The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, is a Radiant Lamp (siraj al-munir) before all humanity, or a lamp of eternity illuminating all darkness.
He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is a wonder of the art of the Divine power becoming manifest in humankind. He is the most perfect criterion and the nonpareil exemplar presented to humanity.
In the words of a verse from the Qur’an, he is a Prophet who has been sent “as an unequalled mercy for all the worlds…” (See Qur’an 21:107)
That is to say, Allah Almighty bestowed him, upon him be peace and blessings, as a mercy upon all creatures, animate or inanimate – upon stone and soil, river and sea, the earth and heavens, time and space, and in particular, upon humankind.
Were it Not For Him
Humankind has attained the boundless ocean of the All-Merciful’s grace and forgiveness by virtue of the love of our Lord towards the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As is stated in a Prophetic Tradition:
“When Adam, peace be upon him, slipped into the error (which led to his descent upon earth), he said, ‘O Lord, I ask You, for the sake of Muhammad, to forgive me.’
Allah the Exalted said, ‘O Adam, how do you know of Muhammad when I have not yet created him?’
He said, ‘O Lord, When you created me and breathed into me out of Your Spirit, I raised my head and saw written on the pillars of the Supreme Trhone, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,” and I knew that You would not attach to Your name any save the most beloved of creation to You.’
Allah the Exalted said, ‘You have spoken the truth, O Adam, for he is indeed the most beloved to Me of creation and as you have asked Me by virtue of him, I have forgiven you. Were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created you.'”(Hakim, Mustadrak, I, 672)
The True Day of Rejoicing
As beautifully depicted by Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi:
“Come, O heart, the true day of rejoicing is the day of reunion with Muhammad, as the light of the universe is from the light of his blessed existence.”
Obedience to the Messenger is Obedience to Allah
One who loves Allah and wants for Allah to love them must wholeheartedly obey the Eternal Pride of the Universe, as obedience to him is, in effect, obedience to Allah the Exalted. As is declared in a Qur’anic verse:
“He who obeys the Messenger (thereby) obeys Allah.” (4:80)
Again, as communicated in a Qur’anic verse, earning the love of Allah Almighty can only be acquired by way of love towards His Beloved Messenger:
“Say (to them, O Messenger): ‘If you indeed love Allah, then follow me, so that Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.'”(3:31)
The Messenger’s Life is an Effective Commentary of the Qur’an
It is declared in a Qur’anic verse:
“The Trustworthy Spirit brings it down on your heart, so that you may be one of the warners (entrusted with the Divine Revelation), in clear Arabic tongue.” (26:193-195)
That is to say, by descending upon the heart of the Messenger of Allah, the Qur’an found expression in his every state and manner and became imprinted on his words and actions, his conscience and consciousness, and upon every single corpuscle of his existence. In this way, the twenty-three year Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became manifested in the form of a living commentary of the Qur’an. Allah Almighty exhibited the Divine truths and virtues in his exemplary character. In this respect, the mysteries and wisdoms of the Qur’an can only be understood by means of benefiting from the spiritual tapestry of Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings.
Human History’s Inscription of Honour
The only Prophet and the only human being throughout history about whose entire life each and every detail has been recorded is the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Only a certain portion of the exemplary behaviour of the Messengers in the chain of Prophethood – each of whom served as a standard of leading humanity to truth and goodness – have been transmitted to our day. However, all the words, actions and even the inner world of the Prophet of the End of Time, upon him be peace and blessings, from the most simple to the most complex and finest, have been traced moment to moment and recorded in the form of an inscription of honour in the annals of history. What is more, by the special grace of Allah, these have been privileged with transmission from beyond the centuries all the way until the Last Day on earth.
Ocean of Virtue
The exemplary character, manner and morality of the Messenger of Allah, the Pride of the Universe and the leader of the Prophets, upon him be peace and blessings, resembles a boundless ocean, while that of the other Prophets is akin to the rivers pouring into it. He possessed all the distinguishing qualities and virtues, known and not known, of all the reported 124,000 Prophets who came before him and represents the epitome of noble character and attributes. Over and above the advancement of humanity in thought and manner of living until his era, he has been sent as the ‘Prophet of the End of Time’ who is to serve as the exemplar character to address their needs until the last day.
