Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Speaking Tree Blog | August 08, 2022
According to the Quran, the Prophet of Islam lived an exemplary life. Different aspects of the prophetic character are described in the Quran, one of which is alluded to in the chapter Yunus (Jonah). The translation of the relevant verse is as follows:
Say, ‘If God had so wished, I would not have recited it to you, nor would He have brought it to your knowledge. Indeed, I have spent a whole lifetime among you before it came to me. How can you not use your reason?’ (10:16)
According to this Quranic verse, the Prophet’s life was an open book. His character was known to everyone in minute detail. No chapter of his life’s book was hidden from his contemporaries. He was accessible to everyone at all times. He was available to answer people’s questions. His life was as transparent as glass. Even his enemies could not say of him that there was any contradiction between his private life and his public life.
This was not simply a personal matter. It had great social value. Leading a blameless life and having sterling qualities makes one predictable and encourages others to accept one as a trustworthy person. It was due to such a character, the Prophet projected such a noble image in Makkah that people gave him the very exceptional title of al-sadiq al-amin, that is, truthful and trustworthy.
It was this flawless character of the Prophet that prevented anyone in ancient Arabia from saying: “O Prophet, you are telling a lie, we cannot believe that your claim of being a Prophet of God is true.” When he proclaimed that God had appointed him as a prophet, no one was able to deny his claim. This miracle of his acceptance was wrought purely by the sublimity of his character. Almost all those who had a close relationship with him, and were well informed about his life, accepted him as a Prophet at the very first instance, either publicly or privately.
Once a Makkan leader met the Prophet and told him that the Makkans had reservations about what he had to say about divine revelations, because they had never witnessed an angel of God coming to him to reveal the word of God. But he added: “O Muhammad, we do not say that you are telling a lie. So far as your integrity is concerned, we have no doubt about it.”
The Prophet is a role model for everyone who believes in his prophethood. Character of this calibre establishes one’s identity in the eyes of both God and the people. But such a character is not the sole privilege of a prophet. Every single believer can have such a character and is certainly expected to emulate the character of the Prophet.
The Prophet’s veracity was almost a byword in Makkah. The following is a portion of a dialogue between the Christian Emperor Heraclius and Abu Sufyan, an opponent of the Prophet at that time:
Emperor Heraclius: “Did you suspect him of lying before he said what he said?”
Abu Sufyan: “No.”
Emperor Heraclius: “And does he break his pledges?”
Abu Sufyan: “No.”
Emperor Heraclius: “If he does not lie to man, then how will he lie to God Almighty?”
This dialogue shows the sheer strength of a person’s character. Indeed, you are known to your neighbours by your character and not by anything else.