Just as He made Islam the most perfect of messages, Allah made Muhammad (pbuh) the most perfect of men, a light destined to influence generations of Muslims through the ages. His example is such that it covers every aspect of a man’s life.
Muhammad is the last of the prophets: The Seal of the Prophets and God’s messenger to humanity along with the last of the monotheistic religions, Islam. His greatest miracle is the Qur’ran, the holy book of the Muslim religion. (1) And it is from the Prophet’s deeds and words (pbuh) that Muslims hold the Sunnah Nabawiyah and try to emulate his actions and thoughts.
Confessing the monotheistic faith of Abraham, Muhammad (pbuh) preached to the polytheistic Arab tribes the conversion to a single god: Allah, who delivered his word through him.
At the time of Muhammad, the Hejaz, (2) the western region of Arabia from which he originated, was at the crossroads of an important trade movement between Yemen (Indian Ocean) and Syria (Mediterranean Sea), but also between Arabia and Christian Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia). Mecca was then a great caravanning stopover, surrounded by tribes who raised camels for the transport of men and goods.
On the political level, this region forms the margin of influence of the two powers of the time: the Byzantine Empire, (3) Christian, and the Persian Sassanid Empire, (4) follower of Mazdeism (a dualistic religion developed by Zarathushtra). Still from the religious point of view, the proximity of Moses’ Sinai and Jesus’ Jerusalem is materialized by the presence, in Arabia, of Nestorian or Coptic Christians and Jewish tribes. The Arab breeders, for their part, practiced a kind of tribal-based polytheism. One of their most famous sanctuaries, the Ka’ba, is precisely in Mecca.
Muhammad was born on the 12th Rabi’ al-awwal of the year known as the Year of the Elephant (‘Am al-Fil), (5) which corresponds to about the year 571 in the Gregorian calendar, in Mecca, Arabia. (It is this date that is commemorated during the Mawlid Annabaoui yearly celebration.) (6)
His father Abdullah Bnu ‘Abd al-Muttalib was a member of Banu Hashim, one of the tribes of Quraysh, who married Amina Bint Wahab and died young before she gave birth to the prophet. At his birth, Muhammad was entrusted to Halima Saadia, who served as his wet nurse, as was the custom in Arabia to entrust newborns to wet nurse mothers in nearby villages. (7)
Muhammad’s uncle was poor, so he had to work from his youth to help support the family. He was first a shepherd before working in commerce. From his youth, Muhammad (pbuh) was known among the Quraysh tribe for his great sincerity, they called him “al-Amine” (the one who can be trusted). (8)
Khadija, a wealthy lady from Quraysh, entrusted him with her trading caravans to manage her business, she was impressed by his honesty and integrity, and it was she who proposed to him. Muhammad was then 25 years old, while she was 40. Their marriage lasted 25 years until Khadija’s death. The Prophet did not marry many other women until Khadija’s death. Khadija was not only the first woman but also the first person to convert to Islam.
Period of the da’wa
The Arabs in those days were rude pagans; qualities such as their love of freedom, poetry and hospitality were obscured by their vices like drunkenness, infanticide, gambling and violence. The famous Ka’bah Temple was located in Makkah; it was built 3,000 years earlier by Abraham in honor of the One Great God: Allah; and then it became the seat of idolatry when 360 idols were kept there. Anarchy reigned in Arabia, and the country was completely cut off from the outside world except for a few caravans that passed through it from time to time.
Around the age of 40, Muhammad (pbuh) developed a penchant for solitary meditation. And one night in December 610 A.D. – on the famous night of laylat al-Qadr in the month of Ramadan – he received his first revelation. He was in the cave of Mount Hirā (Ghâr Hirâ’,) near Makkah, when the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream and recited the first five verses of Sura 96 to him; The first verses of the Qur’an that were revealed to the Prophet were those of Surât al-‘Alaq (The Clot):
“(96:1) Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, (96:2) created man from a clot of congealed blood. (96:3) Recite: and your Lord is Most Generous, (96:4) Who taught by the pen, (96:5) taught man what he did not know. “(Qur’an, 96: 1-5).
اِقۡرَاۡبِاسۡمِرَبِّكَالَّذِىۡخَلَقَۚ ﴿96:1﴾خَلَقَالۡاِنۡسَانَمِنۡعَلَقٍۚ ﴿96:2﴾اِقۡرَاۡوَرَبُّكَالۡاَكۡرَمُۙ ﴿96:3﴾الَّذِىۡعَلَّمَبِالۡقَلَمِۙ ﴿96:4﴾عَلَّمَالۡاِنۡسَانَمَالَمۡيَعۡلَمۡؕ ﴿96:5﴾
Arnaud Robert writes in the Swiss Journal Le Temps in an article entitled: “Le vrai visage du Prophète “: (9)
“What strikes, in the source specifically dedicated to the life of Mohammed, the Sîra, is the profound humanity of the future messenger of God. Nothing, in this account of the marvelous, is buried in the doubts and anxieties of a man called to a destiny that he considers excessive. When this ummi, this illiterate man, receives the injunction to “recite” the divine word, he thinks of throwing himself off the mountain. Then runs to huddle “against the thigh” of Khadija. Muhammad thinks he is possessed by the jinns, the demons, who want to play him. He also sees himself, for a moment, as a poet, because the tradition wants that the inspiration plunges on the man and that it seizes him almost at his expense. Khadija never dithers. “Rejoice and stand firm. By the one who holds my soul in his hands, you will be, I hope, the prophet of this nation.”“
There followed a six-month interval during which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received no revelation. The angel appeared to him a second time as he sat with his face covered with his cloak and recited the beginning of Sura 74 to him (The Cloaked One):
“In the name of God the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Rise up and be warned. And glorify your Lord! ” (The Holy Qur’an, 74:1-3).
