Prophet Muhammad was a man of impeccable character. He was born among the idol worshippers but he never worshipped an idol even during his childhood and never participated in activities which would in any way lead to idol worship. He was born a Haneef and remained as such till he was divinely commissioned to Prophethood at the ripe age of forty. He was a man known for his matchless integrity and honesty. He never told a lie. This was testified by Abu Sufiyan when in the court of Emperor Heracles of Byzantine he admitted that the Prophet never lied and always adhered to his commitments. On account of his reputation as the most trustworthy person in Makkah, he became the custodian of people’s property. The polytheists continued to trust him even after the commencement of his Prophetic mission. He had the natural gift of intellect and ingenuity and could resolve difficult problems peacefully without displeasing and embarrassing any one. This was eloquently illustrated when the issue of fixing the black stone (Hajr al-Aswad) in its place turned into a critical issue of conflict and confrontation among the leading tribes of Makkah, He resolved the issue gracefully, made them all happy, honoured and satisfied. They gladly agreed that Muhammad, the man, should fix the stone in its place. That he was a man of noble character is even testified by the Qur’an. “And verily you O Muhammad are an exalted standard of character” (Nun; 68:4)

His role as a Prophet abundantly illustrated that because of his strong spirituality, he was above all temptations and no amount of worldly pleasure and wealth could tempt him from his chosen path of conveying the divine message of unity and supremacy of Allah and fulfilling his mission. In Makkah, he was subjected to severest hardship and even threat to his life. He stood firm against all odds. Even under these inhuman and brutal conditions his noble qualities of honesty, justice and truthfulness were never abandoned. He adhered to them even more firmly. He forced Abu Jahal to pay the right price for the camels he had bought from a trader from outside Makkah. Before his migration to Madinah he asked Ali to hand over to the owners of the articles they had left in his custody. He was brave and fearless, for he feared only Allah. He was always soft spoken, mild mannered, pleasant tempered. He was always patient and seldom lost his temper. He was never rude, or rough or indecent in his behaviour but always tolerant even under harshest conditions. Indeed he was a perfect human being. No one like him was born before him and none will be born after him. Despite these super human qualities he always stressed that he was a human being like any other human. This point has been repeatedly stressed in the Qur’an also.

In Madinah, the role of the Prophet dramatically changed. Firstly he moved in a totally different social and cultural environment. Besides being a Prophet performing missionary activities, he had to act as a political leader and head of an Islamic State which he had founded. He had to act as a military leader because he had to fight many battles for the survival of Islam and for the existence and stability of the infant state of Madinah. He excelled in his role as the head of a state and ensured not only the survival of the state of Madinah but also its emergence as a militarily powerful state between the two great empires; Roman in the North and West and Persian in the North and East. He excelled as a military leader and military strategist. His human qualities were in full display when he assumed political power as the head of a state. He was ever graceful, merciful, generous, tolerant and mild tempered as ever. His Prophetic qualities and divine support in some of his crucial battles were in full display. Some of the miraculous conversions both in Makkah and in Madinah reflect strongly on his magnetic qualities and character as Prophet.

Muhammad (saws) as a Man:

As stated earlier, the Prophet always used to say that he was a human being like any other person and liable to err. He was mildly reprimanded also by Allah for some of the errors of omission inadvertently committed by him. As for instance in Chapter 80 (Abasa) the Qur’an is critical that the Prophet ignored the blind man and was irritated with him who was sincere and keen to learn about Islam while Prophet was busy explaining Islam to some rich and prominent tribal leaders who cared little about it (Abasa; 80:1-7). The Prophet was again mildly reprimanded in Chapter 18, Surah Al-Kahaf, when he forgot to say ‘Insha Allah’ when he told the polytheists that he would tell them the next day the facts about the men of the caves. He was put in an embarrassing position when Jibrael did not descend with the revelation for a few days (Al-Kahaf; 18:23-24). These were mere reminders that a Prophet should be careful when he talks and what he talks. Nonetheless Prophet Muhammad enjoyed a most honoured position in divine estimation. He enjoyed a most elevated status in the eyes of Allah (Alam Nashrah; 94:1-4) and who enjoyed the highest blessings of Allah and whose all sins past, present and future were pardoned by Allah (Al-Fath; 48:l-3). He also conferred on Prophet Muhammad the unique and glorified title of “Mercy unto the worlds.” (Al-Anbiya; 21:107).

