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Michael Hart, an American research author, who wrote the book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” was asked about his ranking of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as the most influential man in history. He answered, “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but He was the only man in the history who was extremely successful on both religious and secular levels.”
The absolute character of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is impeccable in all characteristics and bestows an outright guidance in every step of life. It is an exemplary and pure fountain of love and mercy. His mercy is restricted not only to human beings but is also for animals and other creatures too. It’s a very well-known report that Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) cut off his sleeve when he had to rise for prayers so as not to disturb a kitten that had curled up on his robe for a nap. For the reason, He is exalted as “mercy to the worlds.”
As far as the religious pluralism and multiculturalism are concerned, we shall only highlight a specific characteristic amidst countless other peculiarities and virtues of Holy Prophet (Peace Be-Upon Him). That is His mercy and kind behavior towards the non-Muslims. We shall scrutinize this subject using the lens of history.
As we go through the available historical evidence, we find that Prophet’s (Peace Be Upon Him) attitude and kind behavior towards non-Muslims was the basis for the creation of a society, where people belonging to different religions and cultures could co-exist in peace. He (Peace Be Upon Him) secured these basic rights of humanity in the society in which he lived, whether the inhabitants were Muslims or not. He explicitly said “He who torments non-Muslims, torments Me. Accordingly, he who torments Me torments Allah.”
Figuratively, the total population of Medina consisted of 85% non-Muslims (including Jews) and 15% consisted of Muslims only. His foremost objective was to govern a multicultural and pluralistic society. So, He (Peace Be Upon Him) penned down a charter which would promote cultural and religious sovereignty for the Jews of Medina. The Charter of Medina, which is also considered the first written constitution in the world, serves as a vivid example where peace and pluralism were achieved by dialogue, rather than being resolved in the battlefield.
Once a deputation, consisting of forty-five scholars from the Christians of Najran came to visit Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and He readily took off his shawl and spread it for them to sit upon. Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) allowed them not only to stay in the mosque but invited them to pray also. He then made a treaty which would permit Christians, living in the outskirts of Islamic Empire, to practice their religion in peace.
Upon leaving Medina, The Christian scholars pronounced: “O, Abul Qasim, we decided to leave you as you are and you leave us as we are. But send us a man who can adjudicate things in our properties, because we accept you.”
Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) visited the Jews of Medina on a communal basis. It’s essential to quote one report which provides verification to be above statement.
Anas bin Malik (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) narrates: “A youth from Jews who used to serve Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) fell sick. He was so dear to Him that He Himself went to pay a visit to the sick youth. The boy was standing on the bridge of life and death. Prophet sat near the boy’s head. He (Peace Be Upon Him) looked at him with sympathy, sad to see him dying at the zenith of his life. Prophet invited him to embrace Islam. The youth saw his father as if asking for permission. His father nodded with the acquiescence and the boy testified Islam in his last breath.” (Al-Bukhari, 1268)
He (Peace Be Upon Him) was so anxious about the rights of the non-Muslims that He once said: “Those who commit acts of aggression against any non-Muslim, who deprive him of his rights, who makes any demand which is beyond his capacity to fulfill or who by force, obtained anything from him against his wishes. I will be his (the oppressed) advocate on the Day of Resurrection.” He further said, “I will be the opponent of one who harms any non-Muslims and I will speak in the favor of the oppressed one.”
Being Muslims, proving ourselves true followers of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) should follow his footsteps and keep up good relations with non-Muslims and always lend a helping hand in their hard times. Good behavior and kind treatment will pave the way for positivity among both communities. As Imam Jaffer al-Sadiq has rightly said:“ Teach people about your religion without the use of your tongue.”
Then, we too may have one day to witness, just as in the streets of Medina, where a passing Christian will greet “Peace be upon you” to a Muslim, who will reply “Peace be upon you too.”