The divine revelation of the Qur’an (Word of Allah) to the Prophet through Jibril continued uninterruptedly for23 years.
Muhammad (pbuh) began to preach the word of God and call the people of Makkah to convert to Islam in secret at first in order not to provoke the wrath of Quraysh who were powerful. But 3 years after the first revelation, God ordered him to make his preaching public which triggered the anger of the Quraysh chiefs who worshipped statues and did not accept the precepts of the monotheistic religion preached by the Prophet.
As the number of converts to Islam grew in and around Mecca and Quraysh’s persecution of Muslims, the Prophet and his followers left Mecca and headed for Madinah (Medina), then called Yathrib, after 14 years of calling for Islam.
This exodus called al-Hijra Nabawiya took place in the year 622 of the Gregorian calendar, and this year would later become the first year of the Muslim calendar. (10)
The Prophet (pbuh) and his companions were welcomed with open arms by the Muslims of Yathrib who were called al-Ansar, their city was named Medina: Madinat ar-Rasoul (the city of the Prophet).
It was from this city that the foundations of the Muslim state were laid and the battles that would later lead to the defeat of Quraysh and the spread of the Muslim religion in Mecca and most of the surrounding Arab tribes.
The Da’wa period lasted 23 years during which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet until his last pilgrimage called Hajjat al-Wada’ (Farewell Pilgrimage) where the last verses were revealed.
The first to accept his Da’wa were Khadija, his wife, Zaid, his freed slave, Ali, his young cousin, and Abū Bakr, a friend. At first he preached to his family and friends, urging them to abandon polytheism and sin. He invited them to worship God the One and Only and to believe in a future life. Contempt and skepticism greeted his words, and he was advised to abandon this madness and mind his own business.
Gradually, however, mockery and compassion gave way to opposition and anger; and following a call he made in 614 (AD) persecution began in earnest. The first converts, most of whom came from the poorest strata of society, and slaves were threatened, beaten, and even killed. Bilal, the first African to accept Islam, was subjected to cruel torture in a vain attempt to make him renounce God and His Prophet. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself was ridiculed and insulted; and when he preached he was mocked and his voice was muffled. In the streets, the rabble threw garbage at him, and his enemies spat in his face. Yet, though he felt abandoned, he placed his trust in God and continued his work unabated.
Exile (The Hijra)
In the year 615 (AD), a group of nearly 100 Muslims were forced by persecution to leave their hometown and seek refuge in Abyssinia, where they were welcomed by the Negus. In 616, a respected Quraishite, Umar, until then a bitter enemy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), converted to Islam, much to the displeasure of the Meccan leaders, who furiously imposed a social and economic boycott on Muslims. For three long years the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions lived in misery, hunger and destitution in a valley around Mecca; and at a time when they had no glimmer of hope, their courage and steadfastness have few examples in the history of mankind. The boycott proved ineffective, but Khadija succumbed shortly afterwards, a victim of the suffering she had endured. Although Muhammad (pbuh) remarried several times, he had fond memories of her for the rest of his life.
In 620 AD, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) went to the nearby city of Taif, but there too he was rejected and was stoned by the inhabitants. Around the same time, he had one of his most famous visions where he was carried away to Jerusalem (Isrā’) and during which he conversed with Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist and Jesus. Another time, during the Mi’rāj, the Throne of God was shown to him, as well as Heaven and Hell, and also the sidereal world which appeared to him as small as a mustard seed.
Decisive events were brewing. In Yathrib – a city that would later take the name Madīnah (Medina) and is located 360 kilometers from Mecca – a number of people who had embraced Islam sent a twelve-member delegation to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They met the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in 622 near Mount ‘Aqabah and received instructions from him regarding their faith. Early the following year seventy delegates returned and pledged allegiance to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); this oath is known as the Great Oath of Aqabah. After that, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised his followers to leave secretly for Medina.
The departure of the entire families to Medina caused great turmoil among the Quraishites, who at the instigation of Abū Jahl decided at a meeting of their tribal leaders to assassinate the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The night set for this was July 15-16, 622, the night on which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) decided to leave his hometown according to the plan of Providence. Warned of the danger that threatened him, he left the house without being seen. Seeing that their prey had escaped, the conspirators sent a team of trackers after him. At one point, the trackers arrived at the entrance to the very cave where the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companion Abū Bakr were hiding. Miraculously, they did not see them and the fugitives were able to continue their journey unharmed. This flight marks the beginning of the history of Islam, and is the beginning of the Muslim era, the Hegira. (11)
After a perilous journey through the desert, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) arrived in Madinah and soon began to organize the new community (composed of Muhājirīn, or the refugees from Mecca, Ansār or the Muslims of Madinah, as well as Jews and pagans) on a basis of social and economic justice. The reign of peace, justice, good will and brotherhood soon cemented the bonds between believers to form a body of zealous and pious men ready to make any sacrifice to sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God.
Badr: the first battle
However, the leaders of Mecca were more determined than ever to crush this threat to the old order and so they prepared for war. In early 624 AD, under the pretext of protecting a caravan coming from Syria, they launched an army of 1,000 well-trained and well-equipped men, including a cavalry of 200 men, with the aim of taking Medina. The Muslims, who for the first time had received permission to take up arms to defend their religion, could only raise an army of 313 poorly armed men, all of them infantry. The rival forces met in Badr on Ramadan 16 of Year 2 AH. The Muslims would have been crushed in spite of their great courage and the valiant Ali, but for the divine support that took the form of a violent sandstorm that confused the ranks of the unbelievers. They were routed and had to flee in a stampede, leaving behind many dead, including their leader Abū Jahl. The power of pagan Arabia was crushed and the battle of Badr must be considered one of the most decisive battles in history.
