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Why Follow the Prophet to Be Successful?

Question and answer details
Dinshaw Irani
2014/11/26
Why is the seerah (the life) of the Prophet Muhammad the actual example to follow for leading a successful life?
Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine
Answer
Salam (Peace) Dear Dinshaw,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

As you may know, there are some Muslims who believe that, since the Quran is the word of Allah, there is no requirement for Muslims to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

After all, they say, whose words can be better than Allah's words? They say that Allah's word is above all else and that Prophet Muhammad was sent only to his own people to guide them back to the straight path.

Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of Allah. But if we only follow our own understanding of this Noble Book, without considering how Prophet Muhammad applied it in his daily life, we would be losing out on a huge opportunity to understand the Quran's true meaning and Allah's message to mankind. Who better to interpret the meaning of Allah's words than His beloved Messenger?

As Muslims, we understand that unlike us, Prophet Muhammad was infallible, inerrant, meaning that he was not subject to committing sins. This was the case for all prophets and messengers of Allah, from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon all of them).  

Whose example is better to follow than one who is not subject to sinning? In the Quran we read the verses that say what mean:

{What kept men back from belief when Guidance came to them, was nothing but this: they said, "Has Allah sent a man (like us) to be (His) Messenger?" Say, "If there were settled, on earth, angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for a messenger.} (Al-Israa' 17:94-95)

In Allah's infinite wisdom, He sent a human being, like us, for us to follow as an example so that we would have a practical and realistic role model: one who laughs and cries as we do, one who feels pain and joy as we do. This verse reminds us that we should be careful not to fall into the mindset of those before us who went astray.

If we read the Quran carefully, we find many reasons to follow the Prophet's example in our daily lives:

{You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.} (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

{And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbids, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal} (Al-Hashr 59:7)

Prophet Muhammad is a source of fully understanding Allah's commands found in the Quran.

If we look at the most important pillar of Islam, declaring the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith), for example, we see that in it we testify not only that Allah is One, but also that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.

Why not merely testify to Allah's oneness? The reason the Prophet is mentioned in the Shahadah is the importance of Muhammad as a guide for mankind.

Another reason for following the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is related to the five daily prayers. We find commands from Allah to perform them at different times of the day and night:

{And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night; surely good deeds take away evil deeds this is a reminder to the mindful.} (Hud 11:114)

{Establish regular prayers — at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.} (Al-Israa' 17:78)

How will we know, for example, what it means by the prayers "in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night"? How should these prayers be performed? How long are they?

It is only by the sound guidance of the beloved Prophet that we can perform these duties to Allah in the way that pleases Allah best. We cannot perform prayers at times that are unacceptable to Allah, and we cannot perform them in ways that are not in accordance with what Allah deserves.

Being a messenger and receiving revelation from Allah makes Muhammad the best source of this information.

Another simple example highlighting the importance of following the Prophet's example is the requirement we have as Muslims to perform ablution before prayers. In the Quran we find the following verse that says what means:

{O you who believe! When you prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from offices of nature, or you have been in contact with women, and you find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete His favor upon you, that you may be grateful.} (Al-Ma'idah 5:6)

Here, we are commanded to wash our faces, hands, forearms, etc. How many times should we wash them? How much water is enough? If there is no water available, how do we "wash" with sand or earth and still be clean? This of course can only be explained by following the example of Prophet Muhammad.

So as we can clearly see that to follow Prophet Muhammad's example is to follow Allah's commands.

Allah Himself has described Prophet Muhammad as the best role model for us to follow. Allah and His angels send praises upon him, and He commands us to do the same:

{Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O you who believe! Call for Divine blessings on him and salute him with a becoming salutation.} (Al-Ahzab 33:56)

Prophet Muhammad's life experiences are full of lessons for us in dealing with the many trials we face on a daily basis. Muslims faced oppression in the Prophet's time and this continues today. Muslims were betrayed from within their ranks and this continues today.

We do business in much the same way as it was done in Muhammad's time. Personal relationships also have not changed much.

People are still people and are affected by the same weaknesses. If we stick close to the Prophet's example and follow his guidance in all matters, we will have the best chances for success in this life and, more importantly, in the life to come in the hereafter.

I hope this has helped to clarify things for you. Please keep in touch.

Salam.

Useful Links:

The Model of the Prophet

Why Prophet Muhammad Is Mentioned in the Shahadah

The Seal of Prophets

Owing Respect to the Prophet

Status of Prophet Muhammad

Manners of the Prophet: A Brief Account

Is Following Sunnah Mandatory?

Why Do We Follow the Sunnah?


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