Can Prophet Muhammad be taken as a model for Muslims to follow?
Being the final Prophet of God, Prophet Muhammad has been endowed with a life that is an epitome of success. He was born an orphan and rose to become a ruler of integrity. Each of the different phases of his life provides examples for anyone who wishes to emulate it for righteous living.

The Prophet's character alone is a paragon of virtue, a model for all men. God says to the reader of the Quran: "You have indeed in the Messenger of God (Muhammad) a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is God and the Final Day." (33:21)

Ali Akbar, in his book "God and Man", says: "Great minds and teachers like Buddha and Christ could not present their lives as models for mankind to follow. One left the family while the other had none. One severed his connections with the worldly affairs altogether and the other had never entered into them. Their teachings are lofty but can be followed only by those who live an ascetic life like them. The human progress in acquiring knowledge of the Creator and the Universe and mastering elements and scientific research could never be possible if all people lived ascetic lives, and the world would come to an end in one generation as far as human beings are concerned if all practised celibacy. God Who is the Creator of mankind could not depute persons to advocate principles contrary to the laws laid down by Him for the procreation of His creatures.

"But the great model Muhammad presents all phases of life to follow. As an orphan, as a shepherd, as a son, as a nephew, as father, as grandfather, as husband, as a citizen, as a neighbour, as a humanitarian and lover to children and orphans, as supporter and free worker for poor widows and needy persons, as tolerant teacher never offending susceptibilities or beliefs of others, as conqueror, as forgiver of those who persecuted him after they came under his power by his example of forgiving the people of Mecca who had ruthlessly persecuted him, as master of those who came to him as slaves by freeing them at once, as a ruler and a teacher of good treatment which should be meted to those who differ from you in religion when they come under your protection by his own example, as the first giver in the world to women a right of full possession of property and inheritance from parents, sons, brothers and sisters and other relations; and in many other respects a model to follow."

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Could Prophet Muhammad remove the sins of Muslims?

Prophet Muhammad was a Prophet and Messenger of God and his mission was to deliver the Message of God to people. He is not responsible if people do not believe in the Message he delivered. It is up to the people to use their intellect and reason to verify the Message (Islam) he has delivered and accept it if it is rational.

The Prophet did not come to cleanse the sins of people. If he could, he would be equal to God in power and this becomes absurd in Islam, contrary to the teachings of the Quran. Neither Prophet Muhammad nor any other Prophet could remove the sins of people. Only God has the Power to do it.

In Islam, every person is held responsible for his or her acts. And the reward for good acts and the punishment for evil acts, if unrewarded or punished while on this earth, will be meted out accordingly in the Hereafter on the Day of Judgement _ by God.

With God's Mercy and Compassion, sins committed through irreligious acts, could be pardoned by God alone through seeking His forgiveness and executing sincere repentance.

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Is the history of Prophet Muhammad known in detail? Briefly, state his life history.

Every detail of Prophet Muhammad's life is known and recorded. Muhammad was born on 29 August 570. His father, Abdullah, died before he was born. His mother, Aminah, died when he was six years old. His grandfather, Abdul Mutalib, who became his guardian, died when he was eight. He was then taken care of by one of his uncles, Abu Talib, in whose house he grew up. Here is a case of an orphan boy who, through sheer hard work, became the most influential personality in history. (See Question 2-16.)

In his youth, Muhammad's pure character and his regard for truth and honesty won him the title "Al-Amin" (The Trustworthy) from his people!

In his early twenties, Muhammad came into the service of Khadijah, a rich and upright widow, who employed him as one of her agents in her trading business. She was so greatly impressed by his conduct and sense of responsibility that she offered him her hand in marriage, although she was 15 years his senior. Muhammad accepted the proposal and they were married. He was 25 years old at that time.

Muhammad received prophethood at the age of 40.

Prophet Muhammad remained the husband of Khadijah for 25 years during which he had three sons and four daughters by her, but all his sons died in infancy. After Khadijah's death, the Prophet married again. He even had more than one wife at one time, but all his wives except one, were elderly widows whom he married to support them.

For many years, the Prophet faced opposition to his preachings. But, eventually he triumphed in his mission with God's Guidance. The Prophet died of old age when he was 63.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in the commentary of his English translation of the Quran on the verse (61:6) which mentions that Jesus Christ foretold the coming of Prophet Muhammad, says: "The Prophet's whole life from beginning to end was one vast miracle. He fought and won against odds. Without learning from men, he taught the highest wisdom. He melted hearts that were hard, and strengthened hearts that were tender and required support. In all his sayings and doings, men of discernment could see the working of God's hand."

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Did Prophet Muhammad perform miracles?

Prophet Muhammad did perform some miracles but they were all spiritual in nature. One of his well-known miracles was the "Night Journey" during which he travelled (spiritually) to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (later to be known as Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam) and from there to Heaven and back. When he returned he taught Muslims the five daily prayers. However, Muslims do not need to make an issue over these miracles to strengthen or highlight the Islamic religion.

Physical miracles were performed by some of the earlier Prophets to convince the people of their divine missions, usually when forced or requested. The pagan Meccans too did ask the Prophet what miracles he could or had performed. Hinting that miracles as performed by the earlier Prophets would have no effect in his time, the Prophet pointed at the Quran and said in a metaphorical sense: "The Quran is my miracle."

