By Fatima Kermalli
We sent Our Messengers with clear evidence (to support their truthfulness), and sent with them the Book and the Balance (criteria of right and wrong) so that people would maintain justice. (Surah al-Hadid, 57:25)
One of the main objectives of sending prophets to humankind, as mentioned in the verse, was to establish justice within society. Prophet Muhammad, being the seal of the prophets, was tantamount in propagating and establishing a balanced civilization. He demonstrated this by both words and deeds. He stated, “A moment of justice is better than seventy years of worship in which you keep fasts and pass the nights in offering prayers and worship Allah”.
Before receiving revelation and proclaiming prophethood, Prophet Muhammad who had yearned for an equitable society, joined the alliance that created a covenant that would safeguard justice for all, including the downtrodden and impoverished who had no wealth or power to protect themselves from the wrongdoings of the more affluent. The alliance which was created to circumvent war and maintain solidarity was called Hilf-ul-Fudhul or the League of the Virtuous. Prof. C. Snouck Hurgronje, a Dutch scholar of oriental cultures and languages, remarked about the alliance: “The league of nations founded by the Prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity and human brotherhood on such universal foundations as to show candle to other nations.” He further states, “The fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done towards of the idea of the League of Nations .”
The League continued to operate for half a century following the start of Islam.
Thus, very early on Prophet Muhammad illustrated such virtuous traits that friends and foes alike could not deny his nobility in character. He was famously known as Al Sadiq and Al Amin, ‘The Truthful’ and ‘The Trustworthy’. His righteous reputation enabled him to reform society in a very rapid and peaceful manner even before he proclaimed prophethood. For instance at the age of thirty, he was asked by the people of Mecca to settle a dispute that was about to escalate into warfare. The dispute was among the Qureshi tribe in regards to who would have the honor of placing the Black Stone back into the Holy Ka’ba after it was reconstructed. As a mark of a brilliant statesman and peacekeeper, Prophet Muhammad decided that he would place the Black Stone in the middle of a cloth and then requested the members of all the tribes to lift the cloth up to the point of where it was to be installed, thereafter; he himself would place it in its original position to avoid further conflict. This allowed everyone to participate in this honorable task, leaving no rooms for qualms.
The Prophet was not only able to settle sensitive political issues, but he was able to reform society with the many social concerns that prevailed without creating havoc or stirring violence. One particular incident occurred whereby a man complained to the Prophet about his neighbor who mistreated him. The Prophet told him, “Go and be patient.” After a few days, the man returned and complained a second time. The Prophet advised him to be patient. When he came a third time to complain, the Prophet told him to go and move his things out of the house and place them across the street. The man went and did what the Prophet instructed. The people passing by began asking why he was changing his residence. He responded that it was due to his neighbor’s ill treatment. When the people heard this, they began to gossip and accuse the neighbor. The neighbor heard the public gossip and reproach aimed towards him that he began to feel ashamed. He requested his neighbor to move back, assuring him that he would no longer harass him and will reside next to him in a true neighborly fashion.
The Prophet was again able to avert aggression. He permitted the natural course of consequences to take place, which was created due to unwarranted actions. This allowed the offender to learn a valuable lesson in a diplomatic manner.
Subsequently, Prophet Muhammad throughout his life taught and reformed society in loving and peaceful ways. These are teachings that desperately needs to be implemented in today’s time, which is lacking in many reigns and governing bodies. Hence, the Holy Qur’an proclaims that the task of Prophet Muhammad was to do just that, to guide and reform.
“We have sent you (Muhammad) for a genuine purpose to proclaim glad tidings and warnings.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:119)