His personality

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In order to know the Prophet Muhammad, can you outline the most striking features of his personality as a Messenger of God?

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

  • There are three great and universal things that make known to us our Lord. One is the book of the universe, about whose testimony we have explained in some parts of our works. The second is the Seal of the Prophets, upon him be peace and blessings, who constitutes the supreme sign in the book of the universe. The third is the glorious Qur’an. Now we must recognize and listen to the Seal of the Prophets, who is the second and articulate proof and announcer of God with all His names and Attributes, His existence and Unity.

    Look at the universal personality of that proof: The face of the earth is his mosque, Makka, his mihrab (niche), and Madina, his pulpit. Our Prophet, upon him be peace, this illustrious proof, is the leader to all the believers, preacher to all mankind, the chief of all the prophets, lord of all the saints, the leader in the remembrance of God of a circle comprising all the prophets and saints. With all the prophets as its roots and saints as its ever-fresh fruits, he is a radiant tree; all the prophets with the support of their miracles, and all the saints depending on their wonders, confirm all his claims and corroborate them. For, he declares and claims: There is no deity but God; and all those illustrious reciters of God’s Names lined up in the past and future repeat the same words in unison, as if to say, ‘You speak the truth, and what you say is right!’ What illusion has the power to dispute such an argument which is thus confirmed by such countless endorsements?
  • Just as this radiant proof of Divine Unity is affirmed by the consensus and unanimity of those prophets ad saints, so, too, hundreds of signs in the revealed Scriptures, like the Torah and the Gospels, the thousands of indications of his Prophethood that appeared prior to his mission, the well-known reports of the voices from the Unseen, the unanimous testimony of soothsayers, the indications of thousands of miracles, like the splitting of the moon, and the justice and truth of his Shari‘a (the Law) all confirm and corroborate him. Similarly, the laudable virtues he has to the utmost degree of perfection; his complete confidence in his mission and the most excellent qualities he has in relation to its fulfillment, and his extraordinary fear of God, worship, serenity, and firmness, which demonstrate the strength of his belief, and his total certainty and complete steadfastness, all show as clearly as the sun how utterly truthful he is in his claim.
  • If you wish, come! Let us go to the Arabian peninsula in the Age of Bliss, and in our imaginations, visit him while performing his mission. Look! We see a person distinguished by the excellence of his character and beauty of his form. In his hand is a miraculous book, and on his tongue, a truthful discourse; he is delivering an eternal sermon to all mankind, to all jinn and angels, indeed to all beings. He solves and expounds the mystery of creation of the world; he discovers and solves the intricate talisman which is the mystery of the universe; and he provides convincing and satisfying answers to the great and important questions that are asked of all beings and have always bewildered and occupied minds: Who are you, and what is the purpose of your life? Where have you come from? Were are you going now? What is your final destination?
  • Behold! He spreads such a light of truth that, if you look at the universe without the light of his guidance, you see it as a place of mourning, and beings as alien to one another, or even hostile, and inanimate beings as ghastly corpses and living creatures as orphans weeping under the blows of death and separation. Now look! Through the light he spreads, that place of universal mourning has been transformed into a place of invocation where God’s Names and praises are recited in joy and ecstasy. Those alien, hostile beings have become friends and brothers. The dumb, inanimate creatures have each taken on the form of familiar, obedient officials and docile servants. The weeping, complaining orphans are observed to be either reciting God’s Names and praises or offering thanks for being discharged from their duties.