Indeed, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, has said:
“I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Muwatta’, Husn al-Khuluq, 8)
The Epitome of Noble Character
Implied in noble character is to take on, or emulate the character of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. His character is confirmed and extolled in the Qur’an in the following words:
“You are surely of a sublime character, and do act by a sublime pattern of conduct.” (68:4)
As a matter of fact, when asked about the character of Allah’s Messenger, ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, said:
“His character was the Qur’an.” (Muslim, Musafirin, 139)
Our Debt of Gratitude to Allah’s Messenger
Our love, respect and mannerliness towards the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, our following his elevated Sunna and our being closely acquainted with him is a trial of piety and God consciousness for our hearts. (See Qur’an 49:3-4)
A heart that is not filled with feelings of gratitude before his struggle for the salvation and guidance of humankind from the moment of his honoured arrival to the world until his demise, is perhaps not be called a heart at all.
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi says:
“O you who is Muslim today! Had it not been for the endeavour and noble ambition of Ahmad, upon him be peace and blessings, in destroying the idols, you would have now been engaged in idol worship just like your forebears.”
The Monument of Reliance and Surrender
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, endured endless hardship and suffering throughout his life. He himself said, “…and I have been subjected to harm in the way of Allah, such that no one has been subjected.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 34/2472) Indeed, he endured the greatest of suffering in being witness to the death of seven of his children. He was insulted and stoned at Ta’if. The torture and torment endured by the first Muslims grieved him greatly. His eminent Companions, his beloved uncle Hamza and Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr first and foremost, were martyred. The most precious students of the Qur’an were entrapped and killed in the Bi’r Ma’una and Raji’ incidents.
But none of these tribulations were able to impair his stoicism and self-possession. He met all these in a state of great maturity and resignation. He paid no mind to any fleeting tribulation for the sake of earning the good pleasure and approval of His Lord. Despite his heart being seared with countless sorrows, he always had a smile on his face. No one would ever see him sullen face, scowling, or with a glowering countenance. Within the repose of togetherness with his Lord, he was constantly of cheerful countenance and used to reflect the smiling face of Islam no matter what the circumstances.
In short, Allah the Exalted rendered His beloved Messenger the most excellent example by putting him through the hardest of trials and tribulations in order for us to also maintain a state of reliance, surrender and resignation in the face of life’s bitter and sweet surprises, hardship, anguish and suffering.
Forever the Most Trustworthy, the Most Compassionate
Even those who denied the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah referred to that Sun of Guidance with the honorific Al-Amin, the Trustworthy. They affirmed the fact that he had never once lied. Even when fighting against him, they entrusted their most prized possessions to his care. They too benefited from his truthful, reliable and honest character. When the Makkan polytheists who had subjected the Muslims to a brutal boycott for three years themselves faced famine and hunger years later, they still took refuge beneath that Prophet of Mercy’s wings of beneficence and kindness.
He Always Kept His Word
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, possessed such a state of steadfastness and truthfulness that even Abu Sufyan, who was one of the bitterest enemies of Islam at the time he had not accepted the Messenger’s Prophethood, responded to Byzantine Emperor Heraclius’ question, “Was he ever accused of lying?” saying, “Never. He always keeps his word.”
Even the Unbelievers Put their Trust in Allah’s Messenger
One of the bitterest enemies of the Messenger of Allah, Abu Jahl, and his friends, once said to him:
“O Muhammad, by God, we do not belie you, for you are the most truthful person in our eyes. Rather, we belie what you have brought to us.”
