, not only of Mecca itself but of half of Arabia. It will be seen that the first stage in Muhammad’s career is comparable to the career of Solon and the second stage with the career of Caesar.

Were Solon and Caesar appointed by God? Is the comparison apt? Fortunately, there are few Western scholars who deal fairly with their investigations of Islam and the Holy Prophet. It is a sad story that a famous historian, known for his liberal views, was misled. Now when the facts were scrutinized and closely examined by other historians, they rejected Toynbee’s assertions outright.

It may also be mentioned that Toynbee has most probably borrowed heavily from David Margoliouth’s book Muhammadanism because he too mentioned that Muhammad may have changed. Although Margoliouth, however, tried his level best to establish that the Prophet had changed, he had to admit that he never neglected his roles of preacher and teacher. A most biased enemy of Islam, Margoliouth contradicts the allegations of Toynbee and stated that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, was the Head of State as well, and refers to his operations as a prophet. He says:

His duties as a ruler of a constantly increasing realm and commander of constantly increasing army were accommodated to and combined with his operations as a Prophet ……. the main doctrines of Islam, the unity of Allah, and the future of life, are no less repeatedly emphasised than before.

In Muhammad and Muhammadanism, R. Bosworth Smith admits the sincerity of the Holy Prophet’s belief up to the time of Hijrah (i.e., migration to Medina) and says that any change in his character and aims must be considered in the context of the general conditions of his life. Contrary to Toynbee’s assumption, Smith here states firmly that:

Muhammad (peace be on him) preserved to the end of his career that modesty and simplicity of life which is the crowning beauty of his character; ….. the Prophet became more than a prophet; he became a temporal ruler, aided by the Holy Quran and temporal means.

The writer goes on to note how surprisingly little the Prophet changed, under very different circumstances, intimating that it is a misconception to attribute any moral decline to him:

If one reads the account of Muhammad’s entry into Mecca along with the account of Marius Sulla as he entered Rome, one would be in a position to recognize the magnanimity and moderation of the Prophet of Arabia. There were no proscription lists, no plunder, no wanton revenge.

Smith boldly asserts that:

Muhammad never wavered in his belief in his mission nor, what is more extraordinary, in his belief as to its precise nature and well defined limits. He was a Prophet charged with a mission from God; nothing less.

Another example of enlightened scholarship and objectivity is to be found in Thomas Arnold’s The Preaching of Islam. He decries the frequent assertions of some European writers that the Holy Prophet of Islam adopted an entirely new character from the time of the Hijrah (migration). Arnold presses his case by saying that:

It is false to suppose that Muhammad in Medina laid aside his role of preacher and a missionary of Islam, or that when he had a large army at his command, he ceased to invite unbelievers to accept the new faith.

The Holy Prophet’s life sketch, sayings, actions and loftiness of character prove positively that he was not only the greatest of all prophets but even in his secular role he was unique. The whole of his life is recorded in a minuest details and is like an open book. Had he lived like an ordinary ruler, history would certainly have pointed out his acts of omission and commission and would never have spared him for any shortfalls in moral conduct.

Kings are generally very fond of outward exhibitions of pomp and show and, in fact, this is one of their primary means of expressing their all exalted status. The Holy Prophet, however, was absolutely free from all such trappings. We do not find these grandeurs in his life. In Hadith – which is a compilation of his sayings – it has been stated about him that someone sent a silk dress to him as a present. He put it on and offered his prayers. Afterwards he took it off and remarked:

For simple people these dresses are unsuitable. (Bukhari)

The Holy Prophet was personified humbleness. This is obvious from the incident that once Hazrat Omar, thinking that, now and then, ambassadors and representatives from other places come to visit the Holy Prophet, he should wear impressive clothes on those occasions and also at religious gatherings like Friday service and Eid (a Muslim festival). Once Hazrat Omar was walking with the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) in a shopping area where he saw some silken cloth; taking this opportunity he suggested to the Holy Prophet that he should buy that cloth and wear it. The Prophet replied:

Only he wears this who does not want any share from the life-hereafter. (Bukhari)

Until the end of his life the Holy Prophet used to wear thick and coarse cotton clothing.