Twice again the Quraishites tried to take Medina. In 625, in ‘Uhud they tried to take revenge for their bitter defeat of Badr. In the beginning the battle turned to the advantage of the Muslims. But some Muslim fighters, believing in the end of the battle and the victory of the Muslims and disobeying the strict orders of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), abandoned their posts. Confusion caused the Muslims to suffer a setback; but the outcome of the battle was not in favor of the Quraishites either, for they had not been able to take Madinah, kill the men, and enslave women and children. In 627, the Quraishites returned with a great coalition of 20,000 men, composed of Bedouins and Jews. They laid siege to the city, but they were repulsed even though they had received the support of traitors in the besieged city. Dissension and bad weather got the better of them, and they withdrew. This battle is known as the Battle of the Ditch ghazwat al-khandaq, or Confederate Battle. In the same year the Muslims signed a truce with the Meccans at Hudaibiyah, while they were on their way to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca.
As soon as he returned to Madinah, the Envoy of God sent letters to the princes of the civilized world inviting them to join Islam (AD 628). Some, such as the Roman Emperor Heraclius, the Viceroy of Egypt, and the Negus, received the letters with respect; but Khosrow, Emperor of the Persians, tore his letter with fury, and ordered his governor of Yemen to send an expedition to Hijaz to arrest the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); but before his order could be carried out, Khosrow himself was assassinated and his country fell prey to civil wars until it was conquered by the Arabs.
Whole tribes joined Islam. In 628, Muslims occupied the fortified city of Khaibar, which had become a nest of intrigues for Jews and pagans against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They incited the Romans and Persians to invade Arabia. Towards the end of the following year the Quraishites violated their truce; and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) took the opportunity to give them a final assault: he marched on Mecca but met little resistance.
On the 20th of Ramadan in Hegira year 8 (AD 630) the Prophet of God entered the Holy City at the head of 10,000 companions. When he arrived at the Ka’bah he repeated the verse from the Holy Qur’an:
“The truth has come and the lie has vanished…”.
Armed with a stick, he proceeded to break the 360 idols that defiled the holy enclosure. The inhabitants swore allegiance to him and embraced Islam en masse. He took no retaliation for the atrocities committed by the Quraishites. He even forgave his worst enemies.
Although not all hostilities had ended, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) completed his mission, and God’s last dispensation was firmly established on earth. In the 9th year of Hegira, in March 631 AD. he made his last journey to Makkah to make his farewell pilgrimage. From the top of Mount Arafāt he addressed a crowd of 100,000 pilgrims and delivered his famous Farewell Sermon from which every word has been preserved. No sooner had he finished his speech than God sent him His last revelation:
” This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. But whoso is forced by hunger, without being wilfully inclined to sin, then, surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful… “ (The Holy Qur’an, 5: 4).
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) died peacefully in Madinah in his room which was adjacent to the mosque, on 13 Rabī’-ul-Awwal in the 10th year of hegira (8 June 632 AD) at the age of 63.
The qualities of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Muhammad is the only founder of religion whose life is known in its smallest details. A complete biography would cover volumes. His deeds and words are concrete historical facts. He is not only, as the Encyclopaedia Britannica admits, the most successful Prophet, but we see him manifest in his person an astonishing variety of human qualities. As a private man, he is husband, father, friend, and merchant; as a public figure, he is ruler, legislator, judge, statesman, and general; and as a Messenger of God, he is legislator, preacher, theologian, saint, and mystic. Such a combination of virtues is unique in history, and this has earned him the title of Seal of the Prophets. Some of his numerous qualities are as follows:
1. His composure
Sincerity was one of its most striking characteristics. Not for a day, not for a moment did he lose sight of the fact that he was God’s prophet. He never presumed about God’s revelation, nor did he want to impose it. We find him at all times praying for God’s blessing and for the fulfillment of His promises. At the height of the persecution in Mecca, the Quraishites offered him royalty, all honors, and unlimited fortune on condition that he would stop preaching against their idols. He recited verses from the Qur’an to them in response. During his escape, when his capture was certain and his trackers were within a stone’s throw of him, he whispered in the ear of his companion, Abū Bakr: “Fear not, there are not two of us in this cave, but three of us. The third is God. ” During a campaign an enemy soldier caught him resting in a corner not far from his men and, putting his sword to his throat, asked him, “O Muhammad, who can save you from me now? “He answered phlegmatically, “God. ““The soldier was so struck by this answer that he dropped the sword and the enemy soldier was free to go.
2. His rejection of superstition
Although the Hand of God rescued him many times, when all seemed lost or when events took a dangerous turn, he never claimed to have performed miracles contrary to the perfect laws of nature. When his son Ibrahim died as a child, there was an eclipse of the sun; Muslims and infidels alike marveled at what they saw as a sign of mourning in Heaven. But the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asked them to put an end to such speculation because eclipses, whether of the moon or the sun, do not occur as a sign of the death of any human being. It is interesting to note that his most faithful disciples were those who lived closest to him. It was these men who heard every word he spoke and saw every action he took, and who were the first to suffer and endure hardship, misery and death for the cause of early Islam.
