Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and those with him… When you see them, you will find them making Rukuh (bowing down) and Sujud (prostration in prayers), and craving for the blessings from Allah and His pleasure… (Qur’an 48:27-29)
Yes. Who is, not who was Muhammad? I refuse to refer to him in the past because the Prophet of Islam (may Allah’s peace and benedictions be on his soul in Madinah) lives in the present. I prefer to refer to him in the present because his legacies make all allusions to him in the present a categorical imperative. In other words, though he died a thousand, four hundred and forty-three years ago, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) did not actually die. Rather, he lives on in the hearts of billions of Muslims and on the tongues of countless number of creatures of the Almighty who celebrate his shining patrimony and strive to emulate, based on correct knowledge and understanding, his exemplary legacy.
Thus when I say who is Muhammad? It is with the decided agenda to remind you of the known, the unknown and the unknowable. To those who properly understand his message among Muslims, Muhammad is known. To those who are ignorant of the core messages of his vocation but who are only emotionally attached to him, Muhammad is unknown. To those who use the negative exteriorities and reality in Muslim life all over the world as evidence of his message, Muhammad is unknowable. His full name is Abul Qasim Muhammad b. Abdullah b. Abdul Mutallib b. Hashim b Abdul Manaf b. Adnan. His mother is Aminah, the daughter of Wahab. He was born on Monday; he was commissioned into Prophethood on Monday; he left Makkah on migration (hijrah) to Madinah on Monday; he arrived Madinah on Monday; he placed the black stone on its present spot in the Kaaba on Monday; he died on Monday.
Who is Muhammad? He is the man who was born an orphan but rose to become a head of state. He had a father, named Abdullah, who lived till such a time he delivered the “seed” in the womb of his wife, Aminah, before he was transmitted to the great beyond. The unspoken moral here should not be lost on us- live every moment of your life as if it were the last; know that it is good to be important in life. Be aware that it is more important to be good and be God-conscious.
Yes Aminah, the Prophet’s mother, also received the “seed” as a trust and nurtured it to maturation. She gave birth to and reared the young Muhammad till such a time the infant could be separated from the womb and the bosom that bore him before she departed this world.
In other words, children who see their parents on a daily basis easily forget their creator; they shout and chorus at every moment; my daddy, my mummy! But those who have no parents to call take solace in their recourse to the Almighty on a permanent basis. Thus while the former shouts my daddy! my mummy! the latter shouts Ya Rabb! Ya rabb! (My lord! My lord!)
By coming to the world intestate, the whole life of Muhammad (s.a.w) is designed to teach what none other the Almighty can teach. When Muhammad lost his mother at six after having lost his father while he was in the womb, we are reminded that it is a privilege for us to be there, to be “daddied” and “mummied” by our children: the child would attain to his destiny with or without the intervention of his parents!
Who was that man? He was the unlettered Prophet who was given a book that made knowledge the most worthwhile investment one could bequeath to the world. He never had a chance of learning from a scholar but was blessed with a book that makes scholarship the best profession known to humanity. He was given a book that talks about astronomy and space exploration at a time the NASA and the powers that be in the US had not been born. He was given a book that talks about biology and reproduction at a time the human physiology was still unknown and uncharted. He was given a book which talks about geology and archaeology at a time oceanography and oil exploration had not occurred to humanity; he was given a book which talks about economics and the evil of round-tripping at a time the stock market had not been conceived; he was given a book which talks about numerology at a time algebra and the only formula I remember of the mathematics I was taught in my post-primary school- the almighty formula- had not been discovered!
Prophet Muhammad was taught to read a book which is itself all about reading- a book which contains a hundred and fourteen chapters and over six thousand verses which were revealed both in Makkah and Madinah. Whereas the Qur’an is known and seen today as a book, it is equally a book, which is a seal of all revealed books.
Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies,
Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies,
University of Ibadan,