In this way, they outwardly rejected this truth that they accepted in their conscience, purely on the basis of their vain desires. Allah, exalted and glorified be He, revealed the following verse from the Qur’an and thus unveiled their wretched state:
“(O Messenger!) We know indeed that the things (lies, mockery, and slanders) that they say grieve you: yet, it is not you that they deny and give the lie to (they cannot very well call you a liar, since they themselves have called you ‘the trustworthy one’); rather, it is the signs and Revelations of Allah that the wrongdoers obstinately reject.” (6:33)
Allah’s Messenger Fulfilled Trusts
During the Battle of Khaybar, a shepherd, a slave of a Khaybarite Jew, came to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. After conversing with him for a short time, he accepted Islam and joined the Muslims. However, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered him to first return the flock with all the sheep and goats of his master, which he tended as a shepherd and to only then join the Muslim ranks. And what is more, he had done so at a critical moment, when the battle had dragged on and the Muslims had begun to experience food shortages. This command is, no doubt, a rather meaningful example of a sense of responsibility and the importance of fulfilling a trust.
Beware of the Rights of Your Neighbour!
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, demanded that the rights of neighbours be observed. In one Prophetic Tradition he states:
“Gabriel advised me in observing the rights of neighbours to such a degree that I thought he would order me to name them my heirs.”(Bukhari, Adab 28; Muslim, Birr 140)
“One is not a believer who sleeps while his neighbour is hungry.” (Hakim, II, 15; Haythami, VIII, 167)
“A non-Muslim neighbour (with whom there are no family ties) enjoys one right. A neighbour who is Muslim enjoys two rights (as they have a claim as a neighbour as well as a fellow Muslim). And the neighbour who is both Muslim and a relative enjoys three rights. They have a claim as a neighbour, as a fellow Muslim and as a relation.”(Suyuti, Al-Jami’ al-Saghir, I, 146)
It ought not be forgotten that peering through a neighbour’s window, tormenting them with the aroma of food coming from one’s house, or disturbing or offending them in any way constitutes a violation of the rights of neighbours.
The Bravest of Them All
It is not possible to conceive of a hero greater than the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, for there was no incident throughout his life in which he was seen to have been overcome by fear or panic. He was patient and steadfast even in the face of the most extraordinary of situations. He would not be seized by fear or panic or act in an unbecoming manner.
‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, the symbol of courage and heroism, says:
“When the battle grew fierce, we would seek protection behind him…” (Muslim, Jihad, 79)
The Prophet of Forgiveness and Mercy
That Prophet of Mercy forgave both Wahshi who had killed his beloved uncle Hamza and Hind who had instigated him, upon their acceptance of Islam. He even pardoned the ruthless enemy of Islam, Habbab ibn al-Aswad, when he came before him to profess his acceptance of Islam. Habbab had pursued the camel of his daughter Zaynab, who was pregnant at the time, pushed her off the camel and thus caused the death of both her unborn child and later her own death.
During the conquest of Makka, when the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, possessed the opportunity and power to put the Makkan polytheists who had persecuted the Muslims for years on end to the sword in retribution, he asked the Makkans gathered at the Ka’ba:
“O people of the Quraysh, How do you expect that I shall treat you now?”
The Quraysh replied:
“We expect nothing but goodness to come from you. You are a noble man and the son of a noble man.”
Upon this, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
“I say as Joseph said to his brothers: ‘No reproach this day shall be on you. May Allah forgive you; indeed, He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ (12:92) Go, for you are free.”
Many lifeless hearts revived before such virtue and attained the felicity of belief with Islam’s elixir of forgiveness and mercy.
