The right of “Freedom of Speech” has been much been highlighted in the media recently. So, I too have brought ink to paper to exercise this right given to me not by today’s democratic nations, but by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), 1400 years ago. Yet it is important to remember that freedom of speech, tolerance and respect go hand in hand. As it is a general consensus that mocking, degrading or insulting others, and then excusing it in the name of freedom of speech devalues a civilised society.
Without a doubt, democracy, racial equality, social justice, human rights are all Islamic concepts. However, the western world sees Islam as the opposite. This could easily be corrected by the media highlighting eminent scholars like Shaykh ul Islam Professor Tahir ul Qadri. But, whenever there is an Islamic question to be answered, we find on our screens representatives of extremist groups further complicating matters. Consequently fuelling the aversion to Islam, thus creating Islamaphobia.
The reality of Islam is that it promotes justice and preserves human rights. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was the greatest humanitarian that ever walked on earth. In fact “he must be called the saviour of humanity…” George Bernard Shaw insists that “if a man like Muhammad were to assume dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness.” In support of this, a great historian, Lamartine argues that “as regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?” For he does lead the list of the world’s most influential persons.
Thus, we learn that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have found the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) life a continuous source of inspiration. No one’s life has been scrutinised as much as the Holy Prophet’s (S.A.W.) life. Nevertheless, there is not one detail which could prove a flaw in his character. Even the non Muslims of Mecca knew him as “the Truthful” (Al Sadiq) and “the Faithful” (Al Amin).
In fact, each aspect of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) life exemplifies his perfection and is invaluable for those who seek a model of guidance because it is specifically designed by Allah (S.W.T.) for this purpose. All of the Holy Prophet’s (S.A.W.) attributes, virtues and qualities have been showered on him as gifts from The Creator. Allah (S.W.T.) has carved the physical features, the style of living and the conduct of His Messenger (S.A.W.) in such a perfect manner that each one of his qualities serves as an argument for the glory and grandeur of The Creator.
Although some examples from The Holy Prophet’s (S.A.W.) life will be mentioned it is essential that his life be studied properly because it is the focus of faith. Recognition of Messengership is recognition of the divine presence. According to his wife Umm-ul Mu’mineen Hadhrat `A’ishah (R.A), “He was a personification of the Qur’an.” Since the Prophet (S.A.W.) is the embodiment of all the virtues that have been enunciated by the Holy Qur’an, a true understanding of the attributes of the Prophet (S.A.W.) is in fact a true understanding of Allah’s attributes.
Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and other authentic compilations of the Holy Prophet’s (S.A.W.) traditions or Hadith are brimming with examples to support my argument. So much so that it makes it difficult to pick and quote a few in order to keep this article concise!
His Lord, Allah (S.W.T.), said of him in the Holy Qur’an: “And truly you are immense in character”; and he said of himself; “I have been sent only to perfect nobility of character.”
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was extremely generous and sociable himself. He encouraged others to be likewise. A man asked the Prophet (S.A.W.), “Which act in Islam is the best?” He replied, “To feed (the poor and needy) and greet those who you know and those who you do not.” Similarly, he forbid jealousy and mutual estrangement. Anas bin Malik (R.A.) narrates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Do not hate one another, and do not be jealous of one another; and do not desert (cut your relation with) each other, and O Allah’s worshippers! Be brothers. Lo! It is not permissible for any Muslim to desert (not talk to) his brother (Muslim) for more than three days.”
Adding to his pearls of wisdom the Prophet (S.A.W.) warned us to be cautious from being angry. It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) that Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.”
Furthermore, the Prophet (S.A.W.) once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure. One who returns love for hatred.” The Prophet made it clear that one who would only return love for love was on a lower ethical plane. We should never think that we should treat people well only if they treat us well. We should, rather, be accustomed to being good to those who are not good to us and to not wronging those who harm us.
According to a tradition recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim, when the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his Companions asked him to curse them. At this the Prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” His opponents continued to treat him and his Companions unjustly and cruelly, but he always prayed for them. The Prophet (S.A.W.) molded his own life without giving trouble to anybody. To understand this fully we must look to the Qur’an. Allah states “And we have sent you (O Muhammad S.A.W.) not but as a mercy for the alamin (all that exists).”  This refers to Muslims, non Muslims, animals plants etc. are all encompassed by the Prophet‘s mercy. It is no surprise then that the date palm tree which the Prophet (S.A.W.) used to lean on cried upon separation from him when the pulpit was built.