Again once he was lying down on a coarse mattress. When he got up the impression on his back was so plain that his companions asked him whether they should provide something made of soft material instead? The Holy Prophet replied:

I have no connection with this world; my relation with this world is only of a transitory kind like that of a rider who stops by a shady tree while travelling. He rests for a short while in the shade and then takes off. (Jami Tirmidhi)

Once during the period when the Holy Prophet was living separately, away from his family, Hazrat Omar visited him. He was amazed at the sight of the place bereft of all comforts. The Holy Prophet was sitting in a small room with a loose cloth wound-round his body; there was a bare cot and at the head of the cot was a pillow stuffed with date leaves. In one corner there was some barely and in another corner was a piece of animal skin in which store water. Looking at the simplicity of the place where the king of kings was living, Hazrat Omar was overwhelmed and tears rolled down his face. The Holy Prophet inquired, Omar, why are you crying? Hazrat Omar replied: Why should I not cry? I can see the marks of weaves of the cot on your body. On one side I look at your humble belongings and on the other, I imagine the luxury of the kings of Egypt and Persia. They are enjoying such an easy life and you are living in such hardship. To this the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) replied, O, Omar, would you not like that they take this world and I get the Hereafter? (Sahih Muslim)

I have briefly described from the thousands of illustrations in the life of the Holy Prophet, his simplicity, unostentatiousness and humility. When this is compared with the pomp and show of worldly kings, we are left with a feeling of utter amazement. In ordinary dealings and conversations, worldly kings have a peculiar style of ceremony and grandeur; but the Holy Prophet, while talking and dealing with thousands of people, never even let them feel that they were conversing with a superior person and kept such a low profile that he appeared as just an ordinary person. It has been reported that, in Medina, he owed some money to a Jew who came to him and demanded it in a haughty and insolent manner; addressing the Prophet, peace be on him, he said: You people from Banu Hashim, whenever you take anything you are reluctant to pay back. Hazrat Omar who was present at the occasion was very upset with the nasty attitude of the Jew, but the Prophet said, O, Omar, you should advise both the person who lends that he should demand in a nice way, and the indebted that he should repay promptly.

Similarly, once a Beduin came and demanded a debt from the Holy Prophet in a harsh manner. The companions of the Holy Prophet who were around him at that time were very annoyed and said to the Beduin: Do you know to whom are you talking? On which the Beduin reiterated that he was demanding his right. On this, the Holy Prophet said: It is the right of the lender to demand the return of his debt.

Once the Holy Prophet was in the company of his companions in a jungle where they were getting ready to cook. He distributed the work-load and himself participated in making food (Seerat Khairul Bashar). In spite of being the benefactor for the whole world, he worked like an ordinary person. In every household chores, his participation was a routine. His wife Hazrat Ayesha used to say that the Holy Prophet worked in the house like an ordinary person and never gave the impression of being a superior person than the rest. Once he came out of his house and the companions who were waiting outside, stood up as a mark of respect, upon which he said:

Do not stand up like the people of Ajam, i.e. as is customary among Non-Arabs, on seeing me. (Abu Daud)

It has been narrated that once a person came to see the Holy Prophet and was so impressed by his personality that he started trembling from nervousness; at this the Prophet said: Do not be afraid; I am the son of a Quraishi woman who used to eat simple dry meat (Tirmidhi). Have worldly kings bowed low in such humility? If the Holy Prophet had been a king in the ordinary sense, he would have shown the usual arrogance, pride and pompousness of kings.

