In the Islamic calendar rabiul-awwal is the month of the Prophet Muhammad. This month he was born and later 63 years, the same month, he left our world that is symbolical in itself.
The Prophet Muhammad started great Islamic tradition, having left after himself not only the Holy Scripture (The Quran) and the Holy Tradition (Sunnah), as bases of the future world religion, but also the young incorporated Arabian state – the rudiment of the brilliant Islamic civilization.
Throughout many centuries the Muslim countries were the locomotive of development of the mankind in Europe, Asia and Africa. The religion of Muhammad – Islam – became the core of Islamic civilization model in which rights, freedoms and laws were observed strictly, science, technics and art developed. The Muslim countries were famous for tolerance. It is enough to remember that many Christian trends which in Europe were considered as heretical, found for themselves shelter and freedom in the Muslim Orient. The same happened with the Jews who had their communities everywhere from Maghrib to Persia.
Knowing all that, inconceivable and paradoxical is that what comprehended the Islamic civilization in the end of XX – the beginning of XXI centuries when Islam started to be persistently associated with intolerance, violence, terror and other not peculiar to it qualities. This problem became like a bolt from the blue for Muslims as similar crimes a priori are not peculiar to the spirit and principles of this world religion. It is obvious that the Islamic world is still confused as it could not find the effective tool of counteraction to those crimes which are made by mad fanatics, ostensibly on behalf of Islam. While everything is limited to statements of original Islamic scholars and leaders in which they are compelled to justify, condemn and urge not to trust preachers of violence and intolerance. This does not give the desirable effect as it is not known whence the undertaken ideologists of extremism (using that the creeping secularization forced out religious knowledge on suburbs of modern human wants) masterfully manipulate people having little education and popularize among them the ideas of the so-called "pseudo-Islam" which not just has nothing in common with the original religion of Islam, but even actively resists it.
It is a call, and the Islamic civilization is just compelled to search for a way out from this difficult situation. In such situation the most effective way of overcoming of the problem is religious education of Muslims, and also fair objective information directed on destruction of myths about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, addressed, first of all, to non-Muslims.
As the Muslims of Ukraine and the whole world these days remember life of the Prophet, his doctrine and wisdom, it is pertinently to begin with three myths about Muhammad.
Myth 1. He is the author of the Holy Quran
Researchers and critics conduct infinite disputes on the topic who is the author of the Holy Quran. The phenomenon of its occurrence in the heart of uneducated Arabian desert is too unusual. The people who did not have their own high-grade Arabic book (and the Quran is the first book which was written down in the Arabic language), suddenly, without any preconditions, educational institutions and theological centers get such masterpiece, as the Holy Quran. "There was not a penny, but suddenly - hit the jackpot", - this proverb is, perhaps, the most suitable to the given phenomenon.
For skeptically adjusted researchers, probably, the unique certainty about the Quran is that it was quoted for the first time by the person who was born in Arabia, in the city of Makkah, in the sixth century, whose name was Muhammad. And further the external researchers, not believing that the Quran is Divine Revelation, conduct fierce polemic concerning authorship of the given masterpiece. One consider that Muhammad is the author of the Quran, others inclined to think that he knew it from other people who wrote it, the third think that the Prophet made an "abstract" of religious texts of Christians and Jews.
The Prophet Muhammad could not be the author of the Quran at least because he has never been noticed in poetic talents, did not study history, theology, natural sciences and all other themes about which it is widely narrated in the Holy text. Even more, he was absolutely illiterate (he could not read and write). It nonplused even his most furious opponents from among contemporaries, among which were his close relatives. They precisely knew that Muhammad did not study anything. And suddenly, being 40 years old, he comes back from his privacy in the middle of desert and recites the Quran, incomparable neither by its style, nor by content, depth of thought and wisdom.
He remained illiterate and did not come close to reading and writing though in the end of his life he had about 40 secretaries who were writing down from his words the Holy text. Why? The answer is in the Quran, "And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted". (The Holy Quran, 29:48). That is, if the Prophet could read, his opponents would have a chance to accuse him in plagiarism and if he possessed poetic talent he would be accused that the Quran is nothing more but a poetic composition. But it was not so, therefore, skeptics were discouraged.
