By Dr Ali Shariati
Truly, even thinking about the Prophet is extremely difficult and awe inspiring. A great personage like Ali said: “Whenever we found the situation to be grave, we used to take refuge in the Prophet of God and sought the shelter of his presence in order to feel safe and protected in his loving company”. How sublime and lofty was the personality of this great man. It is quite natural that our limited and little minds are unable to realize this greatness. The tools and criteria that we have to evaluate and measure men by, fail to assess and understand such a great being. Hence, we are compelled to understand him within the limits imposed on our intellects.
Strength and Popularity at their Peak:
One of his characteristics’ (with which I myself came across while lecturing on the life and personality of the Prophet) indicates that no personage has existed in the annals of history in whose being both strength of character and popularity, at such a high level, were combined together in this way. In a personage of such greatness, which inspires awe, fear, and another quality; which fills the heart with a special kind of friendly love for him, has never been integrated with each other. The love-ableness of the Prophet is separate from his prophet hood; for instance Moses, Abraham and Jesus were also prophets and all of them were loved and respected by their people as prophets and apostles of God. But our Prophet possessed an additional quality, and that was the compassion of all who came in contact with him. (We who know and love the Prophet through his words alone can naturally imagine to what extent those who dealt with him personally, could love him.) This dimension of his personality was, in itself such a great force that many of his Companions were greatly affected by his words in such a way that they feared that the Quranic verses reflecting the Prophet’s utterances filled their hearts so full that even the words of the Quran might not fit. They were anxious to remember whatever he said, because they loved him so much they memorized his words by heart. Even today, after the passage of fourteen hundred years, his words are so familiar to the masses of Makkah and Madinah, who now have no culture whatsoever and have fallen to the lowest intellectual level, it is as if the Prophet is still alive and speaking to them. His words, his reminiscences, his relics, his memoirs and all that belong to him are ever recounted by the people, as if he still resides in Madinah. Even the drivers, grocers and vendors those who are not acquainted with history, who have never read about his life and character and are illiterate still feel his presence among them. As if he was still alive, and in contact with them.
In the course of these fourteen hundred years, no incident, no rift or gap has been able to create a gulf or distance between them and the Prophet (this is something very unusual). This love-ableness is wonderful and extraordinary, to the extent that when one reads his biography, after some time one begins to love him. All this greatness within all this simplicity seems to be impossible is a miracle in itself. Philosophically, it is to contain the whole world in an eggshell, but this actually became reality.
While sitting in the corner of the Prophet’s Mosque, one can imagine the magnificence of the Prophet. What kind of a man was this person who razed all the great empires of the world to the ground? Who was he? What was the extent of his might and strength? Those of you who have fortunately visited this mosque can envision it in your mind. The additions that have been made to the Prophet’s Mosque, are fully distinguishable. If you envision that portion of the Prophet’s Mosque which is between the columns colored in yellow ochre, it was the entire area of the Prophet’s Mosque, both the covered and uncovered area measured 2,100 sq cubits. The area covered by the yellow ochre columns with a golden margin, indicates the exact place where the columns were erected during the Prophet’s time. In place of the present columns date trees were placed (exactly in the same place where the present columns stand). It perfectly reveals the nature and extent of the government which brought down and destroyed the majestic edifice of the Roman Empire and leveled to the ground the lofty mansions of the Mada’in rulers within the short period of less than a quarter of a century. A few houses made of mud in one corner of the courtyard of the mosque, a pulpit in another corner. a nitche at the distance of two three meters; there a small house, here the site of the mosque and the place where he prayed, and in that corner he used to converse with the people. This was the centre of his power* the entire domain of his strength, which served as the base of Islam throughout the entire world. This was actually the whole administration he controlled until the time of his death.
When one views that history was made in this small space of ten to twelve meters and all the ancient magnificent powers were humbled to the ground, one has to believe that it was in fact an extraordinary phenomenon. One can feel this miracle and witness it with his own eyes.