3. Simplicity and sincerity
He was charitable, compassionate and always concerned about the welfare of others. He was courteous and even-tempered toward everyone; he was patient with the misconduct of others, and was always willing to forgive the faults of others. His manners were simple, as were his tastes. He led a frugal existence, and hated luxury and opulence. Humble and pure in spirit, clean in body and appearance, direct and honest in his dealings, he was never short of words, loyal to his friends, generous to all. And yet he avoided extremes in his qualities. He was not a sentimentalist, nor an ascetic. Bigotry abhorred him, as did facade piety and formalism. His life was not an idealism, but a practical example for all people of all times and places.
- His tolerance:
“Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” (The Holy Qur’an, 109: 6).
This verse of the Qur’an alone sums up the degree of tolerance experienced by Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, when he settled in the city of Medina, he was surrounded by Christians and Jews.
The Prophet was also tolerant with all the people around him. Allah says:
” It was thanks to Allah’s mercy that you were gentle to them. Had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from you. So pardon them, and pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel from them in matters of importance. And when you are resolved on a course of action place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). “(The Holy Qur’an, 3:159).
- His forgiveness and high morality:
The Prophet Muhammad is a man who has distinguished himself by his compassion. In his daily life, Muhammad willingly grants forgiveness to all those around him. He was also very patient with those around him. Allah says:
” You are of the highest noble character” (The Holy Qur’an, 68:4).
- His intense devotion to his followers:
The Prophet Muhammad is a man full of respect and consideration for his people.
The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) also gave many advices to his followers, which were repeated in many Hadith. According to Abu Hurayra, Muhammad once advised a man not to get angry. According to Abu Hurayra, the Prophet also said: “Among the qualities of a good Islam is that a man should not concern himself with what does not concern him.“
- His honesty:
The Prophet Muhammed once said that when honesty disappears, expect to see the Hour coming. Indeed, he is the ideal illustration of honesty. From his first journeys on the trade routes, he earned the nickname al-Amine (trustworthy) and as-Sadeq (the truthful).
On one occasion, Muhammad sent a letter to the Emperor of Byzantium with the purpose of converting to Islam. He had the letter forwarded to the emperor through a trader in Mecca, who was totally opposed to Islam. When he went before the emperor, he said that the Prophet never lies and betrays no one. Muhammad also warned his people against slander and dishonesty.
Muhammad, a nimble statesman
Muhammad’s political and military power was asserted during the 74 expeditions, raids and battles he led in order to reconquer Mecca, rally the nomads and unite the Arabs. In this process, we shall retain in particular, some great stages: the first great victory of Badr (March 624), which alarms the Meccans; their victorious counter-offensive of ‘Uhud (March 625); then the siege of Medina (March 31, 627), which should have put an end to the career of Muhammad. He defeated the Meccans and even established his reputation as a military strategist:
“We have assured you a resounding victory,” (the Holy Qur’an, 48: 1).
causing the break-up of the enemy confederation of Mecca, which submitted to his law in the same year.
Muhammad then takes on the figure and dimension of a founder of a state: he is the unifier of the Arabs. The “Constitution of Madinah”, which predates the battle of Badr, is a model of federal organization of different communities, defining their respective social rights and duties, subject to the supreme legal authority of Muhammad. In 630, the Muslim army entered Mecca. Then, Muhammad’s victory over the Bedouins at Hunayn led to numerous submissions; the Prophet sent deputations to neighboring rulers to be recognized as the sovereign head of state. During the pilgrimage of 632, Muhammad sets the great rules of Hajj of the Muslims; they exclude the unbelievers of the Ka’ba and the unbelievers of Paradise. Upon his return, he fell ill in Medina and died on June 8, 632.
Judging Muhammad to be dangerous, the Jews engaged in a complex opposition against him. It is then that he drives out the Qaynuqa and reduces the opposition of the other Jewish clans by proclaiming that he continues the work of the biblical patriarch Abraham, father of the Hanif (pure religion), which they themselves have abandoned. From now on, believers will turn to pray to the Ka’ba of Mecca and no longer to Jerusalem. This is the essential gesture of breaking with the Judeo-Christian Qibla; however, Jerusalem will remain for Islam a holy city, honored by the Rock Mosque of Abraham.
Muhammad built a remarkable set of social reforms affecting the security of life and property, the codification of marriage, family, inheritance, usury, and hygiene. He freed the individual from tribal subjection, the believer being accountable for his life only to God.
The action of Muhammad founded the ideal of the Islamic leader, in charge of the temporal and spiritual, and whose political action tends towards the realization of the divine plan within society. Medina has become the second most important holy place in Islam; its mosque, which houses the mausoleum of the Prophet, is an almost obligatory passage for Muslims on their annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muhammad, the Seal of Prophets (12)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the Seal of the Prophets and messengers Khatam an-Nabiyyin (Arabic: خاتم النبيين, khātam an-nabīyīn; or Khātim an-Nabīyīn). (13) Allah says :
“Muhammad was never the father of any of your men, but the messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets. Allah is All-Knowing. “(The Holy Qur’an, 33:40).
The above verse says “the last of the Prophets” instead of “the last of the messengers” because the seal of the messengers does not imply that one is the seal of the prophets. On the contrary, being the seal of the prophets implies that one is the seal of the messengers. That is why the Prophet Muhammad said, “There is no prophet after me,” not “there is no messenger after me. “That is how it was known that there will be no messenger or prophet after him.(13)
Since Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets, (15) this had implications for his mission.
