Tuesday, September 21, 2021

​The Last of the Prophets

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By Yakubu Musa

Nothing deterred you, no defeat and no loss until this community of Islam was set among the stars – Imam Busuri

There’s something humbling about attempting a eulogy on the man that Imam Busiri described as the “prince of the two worlds and the two beings”. You find yourself either repeating yourself or reproducing what others had churned out in the past. Poetry or prose, tribute or censure, there are oceans of literature on Muhammad, the most influential human being ever lived. 

So one can choose to be a Mazrui or a Rushdie. It is still about Muhammad the Great. He divides opinion? Yes, of course. But is there any other great man who doesn’t?  Yet the world has never seen a man imbued with more eulogy virtues.

But spare a second and ponder over this: here was an unlettered man in the desert, 1400 years ago, confidentially telling a sizeable but stunned audience that “I am sent not only to you but to the whole world”.  The farthest he had traveled then was Sham, Syria, in the same Mideast. There was no Columbus to tell him about America or its 2016’s presidential was largely shaped by Islamaphobia.

There was a bigger audacity of hope (apology, Barak), too. He told his followers that “I am the last of them (Prophets)”. No one would come with another monotheistic religion after him. The few Musailmas (impostors) came and quickly vanished into thin air. What Muhammad came with has not only survived, but grew from strength to strength that after the demise of socialism Samuel Huntington pointed to another civilization.  Muhammad’s religion has long overtaken Judaism and Buddhism. The Vatican, few years back, confirmed that Catholicism had fewer followers than Islam. 

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The question is: who is behind Muhammad, vindicating all these claims? How come the book he came with told us that Mecca, his hometown would be an English word for the most visited of places in the world?

These can’t be simple coincidences. 

Again, have you ever pondered about his famous sermon on Mount Arafat during his last pilgrimage? There was no satellite; so no CNN was there to cover him. Nobody was tweeting also, but he was aware that he was addressing the whole world. He was not only so sure of the universality of the message he was passing across, but he was very much in sync with digital world we are today.  

“Those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again”. Is that not one of the most significant features of our social media today? Yet even the messages, directly target the world of Zukerberg and co. 

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In its opening, he warned the Bin Ladens against hurting anyone to avoid inviting trouble for themselves and others. We are already  living with the consequences of not listening to him. Shekau would have been somewhere peacefully selling his humrah perfume at Monday market in Maiduguri. But he chose to bomb it this morning. The army are taking their own pound of flesh. The conflict was solved in a single message not heeded.

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But if the message of peace is one of the major opening themes in the Last Sermon, the doctrine of equality, too, prominently featured. 

“There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, and indeed, no superiority of a red man over a black man except through the piety and fear of God”

This is why late Prof. Ali Mazrui said that “Islam brings to the calculus of universal justice some protection from the abyss of human depravity”.

According to him, the religion and the civilization have been resistant to forces that contributed to the worst aspects of the twentieth century’s interludes of barbarism: racism, genocide, and violence within society.

“First, Islam has been relatively resistant to racism. The Koran confronts the issue of national and ethnic differences head on. The standard of excellence it sets has nothing to do with race, but is instead moral and religious worth – what the Koran calls “piety” and what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the content of one’s character.” 

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An oft-quoted verse of the Koran reads: “O people! We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The noblest among you is the most pious. Allah is all-knowing”.

In the same vein, Mazrui opined that “unlike Christian churches, the mosque has never been segregated by race”.  He cited the example one of Muhammad’s most beloved companions, an Ethiopian, Bilal Rabah, a freed slave who rose to become among the most influential of them.

But is the world not getting increasingly disillusioned with capitalism as the savior of its economic wellbeing? The system has successfully saw off its main rival, socialism, raising the hope of its promoters. But of recent there are too many pointers to the risks it portend to our future. Muhammad’s disapproval of usury in the sermon was perhaps a rebuttal of the system. 

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My pen has already dried up. Yet Muhammad’s influence and his creed have continued to blossom. The journey started over 1400 years ago. And Muhammad was so convinced of his message that nothing deterred him until his community has become the real force to reckon with in this. 

Happy Maulud!

Mr. Musa wrote in from Abuja.

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