Kings ordinarily find it hard to keep their covenants and easily break them. About Henry III it has been mentioned that He promised to keep the Great Covenant several times but always went against it (History of England by Col. Garette, p. 30). The Kaiser, disregarding treaties, pushed his forces from Belgium to Paris without the slightest hesitation. On the contrary, looking at the Holy Prophet, the picture is basically different. Abu Rafi was a slave and a disbeliever who was sent to Medina as an ambassador by the Meccans. Reaching Medina he was so impressed by the truth of Islam and by the personality of the Holy Prophet that he wanted to accept Islam and remain in Medina, but the Holy Prophet said to him:

It is a treaty among us and the Meccans that we cannot hold you; so you should go back to Mecca and if you still feel the same way, only then can you return and embrace Islam. (Abu Daud)

About the Treaty of Hudaibia it has been written that while the terms of the truce were being written, Abu Jandal managed to come to the Holy Prophet while still in chains, from Mecca, to seek his help. The companions of the Holy Prophet were immensely moved when they saw him in that pitiable condition; but the Holy Prophet respecting the prior covenant with the Meccans which stated if a new Muslim convert in Mecca should make his way to Medina, he would be returned to Mecca. He addressed Abu Jandal saying:

O, Abu Jandal, we cannot break our covenant. God Almighty will open some new doors for you. (Bukhari)

At the battle of Badr, the odds were against the Muslims; the enemy was heavily armed and out-numbered the believers. They did not have enough equipment and were practically starving, being short of food and other supplies. But they had trust in Allah. In this precarious condition, two Muslims from Mecca approached the Holy Prophet. They told him that they had a pact with the Meccans stipulating that they could go to Medina but were not permitted to take part in any fighting against the Meccans. They now sought permission of the Holy Prophet to take part in the battle of Badr along with other Muslims. The Holy Prophet answered:

You will honour the pact in any case. You should not take part in the fighting. We only need the help of God. (Sahih Muslim)

Can anybody describe a person with a character like that of the Holy Prophet as a king in the ordinary sense? Can anyone present a single example akin to this?

A philosopher had a saying: Revenge is a natural instinct and is universal to all mankind; the tortured one avenges not only the torturer but all human beings. The worldly kings operate exactly according to the above saying. Thousands of examples can be cited where kings took revenge for their personal grievances. The Holy Prophet however, never took revenge for personal reasons. It has been written that Napoleon advised his son to take revenge for even personal rancours. Hazrat Ayesha, the wife of the Holy Prophet narrates:

The Holy Prophet never took revenge for a personal grudge; the only time he would react was for the sake of God and His commandments. (Bukhari)

It happened in the early days of his prophethood, when the Holy Prophet went to Taif to propagate Islam. The people of Taif treated him cruelly; so much so that they threw stones at him, thereby hurting his feet so badly that they became soaked with blood. But inspite of the divine indication of the destruction of the people of Taif, the Holy Prophet uttered a prayer:

God, grant them understanding because they do not know what they are doing, and bring them into the embrace of Islam.Some of the very same people came as a delegation in 9th Hijra, to Medina. The Holy Prophet treated them very hospitably and took the best care of them and even arranged their stay in the Holy Mosque. (Abu Daud)

The excellence of conduct which the Holy Prophet showed towards his worst enemies is unique in the history of mankind. The Meccans, in the early days of Islam, perpetrated every type of atrocity against him and his followers. He was made to walk with bare feet on thorny bushes; filth was thrown upon him; all kinds of bad names were applied to him; and various plots were hatched to kill him and destroy his mission altogether. His followers were stabbed and killed. They were dragged over burning sand and their bodies were marked with red hot iron and stones. But, within ten years, the weak became strong and the helpless grew majestic and with flying colours, the Holy Prophet entered with the city of Mecca as a victor. So overwhelming was his success that no one dared to resist. The Holy Prophet treated all Meccans, with a few exceptions confined to people with a criminal record, with a universal pardon, saying, Go you all; today there is no restriction on you; you are all free. Abu Sufian, who was one of his bitterest opponents and had fought many battles against the Holy Prophet, was brought before him on the eve of the battle of Mecca. Hazrat Omar wanted to kill him due to this past transgressions but the Holy Prophet not only forgave him, but also declared: Whoever enters the house of Abu Sufian, will be offered peace. The proverbial enmity of Abu Jahl toward the Holy Prophet was not hidden from anyone. His son Ikrama was brought before the Holy Prophet by his wife, who had already accepted Islam. The Holy Prophet addressed him thus: Welcome to the refugee who has come to me. (Mishkat)

The above mentioned examples of forgiveness and leniency shown to his deadliest opponents by the Holy Prophet are unique and are not to be found any where else in recorded history. There was a time when he was weak and helpless and could not punish his enemies. But a time soon came when he became powerful and his enemies were lying prostrate before him and completely at his mercy; but with the exception of a few murderers, all others were pardoned.

