CHAPTER TWO The Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and peace be upon him)
- Was the Prophet Muhammad sent with the Message of Islam to the Arabs or to all mankind?
- What were the reasons for the Prophet's marriages?
- What is the proof of the authenticity of the Traditions of the Prophet?
- Are there any contradictions in the Sayings of the Prophet?
(I) Was the Prophet Muhammad sent with the Message of Islam to the Arabs or to all mankind?1- The very first time that Muhammad proclaimed his message to the people, he declared the following: "I am the messenger of God to all mankind and to you in particular". This means that the Divine Message was sent to all mankind right from the very beginning and that the Prophet never claimed that it was meant to be a religion for the Arabs alone. This is confirmed by another of the Prophet's sayings: "Every Prophet was sent to his own people whereas I was sent to all mankind " 1 . 2- Anyone who reads the Quran can understand that the Quran addresses all people and calls upon all mankind to believe in the religion of God. This appeal to all mankind in the verses that were revealed in Mecca, before his emigration to AL Madina is as clear as daylight. For example in the verse 107 of Sura (chapter) 21 we read: " We sent you not but as a Mercy for all creatures". Similarly the opening Sura of the Quran states: "Praise be to God the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds". This was revealed to the Prophet before his emigration to Al Madina where he established the Muslim state. 3- From the aforementioned facts we can decisively refute the allegation that the Prophet changed his plans according to circumstances. There was a gradual development of legislation, which is a normal and logical procedure. It is impossible for any person to change his customary manner of behaviour, conduct, mental attitude, habits or character over night, since inherent deeply rooted customs are very difficult to eliminate. Islam began by establishing the belief in God into the hearts and minds of the people and this was the solid foundation upon which legislation could then be established, in order to be the basis of a gradual change in the peoples' way of life. This was the policy that was followed regarding many religious rulings and laws, such as the gradual prohibition of intoxicants, usury and the abolition of slavery, etc. In fact the Meccan period was a period during which the faith was established and confirmed. Accordingly further religious laws and rulings introduced in the Madinite period.
(II) What were the reasons for the Prophet's marriages?1- Muhammad was twenty five years old when he married Khadija, his first wife, who was fifteen years his senior and had been married twice. She remained his wife for twenty eight years until she died and he did not marry any other woman during this period of his life. He was always faithful to her memory, so much so that so that this loyalty provoked jealousy among some of his wives in later years. 2- The Prophet's nature, character and way of life before and after his prophethood are absolute proof that he was neither lustful nor sensuous. How could a man who was more than fifty years old suddenly change and become a slave to lust, when he had every opportunity as a young man to follow his desires, in common with the other young men of his tribe. On the contrary Muhammed was well known for his virtue and his only wife who was a virgin was A'isha, daughter of Abu Bakr, while most of his wives were widows whom he married for humane reasons or in order to enforce a religious observance or ruling and not for any sensuous desire on his part. 2 3- As regards his marriage to Sawda daughter of Zam'a who was the widow of one of his companions, he was more than fifty years old at the time, and she was neither beautiful, wealthy nor of noble descent. He married her in order to care for and support the family of his companion, who had suffered torture and death for his faith in God. His marriage to'A i'sha,daughter of Abu Bakr and Hafsa, daughter of O'mar at later dates were in order to strengthen the ties between himself and his companions, Abu Bakr and 'Omar. 4- As regards Um Salma, she was the widow of a martyr who had been mortally wounded in the battle of Uhud. She was an old woman and when the prophet proposed marriage to her she tried to excuse herself from accepting because of her age, but the Prophet consoled her and married her for humane reasons. The Prophet married Ramlah, daughter of Abu Sufyan who had emigrated to Abyssinia with her husband who had renounced Islam, become a Christian and had abandoned her leaving her without any maintenance. The prophet sent a message to Al Najashi, who ruled Abyssinia, requesting Ramlah's return to her homeland to deliver her from the estrangement which she felt in a foreign land and to deliver her from the persecution of her own Pagan family in Mecca, had she been forced to return to them. The Prophet also hoped that by this marriage her influential father in Mecca might be induced to embrace Islam. The Prophet married Juwayriya, daughter of Al Harith who was among the captives captured at the battle of Al Mustalaq. Her father was the chief and master of his tribe and the Prophet married her in order to liberate her from captivity and he requested the Muslims to liberate their captives and set them free. This marriage paved way for understanding with the Prophet's previous enemies. The Prophet married Safiya who was the daughter of the chief of the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraiza. She was allowed to choose between returning to her People or being set free by marrying the Prophet and she preferred to marry the Prophet to returning to her tribe. 3 5- The Prophet' s marriage to Zeinab, daughter of Jahsh, who was his cousin, was in order to establish a religious ruling. She had been married to Zeid ben Haritha, the Prophet's adopted son. Their marriage did not last long and she was divorced. It was the custom of the Arabs during that period to prohibit any marriage between a man and his adopted son's divorced wife. The Prophet was ordered by God to marry Zeinab in order to abolish this ruling which was totally unnecessary. The following Quranic verse abolished this ruling: "... Then when Zeid had dissolved his marriage with her, with the necessary formality, we joined her in marriage to you: in order that the in future there may be no difficulty in the matter of marriage with the wives of their adopted sons,when the latter have dissolved with the necessary formality their marriage with them and God's Command must be fulfilled.'' (33/37)