A Heart Beating with Mercy
As declared in a Qur’anic verse:
“There has come to you (O people) a Messenger from among yourselves; extremely grievous to him is your suffering, full of concern for you is he, and for the believers full of pity and compassion.”(9:128)
Allah’s Messenger was in a Constant State of Supplication
When the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, went to the city of Ta’if to convey the message of Islam, the ignorant, idol-worshipping and arrogant populace stoned him. The Angel of the Mountains came to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, accompanied by Archangel Gabriel and said:
“Should you command it, I would crush the people between these two mountains (for what they have done to you).” The tender and loving heart of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that overflowed with mercy and compassion could not bear this and he said:
“No! I hope instead that Allah will bring forth from among their progeny people who will worship Him alone, and who will not associate anything (as partners) with Him.” (Bukhari, Bad’u al-Khalq, 7; Muslim, Jihad, 111)
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, the light of existence, neither caused offence to, nor took offence by anyone. He forever emanated the virtue of forgiveness. He did not hold the faults and shortcomings of others against them due to his sense of shame (haya’) before Allah and his elevated character. He would not refer by name to those who behaved in a manner with which he was displeased, merely sufficing to say, “What is the matter with the people that they are doing such and such?” Sometimes, he would ascribe the error to himself saying, “What is it that I see you [doing such and such]?” thus reproving in a gentle but earnest manner.
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, once ate a dish made of camel meat together with his Companions. Just as they were about to stand for the prayer, a smell that was the result of someone’s having passed wind became perceivable. So as not to embarrass that individual before the rest of the gathering, the Messenger of Allah, the Pride of Humanity, said, “Let those who have eaten camel meat perform the ablution.” All the Companions performed the ablution. In other words, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered the whole gathering to perform their ablution once again in order to avoid embarrassing the particular individual concerned.
A Countenance Most Beautiful
The blessed countenance of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, which exuded trust and tranquillity to his surroundings, was the purest and most cheerful of countenances. This was owing to the fact that the immensurable beauty of his inner world had projected onto his outward form.
When the Messenger of Allah emigrated to the city of Madina, Jewish scholar ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam inquired after him, curious as to his person, and upon seeing his blessed face, exclaimed, “One with such a face cannot lie,” and thus professed his acceptance of Islam.
Such was the beauty, stateliness, luminance and grace he possessed that there was no need for any further miracle or proof concerning his being a Prophet of God.
Had They Seen His Blessed Countenance
The Mother of Believers ‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, describes the luminous countenance of Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in the following words:
“Had the women of Egypt seen the beauty of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, that captivating beauty of Joseph would have signified nothing in their eyes. Had the women who disparaged Zulaykha seen the luminous face of Allah’s Messenger, they would have stabbed their hearts instead of their hands.”
The Prophet of Mercy
‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, wife of the Prophet, relates several aspects of the boundless mercy and compassion of the Noble Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, as follows:
“The Messenger of Allah never struck anyone with his hand, neither maid nor servant, but only, in the case when he had been fighting (on the battlefield) in the cause of Allah and he never took revenge for anything unless the things made inviolable by Allah were made violable; he then took revenge for Allah, exalted and glorified be He.” (Muslim, Fada’il, 79)
A Generous One Unafraid of Poverty
It is not possible to duly appreciate the position of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, in generosity and beneficence. His generosity surpassed even that of the honouring of a person who has no fear of poverty.
As reported by Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, may Allah be well pleased with him:
“It never happened that Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was asked for anything and he said, no.” (Muslim, Fada’il, 56)
If I Had as Much Gold as the Weight of Mount Uhud
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not hold onto anything with respect to worldly possessions and would spend whatever he had in the way of Allah. This was a virtue pertaining uniquely to his person.
The Companion Abu Dharr, may Allah be well pleased with him, reports:
“I was once walking in the company of the Prophet on the stony grounds on the outskirts of Madina when the mountain of Uhud came into sight. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘O Abu Dharr!’
I said, “I am here, at your service, O Messenger of Allah!”