The other specific quality of the Prophet’s personality is that in every place of the (Arabian) Peninsula, which the Prophet visited, man feels a sense of attachment to that land and is attracted to its soil, its pebbles and the mountains thereof. It attracts the heart like a magnet, as if one has entered a magnetic field. At first I thought that maybe since I knew what had happened on the other side of the mountain Abu Qubays, and what role it played in the Prophet’s life, and I knew about the gloomy years when the sequence of the revelations was interrupted for years those nights, when sometimes the Prophet even considered throwing himself down, made a great emotional impression on me, for they had a specific attraction for me. Even though, when a group of Germans and other youths came to visit this place, even before I told them about where we were, (we were talking and as we passed through the ravines of Bani ‘Amir and Bani Hashim, and went up the summit of Abu Qubays), when we reached the tops all of them had the same unconscious feeling, even though they did not cherish any memory which could stir their feelings.
The Elevated Status of The Prophet:
Today I shall describe some very unique characteristics of the Prophet, since it is a day especially connected with his person. On all other days we can talk about his philosophy and ideology. Today is not the anniversary of the beginning of his prophetic mission, it is his birthday. Due to this, it is not improper if I choose to speak about him personally, the characteristics of this great personage and his personality.
Whenever one reads the account of his life, the places where he lived, one realizes the one of the characteristics inherent to his nature was his choice of high and lofty places like an eagle. Wherever he went and put up his tent, he chose the highest point. For instance, during Haji he would go to ‘Arafat. His spiritual state was exactly like a bird that dwells in lofty heights. If you look at Mina, the highest hilltop there is Khayf, where the mosque of Khayf is situated that is the place where the Prophet preferred to stay.
Arafat is a desert and a plateau. There is a hill in a corner. You know that at Arafat the Prophet went and stayed there.
Before he was appointed to the prophet hood, he chose the mount of Hira, which was the highest and the most mysterious mountain among the mountains surrounding Makka, to go into retreat and seclusion. Unlike the hermits and recluses who chose basements and underground places, burrows, secluded spots and caves for this purpose, even the place that he chose to go into seclusion was a mountain top, a lofty peak and a summit. These are spiritual and psychological matters but they are indications of his existential experience. Sometimes the individualistic behavior of a person reveals the greatness of his being and his innate characteristics.
Destroying the Old Value System and Creating a New One:
He was a man who wielded so much power and might that even when his enemies wanted to abuse him, they would say: “He is a Prophet equipped with arms and his religion is the religion of the sword”. For the world his image is projected as that of a warrior. None of the Roman, Aramaic, Greek or Arian generals ever fought as many battles as our Prophet. What is important is not the extent of battles but the occupation in martial activities. The Prophet was engaged in battles for eight years. During this period of time he fought 64 or 65 battles, which if averaged out, will show that he had a military expedition every forty or fifty days. No single military man, considering his military operations alone, has been able to engage himself in as many battles, (64 or 65) during a ten year period of social and political responsibilities.
Nevertheless, his Companions never considered him to be a military man. People came to him with their smallest problems. A woman opened her heart to him complaining that her husband does not sleep with her. He was so accessible to the people that she comes to the Prophet without having the slightest idea of his superiority . (To whom can you speak to in this manner? You dare not speak of; such trifle matters to the clergy in your neighbourhood. ) This woman comes and detains the Prophet for an hour. She recounts to him the habits of her husband; she tells him how he is when he comes home; how bad is his mood; what she says, and how he answers; what he said the last night; how many nights he has not slept with her; how he behaves with her; how he supports her, doesn’t support her… He sits patiently, and listens to her in such a manner that she is encouraged to return the next day again. Tomorrow her neighbors also come. The day after tomorrow all the other women come to him. It is obvious that he does not behave in a way that the very first day a person feels that he or she was mistaken, should not have come to him. Till his death no one realized that he was mistaken to behave with him in this manner. His firmness, grandeur, greatness and his worldly prestige overwhelmed all those, irrespective of friend or foe who did not see him. But those who saw him, they found in him an intimate, lovable friendly person. Unlike the great worldly personages who appear little and humble from a distance and dreadful and terrible from near.
