Islam ranks as one of the ‘Abrahamic’ religions with Christianity and Judaism being the other two religions. It commenced in the 7th century and is the youngest religion that grew in the perspective of Christianity and Judaism. It is viewed as an extension of the revelation process of God through Prophets. The Prophet Muhammad is thought of as the last of an elongated sequence of messengers from God that started with Adam, went farther to people like Moses, Noah who are spoken of in the Hebrew bible, Jesus and John the Baptist of the Gospels. The initial of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam (Muhammad 37) is tawhid or tauheed or tauhid. Sometimes, they are a bit confusing, but they are entirely correct. The Arabic words mean, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Others understand tawhid to be that nothing can ever separate God from people. Prophet Muhammad laid the foundation for the Muslim religion and his practical approaches pave the way for contemporary Muslims to follow suit.
Muhammad was born around 570 as a member of a small branch of the Quarish tribe, the most elemental people in Mecca. Mecca by then was a religious, commercial and regional, cultural center. The economy was dependent on a blend of trade activities including caravan routes from north to south and pilgrimage that was fundamental in religion of those days. Muhammad was an orphan and based on a society that was supported by kinship; this positioned him at a disadvantage. Arabic sources cite that Muhammad was unable to read and write, with minimal education. His wife was a former widow called Kadisha who had tremendous success in business. The caravan trade business was her specialty where she was linked to Middle East from southern Arabia.
At his thirties, Muhammad developed a deep interest in religious matters and usually withdrew to a cave for reflection purposes. After a long duration, he received manifestations from God through Angel Gabriel with his opening command being a duty to recite or read. This is what led to the unfolding of the Islamic book, Quran. Muslims consider the Quran as the speech of God through the Prophet. It is an oral text and is thus regularly recited with some Muslims having memorized the book to completion. Major themes in the Quran are the unity of God, also called monotheism, and social justice. Helping the poor, orphans and caring for widows constitutes social justice. Pluralism, another theme, states that additional religions also reveal the truth to people in that Christians and Jews are also persons of the book.
Muhammad read verses that would eventually become the Quran (Aziz and Ali 784). The overwhelming presence made him terrified, but his wife and relative would ease him up. Waraqah ibn Nawfal, Kadisha’s relative provided a clear context that Muhammad was a Prophet. Muhammad began preaching and received opposition from his tribe for allegedly practicing sorcery. Converts were attracted to his message, but hostility, in due course, evolved into open persecution. The weaker Muslims became victims to oppression and torture. At that period, Muhammad encountered another moment with the Divine. Angel Gabriel took him to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (‘Furthest Mosque’) where an assembly of former prophets took place. It is believed that, after this, he was taken to the uppermost heaven for communion with God. This one event, referred to as isra wa’l mir’aj, led to the open duty of five day-after-day prayers.
The Meccan discrimination was simplified when delegates from Yathrib city requested Muhammad to guide them and heal their restless in fighting. By approximately 622CE, the Muslims left Mecca and moved to Yathrib. This was later called the ‘City of the Prophet’ (Medina) and that event marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar. A treaty was drawn between the Medinan converts, other city tribes and the Muslim arrivals. Here, the Muslim community became a tribe with belief reigning superior to blood ties. The term Ummah, which explains this notion, is an extra Islamic concept. Persecution from the Meccan aristocracy continued with constant attacks to Medina. Jihad emerged from this armed struggle with serious battles characterizing these conflicts. Muhammad conquered Mecca in the end and destroyed all its pagan shrines.
Surah 33 in the Quran quotes, “‘Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but is the Messenger of God, and the seal of the Prophets (Khatam al-Nabiyyin)’” This verse is understood within Shia and Sunni traditions to refer to Muhammad as the Final Prophet. Thus, his words and actions have significance, in that, no more prophets are to come. This would credit Muhammad as the basic sign of ‘The Hour’ or End of Time. He is the recipient of the final Divine Book and is regarded as the chief interpreter. Statements that he recorded concerning Quran passages are accorded prime importance if they are authentic. Muhammad quoted to have received the book and something related to it. The something related to it would mean his practice and such a concept brings out his role in Islamic Law (the Shariah); seen as a logical base of this jurisdiction.
Muhammad’s lawful rulings on issues of business, law and personal conduct are given unprecedented authority, second behind the Quran. This is derived from his role as an interpreter (exegete). Injunctions concerning the five daily devotions are broad principles explained by him in the Quran (I.sla?hi? 93). As far as the Quran, prayer obligations are present, but details are not given as to what and when prayer is applicable. The Hadith (Prophetic Traditions) exposed this important ritual act and the basis was a quote from Muhammad to Muslims telling them to pray as he prayed. The various schools of Islamic Law (al-Shariah) developed the need to set Muhammad’s instructions into practice. All these Schools of Law accept the dominance of Muhammad as well as his valid example despite contradicting methodological approaches.
The Prophet is taken as a role model in a wider sense in that the Muslim community would strive to emulate his behavior in more or less every sense. A glimpse at the contents page of any ordinary collection of Hadith such as the Sahih al-Bukhari expresses this point clearly. This Hadith begins with religious knowledge, faith and the Revelation chapter before talking about the importance of prayer. Such a tradition is founded on the concept that Muhammad is the greatest of God’s creatures, since he is the last appointed prophet of God. Because this reason, his conduct is said to be divine and a source of inspiration. Muhammad’s conduct was indeed the Quran. His nature is also exemplified with reference to the high regard accorded to him by Muslims. Apart from being a prophet and religious teacher, he is a relative and a close friend. The Quran describes him as a mercy for every single one of the worlds. Human emotions felt by Muslims towards Muhammad run warm and deep. The most frequent cause of an offence by any person from another religion towards a Muslim is the utter failure to recognize the high regard they have given to Muhammad.
Surah al-Baqara, in verse 255, defines The Prophet as a human intercessor to God. Traditional Sunni Islam believes that Muhammad will intercede with God, on the Muslims’ behalf, during Judgment Day. Intensely influential issues on political involvement and political authority are also based on Muhammad’s example. The Constitution of Medina draws attention to some vital constituents of Muhammad’s thoughts. At the start, it mentions God’s Name and constantly repeats it throughout the document (Khatab and Bouma 32). However, at the end, the heart of a political issue regarding disputes is fixed firmly on God and his appointed prophet, Muhammad. It is also customary, according to an early passage that any destitute person amongst believers (Muslims) should be assisted properly. The document places the Muslim tribe as a superior tribe beyond national and genetic considerations.
Treaty relationships are also unmasked between the tribes of Yathrib in Medina and the young Muslim community. Quran passages echo this treaty by including a number of similar relationships within the text. The example that best shows this is the Chapter of Repentance, also known as Surah al- Tawba. The Constitution also refers to fighting as a defensive responsibility. This is because by then there was no state administration to settle quarrels and pledge individual security. Tribal strength was thus the key means of securing safety. Muhammad is therefore, depicted as an extremely valuable person in the past and present to the Islamic religion.
Aziz, Zahid, and Muhammad Ali. English Translation of the Holy Quran: With Explanatory Notes : from the English Translation and Commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali. Wembley: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, 2011. Print.
I.sla?hi?, Ami?n A. Tadabbur-e-qur’a?n: Pondering Over the Qur’a?n. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2007. Print.
Khatab, Sayed, and Gary D. Bouma. Democracy in Islam. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Muh?ammad, ibn A.-W. The Book of Tawheed =: Sharh? Kita?b Al-Tawh?i?d. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Pub. House, IIPH, 1998. Print.