The worldly kings are usually greedy; to add to their piles of riches is their fondest aim. In the case of the Holy Prophet it was quite the opposite. Valuables and riches came to him in abundance, but he never let a night pass without distributing something among his followers. Hazrat Abu Bakr said once he was passing by the mountain of Uhad in company with the Holy Prophet. On this occasion, he said:

If the mountain of Uhad turns into gold for me, I will not let three nights pass with even a dinar for myself. (Bukhari)

Once a rich man from Fadak sent four camels loads of grains. The Holy Prophet asked Hazrat Bilal to sell the grain and to distribute the cash received from the sale. At the end of the day, Hazrat Bilal returned and said that he could not find many people, therefore, all the money could not be distributed. The Holy Prophet did not go home that night; he spent the whole night in the mosque until the following day when Hazrat Bilal came with the second news that he had distributed the entire amount. Then only did the Holy Prophet go home. (Abu Daud)

In this connection there is another example. Once the Holy Prophet received a huge amount of valuables from Bahrain. He had never received so much booty before. He had it all piled up in the courtyard of the mosque and then started distributing it. Whoever came, he gave him according to his share. He gave Hazrat Abbas, who had grown poor after the Battle of Badr, so much that he could hardly carry it. When all of it was distributed he brushed his hands clean and went away. (Bukhari)

In contrast to what the Holy Prophet did, worldly kings are so greedy that some of them are jealous even of their own people if some of them are a little better off. About Henry VII, it is written that once he went to see the Earl of Oxford. After meeting him, when the king was going to return, the guards of the Earl, in splendid uniforms, were lined up as a mark of respect for the king. The king thanked the Earl for his hospitality and also charged him a huge sum to pay him immediately. (History of England by Garette)

In this connection Garette further records that in the last days of his rule, Henry VII grew even more greedy, and for this reason lost his popularity. He always used to think of ways to squeeze money out of his people.

Look at the noble actions and examples of the Holy Prophet and compare them with doings of worldly kings. Is there any comparison at all? Not to speak of any accumulation of wealth, he does not let anything remain with him, but is in a great hurry to distribute whatever he gets. Is there any such example in the life of any king?

In dealing with near relatives, his attitude was quite different from worldly monarchs who, to gain benefit for their near ones, get all sorts of loopholes in regulations and even make changes in laws when needed. They strive their utmost that after their death, their family continues to live in luxury. The Holy Prophet had a quite different approach and advice for his relatives. He was so imbued with righteousness and meekness that he advised them to follow righteous and simple life styles, rather than join in a race for worldly riches. He directed their attention towards the Quranic verse:

Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. (49:14)

His daughter Hazrat Fatima (God be please with her) was very dear to him and whenever she came to see him he used to stand up and offer his seat. As his dear daughter, she used to complain to him about hard household work, grinding flour herself and bringing water for household use so she requested for a helper. His response was: Unless we can make some arrangements for Asahabe Suffah (i.e. those living entirely on charity), we cannot do anything for you. (Abu Daud)

Most of the kings and sometimes even their near ones are regarded as above the law of the land in many cases. But the Holy Prophet never considered himself above the law. Once he hit one of his companions accidentally and quickly invited him to hit him back or accept compensation. At the time of the battle of Badr, his uncle Abbas was among the prisoners of war. After paying ransom adequately, some of the prisoners were being released. Some of the companions of the Holy Prophet thought that his uncle could perhaps be shown some relaxation and leniency. The Holy Prophet came to know of it an said:

I swear to God! I would not allow him the benefit of one dirham i.e., slightest preference in treatment over others.

