While Muslims may tire of feeling compelled to defend Islam or Muslims generally from criticisms that insult and slander the entire community, the desire to see the Prophet's good name not dragged through the rhetorical dirt is our strongest passion. Abdul Waheed Khan has offered his contribution to the apologia on behalf of the Prophet, and his book 'The Personality of Allah's Last Messenger' (published by IIPH) rises to that common wish.
The aim of the book is at the educated person who has been addressed with misinformed notions about the Prophet of Islam, and while for Muslims the testimony of the Qur'an and early Muslims is sufficient to know that as the Qur'an tells us our Prophet is 'on a majestic character' (Quran, surah al-Qalam, ayah 4), the slander and lies that persist give impulse to defend his honour by clearly stating our Prophet's virtues.
AbdulWaheed Khan insists that the Prophet was a human being, and yet divinely inspired with a noble and refined character. Just as in hadith (narrations) of hilye (Prophetic description), the noble Prophet's physical form is described, and there are also quotations from the Torah, Psalms, Vedas as well as Buddhist scriptures.
Step by step, AbdulWaheed Khan sets about describing the Prophet's life with his family, his social and political doings (emphasizing his kind treatment of women, and his insistence on not harming non-combatants, even trees and animals) as well as his noble treatment of those who despised and oppressed him. Our Prophet's tolerant behaviour towards non-Muslims, in particular the People of the Book, namely Jews and Christians, is emphasized in a section that may be addressed as much to some misguided 'militant Muslims' of today as much as the non-Muslim critics of the Prophet.
While the Qur'anic ayat (verses, or signs of revelation) are related that describe or address the Prophet, Khan also takes care to elaborate those Western writers who have praised the Prophet, and in his epilogue, he bemoans the 'indolence, ignorance and illiteracy' that plague the Muslim community of our day, ascribing these negative qualities to our love of worldly life and a lack of adherence to Allah and His Messenger. With strong footnotes and high production values, this book is brief yet adequate to the simple hope it aspires to: to offer a word in praise of the Prophet.
In closing this review, LastProphet would like to remember the words of the Qasidah Burdah Sharif of Imam al-Busiri, who said: "Leave what the Christians ascribed to the Messiah [Jesus, peace be upon him], and then you cannot praise him [the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him] adequately."