MUHAMMAD, and as time may permit, only a few salient features may be attempted.
In dealing with his teachings it may well be summarized in the historic answer which his wife Ayesha gave in response to a question about the morals and character of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace. She said:
His morals and character are an embodiment of the Holy Qur'an.
Thus in dealing with the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, we necessarily speak on the Teachings of the Holy Qur'an, since to him was revealed the Holy Qur'an by God Almighty thus his teachings are contained in the very Word of God and not of his manufacture.
If one were to discuss the teachings contained in the Holy Qur'an then it would require hours on end and still one would not be able to exhaust all the beautiful teachings which it holds out for humanity. It is therefore advised, that in order to be able to understand the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace. Then one should study the Holy Qur'an in order to be able to gain an insight into his teachings. We pray that the audience may explore the Holy Qur'an and thus derive the benefit of the knowledge of the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and enshrine them in their lives.
2. First Divine Revelation and Bible Confirming Prophet of Islam appearing
The Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, received his first divine revelation in the year 610 C.E. and it continued up till a few days before his death. Thus the Holy Quran was revealed piece-meal to the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, during those years, sometimes after the interval of months and sometimes in great rapidity; sometimes in short sentences and sometimes in long chapters; sometimes with a new law and sometimes confirming an existing law; sometimes repealing an impractical custom and sometimes giving a new direction. This is in conformity with a prophecy in the Bible which runs as follows:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts, for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little and there a little: for with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to his people. (Isaiah 28:9-11)
It may be noted that in this prophecy it is mentioned that the people will be spoken to in another tongue and how true was this fulfilled with the revelation of the Holy Qur'an in the Arabic language, to an Arab in the land of Paran where the greatest manifestation of the Lord was scheduled to occur. (Deut. 33:2 & Habakkuk 3:3). It may here be pointed out that Ishmael, the son of Abraham, who is the forefather of our Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, dwelt in Paran vide Gen. 21:21 and the descendants of Ishmael lived in the Arabian Peninsula and the neighboring territories as is evident from Gen. 25:12-18 and Isaiah 21 :1 3-1 7.
The Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, was a Law-giver and he was the object of the prophecy of Moses as mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:18. The greatest teaching which he gave forth to the world is that there is but one God Who has no partner, Who was no begotten and Who neither begets. A short chapter in the Holy Qur'an is devoted to this theme. It runs as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
Say, "He is Allah, the One: Allah, the Independent and besought of all. He begets not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him" (112:1-4)
3.Wrong concept of Mohammedans and Mohammedanism
It has been erroneously stated by others that the followers of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, are known as Mohammedans and their religion is Mohammedanism. This is a totally wrong statement. We, the followers of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, are Muslims and the name of our religion is Islam.
These names were given by God Almighty vide the Holy Qur'an 22:79 and 5:4 in conformity with Isaiah 62:2 which says in part:
And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
The declaration of faith of a Muslim is such, that it cannot lend itself to associate the Holy Prophet on whom be Peace in partnership with God. The declaration runs as follows:
"There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger".
4. Holy Quran The Unlimited Knowledge and Wisdom
The teaching of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, as contained in the Holy Qur'an, is a treasure-house of unlimited knowledge and wisdom in every field of endeavor. By following the teachings contained in it and by applying them for the benefit and welfare of humanity tremendous progress is the virtual outcome.
By virtue of the teachings contained in the Holy Qur'an, the Muslims scaled the heights of scientific achievement and progress. A famous prayer taught in the Holy Qur'an is:
O my Lord increase me in knowledge. (20: 115)﴿
The seeking of knowledge was enhanced by the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, who enjoined his followers to seek it even if they have to travel to China in quest of it.
The Holy Qur'an has placed great emphasis on the acquisition of the mastery of nature, through scientific knowledge as much as on the creation of knowledge. It says:
﴾Allah it is Who has subjected the sea to you that ships may sail thereon by His command, and that you seek of His bounty, and that you may be grateful. And he has subjected to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; all this is from Him, in that surely there are signs for a people who reflect. (45:1 3-14)﴿
In respect to technology, the example of David is set forth as
And We made iron soft for him, Saying. "Make thou full-length coats of mail, and make the rings of a proper measure. (34:11-12)
Precision is here emphasized and it is a fact that the Muslims have developed many sciences with the utmost of precision.
Also emphasized in the Holy Qur'an are the harnessing of wind power (34:13), modern means of transportation to the degree of going beyond the confines of the heavens and the earth (55:34), astronomical discoveries of great magnitude (81:12), harnessing of water-power (55:20-21), etc.
When scientists shall discover that there are worlds other than our own, then the truth of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, shall become more manifest. It was revealed to him by God Almighty that Allah is:
"Lord of all the worlds"(1:2).
The manifestation of this truth is slowly being unraveled by science and the day seems not far off when the world will be startled with the discovery and then mankind will fully realize the truth of the revelation which was granted to the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace.
5. Prophet Mohammad Taught the complete Behaviour to Humanity
There are so many aspects in which one can dilate about the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, but time being a determining factor, we shall look briefly into a few.
