Great aims, to be achieved, call for great sacrifices, and success in making a reality out of them comes at high cost. The greater the aim, the higher is the price one has to pay to realize it. Man’s struggle to free himself from the chains of slavery and tyranny is thousands of years old, and it has taken countless lives. The struggle goes on today as it did in the past, and its story is endless because the struggle itself is endless. Though Islam upheld peace in the world, it did not become viable without a struggle. It was, in fact, locked up, for 23 years, in a sanguinary struggle for survival, and just like the other great movements of emancipation, it also called for sacrifice. It is remarkable that Muhammad the Messenger of God and the Prophet of Islam did not imitate other leaders who push their followers into the flames of war in the name of “sacrifice” for an ideal. He himself was the first one to offer sacrifices for Islam. These are two out of many examples of sacrifice that called for great courage and great faith. But both from the qualitative and quantitative points of view, the sacrifices which Muhammad offered for Islam, remain unparalleled in history.
A distinction must be made here between material sacrifices and the sacrifices of life. Muhammad made both. He sacrificed all his personal comforts, and all his material possessions for the sake of Islam. This, of course, everyone knows. What is perhaps not so well known, is the fact that some of his nearest and dearest kinsfolk were killed in the defense of Islam. The relatives of Muhammad who made their lives an oblation for Islam.
Muhammad never made any attempt to be protective to his own loved ones. It were, in fact, his loved ones who were the foremost in taking up the challenge of an enemy. There was no one he loved more than Ali, and yet, the position of the greatest danger in every confrontation with the pagans in Makkah or in Medina was invariably reserved for him.The greatest sacrifices for Islam were all made by Muhammad and Ali.
Through revelation from God (Allah), Muhammad (peace be upon him) transferred humanity from obedience and submission to other men to the worship and submission to God alone, associating nothing with Him. Consequently, human kind became free from servitude to other than God, and this is the greatest honor for mankind.
Through revelation from God, Muhammad (peace be upon him) liberated the human mind from superstition, deception and submission to false objects of worship as well as those concepts contrary to reason, such as the claim that God had a human son whom He sacrificed to atone for the sins of humanity.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) lay the foundations for tolerance among people. In the Qur’an, God revealed to His Prophet that there is to be no compulsion in the acceptance of religion. Muhammad (peace be upon him) also clarified the rights of the non-Muslims who do not wage war against Muslims and guaranteed protection of their lives, children, property and honor.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a mercy sent by God to all peoples regardless of race or faith. In fact, his teachings include mercy even to birds and animals, and forbid harming them without right or reason.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) showed unparalleled respect for and appreciation of all the prophets who preceded him, among them Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). God revealed to him words to the effect that one who denies or disrespects any of the prophets cannot be a Muslim. Islam regards all of the prophets as one brotherhood, inviting people to the belief that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, who is the one true God.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) defended human rights for both males and females, for young and old, regardless of social status. He established a set of sublime principles; one example being in the speech he gave during his farewell pilgrimage in which he declared strict prohibition of transgression against people’s lives, property and honor. He laid down these principles long before the world knew of the Magna Charta in 1215, the Declaration of Rights in 1628, the Personal Freedoms Law in 1679, the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Human and Citizen Rights Charter in 1789, and the worldwide Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) elevated the importance of morality in human life. He called for good manners, honesty, loyalty and chastity and strengthened social bonds such as being dutiful to parents and relatives, always putting into practice what he preached. He prohibited and warned against such negative behavior as lying, envy, betrayal, fornication and disrespect of parents, and he treated the problems stemming from these diseases.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) presented to the world a perfect model of brotherhood among human beings. He taught that no race is superior to another for all are equal in origin and equal in their responsibilities and rights.