Why is Muhammad a role model for Muslim life?

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Muhammad's actions and recorded sayings are considered by Muslims to be guidelines for proper behavior. The Qu'ran, which was dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, is, of course, the most important of all religious texts in Islam. But the hadith, a collection of Muhammad's sayings and actions, is also very important to many Muslims, though some reject it as not completely authentic. From these texts, Muslims derive a sense of what Muhammad the man was like and how his actions can be used as an example to them.

Though he was human, Muslims believe that Muhammad was divinely chosen to be God's Prophet to man. The Qu'ran says in various places that Muhammad, as the Prophet, is to serve as an example for right thought and action. Therefore, his actions—broadly, submitting to God and spreading the faith—and his sayings represent the divine will for man. So when Muhammad says in the hadith that believers should not "turn away a poor man," or that they should "show courtesy and be...

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