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Introduction

Many of the people within the Arabic world will bear witness to the fact that Hayat Muhammad is known within the Arabic world. It is a book that offers insight about the life of the Prophet and all that he performed while still on the earthly pilgrim. The life of Muhammad as presented by Haykal is quite long and strange and the following paper seeks to make comparison between what it talks about with regards to the life of the prophet as well as with what the movie the messenger talks about. There have been various versions on how people get to understand Islam. The messenger is a movie about the challenges that the prophet had to encounter in life. For instance, the movie highlights how the prophet had to come into contact with the powerful leaders of his time and who were fond of several injustices. It is this injustice that the prophet had vowed to fight. Some of the various forms that are manifested in the movie include cruelty, drunkenness as well as slavery. It is in the movie that the Prophet advocates for the message of Allah and how he wanted his people to live. This, however, was met by various resistances from the people.

Haykal talks about the life of the prophet and how he matured into a warrior championing the laws of Allah. Prophet Muhammad, whose full name was Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, was born in 570 CE in Mecca (Mekkah). He was son to Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Muttalib (Abdullah) and Aminah bint Wahb. His father passed on a few weeks before his birth in Yathrib (Medinah) while his mother died while his mother died when he was only six years old when on a return journey from Medinah (Haykal 6). The same sentiments are shared in the video which depicts the life of Muhammad in Mecca. According to ancient Arabic custom, Muhammad was taken charge of by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib. Long before the birth of Muhammad, 'Abd al Muttalib had become an influential leader of 'Quraish' Arab tribe in Makkah besides being the caretaker of the Holy Sanctuary – the Ka'bah. After the death of his grandfather a couple of years later, young Muhammad was taken up by his uncle Abu Talib who was a merchant (Haykal 7). Prophet Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael, son of Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim). It is worth noting that the society in which Prophet Muhammad was born was in state of great moral, social, religious and social chaos.

It is worth noting that there is some fundamental resemblances that Muhammad Husayn Haykal highlights and which are also reflected by Michael Cook. One of the sources that Haykal has heavily quoted so as to support his facts is from the Holy Quran. In addition to this, Haykal relies on the life of Muhammad in the Hadees, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammad which was written by Abul Fadl. Muhammad, the Holy Prophet, which was a book written by Ahmad Fazl has also been used to address some of the issues raised by Michael Cook in his book. Other notable sources that have been employed include the living thoughts of the prophet Muhammad that was written by Ali Muhammad, A critical plxaniination of the life and teachings of Mohammed written by Ali, Syed Ameer and The Spirit of Islam, A History of the F’volrttion and Ideals of Islam among other sources.

There are different problems that have been raised by Michael Cook in his book

One of the issues that have been raised by Michael Cook is that Arabs were a fragmented society probably because of the existence of the Byzantium Empire. This was the main reason why they were divided between the settled and nomadic society. This is why the prophet is usually referred to as a monotheist prophet. Haykal (69) also refers to the relations of the Prophet as an ethical monotheist of the pre-Islamic times in reference to Waraqah ibn Nawfal. This highlights that the prophet was already characterized with the monotheist beliefs. One of the issues that have been raised by Michael Cook is on the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

However, Cook tries to justify the date as being the year 570AD based on the activities that were taking place in Medina and Mecca. Haykal (52) on the other hand supports the same date that has been given by Cook but state that the prophet was born around 570CE. It is worth noting that both Cook and Haykal agree that the prophet was indeed born during this period in time but also highlights the fact that several historians have as well disregarded this fact. The film the message does not however detail about the birthplace and the events that surrounded the birth of the Prophet. Therefore, it is difficult to tell when the prophet was born based on the film. In addition to this, the film is characterized with most of the opposition that the Prophet had to go through.

There have been various challenges in terms of interpreting the life of the Prophet Muhammad. For instance, many accounts which Islam depend on today about the life of the Prophet has been written down from Ibn Ishaq. Cook notes that the book was composed by collecting several oral traditions from previous eye witness accounts and this may be the main reason why it is believed to be authentic. On the other hand, Haykal (74) notes that there are conflicts about the age of the prophet at one particular time with Ibn Ishaq stating that he was thirty five while receiving the important mission while other accounts acknowledge his age to be twenty five years. Despite these conflicting views and opinions about the Prophet, it is important to acknowledge that both Cook and Haykal agree that most part of the Prophet’s life is recorded in Ibn Ishaq. The significance of Ibn Ishaq as a credible source about the life of the Prophet has been noted down because the various people who gave information and account have been quoted below the phrase. This therefore makes the study of the Prophet Muhammad based on his early life by using the two books authentic. It is however, partially mentioned when one is looking through the film, the message.