- It must be completed, and fulfill all previous prophecies while assuming their inheritance. That is why Muhammad is the completed Grace, the expected Prophet and the Imam of the Prophets;
- It must be universal, and address all men. That is why Muhammad is the Prophet of Mankind;
- It must be timeless and remain valid at all times until the day of judgment. That is why Mohammed is the Seal of the Prophets;
- It must be preserved from any alteration since no other prophet will come to restore the religion. This commitment was made in the Qur’an, when Allah said, ” Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” اِنَّانَحۡنُنَزَّلۡنَاالذِّكۡرَوَاِنَّالَهٗلَحٰـفِظُوۡنَ (The Holy Qur’an, 15:9) ; and
- It must be restorative, that is, it must contain the principles and laws of restoration of the covenant between God and Men. This covenant was initiated in pre-eternity when Allah took out the particularized souls in minute dust from the loins of Adam, from his future descendants, put them in His majestic Presence and asked them to bear witness to the Divine Oneness. This covenant is a covenant that is the foundation of man’s permanence on earth and legitimizes the Day of Judgment: the Day of reckoning when accounts will be demanded for this covenant. The Qur’an acknowledges that this covenant for the lieutenancy was entrusted to the Hebrews but was later taken away from them because of their disobedience and murder of the prophets. Allah then gave them a chance to redeem themselves by sending them Jesus, whom they also betrayed, and because it was not fitting for His Perfection to leave mankind in failure, He sent them the victorious Prophet, our master Muhammad.
Just as He made Islam the most perfect of messages, God made Muhammad (pbuh) the most perfect of men, a light destined to influence generations of Muslims through the ages. His example is such that it covers every aspect of a man’s life. His personal, family, political and social life has been meticulously described by his Companions. Thus, never before has a man’s life been so well known and studied.
We see that all these functions were fulfilled by the Prophecy of Muhammad without any doubt possible. Mohammed Iqbal wrote: (16)
“The Prophet of Islam seems to stand between the ancient world and the modern world. As far as the source of his Revelation is concerned, he belongs to the ancient world, as far as the spirit of his Revelation is concerned, he belongs to the modern world. In him, life finds other sources of knowledge, which are suitable for its new orientation.”
Symbolic meaning of the Seal (17)
The seal is what closes, but also what authenticates and confirms. Thus, the Prophet Muhammad confirms previous prophecies and the Qur’an mentions the many prophets sent through the ages.
When a document is sealed, it is complete and nothing can be added to it. The Qur’an mentions that the religion brought by the Prophet has been completed:
“Today I have completed your religion and have bestowed upon you My entire blessing. I accept Islam as your religion” (The Holy Qur’an, 5:3).
The presence of the seal reveals the integrity of the message and the fidelity of its transmitter. It is a guarantee against falsification and tampering. Thus, the seal of the Prophets, by its function, guarantees the Islam of falsifications and it is indispensable to refer to its Sunnah and its example to understand the religion.
The seal also seals the covenant. The covenant between God and the Prophets, taken at the time of the Covenant of the Prophets, and the covenant between God and men, taken in pre-eternity. By this seal the covenant is renewed and brought to completion. Man can once again fulfill his mandate of divine lieutenancy.
The seal also contains the secret, which it allows to protect. This secret is that of the faith which the Prophet Muhammad protects, as the protector of the caring believers:
“Surely a Messenger has come to you from among you, who is full of care for you, who is compassionate and merciful to the believers, and to whom the difficulties you are experiencing weigh heavily” (The Holy Qur’an, 9:128).
The seal is also the whole, closing the cycle, it is the cycle itself, sealing the covenant, it is this covenant, confirming the prophecies, it encompasses them all, guaranteeing the truth, it is the truth itself, preserving the secret, it is this secret.
The Seal of Prophecy
In Islam, the seal of prophecy is considered to be one of the essential nuclei of religious faith, since there is no prophet after Muhammad until the end of the present cycle of mankind. In other words, the circle of prophecy ends with him. When talking about Islam, one cannot ignore the functional role of the “Seal of the Prophets”, (18) which implies, moreover, the synthesis of the above. Muhammad’s message confirms and summarizes those of the previous prophets. It is thus that, for every Muslim, the name of Muhammad is intimately linked with his function as the last Divine Messenger, just as he considers the Holy Qur’an to be the last divine message revealed to the Prophet of Islam.
With the exception of Islam, no religion is known to have proclaimed the closure of the divine religious mission, and no prophet has claimed the eternity of his prophecy. Since the advent of Islam fourteen centuries ago, no one has dared to seriously claim to be a prophet entrusted with a divine mission, even though the prophet of Islam is considered the last messenger of God, the last God-inspired legislator who completed later legislations. It is indeed in his teaching that all the values from previous prophetic missions are crystallized.
Contrary to other religious doctrines, which are, moreover, limited in space and time, Islam presents the universalist character attached to the message it contains, and its possibilities of adaptation to all social milieus, to all peoples, because by its nature of profound teachings, it crosses all temporal boundaries. Indeed, the universalism of Islam is undeniable since it is the reminder of all revealed religions. Perhaps this is how the Qur’an states Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets”.
However, does not the meeting of the need for continuous prophecy, the essential condition for ensuring the dynamism of human life, and the closure of prophecy that would engender a kind of stagnation raise contradictions?
How can we reconcile the principles that emphasize the invariability of the basic Islamic creed and the principle of “becoming”, of the constant evolution of the need to seek the new horizons of conception and thought so much attested, encouraged and recommended in Islam?
Likewise, how can we build a bridge between the past, present, and future in order to link the demands and feelings of the man living in today’s industrialized societies, with all his inspirations and demands, so-called progressive, with his religious belief that demands respect and sincere attachment to a set of fixed traditions and values?
