He was orphaned a few weeks after he was born, but today, just a mention of his name, wells up intense love in the hearts of millions from every race, region and culture. He had no formal education and was, in fact, unlettered, but he bequeathed to posterity such a masterpiece of literary marvel that even now, fourteen centuries later, mankind is still in awe and reverence of his creation. As an adult, he was so upright and conscientious in his character that people addressed him as al-Amin, meaning “the trustworthy”, and even his enemies adopted him as the arbiter in their personal disputes. As an entrepreneur he was so astute and successful that in a short while he turned around the business of his employer filling it with profits, and when foreign merchants oppressed the small traders of his area, he led from the front and formed an order of chivalry called Hilf al-fudul to protect the poor.
Though he was one of the greatest warriors that mankind has ever seen who had the whole of Arabia under his control within a few battles, he lifted the sword only in self-defense and it was always a bloodless battle won through his sheer moral force. And more importantly, immediately after the incursion, he released all the vanquished and forgave their evil-deeds and mindless atrocities saying, “May God pardon you; go in peace; there shall be no responsibility on you today; you are free!” And such was his greatness that even after people crowned him as the King and his kingdom was rolling in gold and silver, he still mended his own shoes and coarse woolen garments, swept the hearth, kindled the fire and attended the other menial offices of the family.
Not only that, under his rule, mankind had a glimpse of what true democracy is. Even the Caliphs appeared before the judges as ordinary men in his court, and an African slave who was looked down upon by the elite and rich was held in such high esteem that a Caliph offered his daughter in marriage to him! He was such a colossus of inspiration that his early followers, like Sumayya, allowed herself to be torn into pieces with spears, and Khabbab bin Arth laid himself on burning coal with merciless tyrants pressing his chest till his skin melted, but never deviated from their allegiance to him. What he created was a well-disciplined state out of chaos, a system of law that dispensed impartial justice, and a way of life that was in every little aspect Divine. And today one-fifth of the world’s population reveres and follows the path laid down by him in complete submission. That is the amazing personality of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).
It is said, “He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports.” [Bosworth Smifu, Mohammad and Mohammadanism, London 1874, p. 92.] That was his greatness, and more importantly, his goodness. Mohammed was God’s chosen Messenger to establish truth and righteousness at a time when men had lost their sense of morality, and either did not believe in God, or had reduced religion and spirituality to senseless practices and spurious worship. Just like all the Prophets before him, he came to awaken the divinity embedded within every man, and connect him to his Immortal Source, but his approach was unique.
While Moses performed supernatural feats to startle the magicians of Egypt, known for their egoistic tricks; and Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead to shock his contemporaries who were skillful physicians; Prophet Mohammed’s astounding miracle was The Qu’ran. The Arabs in those days were celebrated for their eloquence and excellent poetry, but what the unlettered Mohammed offered was matchless, and overwhelmed their literary prowess and creativity. Let alone the profound message, the sheer majesty of its style, which is neither prose nor verse, and its captivating rhetoric clearly reflected that it was not the work of a human. In fact, in The Qu’ran itself, it is mentioned that ‘Nothing is like it’ and the Holy Book challenges anybody who doubts its Divine Origin to produce anything similar.
In fact, it would be interesting to note that this masterpiece of composition, on which stands the whole religion of Islam, is also a superhuman mathematical feat. The number nineteen, which is not divisible by anything, except itself and one, is the common denominator of the entire composition. Not only does the Qu’ran have 114 suras (chapters) which is a multiple of 19, but also the total number of occurrences of the word “Allah” in the classic is 2698 (19 x 142). Even the total sum of verse numbers for all verses containing the word "Allah" is 118123, again a multiple of 19. And this is not even the tip of the iceberg. The first verse known as “Basmalah” contains 19 letters; the famous First Revelation where God exhorted Mohammed to read [“Read in the name of Your Lord who created, created man from clots of congealed blood…” - 96:1] has 19 words with 76 (19 x 4) letters; the total occurrence of the letter "Q" (which represents Quran) in the two Q-initialed suras is 114; the number of times “The Quran” occurs is 57 (19 x 3), and the list goes on. Nineteen is God’s signature and in-built proof of The Quran’s Divine Authorship!
But why, the number nineteen? The numerical value of the word "ONE" in all the scriptural languages, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic is 19, and The Qu’ran emphatically proclaims this First Commandment of all the scriptures: There is only One God. This message of Unity is, in fact, one of the bedrocks of Islam. In verse 2:136, the Prophet says, “Say (O Muslims): we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered." Belief in all the Messengers of God is unequivocal and essential in this religion.
But then, why is Islam, in the minds of many today, a religion synonymous with religious intolerance? Why do we find staunch followers of this faith resorting to violence in the name of Allah? Why does its very mention generate fear in the minds of millions? There is a huge slip between the cup and the lip, and this is what we have addressed comprehensively in our cover story.
When you read “The Enigma of Islam – Enlightened by Sai”, you will understand what Islam, in its essence, is. And did you think only Muslims belong to Islam? In a beautiful discourse delivered on Ramzan Day in 1983, Swami said, “Islam means ‘Surrender to God’. And all who, in a spirit of surrender and dedication live in peace and harmony in society, really speaking, belong to Islam.” Surrender is the last stage in the nine forms of devotion that every Hindu believes in, and is the crux of Christianity too - symbolized by the Cross, the crucifixion of one’s ego on the altar of Divine Decree.
Miracles have materialized whenever man has obliterated his little self in favour of the Omniwill. And these are happening even now too. When you read the biblical-like experiences of two prison inmates in New Zealand in the Features section, or the amazing instances of Grace conferred on a student, who believed in the “Self” within and submitted with confidence to the Divine Will without any reservations, you will find live examples of this ultimate experience of surrender that every man should strive for.
Swami says, “Islam means peace. So, a true Muslim is one who leads a peaceful life. Peace originates from a heart that is full of love, which is the basis for any caste, creed or religion. Love is Shivam and Mangalam, which means ‘Auspiciousness’.” This Auspiciousness is Allah, which is the Supreme Love that knows only compassion and mercy, and pervades every atom as the Universal Cosmic Consciousness.
Dear reader, as we celebrate, in this month, the birth of Prophet Mohammed (March 21) alongside Easter (March 23) and the sublime Shivarathri (March 6), let us never for a moment miss this essential Unity that pervades the whole of Creation, and sublimate every second surrendering to His Will, and cultivating only that virtue which is the origin and sustenance of this creation – Love.