Muhammad: The “Ideal” Man?

8/29/13 – According to Islam, Muhammad is al-insan al-kamil (the ideal man). Yet Islam does not consider him as divine, as Christianity does Jesus. And he is not worshipped as the “son of God” as is Jesus. Yet, Muhammad is the model above all models for all “good” Muslims on how to conduct their lives.

“It may be said that the Prophet is the perfection of both the norm of the human collectivity and the human individual, the norm for the perfect social life and the prototype and guide for the individual’s spiritual life,” wrote Sayyid Hussein Nasr, one of Islam’s foremost scholars, in his book, Ideals and Realities in Islam. 

In fact, ‘knowledge about and reports of Muhammad’s life (his personal teachings and actions, which make up the Sunnah, or ‘way’ of the Prophet), embody the Islamic ideal of a good and holy life,” stated Gregory M. Davis in his book, Religion of Peace? Islam’s War Against the World. 

These observations come despite the many facts, which might lead a reasonable person in the West to entertain doubts about Muhammad; facts such as this: The Prophet wrote the marriage contract with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old. She remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

Or this: The Prophet cut off the hands and feet of the men belonging to the tribe of Uraina and did not cauterize(their bleeding limbs) till they died.

By Western World standards these incidents are not actions which should be emulated or held out as desirable qualities. A middle-aged man having sexual relations with a nine-year old girl? A man dismembering people and leaving them to bleed to death? Yet, in Islam, in the case of Muhammad, these are not crimes to be condemned but moral precedents to be followed. And followed they are, even to this day, in the new Jihad (holy war or struggle to impose Islam on the World), being carried out by Muslims.

So, who, exactly, was this man  from whose life the holy texts of the Koran devolved? It’s important to any understanding of Islamics and their present day actions, because there is no natural sense of morality or justice that transcends the specific examples and injunctions outlined in the Koran and the Sunnah. Even today, Muhammad is considered Allah’s final prophet and the Koran is believed to be the eternal, unalterable words of Allah himself. So, the entire Islamic moral universe devolves solely from the life and teachings of Muhammad.  This, we in the West do not understand. This, we in the West, MUST understand, if we are to effectively deal with Muslims, and thwart their goal; conquest of the entire world and the imposition of Sharia Law on the rest of us.

“According to Islamic sources,” writes Gregory Davis, “Muhammad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 570 AD. He spent the first decades of his adult life as a merchant in that place.” He actually married his first wife, Khadija, fifteen years older than he, when he was about twenty-five. “Though an orphan, Muhammad was a member of the prestigious Quraish tribe, and enjoyed the protection of his powerful uncle, Abu Talib.”            

The first part of Muhammad’s career was spent in Mecca, “where he labored for fourteen years to make converts to Islam; the second [part] was in the city of Medina where he became a powerful political and military leader,” writes Davis. “In Mecca, we see a quasi-biblical figure, preaching repentance and charity, harassed and rejected by those around him. But later, in Medina, we see an able commander and strategist who systematically conquered and killed all those who opposed him. It is the later years of Muhammad’s life in Medina, from 622 AD to his death in 632, that are rarely discussed in polite company.” Why? Perhaps because of the gratuitous violence and brutality which the Prophet brought to the Arab world as he planned and carried out his conquests.

In 622 AD, when the Prophet was more than fifty years old, he and his followers made the Hijra (emigration or flight) from Mecca to the oasis of Yathrib (later renamed Medina) some two hundred miles to the north but still in Saudi Arabia. His new monotheism had angered the pagan leaders in Mecca, and the flight to Medina took place after a probable attempt on his life. At Medina, we see Muhammad evolve into a political-military figure, whose teaching before that time could be loosely compared to Christian and modern standards of behavior and community leadership. But, in Medina, he changed. Radically. So did Islam.

While in its early years, Islam might have been a tolerant creed that would “endure insult and forgive the ignorant,” Allah, according to Muhammad, soon required Muslims to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle. In fact, from 622 AD to 632 AD, when Muhammad died of fever several months after his army invaded and conquered Mecca, the Muslims under Muhammad engaged in some eighty-four battles and raids. Muhammad was present for twenty-seven of these, and personally fought in nine,” according to Muslim sources.

This essay, about Muhammad, is almost finished. Just two more very important points. The first: What opinion should we form of this man? How should we judge Muhammad? By the standards of his own time and country? Or by those of the more enlightened opinion in the West today? Regarding the former, William Montgomery Watt, in his biography of the Prophet, says; “[Muhammad’s] contemporaries did not find him morally defective in any way. and in both Meccan and Median periods Muhammad’s contemporaries looked upon him as a good and upright man, and in the eyes of history he is a moral and social reformer . . . ” Watt’s sentimentality is typical of modern scholars trying to make up for what they imagine to be centuries of unbalanced criticism of Islam. [But] to describe a man who freely engaged in war, slavery, mass larceny, assassination, massacre, and sexual intercourse with a child as ‘a moral and social reformer’ . . . defies comprehension,” says Davis. “Watt, however befogged his moral reasoning, is really no worse than the countless public persons today who perform essentially the same act of whitewashing – consciously or unconsciously – whenever they open their mouths about Islam. The consequence of such pathological thinking is to sidetrack meaningful examination of the implications of Muhammad’s teachings and example for Muslims and for the lands they inhabit.”

The second important point, borrowed from Davis, again: “…it is high time for the world to realize the danger posed by an ideology that holds up Muhammad as its ‘moral exemplar’. Muhammad, while a man of faith, was decidedly also a man war. True Muslims throughout history – and today – embrace both aspects of the Prophet. It is a modern prejudice to assume that the two are exclusive. Whatever moderation has found its way into Islam has come from outside sources – Christian, classical Greek, Zoroastrian, Hindu, etc. The idea of a moderate Islam is a Western notion that has no meaning within an orthodox Islamic context. Muhammad attests to that. The problem today is that as Islam’s presence and power grow [if we let it], as its institutions and mores gain wider following and acceptance [if we let them], one may be sure that the deeds of its ‘moral exemplar’ will follow. [But] with a basic understanding of the sources that govern Muslim behavior, we should now be better able to make sense of Islamic history . . . and we should be able to appreciate the danger presented by a resurgent Muslim world today. . . “


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