The extraordinary life of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) has been a subject of deep interest and vigorous study among scholars for over fourteen hundred years.
Numerous attempts have been made to understand the impact he left on the world. In one such work, 'Carlyle Lectures on Heroes', Thomas Carlyle describes the Prophet of Islam as "the sincerest of men and … one of the most extraordinary men who changed the course of history."
Qur’an and the Hadith (of the Prophet of Islam) are the cornerstones of Islamic theology. The collective words, deeds, rulings, and comportment of the Prophet known as the Sunnah or 'the tradition' is considered as the second authentic source of Islam and one that is far more detailed in the description.
They are filled with lessons of life for humanity, which serve as a guiding beacon to a thinking mind. As we are in the month of Rabi' al-Awwal, which marks the birth and death of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH), let us revisit some of these principles of wisdom that the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) left behind for all of us.
Wise does not Fall Prey to Anger
Once a man approached the Prophet and said, "Advise me." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Do not be angry." The man asked repeatedly, and the Prophet answered each time, "Do not get angry." Why did the Prophet of Islam choose this singular advice?
Life is full of upheavals, and managing disruptions is, therefore, an essential life skill. One who can manage the situation at critical junctures without falling prey to emotional outbursts can successfully cherish this life experience.
Those who cannot rise above the seemingly angry situation to think rationally will suffer from impaired judgement. It is very often that reckless decisions are made in a fit of rage, and only when the anger subsides does one realise the loss he suffered. Since anger cannot be eliminated in essence, the only option for human beings is to continue to manage it while allowing rational thinking to prevail.
Caring about Environment Is a Must
The significant teaching of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) is to live a 'need-based' life and not a 'greed-based life. Unfortunately, the man took to the latter, and it brought us to this life-threatening climatic point in human history. Today, there is a clarion call on protecting our planet's fast-depleting ecological system.
Nature is the greatest benefactor of man, yet we have not been able to protect it. It is time we ask ourselves: Are we giving back to Nature as much we are taking from it? Natural habitats are getting compromised across the planet.
It reminds us of one of the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH), "If a believer plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him." This teaching of the Prophet is a call for action for mankind to heighten awareness of their actions and adjudge them in the light of its potential consequence on Planet Earth and Mother Nature.
Education is the Bedrock of Societal Development
The importance of obtaining education has been highlighted across several traditions of the Prophet of Islam. According to one such tradition, the Prophet (PBUH) said, "The best gift from a father to his child is education and upbringing." The Qur'an and Hadith are full of verses that encourage man to ponder, think and reflect on the meaning of life.
It was this motivation that had turned the era of the end of late antiquity until the late Middle ages into a scintillating period of human history. Scholars deep-dived into many areas, from logic and metaphysics to geography and astronomy, philosophy and natural sciences to optics and alchemy, and from medicine to architecture.
These efforts culminated in Renaissance and marked the development of the modern and post-modern world, as we see today.
Pluralistic Existence Is the Only Way Forward
Diversity has always strengthened the social fabric of every culture that developed it. It is embedded in nature, which is a lesson for us to realise that pluralistic existence is the only way forward for human societies. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) had laid the foundation of an inclusive and pluralistic society at the time of setting up the state in Medina.
According to historians, when the Prophet of Islam migrated from Mecca to Medina, the society of Medina was highly diverse. One of the first significant steps the Prophet (PBUH) took after his arrival in Medina was the creation of a Charter that ensured religious and economic independence for all inhabiting communities.
Referred to as the 'Charter of Medina or 'Sahifat al-Medina,' it outlined various aspects of community organisation and guidance on maintaining harmonious relations between different faiths. This Prophetic example of recognising the diversity and allowing freedom of religion became the essence of a peaceful civic society in Medina.
Peace Is Truly the Greatest Good
Those who know the Arabic language understand that every word in Arabic has a root word. The life of the Prophet of Islam was a living manifestation of this Islamic ideal.
There are countless events from his life that can help us understand the importance he gave to peace. 'Hudaybiyyah Pact' is one such event where the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) showed the world the significance of maintaining peace unilaterally, which the Qur'an acknowledged as an 'Open victory'.
The Prophetic teachings lay great emphasis on a believer's conduct in individual and collective life. Today, as the world is cautiously trying to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic and is reluctantly adjusting to the changes caused in its aftermath.
It is the responsibility of every believer to observe the guidance of these Prophetic principles and contribute to the restoration of society in every way possible.
Only a society that comprises thoughtful individuals can adopt a promising approach towards the future and become a collective that sees opportunities in challenges and becomes the harbinger of peace, hope, and well-wishing for the world.
Raamish Siddiqui is a lawyer, author and Islamic thinker. Twitter: @raamishs