The delineation of the world in dystopic hues used to be a stuff of fiction but not anymore. Louis Macneice’s impassioned plea, “Prayer before Birth” is just as pertinent as it was in the context of the Second World War. The world has witnessed worst injustices, savage bloodbaths, glaring atrocities and blatant crimes not only in the past but with an ominous recurrence in the recent times. The frequency with which we are exposed to an ever changing trajectory of crimes and injustices is jarring to the collective memory of a society. Slide after slide, the incidents give way to the more ghastly of occurrences, habituating us to the extent that we hardly react against injustice, not even against the heinous manifestations of it. Is it that humanity has traversed the distance of time and space along the continuum of moral degradation? It is a sorry fact especially if the world was fortunate enough to have been blessed with a leader of transcendental genius and unmatched qualities of head and heart in the shape of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam.

Just when the Arab world was house to a host of social maladies, such as ignorance, injustice, inequality, depravity, brutality, economic exploitation, class distinction, gender bifurcation; a revolutionary leader rose to humanise the entire world. Imagine the level of moral bankruptcy, when an important pillar of worship; Hajj used to be performed ‘naked’. This was primarily due to the exploitation on the part of the select few, meted out to the underprivileged. It was made to believe that Hajj required a special, expensive costume which only the elite could afford to wear. Hence the poor had no choice but to be denuded of their clothes in order to perform Hajj. This is a glaring example of the nexus between mercenary ends and religion and to what new lows it can stoop to! It’s small wonder if religion continues to be used and abused today.

In such abysmal circumstances, the Holy Prophet Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam stood against tyranny and called the people to Truth as established in the Verse of the Quran (39:33 and 17:81). The opponents enjoyed monetary status, military might, resources, and the tools to further their imperialist designs. Yet the Holy Prophet Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam upheld justice and let no stone unturned even in the face of tough opposition. How challenging it was when the tyrannical leaders were deeply entrenched in the social fabric that the first few supporters that the relentless endeavours of the Holy Prophet Holy Prophet  Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam had garnered, wavered at times. The over-powering influence of the conniving tribal elders was unsettling.  The Holy Prophet Holy Prophet  Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam, struggled to humanise the society till he accomplished his mission. Yet we must realise the gravity of challenges along the path of this greatest revolution aimed at civilization. We the Muslims cannot conveniently undo this struggle; especially the fanatics, zealots and religious mercenaries have no right to masquerade themselves as ‘Muslims’.

History testifies that Islam emerged as a highly vibrant, dynamic and revolutionary manifesto of truth, justice, peace and humanity which had a felt impact on the hitherto class-ridden society. Islam towered above the circumscribed notion of ‘religion’, and turned out to be a well-knit ‘system’ to regulate lives. The struggle of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam culminated in the state of Medina founded on the principles of justice. It was an exceptionally arduous enterprise to have civilized the barbarous people of the times. Today the dramatic recurrence of barbarianism in the name of Islam, that the Holy Prophet Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam fought is indeed disheartening. There is a striking resemblance between the age of ignorance and oblivion that the Arab world signified before the advent of Islam and today’s, ‘modern’ 21st century. Savagery, injustice, male-chauvinism, vulgarity, corruption, suppression from ‘without’ and repression from ‘within’ and a host of social maladies were rampant as are today.

What is saddening is to see all of these crimes being perpetrated in the name of Islam, whereas Islam expressly sought to civilize the human spirit to the level of excellence. Unless we resort to solving these inherent controversies within our (mal)practices, we would witness Islam being conditioned with crimes of all sorts. This stereotyping has only increased with the passage of time.  The (mis)representation of Islam by a bunch of hoodlums, brandishing weapons and revelling in a killing spree is far removed from the real message of Islam.  Much later did I realize that this was one of the reasons why Hejab-clad women were discriminated against. The binary opposition between Islam and culture, Hejab and freedom, Muslim and terrorist is the handiwork of a few fanatics who exploit religion in order to gain their ulterior motives.  Yet I would not allow myself to be treated under these rigid polarities where Islam is associated with savagery and ignorance, for it is not so!