The other point of contention that has been reflected in the two books is about the origin of Islam. Cook mentions that there are those who accept that the life of the Prophet through studying the writings in Ibn Ishaq, can well explain how Islam came into origin. The idea here has been supported by the Maximalists who believed that the oral tradition was passed down from one generation to the next. Haykal (3) also notes that the problem of the origin and development of human civilization continues to be a great challenge for several students. However, Haykal (30 gives a better understanding with regards to how Islam came into being, with an illustration of Arabia before the human civilization. The film can now be used to well document the events and how they happened, without having to read through the various stories. This is a point where the film and the two books are in complete agreement.

The film notes that it was in the 7th century in Mecca when the Prophet was visited by the vision of Angel Gabriel. It was from this scene that the Angel passed on the message that he was to lead the people of Mecca so as to banish the 300 idols of Kaaba. It is this message that many, including Cook and Haykal agree as the beginning of problems that were to later on haunt the Prophet to the rest of his life. Mecca was being ruled at that time with leaders who were corrupt and not ready to heed to what God wanted of them. Haykal (593) agrees that most of the problems that were being experienced in Mecca during the time of the Prophet were because the ulama who were to follow in the footsteps of the Prophets were preferring to have power as compared to the truth. For instance, Haykal (593) notes: “This corruption is attributable to the fact that a number of ulama who are normally expected to be the heirs of the Prophets, preferred power to the truth.”

The other great challenge and which has been disputed about the traditions of Islam as noted by Michael Cook is on the hadiths. Cook notes that the hadiths were solely complied by Buhari in 870AD as a way of enhancing the understanding of Islam. According to the minimalists, Hadiths should not be used within Islam to understand about the life of the Prophet. This is because most people continue to question whether they are genuine or not. Hadiths have been termed to be controversial just like the film messenger which depicts the prophet in another form. Haykal (26) states that hadiths have been subjected to various studies due to its content with great Muslim scholars coming into agreement about the basis of its message. According to Haykal, hadiths were subject for strict analysis before any message could have been taken as being the truth. The other great challenge that has been raised about the writings of Haykal with reference to Cook is on the miracles. There are no other proofs about the miracles that were performed by the Prophet Muhammad other than those which have been reflected by the Holy Quran.

Therefore, the arguments that have been listed forth by Haykal with regards to the Prophet and miracles should be disregarded. The idea of miracles have also been raised by Cook who states that the Quran has highlighted the Prophet as a normal human being who was only a messenger but this is greatly disputed by the hadiths which mentions that the Prophet was able to perform miracles. Most of the arguments that is being highlighted by Cook is that the Quran was quite complex and the believers could not understand its great significance without translation. This is why the hadiths had to simply the content and reflect the Prophet as being a person with supernatural powers. Haykal seems to be supporting the concept of the hadiths in claiming that the Prophet had super natural powers an issue that is objected to by Cook in his book.

The film the messenger also portrays the Prophet under greats struggles

In the effort to secure his safety, the Prophet first thought of fleeing to the hill town of Taif which was some forty miles from Meccas. However, it proved futile because the people of the town greatly mocked and snubbed him. Worse still, he was badly injured by children who had been incited to throw stones at the Prophet. At that point in time, Prophet Muhammad had been struggling to spread the message for roughly a decade. However, a modest number of people had embraced it, mostly the lowly. In this respect, the bulk of his followers were the rejected, the weak, the disadvantaged, the slaves including the slaves, minority tribes together with women (Haykal 40). Therefore, it would not be misplaced that the Prophet even lacked the material support to carry forward his preaching to many other people. These highlights the great resistance that the Prophet had to face. This concept has been reflected by Cook and Haykal while talking about the struggles he had to go through.

As a blessing in disguise, the neighboring Medina city was experiencing strife. At the time Medina city was an oasis located 250 miles north of his native city of Mecca. The prophet was popularly known in the Medina city because of his demonstrated fairness and honesty. As such the feuding factions invited him to Medina to help find a truce.

