In his book, “Islam the Misunderstood Religion,” published back in May 1955, James A. Michener said,
“Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshiped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five, his employer, recognizing his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived remained a devoted husband. Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded ‘Read.’ So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth, “There is one God.” In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumors of God’s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being.’ At Muhammad’s own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: ‘If there are any among you who worshiped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshiped, He lives forever.’ ”
Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. started preaching Islam at the age of forty. Before this he was a very wealthy merchant leading an easy calm life, and one of the most respected men among his tribe. He always helped the poor and the needy, and took care of widows and orphans. It is well known that the prophet’s preachment agitated the enmity, hatred and rage of his people. This resulted in a long arduous struggle that by all means of rationality, no person would dare wade into unless he was obliged to do so, and had no choice of his own. Any objective reasonable person should ask himself, for what reason did Muhammad suffer all those hardships after being one of the wealthiest, most respected and consulted men among his people? They even offered to accept him as their King and lay all the riches of the land at his feet if only he would forsake what he preached and called for, his answer was: “If they were to put the sun in my right palm and the moon in my left, I shall never stop preaching Islam till I see it prevail or die trying.” He never accepted any of their alluring offers and insisted on delivering his message in the face of persecution, insults, social boycott, poverty, hunger, brutal physical assaults, and being targeted to kill by his own tribe and kin.
When Prophet Muhammad passed away, he was penniless. The last few dirhams he had inside his house, he ordered them to be distributed on the poor a few days before he passed away, and he died mortgaging his shield to a Jewish merchant in exchange for a couple of barley bushels which he needed to feed the members of his family. Whether you care to believe in Muhammad’s prophethood or not— if you try to study his life and read the message he preached objectively, you will be able to understand Muslims, you will be able to have a fair idea why they have chosen to believe in the truthfulness of Islam, you will be able to appreciate Mr. Michener’s words and realize their true value; but above all, you will be able to realize how exceptional Muhammad was, find some common grounds with Muslims, and see beyond the fake idea of ‘US & THEM.’
Written By: Ehab Shawky
In response to: Exceptional