Once a woman from the tribe of Makhzoom was caught stealing. Osama Bin Zaid, who was very close and dear to the Holy Prophet, was sent to him to gain favour on her behalf to lessen the punishment for the woman upon which he said: Are you trying to get a favour against the decree of God? Then he said:

Nations have perished before because if a wealthy person committed a crime they used to excuse him and if an ordinary person did the same, they used to punish him. I swear to God that if my daughter Fatima would have committed theft, I would have ordered her hand to be cut. (Bukhari)

Worldly kings are usually very fond of praise and flattery and when somebody showers on them exaggerated praises they love that gesture. Elizabeth I of England and Henry VIII were particularly known for this trait. But our Prophet was quite different from the worldly rulers. There was of course, no question of tolerating false or exaggerated praises, even that which was his due was also discouraged by him. Once Abdullah Bin Sakhr came to see him and addressed him with the words Our Master. The Holy Prophet forbade him from uttering such platitudes. He was called by different names, such as Muhammad, Abul Qasim and so forth; but was never called by the title emperor, king or the like. Likewise, he never built any castles or thrones and he never kept body guards, which are so common for all worldly kings. Reverend Ghulam Masih writes about him:

His names and labels reflect his character and personality; Muhammad, Sahid, Nazir, Bashir, and Rasool Allah, are well known. Out of these names we do not find any chiefs, such as Chief of Quraish, Chief of Arabs, Conqueror of Arabs or king of Arabs. This really amazes us. No doubt the history of Islam has mentioned in his life-sketch his contributions, his battles and victories, his bravery and boldness, but has never mentioned any throne, castle, crowns or special robes or dresses. In all his life, he only got one building constructed, and that was Masjid-e-Nabwi, which was a place of worship. Shall we not be amazed at the knowledge of these facts?

He goes on to say:

It is hard to believe, I being a Christian and following the common belief of Christians, that I will exaggerate the qualities of the Holy Prophet and would try to project an elevated impression of the Holy Prophet which would be out of the knowledge of educated people. Nevertheless, from a Christian who is unbiased, the pious personality of the Prophet can be expressed if he is really an impartial Christian who has studied the Islamic literature in depth.

Would that these people who consider the Holy Prophet as a worldly king would study Islamic literature in depth and get to know the truth.

Kings generally fight battles for selfish reasons; and instead of maintaining peace and harmony in the world, create calamity and chaos. The Holy Prophet, however, fought battles for the sake of establishing peace and maintaining freedom of conscience. The critics have said that if the Holy Prophet was not a king, why did he fight battles? If we look carefully, it is very obvious that the circumstances in which he took up arms were quite unavoidable and that all the wars were forced upon him and were merely defensive in nature. None of his battles were for worldly gain, as has been clearly mentioned in the Holy Quran, and even by some of his opponents.

Historians write that the first verse which permitted taking up arms was revealed to the Holy Prophet on 15th August 623, one year after his arrival in Medina. The verses run as under:

Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah, indeed, has power to help them-Those who have been drive out from their homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. And if Allah had not repelled some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft remembered, would surely have been destroyed. And Allah will, surely, help him who helps Him. Allah is, indeed, Powerful, Mighty- (22:40-41)

The purpose of Islamic wars has been very well defined in the verse above mentioned. In his book Seerat Khatam-un-Nabiyyeen (Life of the Holy Prophet), Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, M.A., has written an elaboration of the fore-mentioned verse, which is one of the best illustrations in this regard. He wrote:

If we look carefully, we deduce four points from the verse. First, that the wars were initiated by the non-believers, as is obvious from the words ‘against whom war is made’. Second, that the non-believers used to beat Muslims with utmost cruelty and this cruelty was the cause of religious battles, as is clear from the words ‘because they have been wronged’. Third, that the purpose of non-believers was to destroy Islam with the sword, as is reflected from the word ‘pulled out’. Fourth, that the declaration of war by the Muslims was in self-defense, is clear from ‘if Allah did not repel some men by means of others’. In short, the main reason for this verse is to indicate that the reason for defensive war by Muslims was to protect themselves and to guard against the transgressions of the non-believers, who wanted to destroy Muslims by the might of the sword.

In a nut-shell, this single verse is enough to rebut all of the objections which are often raised by critics regarding the wars waged by the Muslims purely in self-defense.