  • Again, through this light, the motions and variations observed in the universe, and also the changes and transformations are no longer regarded as meaningless and futile playthings of chance, but have appeared in their true form and function: each being a missive of the Master of the universe, a page inscribed with the signs of creation, a mirror reflecting God’s Names, and the world itself, a book of the wisdom of the Besought-of-All. While, without this light, man’s boundless weakness and helplessness, poverty and neediness cause him to fall lower than the animals, and his intellect, by conveying to him grief, sorrow and anxiety, makes him more wretched, when he is illumined with this light, he rises above all animals and all creatures. Once his intellect is illumined, his poverty and helplessness become means of infinite wealth and power through dependence on God, and himself, through entreaty, ascends to the level of being a beloved monarch and, through his lamenting, a petted vicegerent of the earth. That is to say, were it not for this light, the universe and man, and all things, would be reduced to nothingness. Indeed, certainly such a person is necessary in such a wondrous universe; otherwise the universe, all the worlds need not exist.
  • This being announces and brings the good tidings of eternal happiness; he is the unveiler and proclaimer of God’s infinite mercy, the observer and herald of the beauties of the realm of the Lord’s sovereignty, and the discloser and displayer of the treasures of Divine Names. If you observe him as a devoted worshipper of God, you will see him to be a model of love, an embodiment of mercy, the pride of mankind, and the most illustrious fruit of the tree of creation. If you observe him as a Messenger, you will then see him to be a proof of God, a lamp of truth, a sun of guidance, and the means of happiness. Look! His light has lit up from East to West like dazzling lightning, and half of the globe and one fifth of mankind have accepted the gift of his guidance and kept and preserved it like their life. So why is it that our evil-commanding souls and satans should not accept, with all its degrees, the essence of his mission, that is, there is no deity but God.
  • Now, consider how, instantly eradicating their evil and savage customs and immoral qualities to which they were so fanatically attached, he equipped and adorned the desperate, wild and unyielding peoples of that large peninsula with all the praiseworthy virtues, and made them teachers of all the world and masters, especially, to the civilized nations. Behold, it was not an outward domination; rather he conquered and subjugated their minds, spirits, hearts, and souls. He became the beloved of hearts, the teacher of minds, the trainer of souls, and the ruler of spirits.
  • You know that a small habit like cigarette smoking among a small community can be re-moved permanently only by a powerful ruler and with great effort. But see! This being re-moved numerous ingrained habits from large obsessed communities with little outward power and little effort within a very short period of time, and in their place implanted and inculcated exalted qualities in such a way that they became inherent in their being. Many more such miraculous accomplishments are to his credit. To those who refuse to see the testimony of the blessed age of the Prophet, upon him be peace, we present as a challenge the Arabian peninsula with its present ‘civilized’ state. Let them go there with hundreds of philosophers, sociologists and psychologists, and strive for a hundred years, I wonder whether they would be able to achieve in that period a hundredth part of what the Prophet achieved in a year.
  • You also know that even an insignificant man of small standing in a small group of people in a disputed matter of little importance cannot tell a small but shameful lie openly and comfortably without displaying such anxiety and uneasiness as will make his enemies aware of his deception. Now consider this being: Although he is under the burden of a tremendous task in the name of the Messengership of God, and in need of great security against great hostility, can any contradiction at all be found in the words he fearlessly uttered in a large community concerning a great cause, with great ease and freedom, without hesitation or anxiety, with pure sincerity, great seriousness, and in an intense, elevated manner that irritated his enemies? Is it at all possible that any deception should have been involved? God forbid! What he speaks is nothing but revelation revealed to him. The truth cannot be deceptive, and one who sees the truth is not deceived. His path, which is pure truth, is free of deception. How could a fancy appear to his truth-seeing eyes to be the truth, and deceive him?
  • Now, see! What curiosity-arousing, attractive, necessary, and awesome truths he shows and matters he proves!