He said, ‘It would not please me to have gold equal to the weight to this mountain (of Uhud) unless nothing of it, not even a single dinar remains of it with me for more than three days (for I would have spent all of it in Allah’s Cause), except that which I will keep for repaying debts.'” (Muslim, Zakat, 32; Bukhari, Istiqrad, 3)
If You Can Give Nothing Else
The poor, lonely and the forlorn would come to the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, in expectation of something to be given to them in the way of charity. There were times when Allah’s Messenger had nothing whatsoever to give. Moreover, he himself would go hungry most of the time. When the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, had nothing to give in way of meeting the expectations of the needy, he would be overcome with a sense of sorrow and would subtly turn his face away, for which Allah, glorified and exalted be He, admonished him:
“But if you (must) turn away from those (who are in need, because you are yourself in need, and) seeking mercy from your Lord in hopeful expectation, then (at least) speak to them gently and well-meaning [qawlan maysūran].”(17:28)
Allah’s Messenger Never Took a Liking to the World
Despite the fact that the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, obtained worldly opportunities the likes not seen by any king in a short period of time and conquered hearts as an ideal guide for humanity, he took no liking to any of the great worldly bounties at his feet. On the contrary, he continued his humble existence. As was the case before, he led a simple and ascetic life in his modest mud-brick chamber. He slept on a mattress filled with the leaves of a date palm and wore simple clothing. His standard of living was lower even than society’s weak. What is more, despite the fact that he could not find anything to eat sometimes, he would strap a rock to his stomach to suppress his hunger and would give thanks to his Lord.
‘A’isha, may Allah be well pleased with her, relates:
Never had the family of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, eaten to their fill with the bread of wheat for three successive nights, from the day of their arrival in Madina up until his death.” (Muslim, Zuhd, 20)
The True Life is the Life of the Hereafter
One day, ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, came to the house of Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. He cast his eye around the room. Every corner of it was empty. The only piece of furniture in the room was a mat of woven palm leaf. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was lying upon it and it had imprinted itself on the body of Allah’s Messenger. All there was in the room was a little barley and an old waterskin hung up on a nail beside it. That was all. This was all the wealth and worldly possessions that the Messenger of Allah, the pride of humanity, possessed on a day when the entire Arabian Peninsula had surrendered themselves to him. ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, could not contain himself and was moved to tears before such a sight. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, asked:
“What makes you weep, O ‘Umar?”
‘Umar said, “Why shouldn’t I weep, O Messenger of Allah, when Caesar and Khosrau wallow in worldly bounties and the Messenger of Allah lives thus!”
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, consoled ‘Umar’s grieved heart and said:
“Weep not, O ‘Umar! Would you not wish for this world (with all its blessings and pleasures) be their share in this life and the Hereafter be for us alone?“ (Ahmad, II, 298; Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, X, 162)
Allah’s Messenger Divided His Time into Three
When the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, came to his felicitous home, he would divide his time into three, allocating one-third to worship, one-third to his family, and the other third to himself. The time that he set aside for himself he devoted to the people – from all echelons of society – and would not deprive anyone of his company. He conquered the hearts of all those around him.
The Felicitous Home of Allah’s Messenger
The felicitous home of the Messenger of Allah was the happiest of all households. It exuded the fragrance of great happiness.
No woman could possibly love her husband like the Mothers of the Believers, his esteemed wives, loved the Messenger of Allah. And no man could possibly love his wife like the Messenger of Allah loved his wives. No child can love their father like Fatima loved her father and no father could possibly their child like Allah’s Messenger loved his children. Through the manner of nurture and education that the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, practised in his familial life, he established an exceptional bond of love in the hearts of his wives and children.
The Mothers of the Believers could only enter their chambers ducking their heads, as their chambers provided just enough room for them. Many days would pass before a fire was lit in that home and food made available. But existence in that happy household was felt with the savour of contentment, patience and surrender rather than with material provisions.
The Best of You
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings attached utmost importance to the mutual rights and responsibilities of family members and sought for familial peace to be maintained under any circumstances. He says in this regard:
“The best of you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best of you to my family.”(Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 63/3895)
“A believing man should not despise his believing wife. If there is any quality he dislikes in her, he will certainly be pleased with another.”(Muslim, Rada’, 61)
Lest the Crystals Should Break!
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, treated his wives with the greatest compassion and gentleness.
