When he lived among men and walked in the inhospitable streets of Makkah, they called him a liar, a soothsayer, a poet, a man possessed. When he invited them to reflect on the Message revealed to him that he may call people to the Straight Path chosen by their Creator for their own success, they called him a forger. When he warned them of the consequences of their denial and arrogance, they taunted him: "Bring on that which you promise, so that we know you speak truth".
They ridiculed him, called him names, tortured those who believed in his message, and finally drove him out of the sanctified city where his ancestors had lived for centuries. Then the One Who had sent him to all humanity with a final message helped him. He was invited to an oasis between the tracts of two lava hills where people flocked to him, loved and respected him, and where he lived among men and women who held him dearer than all else -- men and women who were ready to sacrifice everything they had for his sake. "May my father and mother be thy ransom, O Messenger of Allah," they would habitually say. But he demanded nothing for himself; only fidelity to an uncompromising Unicity of the One Who had shaped them in their mother's wombs and Who had provided sustenance for their lives and Who would resurrect them on the appointed day, to ask them how they had spent their fixed duration on this planet.
This is all he asked: an uncompromising fidelity to the One Who had sent him with the Book and Wisdom to purify them and lead them to a straight path filled with light, that he may give them an inkling of the bliss that awaits those who follow it and to warn those who wish instead to follow their own caprice. That is all. That is all he was to do in his life of sixty-three years, a life filled with intense devotion and prayers -- a life whose every moment was filled with remembrance of the Supreme and All-Mighty, Who had charged him with a task so heavy that it broke his back and filled him with a humility the like of which has never been experienced by any mortal.
And one day, when he was made victorious and had returned to his beloved city to once again circumvent the House built by two of his ancestors upon the express command of the Owner of the House Who had desired to place on earth a Sanctified abode so that men, women, and children could come from far and near seeking His pleasure, he told the multitude gathered around him that he held no grudge against them, that all their crimes of the Jahiliyah, all their disdainful acts of torture, oppression, and insults had been forgiven.
And when he was brought back a second time to the Sanctified House and its blessed environs, he asked the multitude whether or not he had conveyed the message and when the whole congregation affirmed, he raised his finger toward the sky and said, "Be my witness, O Allah, be my witness". Indeed, not only did he convey the message, but also lived it, literally, so that men and women and children could see what it means to live Islam.
And having conveyed His message, he chose the company of the One Who had sent him with the most Noble Message which is available to all humanity in the form of a protected Book -- which cannot be destroyed or distorted -- and in the form of his example which he left behind for all to see. He knew, however, that not everyone would follow it; he also knew it was not in his power to make all human beings accept the message of the One Who gave humans a choice between living a life of sanctity, uprightness, and full of consciousness of their Creator and thus enter an everlasting bliss or choose otherwise. And that is why he said my example is like the example of abundant rain which falls from the sky: some of it falls on soil which uses it and yields abundant produce, while some of it falls on soil which merely holds it for others and does not use it; and some of it falls on rocky terrain which neither uses it nor holds it for others to use. Such is the nature of human kind.
And now he resides in the ever-lasting Sanctity, far and above the reach of men. And little men attempt to ridicule him by drawing caricatures and think they can insult him while he remains above and beyond the reach of all men! And there are others to whom the love of profit is dearer than the love of the Prophet and who harvest a rich crop of dollars from the protests that follow -- but what a bitter harvest they harvest! And then there are those who are confounded by the uproar when the hearts of the believers are rent asunder with pain and suffering and they ask in astonishment: why all this fuss? And then there are those who silently pray in the dead of the night for these terrible times to come to an end, and then there are those who see the coming of the day when each soul will stand before a Just Ruler, with a record containing all their deeds, a record hanging on their necks, omitting nothing, and on that day they will really be astounded.
But alas, then there will be no return, no way to come back to this temporary abode where they would wish to erase the deeds committed in the terrible recesses of their caprice.
Such is our lot. Such is our condition, at this time when time itself is drawing to an end.
Muzaffar Iqbal is the President of Center for Islam and Science (www.cis-ca.org )