The Islamic Call is based on loving others as one would love oneself. Therefore, it targeted the whole world out of love and mercy.
We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures. (HQ: 21: 107)
We have sent you to the entire mankind (HQ: 34: 28)
O Messenger, convey that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you would not have conveyed His message. And God will protect you from the people, and God does not guide the unbelieving people (HQ: 5: 67)
Spreading the word of truth was a task that The Prophet (PBUH) had to fulfill as the Divine commanded him. That message, which he had to convey, reached his heart even before the Revelation. With the Revelation, it turned to be a responsibility.
Read by the name of thy Lord who created, He created man from a glot. Read for your Lord is the Most graceful, He taught man all that he did know before (HQ: 1-5).
After the Revelation The Prophet (PBUH) was commanded by the Divine to convey His call to The Prophet’s nearest relatives:
And admonish thy nearest kinsmen (HQ: 26; 214)
Then the messenger of Allah was commanded to spread the word of truth to a wider circle. The main idea of the Call was to reach those who search for truth and enlighten those who were going astray. As a messenger of Allah, he had to convey the message to the widest possible circle.
The main core of the Revelation (as previously discussed) was to educate people about the purpose of their own existence and to teach them how to relate themselves to Allah. Never did he use power of any kind to force people, those who were very close to him, to follow the teachings.
No compulsion in religion (HQ: 2: 256).
Out of the conviction, as the Holy Qur’an revealed, that all Revelations are considered different expressions of the one Religion of Islam, it was not the prime goal of The Prophet (PBUH) to lead People of the Book to convert to his creed, rather he meant to explain to them the original teachings of Moses (PBUH) and Jesus (PBUH) as revealed to him by the Divine.
The confusion that prevailed in the minds of Muslims and non-Muslims about the stand of Islam towards other revelations, among other things, is due to the way they approached The Prophet's life. The shallow reading of The Prophet's life confuses different situations, focuses on certain aspects and forgets the others.
With the reading presented herein, those who claim that establishing an Islamic power was the main goal of the Call, may see clearly that power had never been in the mind of The Prophet (PBUH) . Others, who think that the stage of Macca represents a temporary strategy of peace, may find out how grave mistake they are committing.
While it is true that the Islamic Call carried by The Prophet (PBUH) was gaining more ground and becoming more powerful in time, that was a natural outcome of a religion that gives the belief in Allah living dimensions. By the very nature of faith in Allah, the individual human being can challenge the political authority, may attempt also to change the social milieu of his/her society, fearing nothing but the power of the Truth. Naturally, rulers who dominated their peoples would hate to see that they had no control over their subordinates. That was the reason why masters of Quraish perceived the call that Muhammad (PBUH) was carrying as threatening to their power. Consequently, they missed the core of the message and turned the conflict to the political ground.
For them, the Muslims' opening of Macca was a political victory to The Prophet (PBUH) , and they came to acknowledge their defeat by converting to Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) did not intend to revenge from them or force them to convert to Islam. When he told the inhabitants of Macca, "go, you are set free", he meant it, regardless of whether or not they became Muslims.
In this section, we are going to introduce our approach to how we read The Prophet’s life, pointing to common mistakes that led to distorted understandings of Islam’s teachings. Having come to a stand where we approach and try to understand the basic principles of that Call, we are going to deal with three themes that we consider crucial in appreciating that Call. First, we consider that witnessing that there is no god but God is the corner stone of that Call, it is the way for man to reach her/his highest rank as Servant of God and realize her/his humanness. This is the common call among all revelations and therefore it is the base for a “common term” and The Prophet’s dialogue with the Jewish, Christians and even the infidel of Macca. It meant to bring the whole world together to live in peace, and that is the reason, which stood beyond sending envoys to the great empires of his time. The second theme is connected to the first; for the outcome of gathering people around a “common term” would lead to peace among all nations. Peace in the Islamic Call does not have a mere political dimension. It is the fruit of spiritual achievement. That is, peace overwhelms the world when it spreads from within each human soul. That could happen when human beings are liberated from illusions in all its forms, that is, when they practice the belief in One God. That is the reason why peace is connected to the Great Struggle al-Jihad al-Akbar, which is directed to overcome the lower self. Struggle Jihad is intrinsically related to peace not war as commonly debated. Even when one is obliged to stop the act of aggression, one should purify her/his heart from hatred, lust for revenge, and anger, and take the action of fight as an obligation to defend Truth, with the ultimate goal of spreading peace. As a matter of fact Islam came as to stop the prejudice that was based on tribes’ self pride assabeyya, which stood behind counter wars that would have never stopped, if Islam did not come with its call for peace. Because of this emphasis on peace, one should treat people from other religious affiliation with love and tolerance. Tolerance as an essential aspect in the Islamic Call, is the third theme that is discussed in this section. A Muslim should transcend the differences and look to the common when s/he seeks friendship with people who belong to different cultures or beliefs. Even in case of conquering other nations that chose to fight Muslims, Muslims should be compassionate and understanding and attempt to erase bitterness and hatred from the hearts of those who were conquered. In a society where other people from different creeds live with Muslims, they should allow them to practice their rites and worship system freely and respect their way of life.
Before handling the above-mentioned three themes, it is of a paramount significance to point to the approach we adopted in reading the dimensions of The Prophet's way of carrying on the Call. Our point of departure revolves around the belief that: first, it is only possible to grasp true meanings of The Prophet’s sayings and deeds when a person awakens her/his insight to perceive beyond those sayings and actions on their literal level. Reading the life of The Prophet (PBUH) hence involves spiritual dimensions, not merely an academic discipline. It is not claimed that those understandings are final because the more one seeks purity of the heart, the more one can see. So, it is a continuous struggle to receive knowledge from reading the life of The Prophet (PBUH) .
Second, although reflecting upon The Prophet’s life is mainly accomplished through continuous purification of the heart, the credibility of the concluded knowledge depends on its consistency with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, and the homogeneity and coherence of all The Prophet’s sayings and deeds. In other words, The Prophet's life, his sayings, the Holy Qur’an, and the sequence of events are interrelated and describe one another. The inter-link can be found if we sincerely and purely search for it. Once an event, a holy verse, or a prophetic saying is taken out of context and dealt with separately, the message is twisted, and the meaning is distorted. What we mean by "context(s)" herein is not limited to the textual, social and political milieu alone, but also the spiritual evolvement of the Call, its core guidance, and its ultimate goal.
It is of prime importance to see any sayings or actions in relation to the core of the Call. This is a tiring spiritual training where the core point of one's existence should be reached in order to find the whole, and integrate the scattered guidance from within. That strife to understand from within diminishes what seemingly appear as contradicting statements or conflicting events.
Third, no generalization should be taken as a result of literal understanding of texts or events. That can cause more harm than benefit. Those who depend on definite verses or sayings of The Prophet (PBUH) to justify their rights to use violence against non-Muslims, twist the meanings by overlooking the main principles of the teachings that Muhammad was a living example of. It should be clear that each advice of The Prophet (PBUH) would work according to the circumstances, no one advice should be generalized absolutely or ignored completely. The point that should be clear is that in Muhammad's time people joined Islam out of free will.
Fourth, it must be clear that there are phases in the life of The Prophet (PBUH) and that each phase did not contradict with the other ones, rather it provides us with messages and visions that integrate with the main principles of the Call. Many people tend to ignore The Prophet’s life Macca and focus on the establishment of the Islamic state in Madina, so they reach false conclusions about the goals of the Call.