Consultation with the companions and building up consensus was the key policy that the Prophet adopted in his decision making process. Before the Battle of Badr, the Qur’an revealed two alternatives to the Muslims with assured success in either case. On one side was a huge stock of worldly wealth, which could be easily accessed and over-powered while on the other side, was going to be a hard fought and well earned victory over the polytheists, which would demoralize them with their shock defeat at the hands of the Muslims. The majority was in favour of the easy option but the Prophet and a few of his companions wanted to opt for a difficult course of action which he argued would benefit Islam most. He managed to persuade them to agree to his view point and we are aware of the tremendous impact on the future growth of Islam because of the remarkable victory in the Battle of Badr. As regards the Battle of Uhud, the majority was in favour of moving out of the city of Madinah and draw battle lines in the background of the mountain of Uhud. Initially the Prophet and Abdullah bin Ubaiy were against this idea but the Prophet eventually agreed to the majority viewpoint and marched out with his forces to meet the enemy. The consultative process was again helpful in deciding about the strategy in the Battle of Trench. While he was discussing with the companions about the strategy to be adopted in meeting the challenge of the mighty confederate forces that Salman Farsi came out with the bright idea of digging a deep and sufficiently wide trench to prevent the enemy from attacking the city. It was enthusiastically welcomed by all and promptly implemented. The Prophet always welcomed and encouraged such innovative and ingenious ideas. It was only in the Treaty of Hudaibiya that the Prophet went against the majority point of view. In signing the Treaty of Hudaibiya, he was being divinely guided. The Companions were not far-sighted enough to visualize the underlying beneficial consequences. It was only when Surah Al-Fath (The Victory) was revealed and stated that the Treaty was “Manifest Victory” (Al-Fath; 48:1) that the companions could appreciate its significance in the history of Islam.

The companions recognized the dual role of the Prophet, one as a Prophet of Allah when his decisions were based on the light of divine revelations. They will never challenge these decisions, implicitly accept them and implement them. However, if it was Prophet’s personal decision then they would politely and respectfully discuss its pros and cons with him and the Prophet would gladly welcome it.

As for instance, in the Battle of Badr, the Prophet marched out with his force to the springs of Badr and camped near a small spring. Meanwhile, ibn al-Mundhar arrived, asked the Prophet if he was divinely guided to camp at that spot or it was his personal decision. When the Prophet replied that it was his personal decision then ibn al-Mundhar suggested a better strategy of camping near the biggest spring well which will prevent the enemy from accessing water. The Prophet appreciated the suggestion, accepted and implemented it. In another situation during the Battle of the Trench the Muslim forces were encircled and overpowered by the superiority in equipment and number of the confederate forces. He therefore thought of weaning away the Ghatfan from the confederate forces and conceived of a plan to break and weaken the coalition by offering the leaders of Ghatfan one third of the dates of Madinah if they agreed to break away from the coalition and return to their lands. Before implementing his plans he consulted the two Sa’ds, leaders of Aus and Khazraj. The Sa’ds asked the apostle; “Is it a thing you want us to do or something Allah has ordered you which we must carry out.” The Apostle replied it was his idea; “By God I would not do it, Sa’d bin Mundhar respectfully rejected Apostle’s move and said; “Now after Allah has honoured and guided us to Islam and made us famous through you, are we to give them our property? We certainly will not. We will give them nothing but sword until Allah decides between us”. The Apostle said; “You shall have it so.” Sa’d erased what was written in the draft treaty saying; “Let them do their worst against us.”

Women in Madinah were socially more active and the Prophet fully protected their right to speak and listen to their views. His daughter Zaynab gave protection to her polytheist husband Abul ‘As without the knowledge of her father. She announced it next morning in the mosque. He recognized her right and that of any woman to grant protection. Bararah, a slave girl of Ayesha, was granted her freedom. She was married to slave and had children from him. As soon as she earned her freedom she wanted to break relations with her slave husband who loved her immensely. Nonetheless she insisted on divorce. The Prophet advised her against it and suggested that she should reconsider her decision. She very politely asked the Prophet if it was the command of Allah or his personal advice. The Prophet told her that it was his personnel advice. Then she respectfully told him that she did not accept it. The Prophet respected her decision and finalized the divorce proceedings. It is thus very clear that no woman should be forced to continue her marriage with a man she does not want to live with.

The Prophet encouraged the critical faculty of both men and women and never curtailed their freedom even if it implied a criticism of his own policy. This is also highlighted by the fact that when Mua’dh bin Jabal was appointed Governor of Yemen, the Prophet asked him as to how he would judge and decide matters. Mua’dh replied,“Through the Book of Allah.” Muhammad then asked if you find nothing in the Book of Allah?” Mua’dh replied: “I shall judge according to the tradition of Allah’s Messenger.” The Prophet further asked if you find nothing in the Messenger’s tradition.” Mua’dh answered; “I shall exercise my own intellect to reach a decision.” The Prophet was immensely satisfied and pleased.

