Islam in numbers is the second biggest religion in the world, Mohammed being its founder can be considered as a leader with the biggest following in the world.
Mohammed is the backbone of the religion that followed him and is considered as the final messenger of God by the Muslims, his teachings in the form of the Quran and Sunna are the guiding principles of a Muslim way of living. His effectiveness as a leader is also due to the fact that his teachings were not just spiritual but also regarded the issues of life in this world. Background Mohammed’s life is divided into two phases his life in Mecca and his life in Medina.He was born to a widow Amna in the renowned family of Banu-Hashim in the Arabian Peninsula and spent most of his childhood first staying with his grandfather and then his uncle who proved to be his guardian and caretaker.
He is considered to be a reformer in the region as before him the Arabs were sunk into the darkness of illiteracy where women were subjected to torture and young girls were buried alive as soon as they were born, in such a society he spoke for the right of women to be educated and be given equal importance as men, he abolished slavery which was a tradition followed for the longest time.His personality inspired the cold hearted Arabs who called him ‘Sadiq’ (honest) and ‘Amin’ (the trustworthy) and eventually became his followers. Mohammed was born and raised in Mecca, and this is where he received his first revelation when he was meditating in the cave of ‘Hira’. The message to belief in one God was unacceptable to the Meccans and they began to create problems in his life, these also includes the period when he and his followers were boycotted by the entire community and also attempts on his life.This all led to the second phase of his life when had to migrate to Medina. Upon arrival in Medina Mohammed began to organize his followers and the basis of an Islamic society was laid down.
This society had its laws and also politics wither local or even foreign, during his stay he took part in a number of battles and truces and Islam began to grow. In his last sermon at the holy event of ‘Hajj’ he asked his followers not to forget his teaching and to take care of the poor and needy, he gave them the message of love, equality and justice for all.Identification as a Prophet At an early age Mohammed started to accompany his uncle in caravans that went to different places for the purpose of trade. In one of his journeys when he was going to Syria a Christian monk ‘Bahira’ identified him as a Prophet of God and foresaw his career of Prophethood. It is said that a cloud was covering the sky above the caravan that Mohammed was a part of providing them shade from the blazing desert sun.This caught the attention of Bahira an he began inquiring as he knew that events as such only happens in the presence of a Prophet, he called the entire caravan upon dinner and identified Mohammed as the one who will be a prophet and messenger of God.
He also identified the ‘Seal of Prophethood’ which was below Mohammed’s shoulder who he said he had learned about from his books. (Spencer , 2006)This became the first major event in the history of Islam when the Prophet was identified by Bahira, besides this there were also events which are found in Muslim history but are mostly referred to as the miracles performed by Mohammed as a sign of his Prophethood. For example it is believed that when the Meccans kept denying the miracles performed by him and called them magic or illusion he split the moon into half to make them believe as it was generally believed that magic cannot be applied on the skies, after the splitting of moon he was identified by them as the prophet and began following him.Significance in context of times Mohammed is probably the most significant person in the recent times as Islam has become though negative but a focus of everyone, hence it is necessary to understand what the religion is actually all about, who taught it and how is it being portrayed by its followers at present.Mohammed as a person was a trustworthy and gentle, he taught reconciliation instead of confrontation, he taught equal treatment of all human beings regardless of gender or race, he taught honesty and fair dealing in every business, he gave his followers an entire code of life but his followers were not able to follow it instead they followed what they wished and presented their own interpretations of his teachings to justify their actions.
An easily found example is that Mohammed made it clear when he said ‘It is obligatory for all Muslim men and women to educate themselves’ that there is no distinction between a man and a woman when it comes to education and it is not just their right but an obligation on them to do so, yet we saw religious fanatics such as the Taliban and others who shut down girls schools and every means of women independence.The concept of ‘Jihad’ according to the teachings of Mohammed is not just killing anyone who has a conflicting opinion but in fact it is to fight in the name of Islam and that is also only in times of extreme need and that too is only allowed in self defense. The concept of Jihad was not just to fight and kill others but to fight the evil within, struggle against it and overcome it in order to be closest to God, but again the followers only took verses of the Quran that justified their measures and began killing innocent people and shamefully in the name of their religion which itself meant peace.Mohammed’s Islam needs to be revisited it needs to be interpreted considering the context of when the verse was revealed and what were the reasons behind it. Mohammed’s Islam teaches to take care of those in need, the concept of ‘Zakat’ is not just charity in fact it is not charity, it makes it obligatory for all Muslims to take a portion from their wealth and give it to those in need and that too as not a favor but as a duty to be fulfilled.
The Quran discusses more of forgiveness than conflict but this is ignored seems to be rather lost in the negative publicity Mohammed has gained due to his followers. (Peterson , 2007) The bloodshed that took place in all the battles was again in self defense but that was also in his life only, it was after his death that his followers brought Islam on the offense in the name of spreading Islam when Islam was meant to be spread through personalities and character, through good gestures and kindness.Revisiting the teachings of Mohammed is the need of time for both the Muslims to follow their religion and the Non-Muslims to better understand it; it is the only answer to what we like to call ‘Islamaphobia’. Mohammed and Violence Islam has never given permission for aggression in any circumstances; Islam in general is a peaceful religion. But there are arguments that Islam permits violence and Quran itself says that the ones who don’t worship Allah, but while making this argument we forget the basic principle in interpreting Quranic verses i.
. these verses shall never be interpreted in isolation that they are interconnected and if attempted to be taken isolation may present an entire different meaning. Yes, Islam does allow violence but in extreme situations and that to only in a situation of self defense and with conditions for every move but never allows aggression against the innocent. Quran also says that if the enemy offers peace than you should also offer peace, this shows that it preaches peace till the last limit.It is a fact that Mohammed was involved in number of battles but we need to consider the times when the battle took place, it does not mean that as soon as Mohammed gained power he engaged into violence and before he talked about peace when he was not so powerful, this is negated by the fact that Mohammed first signed the truce with the Meccans on their conditions but when they failed to abide by it then only the battle took place.We cannot deny the fact that violence is inevitable at times that is why wars happen it is realty of the world then why do we forget the fact while analyzing the Prophet and go on tagging him as violent and an aggressor.