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Muhammad’s outlook and actions were initially similar to those of Jesus if one compares Muhammad’s strategy during the first part of his mission in Mecca when he, like Jesus, sought change as a non-violent reformer. However, their tactics diverged due to a change in circumstances once Muhammad and his followers were expelled from Mecca and migrated to Medina. While Jesus and his community of believers remained politically powerless throughout his mission, Muhammad in Medina, as the head of a new political community, was required to serve as a political and even military leader as he finally fought back against the Meccans after years of persecution. As the head of the new community in Medina, he also had to deal with internal conspiracies and rebellions in addition to external threats.

This question, as posed, also assumes that there is only one way of looking at these figures, which is misleading. For instance, while Jesus is commonly viewed today as a “non-violent reformer,” this has not always been the case. In his book Jesus through the Centuries, church historian Jaroslav Pelikan depicts and analyzes the varied views of Jesus at different times and in different cultures and devotes a whole chapter to Jesus as both “Prince of Peace” and instigator of divine warfare—sometimes at one and the same time. The representations of Muhammad are likewise varied. In her book The Lives of Muhammad, Kecia Ali writes, “Far from being uniform or non-changing, both non-Muslim and Muslim views of Muhammad have been diverse, multifaceted, and subject to dramatic changes over the centuries.” However, Muslims uniformly love and respect both men not only as prophets and messengers, descended from noble families, but also as exemplars of the most perfect character. Prophet Jesus is described in the Qur’an as one who is “held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of those nearest to God.” Prophet Muhammad was known even before his prophethood as “al-Ameen,” “the Trustworthy,” and his praiseworthy characteristics and actions are the topic of books (known as Shamail), poems, and songs through the centuries.

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