Da’Wah to Buddhists: The Compassion of Muhammad (pbuh)
by James Randall
Any thoughtful non-Muslim, especially one who has been indoctrinated by the wide spectrum of Islamophobic literature available in the media and on the world wide web, will no doubt need further explanation of the mentioned prophecy in Dhammapada Sutta 151, be they Buddhist, Christian or Atheist. One must therefore explain further on each of the three conditions of this prophecy, in his/her own manner accordingly, but here I will illustrate my own logic and appropriate response:
“Compassionate to the Whole of Creation”:
Among those who profess to be skeptics, this condition will certainly raise eyebrows, especially since so many non muslims are familiar with Muhammad (pbuh) being a “severe and brutal tyrant who used lies and threats to reach power”. If such were the case, it’d be hard to justify from a historian’s perspective, as there were liars and tyrants in pre-Islamic Arabia, but none so who were able to command the infinite respect and loyalty of the followers to the point where their message was being spread to the far reaches of the Earth by ye time of his death, at which point he was living in dire poverty.
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: the Messenger of God said: “There is a reward for serving any living thing.” – Hadith al-Bukhari 8:38.
If historical facts don’t persuade a da’ee’s listener (facts recorded not ony by Arabs but by Roman and Persian dignitaries, who were enemies to the Prophet and had no reason to lie), then his legacy will. True compassion is not merely an unending and all-forgiving love shown towards someone. Rather, like the love of a guiding parent, it is a love which is willing to chastise the learning child from committing wrong, and by dealing with total justice ad impartiality. The message of Muhammad (pbuh) never sought to overthrow or usurp the old laws of the Jews as brought by their previous prophets, as did the message of Jesus (pbuh), as both sought out to renew and revive the original message given to Adam and his wife Eve.
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of God said: “When God created the creation, God inscribed upon the Throne, ‘My compassion overpowers My wrath.’” – Hadith al-Bukhari 9:501.
This message is not one of total love and forgiveness (as professed by modern Christians) or total law and restrictions (as eventually became the Jewish tradition). Rather it is one that prescribes the appropriate solutions to humanity’s problems, being realistic in outlining all of them as they are and not embellishing on any point. It prescribes the appropriate justice and laws which would best lead a society to a state of moral purity, if properly followed. True compassion isn’t submissive forgiveness of all, but rather it is impartial justice yet the encouragement of forgiveness. A loving parent exercises restraint to her child, such as when it touches a hot stove and doesn’t let go even when in pain. Often the truest love is one that is willing to show discipline to those one loves.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: ““It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.” – At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1011.
An example of this undying compassion of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is in the beginning of his mission in Mecca, when he faced great enmity from the people around him and even those who once loved him. One such person was a neighbor of his, a woman who lived in a house along a road he took every day into the city. Every morning when he did, this woman, who hated his message, would empty the house’s chamberpot onto the street below as the Prophet passed underneath. Every morning this pattern continued, him being covered with excrement every time he did. He never even altered his path nor complained, until one day when she wasn’t there that morning to throw out the chamberpot. His concern was so great that he went to the door of the house and knocked to find out what had happened. When a maid answered and asked who he was, he said he was a friend and asked where the woman residing here was. The maid led him to where she was, in another room where upon seeing him she was shocked. When he asked how her health was and stated his concern for her when she wasn’t there that morning, her eyes were filled with tears, and soon after she became a Muslim.
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: Someone urged the Messenger of God, “Call down a curse upon the idol-worshippers!” whereupon he said: “I have not been sent to curse. I have been sent as compassion.” – Muslim 6284.
Nevertheless, I’m sure a much better formulated response can be put together with more preparation, as these are just thoughts from the top of my head. If anyone has a better idea or response, feel free to mention it below in the comments.