Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): An 'ordinary' human being?

Q515 :You have emphasized on several occasions that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an ordinary human being. It is well known that a person who accomplishes some extraordinary things is himself extraordinary. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received revelations from Allah, sent to heaven, met Allah and conversed with Him. How can he be projected as an ordinary human being? I fear that this might be a slip into disrespect. Please comment.

A515 : I have indeed said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was and continued to be an ordinary human being throughout his life. This is indeed what he has been required to declare to his people when they made absurd demands that he should accomplish some supernatural things to prove his prophethood. Allah instructs him in Surah 17 entitled "The Night Journey": "Say: limitless in His glory is my Lord! Am I anything but a human messenger?" The final verse of Surah 18 entitled "The Cave" gives this instruction to the Prophet: "Say: I am but a mortal man like all of you. It has been revealed to me that your God is the One and only God." In both the verses, the emphasis is placed on the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an ordinary human being, a mortal, who had been chosen for the noble task of being Allah's messenger. He himself made no claim whatsoever to being anything other than a human being who has been given a divine message to convey to mankind. If we were to claim that he had a superhuman status, should we not ask what status would that be? We can only think of an angel, or that of a god. Far being from him to make any claim to godhood. We should never contemplate for a moment that anyone, including Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), had any divine status of any sort. The only alternative would be that he was an angel. He certainly was not, because he had all the characteristics of human beings. Let us remember that angels have not been given the power to choose attitudes and actions. They simply "do not disobey Allah whatever He commands them, and they do what they are bidden." It simply does not occur to an angel to disobey. Human beings, on the other hand, have always the choice of doing what God likes them to do or of disobeying Him. This ability to choose is the distinctive quality of human beings, which enables them to earn admittance into heaven if they consistently choose what pleases Allah. They certainly experience temptation to disobey Him and it is through rising above that temptation that they prove their worth. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was certainly a human being and he shared with all humans all their qualities and characteristics. He would love and hate, experience happiness and distress, satisfaction and irritation, calmness and anger, etc. The Prophet was great because he was able to conduct his life in the way he did despite experiencing all the feelings and emotions of human beings and working within their limitations. You say that he was extraordinary because he did extraordinary things. He certainly was favored with receiving Allah's message and being assigned the task of conveying it. That is why we are required to declare that we believe that he was Allah's messenger. If we do not, then we are not Muslims. But that is as far as it goes. He gave us a living example of what a perfect human being is like. We can follow his example in every respect. Indeed, we should try to do so. But we should remember that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not choose to have revelations, it was Allah who chose him to be His last messenger to mankind and sent down His revelations to him. Nor did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have any say in his ascension to heaven: it was Allah who wished to favor him with that to give him reassurance, at a time when he certainly needed that reassurance. He decidedly did not meet with Allah nor did he converse with Him. Allah only revealed what He wished to reveal to him through the Archangel Gabriel. What we are told about his ascension to heaven in the Qur'an is that he "has seen some of the greatest signs of his Lord." No human beings has ever spoken to Allah directly except Prophet Moses. We must not confuse matters. When we stress the humanity of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we are not being disrespectful to him. Indeed, we love him and respect him so much because he has been a means for us to have divine guidance which enables us to earn reward from Allah and ensures for us a happier life in the next world.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )