written by Mateen A. Khan, Piscataway, NJ
A version of this article was first published in Al-Madania Magazine.
Proof for the Prophet ﷺ
The truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is supported by an overwhelming amount of proof. It is a topic well beyond the capabilities of this writer. However, I will write a few things which will, in shā Allāh, serve as a platform for further reading and thought.
In this article, we return to a statement from an earlier article in this series titled “On Knowledge & Knowing”:
The astute reader will now realize that the deen rests entirely on the shoulders of a single, true transmitter from Allah. He ﷺ was one aided by many miracles, which prove whatever he narrated to us must be true by virtue of divine confirmation of his prophethood.
The strongest rational evidence for his prophethood and truthfulness is his miracles. Simply, miracles (al-mu`jizāt) are events that happen against the laws of physics. In other words, these are events for which no explanation exists other than the Creator causing them to happen. What we witness as nature or physical laws are no more than the customs or Sunnah of Allah. Nothing occurs except that Allah brings it into existence. No object moves or holds still except He wills it. It is through these signs most of us recognize Allah and through which He interacts with His creation moment to moment. When something occurs against the natural norm, we know only Allah could have done so. If this is coupled with a person’s claim to prophethood, it is equivalent to Allah signaling, “This man tells the truth.” We then know his claim to be truthful.
Imams al-Bukhārī and Muslim narrate the Prophet ﷺ said, “There was not a single prophet who was not given a miracle by which people believed in him. I was given [the Qur’an] which Allah revealed to me.” The Qur’an is a miracle unlike any other given before. It is preserved, recited continuously, infinitely deep, perfect in meaning, and eternal. Further, Allah the Exalted states in it, “Falsehood cannot approach it” (41:42) and “Had it been from someone other than Allah, they would have found in it a great deal of discrepancy” (4:82). When Sayyiduna Ja`far ibn Abī Tālib recited Surah Maryam to Najāshī, it affected him deeply. He sent seventy Christian scholars to the Prophet ﷺ who heard Surah Yāsīn and began to cry recognizing it as divine. This occurred then and continues to occur today. For every miracle, two things are needed. First, it is given to one claiming prophethood and clearly incapable of causing the event. Second, his people are invited to bring something like it to establish their helplessness as well. Thus, it becomes clear that the miracle was a divine act.
The Qur’an is a literary masterpiece, and one the Prophet ﷺ was incapable of authoring. He was never trained in language or the literary arts, and he was proudly declared by Allah and the prophets before him as an “ummī”, illiterate. Do not make the mistake of thinking the Qur’an is like other masterpieces. For example, William Shakespeare was a trained master playwright. Yet, his works contain historical and geographical mistakes. They were almost certainly changed as editors applied their discretion in compiling what was passed to them from the memories of actors. Recent analysis of the plays suggests they were not written by him alone, but with help from another. In contrast, the Qur’an is free of any type of error and preserved from change. It came spontaneously from the Prophet without preparation, revision, or practice and has not yet been fully understood or replicated by another, nor can it be. Analysis of the Qur’an from tafsīr and language experts bears witness to its miraculous nature. Every letter of it divine with a source that could only be the spring of prophethood.
More impressive was the reaction of the Prophet’s contemporaries, the Arabs to whom the challenge of the Qur’an was first issued. Allah the Exalted declares, “If you are in doubt about what We have revealed to our Servant then bring a surah similar to this.” (2:23) and “Say [O Prophet], ‘If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants’” (17:88). Being experts in their own language, the Arabs alleged it was magic or supra-human assistance. This is an admission of its perfection. For had they noted human error or literary mistakes, they would have pointed that out instead. From its words and syntax to its style and overall system, they found nothing in its over six thousand verses to criticize. Even the Orientalists of today no longer claim the Prophet ﷺ was an imposter looking for some secondary gain and so made up the Qur’an with an alternative motive. Rather, they are only left with alleging he was afflicted by prolonged meditation or a psychiatric disorder. This allegation is easily refuted with a cursory glance at his sīrah and his accomplishments. From the time when the Arabs generally possessed the highest of literary skill and throughout the subsequent fourteen centuries, the challenge of imitating the Qur’an remains unfulfilled. Had even one person done so, the zeal of the non-Muslims would have preserved and propagated it to no end. How could they not have when they have always outnumbered the Muslims. Or, had one person done so, others surely would have as well. Thus, the inability of the claimant to prophethood and his people to produce the Qur’an establishes it as a divine act.
Besides the Qur’an, the Prophet ﷺ was given many other miracles. Some of them manifested in the objects around him. For example, the splitting of the moon, a tree coming closer to him, stones speaking, the yearning of a palm tree trunk, the complaining of a female camel, a cooked sheep informing him of it being poisoned, and the shading of clouds as he traveled. Although most of these events were conveyed to us as single narrations, in their entirety, they convey certainty of the occurrence of miracles by his hand.
His character, too, was proof of his prophethood. For example, when he first received revelation, he returned to his wife, Sayyidah Khadījah, who consoled him, reminded him of his good character, and believed in his prophethood before anyone else. She said, “You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.” Likewise, his closest friend, Sayyiduna Abū Bakr believed in him without asking for any proof for he had known his character from before. Whenever he saw him in his younger years, he would say, “This one was created for a great cause.” Later, when he came to know of his ﷺ prophethood, he replied, “This is what I hoped for from him.” (Al-Bidāyah) And so a great multitude of narrations continue like this. We all know many people and have read reports about countless others. However, we have never heard of a person like him. These reports lead one to believe such a man was protected by Allah to be perfect in character, inward and outward. When his own people were asked about him, they said, “We have only experienced truth from you.” (al-Bukhārī 4770) Even those in far away lands were drawn by what they heard. When Sayyiduna `Amr ibn al-`Āṣ went to the leaders of Oman, they and their followers accepted Islam based merely on what they had heard of him. Every convert to Islam has followed in the same way. He embodied the most perfect of characteristics throughout his life, never wavering, not in public or in private, not in anger or in joy. He was one of steadfastness, tranquility, nobility, dis-attachment to the world, and a continuous concern for the remembrance of Allah. Even his enemies, despite their animosity and desire to disparage him, were not able to slander him in the least. Muslims and non-Muslims alike have expressed his singularity among mankind. Therefore, it is inconceivable the Creator would have placed such qualities in a man, allowed him to continue preaching for twenty-three years, helped him against his enemies, made his way dominant over all others, and kept alive his teachings after his death until the Day of Resurrection unless he was a His Messenger.
These are merely a couple of the considerations which eliminate any doubt of our Beloved’s ﷺ prophethood. Prompting us, Allah the Exalted states, “O people, the Messenger has come to you with the truth from your Lord. So, believe. That is good for you.” (4:170) When we have come to know this with certainty, then everything the Prophet ﷺ has relayed to us in the form of Allah’s speech and his own is truth binding us in belief and action. It is guidance in its purest form and blessings uncountable. With this last thought, we end Madina’s Our Creed series. In six articles, we have established the importance of `aqīdah, the method of acquiring knowledge, the existence of the Creator, His essential attributes, the need for Messengers, and finally, the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ. May Allah send His blessings upon His Messenger, our Beloved Muhammad, the best of creation, and upon his family, noble Companions, and all those who have followed them.