[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
“Indeed, the purpose of sending me (by Allah) is to establish and promote good conduct and character.”(Ahmed 8729 )
The route of the invitation to Islam by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ first passed through the establishment of an excellent character.
During the early days of Prophethood, Abu Dhar Ghifari, who lived in the outskirts of Makkah at that time, heard that a person from the city had claimed to have been appointed by Allah ﷻ as His Messenger. Abu Dhar Ghifari was curious to know about him, so he sent his brother to Makkah to get first hand information. His brother investigated and came back to report that, “He is inviting people to establish excellent character.” This was a non Muslim who visited Makkah, met the Prophet ﷺ and observed his excellent character. It made such a strong impression on him that he eventually embraced Islam.
The wisest advice of the wisest among the Arabs – The one who calls upon you to perfect your good character, must be speaking the truth!
Aksum bin Saifee was 350 years old according to some historical narrations. He had a wealth of knowledge and possessed deep analytical skills in studying the people of that time. His wisdom had elevated him to a very lofty status in the Arab tribes. He was also known as an impressive speaker among the Arabs and people listened to him attentively. The news of Prophet Mohammed ﷺ reached him as well. He was interested to meet the man who had claimed prophethood. The tribe did not allow him to travel all the way to Makkah because of his age and weakness, but Aksum insisted to travel and meet the man with the strange claim.
Finally, it was decided that he would himself appoint a delegation to represent him and send them in his stead. The wise old man called upon two of his trustworthy and insightful people, instructed them to travel to Makkah and meet the man who claimed to be the Messenger of Allah. The two representatives were given a set of three questions to present before the Messenger of Allah. The questions were very simple. The two men reached the Prophet and introduced themselves as the representatives of Aksum bin Saifee. The Prophet ﷺ was aware of the legendary Aksum. They presented him the three questions and were provided with precise and simple answers by Prophet Mohammed ﷺ .
A simple introduction; a major sign of good character!
- Who are you? - I am Muhammad bin Abdullah.
- What are you? - I am worshipper of Allah and I am His Messenger.
- What have you come with?
He recited, “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (An-Nahl, verse 90)
Both men requested the Prophet ﷺ to recite it again and again. There was no sign of irritation or displeasure on the face of the Prophet ﷺ nor did he refuse once. They made him recite till they memorised the verse completely. Then they took leave, but they stayed back to roam about in the streets of Makkah, investigating the public opinion about him. Everyone they met, paraised him and said that Mohammed (peace be upon him) was a remarkable person, and a descendant of a well known, well respected family. Everyone was skeptical as to why he was talking against idol worship.
Both men returned to Aksum and reported everything. They said that though his family was of a high status, the man did not boast about his lineage but introduced himself in just two words; Mohammed bin Abdullah. The duo were impressed by the humbleness of Prophet Mohammed ﷺ and shared the verse of the Qur’an that they had memorised.The moment Aksum heard the verse from his delegates, he jumped with joy and said to his people, “Indeed, this man is inviting people to a high status of character. O my people! Do not delay in accepting his Prophethood and lead the others to follow you.” Aksum had not met the Prophet personally but from what he heard, he concluded that whoever followed him and tried to attain such characteristics, would be the leader of mankind. He wanted his people not to delay accepting his message at all.
Aksum was eager to meet the Prophet ﷺ personally. So he left with a large group of his people to Makkah to embrace Islam. On the way to Makkah, some malicious people robbed them of their food and animals and destroyed their belongings. The entire group of people, which under favourable circumstances could have been the largest group to embrace Islam in the early days, met their death along with their leader in the dry, scorching desert. Only a few of them survived and made it to Makkah.
The wise man of Arabia, Aksum judged the Prophet’s ﷺ claim of prophethood to be true from his simple and precise answers. Simplicity and humbleness are also considered as parts of good character.