In order for us to realize the legitimacy of a Prophet’s claim to prophethood and in order to find out if he is truthful or a pretender, apart from observing his miracles, we have the following set of methods available to us:
His ethical traits and his past social activities; The conditions which govern and dominate the time of the claim; The temporal conditions; The content of the claim; The program of implementation and the means to arrive at the objective; The level of the claimant’s faith and loyalty to his aims; His firm standing against any compromise; The speed of his influence ever the public; A Survey of those who have adopted the new faith and a study of their social standing.
Through the application of these nine approaches to any claimant of prophethood, we could easily test the validity of his claim.
Now we will apply the above tests to the Prophet of Islam and present a brief description of his traits despite the fact that a complete description of the characteristic of the Prophet of Islam(s) requires numerous volumes of books.
With respect to the ethical traits and post social activities of the Prophet (s), both his detractors and supporters agree upon the fact that he was completely trustworthy and was well known for this trait. History tells us that when he was leaving for the city of Medina, he appointed `Al¢(s) to return people’s deposits to them.
His bravery, perseverance, good-temper, generosity, and gentleness could be observed during his holy wars as well as during times of peace. His public pardon which he issued after the conquest of Mecca and the surrender of the aggressive enemies of Islam is a living document for this claim.
We all know that both the ordinary person and the genius consciously or unconsciously are influenced by their environment. Of course, this influence varies from person to person.
Now, imagine an individual who had been brought up for forty years in an environment dominated by idol worship and superstition. How could he show his inclination towards pure monotheism and fight against all manifestations of infidelity?
Is it not odd that out of such a strange environment replete with superstitious ideas, the best form of scientific advancement could emerge?
Could we ever think that such an extraordinary individual could have come forth without divine confirmation?
Observe the time at which such a great Prophet appeared. He appeared when the world was under the domination of a dark age: the time in which despotism, discrimination, unjust racial attitudes and class conflict prevailed. It is better to listen to Imam `Al¢(s) who had witnessed both the pre-Islamic and post-Islamic eras:
“God appointed him for such a mission at a time when people used to live under ignorance, when their wisdom and rational thinking were under devilish whims and wishes; at a time when arrogance and false pride had caused their down fall; at a time when the darkness of the period of Ignorance had led them astray and they were caught between ignorance and perplexity” (۱)
Now think, under such severe conditions, how could a religion have come into being whose watchwords (1) Nahj al-Bal¡ghah, sermon: 91.
was equality among men, and the elimination of racial and class discrimination?
The content of its invitation were equality and unanimity in all aspects, the negation of cruel and unjust relationships, the unity of mankind, the struggle against cruelty, a design for a world government, defense of the needy, and the adoption of purity and piety.
In implementing his program, he always employed sacred means to arrive at his sacred goals. He used to say explicitly:
Your enmity with a specific group should not hinder you from performing justice. [Quran 5:8]
His commands in the arena of war included the observance of ethical principles, not attacking nonmilitary persons, avoiding the destruction of date plantations and orchards, not contaminating the enemy’s drinking water and the amicable treatment of prisoners of war.
The effect of his teachings was so profound that his enemies worried about individuals getting close to this because his influence over people was tremendous. So, when he would begin to deliver his sermons, his enemies would make much commotion so that his followers could not hear what he was saying. In order for the Prophet’s enemies to discourage people from being attracted by the Prophet’s charisma, they called him a wizard and described his words and discourse as magic. The use of these pejorative titles indicates the profound impact the Prophet had over his listeners.
The amount of sacrifice that he made towards the new religion which he had brought proved that he cared more than others about it.
In some wars when newly converted young men would flee the scene, he showed great fortitude and never turned his back on the enemy. In those situations when the enemy tried to bribe, intimidate or entice him, he stayed firm and maintained position.
The enemies of Islam repeatedly tried to make him go astray, but they failed each time. He used to say:
Even if you place the sun in one of my hands and the moon in the next, I would never abandon this religion.
His efforts in communicating the principles of Islam were both amazing and swift. His impact on people was tremendous. Those who read western views on Islamic history would notice how surprised they are
concerning the spread of Islamic ideology among different people. For instance, three well-known authors writing on “the history of western civilization and its bases in the East” have openly confessed to this fact for example one of them has said:
“It is still a mystery how Islam spread all over the civilized nations of those days in less than a century.”
Yes, indeed it is still an enigma how Islam spread so widely among the hearts of people and how it could
absorb civilizations and establish a civilization of its own.
His enemies were the tyrants and unjust dictators and some of the affluent classes of society the newly converted on the other hand were among the penniless and the deprived, poverty-stricken individuals or even slaves: they were people who had nothing except for sincerity and purity of heart.
From the above discussion, we could easily come to the conclusion that Mu¦ammad’s invitation to Islam was a divine one: it was an invitation whose source lay in the supernatural, and it was the Hand of God who had dispatched him for man’s salvation from dire corruption, ignorance, injustice and faithlessness.
THINK AND ANSWER
In order for us to verify the authenticity of a Prophet’s mission, do we have any other way available to us except for miracles?
What is meant by collecting evidence? What aspects should be taken into consideration?
Could we get anything out of comparing the conditions of the Arabs both in the pre-Islamic and post-Islamic eras?
Tell us something concerning the Arabs in particular and the world in general during the pre-Islamic, Period of Ignorance.
Why did the foes of Islam give the pejorative title of “a magician” to the Prophet(s)?