PROPHET MUHAMMAD ﷺ AS THE SOCIAL REFORMER
Islam is by far the most powerful social movement, the world has ever observed. It proved to be a process, which brought revolutionary changes in the socio-economic, and political values of, the then, prevailing society. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), as a gift of Allah Almighty (The Most Exalted) for mankind, led the world to a new era of peace and prosperity. Based on practical outlook, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) as the most distinguished social reformer of human history.
During his last sermon, Prophet Muhammad said: O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.
If anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind. Quran Surah Miadah 5:32
Previously in the society it was a common practice to deal with a favour to rich. Narrated by Aisha(R): A woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraysh, some prominent people including Usaamah Ibn Zayd interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying: "Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allaah, if Muhammad's (My) daughter Faatimah would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed."Sahih al-Bukhari 3475(Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 681)and Sahih Muslim 1688
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) implemented a comprehensive system comprising not only of Zakat as per order of Allah Almighty (The Most Exalted) but also Khairat and Sadaqaat clearly favoring equal distribution of capital.
Objective of the zakat is to provide basic necessities to poor Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honor Him and grant Him peace) said: “Verily Allah has ordained the payment of Zakat on them (Muslims). It will be taken from the rich and returned to the poor.” Sahih Muslim Vol 1:21. These Traditions make it quite obvious that there is also a social and economic aspect of the poor-due without which its Islamic concept remains incomplete.
The Prophetﷺsaid: “Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakât of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection, his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes (or two poisonous glands in its mouth). The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure’.” Sahih Al Bukhari 1403 (Vol 2:486)
Pre-Islamic Arab society had racial biases against non-Arabs. The Prophet managed to purify these primitive sentiments by his personal example. His closest companions Bilal bin Riba (an Abyssinian) and Salman Farsi (a Persian) were both former slaves who went on to command enormous respect in the first Muslim society. In his famous last sermon, the Prophet declared - All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Sahih Al Bukhari hadith 1623, 1626, 6361
The Prophet famously declared that “learning is obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman” and that “he who gives the best upbringing and education to his daughters shall enter paradise.” “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.”Sahih Bukhaari, Vol 1, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, 10
PROPHET MUHAMMAD ﷺsaid: Whoever teaches some knowledge Will have the reward of the one who acts upon it, Without that detracting from his reward in the slightest. SUNAN IBNMAJAH Vol 1:240
In the pre-Islamic society, some proud pagans practiced ‘honor’ killings and female infanticide to offset their ‘shame.’ The numerous reforms which the Prophet instituted in the 7th century included the end of ‘honor’ killings, the right of a woman’s approval in her marriage, her right to ownership of private property, to seek unilateral divorce if the husband was abusive and to re-marry as a widow or divorcee.
Women are portrayed positively in the Qur'anand the Hadith(sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). The Qur'an is the only book of world Scripture in which women are frequently referred to alongside men, and both are described as being friends and partners in faith. The following aaayaath are just a few notable examples:
The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they promote the right and forbid the wrong, establish prayer, pay the poor-due, and they obey God and His messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them. Surely God is Mighty, Wise. God has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity. Qur'an Surah Tawbah 9:71-72
Abu Huraira (r) reported Allah's Apostleas saying: “The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women.” Tirmidhi :Vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1162
Abu Huraira (r) reported Allah's Apostleas saying: He who believes in Allahand the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet. Act kindly towards woman, for woman is created from a rib, and the most crooked part of the rib is its top. If you attempt to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, its crookedness will remain there. So act kindly towards women. Sahih Muslim 3468
Muhammad is the greatest reformer who preached against the social evils of the day. He condemned female infanticide. "And when the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) shall be questioned. For what sin she was killed? Qur’an Surah At-Takwir 81:8-9
It was narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said: "There is no man whose two daughters reach the age of puberty and he treats them kindly for the time they are together, but they will gain him admittance to Paradise." Sunan Ibn Majah Vol.5: 3670
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink and clothes them from his riches, they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah 3669
Anyone who compares the rights of women in Islam with their situation during the Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic days of ignorance)or in other civilizations will understand that what we are saying is true. In fact we are certain that women are given the greatest honour in Islam.
