The Prophet of Islam and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was born on Rabiul Awwal 12. His birth took place in a simple house in Makkah on a Monday in the Year of the Elephant, which corresponds to 571 C.E. Both, his father, Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, and mother, Amina bint Wahab, were well-known people. The Prophet never knew his father, who had died in the months before his birth. It was left to his grandfather to name him Muhammad.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to know the importance of this noble Prophet and to abide by the Qur'an, which was revealed to him. They should also emulate his behaviour and attach importance to the call of tawhid (monotheism) with which he began his message, as shown in Allah's direction in the Qur'an: “Say (Muhammad), I pray unto Allah only, and I ascribe to Him no partner.” ( Surat Al-Jinn 72:20).
The Prophet Muhammad SAW is the role model for every Muslim. We should follow his guidance in all things, large and small. Almighty Allah has blessed this Ummah by preserving the Sunnah and Sirah of His messenger. Despite the passage of time, both remain as though you were seeing and hearing them today. They provide a living example of the life of the Prophet. They also instill love and respect for him in the hearts of Muslims. Allah says in the Qur'an: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example to follow.” ( Surat Al-Ahzab: 33:21).
It is important that as Muslims face the many challenges in today's world we seek guidance from the Noble Qur'an and follow the teachings of the Prophet. The world is passing through a very dangerous period. Wars, famine, hunger and disease are ravaging parts of the globe. Even in the so-called advanced societies, life is far from trouble-free. We find violence in schools and on the streets, depression, poverty, dysfunctional families and a host of other problems that appear to be proliferating instead of showing any signs of abating, no matter what measures are used to try to stem the tide of misery.
In the Muslim world there is also a crisis of identity. While social problems are few thanks to our strong family values, there is a growing indifference to other challenges that confront us. Intolerance is a rising menace. There are extremism, obscurantism and a growing habit of blaming others for our own ills. As a people we are not given to soul-searching or introspection. We have failed to question why we are in this position.
What have we done to alleviate our own suffering? We snivel in mortification and we wallow in self-pity, unable to muster the courage to call a spade a spade and find solutions to our problems. We don't have to copy others. The life of the Prophet Muhammad is itself a beacon of light — a light of guidance that, if only we follow it, will lead us to safety. Those of us who are in prominent positions in society should lead by example, for it would be disastrous if we ourselves lacked true awareness and piety.
If we love the Prophet and believe in his message, then we have to follow him in everything we do. We must leave behind anything that is abominable — all that is indecent, whether in speech or in action. If an injustice is done to you, respond with a kind act by forgiving the one who wronged you. Do not take revenge; vengeance is the province of Allah . Free yourself by forgiving others and working to strengthen your relationships.
Avoid blaming or being harsh to your servants, colleagues, children, students and spouses when they do not perform their duties to the required standard. Do not hesitate to help the weak, the needy and women; and walk in their midst without arrogance or superiority. Work hard and share with other workers, even if your work is digging in the ground or removing rubble; and be happy in carrying out the tasks you are performing to show your humility. Do not use abusive or rude language, even in jest. Do not direct evil deeds at any of your brothers or sisters. Let politeness and propriety in speech be your way of life. Be merciful to people and to animals. Be unafraid to speak the truth, even if it is against you.
We must have role models. Let us seek them from people around us but never forget the one Allah has sent as a Messenger. Of all the prophets, there is none whose life has been as open to scrutiny as that of the Prophet Muhammad. We owe it to ourselves to research his life and study his character, his dealings with people, his manners. That itself would be an ennobling experience — something that would enrich us and make our lives rewarding and illuminating.