BASIC TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROPHET
The Best Example
THE Quran describes the Prophet of Islam as a human being like any other. What distinguished him from others was not his being something other than human, but rather his being a prophet as well as a human being. This is illustrated by the following verse from the Quran:
Say, ‘I am only a human being like yourselves. It is revealed to me that your God is one God. So let him who hopes to meet his Lord, do good deeds and let him associate no one else in the worship of his Lord.’ (18: 110)
This was something natural, and gave credence to the practical example set by the Prophet of Islam for the benefit of all human beings. It is quite clear that his ability to convince rested on his being a human being like all others; on his having feelings of the same nature as other human beings. If it were not so then the command to follow the example of the Prophet would have been rendered impracticable. The greatness of the Prophet of Islam lay in adopting a superior code of ethics as a human being, so that he should come up to the highest standard of conduct in all matters. Had he been cast in some superhuman mould, his exemplary character could not have served as a model for human beings.
The greatness of the Prophet of Islam lay in adopting a superior code of ethics as a human being, so that he should come up to the highest standard of conduct in all matters.
What were the tasks which were assigned to the Prophet towards his Companions? In chapter 74 of the Quran, God says: ‘O, you wrapped in your cloak, arise and give warning! Proclaim the glory of your Lord, purify your garments; shun uncleanness, do not bestow a favour in the expectation of receiving more in return, and for the sake of your Lord be patient.’ (74: 1-7)
According to the above verses the actual task of the Prophet consists of warning the people of the serious consequences in the life to come regarding their actions in the world. This duty can be performed only by one whose heart is filled with the greatness of God; who possesses a high moral character; who keeps away from all evil; who does good without any hope of return and who suffers patiently all the hardships inflicted by others.
The first task of the Prophet was to receive God’s revelations and to communicate them to man, i.e. he had to recite the verses of the Quran and explain them to his hearers. Innumerable signs within human nature and the outside world have been placed by God so that man may realize Him through them. Therefore, the next task of the Prophet was to reveal these signs and give man the insight to enable him to experience his Lord.
Insight implies wisdom, so that when man has developed the insight to see God’s signs; when he has moulded his mind to the teachings of the Quran, a kind of intellectual light begins to shine within him. His cerebral level is raised to a point from which he is able to experience higher realities. In all matters he is able to arrive at the right conclusions as desired by God. This task was about purifying the soul of unfavourable elements in order that a man may, in a favourable atmosphere, elevate himself to the culminating point of spiritual development.
After the Prophet, his followers have to work along the same lines as were followed by the Prophet on the basis of divine guidance.
Finally, the Prophet strove to prepare people whose souls should be free from all preoccupations except their devotion to God; who should be free also from psychological complexities, so that they might be capable of finding the spiritual sustenance placed by God in the universe for His devoted servants.
These were the basic tasks of the mission of the Prophet of Islam. All his activities were directed solely to achieving these objectives enumerated above. After the Prophet, his followers have to work along the same lines as were followed by the Prophet on the basis of divine guidance.
Making mistakes is not
irremediable. And often all
it takes to save the day is a
reversal of policy.