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5 Characteristics of Greatness
“I believe if a man like him (Muhammad) were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring much needed peace and happiness. I have studied him - the man and in my opinion is far from being an anti–Christ. He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”
George Bernard Shaw - The Genuine Islam Vol.No.8, 1936.
The lunar month of Rabi-ul-Awwal is the month in which the birth of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is commemorated. George Bernard Shaw is one of many scholars who have paid glowing tribute to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The article ‘5 Characteristics of Greatness’ is a tribute to the exalted character of the Prophet (pbuh).
Why was the character of the Prophet (saw) great? His character was great because he had one purpose in life.
One of the great scholars of tafsir (commentary of the Quran) explained why the Prophet’s character was great.
He said ‘The Prophet (saw) was a great man with a great character because his only concern was Allah.’
What does this mean? Because the Prophet (saw) lived the most active of lives – he was a successful business man, a very successful husband, the most successful leader that humanity has seen, everything that he did he was tremendously successful in. No one achieved more in this life than he did, (saw). What made him great was his concern of the pleasure of Allah (swt). This is the challenge. Guide us to the straight path, guide us to the way in life that gets us straight to you and that’s the way of the Prophet (saw).
And this is the question someone who is striving to achieve something in this life to truly bring benefit to themselves in the next life, should ask themselves. Am I seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt)? Where am I going in my life? Allah asked us ‘f’ayna tathabin?’ So where are you headed?
We should be headed in a straight line. What’s that straight line? Seeking the pleasure of Allah. That straight line is straight forward, because you can do anything in life within certain limits but do it for the sake of Allah (swt) and do it with excellence, which is the way of the Prophet (saw). These are the two aspects of greatness: the first is to make a commitment in life to seek the pleasure of Allah, secondly to follow the example of the Prophet (saw).
Ibn Rajab, one of the great scholars of Islam asked the question ‘What was the character of the Prophet, what is it that made him great?’ and he mentioned five things that made the Prophet (saw) a great man:
(1) The first is fulfilling the rights of others.
There are people whom you owe rights to – fulfil their rights. So for example, your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your friends have rights over you – fulfil their rights.
(2) The second: avoid harming people.
This is the second part of the excellence of Prophetic character. The Prophet (saw) – he did not even harm his enemies. And this is the second aspect of good character. This is common sense.
(3) The third aspect of being great is the way you act with people.
How did the Prophet (saw) act with people? He was positive and cheerful in his dealings with people. He was positive and cheerful. He would be walking down the streets of Medina and little girls would grab him by the hand, saying that they wanted to show him something. They would be play, skip and jump around him, telling him they wanted to show him something. The Prophet (saw) would not let go of their hand until they let go of his.He’d be walking down the streets of Medina, and can you imagine the Prophet having nothing to do? No. He would be extremely busy, but he’d be walking down the street and if anyone greeted him, as is mentioned in the books that describe the Prophet (saw) ‘If he turned to someone, he turned completely.’ He wouldn’t just say ‘wa ‘alaykum Al-salam’ hurriedly. If someone greeted him he would turn completely to that person and give them his complete attention. Many of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) thought they were the most beloved to the Prophet (saw). Why? Because he dealt with everyone in a positive way.
The fourth and fifth aspects of good character are a little more difficult. It is not so hard to smile although you'd think that in the religion there was something to say that it was bad to smile too much. But there isn't. The Prophet (saw) was always cheerful, but always full of concern. There were always things he was thinking about, but he was always cheerful. People think that if you get religious, you had better start frowning. Sometimes when you go to the mosque it feels like everyone has just died. But no, the sunnah (way of the Prophet) is to smile. The Prophet (saw) said Your smiling at another is an act of charity.Ãs something pleasing to Allah (swt).
(4) The fourth aspect of good character is to respond to the good that others do, with good, or that which is better.
We don't fully appreciate what others do for us. How many times do we really thank our parents, or any one of our friends, and this is an important Sunnah. The Prophet (saw) warned that anyone who doesn't thank people hasn't thanked Allah. This is another aspect of good character.But these four are not that difficult.The test of good character, of greatness, the test of whether you are really someone seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt) is not just being good to people which is a summary of what these four things are.
(5) The fifth aspect of good character is that you respond to the wrong of others with nothing but the good.
And this is the greatest thing you will find in the Prophet (saw).You will find many people who did many great things in life, but you'll find no one who unfailingly responded to the bad of others with nothing but the good, like the Prophet (saw). Look at every stage of his life. People threw garbage at him, people threw their slippers at him, people hurt him, harmed him, did all kinds of things, and how did the Prophet respond?You saw nothing but beautiful action in response. The Prophet was firm; he didn't act like a door mat. He was a firm man, he knew exactly what he had to achieve in life and he took steps towards that and when he was opposed he stood firm both in Mecca and Medina. He stood firm in the face of opposition, but with excellence. And even when people came and were unreasonable with him, you see nothing but beautiful conduct.When he entered Mecca again after the conquest of Mecca, all of Qureysh were under the power of the Prophet (saw); he could do with them as he wished. What was prevalent at that time when you conquered a city: blood bath. People were scurrying into each other's houses, going here and there, but what did the Prophet (saw) say to them? He said to them something the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) had said to his brethren, because the brothers of the Prophet Yusuf tried to get rid of him and move him to a well, but when they reunited the Prophet Yusuf forgave them and said this to his brothers. His brothers. The Prophet said it to those who had been opposing him for 20 years. He said I say to you as the Prophet Yusuf said to his brothers, there is no blame on you today, we are brothers. May Allah forgive us and you.' And he did not take any of them to task even though he could have. He could have done anything he wanted with them and the customs prevalent at his time would not have prevented that. They were expecting a blood bath and nothing happened.
hopefully this post triggers self-reflection in us all. how much have we done to examplify Rasulullah's great characters.. feel free to share :D