Prophet’s love for nature and animals was great. He forbade the cutting of trees or destruction of standing crops during wars except under compelling circumstances. In his view quenching of thirst of a dog was rewarding as quenching the thirst of a man. A man went down a well to drink water when he came out he found a thirsty dog. He went back into the well, filled his shoe with water, and quenched the thirst of the dog. According to Prophet it was a most rewarding deed. Similarly, in his march to Makkah in 8 Hijra which led to its conquest, he found a litter of puppies and wanted to protect them from being trampled upon. He assigned the duty to a Muslim soldier to see that the puppies were fully protected.

The Prophet welcomed virtues and goodness irrespective of the quarter it came from. He was always proud of being a participant in the covenant of Hilful Fudul in the house of Abdullah bin Jundal al-Tayami when he was only twenty years of age. Its object was to protect the weak against the oppression of the strong. Although this covenant was agreed in the Jahiliya Period he was always proud of his participation even after the commencement of his Prophetic mission. (Moinul Haq; op. cit., pp:89-90) He did not hesitate to use the services of non-believers where their services were professionally required. His guide and camel driver during his migration to Madinah was a non-Muslim Bedouin Abdullah bin Uraiqu’t. His most trustworthy confidant in Makkah, besides Abu Bakr, was his own polytheist uncle Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib.

Similarly he favoured cultural assimilation if it did not go against the fundamentals of Islamic creed and values. When he migrated to Madinah he had moved to a totally different social and cultural environment. He saw no harm in assimilating some of the values cherished by the Madinites. Similarly he saw no harm in his wife Ayesha watching and listening to the song of traditional singing girls. He had also observed that the Ansars always enjoyed singing by professional singing girls during marriages. He arranged to send two singing girls to the house of an Ansar where a marriage function was being held.

The Prophet never got easily provoked. Once a Bedouin came to meet him. The Bedouin stayed in the mosque for some time and urinated in it. The companions rushed to beat him. The Prophet said; “Leave him alone just throw a bucket full of water on his urine.” and added; “God is gentle (haleem) and loves gentleness. There are in you two qualities that Allah loves: clemency (‘afu) and fore-bearance (sabr), “nobleness” and “tolerance”. These are the very essence of Prophet’s teaching (Ramadhan; op. cit., p.:l13).

Prophet’s tolerance was indeed proverbial. A delegation of sixteen leading Najran Christian called on the Prophet. They owed allegiance to the orthodox Christian sect head-quartered in Constantinople. They came to question him about Islam and to learn if his mission was a continuation of the mission of Christ as also the culmination of his mission. Before their departure, some of the Christians wanted to say their prayer inside the mosque. The companions were against it but the Prophet allowed them to perform it right in the mosque. They prayed inside the mosque facing east with their cross in front of them. It was a great moral lesson to his companions: “They were to draw from it the substance of the respect that Islam demands of its faithful, whom it invites to go beyond tolerance, to learn, listen and recognize other’s dignity.” (Ramadhan; op. cit., p:16)

The Prophet strictly advised and taught his companions never to act in vengeance. After the conquest of Makkah, lkrima bin Abu Jahal came to the Prophet to offer his allegiance to Islam. As the Prophet sighted lkrima he told his Companions “Ikrimah, Abu Jahal’s son, is coming as a believer. Do not insult his father for insulting the dead hurts the living without reaching the dead.” (Ramadhan; op. cit., p:78)

The Prophet was thus a great teacher in human behavior, etiquette and spiritual acquisition. Towards the end of his life in Madinah he was the ruler of the powerful Islamic State. He could have lived an affluent life but he chose to live the life of the poor and completely identified himself with them and continued to serve them till the end of his life. He respected the dignity and honour of others and was tolerant to the maximum extent. He signed the Hudaibiya treaty on their terms because he never wanted to humiliate the Quraysh and hurt their ego and honour. He gave a powerful lesson in clemency, tolerance, generosity and respect for other religions, when he allowed the Christians of Najran to offer their prayer in the mosque. He was brave and courageous in the battle fields but an epitome of humility in times of victory. The conquest of Makkah eloquently testifies to it. After the conquest of Makkah he was not revengeful. He never acted with vengeance and granted amnesty to all Makkans whether believers or non-believers. The bloodless conquest of Makkah was and has remained till to date unexcelled and without parallel in the annals of history.