When it comes to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him), the expression “to know him is to love him” is certainly true for well over a billion Muslims around the world. And yet in the Internet age, where a wealth of information on Islam can be obtained in seconds (at Alislam.org for example), most Christians -- and most believers in other faiths -- know very little or nothing about Muhammad (pbuh) or the real teachings of the Quran and Islam.
This failure to seek the true facts about Islam and Muhammad (pbuh) is not just regrettable; it opens the door for people to be misled by hostile, self-styled “experts” on Islam whose books, videos and public appearances present only an extremely negative and selectively edited picture of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
I often ask Christians: If non-Christians want a clear and honest portrait of Jesus and his teachings, should they read a book written by an “expert” who doesn’t believe in Christianity and hates Jesus? Wouldn’t Christians consider such a book nothing but vile propaganda and a complete waste of time? Why then do many non-Muslims think it’s perfectly OK – even preferable – to be educated on Islam and the life of Muhammad (pbuh) by those who revile the man and detest his religion? How is that in any way “fair and balanced”?
In the interests of presenting the true picture of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), allow me to share a handful of hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet, which not only reflect the vast majority of his tens of thousands of sayings, but also the central teachings and commandments in the Holy Quran, of which Muhammad (pbuh) was the living embodiment and best example. These sayings are short and to-the-point and require no commentary.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said:
“God is kind and loves kindness (in all affairs).”
“You can never enrich people with your money (alone); so help them cheerfully and with good grace.”
“The best provision for the journey (to the next life) is fear of God (i.e., righteousness).”
“Modesty is the essence of virtue.”
“One who is not thankful to people is not thankful to God.”
“The chief of the people is the one who best serves them.”
“One who cheats (in business, etc.) has nothing to do with me.”
“In every matter, moderation is best.”
“Truth saves – falsehood destroys.”
“A generous person is close to God, close to people and close to paradise; but far away from the Fire (of Hell).”
“The most perfect of believers in respect of their faith are those whose behavior is the most excellent, and the best of you are those who behave best towards their wives.”
“The beauty of a person’s ‘Islam' (religion; submission to God) lies in the fact that he abandons all that which is vain.”
“Contentment is a treasure that will never be exhausted.”
“The height of excellence is that you should strengthen (renew) the ties of relationship with the one who severs them, and be generous to the one who is miserly to you, and be forgiving to the one who abuses you.”
“I have been sent to perfect (in people) the best of morals.”
Such examples of the true character of Muhammad (pbuh) are easily and repeatedly found throughout the six major collections of Hadith. And testaments to his high moral qualities and righteousness can be found in the writings of non-Muslim scholars and historians such as Karen Armstrong, who has written not one but two biographies of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); one in 1992 and another in 2006.
And in the well-known book “The 100” author Michael Hart lists the 100 people throughout human civilization who he considers had the greatest impact on the world. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is ranked #1 as the most influential person in human history (Jesus is ranked #3).
On page 3 of “The 100” Mr. Hart writes: “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 level.”
Later, on page 9, he writes: “. . . Muhammad played a far more important role in the development of Islam than Jesus did in the development of Christianity. . . . Muhammad was responsible for both the theology of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, he played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in establishing the religious practices of Islam. . . “
It is hoped that a sincere and open-hearted investigation into the life and teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) will result in non-Muslims gaining a new, unbiased perspective on the man whose life and example have inspired millions of people to accept Islam and strive to embody the peace that Muhammad preached and strove for all his life. To be called a Muslim means you desire peace with God, peace within yourself, peace within your family and peace throughout the world. Anything else is not what a true Muslim should be striving for. May God guide and strengthen us all in our own personal struggles for peace. Amen.