“And We have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds (Alameen)” [Quran:Chapter 21 Verse 107}.
With the systematic dismantling of the Islamic Caliphate in the early 1900s by the colonialists and imperialists of the time, the religion of Islam was almost relegated to the realm of obsolescence. However, the latter part of the last century triggered a growing interest in Islam globally. This condition was created by the several events that took place during that period. A strikingly dominant catalyst being the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 which revitalised and re-energised the Muslim world.
At the heart of Islam stands the reality of God, the One, the Absolute and the Infinite. The One God, known by His Arabic name, Allah. “There is no God but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
Age of Ignorance
Today’s world is not much different from what is called by historians as, ‘The Age of Ignorance”(Ayyamul Jahiliyya) during the time of Prophet Muhammed. A comparative analysis of the broad social structure that we are living in today with that of the Age of Ignorance, marks several similarities. To name a few – alcoholism, gambling, racism, trade rivalry, sexual promiscuity, hate and violence, wanton killings of humans, exploitation of women, superstition and idol worship.
Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca, presently Saudi Arabia, circa 570 C.E. He was born into an environment that is described above. He had the toughest task of social re-engineering single-handedly, and his Divine message that there is only One God naturally, upset those used to worshipping several gods in the form of idols. He could not have succeeded in doing anything if not for the Divine guidance he received from Allah. Towards the end of his prophethood, he set an example by excelling in all walks of life by being a prophet, ruler, orator, soldier, husband, friend, father, uncle, nephew, and a grandfather. He was a man of love, patience, courage, wisdom, generosity and intelligence who inspired millions of lives throughout the world. His Prophetic Mission began at the age of forty, circa 610 C.E., and continued until 632 C.E. Part of his mercy was his mission to save mankind from the path of ignorance and to lead them to the straight path; the path of truth and righteousness.
It is stated in the Quran that different prophets of Allah were sent to different people in every age along with the Divine message suitable for that period. Prophets Moses and Jesus have been named in the Quran among many other prophets who walked this earth. The Quran in clear words mentions as follows:
“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], “Worship Allah and avoid false gods.” [Quran: Chapter 16 Verse 36]. Then, as a culmination of this chain, Prophet Muhammed was sent to the entire mankind as a mercy unto the worlds with a universal message. The rationale behind naming Prophet Muhammed as a messenger of Mercy to the entire humanity is predicated by its Finality. The Quran states:
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” [Quran: Chapter 5 Verse 6].
The Final Prophet, the Final Revelation, the Final Message; No more prophets, no more Divine revelations and no more Messages.
The word mercy in Arabic is ‘Rahma’. The word ‘Alameen’ (worlds) is plural of ‘Alam’ which means ‘world’. Then, ‘Rahmatul al alameen’ in Chapter 21 Verse 107 would mean a mercy to all the worlds and that includes all creatures – humans, animals, plants, jinns (an invisible creation), the related eco-systems, environment, etc.
On the theme of Equality of everyone, Prophet Muhammed said in his last Sermon on the plain of Arafat:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action.”
It was the accepted norm during that time for men to have absolute superiority over women. Women were considered to be a social burden. Women had no social status, they were deprived of the right of inheritance, they had no parental rights over their children.
In giving the woman her rightful place within the family and society, the Prophet Muhammed in his last Sermon with reference to women said, “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
The teachings of Prophet Muhammed is so very relevant in today’s world plagued with schism, suspicion, hate, exploitation, chauvinism, injustice, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and all such negative qualities.
The vengeful extent of Islamophobia is seen in the way that they insult, misquote and misinterpret the teachings of this great Prophet and the religion of Islam.
The Prophet died having unified Arabia, ending the prevalent violence, and created peace among tribes that had been fighting each other since time immemorial. He transformed the Age of Ignorance into the golden age of a great civilisation.
He established a humane society that lived with good conduct, respect and dignity which was the reason that many were attracted towards Islam. Even today, there are great lessons and thoughts of wisdom for all of us to learn from the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammed for the common good of everyone, irrespective of our religious inclination.