Faced with an imminent threat to his life in Mecca, the Prophet could not resist a chance to flee Mecca for Medina. The Prophet asked his followers to secretly slip into Medina ahead of him. By the time the rest of the people of Mecca came to know of what had happened, majority of the Prophet's supporters had already settled in Medina. However, some fleeing Muslims were captured by Pagan Quraysh and brought back to Mecca to face torturous torments along with severe punishments. In 622 Prophet Muhammad accompanied with seventy Muslims and their respective families journeyed from Medina to Mecca, which came to be commonly known as hijra (emigration). The leaders of Qur'aish had declared a reward of one hundred camels on the Prophet, whether dead or alive, after discovering of his escape from Mecca. To many Muslim believers, 622 begun the Muslim Calendar and represents the response of humanity to God's message. While in Medina, led by Prophet Muhammad, Muslims formed the umma or the new community of believers. An increasing number of people of Medina embraced Muhammad as God's Prophet. There he put up his first mosque where the believers worshiped and prayed to Allah. Soon enough, Prophet Muhammad faced the challenge of the growing needs of the emigrants who had come with him to Medina from Mecca (called the Muhajirun). There was great need for booty along with supplies in order to sustain the quickly impoverishing Muslim community. As such Meccan caravans were molested by small expeditions. The Prophet also struggled with subduing fights that arose as a result of attacks on caravans at the beginning the sacred month of Rajab II.

In addition, the growing popularity of Prophet Muhammad did not go down well with most of the native people of Medina city, the Jewish. A number of Medina Jews begun mocking his beliefs. Prophet Muhammad worked to calm storm by urging his followers not to dispute with the “People of the Book” saying God was One. He employed a strategy of tolerating differences as seen in his accommodation of the Jews because of his respect of past Jewish prophets. In the effort to hold together his umma, however, the Prophet was forced to expel a couple of Jewish tribes. Also, his followers fought successful battles against much larger armies.

The first major battles in the history of Islam – the battles of Badr in 624 and Battle of Uhud in 624 - happened under able leadership of Prophet Muhammad not long after his emigration to Medina. The enemies of Islam stepped up their assault from all sides. With the backing of Jews and other Arabs, the nonbelievers attacked Prophet Muhammad and his Muslim followers. Many Muslim men died in the battles resulting in a great number of widowed Muslim women and numerous orphaned children. The early Muslim soldiers under the patronage of Prophet Muhammad were tribesmen highly accustomed to defending themselves against enemies. They were also lightly armed, besides being swift and mobile on their camels or horses. This explains why the Prophet and his army were triumphant in most of the battles they fought. It became evident that Prophet Muhammad was a flexible, pragmatic leader who was largely willing to negotiate and reach compromises as opposed to shedding blood. His undisputed military triumphs coupled with his shrewd diplomacy raised him as the most powerful man in the Arab world.

Thereafter, the war between Mecca and Medina broke out where the Prophet popularized the concept of Holy Wars (Jihad). This was the precipitated by the feeling of the Meccans that their trade was still being interfered with by the activities of Prophet Muhammad and his followers. Accordingly, the Meccans formed a coalition against Medina. Their large force assembled outside the town. However, the Prophet had prepared a trench beforehand a means to defend the people of Medina town from attack. This compromised the unity of the attackers were made to lay inactive for a long period of time and eventually began to wear out. The Meccans were finally dispersed by a raging storm of wind accompanied with rain (Khan et al, 26). It is worth noting that Prophet Muhammad and his follower's war with Mecca was neither a struggle for empire, wealth nor personal domination, rather it was a struggle for the survival of Allah's word.

About a year after the Battle of Allies (628 CE), the Prophet with a fleet of fifteen hundred followers left Madina for Mecca to perform the annual pilgrimage. However, they were forbidden from approaching the city of Hubaybiyah. Negotiations were made allowing them to come the following year. Two years later, the Qur'aish violate the terms of Hudaybiyah Treaty by support a surprise attack on Bani Khuza, an ally of Prophet Muhammad. This made the prophet declare jihad by marching to Makkah with a big army of Muslims totaling ten thousand. The army entered the city of Makkah without a fight and Prophet Muhammad exalted the name of Allah at the Ka'bah for enabling their entry into the Holy City (Haykal 34). This was followed by the cleansing of the Ka'bah and restoration of its pristine status for the worship of One True God.

Nonetheless, jihad lost its significant meaning of an internal struggle with passage of time because it became to mean the duty of every Muslim to take up a weapon against the enemy who attacks Muslims and Islam or as a means to do away with the disbelievers. The paradox that many leaders in Islam faced was the issue of having an external struggle without necessarily engaging in an internal struggle. This is what brought about the dual meaning of jihad as both a strive to become internally and externally perfect. This notion has come to be equated with the Christian belief in the words of Jesus Christ to the Pharisees that they must cleanse both the inside and the outside of the cup if they are to have a completely clean cup.

