Muhammed, Mohamed, Muhamad or Mahomed… spell it any way you like, but this is the most popular name used in the world today. One in three Muslims in the world is either named Muhammad or their name is prefixed with it like Muhammad Usamah or Muhammad Adnan. Non-Muslims, when referring to this magnificent prophet often use the spelling “Mahomet,” who, as world historians like Micheal Hart, Stanley Lane-Pool and G.S. Hodgson testify, is a personage that the pages of history can never forget.
This common Arabic name, meaning “The most praised one”, was for the very first time referred to in the original Bible to the person who would appear much later carrying the seal of prophethood between his shoulder-blades and the light of prophethood on his forehead. Six people from the followers of Prophet Isa (may peace be upon him) or Jesus Christ attempted to name themselves Muhammad, but none of them attained prophethood. This special privilege was to eventually fall on the one and only child of Abdullah and Aminah in the barren Arabian city of Makkah in the year 570 AD. Since this time, every worshipper of the one Almighty and sincere believer in this magnificent prophet carries a small part of this light of prophethood in his or her bosom.
The Almighty had reserved the best and the most elite of His creation for last. Why did this illustrious prophet appear last? The answer is simple. The best always comes last! When organising a conference, the key-note speaker is always last. His appearance will not only complete the conference, but also validate whatever all the previous speakers spoke about. This was exactly the task of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and salutations be on him): he validated the simple message of the “undivided” unity of and total loyalty to God, the “only” Almighty, which all the previous 1400 prophets had preached. Since doomsday would be the next landmark of time in the scheme of events, Prophet Muhammad (may peace and salutations be on him) set the tone of how the entire humanity should think, behave and live up to the end of days.
His Many Qualities
Prophet Muhammad was endowed with hundreds of miracles, some of which like the splitting of the moon can even be witnessed today. But it wasn’t his miracles that made him the man or the religion he preached. In fact, in some cases, his miracles only caused the pagans to belie him even further. When this magnificent prophet, who, at the time did not even possess a stallion, never mind a space craft, returned from his night journey into the seven heavens, the leading pagans like Abu Jahal and Uqbah ibn Abu Mu’eet took the opportunity of branding him as a soothsayer. These ignorant people were not convinced of his feat, even when Prophet Muhammad described Masjid al-Aqsa in such detail that it is impossible for a person who studies the architecture of Masjid al-Aqsa for a full month to give a more accurate description of the Masjid.
So, if his miracles did not give him his greatness, was it his wealth? In any case, who really respects magicians and tricksters today? They are just for entertainment. It must’ve been his wealth because after all, didn’t he marry his first wife, Sayyadatina Khadijah, who was famed as a millionaire of her time? Definitely not! In fact, Prophet Muhammad, on many occasions, came in to possession of huge amounts of wealth, but he never allowed it to accumulate for more than a day lest it corrupts his trust and reliance in God. Generally, wealthy people, if they use their wealth wisely, are remembered for their generosity, not for their wealth which often breeds evil qualities such as arrogance, pride and haughtiness. Look around us. Aren’t the wealthy the most corrupt in society?
So if wealth did not make him, was it his breathtaking handsomeness that his beloved wife Sayyadatina Aisha described as “more brighter than the moon” that lent him his fame? It is said that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may peace and salutations be on him) had such striking features that none could stare at him for a long while without dropping his eyes in awe! Today, beauty in people, even if such people are as dumb as a doornail, are used in the fashion, music and movie industry to generate tonnes of revenue. Movie producers will exploit the deep eyes of Leonardo deCaprio, the juicy lips of Angelina Jolie, the cute dimples of Preity Zinta and the waterfall tresses of Justin Bieber to capture their audience. Would God have used beauty as a vehicle to propagate the truth? Can truth be carried by such hollow and superficial means?
