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Commander of the army - Muhammad was a prophet of mercy and a prophet of battle. His message was primarily one of mercy, but he was obliged to turn to battle when certain powers refused mercy and morality and sought to deprive others of them and of their natural rights and individual freedoms. He was a commander who gathered statistics about military capabilities, sent scouts to gather information and drew up battle plans. Aware that the Creator had ordained for every occurrence a cause, he applied this natural law in order to achieve success. He made full use of all means available, applied strategies and called upon his Lord for assistance. After that he could expect divine support, knowing that he had fulfilled his obligation.

The total number of days the Prophet was required to spend in defensive warfare comes to less than a year. His most famous battles did not last for more than one day, and the total number of the enemy slain during battle has been recorded at 759. With very few exceptions, enemy captives and the wounded were treated with benevolence and justice.[1] After the conquest of Makkah there were no reprisals. Only four of the enemy were executed, and that was due to their previous crimes rather than to the fact that they were captives.

Muhammad was no more than a human being, but he was a man with a noble mission. During the 23-year period of his prophethood, he changed the entire Arabian Peninsula from paganism to worship of the one true God, from tribal wars to national unity, from anarchy to disciplined living, from barbarism to the highest standards of moral excellence. No other man in history excelled in so many different aspects of life. He not only taught and established the religion, but founded a state, initiated numerous political and social reforms, built a powerful and dynamic society and completely revolutionized the realm of human thought and behavior - all within just over two decades.

Some have asserted that the message he brought was a product of his own mind. But if that was so, why did he not take credit for it? He could have claimed supernatural qualities, enjoyed recognition, accepted a high position of leadership, or at least avoided adversity and opposition. But Muhammad maintained the opposite: that he was a human being like everyone else, that he spoke nothing of his own accord, and that the Qur'an, the like of which humanity could not produce, was a message from God, revealed to him by God, to whom alone belongs all glory and praise. All of the legislation he pronounced, the principles he taught and the great achievements for which he could have attained personal renown and advantage were attributed to the guidance and support of God alone. At the time of his death in spite of his nation's increasing material wealth, he possessed nothing of worldly value. His character, generosity, righteousness and integrity all stand as irrefutable evidence of his prophethood.

While it was still in its early stages, the Qur'an disclosed that Islam was indeed a global religion. Allah addressed His Prophet therein, saying: "And We have not sent you but as a mercy to [all] the worlds."[2] "And We have not sent you except comprehensively to mankind, as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, but most of the people do not know."[3] Islam is meant for all people regardless of race, nationality, cultural or religious background. The Prophet and his followers made every effort to spread the message of truth to all nations and peoples. From the commencement of his mission, his companions came from a wide range of lands and races. Among them was Bilal, an African, Suhaib, a Byzantine, Salman, a Persian and Ibn Salam, a Jewish scholar. All were united in the brotherhood of faith.[4]

As the Prophet undertook to follow and teach the directives that came to him through the divine revelation, great changes came about in peoples who would otherwise have been unnoticed by history. But the resulting historical events are, in themselves, given less importance by Muslim scholars than the human factor that caused them - the direct relationship between the positive attitudes and efforts of men and the result bestowed upon them by God in the form of success and blessing in this worldly life, even before that of the Hereafter.


[1] When a few zealous Muslims transgressed on occasion, they were severely rebuked.

[2] Qur'an - 21:107

[3] Qur'an - 34:28

[4] The modern Muslim world, from Asia to Africa and into Europe is further proof that Islam is a universal message for all mankind - not to mention the fact that significant numbers of western Europeans and Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are discovering and entering Islam.