Christian writers often present the incident of the Banu-Qureza as an example of transgression by the Holy Prophet. There is no doubt that the incident happened; but the circumstances under which it occurred are such as would clarify and justify the steps taken by the Holy Prophet in this regard. This is not the occasion to go into details of the incident, but the following account by a Christian writer may clarify some of the doubts. He writes:

The Great Invasion (Battle of Ahzab) which Mohammed declared had been miraculously frustrated, was due to, or believed to be due, to the propaganda of members of Banu-Nazir, whom the Prophet had punished with banishment only. Should he banish the Qureza, he would thereby be setting free a fresh set of propagandists. On the other hand, those who had taken part openly with the invaders of Medina could not very well be permitted to remain there. To banish them was unsafe; to permit them to remain was yet more dangerous. Hence, they must die. (Margolis)

In fact, these people were traitors and never kept their promises. Even then, the Holy Prophet did not make any decision himself, but Banu Qureza themselves picked Saad Bin Muaz as an arbitrator, and there was no direct involvement of the Holy Prophet in the decision.

This is particularly noticeable that the purpose of battles fought by the Holy Prophet was never to acquire or conquer territory or to kill or to exterminate people. If it had been so, he would never have issued an order to keep peace in the area, and to avoid damage to property and crops or damage to anything of public utility; nor would he have issued orders not to harm women, children, and the old and the sick. These are factors which are entirely over-looked by worldly kings. It is said in Hadith, that whenever he would send a section of his armed people on assignment he would advise them:

O Muslims! Go in the name of Allah and fight only for the sake of Allah! But beware, do not be dishonest in what you get and do not cheat or break promises or covenants with your enemy. Do not kill children, women, the old, or the clergy; and maintain law and order and treat people nicely, for God likes people who treat other people nicely.

It has been said that Hazrat Abu Bakr used to advise his army not to cut fruit-bearing trees and not to make areas barren that were inhabited by people. In the light of these facts, can it be said that the Holy Prophet took up arms to kill, destroy or conquer?

In worldly kingdoms, people want to keep close contact with the monarchs and are obedient to them only to gain material and political favours. Their hearts are far from what they outwardly show to their rulers. But the companions of the Holy Prophet had real love and devotion for him in their hearts. Their minds and bodies moved in total compliance with his wishes because they obeyed him from the core of their hearts. Such devotion is unsurpassed in history.

Americans, in spite of their efforts, have failed to control abuse of alcohol; on the other hand, with just one word against its use, all the companions of the Holy Prophet suddenly and completely abandoned the use of alcohol. It has been narrated by Anas Bin Malik that when consumption of alcohol was forbidden, the Holy Prophet asked one of his companions to declare it in the streets of Medina. Anas said that at that time:

I was serving Abu Talha Ansari and some other companions with drinks when we heard of this new order. Upon hearing this, Abu Talha said: Let us investigate what this new order is as to obey it as soon as possible. Then, without even confirming it, he said, Let us first break our containers of alcohol. (Bukhari)

Does the personality of a worldly king have such a profound and lasting effect on his subjects? It was only the Holy Prophet who generated such a charisma, charm, devotion and loyalty never before seen in anyone else.

From what I have stated so far, it will be clear that the Holy Prophet had none of the ordinary qualities of kings; on the contrary, whatever he did or said was to exhort simplicity, meekness, hospitality, selflessness, equality, peace, and love and service to all human beings. Knowing this, it would be decidedly unfair to describe him as an ordinary king.

The Holy Prophet’s kingdom was, in fact, the kingdom of heaven. It is obvious that the Holy Prophet was not a king in the ordinary sense of the word. As is customary, worldly kings are called by titles such as emperor, kaiser, and so forth, which the Holy Prophet never assumed. Then the question arises: What should he be called, bearing in mind that at one time he had control and command of several dominions like an emperor?

For this purpose, we turn to books and literature from which we find that kingship has two forms. One form is called Dominance (Taghlab); and another is termed Leadership (Imamat). The worldly kings belong to the former and the Holy Prophet belonged to the latter. That is why it is written that kingship and politics have two forms; one is perfect politics, called Imamat; the second is imperfect politics called Taghlab. The former teaches character and obedience in a sublime order and the ruler is just and humble and considers his people as brothers and friends; and he himself, is never swayed by selfish motives. The latter is autocratic, stubborn, and believes in self-aggrandizement.