    You know that what incites man most is curiosity. Suppose that someone said to you: ‘If you give half of your property, someone will come from the Mars and Jupiter to tell you about them. He will also tell you correctly about your future and exactly what will happen to you.’ If you have any curiosity at all, you would pay up. Whereas that being tells of such a King that in His realm the moon flies round a moth like a fly, and the moth, which is the earth, flutters round a lamp, and the lamp, the sun, is merely one of the thousands of lamps in one guest-house out of thousands belonging to that King. Also, he speaks truly of so wondrous a world and predicts such a revolution that if the earth was a bomb and exploded it would not be at all strange. Listen to the suras he recites, which begin with the verses,

    When the sun is folded up. (81:1)
    When the sky is cleft asunder. (82:1)
    (The day) of Noise and Clamor. (101:1)

    Again, he speaks truly of such a future that the future in this world is, in relation to it, like a trifling mirage. He also informs us most solemnly of such happiness that all worldly happiness is like a flash of lightning in comparison to an eternal sun.
  • For sure, such wonders await us under the apparent veil of the universe, which is thus strange and perplexing. What we need then is a wonderful and miracle-working being to communicate and explain the wonders to us. It is apparent from the conduct of that being that he has seen them, and he sees them, and he tells us what he sees. He also teaches us most soundly what the One God of those heavens and the earth, Who nourishes us with His bounties, wants of us, and in what things His pleasure lies. While we should put everything else aside and run to and heed this being who instructs us in many more necessary and curiosity-arousing things like these, how is it that most people are so deaf and blind, mad even, that they fail to see this truth, they do not hear and understand it?
  • As well as being an articulate proof and truthful evidence of the Oneness of the Creator of all beings, this being is a decisive proof and clear evidence of the resurrection of the dead and eternal happiness. Such as he is the cause for gaining eternal happiness through his guidance, so, too, through his prayers and supplications, he is the cause of its existence, the means of its creation.

    See! In such a ‘supreme prayer’ (salat) is this being making his petition (du‘a) that it is as if the whole Arabian peninsula, even the whole earth performs the prayer through his sublime presence and makes their petitions. Amid so vast a congregation is he entreating that it is as if all the illustrious people of perfection from the time of Adam until our age and until the end of time, are following him and saying Amen to his supplications. On behalf of so universal a need is he imploring that, not only the inhabitants of the earth, but also those of the heavens, and all beings, join in his prayer, declaring, ‘Yes, O Master! Grant that to us! We too desire it!’ He supplicates so needily, so sorrowfully, in such a loving, longing, and en-treating fashion that he brings the whole universe to tears, making all of it to join in his prayer.

    And see! He prays for such a goal and purpose that it elevates man and the world, even all the creation from the lowest of the low, from humiliation, worthlessness, and uselessness to the highest of the high, that is to having value, permanence and sublime duties. In a manner so elevated and help-seeking, so sweet and mercy-imploring does he make his supplication and present his petition that it is as if he made all beings and the heavens and the Divine Throne of Grace hear, and bringing them to ecstasy, he causes them to exclaim, Amen, O God, Amen! He begs his needs from so Powerful a Being, All-Hearing and All-Generous, from so All-Knowing a Being, All-Seeing and All-Merciful, that He sees the most secret need of the most hidden living being, and hears its entreaties, accepts them, and has mercy on that being. He provides its need, even though this being asks for it through the tongue of its particular disposition, and He gives it in so wise, seeing, and compassionate a form that it leaves no doubt that this provision and arrangement pertains only to an All-Hearing and All-Seeing One, One Most Generous and Most Merciful.

    What does he want, this pride of mankind, this unique being and glory of all beings, who, standing on the earth with all the eminent personalities of mankind behind him, and with hands up-raised, is praying so sincerely? Listen! He is seeking eternal happiness. He is praying for eternal life, and to meet with God. He wants Paradise. He wants all these through all the Sacred Divine Names, which display their beauty and operations in the mirrors of beings. Even, were it not for the innumerable causes such as Mercy, Grace, Wisdom, and Justice, for the fulfillment of that request, a single one of that being’s prayers would have sufficed for the building of Paradise, which is as easy for Divine Power to do as the creation of spring. Just as his Messengership was the cause for the opening of this place of trial, so, too, his worship and servitude to God is the cause for the opening of the next world. I wonder how the perfect order observed in the universe, which causes the wise and reflective to say, ‘It is not possible for there to be a new universe more original and wonderful than the existing one’, as well as the flawless beauty of art contained in His Mercy, and the matchless beauty of His Mastership, can be at all consonant with ugliness, mercilessness and disorder, or how He could refuse the most important and most necessary desires, while satisfying the most insignificant wishes. God forbid! A hundred thousand times, God forbid!

    So, my imaginary friend, that is enough for the time being, we must now return. For even we stayed for a hundred years in that age in that peninsula, we would not be able to comprehend fully even a hundredth part of that being’s marvelous and remarkable acts, and still we would never tire of observing him.

