How high is the power of his religion that even 1400 years after his death, some people try to tarnish his personality? The religion of Islam brought and spread by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is gaining more and more followers and lovers. This vast amount of conversion to Islam has negative consequences for the materialist and capitalist rulers in the world. By following Islam, people learn to stand for their rights and oppose the tyranny of oppressors. The rules of Islam question the rules made by the oppressor rulers in different societies.
Therefore, the increase in the number of people who embrace Islam and the Islamic lifestyle frightens those tyrant rulers, and they make plans to decay the status of Islam in different ways. One of the plans that they have been applying throughout the past decades was to introduce a violent personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). In this text, we will study the conduct of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and the representation of his manners and behaviors in the Quran to review his kind and merciful character better.
Sending messengers by Allah Almighty to people implies His deep care for them and His will to guide them toward prosperity. But His messengers were supposed to follow specific rulings in their invitation of people toward Him. Being kind and merciful to people is one of the characteristics that Allah Almighty ordered His messengers to observe.
When Allah was sending Prophet Moses and Aaron (PBUT) to Pharaoh, who claimed to be Allah, He told them that if they want their words to be heard, they should speak to him in a lenient manner: “Both of you go to Pharaoh, for he has indeed rebelled. Speak to him in a soft manner; maybe he will take admonition or fear.’” (20: 43-44)
Prophets were commanded to be patient with their people and never become angry at them. The only prophet mentioned in the Quran who became disappointed of his people and left them was Prophet Yunus (AS), who was punished by Allah for his impatience and disappointment: “And [remember] the Man of the Fish, when he left in a rage, thinking that We would not put him to hardship. Then he cried out in the darkness, ‘There is no god except You! You are immaculate! I have indeed been among the wrongdoers!’” (21: 87)
Therefore, when Allah Almighty’s criterion in choosing His messengers is mercifulness and kindness, how can He keep a violent prophet among His servants?
Like any other prophets, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had the characteristics of a chosen prophet. He was kind and merciful by the Mercy of his Lord as mentioned in the Quran: “It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have surely scattered from around you...” (3: 159)
But the kindness and mercy of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) throughout his call toward Allah (SWT) come to a point where Allah Almighty tells him to be easier oh himself: “You are liable to imperil your life [out of distress] that they will not have faith.” (26: 3)
When Allah Almighty sees the unfriendly behavior of people toward Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), He starts to point out and count Prophet’s kindly manners to people: “There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has a deep concern for you and is most kind and merciful to the faithful.” (9:128)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was not only merciful to the people in Arabia, but he was sent to be a caring for all human beings in all times: “We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations.” (21: 107)
All presentations of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the Quran are about his great kindness and his caring personality. Allah describes his manner and behavior as being the perfect example for humankind: “and indeed, you possess a great character.” (68: 4)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was so kind to people that even if they harmed him, he did not reply to them violently. It is narrated from Ibn Mas’oud, who said: I saw people hit the prophet and made his face full of blood, but while he was rubbing the blood off his face, he prayed, “O Lord! Please forgive my people as they are ignorant.”  In the early years of his prophethood, people kept harming the Prophet (PBUH&HP), but instead of cursing them, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) kept praying for their guidance.
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) never violated the heads of Quraish for their aggravation and torture and kept asking Allah Almighty to forgive them, until Allah Almighty by His knowledge of their persistence in remaining infidels sent him the following verse: “It is the same for them whether you plead for forgiveness for them, or do not plead for forgiveness for them: Allah will never forgive them. Indeed Allah does not guide the transgressing lot.” (63: 6)
Allah Almighty then described the characteristics of Muslims in a way that at the same time that they should not oppress anyone, they shouldn’t undergo any oppression, and defined the real Muslim society with the following manners:
“Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in worship], seeking Allah’s grace, and [His] pleasure...” (48: 20)
Like any other human being, despite his great and kind personality, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had to react in different manners with different people. Therefore, if he had any serious encounter with people, it was not because of his violent attitude, but because of the correct reaction that any sane and smart man should have in facing different people.
- Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9, P. 20.
Imam Hussain (AS) is one of the important figures in Islam whose brilliant and lofty character together with his inspiring movement has been praised by many famous characters of the world. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said that: “My admiration for the noble sacrifice of Imam Hussein (AS) as a martyr abounds, because he accepted death ..., but did not submit to unjust authorities. I learned from Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed.” . Antoine Bara, a thinker, scholar, Christian and Syrian who wrote a book titled, “Imam Hussein in Christian ideology,” said that: “I am a Christian but call on humanity to follow the holiness of Imam Hussein as he is the conscience of all religions.” . These quotes and others indicate that Imam Hussain (AS) is not an exclusive role model for Shi’a or Muslims, but belongs to the whole world. One might ask in what ways is Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising an inspiration for human beings. We try to explain that through the following lines.
Yazid’s reign was corrupted and illegitimate from the beginning. According to the peace treaty made between Imam Hassan (AS) and Mu’awiyah, the latter was forbidden to designate anyone as his successor after his death. But after the martyrdom of Imam Hassan (AS), Mu’awiyah broke the treaty. He appointed his son Yazid as his successor because he thought no one would be courageous enough to object to the decision of caliph. Hence, Yazid became caliph illegally after the death of Mu’awiyah . Besides, according to historical resources, Yazid had a corrupted immoral character. He dared to act against Islamic rulings openly and perform forbidden deeds (Haram) in Islam publicly .
Imam Hussain (AS) was observant and aware of Yazid’s acts and intention. So, he refrained from pledging allegiance to Yazid. Moreover, oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. had made life miserable for people . Imam Hussain (AS) believed that Yazid’s manner and governing style was obviously against Islamic teachings and would eventually alter and spoil Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah. Hence, he stood up against Yazid to prove that his reign was illegitimate and to unravel the truth. Therefore, he (AS) said that he would never take the oath of allegiance to Yazid, even if there would be nowhere safe on the earth for him to go . He never intended to take on the leadership and come to power, instead aimed at eliminating injustice and corruption.
One might wonder why Imam Hussain (AS) did not pledge allegiance to Yazid to calm down his hostility so that he would have more time to make plans and find more companions to defeat Yazid. The reason was that Yazid’s behavior and deeds were too far from true Islamic principles and moral values such that Imam (AS) could not ignore them. Moreover, he (AS) did not want to play a trick as it is denounced in Islam.
Imam (AS) had other possibilities to defeat Yazid and take over the leadership, but he (AS) refused to do so. Through his missionary in Kufa, Muslim ibn Aqil, Imam (AS) could kill Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad [i] before the battle of Karbala and before the enemy declared war against them. But, as a man who had stood up for justice, he did not act unfairly. Imam’s (AS) reaction was in the same manner as well; before the battle started when the enemy was fewer in number and easier to defeat, one of his (AS) companions recommended fighting them. He (AS) replied that he would rather defend if a war were imposed on him instead of initiating it. Moreover, when the enemy was impatient to start the battle, he (AS) did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them by revealing the truth .
These examples demonstrate that Imam (AS) did not want to reign at any price; the same was true for other Infallible Imams (AS). This is of the traits of true divine leaders; unlike oppressive unjust powers. They never take the lead, whatever the cost.
Up to now, we found out about two reasons that make Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising a worldwide inspiration. Firstly, one should be alert and sensitive to what happens around him\her. Then, to take the right action for the sake of justice and humanity. Secondly, even if one holds a noble intention, it does not mean that he\she is allowed to achieve that by any means; the end does not justify the means.
Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement has other lessons for human beings that we will discuss in the second part of this title.
[i] The governor of Kufa during the reigns of Yazid, who executed Aqil, sent troops to intercept Imam Hussain (AS) when he arrived near Kufa and was one of the leaders of the battle against Imam (AS) in Karbala.
