As the Muslim world celebrates the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) today, it's important to remember his teachings and the life he lived to learn how to deal with the serious crises Muslims face today. Here is how I remember the Prophet I know from my reading about his life:

Secular Education:
The Prophet I know instructed Muslims to "go as far as China to seek knowledge". It was clear at the time that China was not a Muslim nation. It is therefore safe to conclude that the Prophet encouraged all necessary efforts to seek all knowledge including secular education.

Faith and Reason:
The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran to humanity, the Book that repeatedly and emphatically challenges readers to "Think" and "Ponder" for themselves. This is the best proof that Islam wants Muslims to embrace and reconcile faith and reason. It was this teaching that brought greatness to Muslims in seventh through thirteenth centuries following the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Compassion:
The Prophet I know showed compassion and understanding when a Bedouin person entered the Prophet's mosque in Medina and urinated, an act that infuriated the Prophet's companions. He restrained his companions and asked them to show understanding for the ignorance of the Bedouin.

Brevity:
The Prophet I know spoke softly and briefly. His last khutbah was a mere 430 words lasting a few minutes. He did not make long, fiery speeches.

Response to provocation:
The Prophet I know responded to abuse by prayer. When the people of Taif threw rocks at him, he responded by praying to Allah to give guidance to those who abused him.

Respect for Life:
The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran, the Book that equates " unjust killing of one person" with "the killing the entire humanity". It commands respect for life.

It is more important than ever for Muslims to make a serious effort to understand what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for and how he lived his life. The issues of education, faith, reason and compassion need to be understood in the light of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith. It is this understanding that will help guide the Ummah out of the deep crisis it finds itself in.

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