    Now, come! We shall look at each century during our return journey. See, how each has bloomed fully through the flow of light it has received from that Sun of Guidance, and yielded thousands of illustrious fruits like Abu Hanife, Shafi‘i, Bayazid al-Bistami, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Shah Naqshband, Imam Ghazali, and Imam Rabbani.

    Postponing the details of our observations to some later moment, we should invoke blessings on that worker of miracles and bringer of guidance, which refer to some of his certain miracles:

    Upon him who was sent the Wise Criterion of Truth (i.e., the Qur’an) by the All-Compassionate and All-Merciful One, from the Mighty Throne–our master Muhammad–be peace and blessings thousands and thousands of times, to the number of the good deeds of his community; upon him whose Messengership was foretold by the To-rah, the Gospels and the Psalms, whose Prophethood was predicted by wondrous signs that appeared prior to his Prophethood, by the voices of jinn, saints of mankind, and soothsayers, and at whose gesture the moon split–our master Muhammad–be peace and blessings thousands and thousands of times, to the number of the breaths of his community; upon him at whose beckoning came the trees, by whose prayer rain fell swiftly, whom the cloud shaded from the heat, with a dish of whose food hundreds of men were satisfied, from whose fingers water three times flowed out like the Spring of Kawthar, and to whom God made speak the lizard, the gazelle, the wolf, the camel, the mountain, the rock, the pole, and the clod of earth, the one who made the Ascension (Mi’raj) and ‘whose eye did not waver’–our master and intercessor Muhammad–upon him be peace and blessings thousands and thousands of times, to the number of the letters (of the Qur’an) formed in the words that are represented with the permission of the All-Compassionate in the mirrors of the airwaves at the reciting of all the words of the Qur’an by all reciters from the beginning of revelation until the end of time. Forgive us and have mercy upon us, O God, for the sake of each of those blessings. Amen.
  • The Wise Qur’an, which is the treasury of miracles and itself a supreme miracle, proves the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, together with the Oneness of God so decisively that it leaves no need for further proof. We will now give its definition and refer to one or two flashes of its miraculousness which have been made an object of criticism.

    The Wise Qur’an, which makes our Master known to us, is an eternal translator of the great Book of the Universe; the discloser of the treasures of the Divine Names hidden in the pages of the earth and the heavens; the key to the truths which lie beneath the lines of events; the treasury of the favors of the All-Compassionate and the eternal addresses coming forth from the world of the Unseen beyond the veil of this visible world; the sun of the spiritual and intellectual world of Islam and its foundation and plan, and the map of the worlds of the Here-after; the expounder, the lucid interpreter, articulate proof and clear translator of the Divine Essence, attributes and acts; the educator and trainer of the world of humanity and its guide, leader, and true wisdom: it is both a book of wisdom and law, and a book of prayer and worship, and a book of command and summons, and a book of invocation and knowledge of God–it is a book containing books for all the spiritual needs of mankind, and it is like a sacred library offering books from which all the saints and the eminently truthful, and all the purified and discerning scholars of different temperament have derived their ways peculiar to each.

    Consider the flash of miraculousness in its reiterations, which are imagined to be a fault: since the Qur’an is both a book of invocation and prayer and a book of summons, reiteration is desirable, and even most necessary and a beautiful instance of eloquence, contrary to what the mistaken suppose. For the invocation of God requires reiteration to impress and enlighten the hearts. Prayer, through repetition, itself acquires strength and gives strength to, and becomes ingrained in, hearts. Commands and summons need restatement to be con-firmed and enforced. Moreover, everyone is not capable of reading the whole of the Qur’an any time he wants, but usually is able to read one sura (chapter). For this reason, the most important purposes of the Qur’an are reiterated in most of the longer suras, each of which thereby being like a small Qur’an. Certain of its purposes and themes like Divine Unity, the resurrection of the dead, and the story of Moses are repeated so that no one should be deprived of the benefits thereof. Furthermore, as bodily tastes and needs vary, so do spiritual tastes and needs. Man is in need of some at every breath; as the body needs air, the spirit needs the particle Hu-Huwa (He-God). Of some he is in need every hour, like Bismillah (In the Name of God). And so on. The reiteration of verses therefore arises from the recurrence of needs. The Qur’an reiterates in order to point out those needs, make them deeply felt, and to awaken man to their satisfaction.

