One in every five persons on this earth firmly believes that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is the last Messenger of God. He was a Muslim and there are more than 1.3 billion such Muslims today.
Not only individuals but entire countries take pride in declaring their allegiance to him. There are 54 such Muslim states today, ranging from those as large as Indonesia and Bangladesh, with populations of 200 and 125 million respectively, to those as tiny as the Maldives or Brunei with populations of 230,000 and 260,000. Even in non-Muslim countries, large Muslim populations constitute significant minorities; as much as 120 million in India and 20 million in China.
Indeed, within the last half century, Islam, the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), has become the second largest religion in most European countries, as also in America and Canada.
Black and white, red and yellow, followers of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) come from all human races. Whether in Asia or Europe, Africa or America, in every nook and cranny of this globe, you are sure to find Muslims. They live in the most advanced, sprawling megalopolis as well as in the most primitive nomadic tent, village, hamlet, and even in the bush.
As now so always, down the centuries, across the planet, from end to end, billions and billions of men and women have lived all their lives, loving the Prophet (Pbuh) and trying to follow in his footsteps, as no one else has been so loved and followed. They have lived and died, believed and acted, married and raised families, worshipped and ruled, made war and peace, even eaten and dressed, walked and slept, just as he did or taught them to do.
Indeed, never in history has a man influenced mankind, even beyond his death, so deeply and so pervasively as he has. He brings light and peace to countless hearts and lives. Muslims love him more dearly than their own selves. In him they find their greatest source of inspiration and guidance. He is the ultimate norm and the perfect example for them. Faith in Allah and His Messenger is their mainstay and Allah is their chief source of support and comfort in all personal vicissitudes and tribulations. To him they also look to lead them through social and political turmoil. He has always inspired them to greater and greater heights of spiritual and moral upliftment and civilizational achievements. And still does.
In short, Muslims believe that through him, a human like themselves, God has spoken to them, and guided him to live amongst them, setting an example and a model for all times to come. Even today he motivates and induces whole populations to yearn and strive to shape their private lives, politics and policies according to Allah’s teachings.
Prophet Muhammad’s manners and disposition
Allah Says (what means): “By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and ill-tempered, they would have dispersed from round about you” [Quran, 3: 159]
About himself the prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate perfection of character, refinement of manners and loftiness of deportment.” [Malik and Ahmad]
By nature he (pbuh) was gentle and kind hearted, always inclined to be gracious and to overlook the faults of others. Politeness and courtesy, compassion and tenderness, simplicity and humility, sympathy and sincerity were some of the keynotes of his character. In the cause of right and justice he could be resolute and severe but more often than not, his severity was tempered with generosity. He (pbuh) had charming manners which won him the affection of his followers and secured their devotion. Though virtual king of Arabia and an apostle of Allah, he never assumed an air of superiority. Not that he (pbuh) had to conceal any such vein by practice and artifice: with fear of Allah, sincere humility was ingrained in his heart. He (pbuh) used to say:
“I am a Prophet of Allah but I do not know what will be my end.” [Al-Bukhari]
In one of his sermons calculated to instill the fear of Allah and the day of reckoning in the hearts of men, he (pbuh) said:
“O people of Quraysh be prepared for the hereafter, I cannot save you from the punishment of Allah; O Bani Abd Manaf, I cannot save you from Allah; O Abbas, son of Abdul-Mutalib, I cannot protect you either; O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, even you I cannot save.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
He (pbuh) used to pray:
“O Allah! I am but a man. If I hurt any one in any manner, then forgive me and do not punish me.” [Ahmad]
He always received people with courtesy and showed respect to older people and stated:
“To honor an old man is to show glorification to Allah.”
He (pbuh) would not deny courtesy even to wicked persons. It is stated that a person came to his house and asked permission for admission. The prophet (pbuh) remarked that he was not a good person but might be admitted. When he came in and while he remained in the house, he was shown full courtesy. When he left ‘Aa’ishah (radiallahu anha) said: “You did not think well of this man, but you treated him so well.”
The prophet (pbuh) replied:
“He is a bad person in the sight of Allah who does not behave courteously and people shun his company because of his bad manners.” [Al-Bukhari]
He (pbuh) was always the first to greet another and would not withdraw his hand from a handshake till the other man withdrew his. If one wanted to say something in his ears, he would not turn away till one had finished as reported in the books of Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi (rahimahullah). He did not like people to get up for him and used to say:
“Let him, who likes people to stand up in his honor, he should seek a place in hell.” [Abu Dawood].
He (pbuh) would himself, however, stand up when any dignitary came to him. He (pbuh) had stood up to receive the wet nurse who had reared him in infancy and had spread his own sheet for her. His foster brother was given similar treatment. He (pbuh) avoided sitting at a prominent place in a gathering, so much so that people coming in had difficulty in spotting him and had to ask which one was the Prophet (pbuh). Quite frequently uncouth Bedouins accosted him (pbuh) in their own gruff and impolite manner but he never took offence. [Abu Dawood]
He (pbuh) used to visit the poorest of ailing persons and exhorted all Muslims to do likewise [Al-Bukhari]. He (pbuh) would sit with the humblest of persons saying that righteousness alone was the criterion of one’s superiority over another. He (pbuh) invariably invited people be they slaves, servants or the poorest believers, to partake with him of his scanty meals. [At-Tirmithi]
Whenever he (pbuh) visited a person he would first greet him and then take his permission to enter the house. He (pbuh) advised the people to follow this etiquette and not to get annoyed if anyone declined to give permission, for it was quite likely the person concerned was busy otherwise and did not mean any disrespect.
There was no type of household work too low or too undignified for him (pbuh). ‘Aa’ishah (radiallahu anha) has stated: “He always joined in household work and would at times mend his clothes, repair his shoes and sweep the floor. He would milk, tether, and feed his animals and do the household shopping.” [Al-Bukhari]
He (pbuh) would not hesitate to do the menial work of others, particularly of orphans and widows [An-Nasa’ee, Ad-Darami]. Once when there was no male member in the house of the companion Khabab Ibn Al-Arat (radiallahu anhu) who had gone to the battlefield, he used to go to his house daily and milk his cattle for the inhabitants [Ibn Saad].