(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 27
Muhammad is the one among the prophets the account of whose life is to be found in history. Born of the family of Ishmael, Muhammad had in him the prophetic heritage and before him that purpose to be fulfilled the prophecy of which had been made by Abraham, in the Old Testament. The prophet became an orphan in his childhood, and had known what it is in the world to be without the tender care of the mother and without the protection of the father when a child. And this experience was the first preparation for the child who was born to sympathize in the pain of others. He showed traces of the sense of responsibility in his boyhood, when looking after his cows. A cowherd came and said 'I will look after your herd, and you may go to the town and enjoy yourself. And then you must take charge of my cows and I will go there for some time.' Young Muhammad said, 'No, I will take charge of your herd, You may go, but I will not leave my charge.' The same principle he showed through his life.
Some say once, others say twice, others say three times, a miracle happened, that the breast of the prophet was cut open by the angels, and some say they took something away, and instantly his breast was healed. What is it? It is the poison which is to be found in the sting of the scorpion, and the teeth of the serpent, it is the same poison which exists in the heart of man. All manner of prejudice, hatred, bitterness, in the form of envy and jealousy, are the small expressions of this poison, which is hidden in the heart of man. And when this poison is taken away in some form or other, then it is the serpent with its beauty and wisdom, without its poisonous teeth, and so it is with man. Man meets with hardships in life, sometimes too hard to stand for the moment, but often such experiences become as higher initiation in the life of the traveler on the path. The heart of man which is the shrine of God, once purified of that poison, becomes the holy abode where God Himself resides.
As a youth Muhammad traveled with his uncle, who went to Syria on a business trip; and he knew the shortcomings of human nature, which have a large scope to play their role in the world of business, he knew what profit means, what loss means, what both mean in the end. This gave him a wider outlook on life, where he saw how one is eager to profit by the loss of another, the human beings live in this world no better than the large and small fishes in the water, who live upon one another.
When the time came to defend the country against a powerful enemy, young Muhammad stood shoulder to shoulder with the young men of his land, to defend his people in their most terrible strife. His sincerity in friendship, and honesty in his dealings endeared him too all those far and near who called him by the name Amin, which means trusty, or trustworthy. His marriage with Khadija showed him a man of devotion, a man of affection, an honorable man as a husband, as a father and as a citizen of the town he lived in.
Then came the time of contemplation, that time of the fulfillment of that promise which his soul had brought in the world. There came moments when life began to seem sad, with all the beauty and comfort it could offer. He then sought refuge from that depression in the solitude. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, for weeks sitting in the mountains of Ghar-i Hira, he tried to see if there was anything else to be seen. He tried to hear if there was anything to be heard, he tried to know if there was anything to be known.
Patient as Muhammad was, he continued in the path of the search after truth. In the end he began to hear a word of inner guidance, 'Cry on the Sacred Name of Thy Lord,' and as he began to follow that advice, he found the re-echo of the word his heart repeated in all things of nature; as if the wind repeated the same name as he did, the sky, the earth, the moon, and the planets, all said the same that he was saying. When once in tune with the infinite, realizing his soul one within and without, the call came that, 'Thou art the man, go forward into the world and carry out Our command, glorify the name of God, unite them who are separated, waken those who are asleep, and harmonize one with the other, as in this is the happiness of man.'
Often Khadija found Muhammad had covered himself with a mantle, that he might not see himself, trembling at the sight of the responsibility that was thrown on him. But she kept telling him, 'You are the man, a man so kind and true, so sincere and devoted forgiving and serving. It is your part of work to perform; fear not, you are destined to it by the Almighty, trust in His great power, in the end success will be yours.':
The day when Muhammad gave his Message, to his surprise not only the enemies, but the friends who were near and dear to the prophet turned against, would not listen to a new gospel taught. Through the insults and the harm and injury they caused him and those who listened to him he still continued, in spite of being exiled from home three times, and proved in the end, as every real prophet must prove, that truth alone is the conqueror, and to truth belongs all victory.