Hazrat Maulvi Sher Alira
Logically speaking, it is not possible for a person to be deemed worthy of being termed the perfect example for the whole world, until and unless they fit the following two criteria:
1. Their habits and practices during day and night should be well-documented for the world to see as well as the conditions surrounding their life and how they lived according to those circumstances. All these aspects should be available to us in clear terms. No aspect of their life should remain hidden from us.
The purpose of an example is for people to try and follow it. If we are not entirely familiar with someone’s example, then how can we possibly imagine emulating that person’s example in our day to day lives. To have a perfect example, it is necessary that a perfect picture of the person is portrayed. Every aspect of their life – how they walked, talked, slept, ate, at night and during the day – should be presented before our eyes as a moving image. No aspect of their life should be hidden in the dark. Such a person cannot be a perfect example for us if the majority of their life, or a large chunk of their life, was kept in the dark and only a few years were shown to the world before they disappeared again; even if just a few years, then those years should reflect their life like a mirror.
2. Their life should have such experiences that every aspect of them should have the potential to serve as a complete example for us. For example, if the said person lived their life in celibacy, then they cannot serve as an example for those who are married. What example can such a person show and of what benefit can their life be to those with spouses and children?
Similarly, if the said person lived their life in poverty and never presented an example as a wealthy person, then even though the impoverished may find an example in that person (provided that even in poverty the person presented an excellent example), but those who are not underprivileged cannot benefit from such an example.
If affluent people wish to find an example in how to live a wealthy life and how to spend in the way of orphans, the underprivileged and the needy, then such a person’s example will be of no benefit to them. Also, if such a person always experienced hardships at the hand of oppressors and never experienced a period in which they had the upper hand over their enemies, then such a person can undoubtedly serve as a model in tolerating and enduring the difficulties of oppressors, but they cannot show an example in how to treat one’s enemies after rising to power and the treatment that should be extended to them.
The question would remain whether, in such circumstances, they should allow the fire of vengeance to burn the enemy or whether they should show generosity and proclaim:
لَا تَثْرِیْبَ عَلَیْکُمُ الْیَوْم
[No blame (shall lie) on you this day.]
Similarly, if a person always remained a subject and never had any authority, then they can provide a good or bad model for subjects, but those in authority cannot hope of seeing an example in such a person – neither in matters of ruling a state and administration of a dominion, nor in drafting laws, enforcing laws with justice and matters of politics, where relations between nations are concerned.
If a person kept to themselves and lived their life as such, never intermixing with the public, then the mystics and those solely focused on worshipping Allah may find a good model to follow, but those going about their day to day lives cannot hope to find an example in them.
Thus, for a person who is to present a perfect example for the world to follow, it is necessary to meet all the aforementioned criteria and they should have had the chance to show the perfect model in every sphere of life. Such a person should be able to show a perfect practical example in every avenue, every condition and all circumstances. For instance, if they never had wealth, then how can they show an example of generosity? And if they never faced danger, then what example can they show of bravery?
These are the criteria that the person, who is to show the perfect example to the world, must meet. If a person falls short in any way in these criteria, then they cannot be considered a worthy perfect example for the world.
Now, I shall present some examples in contrast to other leaders of religions who are also presented as perfect role models for the world. Of these leaders, we only find one such person who perfectly fits the two criteria mentioned above. That person stands alone; he is the Prophet of Arabia, may my mother and father be sacrificed in his way and may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Among the leaders of religions, he is the only pious soul whose life God filled with examples that met the aforementioned criteria and it is only his life that is clearly presented to us without even a fraction hidden in the veils of darkness. His entire life, from birth to death, has been preserved in history. Narrations to do with his childhood conduct and customs are before us and were collected by people who had the honour of spending day and night in his righteous company. Among such people are his close relatives and also are those who, albeit opposed his religious principles, attested to his pure ways; for example, sworn enemies such as Abu Jahl and Umayya bin Khalf.
His life, from his claim to prophethood until his demise, is so well-documented that its example cannot be found with regard to the lives of other prophets. His practices during daytime and his life after nightfall have been covered in great detail. His daily schedule has been described so clearly as though we are able to witness it and live in that period of time, observing every moment.
The first criteria is seen in his life in an unparalleled manner. Then, just as the first criteria was fulfilled by him in an extraordinary fashion, in a miraculous way, the second criteria is also seen completed by him alone. The All-Knowing God, in His infinite wisdom and power, passed him through such revolutionary phases that in a short span of 23 years, he presented a perfect model in every sphere of life for all of mankind to follow. There is not a single human characteristic that he was not given the perfect opportunity to show the perfect example for.
When we observe his life from this angle, we see God’s magnificent ways. The Holy Quran is a miracle in that not only is it a miracle in itself, it possesses all divine facts and there is no religious fact that has been left out from it. In a similar vein, the Holy Prophet Muhammad’ssa life is so miraculous that in such short period of time, he left a pure and perfect example in every aspect of life for people of all walks of life to follow. There is no faculty from human morality for which he did not present an excellent example at the most appropriate time.
