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Why Religion?

Discover Islam


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Constant, continual striving is not only an essential feature of the delivering of the Message but it is actually an important element of the Prophetic method.

A Prophet is, so to speak, obsessed with how he is to perform his duty. To this end, he considers all the circumstances and does everything permitted, without concerning himself with God’s domain, never worrying about the results. He knows that it is not in his power to make anyone accept the Message, that his duty is only to convey the Message and to do everything possible and permissible by God so that people become convinced of its truth. On this point, the Qur’an declares:

Assuredly, you [O Muhammad] guide not whom you like but God guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who receive guidance. (al-Qasas, 28.56)

Many Prophets lived with no one accepting their Message. However, they did not lose heart, weaken in resolve, or resort to means not permitted by God, like violence, terror or deception, despite having to suffer every kind of hardship and tortures of the most pitiless sort. When the Last Prophet - Muhammad - upon him be peace and blessings, was severely wounded in the Battle of Uhud, some of his Companions requested him to invoke God’s curse on the enemy, but he prayed for them instead, saying:

O God, forgive my people and guide them to truth, because they do not know.1

He made this supplication with his face bleeding profusely, since he had once said:

I am now as if I was seeing a Prophet who, while his face was bleeding prayed for his people: ‘O God, forgive my people, because they do not know.’

All the Prophets reacted in the same way to the torments and false accusations they suffered from their people. For example:

The leaders of the people of Noah said: ‘Verily, we see you in clear deviation.’ He said: ‘O my people! There is no deviation in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds! I convey unto you the messages of my Lord and give sincere advice to you. And I know from God what you know not.’ (al-A’raf, 7.60-2)

The leaders of Hud’s people, who were unbelievers, said: ‘We see you surely in foolishness; and we think you are among the liars.’ He said: ‘O my people! There is no foolishness in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds. I convey unto you the messages of my Lord and I am a trustworthy adviser to you’. (al-A’raf, 7.66-8)

Nothing changed during the history of Prophethood. The Prophets conveyed the messages of their Lord without thinking of any return other than God’s pleasure. There is no people to whom a Messenger was not sent, as expilicitly affirmed in the Qur’an:

Whoever goes right, then he goes right only for his own soul’s benefit. And whoever goes astray, then he goes astray only to his own loss. No laden soul can bear another’s load. And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger. (al-Isra’, 17.15)

And verily We have sent among every people a Messenger (saying): ‘Worship God (alone), and shun all false deities’. (al-Nahl, 16.36)

After he received the first Revelation in the cave, Hira, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, returned home in a great excitement. Wrapped up in his vestment, God ordered him:

O you who wrapped up in your vestment, arise and give warning! Magnify your Lord! Cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution. Do not show favour, seeking worldly gain! Be patient for the sake of your Lord! (al-Muddaththir, 74.1-7)

Again, he received the following order:

O you folded in garments! Keep vigil the night long, except a little; half of it, or a little less, or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones. We are about to address to you words of great gravity. (al-Muzzammil, 73.1-5)

Every Prophet conveyed God’s Message to his people without becoming wearied or daunted. The harsh reactions of people could not hinder a Prophet from his duty. For example,

[Noah] said: ‘O my Lord! Day and night I have called my people. But my call has only added to their aversion. Each time I call on them to seek Your pardon, they thrust their fingers in their ears and cover themselves with their garments, persisting in sin and magnifying themselves in insolent pride. Further, I have called to them aloud. Further, I have spoken to them in public and in private, saying: “Ask forgiveness from your Lord: for He is Oft-Forgiving.”‘ (Nuh, 71.5-10)

When a people rejected the call of a Prophet and persisted in unbelief and corruption on earth, God’s wrath usually fell upon them. We read in the Qur’an the story of several devastated peoples, and we see their ruins all over the world.

Other important points in conveying the message

The following three points are important in conveying the Message of Islam:


Intelligence is important in assessing the person to whom the Message is to be delivered. Concerning this, a Prophetic Tradition reads:

We, the community of the Prophets, are commanded to address people according to their level of understanding.

A good preacher should know how to approach the one he wants to address and how to win his friendly attention. This point can be illustrated by many examples from the life of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Here are two of them:

God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, at first, won the heart of ‘Umar by showing appreciation of his good sense, saying: I cannot understand how a reasonable man like you can expect anything from inanimate objects like stones, wood or earth.

He also inspired confidence in ‘Umar through his good conduct. Above all, the commitment he displayed in worshipping God had so great an effect on ‘Umar that at last he came to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and was as obedient and reverent before him as a well-mannered child before a respected father.

One day, a young man (whose name appears, from different narrations, to have been Julaybib) came to God’s Messenger and said: ‘O God’s Messenger, give me the permission to fornicate, for it is something I cannot resist.’ Those who were present reacted in different ways. Some scoffed at the young man, others pulled him by the skirt of his robe, and still others made as if to strike him. But the compassionate Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, drew him nearer to himself, and the following conversation took place between them:

- Would you agree that someone should do such a thing with your mother?

- My mother and father be your ransom, O God’s Messenger, I do not agree with that.

- Indeed, no one agrees that his mother should be a party in such a disgraceful act. Would you agree that someone should do the same with your daughter, if you had one?

- No, O God’s Messenger, may my soul be sacrificed for you!

- Indeed, no one agrees that someone should do the same with his daughter. Would you agree that your wife, if you had one, should be a party to such an illicit intercourse?

- No, I wouldn’t, O God’s Messenger!

- Would you agree that the same be done to your sister or aunt?

- No, I wouldn’t.

- Indeed, no one agrees that it should be done with his wife, sister or aunt.

This conversation was enough for the young man to forsake his desire. But God’s Messenger concluded the ‘spiritual operation’ with a supplication. He put his blessed hand on the chest of the young man and prayed: O God, forgive him, purify his heart and maintain his chastity!2

Julaybib became a model of chastity. Some time later he married through the intermediation of God’s Messenger. Not long after that he was martyred in a battle after he had killed seven people. When his dead body was located on the battlefield, God’s Messenger put his hand on his knee and said: This one is of me, and I am of him.3

God’s Messenger was so competent and successful in educating the people that it constitutes a conclusive proof of his Prophethood: the most uncivilized, crude, ill-mannered, ruthless and ignorant people of the world at that time were transformed into the most praiseworthy guides of humanity in a very short period. I wonder whether even the largest, best-equipped group of professional educators, modern pedagogues, sociologists, psychologists, teachers and the like, could achieve in a hundred years anywhere in the modern civilized world even a hundredth of what God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, accomplished in twenty-three years in the uncivilized desert of Arabia fourteen centuries ago. The efforts made, and the techniques applied, to remove so insignificant a bad habit as smoking with almost negligible success, prove that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, was without parallel or equal in the education of people.

His wisdom and intellect will be discussed more fully in the next section.

1. Qadi Iyad, Shifa’ al-Sharif, 1.105; Bukhari, Anbiya’, 54; Muslim, Jihad, 105.
2. Ibn Hanbal, 5.256-7.
3. Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 131.

Last Updated on November 25, 2000

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