Islam, introducing the thesis of the “Seal of Prophecy”, has provided us with the answer: Generally speaking, it would seem that one of the reasons why prophetic missions were successively renewed is this one: The divine books were hardly safe from distortion of the contents and the arbitrary and devious changes made by criminals, demagogues, and the ruling classes in order to profit from them. As a result of these changes, the sacred books naturally lost the competence and ability to guide and instruct mankind, and to lead it to the desired evolutionary steps. But as soon as man reached a stage of intellectual and moral maturity which enabled him to dodge this perilous trap, to safeguard and even honestly propagate the content of the revealed message, the essential cause of successive prophecy also disappeared.
From this point of view, the period of the advent of Islam differs from that of other religions to the extent that, at that time, Islamic teachings granted man the possibility of entering a phase of inductive intelligence and taking a great step towards spiritual maturity. This resulted in the concrete realization of the prophetic enclosure. From then on, another phase, very significant by its nature, began: The function of giving directions and orienting the Ummah, i.e. the Islamic community. According to the Qur’an:
“There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous. “(The Holy Qur’an, 3:104).
Among the divine books, the Qur’an is the only one that could, through divine will, be kept free from any distortion, that was not subject to any alteration, and that remained intact. In fact, the integral preservation of the Qur’anic text over the centuries is another aspect of the miracle. The Qur’an alludes to it:
“We Ourselves have revealed the Quran and We are its Protectors. “(The Holy Qur’an, 15:9).
Belief in prophetic missions
On the other hand, it must be said that the belief in the prophetic missions, which is the cornerstone of the Islamic faith, means to be convinced of an uninterrupted historical current that is taking place from the first moment of the formation of human societies: a continuous and ongoing struggle between two antipodal forces: the True and the False. The struggle will continue until the Force of the True emerges victorious: a worthy reward, a worthy price of righteousness. Moreover, this struggle, in each era, has taken on its own dimension, according to the quality of the message and the teaching given by the prophets. Social reforms, such as the modification of individual behavior, will only succeed if they take into account the objective realities of each society in which the program is to be carried out.
This, of course, requires different plans of action, which are not necessarily always the same, although the objectives to be achieved may be the same. If, therefore, we sometimes find that there is a lack of concordance between the prophets’ approaches, from the point of view of programs and methods, this is not due to the principles and essential points. It represents only the incidental aspects and would not give rise to any contradictory inconvenience in terms of the intellectual and moral orientation for which the prophets were commissioned. We read in the Holy Qur’an:
“And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. “(The Holy Qur’an, 5:46).
The Qur’an does not devalue the Gospels, but confirms them and praises all the previous prophets, and sings the praises of the great pure men and the true precursors, the masters of thought who have contributed to the perfection of mankind and suffered for the humanitarian cause. Although the Jewish people and a number of others, according to historical testimony, demonstrate their bitter hostility towards the Prophet of Islam, the Qur’an repeatedly mentions the names of Moses and Jesus, always with a mixture of admiration and reverence. Can there not be a sign of the truthfulness and authenticity of the Qur’an, that it shows great esteem for the Prophets, while their followers ostensibly opposed Islam and its messenger Muhammad?
Indeed, the message of Muhammad in the Qur’anic verses does not contain the slightest trace of worldly ambition, personal emulsion, selfish tendencies or tendentious interpretation:
“We have sent down to you the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it of the Book and as a guardian over it. So judge between them by what Allah has sent down, and do not follow their desires against the truth that has come to you. For each [community] among you We had appointed a code [of law] and a path, and had Allah wished He would have made you one community, but [His purposes required] that He should test you in respect to what He has given you. So take the lead in all good works. To Allah shall be the return of you all, whereat He will inform you concerning that about which you used to differ. “(The Holy Qur’an, 5:48).
Islam, a divine religion of “Fitra “
According to Islam, religion is rooted in the “Fitra“, that is, in the depths of its primordial nature; in other words, it has its source there, and this source comes from the One and Transcendent God; consequently, diversity and multiplicity have no place in religion.
But if man is a prisoner of the traditions and accidents that arise in the world, and if he finds his identity only in relation to and according to them, the path that leads him to eternal bliss will always be the same. It is religion that guides him, giving him the clearest and most just vision of the world. From this point of view, since religion includes the whole of divine Laws, it is wrong to turn one’s back on it and take refuge in the norms created by this or that one. Religion, as such, presents us with a vast, borderless land where the law is sincere and takes everything into account; to disdain or abandon it, by limiting oneself to the laws subject to the intervention of individuals, is to walk through winding streets.
Montesquieu wrote: (20)
“There are different orders of laws; and the sublimity of human reason consists in knowing to which of these orders they refer, and principally the things on which one must decide; and in not confusing the principles which must govern men…. The nature of human laws is to be subject to all the accidents that occur, and to vary as the wills of men change; on the contrary, the nature of the laws of religion is to never vary. Human laws rule on the good; religion on the best. The good may have another object because there are many goods, but the best is only one, so it cannot change. Laws can be changed, because they are only supposed to be good, but the institutions of religion are always supposed to be the best. There are States where laws are nothing, or are only a capricious and transitory will of the sovereign. If, in these states, the laws of religion were of the nature of human laws, the laws of religion would be nothing either, yet it is necessary for society that there be something fixed, and it is religion which is something fixed. The principal force of religious laws comes from what one believes; the force of human laws comes from what one fears. “
Having perceived the distinction between divine laws and human laws, we must clarify, as blatantly as possible, the essential differentiation between the nature of the message of the prophet of Islam and that of other divine messengers. This is due to the fact that the messages of the earlier prophets were intended only for a certain people in a transitory phase, and were therefore limited to a provisional program. Moreover, these messages were disfigured and have unfortunately been distorted in the course of history, to the extent that a number of notions were transmuted. Moreover, the message revealed to Muhammad is a complete synthesis of all the previous ones, without being distorted; in other words, the Qur’an faithfully encompasses them since it is archetypal. In fact, the Qur’an has remained intact over the centuries, despite the various malicious attempts of the infidels. The Qur’an includes and unites all the vital aspects to satisfy all the material and spiritual needs of man.