Muhammad repeatedly expressed that he was not the author of the Quran and the text recited by him is Divine Revelation, revealed to him in the hidden way just as the former Scriptures were revealed to other prophets before him. Nevertheless, some critics consider that he studied theology and history from Christians and Jews.
Myth 2. He studied at People of the Book
Contrary to abundance of historical materials about Muhammad and deep studies of his life, through many centuries his critics could not find those mysterious teachers from whom the Prophet could get the religious knowledge and Holy texts. At the very beginning of his prophetical mission, within 13 years, he was exposed to persecutions, mockery and reprisals from his fellow tribesmen. Was it difficult to such quantity of enemies to prove to all people that the doctrine of Muhammad was a plagiarism? Would it be hard for them to find and name those people at whom the Prophet hypothetically could study? However then and now all his opponents could not find anybody who could be the spiritual and religious instructor of the Prophet. The critics, who are not familiar with the realities of the Arabian desert of that time, do an emphasis on caravan trips in which the Prophet of Islam participated.
All available historical evidences specify that Muhammad had three trips from Makkah: when he was 6 years old together with his mother he went to Medina, at the age of 12 together with his uncle Abu Talib he was in a caravan trip to Syria, and at 25 he drove a caravan to Syria. He never more traveled far beyond the primitive pagan area of the Arabs. However, neither in the childhood, nor in youth (during the time of caravan trips) he was never noticed not only in religious training, but also in religious polemic.
Caravans went out in a way only two times a year during certain periods when the weather allowed to cross the desert without huge losses, and always hastened with departure, without being late for long time in trade places as it was necessary to have time to return back before strong heat and sandy storms. One should have strong imagination to tell that, being on a business trip, casually meeting Jews and Christians; he could study enough both religions and create on their basis a new religious system. Moreover, Muhammad was not able to read, he did not know foreign languages, and, hence, could not familiarize himself with religious texts of these faiths.
Even if to assume that he listened to someone how could he remember for several days all 73 books of the Bible? For the same reasons Muhammad could not makean "abstract" by wrest of various parts of the previous Scriptures. For compilation of isolated texts it is not enough to have them at hand and to be able to read, it would be necessary to translate them into the purest Arabic language, and it is not just Arabic, but the top of literary Arabic language as the Holy Quran on its poetry and syllable height is absolutely unique.
In 13 years after the beginning of the revelations when the majority of suras of the Holy Quran were already revealed, the Prophet moves to Medina, where, in due course, he starts discussions with the Jews of Medina and the Christians from Nadzhran, who came to communicate to him. But, as it is known, Muhammad communicated not as a student, but as a teacher and instructor, conducted with them polemic and tried to prove the correctness of Islamic point of view on divinity, history, precepts of ancient prophets.
A considerable quantity of Christians and Jews (contemporaries of the Prophet Muhammad) became Muslims and believed in his prophetical mission. And hardly would they believe in Islam if suspected that the Prophet borrowed the doctrine from their Revelations, or studied at priests, monks or rabbis.
Myth 3. He wanted power, glory and riches
There is a myth that the Prophet Muhammad, skillfully using religion, actually pursued mercenary aims – enrichment, power, glory and other, quite terrestrial, personal and clan benefits. However, this myth completely falls, when any objective researcher gets acquainted with his life, principles and heritage.
Prior to the beginning of prophetical activity, the financial position of Muhammad was much better, than after it. He comfortably lived with his wife Hadija, who was rich and was engaged in trade. After the beginning of the prophetical mission, they, on the contrary, started to live extremely modestly, even poorly. It was not a temporary measure, but the way of life. Actually, it was the protest against avarice, avidities, greed and luxury for which merchants of Makkah were famous. Instead of accumulation of riches, the Prophet endowed his property for maintenance of orphans, poor Muslims and slaves. It became a norm of life for Muhammad and his family up to the extent that he did not pay any attention that he lived poorer than many other Muslims. Once, Omar Al-Hattab entered the Prophet's house, "I noticed that all contents of his room include three pieces of tanned skin and a barley handful, but I could not see anything else, – he tells, - and then I started to cry".
