Prophet Muhammad and Peace
On 30 September, 2006, cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were published by a Danish newspaper, including one in which the exalted Prophet was depicted as wearing a time-bomb as his head-gear. It was a pathetic attempt to denigrade the Prophet and show him just the opposite of what he really was. The thesis which was sought to be built up by the sketches, which were later published by many western newspapers and websites, was that if the Prophet of Islam was like this, what would common Muslims be - a total nightmare for the world. Let us here explore the personality of Prophet (pbuh).
The rapid exapnsion of Islam in the seventh century surprised all, particularly Christians and Jews. They tried to block the spread of Islam but ultimately failed. Two tyrant superpowers of the day, Byzantine and Persia, were destroyed by the Islamic tide. This happened during the reign of the second caliph, Hazrat Umar. Islam spread to two-thirds of the known world within a short span of time and Islam ruled for at least the next seven centuries.
When evil elements failed in blocking the Islamic tide, they resorted to dubious means and spread false propaganda which is continuing till this day.
It was claimed that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was responsible for making Muslims violent by teaching them the concept of Jihad, that he spread Islam by the power of the sword, that through his teachings Muslims became terrorists, that the status of women was reduced to that of a prisoner. It was claimed that it is due to such teachings there is violence in the world and that Muslims are responsible for all that is evil in the world today.
The claim that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught Muslims to use violence and wage Jihad against one and all is baseless. During his own life-time, Muslims fought many wars while they were in a disadvantaged position in terms of numbers and arms. They had empty pockets and lacked horses and fighters. Despite such handicap, they came out victorious in all battles.
Historical evidence tells us that both Byzantine and Persia indulged in creating towers of human heads after their victories but the Muslim armies led by the Prophet and his lietenats never adopted such repressive means to celebrate their victories and behaved in a civilized way with the war prisoners as well as the people of the conqurered lands. It is certain that the charge of terrorism, violence and meaningless Jihad is baseless, otherwise Islamic armies would have been responsible for the genocide of the conquered people in Iraq, Persia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Spain etc after their thumping victories. They were in a position to enslave people, show disrespect to women and destroy cities and towns. But history is witness that all Islamic rulers, especially the rightly-guided caliphs and a majority of the later rulers, such as Mohammad ibn Qasim, Tariq ibn Ziyad and Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi had spread love, affection, compensation and peace after their victories and this policy was one of the most important factors behind the rapid rise of Islam.
Another charge leveled against the followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is that they had spread Islam through the power of sword. I totally reject such false propaganda. History stands witness that Muslim rulers never forced their people to convert to Islam. If Muslim rulers had adopted such questionable means, then after nearly 1000 years of Muslim rule in India, Muslims would not have been in a minority. If such a policy was indeed used, then the slave of the second caliph Hazrat Umar Farooq would not have been a Christian till the calihph’s death. No one forced him to change his religion.
If we go through the history of the battles fought by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) during his life-time we find that in all these battles only 759 non-Muslims were killed while 259 Muslims were martyred. This leaves us with a total of 1018 causalities in all those battles. Such a low causality during the greatest revolution in human history proves that it was a bloodless revolution. We have seen that in the French and Russian revolutions millions of people lost their lives. In the light of such historical facts, it is hard to accept the tendentious view of some anti-Islam propagandists that the Prophet (pbuh) accomplished his mission by the power of sword.
An analysis of all the battles fought by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Muslims during the last one thousand years will be revealing and surprising. During wars spread over these one thousand years Muslims did not kill even a fraction of the casualties of European, American, Christians and Jewis wars. During each of the first and second wars alone around 80 million people were killed while the injured may be counted in hundreds of millions. When the followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were living in peace and were engaged in spreading knowledge of science and mathematics, Europe was fighting senseless wars spanning over thirty years. Uncounted people were killed during pre- and post-French Revolution. Millions were killed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Yugoslavia and Chechnya. About 7.5 million people were killed during the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949), about 5 to 10 lakh people were killed in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), about 5 lakh people were killed in the Angolan Civil War (1975-2000), about 2 to 8 lakh people died during the Warlord Era in China (1916-1928) and in Vietnam war about 8 lakh to 3.1 million men, women and children were killed. The total number of the injured during these conflicts may be imagined looking at the numbers of the fatalities. All this was the end result of the wars fought by Christians, Jews and Communists. Islam or its followers had no hand in these killings.
Leaving old history, we see that after the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate in Turkey (1924), Muslims became weak in all matters while Christians and Jews registered tremendous growth in power. Communism which had triumphed after a lot of blood-shedding, finally collapsed in 1990. But Christian and Jewish sway has not stopped the spread of Islam. Reports of electronic and print media and research data suggest that Islam is fast spreading all over the globe. In Europe and America, large numbers of people are embracing Islam. France and UK are not far behind.
According to a recent report, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. In 1990, 935 million people were Muslims and this figure rose to around 1.2 billion by 2000 which meant that around one in five people in the world follow Islam. Although Islam started in Arabia but by 2002, 80 percent of the believers in Islam lived outside the Arab world. In the period 1990-2000, approximately 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity (Guinness World Records 2003, p. 102). According to Reader's Digest Almanac Year Book, Islam grew by 235% in 50 years between 1934-1984.
According to a report on CNN, "the second largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam is also the fastest growing religion. In the United States, for example nearly 80 percent of more than 1200 mosques have been built in the past 12 years. Some scholars see an emerging Muslim renaissance as Islam takes root in many traditional Christian communities. Islam has drawn converts from all walks of life, most notably African-Americans and people of Spanish origin in the USA. These developments suggest that teachings of Islam are for all mankind forever and that people are embracing it through their free will even when Islam is weak and is being attacked.
A non-Muslim scholar, Michael Hart, has given befitting reply to those who accuse the Prophet in various ways. He has compiled a list of a hundred most respected, powerful, kind and successful men throughout history. He put the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on top of his list. Hart is, no doubt, a committed Christian but his assessment is based upon strict criteria. As a result, he accorded the fist place to the Prophet of Islam in the galaxy of political leader, messengers, scientists, philosophers, thinkers and reformers of the world. He devoted the opening chapter of his book to the Prophet, underscoring, as it does the dominance of the Prophet's position in human history. Another equally significant point is that Hart is a scientist by profession. As a Christian or as a scientist he should have naturally bestowed this honour upon Prophet Jesus or Newton. However, rejecting their claim to primacy, he presents Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the most influential figure in human history. In his entire book, only two Muslims have figured, one is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the other is Hazrat Umar (RA) whom he placed at number 52 in his book. He has also offered us the logic behind placing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) over Prophet Jesus. Explaining why he chose the Prophet over all others, Hard said in his book, "my choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels." Hart further wrotes that, "we know that the victories of Arabs in seventh century have left a lasting impression and shaped the history of mankind. It is a mixture of religious and worldly effects. It is the main reason due to which Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is placed at the top of the list of hundred personalities".
Study and analysis indicate that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had brought a message of love and peace for whole of mankind and world for all time to come. The world is facing violence, disturbances, disruptions and deprivations because people are not following teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam. If the world dreams of a peaceful, hospitable and affectionate tomorrow then we all must embark upon the path shown by Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The author is professor in the Faculty of Law, AMU and President Sir Syed Awareness Forum, drshakeelsamdani#gmail.com