There is no need for us to mention the situation of women in Greek, Persian or Jewish society, but even Christian societies had a bad attitude towards women. The theologians even gathered at the Council of Macon to discuss whether a woman was merely a body or a body with a soul. They thought it most likely that women did not have a soul that could be saved, and they made an exception only in the case of Mary (Maryam – peace be upon her).
The French held a conference in 586 CE to discuss whether women had souls or not, and if they had souls, were these souls animal or human? In the end, they decided that they were human! But they were created to serve men only.
During the time of Henry VIII, the English Parliament issued a decree forbidding women to read the New Testament because they were regarded as impure.
Until 1805, English law allowed a man to sell his wife, and set a wife’s price at six pennies.
In the modern age, women were kicked out of the house at the age of eighteen so that they could start working to earn a bite to eat. If a woman wanted to stay in the house, she had to pay her parents rent for her room and pay for her food and laundry. See ‘Awdat al-Hijaab, 2/47-56.
How can this compare to Islam which enjoins honouring and kind treatment of women, and spending on them?
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him ordered the Muslims to be very sensitive to their slaves. He ordered the Muslims to buy the slave young boys and girls the same quality of clothes and gifts that they would buy for their children. He also ordered Muslims not to hit or be violent to adult slaves. He ordered Muslims to be loving and caring for them.
Prophet Muhammad also urged wealthy Muslims to buy slaves from the Pagan Arabs and to let them free after that.
Zadhan Abl Umar reported: I came to Ibn 'Umar as he had granted freedom to a slave. He (the narrator further) said: He took hold of a wood or something like it from the earth and said: It (freedom of a slave) has not the reward Evert equal to it, but the fact that I heard Allah's Messenger (way peace be upon him) say: He who slaps his slave or beats him, the expiation for it is that he should set him free. Sahih Muslim 1657
A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and asked: Messenger of Allah! how often shall I forgive a servant? He gave no reply, so the man repeated what he had said, but he still kept silence. When he asked a third time, he replied: Forgive him seventy times daily. Sunan Abi Dawud 5164
William James Durant - A prolific American writer, historian and philosopher.
The Most Successful Reformer
If we judge greatness by influence, he was one of the giants of history. He undertook to raise the spiritual and moral level of a people harassed into barbarism by heat and foodless wastes, and he succeeded more completely than any other reformer seldom has any man so fully realized his dream.... When he began, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes; when he died it was a nation. -The Story of Civilization
Prof K S Ramakrishna Rao - Professor of Philosophy, University of Mysore, India.
Hero In Every Dimension
“The personality of Mohammad! It is most difficult to get into the truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes. There is Mohammad the Prophet, there is Mohammad the General; Mohammad the King; Mohammad the Warrior; Mohammad the Businessman; Mohammad the Preacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman; Mohammad the Orator; Mohammad the reformer; Mohammad the Refuge of orphans; Mohammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad the Emancipator of women; Mohammad the Law-giver; Mohammad the Judge; Mohammad the Saint. And in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is like, a hero….” -Mohammad: The Prophet of Islam
Alfred Martin - American Philosopher and Historian
Greatest Reformer In History
“The Successful prophet - Nor is anything in religion’s history more remarkable than the way in which Muhammad fitted his transfiguring ideas in to the existing social system of Arabia. To his everlasting credit it must be said that in lifting to a higher plane of life the communities of his day and place, he achieved that which neither the Judaism nor the Christianity of Medieval Arabia could accomplish. Nay more, in the fulfillment of that civilising work Muhammad rendered invaluable service not only to Arabia but also to the entire world.” -The Great Religious Teachers of the East
Dr. Arthur Bertherand -French Medical Scientist and Author
Created Civilisations Through Education
“... ”To seek knowledge is a duty of every Muslim man and woman.” ... ... “The savants are the heirs of the Prophets.” ... These profound words of the great reformer are an indisputable contradiction to those who seek and exert themselves in putting the responsibility of the intellectual degradation of Muslims upon the spirit of the Quran. Let them read and meditate upon this great Book and they will read that the Prophet incessantly called the attention and the meditation of his people to the splendid marvels, to the mysterious phenomenon of creation. The incredulous, skeptical and unbelieving may convince themselves that the importance of this Book and its doctrine was not to throw back, eventually, the intellectual and moral faculties of a whole people. On the contrary, those who have followed its counsels have been, as we have described in the course of this study, the creators of a civilisation which is astounding unto this day”.
-Arab Contribution To Progress Of Medical Science