17 September, 2012

Why would anyone want to be a Muslim and follow Muhammad?

Like a lot of other people in the haze and confusion of the 9/11 attacks, Johannah Segarich asked herself: "What kind of religion is this that could inspire people to do this?"

She had studied other religions, but never Islam. So she bought a copy of the Quran, wondering if her notions of Islam as a patriarchal and now seemingly violent religion, would be confirmed.

Then she got to the first chapter, with its seven-line message about seeking guidance from a merciful creator. She finished the Quran a few weeks later, then started reading it again. About half way through, barely 10 weeks after 9/11, "I came to the realization," she said, "that I had a decision to make."

Segarich began studying Islam more intensely, and within a few months, the Utah-born music instructor made her Islamic declaration of faith, or shehadah, at the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge. ~ The Huffington Post

Why would any one want to be a Muslim? Why would 20,000 Americans or so, annually, convert to Islam? Why would tens of thousands of Europeans convert to Islam each year? The story is no different in Australia or in Papua New Guinea or in South Africa or in Rwanda or in Brazil. People are converting to Islam in droves. Why would most of these converts in the westernized world be women; women whom Islam is supposedly very unfair and unjust to? Why would any one love being a Muslim and love its Founder  (صلى الله عليه وسلم) so dearly? To understand why, here are what a few have said about Islam and its Founder  (صلى الله عليه وسلم):

The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only......A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world, the world’s Maker had ordered so.........It is a great shame for any one to listen to the accusation that Islaam is a lie and that Muhammad was a fabricator and a deceiver. We saw that he remained steadfast upon his principles, with firm determination; kind and generous, compassionate, pious, virtuous, with real manhood, hardworking and sincere. Besides all these qualities, he was lenient with others, tolerant, kind, cheerful and praiseworthy and perhaps he would joke and tease his companions. He was just, truthful, smart, pure, magnanimous and present-minded; his face was radiant as if he had lights within him to illuminate the darkest of nights; he was a great man by nature who was not educated in a school nor nurtured by a teacher as he was not in need of any of this. ~ Thomas Carlyle

His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems that it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.... Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty. ~ W. Montgomery Watt

My problem to write this monograph is easier, because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam that “there is no compulsion in religion” is well known.......The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the Prophet. There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Statesman; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Reformer; Muhammad, the Refuge of Orphans; Muhammad, the Protector of Slaves; Muhammad, the Emancipator of Women; Muhammad, the Judge; Muhammad, the Saint.......All in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero. ~ K. S. Ramakrishna Rao

I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.......I'm a Muslim. I've been a Muslim for 20 years. . . . You know me. I'm a boxer. I've been called the greatest. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn't be here representing Islam if it were terrorist. . . . I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace. ~ Muhammad Ali

And when I received the book (the Noble Qur'an), a guidance that would explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. ~ Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, on his conversion to Islam

The [Islamic] call to prayer happens five times a day, and for the first week, it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit, and it's the most beautiful, beautiful thing. There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning, and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim. ~ Irish actor Liam Neeson

Serious or trivial, his daily behavior has instituted a canon which millions observe this day with conscious memory. No one regarded by any section of the human race as Perfect Man has ever been imitated so minutely. The conduct of the founder of Christianity has not governed the ordinary life of his followers. Moreover, no founder of a religion has left on so solitary an eminence as the Muslim apostle. ~ David George Hogarth

I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind.... I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet's biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

He was sober and abstemious in his diet and a rigorous observer of fasts. He indulged in no magnificence of apparel, the ostentation of a petty mind; neither was his simplicity in dress affected but a result of real disregard for distinction from so trivial a source.......In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints.......His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting a regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonials of respect were shown to him. If he aimed at a universal dominion, it was the dominion of faith; as to the temporal rule which grew up in his hands, as he used it without ostentation, so he took no step to perpetuate it in his family. ~ Washington Irving

Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born in Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race... To be the religious head of many empires, to guide the daily life of one-third of the human race, may perhaps justify the title of a Messenger of God. ~ Dr. William Draper

No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Qur’an is explicit in the support of the freedom of conscience.......At Muhammad's own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: If there are any among you who worshiped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you Worshiped, He lives for ever. ~ James Michener

It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad's deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration. ~ Arthur Glyn Leonard

Within a brief span of mortal life, Muhammad called forth of unpromising material, a nation, never welded before; in a country that was hitherto but a geographical expression he established a religion which in vast areas suppressed Christianity and Judaism, and laid the basis of an empire that was soon to embrace within its far flung boundaries the fairest provinces the then civilized world. ~ Professor Philip K. Hitti

Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically....the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur'an has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam....A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men. ~ Edward Montet

Mohammad's career is a wonderful instance of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense faith in God and in the unseen world. He will always be regarded as one of those who have had that influence over the faith, morals and whole earthly life of their fellow men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can exercise; and whose efforts to propagate a great verity will prosper. ~ John Medows Rodwell

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 history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. ~ Michael H. Hart

I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. ~ George Bernard Shaw

If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislation, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls... his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was two-fold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words.......Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images, the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is MUHAMMAD.......As regards all the standards by which Human Greatness may be measured, we may well ask, IS THERE ANY MAN GREATER THAN HE? ~ Alphonse de Lamartine

It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: 'God Alone is Great'... I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother. ~ Sarojini Naidu

Muhammad was a shining example to his people. His character was pure and stainless. His house, his dress, his food - they were characterized by a rare simplicity. So unpretentious was he that he would receive from his companions no special mark of reverence, nor would he accept any service from his slave which he could do for himself. He was accessible to all and at all times. He visited the sick and was full of sympathy for all. Unlimited was his benevolence and generosity as also was his anxious care for the welfare of the community. ~ Dr. Gustav Weil

Far from being the father of jihad, [Prophet] Mohammad was a peacemaker, who risked his life and nearly lost the loyalty of his closest companions because he was determined to effect a reconciliation with Mecca. ~ Karen Armstrong

Judged by the smallness of the means at his disposal, and the extent and permanence of the work that he accomplished, no name in world's history shines with a more specious luster than that of the Prophet of Makkah. To the impulse, which he gave, numberless dynasties have owed their existence, fair cities and stately palaces and temples have arisen, and wide provinces became obedient to the Faith. And beyond all this, his words have governed the belief of generations, been accepted as their rule of life, and their certain guide to the world to come. At a thousand shrines the voices of the faithful invoke blessings on him, whom they esteem the very Prophet of God, the seal of the Apostles… Judged by the standards to human renown, the glory of what mortal can compare with his? ~ J.W.H. Stab

Us, Europeans, with all our concepts could not reach what Muhammad has reached, and no one will be able to precede him. I have looked in the history of humanity for an example and found that it was Muhammad, as the truth must be revealed. Indeed, Muhammad succeeded to subdue the entire world to monotheism. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other; nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure. ~ Muhammad Asad

It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad's deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration. ~ Arthur Glyn Leonard

The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force.......It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran....The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. ‘I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion. ~ Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley

Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope's pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.......In Mohammadanism every thing is different here. Instead of the shadowy and the mysterious, we have history....We know of the external history of Muhammad....while for his internal history after his mission had been proclaimed, we have a book absolutely unique in its origin, in its preservation....on the Substantial authority of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt. ~ Reverend Bosworth Smith

Before concluding our review of Muhammad, A to Z, it must be mentioned, that although Muhammad is deeply loved, revered and emulated by Muslims as God's final messenger, he is NOT the object of worship for Muslims. ~ Yusuf Estes