And then this world set about inventing the most bizarre, corrupt and foolish rationalizations and justifications for doing so and the flimsiest of fig leaves to cover its utter moral and spiritual nakedness and bankruptcy in this regard.
That is the kind of mixed up world it is in which we live today.
Allah bless Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, his progeny and his noble and glorious Companions, as he liked to called them for the blessed and most wonderful change they brought into this world. What a change that was in itself: calling your most devoted, obedient and ardent followers with the exalted title of “Companions,” not “Followers,” as everyone else did and does.
Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his Companions changed the world using the twin-message and the bi-variate model of the Qur’an: Education and character.
While those whose heads overflow with ignorance and or whose hearts are brimming with hate, anger, malice and prejudice insist that he spread his message with the sword, those who are blessed by God Almighty with even an iota of honesty and decency know that he did it using not the sword but the pen – using the twin formula of character and education.
Let me repeat those words: Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, totally and thoroughly transformed the world using the twin formula of universal education and character building, and not through coercion or force.
Lies and Propaganda
The charge that Islam was spread by the sword is part of a malicious and hate-filled propaganda that was let loose against Islam, Muslims and Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, by all sorts of enemies, including, sadly, the Christian Church and Western governments. The list included the Orientalists. These were people like Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Bernard Lewis and others who studied Islam mainly to uncover what they perceived to be its weaknesses and publicize and attack them.
The Qur’an itself anticipated the lies, propaganda, hate and hostility that the worshippers of money, power, race, religion, country and self-interest would direct at the truth that the Qur’an embodied and which Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, practiced, preached and used to change the world.
It is “The Pen” – al-Qalam – and education that will teach and change the world, the Qur’an proclaimed, through gentle persuasion and reasoned discourse, and not through coercion or force symbolized by the sword. And yet the enemies of Islam and Muslims, and the enemies or truth and honesty, never noticed this teaching of the Qur’an. They were busy inventing the lies they did to malign Islam and its teachings as well as to deny and diminish its many glorious accomplishments throughout history.
Said the Qur’an about God Almighty that he was the one who used “The Pen” to teach the world: Alladhee ‘allama bil-Qalam! There simply is no parallel to this in the annals of human discourse.
So that is the message of the Qur’an, and that was also the tested and tried method of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam: universal education on the one hand and the most thoroughgoing character training and transformation on the other hand.
Universal education and character training! That is the message and that is the method. The Qur’an refers to the education part as Ta’aleem. And it calls the character part Tazkiyah.
Using these two divine tools that God gave him, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, single-handedly, gave the world a most comprehensive and thorough-going education on every physical and spiritual front. And thus did he pluck the world from the Dark Ages of Jahiliyyah – compound and calamitous ignorance and backwardness that surrounded the world on every topic from God to his creation – and propel it to a new era of lasting enlightenment and progress on every count and in every way.
And, believe it or not, he did all this in about 20 years or so.
The Mission of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam
Hear the Qur’an provide a sketch of the glorious mission, the goals and purposes, for the accomplishment of which Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was sent in this world: Wa Yu’allimuhumul kitaaba wal hikmata wa yuzakkeehim.
Here is a paraphrase:
- He educates “The People”; he teaches them; he imparts to them knowledge: Yu’allimuhum.
- He teaches them all things theoretical, abstract and from the book: Al-kitaab.
- He trains them in all things practical, useful and pragmatic: Al-hikmah.
- He molds and shapes their character in the most pure, perfect and productive manner: Yuzakkeehim.
To sum up: Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, thus, teaches people the knowledge of the Book and all the wisdom required to translate the principles and teachings of that Book into practical, operational models of everyday living.
That means, mark you, all things, pertaining to this world as well as to the next world. It is not just this world or just the next world, but both worlds: Dunya as well as Aakhirah.
So, knowledge of Kitaab and Hikmah plus Tazkiyah is what changed the world then. And it is precisely this combination that can and will change the world again.
And it is, believe it or not, precisely this combination and this formula that can and will reshape, recreate and regenerate the world in every age and in every place. For every people, nation and society on earth for as long as the world lives.
Ever since the passing of the Great Dark Ages of Jahiliyyah, the Arabs reached an age of unparalleled enlightenment using this formula. The Egyptians did it. The Spanish Muslims did it. Iraq and Syria did it. Indian, Chinese and Russian Muslims did it. The Turks did it.
The great societies of Mali, Timbuktu and other places in Africa did it. And everyone, everywhere did it.
Even those who were not Muslims such as those in Europe, America, Japan and other places, made progress and transformed their lives, cultures and societies using the teachings and methodologies of the Qur’an and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Even though they did so only piecemeal and partially and without giving any credit or acknowledging any debt to the Qur’an or the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Or the Muslims.