The divine envoys, each in turn, have fulfilled their prophetic function to right wrongs and restore the reign of Truth. They introduced into human communities the guidelines inspired by revelation, in order to prevent deviations. Virtuous scholars will continue the same process, this time inspired by a source of sublime wisdom, that is, the last divine message, which corresponds to the projection of the divine will. When man reaches his full spiritual development allowing him to grasp the bottom of the supreme reality and to apprehend the Divine Knowledge, he will then be able to dissect the original criteria of religion and perfectly assume his role, worthy of himself, as a man constantly struggling to realize the sublime ideals and divine precepts. It is from this, that the wise, the learned will deserve to take the place of the prophets.
Thus can be understood the frequent calls of the Koranic verses, in favor of reflection, science and meditation. From this, too, we rightly grasp the causes of the Qur’anic exhortation concerning knowledge and contemplation on the dominating soul of existence. The constant reference to reason and experience and their value, as well as the importance given by the Qur’an to nature and history as the source of human knowledge, in itself illustrates the arrival of a new era in human history. This is the moment when intelligible subjectivity meets realistic objectivity; man, through his intellectual performance, shows himself capable and worthy, more than ever before, of assuming his heavy responsibility for safeguarding the religious heritage, and giving it the right and realistic interpretation. It also means that man is preparing to receive the ultimate message of the last divine mission.
Conclusion: Islam is the last message to humanity and Muhammad the Seal of Prophets
Once the last message has been received, there is no room left for the coming of a new prophet. Let us suppose that archaeological excavations have already been meticulously carried out in a piece of land in order to find the works of antiquity. After having discovered them all, nothing remains undiscovered, nothing unknown within the terrain in question. This is indeed the case of prophecy. Prophecy has cut through the various stages, reaching the culmination of its evolution and perfection. The light of prophecy has been projected on all the formerly dark corners. No more ambiguous points, and therefore inaccessible to the reach of human intelligence. After the last stage, predestined, the prophecy is closed. The Prophet of Islam has highlighted the subject in question, in the form of a metaphor:
“The prophecy is a house whose construction is almost complete; my role is to put the last brick in its place .“ (21)
Yet we must bear in mind that, although the prophetic mission has ended forever, this does not mean that the spiritual relationship between man and the source of the Mystery, that is, the Creator, has been severed; the path to virtue, to the transcendental spiral station, is always open, no one is forbidden to enter. To purify oneself in order to acquire supreme beatitude is a pledge of personal effort and sincerity of conscience. Man will be able to enter into a close relationship with the world of the Mystery, if he is able to actualize all his potential powers, which exist within himself in the various dimensions, and which the Divinity has entrusted to him as a sacred repository.
This will enable him to know and see what is unknown and invisible to all those who have drowned in the material world. This is where human life takes on value and man manifests himself as God’s representative on Earth. Many whose religious vision is deep and sublime are filled with a resplendent spirituality. The door to divine illumination and inspiration is always open to all those who want to rid themselves of inner impurity and the darkness of vices, by disposing their souls in the light of Knowledge, for inexhaustible is the divine effusion. To take advantage of this blazing source depends on the capacities of each individual.
- Cf. Murad, Khurram. (1998). Who is Muhammad, peace be upon him. Islamic Foundation (Great Britain). Leicester: Islamic Foundation.
- The Hejaz ‘the Barrier’, is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. The name of the region is derived from the Arabic root Ḥ-J-Z, meaning “to separate,” and it is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihāmah in the west. It is also known as the “Western Province.” It is bordered in the west by the Red Sea, in the north by Jordan, in the east by the Najd, and in the south by the ‘Asir Region. Its largest city is Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, with Mecca and Medina being the fourth and fifth largest cities respectively in Saudi Arabia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hejaz
- The Byzantine Empire, also called Byzantium, was the eastern half of the Roman Empire, based at Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) that continued on after the western half of the empire collapsed. Byzantium continued on for nearly a millennium until Constantinople itself fell in a siege carried out by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The golden age of the empire came during the reign of Justinian (A.D. 527-565) during which the empire’s territories extended as far as Western Europe, and the emperor’s builders constructed the Hagia Sophia, a great cathedral that still stands today.
- The Sasanian Empire (224-651 CE, also given as Sassanian, Sasanid or Sassanid) was the last pre-Islamic Persian empire, established in 224 CE by Ardeshir I, son of Papak, descendant of Sasan. The Empire lasted until 651 CE when it was overthrown by the Arab Rashidun Caliphate. It is considered by the Iranian people to be a highlight of their civilization for, after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) at the hands of Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, Persian culture was sustained through the Parthian Empire (247 BCE – 224 CE) and reached its height in the Sassanian Period; there was not to be another state that truly felt” Iranian” after its fall. https://www.ancient.eu/Sasanian_Empire/
- The Year of the Elephant (عام الفيل), is the name in Islamic history for the year approximately equating to 570 CE. According to Islamic tradition, it was in this year that Muhammad was born. The Ethiopian governor of Yemen, Abraha al-Ashram, envied the reverence in which the Ka’bah was held by the Arabs. Being a staunch Christian, he built a big cathedral in Sanaa (the capital of Yemen) and ordered the Arabs to go there for pilgrimage instead. The order was ignored. Not only that; someone entered the cathedral and made it unclean. The wrath of Abraha knew no bounds. In his fury, he decided to avenge it by demolishing and desecrating the Ka’bah itself. He advanced with a large army towards Mecca, which included one or more war elephants, intending to demolish it. However, the lead elephant known as Mahmud is said to have stopped at the boundary around Mecca, and refused to enter. The year came to be known as the Year of the Elephant, beginning a trend for reckoning the years in the Arabian Peninsula used until it was replaced with the Islamic calendar during the rule of Umar. Esposito, John L. (1995). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World: Libe-Sare. Oxford University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0195096149. Cf. Marr JS, Hubbard E, Cathey, JT (2015). “The Year of the Elephant”. WikiJournal of Medicine. 2 (1). doi:10.15347/wjm/2015.003.