Only if the world celebrated a ‘Role Model’s Day’, and objectively studied the lives of leaders who had a global appeal in making this world a better place to live, we would, without a modicum of doubt, arrive 2at the glistening example of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam.  What a sorry fact that we failed to introduce the impeccable values exemplified by the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam at the global level; also as Muslims, hardly ever resorted to his shining example. The result is, as Muslims we failed to converge at a common median, which was verily the divine entity of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam. Ask a non-Muslim to sketch a Muslim, and a terrorist respectively. There will be hardly any disparity between the two images. Whither goes the message of humanity that Islam sought to spread!

The divine assignment of the Messenger was to propagate the message of Allah. History is an incontestable witness to the execution of this task. The Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam accomplished this task best par excellence. The Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasalam spread the message of Islam by preaching and practising the divine values, embodying integrity, probity and solidarity that he espoused. He wrote epistles to the rulers of foreign countries, delivered rights to the minorities and underprivileged segments of the society. He toiled day in and day out in this direction. Quran sought to elevate the common man often indicated by the collective noun in Arabic, “An-Nas” irrespective of the distinctions of caste, colour and creed.  This was by no means easy. Yet by virtue of the finest values that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam practised, he was able to achieve this target.

The Quranic appellation of “Rahmatalil Alameen” Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam (21:107) is transcendental and rises above all manners of discrimination. Yet it is a sorry fact that we as Muslims failed to furnish this Quranic metaphor for the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam not only at the global level, but also amongst ourselves. Each one of us draws a self-seeking portraiture of history and hence the divisions and subdivisions among us. If today we wake up to the need to of unity, it will not be possible unless we converge on the most powerful centre of gravity in the person of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam.

The high station of a leader that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam is positioned at under the title of “Rahmatalil Alameen” was supposed to be a point of convergence. Since Muslims themselves are divided as to how to internalize the humanitarian appeal of His message, the world has come to recognize us as a lot of unruly, uncivilized and uncouth people. Verily the Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam is Mercy, not for the Muslims, not for humanity at large, but for all the ‘worlds’. This incredible spread of the diametrical stretches of His Mercy spans the minutest of creatures to the more complex systems of the universe, orchestrated by the unmatched humane values, collectively deemed as “Mercy”. The numerous peace treaties, pacts, and contracts, allowing asylum to minorities who were signatory to the peace treaties speaks of the all-embracing approach of the divine visionary that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam was. The question remains as to why the followers are far removed from the fine precepts of humanitarian teachings that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam imparted painstakingly.

Islam is emblematic of the best human virtues, whereas, today the so-called ‘flags’ carrying the name of God have become synonymous with indiscriminate bloodshed, torture and brutality. The Quranic verse in Chapter Al-Maidah  says: “…Indeed , there has come to you a Light and a clear Book from God”, (5:15), reveals that the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam is a shining exemplar, allegiance to him rules out ambiguities. This is further reinforced in the Quranic verse, “O mankind! Surely there has come to you a clear proof from your Lord and we have sent to you a clear Light.” (4:175). Where do these inhuman fanatics derive their inspiration from? It is not Islam, not even in the least bit! The Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam cultivated the values of peace, by accentuating the exchange of ‘Salam’, peace-greetings, to forgive those who inflict pain, to cement ties and relationships with those who severed them, to give those who were deprived, to respect all, above the demarcations of gender and class.

It is of paramount importance to connect with the best exemplar and role model in the shape of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam.  The distance elapsing between Islam and its so-called followers directly translates into the distance between the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam’s noble conduct and our failure to follow it. On the occasion of the 12th of Rabiul Awwal which marks the birth of the infallible and immaculate Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam, let’s draw inspiration from His example and rectify the continuing propaganda in the name of Islam.  The bloodthirsty beasts who barter death for their whims cannot be aligned as the disciples of the Holy Prophet Salallah o Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wasallam for Allah declares in the Chapter Al Anfaal: “O Ye who believe, answer the call of Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life…” , (8:24). Life takes on all positive connotations in its entirety. These death-mongers have nothing to do with Islam and will not be allowed to commit crimes in the name of a Muslim. Let it be heard loud and clear: NOT in my name!