The real celebration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) the final messenger of Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aalaa) is to dedicate ourselves to the same mission for which he was sent. It is only logical that if we are happy about his advent, we must also be happy to work hard at achieving the goals of his mission. In fact, working for that mission is not only logical for us; it is also an obligation placed on us by Allaah SWT who has clearly stated in the Qur’aan that we, the Muslim Ummah, must witness to humanity as the Prophet witnessed to us.
It is also logical that if we are to fulfill this sacred mission, we must understand clearly what it is about and how to accomplish it. During this Rabee’ul-awwal (the month of his birth), let us refresh our understanding of the Prophet’s mission.
The mission of the final Messenger of Allaah was exactly the same as that of the earlier ones. The only distinction is that with Allaah’s special blessings, Muhammad (Saaws) accomplished it — most perfectly, superbly, peacefully, comprehensively, and in the least amount of time.
Allaah sent Messengers as a mercy, to liberate people from tyrannical ruling powers, to redeem them from the clutches of degenerate human civilizations, and free them from exploitation at the hands of the rich and powerful. In short, the role of these Messengers was to rescue humanity from Taghoot — individuals, groups, or classes of people (like Pharaoh) who become so powerful and arrogant that they dictate to others what they like and what serves their interests, in defiance of Allaah’s decree of fairness, grace and compassion. The Messengers (like Moses) came to liberate oppressed people by mobilizing them to reject Taghoot and submit to Allaah alone. They replaced Taghoot’s rule-of-the-jungle with rule of law, justice, morality, ethics, fairness, and human equality and thus established peace in the land. They did so by establishing Islam as a complete way of life.
Thus, a Messenger is responsible for establishing the kingdom of God (an Islamic state). He is not sent merely to advise and admonish; but to wrest control of world affairs from those who rebel against Allaah and to establish a society where Islam is the dominant way of life and where equity, compassion and peace prevail. This is indicated by the following Qur-aan verses:
“Indeed We have sent Our messengers with clear proofs (Bayyinaat), and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (equity) that people may maintain (their affairs) with justice. And We sent down iron wherein is great military power, as well as many benefits for mankind, so that Allaah may identify who, without seeing Him, helps Him and His messengers (in establishing the Islamic system of justice). Verily, Allaah is All-Strong, All-Mighty.” (Al-Hadeed 57:25)
“Lo! Allaah enjoins Justice, graciousness, and giving to those close to you; and forbids immodesty, bad behaviour and violating rights.” (An-Nahl 16:90)
“Allaah has promised those among you who believe and do good deeds that He will surely grant them succession to authority upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will certainly establish for them their Deen (way of life) which he has approved for them and that He will surely substitute peace and security for them, after their fear; so that they submissively (like slaves) serve only me, not equating anything with me.” (An-Noor 24:55)
A Messenger initiates an Islamic movement with a public call for total surrender to Allaah and sees it through until a complete Islamic system, covering all aspects of life in that society, is successfully established. Naturally, those people with vested interests in the status quo soon become the Messenger’s bitter enemies. The existing leadership, establishment, their followers and supporters — all those who have some ulterior motives in maintaining the power structure — bitterly oppose and even persecute the Messenger and his followers, hoping that the movement is finally scuttled. But despite all opponents’ attacks, the Messenger continues to give the message and invite people to join his mission.
When pressuring the Messenger into giving up or compromising on his mission does not work, the opponents of the mission try persuading him to abandon the idea of universal Islam and adopt a “live and let live” attitude, which usually means accepting the “freedom” to practice Islam in private life without extending its teachings to existing socio-econo-political systems and power structures — as practiced by the Ummah today. But a Messenger of Allaah is not allowed to cease the effort until all enemies are conquered and the supremacy of Islam is established. During this struggle, Allaah SWT supports His Messengers in infinite ways, including miracles.
After the Messenger and his followers exhaust all the humanly possible efforts in their given circumstances — short of forcing people by Allaah’s power to believe — and the disbelievers do not give up their opposition, they are destroyed as the people of Noah were. Or, if after they have been shown a clear sign through a miracle, those disbelievers still do not believe, then they are destroyed as the people of Saalih were destroyed. Similarly, if the Messenger’s life is endangered, or his followers are in danger of being wiped out, despite all humanly possible efforts to protect themselves, Allaah saves them with miracles and destroys their enemies to protect the messenger and Islamic movement, as Abraham was saved or Pharaoh and his army were destroyed. The end result is that disbelievers in a society where a Messenger has been sent either believe and submit, or are punished.
On the other hand, those who believe in the Messenger become his helpers in the mission. The Messenger creates a strong, unified team of people who come from diverse backgrounds, levels of understanding and thinking patterns. Then, he mobilizes this team against the opponents of Islam; they take charge of the affairs of society and establish justice and peace as decreed by Allaah. To achieve such a monumental task, believers must obey, freely, willingly, and unconditionally, the Messenger who is Allaah’s representative.
Like Allaah’s other Messengers, Prophet Muhammad was charged with the responsibility of liberating people from the tyranny of the powerful and bringing peace and justice to the world. This was accomplished through establishing Islam as the dominant way of life in both individual affairs of the believers and collective affairs of the Ummah. In addition, as the mercy of Allaah to all of humanity, he was also assigned to set the Islamic state on a course of development and growth to become a global power so that the whole world might enjoy the peace, justice, human rights and basic dignity upheld by an Islamic world order. This mandate is indicated in the following verse of the Holy Qur-aan:
“It is He Who sent His messenger with Guidance and the True Deen so that it prevails /dominates over all other ways of life, despite Mushriks detesting it.” (As-Saff 61:9; Al-Fat’h 48:28; At-Towbah 9:33)
This, in essence, is the mission statement of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allaah. He accomplished it so superbly that changes brought about by him are unique in human history as being the most comprehensive and most intensive changes to take effect in the shortest time period. Moreover, these changes were implemented with the least human cost, while also winning the hearts of the most of Islam’s bitterest enemies to become its most ardent supporters. Those changes were so profound, deep-rooted, and self-sustaining that humanity — both Muslim and non- Muslim — enjoyed the fruits of Muhammad’s mission in the form of peace and justice for a millennium in all Muslim lands.
Unfortunately, those blessings were later lost and many Muslims themselves became the worst offenders against the teachings of Islam, and consequently are now bearing the brunt of the onslaught of new Taghoots and new Pharaohs. Fortunately, Islam — the Deen (way of life) of justice, peace and compassion — and the methodology of establishing it are well preserved in the Qur’aan, Sunnah and Seerah. We can do ourselves and all of humanity a great favour by re- establishing Islamic peace and justice in the world.
Thus, if we are truly happy to celebrate the advent of our Prophet and truly appreciate Allaah’s sending him to us, we must re-dedicate our lives to his divine mission of establishing Islam as a complete and dominant way of life. If we do not make his mission a mission of our life, any celebration of his birth is meaningless and hypocritical.
Ayub A. Hamid is a national director and treasurer of of the Canadian Islamic Congress.