During a journey, an attendant by the name of Anjasha goaded the camels in the caravan forward by singing with his fine voice. In view of the possibility that the delicate constitutions of the females seated on the camels might be hurt, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, cautioned:
“Anjasha, take care lest the crystals should break!” (Bukhari, Adab, 95; Ahmad, III:117)
A Matchless Court of Mercy
The Prophet’s circle of education and guidance was akin to a social complex which embraced people from every social strata and all segments of society. There, the weak and the powerful, the rich and the poor were no different with respect to truth and justice.
Just consider those who followed the Messenger of Allah: Among them one would see such dignitaries and eminent figures as the Abyssinian King Negus al-Asham, Byzantine governor of Ma’an Farwa ibn ‘Amr, Himyar chief Dhu al-Kila’a, Fayruz al-Daylami, the viceroy of Yemen, as well as governors of Oman ‘Ubayd and Ja’far.
Further consideration would reveal that in addition to these rulers and administrators were such downtrodden individuals as Bilal, Yasir, Suhayb, Khabbab, ‘Ammar and Abu Fukayha, as well as such poverty-stricken, helpless women as Sumayya, Lubayna, Zinnira, Nahdiya and Umm ‘Ubays.
The Peerless Exemplar
The noble character of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, constitutes the epitome of human conduct and behaviour, even with its expressions that lie within the scope of human conception. He is a model of excellence completing his mission of communicating the Divine message via illustrating by example. Allah Almighty has presented that noble human being to the rest of humanity as (in the words of the Qur’anic expression) al-uswa al-hasana, or “an excellent example”.
The Qur’anic verse in question reads:
“Assuredly you have in Allah’s Messenger an excellent example to follow for whoever looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers and mentions Allah much.”(33:21)
A Bouquet of Rare Roses
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, has displayed an exceptional beauty and grace in every way, in all life’s phases. Every human being can find the most perfect of actions in the elevated practice of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which they can hold up as an example. That is to say, the life of the Messenger of Allah, the pride of humanity, with all its colour, harmony and aroma, is akin to a bouquet composed of the most exceptional roses, such that the seeker can find the most beautiful of roses in that cluster.
The personage of the Noble Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, is like a clear and polished mirror. Every human being can behold his outer and inner, external and the inward, word and action, morality and character, and measure their own state and situation up against it. Reforming one’s character in accordance with what one sees in this mirror and correcting his or her faults and shortcomings is the responsibility of every believer.
An Example to People From Every Walk of Life
Allah Almighty elevated that Noble Messenger from the social position of greatest weakness and helplessness – from the status of an orphaned child – to the highest position of head of state. And the Prophet displayed the most perfect standards of behaviour in all the echelons in between.
For this reason, notwithstanding their particular social rank, every human being can hold up the noble conduct and morality of that great Messenger as an example to themselves and endeavour to put it into practice to the best of their ability.
Behold Yourself in His Mirror
If you are prosperous and wealthy, reflect upon the humility and generosity of that lofty Messenger who dominated Arabia in its entirety and endeared himself to all Arab notables and chiefs.
If you are one who is oppressed and wronged, take example from the life of the Prophet who lived under the rule and reign of the cruel and tyrannous polytheists in Makka.
If you are a victorious conqueror, draw lesson from the Prophet of courage and submission who overcame the enemy at Badr and Hunayn.
If – God forbid – you should ever face defeat, remember that resigned Messenger who patiently and stoically walked among his fallen and injured Companions during the Battle of Uhud.
If you are a teacher, think about the Prophet who taught the Suffa Companions in the mosque, by transferring to them the spiritual luminance from within his delicate, subtle and sensitive heart.
If you are a student, imagine the Prophet who sat before archangel Gabriel, the Trustworthy, in great reverence and aspiration.
If you are a caller to goodness and a truthful guide, listen to the Messenger in his spiritual exchange with his Companions in the Prophet’s Mosque and radiating wisdom in this way. Lend an ear and heart to his melodious voice!
If you wish to defend, convey and uphold the truth and if you have not even a single helper supporting you in this regard, look at the life of the Prophet who declared the truth to the oppressors in Makka when he was deprived of any help or support, and who invited them to belief.
