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Muhammad(s) Prophet of Mercy and Light (report)

Hujjat al-Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali's address at Unity Conference - Al-Asr Education Centre, Woking - 18th November 2018

Dr Shomali began his talk by congratulating the participants for having chosen such an auspicious occasion to show their commitment towards unity. He reminded the audience of the words mentioned in one of the supplications recited by Muslims in which we say: “Oh God, I ask you to send your salutations upon Prophet Muhammad(s), who is Your Prophet of mercy and the word of Your light”. Dr Shomali explained that it would be incorrect to understand the mission of prophet Muhammad(s) as anything but a mission of divine mercy. He stressed that the core value of his mission was to bring mercy to humanity and not war, division, separation, hatred or curses.

In order to present the achievements of the Prophet during his mission, Dr Shomali delved into the life of the Arabs in pre-Islamic time to evaluate what were the immediate changes that the Prophet brought. Dr Shomali described the pre-Islamic Arab society as one that had no interest in educating or emancipating its members. He further added that the Prophet Muhammad(s) was certainly not a product of his society but rather stood against its negative values especially in relation to education.
Dr Shomali explained how the revelation that the Prophet brought to society had a strong emphasis on education, citing many verses from the Holy Qur’an that refer to such principle.
A society, such the one of the Arabs before Islam, had only few moral values often conditioned by expediency and self-interest added Dr Shomali. He cited the famous alliance of Hilf al-Fudul in which Muhammad as a young man participated with some members of other clans to redress certain injustice taking place in society.
He also referred to the culture of looting and raiding among tribes prevalent at that time and the pride the Arabs showed in this activity.
Dr Shomali explained that: “The Prophet of God [Muhammad(s) ] shifted the existing paradigm to a paradigm based on education. He brought a new dimension through his message, the focus on morals. This emphasis was to such an extent that he said: “God has sent me only to accomplish ‘noble traits of character’”.
Dr Shomali further clarified what it is meant by ‘noble traits of character’, quoting verses from the Qur’an. “Is the requital of goodness anything but goodness” (55:60)? When someone does good to you, you reciprocate by doing good to him or her. However, this is still at a lower level as the Prophet Muhammad(s) came to teach us to do good to people who have wronged us too, added Dr Shomali.

According to Dr Shomali: “Two of the greatest qualities that the Prophet demonstrated in his life and teachings, were honesty and trustworthiness. For forty years before Islam, he had the top record of honesty and trustworthiness. Not only did people not know of any case in which he disregarded and compromised honesty and trustworthiness, indeed everyone was aware of his full commitment towards trustworthiness and honesty. Therefore, it was not his father, grandfather or mother, but all the people of Makkah who recognised him as the truthful, the trusted. Can you imagine it? What adds to its significance is that even thirteen years after Islam, when those people had turned to few believers and many enemies, they did not for a moment doubt his honesty and trustworthiness”.

Dr Shomali then turned to the Prophet’s character. In the following passage, Dr Shomali gave a picture of such character:
“In a society in which kindness was considered as a weakness for men, the prophet was extremely kind. The mentality was that men should not show kindness. Even years after Islam, a Muslim, who still suffered from that mentality, was surprised when he saw the prophet kissing his grandchild. “How can the prophet kiss his grandchild in public?” A man should be strong and being strong means not having affection and compassion. Prophet Muhammad(s) said: “If you do not show mercy, you will not be shown mercy by Allah.” If a child is not shown kindness, do not expect that you will receive kindness. However, the prophet was not just kind with his grandchildren, but with all children and with all people, Muslim and non-Muslim.

Dr Shomali also made a comparison between Prophet Muhammad(s) and Prophet Musa(a). He described how when God asks Prophet Musa(a) to go and speak to the Pharaoh he instructed him to speak in a soft tone to positively influence him and not antagonise him. In this case, God gives Musa(a) a very specific order not to use strong language and irritate the Pharaoh. This is a command and not a statement.

In the contrast when God spoke to Muhammad(s) He tells him of his intrinsic good character: “It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have surely scattered from around you” (Qur’an 3:159).
In his closing remarks, Dr Shomali turned his attention towards the importance of unity as a recommendation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad(s). In this respect, he mentioned the publication by the Islamic Centre of a new book containing messages of unity from thirty-three Shi‘a topmost scholars.
Dr Shomali took the opportunity to read few lines from the book taken from the words of the late Imam Khomeini, Grand Ayatullah Khamenei and Grand Ayatullah Sistani. Dr Shomali concluded with a prayer and exhortation for us to offer unity to all people of the world: “I pray to God to enable us to refer back to the true legacy of Prophet Muhammad(s) and to charge ourselves with light, mercy, love, wisdom, and commitment in helping any person who is suffering”.

(The full transcript of the speech is available here)

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