There is a big difference between personality and character ethics, but many people do not have any idea on the reality of the outstanding difference between the two subjects.
Personality temporary as it depends on the psychological environment that a person is exposed to, whereas character is permanent and it is not affected in any way by the psychological environment.
However, character ethic, which ought to be dominant, is not always dominant in most people due to their strong personalities.
Psychologists argue that this hypothesis underscores the main reason why many people are not successful and cannot influence the world.
In the light of this realization, Prophet Muhammad, despite his physical challenging environment, had a strong character ethic that dominated his personality, which made him a legendary Muslim leader (Robinson 188).
Brockopp (83) notes that Muslims believe that Muhammad was a prophet of God as well as a messenger, but he is assumed to have been stronger and more influential than all other prophets were.
To the Muslim community, Muhammad is an influential icon just like Jesus is to the Christian community. He is believed to have been born in 570 CE and his real name is assumed to have been Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad in Arabic, which is transliterated as Muhammad.
Even though God used many prophets to deliver messages to his people, Muhammad is believed to have been the last and the most influential, as evidenced by his initiation of the Quran writing.
Non-Muslims refer to Muhammad as the founder of the Islamic religion, but Muslims believe that he is not the founder of the Islamic religion, but rather he was a follower because he too was an Islam.
In addition, Muslims took him as a restorer of the unaltered faith of Adam, Abraham, and other prophets like Elijah and Jesus.
According to Lapidus (78), Muhammad rose from humble beginnings to become a legendary leader of the Islamic religion just like Jesus in the case of Christian community.
Influence of Muhammad’s Personality and Character Ethics
Muhammad is strongly believed to have been born in about 570 CE, as there is no solid evidence of his birth date in the Quran or other books, in the Arabian city, Mecca. He was born to a poor family living in the desert and worst still lost his parents at a tender age.
His uncle, Abu Talib, brought him up in the same city. At an early age, he portrayed a strong character ethic of independence and desire to do things his own way and that disposition pushed him into business.
Despite being a young merchant, he was still a shepherd and looked after his uncle’s sheep and camels. At the age of twenty-five, Muhammad was already married and he was one of the wealthiest young men in Mecca.
His character ethic of independence from other people’s normal way of doing things gave him a chance to retreat to the caves in the mountainous environment where he would carry out his periodic prayers.
Other people that were close to him understood his personality and always allowed him to do things his own way, which illustrates that they admired his way of life and doing things since his young age and the reason he had a great multitude of followers (Brown 90).
He continued to carry out his prayers in seclusion and at the age of forty, he first came across the first God’s revelation in his life. He continued to have the revelations for a long time, but he did not reveal them to anybody until three years later.
Looking into the religious beliefs of numbers in the Christian faith, Jesus preached for three years, but he did not have revelations like in the case of Muhammad, as Jesus was God himself according to Christians.
Hence, Muhammad’s three-year period of revelation before publicly preaching the same is taken as a true hypothesis.
In his first preaching known to the Muslims, he insisted on the oneness of God the Creator and noted that humans are fully supposed to submit to His perfect will, as it is pleasing to Him.
In addition, Muhammad proclaimed himself a messenger and prophet of the true God, which he professed, but noted that he was the same as other Islamic prophets that existed before him.
The closest people known to him did not hesitate to believe him due to his ‘strange’ personality and character ethic since early childhood.
In addition, he was known to be a sober person who was also humble and he lived according to his standards. Hence, to them, he could not have lied of revelations and the proclamation of the true God.
Since his first public proclamation of God and his anointment as a prophet and messenger of God at the age of forty-three, Muhammad changed his lifestyle for good.
He stopped his old way of life in which he was a merchant and a shepherd and started preaching and prophesying (Peters “The Quest of the Historical Muhammad” 297).
His conversion was not a surprise to the people close to him, and thus they followed him with less resistance, hence forming part of his few followers as he kick-started his mission. However, some tribes in his home region of Mecca met him with hostility to a near point of persecuting him.
They argued that prophets of God could not have come from his tribe and that he was opposing the principles of the ruling elites through his preaching, which could result in public anarchy.