Muhammad asked, "Why are you crying?" I answered, "Oh, the Messenger of Allah! How I would not cry? I see all that you have. While the Persians and the Romans who do not follow the true faith and worship not to Allah, live in luxury, and their kings possess gardens with operated streams, the chosen Prophet and the devoted Muslim lives in such terrifying poverty!" Muhammad answered, "Oh, Omar! Ease and convenience of the hereafter is much better than ease and conveniences of this world. Non-believers enjoy their share of good things in this world whereas we will receive all of it in the hereafter".
Once rich Makkans promised to the Prophet riches and glory in exchange for that he had to renounce Islam, but they received flat refusal.
Another time, after many years, he received a gift from the leader of the tribe of Fadak - four camels loaded with valuable things, fabrics and money, but he distributed all of this to the needy Muslims, without having left anything for himself.
Dying, Muhammad was deprived. Everything that he owned at that time were 7 dinars which the Prophet distributed to the poor before his death. And it was at the time of being the head of the huge Arabian state, having united all Arabian Peninsula, and if he wished he could lodge in the best house, in any oasis, or in general, could order to build for him a palace. But as it is suitable to the Messenger of God, he kept fidelity to modest prophetical way of life. There were many other situations showing that Muhammad did not aspire to enrichment, therefore the opinion that riches were his purpose, is absolutely insolvent.
The assumption that he named himself the Prophet, wishing power and glory does not maintain any criticism. The Messenger, as it is known, was one of the most successful leaders in the history of the mankind. Without having any resources, for 23 years he created the huge state, established in it fair and progressive laws, and defeated all opponents who opposed it. The person with such qualities and talents could apply for leadership and power even without claims for prophecy.
Skeptics say that all these successes became possible only thanks to the religious tool, i.e. – to Islam. However, Muhammad never attributed to himself authorships of the Holy Quran, and did not say that he thought up the Islamic religion. On the contrary, he always emphasized that the Holy Quran is the Divine Revelation and Islam is religion established by God. If the Prophet strove for power and glory he would apply for authorship of the Quran and for working out of the Islamic concept.
The wish of glory and popularity shows its reflection in solemn and semi-official actions, magnificent places of pastime, expensive clothes and accessories, propensities to praise etc. Muhammad represented the complete antithesis to all of that. He dressed modest ordinary clothes, performed all kinds of works, patiently communicated and listened to everyone who addressed to him. In one settlement people rose as a sign of greeting and respect for him, but he forbade them to do it, considering such servility and awe inadmissible. One person, trembling with respect, asked the Prophet to allow to come close to him, but Muhammad himself approached him, patted his shoulder and told, "Relax, brother, I am just a son of a woman who ate the dried up bread". He strictly forbade Muslims to praise him and told, "Do not glorify me the way Christians glorify Jesus, Maria's son, and say: he is the slave of Allah and His Messenger".
His image of power can be a good example of modesty. Followers of the Prophet were ready to glorify him and obey to him, but he firmly insisted that obedience should be only to Allah who is worthy all glory and praises.
He treated small children with kindness and understanding that century when the people thought that beating is the best method of education. In the century when women were treated as the lowest beings, and it was considered below man's advantage to love them; the Messenger of Allah loved his wives, daughters, relatives and ordered believers to treat women kindly. The Prophet was kind and merciful even to his enemies. During one of the battles when Muslims died under the swords of pagans, people asked him to damn the enemy, and he answered, "I was sent not to damn". Instead he stated, "Oh, my Lord! Forgive my people for they don't know what that commit".
He ordered to his soldiers to avoid perfidy and treachery, forbade to kill women, children, old men, handicapped, blind and lame; he ordered not to destroy the house, not to burn palm trees, fruit trees and crops, not to destroy means of subsistence of people.
No doubt, the Prophet Muhammad was the outstanding person. Already for 14 centuries he is loved by billions of people from all corners of the world. He is imitated, in his name are named millions newborn babies. This cannot be reached by force and power and not to be bought at any price. Light of faith going from heart of the man finds a reflection in the hearts of believers even after the millennia.
Perhaps, only two persons for the whole history of mankind received such honor, love and respect – Jesus and Muhammad. And it is clear, after all the Prophet Muhammad stated, "All Messengers of God are brothers".
Mufti of the RAMU "Ummah" Said ISMAGILOV