5.1 Islamic Practice
Great emphasis has been placed by him on the performance of prayers. In this regard, he was commanded by God to institute the five daily prayers which every good Muslim performs. Next to prayers comes a tax known as Zakaat which is levied for the uplift of the poorer members of the society and for community affairs.
After this is Fasting for a whole lunar month and then comes Pilgrimage to Mecca which may be performed at least once in a lifetime by the able-bodied. These four along with the Declaration of Faith forms the five pillars of the religion of Islam.
5.2 Human Behaviour
These apart, there are general teachings which regulate the conduct of a Muslim"s behavior in every walk of life. A complete social order is presented. Ways and means are entrenched for spiritual advancement. Dietary laws are instituted. In short, every conceivable aspect of human needs has been taken care of. Such is the comprehensiveness of the teachings which was meant for all times to come. None of the teachings which were given by the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, can ever be considered to be unsuitable for any age or time.
5.3 Against the Consumption of Intoxicants
One of the greatest ills humanity is facing is the scourge of consumption of intoxicants. Intoxicating liquors are responsible for many of the tragedies which we witness daily on our streets and highways. Many innocent lives were snuffed out due to reckless driving under the influence of alcohol. Millions of dollars are lost due to those accidents caused by impaired driving. Many homes have been shattered due to excessive use of alcohol and families are torn apart for the same reason. Only as recently as Dec. 31, 1987 there was an interesting article in The Toronto Star about the ill-effects of the aftermath of alcohol consumption based on a News-letter of the University of Toronto , Faculty of Medicine.
The study shows that the hang over is a mini-version of alcohol withdrawal syndrome which results in raised blood pressure, headaches, tremors, sweating, fatigue, nausea, parched mouth, blood-shot eyes, jumpiness and difficulty in thinking clearly.
It continues: That throbbing headache occurs because blood vessels in the head are expanded - alcohol widens blood vessels - and each heart beat sends more blood pulsing through the brain and its covering membranes. Your eyes object to light and your ears flinch from noise because nerves are overactive, as they rebound from the dampening effect of alcohol. Your eyes can"t fix on a target and twitch because alcohol has affected the muscles and nerves that control eye movements. The raging thirst is due to a disturbance of body fluid balance. To get rid of alcohol your body shifts some water out of the blood into the tissues and the kidneys. You didn"t sleep restfully because alcohol alters the amount of the sleep stage called REM (rapid eye movement) during which you dream and wake up tired and irritable.
The article goes on to state that brain function may be diminished for up to a day after a drinking session and that researchers have found high contents of methanol, histamine and sulfites in alcoholic drinks. In the end of article gives a very sound advice.
It says: And try to remember next time that an ounce of prevention is better than a pounding headache. (The Toronto Star Thursday December 31, 1987, page 1)
There are many more studies being done about the evils of alcohol, yet in spite of all of these, the consumption of alcohol goes on unabated and is encouraged. Ask yourself this question and search your conscience for the answer - If the consumption of alcohol is right. then why is it that if one has alcohol reading at a certain level and is caught driving a motor vehicle a charge is laid against such a one by the police? And why is it that when one is under the influence of alcohol one behaves in a manner which would not ordinarily be done by that person?
The teaching of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, has with one stroke totally prohibited intoxicants. (Holy Qur'an, 2:220; 5:9l - 92).
As with the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11:7 & 8, Deuteronomy 14:8) so too the Law which was granted to the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, has prohibited the consumption of the flesh of swine (Holy Qur'an 2:174; 5:4; 6:146; 16:116)
5.4 Concept of Halal Food in Islam
The effects produced by food have a profound impact on the minds of human beings as experience has shown, food, therefore plays an important role in the formation of our character, our physical state is closely connected to our moral and spiritual well-being, this being the case, it is equally important that we consume such food which will have a desirable influence in moulding our moral and spiritual conditions and which will have no ill-effects on our physical bodies.
It is rather curious that both the Bible and the Holy Qur'an prohibit the eating of the flesh of swine and this must be of very great significance. It is alarming to note that the flesh of swine has been responsible for the transmission of many diseases to human beings. In spite of the advances made in the fields of dehydration and preservation, there is evidence that suggests that a number of diseases are directly transmitted through the flesh of swine.
Apart from the flesh of swine, Muslims are prohibited to consume blood, any animal which dies of itself, is strangled, beaten fell or gored to death. Also in the list of prohibition is that on which the name of any other than Allah has been invoked and that which has been slaughtered on an altar (Holy Qur'an 2: 174; 5:4; 16: 116,146). On the other hand a Muslim is permitted to partake only of those legal meats on which the name of Allah has been invoked. (6:122). A Muslim is also allowed to eat those meats, lawful of course, which have been caught by animals and birds that have been specially trained for that purpose, but before eating those meats the name of Allah must be pronounced over it. (5:5)
5.5 Woman Status in Islam
Another teaching of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, we would like to deal with, though in a very brief manner, is the role and status of women in Islam. The Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, and Islam have been the target of many an unfounded criticism in this respect. It was the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, who has raised the status of woman after she was abased in all the previous cultures. Today, all the rights which women in societies other than Islam enjoy are a direct result of their struggle which were grudgingly allowed them. On the contrary, all those rights were granted her more than fourteen hundred years ago by Islam.