    Also, the Qur’an is a founder: it is the basis of a manifest religion, and the foundation of the world of Islam. It came to change the social life of mankind and to answer the recurring questions of different social classes. Repetition is therefore necessary for a founder to af-firm, and reiteration in order to emphasize. A new establishment requires confirmation and strengthening, and therefore repetition.

    Again, the Qur’an speaks of such important matters and subtle truths that reiteration is necessary in different contexts in order to impress them on people’s minds and hearts in their different aspects. In any case, the repetitions are merely apparent. In reality, each word has manifold meanings, numerous benefits, and many aspects and levels. In each place the words or verses occur in a different way, in a different context, for a different meaning, purpose and benefit.

    The Qur’an mentions certain cosmological matters in a concise, allusive way. This too cannot be an object of criticism, and is not a fault, as some atheists imagine; rather it is another flash of its miraculousness, for the Qur’an aims for the guidance of man.

    Question
    Why does the Wise Qur’an not speak of beings in the same way as science and material-istic or naturalistic philosophy? It mentions some matters very briefly, and some others it seems to speak of in a simple and superficial way that is easy for the common people to understand and does not wary their minds.

    Answer: Scientism and materialistic philosophy have strayed from the path of truth. As for the Qur’an, it is not a book of science that it should speak of the cosmological matters elaborately: its purpose in mentioning certain facts of creation is rather to make known the Divine Essence, Attributes and Names, by explaining the meaning of the Book of the Universe, to make known its Creator. Therefore, it considers the creation not for its own sake, but for the sake of knowledge of its Creator. In addition, science, besides considering the creation only for its own sake, addresses particularly those specialized in it. The Qur’an, however, addresses the whole of mankind, and since it uses creation as evidence and proof to guide mankind, and the majority of mankind are common people, the evidence should be manifest and obvious in order to be understood by the common people easily, and guidance requires that things of little importance should be touched on only and the subtle points be made understandable by means of parables. In order not to mislead people into errors, it should not change things which in their view are obvious in a way which will be of no use or may even be harmful to them.

    For example, the Qur’an speaks of the sun as a moving lamp because it does not mention the sun for its own sake, but because the sun is the ‘mainstay’ of the order and the center of the system in the universe, and order and system are two means of obtaining the knowledge of the Creator. When the Qur’an says, And the sun runs its course, it suggests the well-ordered disposition of Divine Power in the revolutions of winter and summer, and day and night, and therefore implies the majesty of the Maker. Thus, whatever the reality of this ‘running’ is, it does not harm the intended meaning, which is the observed order woven into the structure of the universe.

    The Qur’an also says: And He made the sun as a lamp. By depicting the sun as ‘a lamp’, the Qur’an calls to mind that the world is like a palace, the contents of which are the decorations, provisions and other necessities prepared for man and for other living creatures, with the sun like a lamp to illuminate it, and therefore it implies the mercy and bounty of the Creator.

    Now consider how science and materialistic philosophy deal with the sun: The sun is an enormous mass of burning gases. It causes the planets which have been flung off from it to revolve around it. It is of such and such size, and it is of such and such qualities. It gives to the spirit no perfection of knowledge apart from a terrible dread and bewilderment. It does not approach the matter as the Qur’an does. From this comparison, you can judge the value of the merely scientific and philosophical way of thinking, the former being outwardly splendid but inwardly hollow. So do not be taken in by the outward worth of scientific descriptions and so become disrespectful towards the most miraculous style of the Qur’an!

O God! Make of the Qur’an a cure from all sickness for us; a companion to us in life and after death; a friend in the world, a confidant in the grave, an intercessor on the Day of Judgment, a light on the (Bridge of) Sirat, a veil and a screen from Hellfire, a friend in Paradise, and a guide and a leader to all good deeds, by Your grace, munificence, beneficence, and mercy, O Most Generous of the generous and Most Merciful of the merciful! Amen.

O God! Bestow blessings and peace on him to whom You sent the Wise Qur’an, the Criterion of Truth and Falsehood, and on all members of his family and all of his companions! Amen!

 

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