Good evening and wish for peace for everyone
First, I would like to thanks to the organizers for giving me this opportunity to talk in this very special event. Ladies and gentlemen from last 14 centuries Prophet Mohammad PBUH’s teachings are inspiring millions of people around the globe, in Islamic faith he is the last messenger of God.
In this short discourse, I would like to focus on Prophet Mohammad’s teachings from secular point of view and how we can get guidance from his teachings to improve our behavior and relation with other fellow humans in our time.
To comprehend the teachings of prophets, reformers, philosophers or revolutionaries we must know the time and space they came into this world. Like ordinary humans, these great and holy personalities also live in their time. Just imagine if somebody don’t live in their own time then he/she would be irrelevant from the community/society he is going to reform. Although they lived in the civilization and culture of that time but their vision provides gateway for the future. With this fundamental we must understand chronicle and life in 7th century Hijaz (today’s Saudi Arab), the time and space of Prophet Mohammad came.
This means, yes, we can abstract principles and fundamentals from the teachings of Prophet Mohammad PBUH for the benefits of humankind in 21st century but if we tried to bring back 7th century’s norms with same desert culture then I would say human society and development don’t work like that and most important that was not the intention of his message. We can’t stop the clock but we can abstract guiding principles from the message for the betterment of humanity.
Let me share one simple example: Prophet Mohammad suggested cleanliness and hygiene on several occasions. So, from his teachings we can abstract the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. But use of 7th century’s techniques and tools for cleaning may not better option in 21st century. In this example tools and techniques are not permanent value but cleanliness and hygiene is.
Living in 21st century’s collective human wisdom one thing is clear for most of us that religion or ‘dean’ is guidance for personal morality that could leads people towards divine and spirituality – we should not lose this fundamental point that religion is personal matter. We should not oppose humanity by using scriptures or interpretations of scriptures.
There is no doubt the message of Islam that we received from Prophet Muhmmad has powerful component of social and economic justice with equality among all humans regardless of cast or creed and this is very much well-matched and I can see fully compatible with Canadian Charter of Rights. But things are not that simple, as evil and bad wishes also working to divide humanity on different lines and in religion they use extremist interpretations to exploit believers for there interests.
We need to understand that religion by its spirit is volunteer scheme to accept morality, spirituality and social interaction between individual and society; it can’t be forced by power of government or by militant groups. If God’s plan was to send religious scriptures to force on people by power then he would be appointing kings/warriors and other dominating people as prophets. God picked prophets from ordinary folks with high moral and spiritual character. They promoted love for all humans regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation:
Quran: 17/70: وَلَقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ “We have honoured all humans”
Means respect for all human, regardless of any ethnic, linguistic or social affiliation. Same message again repeated in Quran 49/13: Therefore, human dignity is preserved for every human being; the only difference among people is their morals, not their race nor their colors. This is core teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH and we can see lot of examples from his life where he practice this teachings.
Let’s peek at current situation in some of the Muslim countries.... and to see how this peaceful message was exploited for power struggle…. due to variety of reason and predominantly global imperialistic agenda and regional proxies there was political vacuum in countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and tribal areas of Pakistan, and when extremist religious narrative become leading agenda in that vacuum then we saw atrocities and complete devastation by extremist religious groups and they exploit religion for their power game. People use to say truth is the first victim of war but in this case other than truth peaceful message of Prophet Muhammad PBUH was another victim of this war on terror. The lesson to learn from this difficult time of the history is - we must oppose spreading religious narrative by power of state or by militant groups, this is totally against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH’s life in which we can she most tolerant and peaceful person: Quran 109/6 لَكُمۡ دِينُكُمۡ وَلِىَ دِينِ
“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
Ladies and gentlemen this is the most secular statement coming from one religious scripture and this is the teaching of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
Further to that in Quran 5/32 it is stated:
“If anyone killed an innocent person it would be as if he killed all mankind and whoso save the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind” this is the importance of life in Prophet Mohammad PBUH’s teachings and his life is full of examples for kindness, compassion and gentleness.
Social justice and equality is fundamental rule of modern state, let’s check what Prophet Mohammad teach us about Social justice: Quran 4/135 - O who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor”
Another fundamental of modern state is economic justice: For economic justice Prophet Muhammad teach us two fundamental points: First to make your source of income based on honest and legitimate business. Secondly, from your earning or saving give it back to needy in the society: Quran 2/219 - And they ask you what they should spend in the name of Allah, Say, that which is beyond your needs”
In this part Quran suggested spending all you have more than your need to help unfortunates in society.
About this quote of Quran national poet of Pakistan Allama Iqbal described:
جو حرف قل العفو میں پوشیدہ ہے اب تک
اس دور میں شائد وہ حقیت ہو نمودار
Modern civilization may discover the wisdom that is hidden in the command of re distributing the wealth to needy. Traditionally religious narrative protects capitalist but this is the most progressive command on economic justice … and it is coming from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
Quran described the title of Prophet Muhammad: 21/107: وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ إِلَّا رَحۡمَةً۬ لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
“And We have sent you (O Muhammad SAW) not but as a mercy for the mankind of this universe”
Being believers of Quran, this is the parameter that the teachings of Prophet Muhammad are based on compassion and mercy for humanity – and if somebody interpret or exploit other way around then we have this parameter to reject as contradiction with his title as mercy for the mankind.
In the end, I repeat again: respect for all humans, social, economic justice and equality are the basis and core values of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Thank you very much for your attention.