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Muhammad (SAWW): The Misunderstood Prophet

by Anum Ali

7th century Arabia was a hellhole of social, economic, and moral decline. Pagan Arabs buried their newborn daughters in hatred for females, women were sold in street bazaars, adultery was the norm, tribes fought for the interests of self-created idols that they worshipped as gods, business frontiers were plagued by fraud and deception, atrocious slavery was in full swing, the poor were exploited by the rich, and the law and jurisprudence system were rigged in favor of the rich and powerful. Muhammad salAllahu aleyhi wa’aleyhi wasallam (SAWW) (peace on him and his progeny) was a heroic prophet who rose from this very doomed system of evils and changed its course towards a revolutionary, prosperous Arabia. His vision was to spread a Godsent, comprehensive, and correctional religious philosophy; Islam, to all corners of the world. Those who understood it, evolved as the Muslim nation, and those who remain in misunderstanding continue to do so up till date.

The ongoing negative propaganda about Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) is not entirely universal. He has been acknowledged by global non-Muslim scholars as a positive, revolutionary leader similar to Gautama Buddha, Dalai Lama, and Confucius. American author and astrophysicist Michael H. Hart in his book, ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’, ranks Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) 1st [1]. American bestselling author, public speaker, and physician Deepak Chopra in explanation to why he wrote his bestseller, ‘Muhammad: A Story of The Last Prophet’ says that:

“Muhammad appeals to me most because he remade the world by going inward.  That’s the kind of achievement only available on the spiritual path. In the light of what the Prophet achieved, he raises my hopes that all of us who lead everyday lives can be touched by the divine. The Koran deserves its place as a song of the soul, to be celebrated wherever the soul matters.” [2]

Controversy follows each personality, and it follows socio-religious entities even more fiercely. The negative hyperbole about Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) (na au’dhubillah) includes allegations of using the sword (combat) to spread a philosophy of personal interest, polygamy and pedophilia for personal pleasure, and commandments of mass genocide of all non-Muslims.

The word Jihad pops up in the media like Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWW) genocide strategy. To begin with, it was never about war entirely. It meant to struggle in one’s defense. The Prophet (SAWW) always used dialogue as the first form of Jihad. He counseled the Muslims to endure most of the abuse from non-Muslims of Arab with great patience – the struggle was the first form of Jihad. As transgression and oppression increased to unbearable extents, military combat became permissible. Even then, combat was limited only with those tribes that wished to fight, or sided with transgressors [3]. If Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) is studied as a conqueror, then he did not parade into townships and destroyed families and properties upon invading and winning battles. They were always given the option of paying a nominal tax called Jiziyah to the Muslims. Muslims were forbidden to fight Jiziyah-payers. In contrast to Prophet Muhammad (SAWW), great conquerors in history are known for the bloodshed and economic decline they brought to the regions they invaded. Jihad battles were fought in fields and between armies, and when the Muslims would win, the Prophet (SAWW) always commanded that women, children, plants and vegetation, old people, and properties were not to be harmed.

Anti-Islam / Anti-Muhammad critics often slander Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) for having twelve wives. If however, the status of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) is studied in detail, the chaste personality of the Prophet (SAWW) would become clear. History of great dynasties like ancient Greece and Rome are full of the derogatory status of women sex slaves called concubines. These women were simply items of entertainment for prominent men. They were not given a respectable rank or accepted into the man’s family.

Each woman the Prophet (SAWW) married however, was for a fair, respectable, and humane reason. His proposals for marriage elevated the status of each lady and each wife was exalted to the status of divine. The wives were collectively called Ummuhat-il-Mumineen (Mothers of the Faithful). After his first wife Khadija radhi Allahu anha (RA) (may Allah be pleased with her), he married widows, immigrant widows, a divorcee, prisoners of war, and even a daughter of his former enemy Abu Sufyan [4]. Aisha (RA) is the most debated wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) because of her young age of nine years at the time when the marriage was consummated [5]. It was an exceptional marriage but one must not forget that these were two exceptional individuals. One was a divine Prophet of God who had not forced the parents of Aisha (RA), and Aisha; too, took up her responsibilities normally, and displayed great intelligence and memory skills. She grew up to become the most knowledgeable woman of Islam, and the most authentic narrator of hadith.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) is greatly misunderstood in recent times primarily because of extremists who practice a wrong ideology and claim for it to be derived from Islamic teachings. Under no circumstances did the Prophet (SAWW) command unnecessary bloodshed, violence, and terrorism, and he was the biggest advocate of women’s rights and respect. The Islamic principles pulled Arabia out of the dark ages and the caliphates that followed spread the revolutionary change to great kingdoms of the world. It is an unfortunate narrow vision approach of the media to ridicule Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) by simply deriving conclusions from the vile acts of groups who do not understand his sacred philosophy.





[3] When The Moon Split: A Biography of Prophet Muhammad (2002). p.146



Author Bio: Anum Ali is a creative writer and poetess from the USA with an MBA in Human Resource Management. She writes for Muslim women’s websites such as Habibi Halaqas, The Ideal Muslimah, Muslimaat Magazine, and Productive Muslim. Her Facebook Page: Sisterly Yours, is popular on Facebook and features her blog write-ups. In addition to publishing Islamic, cooking, poetry and adventure blogs, she enjoys digital photography, fantasy fiction, good coffee, and crafts.

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