Indeed, the time (some 600 years after Jesus Christ) was ripe for an intellectual miracle _ a Book _ to take place. The Quran is that Book, a living miracle, one that exists today just as "performed" by the Prophet; a tangible one indeed, a miracle by which people could see, touch and receive guidance.

By this miracle, (the Quran), Muslims throughout the world, from those days till today, have abstained from the prohibited and obeyed the obligatory, such as performing the five daily prayers, facing the Ka'aba in Mecca during prayers, fasting in Ramadhan, going for the Hajj, and living as best as they could according to the teachings of Islam.

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Be Careful with Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam

The crowd was growing in size by the minute. They were beating drums, singing, dancing, and shouting in joy. Pagan Makkah was about to kill Khubaib bin Adi Ansari, Radi-Allahu anhu, who had been captured through a sinister and treacherous plot, then sold in the slave market so the buyers could exact their vengeance.

It started when some tribesmen from Uthul and Qara went to Madinah and requested the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to send some teachers with them who could educate their fellow tribesmen about Islam. The request was granted and about ten Companions were sent with them. When the group reached Raji' two hundred armed men were lying in wait for them. Khubaib and Zaid bin Adathna, Radi-Allahu anhuma, were captured alive, while the others were martyred. Then they were sold in exchange for a hundred heads of camel. Both had fought in the battle of Badr and their swords had killed some pagan soldiers. Now the relatives of those killed in war wanted to get even. Of course, Arab traditions did not allow revenge for war like this. But their opponents were Muslims. Then, as now, the pagan world was ready to violate its own rules and traditions when the victims were Muslims.

While facing death, Khubaib, Radi-Allahu anhu, said a poem that has been recorded by history. It includes these lines: "They say if I renounce Islam, my life will be spared. But it is better to die with belief than to live with unbelief."

At the last minute, the pagans asked him: "Don't you wish that you were spared and Muhammad (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) got this punishment? Would not you like that you were resting comfortably in your home, while he was killed in your place?" From the man who was about to die because he had accepted the Message brought by Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came this reply: "By Allah, I cannot even imagine that a thorn should prick the foot of Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, while I rest in my home."

Abu Sufyan, an unbeliever at the time, remarked to his associates: "See, the love of the companions for Muhammad (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is unparalleled and unprecedented." At another time, a similar observation was made by another Quraish leader Urwah ibn Mas'ud al Thaqafi. "I have seen Ceasar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I seen a man honored, as Muhammad is honored by his comrades."

The biographies of the Companions are full of stories that show their extra-ordinary love and devotion for the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The Qur'an itself attests to this. "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves." [Al-Ahzab 33:6] It is a statement of fact as well as a command. The following two ahadith, from among the many on the subject, clarify this point further. "None of you can be a believer unless he loves me more than his parents, his children, and all the people." [Bukhari and Muslim] "There are three signs that indicate that a person has tasted the sweetness of faith. 1) That he loves Allah and His Prophet more than anything else. 2) He loves everyone solely for the sake of Allah. 3) After accepting Islam he hates going back to unbelief as much as he hates going into the fire." [Bukhari and Muslim]

It has to be so, because our relationship to the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is at the core of our entire religion. He is human, not Divine, but he is our connection to the Deity. He relays to us the Word of Allah and he explains what the Word means. He sets a personal example that we look at not just for admiration but emulation. Our relationship to him is legal as well as personal; moral as well as spiritual; intellectual as well as emotional. Allah chose him to guide us, educate us, inspire us, and purify us --- and we remain indebted forever!

This not only establishes a relationship between a believer and the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, it also establishes the relationship among the believers, making them one unit because of--- in addition to their common faith--- their common love for the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Together these facts explain a Muslim's sensitivity to the honor of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. To begin with, we must remember that the honor of everyone is important. As the hadith reminds us: "If a believer does not come to the help of another believer whose honor and dignity are under attack, then Allah will also not help him when he is most in need of Allah's help. And a believer who does come to the help of another believer whose honor and dignity are under attack, then Allah will also help him when he is most in need of Allah's help." [Abu Dawood]. If a Muslim is not supposed to be indifferent when the honor of another ordinary Muslim is under attack, how in the world can anyone expect him or her to be indifferent when the honor and dignity of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself may be under attack?

As has been noted by someone else, a civilization in which nothing is sacred may have difficulty in understanding the values of a civilization in which sacred is all that counts. But if it cannot understand the logic, because of its own blinders, it will have to come to terms with the facts on the ground: Muslims treat their Prophet, and all the prophets, with utmost respect and they simply cannot tolerate any willful insult and disrespect. To compromise on this issue would tantamount to compromising one's faith. And no one has a right to demand that. The blasphemy laws in Muslim countries like the one in Pakistan, are not only based on solid and agreed upon juristic grounds, they express a fundamental value of the Muslim civilization. We need not offer any apologies for that just because the forces of profanity seem to be powerful.

Some think that the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, forgave his worst enemies and never took revenge for himself. So any law that prescribed punishment for assaulting the honor of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is clearly against his Sunnah. What the prophetic example teaches is that we should also be willing to forgive those who have committed offenses against us, personally. But we know of Ka'ab bin Ashraf who used to abuse the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and instigated others to do so. He ordered Mohammed ibn Salma to execute Ka'ab. (Bukhari) There are not many but history records that whenever anyone tried to abuse the person of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he was meted with the same punishment. As the Persian poet said, "May take liberty with God, Be careful with Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam."

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