You see, whilst not everyone possesses the ability of working miracles, becoming fabulously wealthy or being breathtakingly handsome, everyone can imbibe the aspect that gave Prophet Muhammad (may peace and salutations be on him) his greatness: his exemplary character. To be great, you don’t need to live in Sandton, drive a BMW, be as fair as Selina Gomez, or be a fat-cat Arab oil-Shaikh. You only need to have good character. This is within the reach of everyone.
The Most Striking Quality
In the book “Al-Qawul Al-Badee,” 430 qualities of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and salutations be on him) are mentioned, all of which are excellent. However, if we were to practice on only one of these attributes, the entire world would transform in to a better place: this is the quality of rahmah or mercy.
Now let us take the word “mercy” and turn it into a ball for a moment, bouncing it up and down. Let us bounce it up and ask: “Where does mercy come from?” Mercy comes from a heart that has tasted emptiness, fear, spiritual bankruptcy and poverty. In such a situation, a true believer will patiently wait for the help of God for His help and answers. A prerequisite for mercy is a broken heart and allowing God to mend it. It is when we receive this gift that we have the ability to be merciful to others. Prophet Muhammad tasted fear, sickness and loneliness and was appalled by all the evils of his time. His heart was filled with pain and despair for humanity. This pain led him to the threshold of prophethood, and this pain never left him until his death.
Are we pained by all the evil around us, are we merely passive spectators, or worst still, are we contributors to the evil of society? Are we true well-wishers of the destiny of mankind? Are our tongues preaching only, and not our hearts?
Now let us bounce the ball down and ask “What is mercy?” Mercy is a feeling of compassion for humanity. A compassionate heart is an “alive” heart with a 24-hour connection to God, beating with appreciation for Him and compassion for His creation. To appreciate His bounties, we need to be helpful and supportive of the poor, sick, oppressed and disadvantaged. It is for this reason that the greatest obstacle of mercy is worldly and religious trivia. Worldly trivia is the many types of activities we mindlessly engage in like watching sports and movies that takes our mind away from the welfare of humanity. Religious trivia is more dangerous than this and is becoming our no. 1 hobby in South Africa. It is when, in the name of religion, scholars and religious organizations start condemning each other to hell. They use their titles, pride and piety to emotionally blackmail people to believe their stupidity. Instead of showing the light, such people create more darkness and differences.
Prophet Muhammad never called a disbeliever a disbeliever, even if he was the worst pagan. Today, many of us go around branding anyone who disagrees with his idiocy as “kaafir, faasiq, mushrik and murtadd.” Prophet Muhammad’s arch-enemies became his arch-supporters, but today, our enemies become our lifelong wars and occupation. Is this what this great man taught? Empty pockets never held any cause back, only empty heads and cold hearts!
We now throw the ball in to the air and ask: “Why is mercy such a powerful transformative tool?” Mercy is the only tool that can be used to transform our enemies and win them over. There are two words here: Justice and mercy. A parent may do justice by disciplining his child, but a merciful parent will do it with compassion. An employer will do justice by firing an errant employee, but he will be merciful by providing him with money to look after his family until he finds another job. A victim of theft may claim his justice by having the thief locked up behind bars, but mercy is that he will try to get his term shortened or completely forgive him.
Mercy is not earned. It’s given by grace. No one earns or becomes deserving of mercy. It is granted as a bonus, as a genuine sign of grace. In the hereafter, no one will be able to earn paradise through his deeds. It will be granted through the sheer mercy of the Almighty and the intercession of Prophet Muhammad (peace and salutations be upon him). Justice maintains peace in society, and mercy transforms that peace in to a tranquil garden. And a tranquil garden is what Islam really is and what the world should be at the moment, but isn’t.
Lastly, if we are to honour the legacy of this great prophet, let us love more and hate less, give more and take less, cry more and laugh less, contemplate more and speak less, embrace more and judge less, act more and tweet less, and lastly forgive more and demand for revenge less. When this happens, then we may be honouring the name of this great prophet; if not, we are just blowing hot air into hollow ears.