However, Muhammad did not bow to the threats. His personality ethic was unshaken in the face of threats and he continued to proclaim One God and argued people to follow him.
Comparing his life to that of Jesus Christ, there are numerous similarities, as Jesus too had to flee to Egypt together with his parents in order to escape persecution from King Herod.
Muhammad faced numerous challenges in Mecca to a point that he had to escape persecution by migrating to Medina. However, before he had emigrated from Mecca, he had gained numerous followers and he sent some of them for preaching mission to Abyssinia.
These occurrences are believed to have been in the year 622 CE. This move was inspired by his strong personality and desire to fulfil his mission whereby despite the death threats and other challenges, Muhammad continued to carry out his mission even to regions beyond Mecca.
Muslims are inspired by his zeal in the execution of his mission to the God’s people and this event is found in the Islamic calendar and marked as the Hijra and due to its great significance to the faith, it marks the beginning of a new Islamic year.
In addition, Medina was also not a peaceful region for his mission due to tribal prejudice, but he worked tirelessly to bring the separated tribes together under the law stipulated in the Medina Constitution.
His ability to bring the tribes together offered him a great opportunity to preach and prophesy the God’s will to the people, which resulted in an increase in the number of his followers.
After gaining more followers in Medina, Muhammad felt inspired to get back home and preach to people based on the belief that he could overcome the ruthless reaction of the tribes through battle.
The tribes of Mecca worshiped idols and this practice had contributed to the heightened roughness of the people towards the God’s prophets. Hence, Muhammad wanted to change that culture, destroy the idols, and preach the message of one true God to his people (Peterson 89).
On getting back to Mecca, together with his followers, tribes of Mecca opposed them with fierce battle that they retaliated and continued fighting for over eight years.
By the eighth year of fighting, Muhammad’s followers had grown to over ten thousand people in Mecca, which enabled them take control of Mecca in a peaceful conquest. Thereafter, Muhammad then destroyed the idols that the tribes of Mecca worshiped across the entire region.
He also proclaimed the God’s message to his people without their resistance. He later returned to Medina after staying in Mecca for about ten years where he is believed to have fallen ill immediately after his return before he died.
However, “he died as a true legend of faith where many people in the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam; in addition, he managed to unite Arabia into the Islamic religious polity” (Brockopp 81). Hence, the Muslims view him as the founder of today’s United Arab Emirates.
Muhammad as Seen in the Quran
According to the Quran, the name Muhammad refers to someone who is praiseworthy and is found to have been used for four times. However, the Quran does not refer to him directly, but rather as a second person in which his name is also not used.
Instead, he is referred to as appellations prophet, messenger of God, or rather the announcer of God. However, Quran says that God made some of his servants excel above others and to that effect, Muhammad is the seal of all other prophets and hence the praiseworthy.
Hence, his character and personality ethic made him become praiseworthy in the Holy book, which he initiated its writing through his revelations.
Quran is “the holiest religious text of Islamic religion and believed by Muslims to represent the revelations that God revealed to Muhammad through angle Gabriel” (Brockopp 73).
However, Quran does not have historical background the life of Muhammad like is the case of bible having the history of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith. However, there are historical sources that talk about the history of Muhammad.
The Beginning of Quran Writing
Muhammad is believed to have been the initiator of the Quran writing. Going back to his early life, his character of isolating himself from other people’s activities and going to the caves in the mountains played a major role in the Quran writing process.
The Quran contains the revelations that he experienced while he prayed in the caves at the age of forties. He is believed to have “adopted the praying habit for several weeks in every year in a known cave on Mount Hira, which is near Mecca, his home region” (Ernst 67).
According to the Islamic beliefs, during one of his praying session the archangel Gabriel appeared to him in the year 610 and revealed God’s message to him. In that revelation, God commanded Muhammad to recite some verses that would later be written in the holy book of Quran.
However, Muhammad is believed to have revealed those revelations three years later to the public.
It is believed to have been a challenging moment for him as his wife Khadija and her Christian cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who lived with them after telling of his revelation on the mountain, consoled him.
These are the only people believed to have known of the revelations before he publicly proclaimed them three years later (Ramadan 20).
