One thousand and fourteen hundred years ago, the call to prayer echoed across Arabian sands for the first time. Today the exact same words are heard in hundreds of countries around the world five times each day. The world through which those words resound has changed and evolved immeasurably since then, but it seems that the world's understanding of what those words represent remains acutely distorted.
September marked the holy Day of Arafah, the day of the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed's last sermon. The day that an illiterate bedouin man cemented his legacy in the future of the universe. The legacy is undeniable, its impact on our present day world unassailable, but what constitutes that legacy is perhaps one of the most fervently and widely debated concepts today.
His name is commonly associated with beheadings, bombings, female oppression and more recently, the rise of Islamist cults. Viewed from behind an exoticised, violent smokescreen reminiscent of orientalist depictions of Islam from the 19th century, there has evolved an entire new portion of vocabulary to describe Muslims and our ways, most words of which, people struggle to define. Since my school days, I have been questioned with regards to Mohammed's legitimacy as a prophet, but it was the black flags and bloodied hands of the so called Islamic State that prompted me to specifically examine the various facets of Mohammed's prophethood.
I will define Islamism as the belief that working towards an Islamic state is compulsory in Islam. If Prophet Mohammed were here today, would he be at the forefront of the machete brandishing 'jihadi's' recording footage for us in the West to watch as they defile populations?
Any bloodthirsty militant 'Prophet of God', with a view to world domination would most definitely use his final public address and scriptural offering to his followers in order to secure this global caliphate. His last sermon in particular, the words that would stay with Muslims as his ultimate and supreme offering would be far too juicy and potent an opportunity to miss out on with regard to his lifelong mission to propagate the universalisation of violence and female inferiority. Surely that's just common sense, no?
Let's take a look at what he actually said. Mohammed began by highlighting the importance of trust, honesty, justice and financial accountability amongst people, echoing the verse of the Quran;
"Whoever kills an innocent person, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind." (Qur'an, 5:32)
He spoke about workers rights and fair pay, about equality and human rights, condemning racism and discrimination. He prescribed prayer for spiritual connection and discipline, fasting for self control and empathy for those less fortunate, donating a fixed portion of ones income to charity and the pilgrimage of Hajj.
'What about women? He MUST have said something about women!' I hear you cry. Yes, he did indeed. He said that women have rights, just as men have rights. He ordered men to treat women with kindness and compassion, and said that the best among Muslims are those who are best towards their wives.
Nowhere did he mention earthly sovereignty. This unlettered man spoke of sophisticated economical and political systems, of welfare, of civil liberties, justice and equality for all, regardless of race or gender. Naturally, his final message was a verbal embodiment of the pluralistic and inclusive society he led in Madinah, and his words and actions are diametrically opposed to those of the Islamist mentality. His entire existence is antithetical to that of IS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and their like.
This man who lived to foster social cohesion and rights for all, who was humble and gentlemanly, would be heartbroken to see his name associated with these merciless animalistic cults. Every time an innocent human's life is brutally taken, every time a girl loses her childhood to rape at the hands of these soulless groups, their claim to Prophet Mohammed becomes even more absurd. There is no association more paradoxical than the Islamist narrative's with the man who's name they violate by their very reality.
Prophet Mohammed left no such barbaric constitutional policy document for any Islamic state, and the granting of 'divinely guided' status that Islamists crown their leaders with, contradicts the Islamic view that only Mohammed was divinely guided. The arguments that the Islamist ideology are founded upon are inherently flawed, and on closer historical inspection, crumble into pieces almost as non existent as their humanity.
So what went wrong? How has Islam been perverted and corrupted to such an unrecognisable degree? If the answer to this was a simple one, perhaps those in question would not be able to continue to violate and destroy. I believe it is a complex combination of factors, but that ultimately, the Islamist narrative is one constructed from manipulation, fabrication and falsification. Groups of people who try to legitimise their debauchery and sickness by raising it to a religious cause, others who fall prey to the facade of a glamorous struggle for something higher. Emotional emptiness, human fragility and the contorted idea of masculinity as sexual superiority and physical brutality, both of which could not be further from Mohammed's example.
If he was here today, I can say with certainty, Mohammed would condemn IS and their brethren. But he is not. And so I, along with millions of other Muslims, stand firmly against the Islamist narrative. To us, the call to prayer five times a day calls us to equality, justice and to serve those around us, just as the same words called Prophet Mohammed all those years ago, when it echoed through the Arabian sands.