On a cold winter day, I left the house for work while I really wanted to get back into bed. Cursing the heavy traffic, the crowded subway, and the noisy girls laughing loudly next to my ears, I finally arrived at my workplace, where my colleagues were talking about a thing called “Coronavirus.” At that moment, I never thought the issue might be so important. So, I ignored my colleagues and started to work.
A few days later, we heard about the lockdowns, the increase in the number of deaths caused by Covid-19, aka coronavirus. People were losing their dear ones, and they were afraid to participate in their burials and funerals. I could see with my own eyes the verses of the Holy Quran that say, “The day when a man will evade his brother, his mother and his father, his spouse and his sons, each of them will have a task to keep him preoccupied on that day.” (80: 34- 37)
We experienced days where everyone was worried about him/herself. Trying our best to buy and compile masks, soaps, and alcohol-based cleansers, we still thought that one of those Hollywood superpowers or the armies that save the world during the Armageddon would come and save the world. But, no one could do anything against these small viruses. That was where I could feel these verses of the Quran: “He had no party to help him, besides Allah, nor could he help himself. There, all authority belongs to Allah, the Real. He is best in rewarding, and best in requiting.” (18: 43-44)
Gradually, we stopped fighting the situation. We stopped panicking. We stayed home. Works and businesses were shut down. Schools and universities were closed. Visiting relatives and friends were forbidden. We were given some time for seclusion, some time to contemplate and come up with “what if” questions.
What if going to work and school and university are no more important? What if the isolation continues forever? What if the hospitals won’t let you in, even if you pay a significant amount of money? What if fame and wealth would no more be important?
Do we still care about what to wear in front of others or how to talk to present ourselves as high-class people?
All our routine acts become meaningless. Our social norms and behaviors are questioned. We realize that none of our worldly habits were worthy enough to hurt ourselves or others. Things should change.
In Coronavirus days and nights, we see ourselves so close to death. Any moment we may be diagnosed with Covid-19. When it attacks us, the worldly longings and belongings are not worthy anymore.
If we are influenced by the signs and messages that God is sending us through this disease, we don’t care about collecting more wealth. We don’t think about becoming more famous. The only One left for us is God. He is the one that won’t leave us alone in the hardest situations: the one “who created me, it is He who guides me and provides me with food and drink, and when I get sick, it is He who cures me; who will make me die, then He will bring me to life” (26: 78-81).
By these little viruses, as coronavirus, Allah (SWT) teaches us the most important lessons of life. He reminds us that we were not brought into this world to take the game so seriously since we should keep in mind that “The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself)” (29: 64), and that we live in this world for a small amount of time to be prepared for our real life in the hereafter. So, Allah tells us: “…And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And take provision, for indeed the best provision is God wariness. So be wary of Me, O you who possess intellects!” (2: 197)
The best provision is not what we keep compiling in our daily life. Money, positions and promotions, university degrees, social popularity, followers and likes on social networks, etc. are not what we have come to this world for. If they become our life priorities, we may become among those that Prophet Noah (PBUH) mentioned them as the one “… whose wealth and children only add to his loss.” (71: 21)
In many chapters of the Quran, Allah tells us the story of people of different nations who disobeyed their prophets, and the punishment of God destroyed them. However, Allah also mentions that to get out of the hardest situations you need to turn toward God: “If the people of the towns had been faithful and Godwary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied, so We seized them because of what they used to earn.” (7: 96)
Therefore, the only way to escape the current situation is to return to God and live the way He wants us to live, for the best life in this world and the hereafter.
Returning to God does not mean to pray to him and ask for forgiveness and keep on having the same behavior as we had. To return to God is to try to quit our bad habits, revise our false behaviors, stay away from the forbidden acts, and stay committed to the obligatory commands and orders of Allah.
“Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter].” (65: 2)