Prophet Muhammadsa was born an orphan in a noble, yet poor family. In childhood, he possessed a sense of dignity. At home, he would never even ask for food. To survive, he felt no shame in manual labour work. In fact, he is reported to have once said that he would graze the goats of Mecca for money. He later started work in trade and became famous for his honesty, integrity, clarity and loyalty. His environment was surrounded by idol-worship, alcohol consumption, gambling and various other forms of moral vices, but he always kept away from all types of evils. Among his countrymen, he became widely known as Sadiq and Ameen [truthful and trustworthy]. He would show compassion to his fellow beings, obedience and kindness to his elders and all forms of goodness. He was equipped with all positive attributes.
For 25 years, he remained single and spent this time in a chaste and modest way. Thereafter, he married a 40-year-old widow and until the age of 50, he remained loyal to her. The way he conducted himself was so pure that pious people, upon hearing his claim to prophethood, immediately accepted him. Even the unfortunate people who did not accept him were compelled to admit that though they could not falsify his claim, they would not accept his religion.
After his claim to prophethood, he was bitterly opposed and he and his followers were grossly mistreated. Allah the Almighty extended this period of tribulations to 13 years. His uncle, who had helped him in times of great distress, and his wife, who was a source of comfort for him, both passed away. He had no apparent means of solace. God did this and extended this time of trials and tribulations so that his patience and fortitude may become manifest to the world.
Eventually, under divine command, he sought refuge in a distant land along with his followers. The enemy did not stop in pursuing him even there and stirred a great outcry against him in the whole of Arabia. It was then that, despite being small in number and weak in apparent strength, he was given divine permission to challenge the enemy for protecting himself and the religion of Islam from the enemy. Despite being ill-equipped and numbering very little, he proved victorious over his enemy, rendering them broken and routed, even though they were greater in number and had more experienced fighters. Eventually, facing humiliation, they accepted defeat at his hands. In response, he openheartedly forgave their wrongs and, disregarding all their crimes and damages, embraced them as brothers.
Not only did he defeat the Quraish of Mecca, he also hailed over the enemy tribes in all of Arabia. He thus spread a centre of peace and freedom to the east, west, north and south.
The bravery with which he faced his enemy; the strategy through which he defeated them; the manner in which he transformed the land of beasts and animals to the centre of peace; the way he drafted a moral code for battle in how to treat the captives and the criteria for a truce; the nobility and courageousness he displayed when fighting in battle and the integrity he showed when he peacefully settled for truces; the honesty and decency with which he adhered to truces and the excellent standards he displayed when dealing with the defeated enemy were, and are, excellent examples for the most civilised of nations to follow, and shall remain so.
He left his dear city and settled in Medina, making it the Markaz. He called for a treaty with all the non-Muslim settlements on the principles of cooperation and religious freedom. Later, as fighting had broken out with all tribes of Arabia, he had to strengthen the Markaz. After defeating some of the tribes nearby, he settled for peace with them. For the establishment of peace, he drew out some rules and regulations.
In this manner, gradually, Medina became the headquarters of the Islamic dominion, thus crowning him the king. At that point, the circle of his works had expanded a great deal and so too did his relationships. His roles were vast – a religious leader, moral teacher, social reformer, as well as having to manage all aspects of politics as he was now the king, the commander in chief, the general. He had to devise laws and announce them publicly – he was the judge and the magistrate. He was the one who would complete political moves. As his dominion expanded, so too did his responsibilities, so much so that a time came when he had to deal with neighbouring governments.
Aside from all these responsibilities, his social interactions expanded. His responsibilities and engagements saw such expansion that to define them is an impossible task. But as history bears testimony, he served all these roles in the most beautiful manner. In every role, he showed such an example and laid down such principles that are perfect examples for all humans to follow.
Along with these departments, as his social interactions saw an increase, he had the opportunity to show perfect morals. He exemplified all his morals at the most apt time and in the most apt manner. He was the king but did not desire for any worldly pomp and ceremony, rather he preferred to live the simple life he was used to. He saw a lot of wealth come in, but never did he gather even a little for himself, rather he distributed all of that wealth for the benefit of the less privileged, widows and orphans. For himself, he preferred the simple life of a dervish.
As the book that was revealed to him is perfect, so too was he as a human. As his teachings are perfect, so too is his practical example. In this manner, he exemplified the perfect teachings through practical steps. It was for this reason that an intellectual and righteous lady, who had the opportunity to observe him day and night, said regarding to him:
کَانَ خُلُقُہُ الْقُرْآن
[His conduct was the Holy Quran (personified).]
As the Holy Quran bears perfect guidance for people of all walks of life, similarly, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa showed the perfect example for all types of people. His life is a perfect example for children, adolescents, the elderly, underprivileged, affluent, subjects, rulers, dervishes, kings, religious leaders, social reformers, patriots, political leaders, devout worshippers, businessmen and women, singles, couples, army generals, soldiers, think tanks, leaders of nations, humanitarians, well-wishers, charity workers, policy makers, religious jurists, judges and magistrates.
Thus, his life was a complete and perfect example for people of all nations and of all eras. There is no moral excellence, the perfect example of which was not demonstrated in his lifetime.