Every year on the 12th of the month of Rabi al-Awwal Hijri, Muslims worldwide celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which marked the beginning of the battle against ignorance and fanaticism and the long and ever journey for peace. Allah, the Almighty, tells us in the Glorious Quran that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is only sent as a mercy for all creatures (The Quran, Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107). Therefore, it is evident that mercy is the core of the Prophetic message. The whole life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a message of mercy and justice; he always strived for promoting the values of love, cooperation and coexistence among people, regardless of their religion, race, color, etc. He stated clearly his keenness on the promotion of good values and morals in his saying: “I was sent to perfect good character”. He also used to supplicate the Almighty Allah saying, “and guide me to the best of manners, none guides to the best of them except You.”
Accordingly, if we are to investigate mercy in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we would find that it is embodied in all aspects of his life; as a leader of the Muslim ummah, as a father, as a husband, etc. Here we may only highlight some few examples, as this article cannot serve as an extensive survey of all manifestations of mercy in his life (PBUH).
After the battle of Badr, the first great battle between Muslims and the people of Mecca after the migration of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Medina, Muslims had a great number of prisoners of war. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) consulted his companions about the proper treatment with these prisoners. There were two contradictory views; the first held by Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, who opined that a ransom should be demanded from these prisoners in order to be set free. His purposes were to save their lives as they were all relatives to Muslims, to benefit from money to support the needy Muslims and to give these prisoners a chance so that they might be guided to Islam. The second opinion was held by Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, who argued that they should be killed because they were the leader of disbelief who persecuted Muslims. Out of his merciful nature and his keenness on saving people lives, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inclined to the opinion of Abu Bakr and decided to accept ransom and set all prisoners free.
This situation clearly shows Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) merciful character and proves that he (PBUH) did seized every opportunity to save people’s blood. This is a recurrent approach in his (PBUH) life. About 6 years afterwards, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Muslims could enter and control Mecca, from which they were driven out and their properties were seized by its people. Yet, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had authority over them, he decided to pardon them and did not take revenge for what they have done to him and to all Muslims.
The anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should revive mercy in our hearts and urge us to exert our utmost to let mercy prevail in our communities. This is the true image of Islam and Prophet Muhammad which should be spread and highlighted, instead of the distorted image conveyed by the extremist groups which portray Islam as a religion of violence, murder and blood-shedding and present Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to non-Muslims as one who came to promote hatred and instability.