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The meaning and purpose of life for the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) can be understood in his sayings:

To follow justice, whether calm or angry,

To practise moderation, whether rich or poor,

To give to him who takes away,

To gladly pardon my oppressors,

And seek the silent ways of meditation,

To utter words in God’s remembrance.

And look around me for knowledge to acquire.

Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine, the famed French author, poet, and statesman said, “If greatness of purpose, the smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Mohammad?”

Reading the life of the Prophet of Islam may teach a person many things.

Respect for Humanity

According to a Hadith: “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.”

In another Hadith, the Prophet Mohammad said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbour and whoever believes in God and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in God and the Last Day, should speak what is good or keep silent.”

Various such directives to followers are given in the Quran and Hadith, which place a high value on paying proper respect to every human being. Our love and dedication to God are shown in this world via our interactions with other people.

A sincere believer has an inner desire to love everyone. Respect for humanity is one of Islam’s fundamental precepts. Everyone deserves respect, regardless of their faith or religious heritage, culture, ethnicity, language, education, or wealth, whether from their own or other communities.

Evil cannot be wiped out through evil

A Hadith recorded in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, Abdullah ibn Masud says that the Prophet related that evil could not be wiped out through evil. Rather, evil can be wiped out only through goodness.

This Hadith illustrates a divine principle. This principle permeates the entire universe, and only good acts can put a stop to evil. If this had not been the case, bad would have taken over the world. Unfortunately, contrary to what Islam teaches, a certain section is often seen attempting to stop bad by engaging in bad themselves.

They aim to stop provocation by provocation, hatred by using hate, hostility by using hostility, and community prejudice by using communal prejudice. This goes against natural precepts, and such efforts can never bring long-lasting success.

Trusting Human Nature

Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions were regularly targeted by his adversaries. They had to listen to aggressive words, deal with many impediments, and even be hurt with stones.

At the time, the Quran encouraged them to return good for bad. And then, as the Quran added, ‘you will see that one with whom you have enmity will become though as he was a devoted friend. (41:34)

The key reality may be deduced from this commandment: no matter how antagonistic a man appears, love for truth is ingrained in his soul. Returning good to bad behaviour is the most certain practice to reveal this positive part of a person.

Our continued excellent behaviour will sand away the hostility’s surface, revealing the underlying friendly core. Throughout his life, the Prophet of Islam demonstrated this principle, which attracted tens of thousands of people from all walks of life to him.

A set of high principles

The Prophet’s extraordinary success in his life owes much to this manner of dealing with difficult circumstances. He understood that God has made everyone different, the world is full of differences, and God has given equal freedom to every human being. A person or a society which does not embrace this realism cannot achieve big success.

The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was unquestionably a successful man. This extraordinary success, however, was attained by adhering to a set of high principles.

The Prophet never let his success make him arrogant, nor did suffering make him despairing, because his life was completely governed by piety and the fear of God, and he remained the staunch advocate of justice and moral rectitude — a lesson for mankind.

Raamish Siddiqui is a lawyer, author and Islamic thinker. Twitter: @raamishs