Islam places both men and women in spiritual equality (Holy Qur'an 3:196; 33:36; 57:13) and has granted her the right of inheritance (4:8, 12, 13 & 177). In marriage, the woman receives a dowry from the husband as her personal property (4:5 & 25) and she cannot be forced into or kept in marriage against her will. (4:20). A woman has the right to seek the annulment of her marriage (2:228). A woman has been invested the right of ownership of property by virtue of her own initiative (4: 33), thus she can conduct any business for her welfare.
A very beautiful aspect of a Muslim woman is that she, in spite of her wealth which she may acquire, is not expected to spend for the welfare and well-being of her family. This responsibility is vested in her husband (4:35), although she may condescend to help in sharing the responsibility (4:5; & 25).
Lastly in this brief exposition we will say that according to Islam, the relationship between a husband and wife is a bounty from Allah, through love, tenderness and comfort (7:190; 16:73; 30:32).
5.6 Tolerence In Islam And Discussion on "Islam is spread by Sword"
We will end this discussion with one last aspect of the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace. This aspect is the unique tolerance which is embedded in his message. We read in the Holy Qur'an:
﴾There should be no compulsion in religion. Normal behavior stands out clearly from error (2:256) ﴿
Ironically enough, the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, the Muslims and the teachings of Islam have been systematically accused, that the spread of the faith has been achieved through force with the sword. This accusation is totally false and without any foundation. The history of Islam belies such a charge. The verse quoted before from the Holy Qur'an does not give any right to anyone to force any belief on any other individual or group which may be resentful or distasteful to the other party. This law is of general application and concerns all religions. Every Muslim reveres every word of the Holy Qur'an and it is highly impossible that they would use force to promulgate their religion. However, I will not take up the gauntlet to argue the issue any further, since whatever I may say, could be deemed to be partial. I will assign this duty to a very well respected author who is not a Muslim but who is renowned as a most penetrating historian.
6. View Of the Jew Author on Spread of Islam
This author has written two historical books of the Jewish people and himself is a Jew.
The books he has written are : The indestructible Jews and Jews, God and History. His name is Max Dimont.
In opening the fifth chapter and entitling it Mohammed, Allah, and Jehovah of his epoch making book Jews, God and History, he states as an introduction the following:
The improbable but true tale of a camel driver"s establishment of a world empire in the name of Allah, where in the Jews rose to their golden age of creativity, only to be plunged into a dark age with the eclipse of the crescent and the ascent of the cross.
He went on to assert in the same chapter:
The Span of the Jewish golden age in the Mohammedan civilization corresponded to the life span of the Islamic Empire. When the latter broke up, the Jewish golden age broke up.. We can only note in passing with brevity that does great injustice to its quixotic complexity.
He ended that section with the following statement:
By 1500 the world's most incredible empire - tolerant and enlightened, luxuriant and sybaritic, full of mathematicians and poets, warriors and sycophants - had come to an end.
Before ending the chapter, he observed:
Thus the Jewish saga in the Islamic Empire ends. It was conceived by fate, supported in splendor, nourished by intellect, and buried by fate. By the fifteenth century, Jewish life in the East emptied into Western Europe at a juncture of Jewish history when the roads for the Jews led to the ghetto. But before we leave the Mohammedan stage of Jewish history... it is only fitting that tribute be paid the magnificent Arabic people who wrought a dazzling and enlightened civilization out of the desert.
Though the Mohammedan Empire is dead, the human element which shaped its grandeur is still living. The Arabic culture was not built on the plunder of other countries and the brains of other men. It sprang from deep wells of creativity within the people themselves. For seven hundred years Arab and Jew lived side by side in peace and with mutual respect.
He ended the chapter by rightly summarizing the cause of strife and tension. He writes:
Astute statesmanship can relax the present Israeli-Arab tensions, because they are not caused by deep-rooted racial and religious antagonisms but by temporary political expediencies. History has shown that Jew and Arab can live together without strife and with mutual profit.
This is the tolerance which Islam expounds and which was practiced in the expansion of the faith. No force was used and every citizen of the Islamic State enjoyed the same freedom of religion, irrespective of their religious attachment. This, therefore, in brief, is the answer to all the false accusations which were and are still being leveled by those whose sole intentions are to create mischief and willful distortion of the truth. Much more could have been said about the unique tolerance of Islam, but consideration of time stand in the way.
I will now end this discussion with this last note about the life of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace. Of all religious teachers and personalities, the life of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, is strikingly different, in that it is on record every minute details from before his birth right up to his death about his life. His life furnishes historians with an open book to delve upon and there are no gaps or room for speculation and mysterious evaluations.
Whatever has been said in no way constitutes a complete and full appreciation of the very many sided LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD. One can go on and on citing many beautiful episodes in the life of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, and so could it be done in respect to his teachings, but again, time is a determining factor. Suffice it, therefore for this presentation.