Note: Yesterday the 12th Ribiul-awal, was Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. To celebrate the occasion and to be reminded of the Message, I have dug out this piece from the archive. The Messenger is Muhammad, the Message is the Koran.
There was a time in my life that Muhammad the Messenger was a figure in history that I disliked. I just couldn’t tolerate and accept the over-reverence of Muhammad by many Muslims. Mohammedans, to be more accurate.
I was a student in England. It was the 70s when the so called Islamic revivalism was taking root. Arriving in England for the first time, meant being met at the railway station by brothers in flowing robes and sporting the sparse goatees. When gatherings were called “usrahs” and dining were communal. These were the gatherings of the followers of the traditions of the prophets. Your seniors would be telling you, teaching you, reprimanding you on the ways of the prophet, from the manner you eat to the way you sit, sleep, do your calls of nature, date, get married. Yes, there were so many who were married of at that young age when you were supposed to prepare for your A level.
I rebelled. Not only did I move house, I misdirected my dislike of the practices and beliefs to Muhammad, the Messenger.
I just could not accept the daily over-dose of hadiths. Not that I was studying the Book of God. As a matter of fact the nearest Scripture I was exposed to was the BOOK of Mormons. Otherwise it would be my books on physics, penthouse and my record collection. Again I confessed that it was not the love of religion that I learned about Adam Smith, it was purely because of the two lady missionaries that frequented our bachelor den. They were asking me about my religion. They literally stripped me naked. How I wished then, but I was stripped naked exposing my lack of ability to answer questions of the religion I was supposed to profess.
The two girls did not convert me. The two American Mormons just could not compete against the little vices i had then.
Years later I started reading the Koran. Again I was considered a rebel, at a time when the followers of the traditions believe that it is against the teaching of the prophet for individuals to read and interpret the Koran without “ authorised knowledgeable guidance from a religious teacher”. What utter nonsense, I said!!
Theologically, I dedicated my study to the understanding of the Koran and the other scriptures. My focus is clear and slowly but surely I am finding the answers that I have been looking and Questions I confront, including those asked by the two Mormon girls.
My admiration of Mohammad emerges; the exemplary man, the Koran said and yet you are continuously reminded that He is but only a messenger. Muhammad the exemplary man, the leader, the commander, the father, the husband, the conqueror, the trader, the statesman, the politician.
My admiration however is not making me beholden to his traditions and practices. My admiration is not adoration that necessitate the elevation of his hadith to a source of jurisprudence, blinding reverence and manners to be religiously aped.
Assuming his hadiths were all authentic, I could live with the notion that Hadith are recommended practices, a classic collection of history, a history on the life of a great man, Muhammad, a reference consisting of records of the manner the religion was practiced by an exemplary man at that moment in time.
At a time when there are too many negative hadiths that portray the opposite of what I expect a Great man to do, I would confine my search and guide to the Message, the Koran, the timeless Guide.
To all my friends young and old, It is not my intent to influence and impose. My search and my beliefs have been very personal. The best I could do is to suggest you read the Koran, to read the Books of God. That has been my way of glorifying Muhammad the Prophet.