Friday, November 17, 2017, marks the death anniversary of the Seal of the Prophets: Prophet…
For many people, the question of the existence of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) in history needs little or no discussion. This is a topic that is rarely (if at all) discussed, particularly in Muslim communities. For that matter, the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh&hp), at least as a historical figure, is widely acknowledged in western literature and among western historians and academicians alike. Despite these overwhelming affirmations, for Muslims there may still be a disconnect in the way we think of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) and his divine message. Are we simply accepting a religion with blind faith, or are we genuinely seeking proof for ourselves for our belief in God and His Prophet (pbuh&hp)? Do we genuinely think of our Holy Prophet as a force for change in our daily lives?
Belief with sincerity
It is important to recognize the historical actuality of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) with sincerity and not take it lightly. To elaborate on this concept, we must ask ourselves how we think about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), whether it be when his name is mentioned in a lecture, when we read his name in the Holy Quran or in narrations, or when we say his name in a supplication. It is important to be sure that when we think of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), we are not using the same imaginative process that is used to visualize characters from stories we read or those from movies and television programs. To do so is to trivialize his existence which may lend itself to insincere belief.
When thinking of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), it is important to think of him the same way one thinks of a relative or loved one. In this way, one truly has embraced the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) as someone genuine, as opposed to a figment of one’s imagination (God forbid). When we recall our love for our parents, relatives, and loved ones, some of whom have left this world, these are real, palpable, and genuine emotions that impact our daily lives. When we see the plight of others, the feelings we experience are strong enough to affect change to the extent that we may act to help or to raise awareness. Sincere devotion to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) in this way can inspire us to pay closer attention to his divine message and ultimately help us to attain closeness to God, Almighty.
Achieve sincerity through knowledge
A 2014 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that “The share of Americans who say they are ‘absolutely certain’ that God exists has dropped 8 percentage points, from 71 percent to 63 percent, since 2007, when the last comparable study was made.”1 In the case of Muslims, a decline in certainty of the existence of God is directly related to belief in the veracity of the message of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp). For those who doubt the existence of God, it is logical to assume they may first have doubted the existence of His messengers or the truth of their message. In other words, skeptics may either doubt the physical existence of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) or the divine message he relayed to mankind, namely the Holy Quran.
For most people, it is perhaps not difficult to acknowledge the existence of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) as a historical figure who lived, died, and lies buried in the Mosque of the Prophet (Masjid al-Nabawi) in the city of Madinah. Historians and scholars widely hold that the mosque originated in the late seventh century during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), and the question of his physical existence is rarely something debated by historians.
Science strengthens faith
Skeptics may, however, focus their doubt more on the question of his divine message and the Holy Quran. Was such a revelation even made or was this something that came much later? To this point, there is scientific evidence that the Holy Quran itself was compiled corresponding to Islamic historical timelines. A Quranic manuscript in the collection of the University of Birmingham, for example, was found to date back to the late sixth and early seventh centuries. As per the University of Birmingham report, “Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The test was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford. The result places the leaves close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.”2
Information is at your fingertips
It is not very difficult to find information confirming the historical authenticity the existence of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) and the Holy Quran. Much of this data is readily available online after a quick search. However, this is an important step that many Muslims may not take, and as a result, they do not have the same confidence or level of sincerity when it comes to their devotion to God, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), or his family (pbut).
Those who seek to achieve sincerity in their belief and practice their faith based on reason and logic, should first clarify their perceptions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and remove any ambiguity when it comes to his reality and the reality of his divine message. When a person realizes that there is abundant evidence of the divine message of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), then any imaginative perceptions become perceptions based on fact and reality. We would thus keep ourselves safe from the possibility of thinking of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) the same way we imagine characters in stories. In fact, when we begin to support our belief in the Holy Prophet with evidence from our own findings, that belief becomes a real and powerful voice in our minds that affects change in our daily lives. Our devotion to God becomes based on fact, and when a person believes in something with evidence and proof, they no longer have mere blind faith.
1. Wormald, Benjamin, “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, November 02, 2015, accessed December 05, 2017, https://www.pewforum.org/2015/1 1/03/u-s-public-becoming-less- religious/.
2. “Birmingham Qur’an manuscript dated among the oldest in the world,” posted July 22, 2015, accessed December 05, 2017, https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2015/07/quran-manus cript-22-07-15.aspx.