By Syed Abul A’lā Maudūdī,
This was just one aspect of his transformation. The other aspect is even more astonishing.
Another Aspect of his Transformation
For as long as forty years he lived just as an ordinary Arab, like any other common Arab. During this long period none in his society knew this trader as an impassioned orator. None ever witnessed him discussing the issues of theology, moral philosophy, law, politics, economics or sociology. None ever heard a single word from his mouth about God, angels, Divine Scriptures, past prophets, bygone nations, Doomsday, life after death, or Hell and Heaven. True, he possessed sound morals, refined manners, and the best personal character, but for the first forty years of his life nothing unusual was noticeable about his person as might have aroused inklings in the minds of people about his assuming a different role ever in future. Until that time, people knew him only as a quiet, peaceful, and thoroughly gentle person. But, when he emerged from his cave-shelter at the age of forty with a new message, he had been completely transformed.
Now, a wonderful oration issued from his lips, hearing which the entire Arabia became spellbound. This oration was so lofty and so intensely moving that even the worst of his foes feared lending an ear to it lest it should find its way into their hearts. The sublimity and eloquence of this speech was so intensely captivating that it repeatedly challenged all Arabs, who prided themselves on the presence of great poets, orators and master-composers amongst them, to bring forth a single piece of its like, but none dared to accept that challenge. Arabs had just never heard such a fantastic speech, unparalleled so far.
Now, all of a sudden he had been transformed into a matchless philosopher, a unique cultural and moral reformer, an astute politician, an awe-inspiring legislator, a supreme judge, and a peerless army commander. This man, this unlettered bedouin, started uttering such words of deep wisdom and sagacity as had never been uttered by anyone before him, nor after. That ‘illiterate one’started making authoritative speeches on theology and metaphysics, giving lectures on the philosophy of the rise and fall of nations in close reference to the history of nations, commenting on the achievements of earlier reformers, criticizing world religions, deciding the disputes among nations, and imparting lessons in culture, morality and refinement.
That quiet recluse, who betrayed no ray of political inclination for 40 years, suddenly emerged as a reformer and statesman of such a grand stature that just within 23 years he brought all of the warring, illiterate, recalcitrant, uncivilized, bellicose and untamed tribes, scattered over a desert expanse of 1.2 million square miles and always at war, under the control of one faith, one culture, one law, and one political order
He started formulating laws on culture, economics, social affairs and international relations. And the laws he made are such that the scholars and rationalists of the highest order spend their entire lifetimes in really appreciating the prudence and perspicacity of those laws. The richer the world grows in experience, in sharper relief emerges the judiciousness of his laws.
The quiet trader who had never used a sword, never received a military training – so much so that he just once joined a war only as an onlooker – grew in no time into a brave soldier who never retreated an inch even in the most nerve-wrecking combats. Suddenly he became such an army general who conquered the whole of Arabia in as few as nine years. He manifested such an astounding military genius that the high and dry Arabs, propelled as they were by hismilitary organization and the fighting zeal he generated, were able to knock down the two formidable superpowers of the world within just a few years.
That quiet recluse, who betrayed no ray of political inclination for forty years, suddenly emerged as a reformer and statesman of such a grand stature that just within twenty three years he brought all of the warlike, illiterate, recalcitrant, uncivilized, bellicose and untameable tribes, scattered over a desert expanse of 1.2 million square miles and always at war, under the control of one faith, one culture, one law, and one political order, and that too without the aid of any of the modern means of transportation or communication such as the train, aircraft, wireless, radio or electronic or print media as we have today. He transformed their ideas and morals, he altered their vulgarity into refinement of the highest order, their savagery into the best civility, their immorality and characterlessness into piety and impeccable morality, their bellicosity and anarchism into law-abidance and compliance to order. He made the barren nation, which had never produced a single individual of any worth, so fertile that in no time it brought forth thousands of personalities of the greatest worth who spread out all over the world preaching faith, ethics and civility to people.
He did not accomplish all that through fraudulent, coercive, deceptive or despotic means, but through heart-winning morality, soul-gripping gentleness, and attention-grabbing discourse. Through his high morality he tamed his foes and through his affection he softened hearts. He ruled justly and never deviated in any measure from the principles of truth and justice. Even in wars he abstained from treachery or deception. He never tortured even his worst enemies. He chose to forgive, in the high moment of his ultimate victory, even those who stoned him, banished him from his home, roused the whole of Arabia against him, and even chewed the liver of his uncle at the height of their rancour. He never took revenge on anyone for personal reasons.
Along with that, his self-control, rather selflessness, was of such grandeur that when he became the sole ruler of Arabia he remained as indigent as ever. He lived in a small thatched hut, slept on a coarse matting, wore most ordinary dress, ate the meal of the poor, starved frequently, stood in prayer nightlong and served the poor and the miserable. He never hesitated to work like a labourer. Until his very last days, no air of royalty or of the arrogance of the rich or of the haughtiness of the great was ever observed about him even in the least degree. He met people like an ordinary man, joined them in their hour of pain, and joined public gatherings in such a way that it was difficult for a stranger to identify which of them was the leader of the nation and the ruler of the land. Despite being so great, he treated even the most ordinary person as if he was just like him. After the lifelong struggle and sacrifice, he left behind no inheritance for his family, but endowed the whole of it to his people. He did not establish any rights for himself or for his descendants to be observed by his followers, so much so that he permanently deprived his descendants from accepting regular charity (zakāt), lest his followers should start paying all charity to his descendants alone [assuming it an act of special virtue].