At the time of his death in 632, Haykal (34) notes that the Prophet Muhammad had strong foundations of the world's first Islamic state. He had done much to expand the Islamic state. The expansion of the religion resulted in spread of Islamic art, literature, architecture, law, and science throughout the empire. At the time of Prophet Muhammad, Arabia was a world with diverse cultures and beliefs. A great number of people were Christians or Jews while a significant others worshiped a host of different gods. As such it was not a piece of cake for Prophet Muhammad to spread his revolutionary message in form of the new Islamic religion. Majority of the people found it difficult to accept the new religion. Furthermore, the Prophet faced a number of persecution and hardship in both Mecca and Medina cities. At the initial stages, Prophet Muhammad was limited in his preaching because he had to do it secretly to only a small circle of relatives and friends. He encountered opposition when he started condemning the traditional polytheism because the Meccan elite perceived it as a threat to the economically profitable cult of the Ka'bba. As it would be imagined, public opinion against the Prophet was hyped to the extent of planning to assassinate him altogether. The same scene manifests in the movie the messenger.

The unceasing mockery and persecution he endured forced him to advise his follower to seek refuge in the Christian nation of Abyssinia, an aspect that manifest in both the book as well as in the movie. By and large, Prophet Muhammad struggled against the mighty Quraysh tribe of Mecca that dominated the city. The opposition was strong as it subjected the Prophet along with his followers to 10 years of persecution and had him fight them for another decade until he finally won. In summary, Prophet Muhammad's life was characterized by struggle – he struggle for recognition of his message and mission against the powerful ruling elite of Mecca. The prophet's struggle in Mecca as well as Medina was a struggle wayward nature of society. At the end, therefore, Prophet Muhammad achieved his objective of spreading the message of Allah to many a people including those in distant lands despite the incredible struggle he underwent in both Mecca and Medina

A look into analysis between the movie and the book highlights the fact that Muslims have always believed in Allah and all those who sufficiently practice good deeds will indeed receive salvation. In addition to this, Muslims believe that the person who observes all that the Prophet Muhammad taught and observed while still on earth will act as a passage to heaven. However, Muslims are encouraged that good deeds should accompany all that the prophet did and this includes a follower having to recite extra prayers (Haykal, the Message). One will also have an opportunity to see heaven if they undertake good works, go to pilgrimages such as the one performed in Mecca and fasting. Paradise is considered a worthwhile place and as a result, Muslims are always ready to die in order to act as martyrs and as a result see heaven. The strong views they have with regards to the Holy War or Jihad is an indication how Muslims value paradise and when they die as martyrs, they are most likely to have an opportunity to be in heaven.

Another great significance that can be learnt and which is a major similarity is based on the fact that women and men are not the same. In Islamic countries, the lack of women’s rights can be seen in the areas of parental authority. By Islamic law, the guardianship of the children lies solely with the father. In the event of a divorce, the women are only granted the custody of the children until the boys reach the age of seven and girls reach the age of eight. In the case of older children, the father is awarded all the children (Khan et al, 12; Haykal 30). In case the father is dead, the grandfather is given the custody of the children. Further, the women are only able to obtain divorce under very restricted circumstances. In practice, the various systems make it extremely difficult for women to obtain divorce. The right that is being abused in this case is the right to the freedom of association.

The women are not provided with the free space to choose how they terminate their relationships with their husbands and how they get involved with new husbands. Under normal circumstances, the terms of divorce should be based on the decisions of either the wife or the husband. However, the situation in Islamic countries makes it increasingly difficult for women to move out of their marriages. The treatment of women as minors has ensured that Saudi women have severely restricted freedom of movement. Women in most parts of the Islamic world need the permission of their husbands to move within their neighborhood. Women are not allowed to vote and they are not allowed to drive cars either. Besides, it is a requirement that women must be accompanied by a male relative when travelling within or outside their countries. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, there are strict rules that encourage segregation between men and women. For example, unrelated men and women are required to be segregated in all public places.

The discrimination of women can also be seen from the lack of religious rights

The women are forbidden from any physical contact with males who are not related to them. Religious positions, such as an Imam, are also strictly reserved for men. Besides places, the movement of women is also restricted by time. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to walk at night . Although the women are allowed to visit, libraries, museums, and shops they can only do so at specific times of the day.

The Middle East is one of the countries where women lead one of the strangest lives of constantly being treated as second-class citizens despite being referred to as hidden treasures by their men. They have been legally and politically disenfranchised and their liberties have also restrained by the legal guardians.

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