Bishwa Nath Singh
Over one thousand four hundred years ago, a humble merchant who could not read or write changed the face of Arabia. Today, his influence has spread to every corner of the world including the United States. This is the story Muslims have passed down from generation to generation for over one thousand four hundred years. It is a story about the merchant, husband, father, statesman and warrior whom they consider the final prophet, the main whose legacy continues to shape their lives today. Let us have glimpse on the legacy of Prophet Muhammad whom we adore the most!
(Photo of Mecca where Prophet Muhammad was born)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
The father of Muhammad died before he was born, and his mother died when he was only six. But sheltered by a powerful uncle, he made a good start in life, established himself in a profitable business and married well. And then, at the age o...f 40, he was transformed. A man who could not read or write, he announced that he was the prophet of God. His name was Muhammad, and in the next 23 years he would bring peace to the warring pagan tribes of Arabia and establish the new religion of Islam, which today has over 1.2 billion followers. Three years in the making, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet travels in the footsteps of the prophet to the Arabian desert and the holy city of Mecca where much of Muhammad’s story unfolded. There are over seven million Muslims in America, where Islam is the country’s fastest growing religion, but many of young generation are completely unfamiliar with the life story of the remarkable man who founded this religion one thousand four hundred years ago. No religious leader has as much influence on his followers as does Muhammad the last Prophet of Islam. Islam, according to the Quran is the natural religion whose message was brought to humanity through a series of revelations to a long list of Prophets that starts with Adam and ends with Muhammad and includes Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus Christ. Indeed, Islamic traditions maintain that God sent over one lakh twenty five thousand Prophets to all people everywhere. Muslims believe that their faith has two constitutive pillars and they are the revealed word of God and the traditions of the Prophets. Muhammad was the last messenger sent by God who enjoys preeminence when it comes to revelation – the Quran – and traditions. So much so that the words, deeds and silences of Muhammad became an independent source of Islamic law. Muslims, as a part of religious observance, not only obey but also seek to emulate and imitate their Prophet in every aspect of life. Thus Muhammad is the medium as well as a source of the divine law. Therefore it is natural that Muhammad’s dealings with women have become constitutive of women’s place and role in Islamic societies. Polygamy and the Prophet Muhammad ‘s marriage with Ayesha who according to a very popular report was six when he married her and nine when the marriage was consummated. An extraordinary aspect of Muhammad 's life is that he lived in the full light of history. There are detailed accounts of his life available to us. No comparable religious figure’s life and times have been so well recorded as Muhammad’s. Muslims over a millennium and a half have performed a rare miracle of revering Muhammad in very profound ways yet jealously preserving his humanity by not falling into the trap of deifying him as God. Yet in spite of all the historical accounts about Muhammad’s life that are available to us, we must remember that the Muhammad we know is always the Muhammad we chose to remember. In fact, he is the Muhammad we choose to remember from the historical accounts we read of what his earliest historians chose to remember and report. One of the most striking examples of the different Muhammads that Muslims remember is the difference in prayer rituals of Muslims. Though minor there are several different procedures in which Muslims offer the Muslim prayer and the difference is essentially attributed to what those who prayed with Muhammad remembered. Muslims pray in congregation five times a day and have been doing so for over one thousand four hundred years and nearly twenty of them with the blessed Prophet himself. This is a living tradition of the Prophet that was never discontinued even for a day in over one thousand four hundred years yet there are differing accounts of this practice. How Muhammad is remembered determines how Muslims organize society, what is permissible and what is not, and what roles and rights are assigned to women and what is privileges withheld! Today, Muhammad is remembered by those who revere him and believe in his divine message. The most of Christian thinkers have recognized the greatness of Muhammad. Often the point of departure is his practice of polygamy, which is equated, with the reduced status of women in Islam. Needless to say Muslims disagree and vehemently oppose such conjectures. Muslims take everything that the Prophet did as divinely inspire and seek to imitate him. But this tradition of child-women marrying older-men has never become a common practice in Islamic societies. There seems to be a silent and unstated consensus among Muslims, not to practice this Sunna of the Prophet. Without any overt discussion, Muslims seem to have rejected this tradition wholeheartedly. Is this so because Muslims think that old men marrying young children are wrong? Muhammad did not practice polygamy because of his own pleasure but for well-being of the society as whole that was prevalent those days who were full of illiteracy and poverty. At the age of twenty five, he married a women, Khadija, who was forty years old and his boss. She owned a trading firm that Muhammad use to work for. Marrying an older women who was economically independent, richer and more powerful than him, are not the ways of a narrow-minded male chauvinist. Muhammad was a man of great honor and was widely respected. He could have married whoever he wanted and as many as he wanted since at that time men having many wives was common and often seen as a measure of a man’s status. In his marriage that lasted nearly twenty five years, fifteen before his Prophet hood and ten afterwards, he remained in a devoted monogamous relationship. His other marriages in his days as the political leader of Medina must be seen more in the light of his politics than his family life. They were alliances with tribes; they were institutions of social welfare for destitute women and often responses to the contingencies of his time. If Muslims chose to ignore twenty five years of Prophet’s monogamy and chose twelve years of his polygamy as a benchmark for Islamic principles and values, then this is a sad commentary on Muslims and not on the Prophet of Islam. None should chose to forget twenty five years and remember only the last twelve years of his life. After all Muhammad is what we remember of him as Prophet and will continue to remain so for ever. Let us pay our respectful obeisance to his lotus feet and our floral tribute to him who was messenger of peace and love!
Anil Kumar :
Thanks to you sir. I pay all the respects to Prophet Muhammad for spreading love & brotherhood.
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