From the cradle of time to its end, the Earth will never be graced with another man whose merits include being a social reformer, humanitarian, teacher, religious guide, diplomat, philanthropist, the last messenger and the savior of humanity, amongst a list that will forever remain limitless when attempting to define the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). In The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Prophet Muhammad is named the most influential figure in history, and rightfully so. From historians to poets, the personality of God's last messenger has captured the world. In a prose by Rumi, he illustrates the magnanimity of the Prophet's legacy: "The infant Muhammad became lost and his nurse Halima, dissolved in tears, was consoled with the words: 'Do not grieve, he will not become lost to thee; nay but the whole world will become lost in him!'"
"And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character." (68:4)
From the first prophet, Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Seal of Prophets and Messengers, the goal has been universal and one: invite mankind towards the One Creator. Muslims accept the scripture of the Holy Qur'an as pure truth and it is evident by the divine sentences found within that none other than Prophet Muhammad has destroyed the idols and liberated mankind from submission to man-made fallacies of religion, leading us towards the greatest freedom – worshiping God, the Most High. Indeed, the Holy Qur'an states regarding the seal of Prophethood: "We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind." (21:107)
It is not only us laymen who praise Prophet Muhammad; the Lord of the Universe says in the Qur'an: "Verily Allah sends blessings upon the Prophet, and his angels ask Allah to bless him. O you who believe, ask Allah to send blessings upon him and greet him with peace." (33:56)
The Troubling Denigration of his Status
While differences remain embedded among Muslims, we take great offense at comments made in publications disparaging the impeccable perfection that is the Prophet's character. We have threatened to boycott complete nations over cartoon drawings and rioted over films and books that have portrayed the best of mankind in a negative light. However, this movement, which seeks to deliberately – and on occasion, covertly – insult and reduce the character of Prophet Muhammad is not an invention made by the "enemies of Islam".
In fact, even in Salman Rushdie's infamous Satantic Verses, many of the narrations and stories are not figments of his imagination but rather can be found in the so-called "authentic" books of Hadith. While there was a rush to condemn the blatant falsehood and slander of the Holy Prophet in the book, few Muslims have considered what fueled the fire. Satantic Verses was substantiated in the eyes of its supporters because despite being erroneous and self-contradictory, it was backed up with fabricated events and narrations reported by a number of questionable characters whom the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world accepts as respectable "companions". Although the accusations made by Rushdie in his book are incorrect, many others have taken the initiative and continued to use inconsistent Hadiths and traditions to paint an increasingly negative and false portrait of our Prophet. This is due in large part to the Muslim world's failure in distancing itself and condemning the many Hadiths found in these books that question or even contradict the high status of Prophet Muhammad, which is clearly proven in the Holy Qur'an itself. It is indeed unfortunate that the Muslim world gives infallible status to certain collections of Hadith which actually contain several extremely ridiculous and obviously false narrations about the Prophet.
From Messenger to Mailman
Prophet Muhammad's esteemed personality had ushered in an era of perfection and leadership unbeknown to a thoroughly ignorant society. His values, virtues, characteristics, and achievements in spreading Islam are in agreement with his status as a pure infallible. Yet, a very different perception of the Prophet exists among certain segments of the Muslim world. Instead of being seen as a God-appointed beacon of morality who led a previously blinded society to understanding and knowledge, Prophet Muhammad is viewed by these groups as a mere layman with many faults, whose sole purpose was to deliver the message of Islam.
Primarily led by Wahhabis and so-called "Muslim" scholars who ignore the Holy Qur'an, these Muslim detractors claim the Prophet, while relaying the message to the people of Arabia, continued to listen to music, questioned his own sanity, and at various points believed was capable of sinning too. Such traditions have been accepted as gospel by the ignorant and malicious propagandists of these incorrect sentiments. There are countless hadiths of this nature; in the interest of brevity, we will focus upon a few:
Doubting the Prophethood
Hammad ibn Salama said that the Prophet said, "I hear a voice and see a light and fear that there is some madness in me." (Al-Shifa, p. 284) This tradition, along with those found in al-Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd (Vol. 1, p. 225) and al-Tabari, indicate that Prophet Muhammad had serious doubts about his own divinely appointed prophethood. It is a recurring theme in many texts, including Sahih Bukhari Hadiths 6.478, 6.444 and 6.448 – portraying different versions of an event where the Prophet received a revelation from the Angel Jibrail and subsequently returned to his wife, Lady Khadijah, "scared". While such false hadiths have been refuted by several scholars, they remain prominent and insultingly enough are believed by some Muslims and used against the Prophet by non-believers.
Questioning his Infallibility
Sunni scholars approach the notion of sinless messengers and Prophets in one of two manners: either they contend that the Prophet became an infallible only after delivering the message of God, or they remain flawed human beings despite being Prophets. Shia scholars on the other hand believe that all prophets and messengers are infallible from day one of their lives and remain so until their death. Historically speaking, the Shia viewpoint in this regard has far more merit. However, the Sunni view is based on the idea that Prophet Muhammad listened to music and would sometimes forget prayer times and Qur'anic verses. (Sahih Bukhari p. 29; Vol. 4, p. 68 and p. 29; Vol. 4, p. 68)
These claims are in direct contradiction with the Holy Qur'an itself (verses 53: 1-4), and Shias believe that any Hadith which conflicts with the Holy Qur'an must be disregarded. What is the purpose of portraying the Holy Prophet as a "sinner" (God-forbid) if not to promote the malice and evilness of the Ummayads? By claiming the Prophet had sinned and was merely relaying the message and not implementing it, the scholars who purport such falsehood have lowered the standard for who should lead the Muslim world, thereby allowing incompetent and morally corrupt politicians to appear acceptable.
A Movement to Celebrate
Blessed and purified will the Prophet remain from the slanders inflicted upon him by so-called Muslims. Despite attempts from several interests to take away from the character of the champion of humanity, he remains the Seal of Messengers and the revolutionary figure that set mankind free with the message he brought. It is unfortunate that today there are those in the Muslim world who claim celebrating his birthday is an innovation and must be prohibited. Their actual purpose is to prevent us from believing there is reason to celebrate the Prophet's life, yet if there is ever a personality in all of history to celebrate and revere, it is none other than Prophet Muhammad. Our search for honor and virtue must begin and end by observing the shining principles of the life of the Seal of Prophethood. There is a profound fear among the enemies of God and His Messenger that if Muslims and non-Muslims were to discover the true essence of the Holy Prophet's traits and attributes, they too would become empowered to implement true Islam and humanity into their lives.