It is clear that kingship under consideration in regards to the Holy Prophet was of the order of Imamat, not Taghlab. And not only ordinary Imamat. His leadership, or Imamat, was of the highest order, the kind such as the like of which had not ever been seen. We can say that Imamat and Khilafat are one and the same thing. Imamat, according to the saying: The king is the shadow of God bears a perfect description of the Holy Prophet. That is why throughout his life, all of his actions were the reflection of divine attributes. Whereas on one side his prophethood is glittering with grace and grandeur, on the other side his kingship is studded with heavenly qualities.

Maulana Shibli, in his well-known book on the Holy Prophet, aptly describes him as under:

In spite of the fact that he owned all the wealth of Arabia, in his simple house he never had a cushioned bed, luxurious food, flashy robes or gold and silver in his possession. Looking at the degree of obedience that his words carried, one could mistaken in considering him as kaiser, a king, or an emperor; but in reality, he looked more like the simply clad orphan of Mecca, in the form of an angel.

His life in Medina is proof that he was a true vicegerent of God on earth. When his state of helplessness was transformed into that of sovereignty in Medina, even then he shunned every form of pomp and show, arrogance or grandeur, and remained the same simple individual that he was previously.

As Noldeke states:

On the whole, after he became ruler of all Arabia, he maintained the original poverty and simplicity of his establishment; he never stored up money or estates nor did he spend his time eating and drinking and wearing soft clothing. He continued to fast and watch and pray after his earlier fashion; and that was plainly out of a heartfelt need and without any ostentation. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Washington Irving, a renowned Christian writer, relates:

His military triumphs awakened no pride not vainglory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power, he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room any unusual testimonial of respect was shown to him. (Muhammad and His Successors)

Will Durant, in his voluminous book, The Age of Faith, writes about the life of the Holy Prophet in Medina:

The furniture was a mattress and pillows upon the floor. He was often seen mending his clothes or shoes, kindling the fire, sweeping the floor, milking the family goat in his yard or shopping for provisions in the market ….. his staple foods were dates and barely bread; milk and honey were occasional luxuries ….. he put one none of the pomp of power, rejected any special mark of reverence, accepted the invitation of a slave to dinner and asked no service of a slave that he had time to and strength to do for himself. Despite all the booty and revenue that came to him, he spent little upon his family, less upon himself, much in charity.

Such was Muhammad (Peace be on him) the like of whom the world never knew before nor would it ever witness again till the end of time. It is not our intent, nor is it our purpose to shower unmerited praises on a person to whom we owe allegiance in some form or other. But the language of history is such that no impartial person can ignore it except at his own undoing. The orphan of Mecca indulged throughout his life in the sort of activity which built its own field of reference. His career was crowned with success at every level. Nothing ever changed his lifestyle. The lonely preacher who roamed the streets of Mecca for thirteen long years, unmoved and undaunted by the most primitive opposition, never changed his frugal habits even when he became the undisputed ruler of the whole of the Arabian peninsula. Despite better conditions at Medina, he spent little upon his family, less upon himself and much in charity.

From the above, it is abundantly clear that Arnold Toynbee, with all of his flamboyant knowledge of history, missed the mark completely when he asserted that the Holy Prophet and preacher of Mecca, on attaining power at Medina, was overlaid and overwhelmed by political enterprise. This assertion is not borne out by history. The Holy Prophet in his dying hour, when there could be no longer a worldly motive for deceit, still breathed the same religious devotion and the same belief in his apostolic mission. The last words that trembled on his lips were a muttered trust that he would soon be entering into blissful companionship with the One Whom he had loved throughout his life – Allah the Merciful, the Benevolent.

Michael H. Hart, in his famous book The 100, ranked Muhammad (peace be on him) the most influential person in history. He designated neither Jesus nor Marx but Muhammad (peace be on him) as the most influential man in history. This, he said, was because:

Muhammad was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. The influence of Muhammad through the medium of the Koran had been enormous. It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus and St. Paul on Christianity.