Muhammad (S) was the Prophet who, like no other, embraced the present world and its reality, while understanding and teaching about the next. He did not forsake the challenges of living in the here-and-now in order to achieve the Hereafter!

In other words, for him our physical and material world could not be only a veil of tears or a sanctuary of prayer, but rather a rich garden of opportunities where we sow good seeds for the next world!

Indeed, it is a place of challenges, some of them difficult, but above all, the Prophet (S) taught me to be a good gardener in this world. Here, I am not only blessed with the success of my present efforts but know that a rich harvest also awaits.

Talk to any passionate gardener and you will quickly learn that he or she enjoys the preparation, cultivation, and even weeding, as much as the season of blooming or ripening.

In the same way, Prophet Muhammad (S) taught me that while we are here living on earth, we are continuously invited to enjoy life as a beautiful garden, even while working hard to cultivate it in the best way we can.

One of the features that distinguishes Muhammad (S) from other leaders is the way he balanced spirituality and worldly life – or, religious and secular; prayer and entertainment.

His understanding of equilibrium was so complete that even those who do not follow his religious intellectual heritage have noticed this unique elegance of his character.

In a book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” author Michael Hart places Muhammad (S) as #1 and explains: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.”

He concludes: “It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.”

Thus, I take him (S) as my role model in both spheres: Spiritual as well as secular, theoretical and practical; and I try to balance my life as he (S) did.

Since we often speak more about the spiritual or religious aspect of Islam than of its social aspects, let me share with you the other side of the coin – the story of how Muhammad (S) was also an influential social Prophet. Perhaps I might seem biased — but who is not when we come to talk of those whom we hold dear in our hearts? Yes, I may be biased, yet at the same time I am seeking to be both honest and objective – honest, because I want to share only the truth with you; objective, because I know that’s exactly what he did in all his worldly dealings.

Muhammad’s (S) life is fairly well recorded and we possess more historical knowledge about it than of many other religious figures. Even before he was called to invite people to the Truth and was given the revelation of Divine guidance in the words of the Holy Qur’an, he was well known in his society as someone of high ethical qualities – he was Al Ameen, or trustworthy. In his day he functioned as a trusted holder of securities, or a kind of personal banker; people willingly trusted him to safeguard with the most valuable items they possessed.

Auguste Comte, a French thinker and philosopher who was quite hard on Muhammad, changed his attitude once he acquired more authentic information about him, and humbly said: “Forgive me, O Muhammad! You are greater than man and yet still you are a man, with more perfection.”