An old woman wanted to speak with him. She saw the Prophet emerging from his quarters and came face to face with her. The Prophet felt that she wanted to tell him something. She stopped and waited, when he saw that she would not come forward, he himself went to her. He noticed that she was trembling and tongue-tied (she was over-awed by the Prophet’s personality). He came and held her by the shoulders like a child and said, “Mother whom are you afraid of ? I am the son of that Qurayshi woman who used to milk sheep. Whom do you fear?” This is the new value system which was created by him, as he broke the old value system.
We have again returned to those very aristocratic values. Even while speaking about our Prophet, we judge him by criteria that is contrary to the mission of his prophet hood. Imam Sadiq speaks about the Prophet thus:
“The Prophet used to sit as a servant siteth, used to take his meals as a servant eateth; and indeed he regarded himself to be a servant”.
(It was not a feigned appearance, but in reality he considered himself to be a servant. What a strange thing.)
Besides being a social privilege, aristocracy has its own specific symbols. It has its own style of dressing, its own specific decorations, its own means of transportation, its own specific sources of livelihood, its own specific titles all these are the signs of aristocracy, whether it may be the clerical elite, for if you look at the titles of this class, the whole writing space will be filled or it may be the political or a privileged class elite. It makes no difference as to which kind of aristocracy a person belongs. One of the signs of aristocracy, for example, is having a long beard this was prevalent in Russia several years ago. servant. But the latter is more appropriate.
The members of senior families used to grow very long beards.
Some other signs of aristocracy include: long robes, long sleeves, titles and the possession of a horse. Horseback riding formed one of the essential constituents of chivalry in Europe, Iran and many other parts of the world. Nobles were called ‘Chevalier’ in Europe (derived from cheval, which means horse). In Iran ‘Aswaran’ means equestrian (the family of the nobles were called Aswaran). The kings’ titles were ‘Goshtasb’, ‘Bayarasb’, ‘Lohrasb’ etc. meaning the possessor of ten horses, a hundred horses, two hundred horses and so on, which was in itself a symbol of aristocracy. Even in the aristocratic system of China, and similarly of Europe the common people had no right to mount a horse. Not for the reason that they did not have sufficient money, even if they had money they were not allowed to have a horse for the horse and sword were specific privileges of nobles and their families. Nevertheless the Prophet, even when he went to a battle, used to ride a camel, and during his journeys used to ride a she-camel or a mule. Ali (A) said that the Prophet used to ride an ass. An ass was the most inferior and meanest of animals, usually used by the humblest of the people. And it is even humbler not to use a saddle. It is similar to riding a bicycle without a chain. This is a sign indicating the lowest status of a man, or rather having no status at all. It is a greater dishonor to share such a humble beast with somebody else for a ride. The Prophet often liked to travel about the city in this manner.
He even caught his own beard in his hands and repeatedly commanded (to follow his example), and cursed the people (who grew long beards) saying: “Whatever (hair of the beard) exceeds the measure of a fist will be burnt in the flames”. With great zeal he ordered all the long robes to be cut short and declared that no Muslim had a right to wear a cloak below the knee. We see that in the aristocratic system the higher the status of a person is, the longer the length of the dress
For example in ancient China the skirts of the gentry were tailored a few meters longer than their height, and since it became difficult to move in such garments, they were collected and put in a basket with four wheels which were carried by slaves. This shows that the cutting short of the robes was basically a revolutionary, categorical, profound and meaningful act. It was intended to break the values of aristocracy.
Doing away with titles of honor. The Prophet was intent upon making revolutionary amendments in names as well. If someone was named Abu al-Aass, the Prophet said! ‘Nay, it should be Abu Muti’ . Henceforth, he was called by the name Abu Muti’ alone.
Sometimes he himself conferred titles on men. Even today we have a custom in our villages to call persons by specific titles, but these titles have derisive, malicious, or aristocratic and racial implications. But the titles bestowed by the Prophet (S), despite revealing a sense of humor had a pleasant tint. (For instance) he saw a person carrying a cat, he called him Abu Hurayrah, which became his name. Once he entered the mosque. He saw Ali (A) sleeping on the ground and asked him to wake up. When Ali (A) woke up they saw that his hair, his clothes and his face were covered with dust. He said: “What happened? O Abu Turab” (the father of dust). Henceforth Hadrat Amir (A) very much loved to be called by this nickname alone. The values were completely transformed. His values were absolutely contrary to the titles that the clerics, aristocrats and the elite contrived for themselves.
The Prophet’s Training:
One of the characteristics of the Prophet was that he was from among common men. (Though this is a term improper a more suitable term does not exist.) He was absolutely and purely illiterate. What is training or education? To train means to mould and fashion a personality. What are the factors that are effective in training a human being?
One of the characteristics of the Prophet was that he was from among common men. (Though this is a term improper a more suitable term does not exist.) He was absolutely and purely illiterate. What is training or education? To train means to mould and fashion a personality. What are the factors that are effective in training a human being?
In my view there are five factors that participate in the formation of an individual: First, it is the mother who shapes the first dimensions of the personality of a child. Second, the father. Third; ideology, educational institutions and culture. Fourth: Civilization. Fifth: Essentially the spirit of the period in which you live. Take yourself as an example. You were brought up by your mother. The next training you received was from your father. The third kind of training was educational whatever you have studied. The fourth factor of your training is that you are from Tehran. The fifth factor is that you are living in the twentieth century. If you lived in Tehran at the time of Nasiruddin Shah You would have shared four factors with the present Tehrani, but your age would be different. These are the five factors.
The Prophet of Islam did not enjoy any of these five factors effective in molding an individual’s personality. His father died before he was born. (This factor is absent.) Secondly, immediately after his birth, he was separated from his mother and taken to the desert to be nursed. He remained there for two years. He should have been brought back to his mother after that period, but on account of a plague, before his mother could embrace him he was again taken back to the desert. The plague prevented him from being brought up by his mother. Until the age of five, he neither saw his father nor his mother. At the age of five he was returned to his mother. The mother, who had lost her husband and he was her only child, for the first time took him under her care and intended to take him to Madinah so that he could visit his uncles, her father and her family. (The mother of the Prophet belonged to the tribe of Banu Najjar of Madinah) But his mother died on the way to Madinah and the child, Muhammad, was left alone in the middle of the desert.
The third factor is civilization, and the Prophet was born among the crudest of the nomadic people of the age. The Arabian Peninsula was also a peninsula from the cultural as well as the geographical points of view. Geographically it is a peninsula, a piece of land surrounded by water on three sides, but paradoxically not a single drop of water fell on this desert. A dry island. Culturally also it is a peninsula. On the one side Greek civilization, Palestine on the other; on this side Iran and Iraq, and India lies on that side all these civilizations surrounded it, but none of the signs of the surrounding cultures ever penetrated it. Thus, the Prophet grew up in a virgin desert land, bereft of culture and civilization, and was brought up in a virtual cultural vacuum.
The fifth factor time, was under the domination of the Roman culture, Alexandrian culture and Iranian culture. Time was controlled by these cultures. No age or time existed during the seventh century A.D. in the Arabian Peninsula. It is true that now we are living in the twentieth century, but actually we do not live in the twentieth century. Even today there are Bedouin tribes who do not wear clothes. If you look at their calendar. you will believe that they belong to the twentieth century, but the twentieth century does not exist for them. They live in the twentieth century B.C.!
You can see that the Prophet was an individual who was not influenced in the slightest manner by any one of the five factors that play an active role in the training and raising of an individual. He grew up as a completely free being, independent of any influences. It is on account of this that he had an immense capacity to understand, and accept new concepts, meanings and values that humanity could not have comprehended. It is for this very reason that he was able to defeat and demolish all the old values and cultures, all the systems of education and training, all the beliefs, and all that was sacred to them. Had he had an opportunity of being trained under any system, he would have been influenced by the existing values of the time.
According to these facts, the Prophet’s being illiterate is an indication of the pureness of his being. Age, family, history, culture and moral molding, none of these had the slightest role in his development. For this reason, he could easily comprehend the concepts that were completely unprecedented and revolutionary. A philosopher who studies philosophy in Alexandria, Athens or Hamadan could never have such an immense capability.
Power in Weakness:
There are really many peculiarities in the Prophet’s life. In the seventh year of his migration he went to Makkah and declared: “We wish to circumambulate around the Ka’bah as other Arabs do. We also wish to perform the ritual.” They did not allow him to enter Makkah and bluntly said: “Go away, we shall not let you to do it”. He returned frustrated and disappointed. How can a person who cannot exercise a right which is granted to an Arab Bedouin, and is so weak in his own country, come back and write to the superpowers of that age; the Iranian and Roman emperors? He wrote to them: “In the name of Allah. Surrender to me, otherwise, what will come to you will be of your own doing.” What a tone and a manner! What a great bully! Well, Brother! With what strength? Just now you were turned back by Abu Sufyan and were forced to stop at the gate of Makkah, and you were so helpless that you had to comply and turn back, as you had no other choice. And now that you have been turned back, on what authority do you write a letter? And in such a manner! It seems that he possesses the strength of a mountain. Otherwise, how could it be possible? He is not deranged. He is a sensible, reasonable man. He has calculated all the pros and cons and he knows very well that the emperor Khusrow abd Parviz does not need to send a company of soldiers to arrest him. He could have easily asked one of his slaves in Yemen to go and arrest that Arab! And that’s what Khusrow did. He did not even send some of his soldiers to Madinah in order to bring him. He asks Bazan his protege in Yemen “Go and see what type of a dreamer is he who behaves so nonsensically. And wrote a letter to me asking me to surrender to him.” He could have sent four persons to arrest him, and that would have been enough!
In spite of the existence of such a great power in the world and realizing his own weakness, he issues warnings to all the great powers on earth. In the seventh year of the Hijrah he wrote and dispatched these letters. (It is significant that he wrote these letters in the seventh year of the Hijrah.)
The Prophets Domestic Life:
With all this greatness, while he enters his house, his wives see in his countenance an ordinary good husband alone. What kind of a person he is that outside his home, emperors are afraid of him, he is tough and wields so much power and has such a great spirit. But, as he enters his house, his wives, the same women who used to fear their husbands and fathers used to seize him by the collar, call him names, and tease him. They reproach him tauntingly by saying: “What kind of life is this that you are leading? Look how other people live, what kind of house they have, how their daughters live, how their wives live ! Is this the house that you have built for us’?” According to the narrations of Abu Hurayrah, month after month passes and no smoke rises out of his kitchen. When they wished to be indulged in luxury, they used to take seeds of the dates and knead them with dates (even then no cooking!) till they were softened. He too liked them very much, and whenever he wanted to fill his stomach lavishly, he ate them. This was the kind of life, house, and furniture he had.
With all this greatness, while he enters his house, his wives see in his countenance an ordinary good husband alone. What kind of a person he is that outside his home, emperors are afraid of him, he is tough and wields so much power and has such a great spirit. But, as he enters his house, his wives, the same women who used to fear their husbands and fathers used to seize him by the collar, call him names, and tease him. They reproach him tauntingly by saying: “What kind of life is this that you are leading?