The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) lived his life without giving trouble to anyone. Hence one of the lessons he taught was that we should live among others like flowers, and not like thorns. The Jews and the Muslims lived side by side in peace in Madinah. The Prophet (S.A.W.) allowed them to practice their religion freely. In addition to this he warned his followers that if anyone murdered or mistreated a non Muslim in any other way he would not even be able to smell the aroma of Paradise, and the Prophet himself, on Judgement Day would speak in the non Muslim’s defence. He always desired peace with the Christians, Jews and idolaters, and only unsheathed his sword when he was forced to do so to defend Islam and to repel aggression.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) was born to establish peace and unity in the world. Without a doubt “the extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam.” In his Last Sermon, The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), removed all forms of inequalities creating a bond of universal brotherhood. He said, “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non – Arab, and for a non – Arab over an Arab, or for white over the black, or for the black over the white, except in piety. Verily the noblest among you is he who is the most pious.”
In his good manners, gentleness and forbearance he has left a perpetual and living example of a perfect behaviour for the entire human race. With his perfect emotional balance, he did not shun the legitimate pleasures of this world. He was wonderful. A perfect man. Consequently, he was loved more deeply and reverentially than any other, by those that were with him and by all subsequent generations of Muslims.
It is narrated by Abdullah bin Hisham (R.A.): “We were with the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and he was holding the hand of Umar bin al Khattab. Umar said to him “O Allah’s Messenger! You are dearer to me than everything except my ownself.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “No, by Him in whose hand my soul is you will not have complete faith till I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then Umar said to him, “However, now by Allah you are dearer to me than my ownself.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Now, o Umar (now you are a believer)”.
Whenever we study the various historical personalities of history, we find them to be distinguished in a specific field. However the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) achievements are not limited to one aspect of life, but cover the whole field of human conditions. His personality possesses military, political, administrative, moral, human, social and cultural aspects. Every part of his life is well balanced and on the whole is the model of perfection.
Yet there are still many who have wrong perceptions of the Prophet. The Qur’an was the main miracle which was given to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) to prove that he was a true Prophet. Anyone who reads it with an open mind will become a Muslim if they are sincere in their search for truth.
Furthermore, to believe that he propagated Islam by sword is a clear mistake. It was not through the sword that Islam won a place in the hearts of millions. It was instead, the exalted personality of the Prophet (S.A.W.) that inspired converts. Any political system or ideology that is spread through the act of force is soon toppled as we have seen with the downfall of communism. Known as the greatest peacemaker the Prophet (S.A.W.) undoubtedly followed Allah’s Qur’anic injunction that there should be no compulsion in religion (2:256).
Compared with other religions, Islam is pure, liberal and rational. It appeals to every age. Unlike the previous Prophets sent by Allah (S.W.T) sent to guide mankind, the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) message is not restricted to a certain place, people or time. Allah states “And we have sent you (O Muhammad S.A.W.) not but as a mercy for the alamin (all that exists).”  Aalamin infers everything create from the beginning of time till the end.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) Prophethood is all encompassing. That is why even today it is the fastest growing religion according to the western media. Even on the day of judgement he will rule through the power of intercession granted to him by Allah. All the needy will beseech and implore him and he will act as the intercessor for all nations and communities.
In order to be beneficiaries of these rahmats (blessings) we need to love him and follow the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)’s example in all aspects of life. Once again it is emphasized that to appreciate the Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) perfection it is essential to study his life.
May Allah bless the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and his family and his companions and all who follow them with sincerity until the last day (Ameen).
 George Bernard Shaw, The Genuine Islam. Singapore, Vol.1, No 8, 1936.
 Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie, Paris, 1854, Vol. II, p.276-277.
 Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart publishing Company Inc, 1978, p.33.
 Qur’an 68:4
 Sahih Al Bukhari (Translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan) Vol.8. P.143 Hadith no. 6236.
 Ibid. P.60. Hadith no. 6065.
 Ibid. P.83. Hadith no. 6114.
 Qur’an 21:107
 Ibid. Vol.4. P.475. Hadith no. 3584
 Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.3. P.170 Hadith no.3052. Also Bukhari. Vol.3. Hadith no. 2995.
 A.J. Toynbee, Civilisation On Trial, New York, 1948 P.205.
 bd volume 8 Hadith number 628.
 Qur’an 21:107
 Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 9: Hadith No. 7439.