By Saima G. Sheikh
Follow Saima on Twitter @SaimaGSheikh
The events that unfolded in France this week starting with the brutal murders of journalists in the Charlie Hebdo office, then the subsequent manhunt and the hostage situation in the Kosher market have once again shed a negative light on Islam. Islam means ‘peace’ and these terrorists have defamed the name of Islam and its founder, Prophet Muhammad. Once again, Muslims are being asked to defend their religion and explain why some teenagers would resort to killing to defend the honor of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad was a man of exemplary nature. He never retaliated against anyone. He taught Muslims to be compassionate, tolerant and to respect other religions. I am going to present three examples from his life that will show his compassion and tolerance in religious matters.
1. Prophet Muhammad’s compassion for the Christian tribe of Najran.
These Christians visited him in Medina to have a discussion on religion. When it was time for prayer, the Christian leader asked permission to leave the Mosque so they can offer their prayers. Prophet Muhammad said “there was no need for them to go out of the mosque, which was itself a place consecrated to the worship of God, and they could hold their service in it (Zurqani).”
2. Prophet Muhammad’s compassion for Jews.
Once a Jew came to Prophet Muhammad and complained that one of his companions, Abu Bakr had hurt his feelings. “Prophet Muhammad summoned Abu Bakr and asked him what had transpired. Abu Bakr complained that the Jew had started by saying that he swore by Moses whom God, he said, had exalted above the whole of mankind, and that he (Abu Bakr) had thereupon retorted by swearing by Muhammad, whom God had exalted above Moses. Prophet Muhammad said “You should not have said this as the feelings of other people should be respected. Nobody should exalt me above Moses.” (Bukhari)
This is an excellent example for all of us that we should always be careful to avoid hurting others feelings.
3. Prophet Muhammad’s compassion at the Treaty of Hudaibiya.
“After the terms of the treaty had been settled, Prophet Muhammad started to dictate the agreement and said, “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.” The Meccan envoy, Suhail, objected and said, “Allah we know, but what is this ‘the Gracious, the Merciful?’ This agreement is between two parties; therefore, religious beliefs of both parties will have to be respected.” The Prophet agreed at once and said to the scribe, “Only write, ‘In the name of Allah’.” The Prophet then proceeded with the opening sentence and said, ‘These are the conditions of peace between the people of Mecca and Muhammad, the Prophet of God’. Suhail objected again, and said, “If we thought you were a Prophet of God, we would not have fought you.” The Prophet accepted that objection and instructed to write Muhammad, son of Abdullah.” Some of the companions of Prophet Muhammad objected to the terms of the agreement. Prophet Muhammad responded, “Everybody who becomes a Muslim… does so because he accepts the beliefs and practices inculcated by Islam… But a man who gives up Islam is no use to us. If he no longer believes at heart what we believe, he is no longer one of us. It is better he should go elsewhere.” (Life of Muhammad pg. 195-196)
What an extraordinary man! Not once during this settlement did Prophet Muhammad become angry nor did he let his companions get angry. There are countless examples of compassion and tolerance from Prophet Muhammad’s life. He respected everyone, whether they were Muslim or non-Muslim. This is how the founder of Islam and my Prophet Muhammad led his life.
Follow Saima on Twitter @SaimaGSheikh