Tuesday 5 February 2019

Why do Muslims Follow a Prophet Who was Illiterate?

Prophets are specially chosen people of Allah since Prophet Adam was created from nothing. Since these specially chosen people are favourites of our Creator, there can be no questions asked as to how and why these were chosen. We do not know weather the earlier prophets were men of letter or not, but we do know that the last Prophet of Allah was an unlettered man. And this became a big excuse for the followers of other faiths as to how an illiterate man could be a prophet?

For those who object to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) being illiterate, the simple answer is that although he was illiterate, the revelations upon him came through the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) who would reveal a  particular revelation, make him understand its context and explanation. The Prophet (ﷺ ) of Allah would then memorize it, and read out to a few trusted companions who would the memorize it. And that is how the Qur'an slowly and gradually built up. And that is why it took 23 years for the whole Qur'an to be revealed so that it could understood and memorized completely.

In fact, it is a miracle that despite his illiteracy, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) received the Quran as a last testament. This is a sign that the Quran is a divine revelation. And despite all hindrances, the Divine commandants spread all over the world in the shape of the Holy Qur'an revealed on to an unlettered world.

Please read our earlier post "Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) - The Dawn of Prophethood" which gives details how Angel Gabriel first approached the Prophet of Allah i the Cave of Hira, outside the city of Makkah and brought to him the very first revelation of the Holy Qur'an. These initial verses are the opening verses of Surah Al Alaq.

In fact when a revelation used to descend on the Prophet of Allah, it used to in-grind on his heart, as has been mentioned in Surah al-Shu’ara’, 194:
26:192) And indeed, the Qur'an is the revelation of the Lord of the worlds. 26:193) The Trustworthy Spirit has brought it down, 26:194) Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] - that you may be of the warners, 26:195) In a clear Arabic language 
He thus always felt as though the Qur’an had been engraved on his heart. His reading and reciting of the Qur’an was coming from the heart and was targeting people’s hearts as well before anything else. Such was happening effortlessly and naturally.

Here it would be pertinent to mention an incident which has been oft misquoted to show that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) was literate by the pagans of Makkah. Rejecting his Prophet-hood, they wished to prove that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) was able to read and write and that he read the scriptures of the former nations and composed the Qur’an from them. They brought as evidence that during the pact of Al-Hudaibiyah the people of Quraysh refused to write the Prophet’s title “Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah” and asked to remove it. So, he commanded `Ali to replace it with “Muhammad son of `Abdullah” but `Ali, in reverence to the status Muhammad (ﷺ) refused to erase it. So, the Prophet (ﷺ) himself erased it with his own hand. They maintain that erasing means that he could identify it and he was able to write and read. However, the actual happening was different from what has been quoted. In fact when Ali refused to erase the word, the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) asked `Ali where was the word “the Messenger of Allah” written. When Ali indicated with his finger, then Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself erased it.

Some critics of Islam even claim that when Allah had ordained Muhammad (ﷺ), why he still remained illiterate and why he did not learn to read and write. In fact some critics go  to the extent of accusing the Prophet (ﷺ) for deifying the Divine commandment by not learning to read and write. What such critics fail to understand is that after the heavy burden of prophet hood was placed on his shoulder, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was more worried about the spread of Divine message to the belligerent audience who confronted him with all means available to them in order to stop him from spreading the world of Allah. He was many a times physically assaulted, stoned and strangled. Under such trying conditions, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) still confronted his opponents and finally won over a majority of them through his resilience and hard efforts. And if an unlettered man could overawe many learned and wise men of pagans of Makkah and other areas of Arabia of the time, it goes to his credit rather than a discredit.

Watch the answer to the question beautifully explained by none other than Ahmed Deedat (Ahmed Hoosen Deedat (1918-2005) was a South African writer and public speaker. He was best known as a Muslim missionary, who held numerous inter-religious public debates with evangelical Christians, as well as video lectures on Islam, Christianity, and the Bible):
May Allah grant us wisdom to understand Qur'an and Sunnah to be able to dispel any misconceptions that non Muslims have against Islam. Aameen

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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