One thing that sucks as a convert is the defensive way in which we have to learn about the Prophet (saw), and about Islam in general.
Unfortunately, my appreciation and love for the Prophet grows slowly, because my view of him did not begin in a positive–as is likely the case for many Muslims around the world–or even neutral fashion at all. Since the time people knew I was interested in Islam to this day, I am bombarded with difficult and allegedly controversial questions, myths, and slanders regarding his life. “Why did he have multiple wives?”, “Did he behead Jews?”, “Would he go on raids?”, “What about ‘Aisha’s young age?”, etc.
So, in a sense, we’re pushed by many of our non-Muslim friends–including our family, who are at best skeptical of his authority as prophet and at worst appalled at the horrible slanders about him–to learn about his life in a defensive way, starting with the worst claims about him.
They expect to us to be ready to answer these questions.
And even when you can tell apart the myths from the truth, and when you know the context of the time in which he lived, and when you’re sure in your heart that he was a wonderful person, you’re still haunted by these and many more questions.
And this is all very jading. Refuting these things are not the first thing I want to learn about my prophet. I want to hear about how he would smile to people; how he would help clean up around the house; how he would sprinkle water on ‘Aisha’s face to wake her to pray; how he would foot race her; how he would solve disputes between peoples; how he was known before becoming a prophet as a gentle, just, and righteous person; how he would make sure everyone was fed before he ate his meals; how he would pamper his grandchildren; etc.
Alhamdulillah, he is still one of my biggest heroes. But I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to grow up listening to those and many more sweet stories about the Prophet (saw) before hearing the more “controversial” claims about his life. (And they’re only ever “controversial” when you don’t understand the context in which he lived–not to mention that many of these stories are either exaggerated or fabricated altogether).
I pray that my love for the Last Prophet of God only increase and that my efforts to imitate his beautiful character help me strengthen my connection to God. Finally, I sincerely pray that non-Muslims also get to appreciate Muhammad (saw) as we Muslims understand him, and that the slanders against his character vanish. Ameen.