In Europe a person delivered a speech on the topic “The Prophet, his loves and wives”. I also delivered a speech as a rejoinder to what he had uttered on this topic. I said: What kind of a home did the Prophet have? It was a room made of mud, which he built himself. Half of the room was covered by a mat and the remaining by sand. The sand was brought from the desert and changed every few days, so that it would not become dirty. The house made of mud walls belonging to his favorite wife Ayesha, is also furnished in the similar manner. This all the furniture that a great emperor possesses. And how did he behave with those wives? In relation to his wife and family he is no longer a Prophet of God. Once Umar’ objected: “How you spoil them!” Hafsah’ was afraid of ‘Umar, but the Prophet had made her cheeky ‘Umar used to ask his daughter: “What is the matter? Why are you so proud?” Hafsah, a widow, was ill-tempered and ugly. No one would marry her. ‘Umar made every effort to find a husband for her, but he was unsuccessful. In order to unburden him of his responsibility, the Prophet sought her hand in marriage. This ugly, ill-tempered widow always created a sorry fight for the Prophet and always embarrassed the Prophet by her shouting. The Prophet adjusted to her and their whole life, they lived together compatibly. It is after all an amazingly rare quality to show such great patience, courtesy and humility towards others.
Muhammad: The Friend of the Oppressed:
He is the only friend of the widows, the homeless and the strangers whom he saw in the streets of the city the persons whom nobody greets with a salaam, and nobody bothers to return greetings. Sometimes, when passing he sees that these strangers, shepherds and paupers who are seated on the ground have spread a cloth laying their humble meal upon it, consisting of bread suitable for a camel only, they invite him to join them, and he eagerly sits down and shares their food. He is not posing for photographers to click their cameras. No, not at all. He sits and chats with them amicably and makes friends with them. He invites them to honor him by coming to his home for supper that evening.
He comes lower and lower, as if there is no one humbler in Madinah. Returning from (the battle of) Banu Mustalaq. (This is really terrific at such a time when the values prevalent were all aristocratic ones.) Among the inhabitants of Madinah nobody was left except old women, the crippled and children, for all the warriors had gone to the battlefront, and now the army was returning home They all went to receive the triumphant soldiers, under the command of the Prophet. All the women, children, families, old and elderly persons and respectable citizens of Madinah and those who stayed behind had formed rows. An obscure laborer, who had been shoveling when he saw the Prophet and the holy fighters advancing, hid himself behind the crowd, humbly watching from a corner. He did not consider himself to be worthy enough to come forward to offer his greetings. (He thought of himself as a non-entity, not a personage to come forward and salute the warriors; no, he felt he should watch from a distance only). When the Prophet saw that the people have come to greet him and formed rows, he unmounted his horse and passed through the rows of the people, shaking hands with everyone.
He happened to see the laborer at the farthest end behind all the people. Breaking through the line he advances towards him. This person became nervous, (What? Is it possible’?) he had not prepared himself for such a thing. He threw aside his shovel and offered his hand. The Prophet was shocked to feel something rough like a stone in his hand. Wondering he asks, “What has happened to your hand?” The laborer says: “Nothing! I work with a shovel. I am a worker, a laborer, my hands have become calloused, mud-covered and dried.” The Prophet was visibly moved, as to why he did not realize the cause of the hardness of this hand from the beginning. He feels compelled to compensate for his omission. He expresses this feeling by holding the worker’s hand, kissing it and raising it high in front of his army, declaring: “This is the hand that will not be touched by the fire.” What an extraordinary person! A strange phenomenon!
Now look, they want to analyze the revelation in terms of physics, and discover what color it is. It is actually something else and has come from another place! When and from what time? From which period, and what conditions? The great French Revolution is not known to him, and he has not read Victor Hugo, etc…. civilization flourishes in Iran and Rome. They enjoyed the fruits of education and culture, but you know what kind of values they had. In India, which had a great culture three thousand years prior to this event, even today, in the twentieth century, while the workers, after completing their day’s work want to take wages from the employers in the evening, they carry a bowl with them, so that the employer may drop coins in it and his hand may not touch the untouchables’ hands. This is an idea newly introduced in the modern world that the aristocratic values should be discarded. But was not conceived in the tribal and traditional agricultural society. Then try to understand what has happened. Here is a gentleman well- versed in English, is modern, knows Europe and the world, but still lacks such values. The world is governed by such a value system.
Here is the Prophet, who considered the kissing of the hands a sign of infidelity, yet kissed the hands of only two persons: The hand of a lady-Fatimah and the hand of a laborer.
The Prophet’s Discipline:
It is really difficult for me to speak about the Prophet. I chose to speak about his personal and private life, so that I may do some justice to the topic. Despite saying that he was a simple person, there are still other such qualities that are specific to his and his personality alone. One of these qualities is his discipline. He is just like the Secretary General of the United Nations! Three rooms made of mud and thatched with the leaves of the date palm (this is what his entire organization consisted of) are organized and coordinated in such a way the same administration, the same life that the greatest of all bureaucracy of the world cannot be compared to. He is like a phenomenon a natural phenomenon like a small fragment of the world. Muhammad, is a microcosm in the form of a human being. He functions as a computer, as a mathematical device. Have a look at his mosque. (I am not in a position to elaborate this point any further.)
His life was very simple and at the same time very regular and exact. He had several wives, but he goes to Umm al- Masakin,’ who is ten to twelve years his senior (her son, who was of the Prophet’s age, had come to ask for his hand in marriage to his mother) in the same manner as he goes to ‘Ayeshah. Throughout his whole lifetime he did not commit a single act of discrimination. Except when he fell ill and it became essential for him to remain in one place, he sought permission from his wives, which they ought to have granted him, so that he could stay in one house. How could the same person, move about in the streets on all fours, so that the children could climb up upon his back and enjoy a ride, maintain such a discipline in his affairs?
There are three columns, the columns on which the roof of his rooms rests, three trunks of the date tree. It is written on one of them Ustuwanat al-Halaq the column of rings, on the other, Ustuwanat al-haras the column of guards and Utuwanat al-tahajjod the column of the Meditation or the sleeping column on the third column. What does all this mean?
Whenever the Prophet closed his prayers he used to stand beside the pulpit, so that anybody who wished to discuss their problems could come forward. A person cheated in a certain deal, would come and give an account of his difficulties. A woman unhappy about her husband, would come and discuss her problems. Two people who have quarreled, come and explain their dispute. Someone has used abusive language to someone in Madinah, the aggrieved party comes to him. Whoever wants to come, comes and says whatever he or she wants to say. But sometimes he needs to hold a commission meeting. The chiefs of the tribes have come to discuss with him something that is related to the destiny of Islam. He ought to take an account of the matter. But still he does not go behind closed doors; he sits beside a pillar. While he is seated beside a particular pillar, all the Muslims who enter the mosque understand that the Prophet is holding a commission meeting, and that it is not the time for them to sit beside him. It is obvious that he has foreign visitors. That he is busy in important political talks, and therefore it is not a proper time to interrupt him (they can do so later on). They leave the place, for when the Prophet is busy with important discussions, order should be maintained. But his simplicity is still evident. No line is drawn and no walls are raised, but discipline is observed and everybody knows the nature of this business.
When the person, who is in politics, who fights battles, who is involved in conflicts, who listens to the problems of every so and so, and has attained such lofty heights of spiritual glory that the inhabitants of the heavenly spheres gaze at him with awe, needs silence and seclusion for contemplation and meditation. Whenever he wishes to be alone to with draw to himself, drown himself in thought, he goes to the pillar named ‘Ustawanat al-tahajjod (the column of Meditation). When he is there, no one goes to him. His family should not try to have any contact with him, his wife should not speak to him, nor the Companions nearest to him should approach him. The people have no business to disturb him either. He remains aloof and alone there. If delegations arrive, they have to wait for him. As long as he is seated near the ‘Ustawanat al-tahajjod, everyone understands that he wishes to meditate in seclusion and is saying his prayers. When he says liturgical prayers, he does it with the people. But when he offers midnight prayers, he is in a special spiritual state. On such occasions, when he wishes to say prayer all alone, no one is supposed to say prayers with him or disturb him. He goes around the three houses one by one, and stands for prayer at the backside of the house of Fatimah. (There was no place specified for this purpose, but always the backside of Fatima’s house.) When he goes there, it is implied that he would say prayer alone and that no one should be around.
This order and discipline reached such proportions that the household goods acquired specific names, whose list is given in the Biography (Sirah) of the Prophet written by Ibn Hisham. He had several donkeys and mules, each of whom was given a name. (He did not say; “bring the black-tailed mule”, it had a name.) He had several caps; there were four quadrangular caps that he used to wear during battle. He had two or three turbans which he used to wear on Fridays, and on the occasion of peace talks and other important social ceremonies. Each of these turbans had a certain name. This naming of the caps is indicative of his keenness to have order in every matter. His bodily functions were exactly like nature. It was not something cultivated and acquired, as in the case of the behavior of other human beings.
Mr. Bazargan, (May God reward him amply for his service) has performed a mathematical study of the Quranic verses regarding their order and their length, and arranged them according to their length. We know that the verses revealed in Mecca are shorter and those revealed in Madinah are longer. He classified all the verses revealed during the span of twenty three years the duration in which the Quran was revealed into twenty-three grades, and has put them together according to their length in their respective grades. Incidentally, the verses placed in a particular grade belong to the same year. We can know and count the number of words contained in the verses of each year. What is the result of this? We have the following chart:
In the first year, 2500 words were revealed to the Prophet. In the second year, 3000 words were revealed. In the third year, 3500 words were revealed. In the fourth year, 4000 words were revealed. In the fifth year, 4500 words were revealed. In the sixth year, 5000 words were revealed. In the seventh year, 5500 words were revealed. In the eighth year, 6000 words were revealed. In the ninth year, 6500 words were revealed, and so on.
What are we dealing with here? Here we see a systematic order which is found in physics and mathematics, and not concerned with the man who uttered these words. It is just like a graph or curve indicating the temperature and rainfall during different months of year. A man who discourses for a period of twenty-three years, under so many strains, victories, happiness, hardships, political matters, philosophical matters and religious matters cannot have control over the number of words in a way that exactly 500 words are added every year to the words uttered by him in the previous year. It is really impossible to discipline oneself in this way. Unconsciously all the verses uttered by the Prophet have an exact increase every year.
Here we are face to face with a scientific order and discipline, not with a normal human personality. The Prophet is indeed a clear sign (ayah) similar to the day and night, the sea, sun and stars. He is a cross-section of the cosmos, or rather a cosmos in itself.
One of the characteristics of the Prophet is described by Ali who has minutely portrayed him and has given such exact physiognomic details about him that one can paint a portrait of the Prophet according to them (he has portrayed his inner reflection and characteristics with words). How modern it is! What a psychological insight! What a vivid portrait! He says: “He was neither so tall that he could be regarded tall, nor so short that he could appear slight and puny. He was square-shouldered and of sturdy build. His eyes were sharp and he had a bass voice. He walked with a fast pace, a bit inclined forward (he did not have an awkward wide-legged slow gait, like the man who has been always beaten and making a retreat he strode forward like the one sailing before the wind). He was prominently visible from a long distance and caught the eyes like a roaring stream gushing onwards or like a rock rolling down the mountain (as if he was striding over a steep slope). From one shoulder to the other his chest was covered with thick growth of hair. a line of which reached his navel. He was so particular about cleanliness that he never used the same towel twice in his life. Today a revolutionary is supposed to be a dirty person. In fact these are the values cherished by a revolutionary today. If anyone keeps himself neat and clean, it is said that he has adopted the bourgeoisie way of life. But this fellow, who was a revolutionary to the core of his being, whose entire paraphernalia consisted of four mats, ate date flour and date stone, transformed the whole world, and despite growing up as a shepherd in the desert, where water was scarce and hygienic conditions bad, had such a high sense of hygiene and cleanliness that he did not use a towel twice during his entire lifetime. It is written in al-Kamisi that he had no riches, but one third of all he possessed he spent on the articles of toilet and cosmetics (one third of all his expenditure was for articles of dressing up, toilet and perfumes, what can I say, it seems to be unbelievable!).
Similar was the case with his swords. Each one of his swords bore a specific name.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.