Who is Prophet Muhammad? In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Muhammad, is the Messenger of Allah…. Qur’an 48:27-29
YES. Who is, not who was Muhammad? I refuse to refer to him in the past because the Prophet of Islam (may Allah’s peace and benedictions be on his soul in Madinah) lives in the present. I prefer to refer to him in the present because his legacies make all allusions to him in the present a categorical imperative. In other words, though he died a thousand, four hundred and twenty one years ago, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) did not actually die. Rather, he lives on in the hearts of billions of Muslims and on the tongues of countless number of creatures of the Almighty who celebrate his shining patrimony and strive to emulate, based on correct knowledge and understanding, his exemplary legacy.
Thus when I say who is Muhammad? It is with the decided agenda to remind you of the known, the unknown and the unknowable. To those who properly understand his message among Muslims, Muhammad is known. To those who are ignorant of the core messages of his vocation but who are only emotionally attached to him, Muhammad is unknown. To those who use the negative exteriorities and reality in Muslim life all over the world as evidence of his message, Muhammad is unknowable. His full name is Abul Qasim Muhammad b. Abdullah b. Abdul Mutallib b. Hashim b Abdul Manaf b. Adnan. His mother is Aminah, daughter of Wahab. He was born on Monday; he was commissioned into Prophethood on Monday; he left Makkah on migration (hijrah) to Madinah on Monday; he arrived Madinah on Monday; he placed the black stone on its present spot in the Kaaba on Monday; he died on Monday.
Who is Muhammad – upon him be peace and blessings of Allah? He is the man who was born an orphan but rose to become a head of state. Thus it appears Allah wishes to remind Muslim parents of today who usually assume there presence is sine qua non for the success of their children to key-in into the odyssey of the birth of our leader. He had a father, named Abdullah, who lived till such a time he delivered the “seed” in the womb of his wife, Aminah, before he was transmitted to the great beyond. The unspoken moral here should not be lost on us- live every moment of your life as if it the last; know that it is good to be important in life. Be aware that it is more important to be good and be God-conscious.
Yes Aminah, the Prophet’s mother, also received the “seed” as a trust and nurtured it to maturation. She gave birth to and reared the young Muhammad till such a time the infant could be separated from the womb and the bosom that bore him before she departed this world. Again, Amina’s life is signifier to humanity- parents are agents in the hands of the unknowable scheme of the Almighty; we are puns – children and their forebears- in the chessboard of our creator.
In other words, children who see their parents on a daily basis easily forget their creator; they shout and chorus at every moment; my daddy, my mummy! But those who have no parents to call take solace in their recourse to the Almighty on a permanent basis. Thus while the former shouts my daddy! my mummy! the latter shouts Ya Rabb! Ya rabb! (My lord! My lord!)
By coming to the world intestate, the whole life of Muhammad (s.a.w) is designed to teach what none other the Almighty can teach. When Muhammad lost his mother at six after having lost his father while he was in the womb, we are reminded that it is a privilege for us to be there, to be “daddied” and “mummied” by our children: the child would attain to his destiny with or without the intervention of his parents!
Again, Prophet Muhammad was born as an heir to a prophetic tradition, the apogee of which was Prophet Ibrahim (upon him be peace and blessings of Allah). From Prophet Ibrahim down to Prophet Ismail down to Abdullah, father of Prophet Muhammad, certain light of excellence, the gravitas of moral rectitude was inherited from one to the other. In other words, the “seed” from which Muhammad emerged and the womb that bore him were of the purest stock. Put graphically, the womb that bore Muhammad never played host, prior to her marriage to Abdullah, to the chemical-genetic fluid of the fornicator. Humans often desire to reap where they do not sow; some men desire to marry virgins even as they go about the cities defiling women. They often assume, and erroneously too, that they can come to equity with soiled hands!
Before he was commissioned as a prophet, his nudity was never seen, he never drank alcohol, never ate from a feast dedicated to idols and never sworn by other than the Almighty. He was light in complexion, his shoulders were broad, his face usually shined brightly as if on a dark night. He had black hair, tender skin, broad chest, moderate height, high forehead. Though sweet in speech, he kept silent most of the time. He usually walked rapidly and lightly with long strides. His clothing generally consisted of two pieces of cloth. He used to begin and end speeches with ‘bismillah”. He used to look more on to the ground than he did to the heavens out of respect for and awe of the authority in the heavens. He never repelled evil with evil but with good.
Who was that man? He was the unlettered Prophet who was given a book which made knowledge the most worthwhile investment one could bequeath to the world. He never had a chance of learning from a scholar but was blessed with a book which makes scholarship the best profession known to humanity. He was given a book which talks about astronomy and space exploration at a time the NASA and the powers that be in the US had not been born. He was given a book which talks about biology and reproduction at a time the human physiology was still unknown and uncharted. He was given a book which talks about geology and archaeology at a time oceanography and oil exploration had not occurred to humanity; he was given a book which talks about economics and the evil of round-tripping at a time the stock market had not been conceived; he was given a book which talks about numerology at a time algebra and the only formula I remember of the mathematics I was taught in my post-primary school- the almighty formula- had not been discovered!
Muhammad was a leader of a group which later became the leader of a community who later became leaders of a nation. He was just, compassionate, kind, deracinated, detribalised and gender-sensitive. He was contented with the little that today could offer; he never yearned to own billions of dollars and naira – billions that generations yet unborn will never exhaust. He knew the world for what it is – beautiful, alluring and fragile like the balloon. As we celebrate his birth, let us equally be guided by the ideals for which he lived.
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