The Guidance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for a Plural Society

In the name of Allah the Gracious the Merciful

We often get involved in the discussion of right and wrong. Right in terms of the values a society should be adorned with, wrong in terms of the evils that a society should be void of. This particular aspect of discussion seems common. It can be argued as and when required both for an individual and a group. For a plural society like India, this aspect demands seriousness. Priorities like prerequisites of the cultural plurality, communal harmony, human dignity, mutual co-operation, promotion of virtues and eradication of evils, the essence of leadership, the role of citizens etc. demand a humane approach.

The era of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) witnessed a similar kind of situation like ours, a multicultural society with varied faiths and traditions. He (pbuh) addressed the core issues, established a peaceful society, prepared committed believers and thus revolutionized the society within a span of 23 years. The process expounds the dynamics of change both for individual and societal levels and provides with the required requisites of guidance. It clearly states the dynamics of change for a plural society like India. Here is a relative discussion that compares the era of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with the present one. Let us delve with some of its details:

Unity of Humanity

The crux of the social destabilization was the degradation of humans; people were severely divided into different classes and categories. Lawlessness, causeless and bloody quarrels, immorality and skepticism was defining the social misery.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) addressed these issues with a humanitarian concern, and openly proclaimed the unity of humanity. He emphasized that there is no rank, color and race, all are just like a family of God. A person is good in the sight of God only if he is beneficial to fellow human beings. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) moved further and elaborated the sacred nature of man that he has been created on the face of God. Therefore, any act of dehumanization is strictly unadvisable. No one is even allowed to slap on the face. Honoring a human is just like honoring the God.

The impacts of noble teachings saw a state of amaze, a sense of sacredness’ and unity of humanity got cultivated and paved the way for an overall involvement to live and strive together. It gave an impression that the whole society comprising of family members, everyone is striving both at individual and collective levels for the betterment. The zeal and selfless spirit reflect a refurbishing story that, as if, they are thriving for their household matters. Thus the teachings resulted in the restoration of human dignity, flourished the concept of brotherhood and minimized the causeless feuds between different sections of the society.

Association of Faith with the Conduct

For those who believed in Islam, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) admonished them to be the epitome of ‘the idea of unity of humanity’, and associated the faith with their overall conduct. This has been one of the noblest facets that testify Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was raised for the whole mankind. In accordance with his teachings, the pious are the ones who are of good conducts. That is, a Muslim is a true believer only when he likes his brother what he likes for himself. A Muslim is good in the sight of God if he is good to his friends and neighbors. Again, a Muslim should be innocent; his persona should be void of cunningness, simple and well natured.

Teachings on religious tolerance too regarded as part of the conduct. Behaving well with the followers of different religions and not to scold their deities has been greatly emphasized. A letter given by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), termed as “Charter of Privileges” to the St. Catherine Monastery is a clear indication, wherein very specific instructions were given to the Muslims of that region as to how to behave with those who are followers of other religion. For a true Muslim, even misconduct of an insignificant nature towards a follower of other religion poses a serious threat to his faith.

Society of Soldiers

The spirit of a revolutionized society is maintained by developing every individual as its committed soldiers, whose primary duty is to maintain a decent balance between virtues and healthy attitudes. They should always be on their toes to eradicate everything that is harmful and detrimental to the cause of society. The instructions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were just like an ‘open license’ to every person to be alert against the vices and be responsive towards the virtues. The task of promotion of virtues and eradication of evils has been made obligatory, strict adherence of which regarded as a prerequisite of faith. The Prophet (pbuh) categorically specified that any kind of negligence towards the task would simply adulterate the good deeds and then, in that case, even a single prayer won’t be answered. As a result, the society got adorned with such people who were the epitome of goodness in true sense. The society certified their dynamic characters and authenticated their role as saints during the night and soldiers in the day time. Visualization of such a society for the present age is possible only with an articulation of the revolutionary features of that time. It is about ensuring a society where every member is a law-abiding individual, very cautious for promotion of virtues and eager for annihilation of anything detrimental to the cause.

Leaders and Followers

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) outlined the importance of effective leadership along with the leader-follower relationship for a prosperous society. For a leader few things were greatly underlined, that he is accountable. It’s obligatory on him to strive hard for his people as he strives for his own needs; else he would not even feel the smell of Paradise. And that the leader in real sense is a servant, and he is supposed to benefit himself after benefitting his followers. The followers were advised to obey the leaders in every situation, no matter if the leader is of their choice or not. The relationship between the leaders and followers must have two common elements, one co-operation and the second humble prayer.

The values that the leaders and followers share actually define the essence of their relationships and greatly emphasize the expanse of their roles, the society simply reflects the same. The stronger the relationship the greater will be the roles and even greater a prosperous society.

Common programme

In a society wherein the plurality of faiths exists, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) insisted on two things. One, there should be deliberate attempts to exchange the views and information. Everyone should try hard to communicate in a way that is better in all sense, with no blend of any element of compulsion and coercion. Secondly, He insisted on forming an association of followers of different faiths to strive for the betterment of society. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had expressed his wish of joining hands with the followers of different religions for the cause of betterment of society. Hilf-al- Fudhul (League of the virtuous) was a treaty formed during his adolescence, the Prophet (pbuh) once said “the best part of my past life was spent in the activities of Hilf-al-Fudhul, that service has given me much honor and respect. I would not have stepped out of that agreement even if I were to be offered one hundred red camels”. (Biography of Ibn Hisham).

The Revival

India, after the independence, has progressed significantly. In spite of healthy progress, we Indians, at large; seem to be involving ourselves in those things which are of less interest to the nation as a whole. Look at the two contrasting faces; firstly, the religious misunderstanding and polarization have divulged a terrible divide between us. Secondly, no collective depiction of peace, unity, integrity, mutual co-operation and understanding has been ensured. Not, atleast, as frequent and large as unease and unrest occur. It’s a fact that our plural society is void of collective efforts of the followers of different religions. There is a dearth of a common program of betterment that in turned paved the way for the evil designs of divisive forces to do the wonders. It’s high time that we should come forward to set an example of respect and mutual-cooperation.

This way India can strike a balance cord between material and spiritual progress and can be a great example of human honor and dignity. Religious understanding, sharing of the commonness and collective struggle would do the magic. The message and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) could be sure cause of a humble beginning and revival of the spirit of Unity in Diversity.

 (c) Muhammad Abdullah Javed


2 thoughts on “The Guidance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for a Plural Society

  1. Your tireless efforts to educate people may soon bring more than the results expected. May these articles be eye openers for all those who are lagging behind in search of Truth as well as those who are still blindfolded by their own self desires.


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