(III) What is the proof of the authenticity of the Traditions the Prophet?Some western orientalists are doubting the authenticity of the traditions of the Prophet. For example Goldziher considers them to be the invention of Muslims in the early time of Islam. The answer to all these allegations is as follows. 1-The Prophet's Traditions are the second source of the Faith of Islam after the Quran. The Prophet was commanded by God to relate to all the people everything that had been inspired to him by God and in addition the explanation of the Quran 's verses. (5/67:16/44, 64) The Prophet's interpretation of the Quran, his conduct, his actions, and his advice are all essential elements of his Traditions. The prophet himself referred to the necessity of adhering to his traditions in his famous farewell speech in which he said: "I have left two matters for you and if you adhere to them both you will never be misled. They are God' s Book the Quran, and my Traditions". 2-There is no denying that there are many false fabricated traditions and sayings that have been related to the Prophet but the learned scholars of Islam were always aware of this possibility and accordingly scrutinized every single tradition related to the Prophet. The Quran has stated the most important method for judging any matter namely: "O you who believe! If a wicked person come to you with any news, ascertain the truth...'' (49/6). The personality, character and conduct of the person who relates the tradition are important factors to be taken into consideration when judging the authenticity of his version of Tradition. This rule has assisted the Muslims who applied it to the people who narrated the Prophet 's Traditions. This method of criticism has led to the development of the science of historical research. 3- As a result of the importance of the Prophet 's Traditions, Muslim scholars have done their utmost to confirm the authentic Traditions and to reject the false and fabricated versions. They also established new branches of learning related to the Traditions of the Prophet. These new branches of learning include the science of ascription, of challenging and contesting a point of argument and the science of adaptation all of which were introduced for the express purpose of investigating the character, conduct, way of life and the credibility of those who related Tradition of the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad had warned the people of attributing any false sayings, or actions to him saying: "He who attributes falsehoods to me intentionally shall dwell in the fire of Hell". 4- One of the many scholars, who devoted his life to the study of authenticating the Prophet' s Traditions is Imam Al Bukhari (810- 870H.). 4 He collected more than half a million traditions attributed to the Prophet which he scrutinized, examined and studied painstakingly and methodically. After applying the strict academic elimination of doubted traditions, he finally approved only nine thousand Traditions. If we omit the Traditions, which convey the same meaning, we are left with only three thousand traditions. Other Muslim scholars followed Al Bukhari's method of authenticating the traditions that they studied. 5- Following the painstaking efforts made by the Muslim scholars to authenticate the Traditions, six books on the Prophet's traditions were approved and acknowledged. They are entitled: Bukhari's Authentic Traditions, Muslim's Authentic Traditions, The Prophet's Traditions by Al Nisa'y by Abu Dawood, by Al Tirmizy and Ibn Maja. There are also many books, which mention and reject tens of thousands of un-authenticated and fabricated traditions. Thus it is evident that Muslim scholars have studied and authenticated the Prophet's Traditions with unparalleled devotion and accuracy and that to cast any doubt upon this matter is totally unjustified.
(IV) Are there any contradictions in the Sayings of the Prophet?One of the main objections against the authenticity of the traditions of the Prophet is the allegation that they would contain contradictions. Therefore, I would like to add the following reflections to my argumentations in the preceding section of this chapter. 1-The Quran commands Muslim to be guided by what the Prophet said and to consider him as their ideal. This is stated in the following Quranic verses: "He who obeys the Prophet obeys God". (4/80). "So take what the Prophet assigns to you, deny yourselves that which he withholds from you" (59/7). The Prophet's Traditions include all that the Prophet permitted us to do and all that he forbade us to do. Therefore the Traditions of the Prophet are an essential part of the Faith of Islam and if we neglect to abide by them we will be willfully disobeying the Quran. 2- There is no difficulty in distinguishing an authentic tradition from inauthentic or fabricated tradition after the Muslim Scholars laid down the rules in this matter, several centuries ago. As we mentioned already in the last section, we can never dispense with the Prophet 's traditions since they are the second source of the faith of Islam. We must adhere to the teachings stated in the traditions and realize that any doubt concerning contradictory traditions can be clarified by applying the method and the rules established by the Muslim scholars, which enable one to distinguish the authentic tradition from the inauthentic and fabricated ones. 3- The Traditions of the Prophet are the most precise interpretation of the verses of the Quran by the Prophet himself so how can we possibly dispense with them because of imaginary reasons. Muslims perform their daily prayers according to the manner and instructions described in detail in the Traditions of the Prophet. The manner of performing one's prayers is not mentioned in the Quran and there are many other similar matters that are explained in the Traditions. 4- The scriptures of the divine religions that preceded Islam were written in a manner and style similar to that of the Prophet's Traditions, yet none of he followers of these religions (Jews and Christians) demanded that they should be rejected as a result of the inconsistency that exists in certain religious observances and the lack of authenticity concerning some events. Such matters must be studied objectively and authentic proofs concerning inconsistent narratives must be sought and this is the method that was established and followed by the scholars of Islam centuries ago. 1- Related by Al Bukhari. 2- Islam in the mirror of Western Thought ,pp.31/42. 3- Al Aqqad , Abbas. True facts about Islam and the falsehood of its opponents. P.192, Cairo 1957. 4- Iqbal, Mohammad, The Renewal of Religious Thought in Islam, page 160.