In addition, even after being consoled by Khadija and Waraqah ibn Nawfal, Muhammad continued experiencing deep depression to a near point of committing suicide.
The thinking that people would dismiss his claims and refer to him as an evil-possessed person overcame his character ethic, which caused tremendous fear in his life. This argument explains why he took three years before publicly proclaiming one true God and his revelation on the mountain.
In addition, “the Islamic history tells that Shi’a tradition held that Muhammad was neither frightened by the appearance of the archangel Gabriel; on the contrary, he gave the angel a warm welcome as though he had expected him” (Dakake 75).
This argument contradicts the idea of him being depressed after the revelation.
Adherents of this theory also explain the three-year period silence as a period of prayer that Muhammad had to take in order to acquire spiritual strength and that period ended with a revelation in which God commanded him to continue preaching.
Going by the two arguments, his preaching is written in the Quran together with his revelations. Hence, he initiated the writing process of Quran where his warning of unbelievers is directly proportional to what he preached.
However, Dakake (89) notes that due to communication breakdown between his lifetime and the period at which Quran was written, his preaching together with revelation appears to have been manipulated and that is why he is often referred to as the third person.
Islam traditionalists believe in the idea that the closest persons to Muhammad were the first to believe in his revelations and that he was a God chosen prophet.
The first persons must have been Khadija and Ali ibn Abi Talib, who are believed to have comforted him during his depressed moments. Others are believed to have been Zaid, his adopted son, and closest friend, Abu Bakr, with whom they spend much time shepherding.
The little support that he got from his family and close friends enabled him to begin the public preaching in Mecca where many opposed him violently (Peters “The Monotheists” 67).
Interestingly, Islamic history holds that the first followers of Muhammad were mostly the poor people, young family members of great merchants with whom they had traded, and people who had failed to attain the highest ranks of their tribal ruling.
His preaching condemned idol worshipping, which was the norm of inhabitants of Mecca, and thus it them feel insulted, as it had been the norm for many generations.
With time, his followers increased rapidly to the point where he divided them into sub-groups and sent them to foreign missions across different regions.
The rapid increase of his followers is said to have threatened the local merchants and the ruling elites, who then tried to convince him to abandon his new faith, which he refused.
The residents of Mecca started retaliation by killing some of his followers, which threatened his persecution and made him flee to Medina, where he continued to preach and win more followers.
However, the increased cases of persecution in Mecca did not stop him from preaching and condemning the worshiping of idols. His followers continued to increase and the majority are believed to have been inspired by his consistent character of standing for the truth.
In conclusion, Muhammad is a true religious icon to the Islamic religion. His personality and character ethics played a major role in his preaching and initiation of the Quran writings, in which his revelations are written.
Since his early childhood, his character ethics enabled him persevere numerous challenges after losing his parents and being adopted by his uncle. With such a strong character, he ventured into trade at an early age after being introduced by his uncle.
However, his richness did not deter him from continuing with shepherding, and thus he got an opportunity to visit the caves on the mountains for prayers, where Archangel Gabriel found him for revelations. Hence, his character and personality became vital for his influence to the Muslims.
From the history of Muhammad, I have found him not only an Islamic religious icon, but also a world’s icon. Although historical evidences that exist about him have been manipulated by personal opinions, I find it reliable and it could be used for the elevation of his name.
His consistent personal character ethics contributed greatly to his conquering tribes in Mecca that had hitherto opposed him with violence. I greatly value such a character.
Brockopp, Jonathan. The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
Brown, Daniel. A New Introduction to Islam, London: Blackwell Publishing Professional, 2003. Print
Dakake, Maria. The Charismatic Community: Shi’ite Identity in Early Islam, New York: SUNY Press, 2007. Print.
Ernst, Carl. Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. Print.
Lapidus, Ira. A History of Islamic Societies, London: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Peters, Francis. The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, New York: Princeton University Press, 2003. Print.
Peters, Francis. “The Quest of the Historical Muhammad.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 23.3 (1991):291-315. Print.
Peterson, Daniel. Muhammad, Prophet of God, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Print.
Ramadan, Tariq. In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, London: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Robinson, David. Muslim Societies in African History, London: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.