Iman (faith) in the Arabic language means to trust, to feel security, and to believe. It is a spiritual force that reaches deep into our souls and alters the manner in which we comprehend and view our reality, our fixed notions about life, our will, and conscience. This spiritual force reflects on our choices, words, and actions.
To believe in Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is not a passive decision. It is a choice that means to accept and have trust in him as the last Messenger sent by Allah to humanity. This trust invites rest and security into our hearts and minds, and it is “belief” that reflects in the way we live. It also means to accept that his experience as a receiver of Allah’s final revelation qualifies him (more than anyone else before and after him) to be a teacher whose wisdom shall endure for the rest of times.
To believe in Muhammad, moreover, means to accept Allah’s choice of who shall be His last Messenger. Many among the elite of Makkah’s idolaters (like Al Walid Ibn Al-Mughira) used to say: “Why should this Quran be revealed to Muhammad while I am available!” They refused Allah’s choice of Muhammad out of arrogance and envy. But Allah answered back: “Moreover, your Lord [alone] creates whatever He so wills. And He [alone] chooses. Never is it for [any of] them [who disbelieve] to choose [for Allah]!” (Quran, 28:68)
To believe in Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) means to accept the miracles that came with him. Allah supported all of His Messengers through miracles as proofs of their Prophethood so people would trust and believe. Each Prophet who graced this world came with miracles that had particular meaning to their time and place. For example, Prophet Salih was sent to the ancient people of Thamud who carved magnificent houses in the rock-hard sides of mountains. So Salih’s miracle was related to his people’s unique talents and way of life. Allah gave life to a she-camel out of a large rock. This was meant to remind the people of Thamud where ultimate power and authority resides, and that whatever gifts and talents people possess, their response must be to offer gratitude to Allah, the giver of life and the giver of talents and gifts.
Take a closer look at Moses, peace be upon him. He lived among the ancient Egyptians who were known to practice magic, particularly the cult of serpents. One of Moses’ most well-known miracles was his staff. When he threw it down, it actually became a live snake that swallowed the fake magic of the magicians of Pharaoh. Jesus, peace be upon him, lived in a time when people were known to be advanced in medicine. Among his miracles was to bring people back from death, by the permission and grace of Allah. Jesus told the onlookers that this is a grace from Allah and that it was a reminder that life and death are in Allah’s hands, and to Him we must devote ourselves. These miracles were spectacular, indeed. But they were limited to a specific time and place. We know of them only through narration, and they had immediate impact only on those who witnessed them directly.
What was the chief miracle of Allah’s final Messenger? It’s an excellent question to explore. The Prophet Muhammad did have miracles that were like the miracles of previous Prophets. However, his chief miracle was something meant to endure the rest of human life on earth, meaning, we too can be witnesses to the miracle ourselves. This follows the logic of life and religion itself. Since Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is the last Prophet to humankind, his miracle must prevail in every century and every geography of earth until the Day of Judgment. That is why the mother of all miracles given to him was the Quran, the words of Allah. This miracle was the way of life presented in the Quran, the teachings that take people from ignorance to faith, from darkness to light.
This protected miracle was indeed the live, continuous, and prevailing miracle that serves as proof of Muhammad as the last Messenger. We must remember that the Prophet of Islam was an “unlettered” person, meaning that he himself did not read or write. Yet he suddenly recited words that clearly were not of this world. Many among him were immediately amazed by the words he recited and felt that something extraordinary was occurring. To this very day, every word of the Quran has been preserved, which is also a miracle in itself. Words constantly change and are transmitted with error, even with technology at our disposal. What can we say about a book revealed fourteen centuries ago, conveyed to us today that has not been altered? Just think about it when you hold the book in your hands.
Another main miracle of the prophet was his ability to produce a generation of Sahabah that held onto the Words of Allah and was a generation of role models for humanity to learn from. The text of revelation being translated into the human experience shows the relevancy to people’s needs. Indeed, such a great generation of the Sahabah is a testimony on behalf of the Prophet and the support and influence he gave that generation, granted to him by Allah (SW).
To believe in Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) means to accept him as your role model and example. As Muslims, we do not believe in Muhammad having any divine nature, but we believe that Allah made him a perfect human being. His perfection was described by his wife Aiesha. She said: “He was the Quran walking on earth.” This meant that the Prophet represented the implementation of the will of Allah on all levels. Allah said: “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah there is an excellent model for you.” (Quran, 33:21) So to reject the Prophet has meaning also. Allah warned: “Let those who go against his command beware! A trial may well afflict them [in this world] or a most painful torment may afflict them [in the Hereafter].” (Quran, 24:63).
Believing in Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) means to develop true love for him. His success in conveying Allah’s message is the most vital success that anyone can imagine. To be guided, live with guidance, and die with guidance in your heart is the supreme success, which would have been impossible had it not been for the sacrifices, suffering, and mercy of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). He endured so much to convey his message. And now we benefit from his endurance. Also, to have love of the Prophet means obeying him, which means, in turn, that we invite benefit and grace into our lives and our afterlives. Allah said: “Whatever the Messenger brings you [from Allah], then you shall take it, and whatever he has forbidden you, you shall desist from it.” (Quran, 59:7)
Loving him means following his path: “Say [O Muhammad to the believers], if you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive your sins.” (Quran 3:31)
Loving him means living his model. Allah said: “Truly, in the Messenger of Allah there is an excellent model for you.” (Quran, 33:21)
Loving him means hoping for his company in Heaven; the Prophet said: “Those who love me the most are those who come after me, each one of them would sacrifice their wealth and family for a glimpse of me.” (This Hadith was narrated by Imam Muslim.)
Loving him means honoring his name when it is mentioned, by saying, “Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.” To love him also means to love what he loved, to dislike what he disliked; for his likes and dislikes were not like ours. His were completely associated with how well we live now and how well we will be received in the Hereafter. So this is not a mechanical demonstration of love, but emotional intelligence that serves our best interests and affects the decisions we make.
Believing in Muhammad means to accept and practice his Sunnah to the best of our abilities. (Sunnah is everything narrated by the Prophet, whether his words, actions, or something he agreed with.) Allah said: “Nor does he [Muhammad] speak out of whim. This is none other than a [divine] revelation being revealed [to him].” (Quran, 53:4) Allah said: “For it is Allah who has sent down to you the Book and [Prophetic] wisdom, and He has taught you what you did not know.” (Quran, 4:113)
Believing in Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) is the core of our faith after believing in Allah. That is why the declaration of faith includes the statement to accept him as a Messenger from Allah. It is our duty as Muslims to learn about his life and act according to his example, so we can be righteous in this life and winners in the Hereafter.