- In order to know the life of Muhammad, the historian has ancient sources at his disposal: it is first of all the Sirât Rasûl Allâh, where Ibn Ishâq gathered the oral biographical traditions and of which we still have a version from the IX th century. The chronicle of the Prophet’s Campaigns by Wâqidi and the collection of Hadith by Bukhârî also come from the same period. Martin Lings knows these and other sources perfectly well and he draws from them to give us this Life of the Prophet with a great talent as a storyteller. The profusion of often unpublished details makes this biography a monument of erudition accessible to the greatest number. Cf. Martin Lings. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, Vermont, USA. Inner Traditions : Revised Edition (October 6, 2006).
- Cf. William Montgomery Watt (1961). Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 7.
- Al-Amīn (literally: the Trustee) is a title of the Prophet Muhammad (s), with which he was known years before his rise to prophethood. “Al-Amin” is a trusted person who is certainly not going to cheat or betray. According to historical sources, polytheists of the Quraysh never accused Muhammad of lying, although they denied his prophethood. One of the characteristics of the Prophet for which he was known as “al-Amin” was his reliability in keeping valuable things with which he was trusted. One characteristic of the Prophet that led people to refer to him as “al-Amin” was that people lodged things to him in trust. There are numerous reports in historical sources that he was a depositor. For example, when the Prophet had commercial transactions with the capital of Lady Khadija and successfully returned from his commercial trip, she told him: “O cousin, I am proud of you for your honorable lineage, kinship, truthfulness, praiseworthy morals, and trustfulness among people and your own tribe.” It was after this that Khadija proposed marriage to the Prophet. Cf. Ṭabarī, Ṭārīkh Ṭabarī, vol. 2, p. 281.
- Cf. Arnaud Robert. “Le vrai visage Du Prophète, “ Le Temps du 11 février 2006. https://www.letemps.ch/culture/vrai-visage-prophete
- Cf. Tesch, Noah; Afsaruddin, Asma (12 March 2018). “Hijrah.“ Encyclopaedia Britannica. Cf. Shaikh, Fazlur Rehman (2001). Chronology of Prophetic Events. London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. pp. 51–52.
- Cf. Marom, Roy (Fall 2017). “Approaches to the Research of Early Islam: The Hijrah in Western Historiography”. Jama’a. 23: vii.
- Cf. Khan, Muhammad Zafra (1980). Muhammad, seal of the prophets. London. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-85525-992-1.
- There is a difference among the schools of Qur’anic recitation regarding the reading of the word خاتم in verse 33:40 – it can be read as either khātim or khātam. Of the ten qirā’āt (readings, methods of recitation) regarded as authentic – seven mutawātir and three mashhūr – all read خاتم in this verse with a kasrah on the tāʼ (خاتِم, khātim) with the exception of ‘Asim, who reads with a fatḥah on the tāʼ (خاتَم, khātam). The reading of al-Hasan, a shadhdh (aberrant) recitation, is also khātam.
- Cf. Ibn Manẓūr (1883) [Written 1290]. لسانالعرب / Lisān al-‘Arab (in Arabic). 15. Būlāq, Miṣr [Bulaq, Egypt]: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Mīrīyah. p. 55.
- Cf. Powers, David S. (2009). Muḥammad is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 9780812241785.
- Cf. M, Iqbâl, “La reconstruction de la pensée islamique”, p. 145.
- Cf. Esposito, John L., ed. (2003). “Khatam al-Nabiyyin”. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 171.
- Muhammad is the final prophet in Islam, known as the ‘Seal of the Prophets’. This means that Muslims regard Muhammad as Allah’s final messenger. The Qur’an is formed from the revelations Muhammad received from God through the Angel Jibril. Muslims do not believe that Muhammad was in any way divine, and this is confirmed in the Qur’an, which states: “Muhammad is no more than a messenger “ (The Holy Qur’an, 3:144).
- Islam recognizes to a certain extent the validity of the Abrahamic religions, the Quran identifying Jews, Christians, and “Sabi’un” (usually taken as a reference to the Mandaeans) as “people of the Book” (ahl al-kitab). Later Islamic theologians expanded this definition to include Zoroastrians, and later even Hindus, as the early Islamic empire brought many people professing these religions under its dominion, but the Qur’an explicitly identifies only Jews, Christians, and Sabians as People of the Book.[need quotation to verify], [failed verification], [failed verification] The relation between Islam and universalism has assumed crucial importance in the context of political Islam or Islamism, particularly in reference to Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and one of the key contemporary philosophers of Islam.
- De l’esprit des lois is a treatise on political theory published by Montesquieu in Geneva in 1748. This major work, which took him fourteen years to complete, was indexed in 1751.
- Tafsir Majma’u al-Bayân