Reflections on the Prophet’s Birthday [Archives:2001/23/Focus]
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Many Western historians are quick to acknowledge that the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the person who had the greatest influence in shaping the course of human history, and certainly remains undisputed as the source of modern social and political ordinances, which underscore the values of human rights, equity and empowerment. Certainly for the Moslems, the Prophet Mohammed was the source of their salvation from the appalling ignorance of the times that they lived in (whether it be the Ignorance of the Arabs in Pre-Islamic times or the ignorance that is prevalent in modern times, even in the most modern of societies, which suffer from mass social decay and a prevalent lack of true spiritual awareness, notwithstanding their material and institutional progress).
However, realistically speaking, can we truly say that the Moslems of the world are really in keeping with the dynamic and tolerant teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, not only as ordained in the Holy Quran, and as manifested in the life he led and the social order he set out as a model of a true Moslem society in the town of Yathrib, or Medina as it was later called by the Moslems, in honor of their Prophet and in tribute to the people of the City of Yathrib who welcomed and stood by the Prophet and the religion of Allah faithfully and honorably as any true Moslems are expected to accordingly.
In looking at the Moslem world today, one can conclude that there is definitely something wrong somewhere. For sure, a close look will reveal, that the fault of the conditions of the Moslem World lie not with Islam itself, but in fact with the tragic lack of appreciation by the Moslems of what their religion is really all about. In fact, the tragic plight of the Moslems of the world is a result of the unfortunate reliance on mundane aspirations by many of those who aspire for the leadership of the faithful, yet fail to understand the awesome weight of the responsibility that must accompany such leadership and the need for making that leadership a means of enriching the political culture of their people and empowering them to take part in deciding the course of the nation accordingly. In this respect leadership in Islam is a trust and not a privilege and certainly requires a high degree of being accountable to one’s conscience, to their Moslem constituency and to the Lord Al-Mighty. From recalling how the early Moslem Caliphs ruled after the Prophet successfully completed the mission he was entrusted to carry out by Allah, and the severe weight of their consciences in their assessments of the decisions they had to make, one is bound to see a vast different from how many of the leaders that have since risen to the helms in many Moslem lands over many centuries since those exemplary forty years or so, when indeed the Nation of Islam was ruled by the most pious and truly God fearing responsible leadership that only Islam in its true manifestations can produce. Those men were not out to find a record of glory and material opulence for themselves or any of their relatives, tribal clan or community. Those men had only one thing in mind and that is to seek the satisfaction of God Al-Mighty that they have been true to their faith and faithful in the trust that they have accepted to carry. Those men feared, lest that there would be one believer who would testify against them in front of God on the Judgement Day that he/she was in any oppressed, overtaxed or deprived of his rights, in the slightest of way, by the ruler or by the machine that operates the state. It was that kind of leadership that only the Prophet Mohammed could raise and teach, not just by the ordinances he proclaimed to them, but by his lifelong deeds and practices and by the since of brotherhood and reasonableness he insisted to be the hallmark of Islamic jurisprudence.
Furthermore, those early Moslem leaders never failed to underscore the importance of having to come back to the people for guidance as to what constitutes their desires and aspirations, as far as the decisions that had to be made, and if there were sufficient objections to the leaders’ views from the Moslem constituency, then the decision will be weighed accordingly. In fact, even the Prophet, who himself was really in no need of counsel, emphasized the significance of reaching consensus among his followers on all the issues that the state must act upon, to instill among the faithful the idea that Government in Islam can not be allowed to fall into the hands of those who fail to understand that empowerment and human and civil rights are the major social foundations of Moslem Government and anything that breaches such fundamental elements of Government are anathema to Islam, and the consequences of such breach are not just tragic but may, in fact, be well deserved!
So, on this Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, Moslems of the world will do well to first of all look at themselves. They should see where they really have veered off from what the Prophet Mohammed and his early followers clearly showed us to be as the way we should live, be governed and worship God, without burdening the Moslem constituency with extremely unreasonable legislations or religious codes that in essence have turned faith into a series of rituals and worship rites and exaggerated dos and don’ts that have sidetracked most Moslems from truly having a feel for the conscientious and simple ordinances that the Prophet Mohammed clearly set out for the Nation to be guided by and for its rulers to abide by, even more so than anyone else in the Moslem community. Islam is the religion that is guided by human nature in its most innocent and simplistic manifestations and reason and tolerance are the essence of true Islamic Government. Many of those, who are claiming to be advocating for Islam, are asked to do so really with more open hearts and wider scopes of vision, if they can truly hope to reflect the true teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and show Islam to be far more mature and sophisticated in its outlook on life and social legislation than what many of the so called fundamentalist leaders are projecting, either by there deeds or the material and lavish splendor they are thriving in, while they let the lower echelons of their organizations carry out all the dirty work for them, under strict organizational structures that distort the true democratic nature of Islam, giving them promises of great rewards for their sacrifices in the hereafter, while they themselves have never made any sacrifices, except by sacrificing the rights guaranteed by Islam for their misled followers and taking all the rewards for themselves in the here-now.
Happy Prophet’s Birthday and may Allah guide the Nation to the path laid out by the Prophet and his early disciples (God bless them all) and wrest us from all those Moslem leaders, in Government and outside of Government, who have failed the Nation and the trust they have diligently aspired to carry, but so unfaithfully.