PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S STATUS AS ROLE MODEL (OR)
BRIEF STUDY ON PROPHET MUHAMMAD AS THE ROLE MODEL
The life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is full of countless examples that show his status as a role model for Muslim societies and individuals. His life is one that was dominated by a superior morality, good habits, noble and gentle feelings and superior skills, all of which are characteristics that help prevent people from getting entangled in a web of sin. The rich and the prosperous, the poor and the needy, the ruler and the ruled, the weak and the lonely, the conqueror and the victorious commander, the teacher and the student, the preacher and the mentor, the merchant and the craftsman, the employer and the employee - in other words, every sort of person can find truths in Prophet Muhammad's life that constitute an example for them to follow.
Allah said in Quran: There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern or example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. Quran Surah Ahzab 33:21
Surah Al-Ahzab discusses the important event of the Battle of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Clans), which took place in Shawwal, 5 A.H. In view of the context in which the following ayath occurs, the object of presenting the Prophet’s conduct and way of life as a model was to teach a lesson to the people, who had been motivated by considerations of selfish interests and personal safety on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench. The below ayath contains an important principle for all Muslims, i.e. to follow the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in all his words, deeds, etc. So follow him as an example and follow his lead.
Heﷺalso said:"All of my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse." They said: 'O Allah's Messenger! Who will refuse?' He said,"Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it)."Sahih Al Bukahri Vol. 9: 384. The matters discussing worship of Allah, discipline, orders, advice, approvals, and recommendations as detailed by Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honour Him and grant Him Peace) are collectively known as Sunnah.
The Arabic word USWA in the original ayath means example or model that should be obeyed and followed. A person who follows another person's lead imitates that person; they follow their attitude and style. That is to say, they identify themselves with that person. In terms of Islamic faith, Usva or Uswa, that is to say being an example or a role model, is an attribute that is found in those who possess goodness, beauty and righteousness. This ayath shows the importance of Prophet Muhammad's sunnah in the lives of Muslims. As a matter of fact, the Quran clearly states that Prophet Muhammadﷺ has a superior character and demonstrates an exemplary life style which guides in every department of life.
Islamic scholars state that the terms sirat al-mustaqim (straight path) and uswa al-hasana (best of examples), which are mentioned in the Quran, in the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and in the words of his Companions, are words and terms that represent the importance of the following sunnah. All these terms indicate the path to be followed and the model to be taken as an example. The name of this road is the sunnah, and it is collectively followed by the Companions of Prophet Muhammad and the believers.
The Quran introduces and describes Prophet Muhammad ﷺand the status of the Prophet according to the Quran is of great importance to us. As a matter of fact, all the characteristics of a person who is an example and a role model must be known and thus their life can be examined in detail. The information on this subject must be accurately passed on to the following generations. The life of the Prophet is unique when looked at from this perspective. The role model status of the Prophet is not limited to merely worshipping or actions that are a compulsory part of the religion, a requirement, or examples of good morals.
Within the hierarchal evidence in Islam, sunnah ranks as the second most significant aspect after the Quran. The term sunnah used within the hadith of the Prophet and the words of the Companions and followers of the Prophet indicates collective deeds and involves every part of life, such as faith, worship, morality and ethics. The Prophet's adherence and practice of the Qur'an was so exemplary, that upon being asked about his character, his wife Aisha(R) said: “…The character of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was the Qur'an” Sahih Muslim - Eng. Trans. Vol 1: 746 (book4 hadith 1623).
Prophet Muhammad's practices for worshipping Allah took on the form of the application of the sunnah. This form of worship, which continued during the last twenty-two years of his life, guided the believers even after his death. This is the reason why the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammadﷺ have become an instructor for millions of people.
Each and every one of these principles is an indication that reflects the comprehensive extent of his exemplary, role-model status and his ability to provide guidance.
The aayaat in the Quran that command obedience to, conformity to the Prophetﷺ are definitely clear. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ invited the believers to obey him, to devote themselves to the sunnah and to abstain from incorrect actions. In such conditions, if we want to witness the practices of the Prophet, we must look at the lives of the Companions. There are many clear accounts that provide us with adequate materials on this issue. As the revelations related to faith, obedience and submission were imparted to the Prophet, the Companions did not consider performing any practice without his permission or confirmation.
At the same time, if the ruling of the Prophet was on something related to worldly issues, the Companions asked him how and why this was; when a ruling on religious issues was required, they would speak to him about the points revealed by the ruling; when it was a ruling imparted to Muhammad ﷺ by Allah, they would ask him in order to understand its purpose and try to understand the truth. None of these questionings implies opposition to the Prophet;
There were times when the Companions understood the rulings in the Quran and the sunnah in a way that was not intended and practiced them in an incorrect manner; in such cases they were corrected by Prophet Muhammad. Sometimes the Companions performed actions at their own discretion which were later ruled to be incorrect and subsequently they were corrected by the Prophet. All of these are examples of how strictly Prophet Muhammad trained his Companions, who were considered as the "exemplary generation"
Another important attitude of the Companions is the way in which they dealt with problems when Prophet Muhammad was not available. They would seek the solution to the problem firstly in the Quran, secondly, if they could not find the solution there, they would turn to the sunnah, thirdly, if they found no answer there either, they would practice what they thought was the best action after discussing with other companions of Prophet. When they once again encountered the Prophet, they would state the matter and seek his opinion; they would correct their faults if there were any. There is no instance that shows that the Prophet's companions displayed an attitude that was opposed to the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.
In general a person is famous because he/she did something in a particular filed. But this was not the case of Prophet Muhammadﷺ, He was expert in all the different fields of life. Therefore, Allah said in the Qur’an to follow Prophet Muhammadﷺ in all the departments of fields of life, Surah Nisa 4:65, Surah Ahzab 33:21 and Surah Hashr 59:7.
As a youth, as a man, as an employee, as a husband, as a father, as a companion, as a businessman, as a preacher, as a teacher, as a religious reformer, as a soldier, as a general, as an administrator, as a planner, as a ruler of a state, as a leader of the faithful, as a protector of the weak, widows, and poor, as a guide, as a guardian of the orphans, and as a slave and messenger of Allah.