If you have vanquished the enemy and announced the truth and brought falsehood to ruin, then picture the Messenger who, despite being a victorious commander on the day of Makka’s conquest, entered the city in great humility, as though in prostration on the back of his camel.
If you are the owner of a farm and wish to set everything in order, take example from the insightful Prophet who, after taking possession of the Banu Nadir, Khaybar and Fadak lands, appointed the most suitable individuals to oversee and administer them.
If you are forlorn, then contemplate the orphan and the apple of ‘Abd Allah and Amina’s eye, the beloved innocent.
If you are a young man or woman, pay heed to the life of the Prophet in waiting who tended the flock of his uncle Abu Talib in Makka.
If you are a merchant setting forth with trade caravans, lend a thought to the reputation and manner of the noblest personage in the caravans travelling to Damascus and Yemen.
If you are a judge in the position of pronouncing judgement, take into account the just and perspicacious conduct of the Messenger in the matter of putting the Black Stone in its place at the Ka’ba just as the Makkan chiefs were about to draw their swords.
And turning your gaze once more to Madina, look at that Prophet sitting in the Prophet’s Mosque who judges between the people in the fairest manner, holding the impoverished and the affluent as equal before him.
If you are a spouse, take note of the gentleness and refinement, the profound feeling and mercy of that blessed figure who is the husband of Khadija and ‘A’isha.
If you are a father, learn the manner in which that illustrious individual who is the father of Fatima the Luminous One and the grandfather of Hasan and Husayn approached his children and grandchildren.
In short, whatever your rank or title, whatever your state or circumstance, at each and every minute of every day, you will find the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as your most perfect master and your most excellent guide.
Such a master is he, that by way of his Sunna can you correct all errors. That you may put all your affairs into order and reform your state and circumstance and that you may, by virtue of his light and guidance, disentangle yourself from life’s unforeseen storms and dangers and thus find true happiness.
The Prophet’s Teacher is Allah Almighty
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, received instruction from no mortal. By stating, “My Lord educated me, and so made my education most excellent,” (Suyuti, al-Jami’ al-Saghir, I, 12) he affirmed that his sole teacher was Allah the Exalted.
For this reason, he stood as the paragon of the entire spectrum of disciplines addressing the human being and analysing the human soul, some of which are known in our day as psychology, pedagogy and social anthropology.
The Product of Which Education System?
The faithful friends of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, strove to be in his company at every opportunity. Some of them even devoted themselves to following him like his very shadow. The imprint of love that Allah’s Messenger left on hearts was so powerful that the Companions emulated each and every one of his actions, even if they could not immediately comprehend its wisdom.
Which system of education was the spiritual training of the Companions a product of? Which educator, which psychologist could provide this instruction? Could all the psychologists, sociologists, pedagogues, social anthropologists, social engineers, philosophers and the like in the world today bring about even a small society adorned with elevated attributes of a quality to match that of the Age of Happiness?
The Fire will not Burn the Heart that is Filled With Him
The more the heart of a believer is filled with love for the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, the more it grows distant from Divine punishment. As is declared in a Qur’anic verse:
“But God would not punish them so long as you were among them…” (8:33)
A believer whose heart burns with love for Allah’s Messenger must forever follow in his footsteps and must remain devoted to his elevated Sunna.
Whoever Revives My Tradition
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, wished for every single member of his community to be with him in Paradise. He would therefore forewarn and counsel all people in accordance with their own individual level.
Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be well pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, said:
“Dear Anas, if you are able every morning and evening to remove any rancour from your heart towards any other (especially without harbouring even the slightest hatred or coldness towards any believer), then do so.”
“Dear Anas, this is my Tradition and whoever revives my Tradition has loved me, and whoever loves me will be with me in Paradise.” (Tirmidhi, ‘Ilm, 16/2678)
The Fibres of a Rope
‘Abd Allah ibn al-Daylami, may his secret be sanctified, illustrated the importance of adherence to the Prophetic Practice in the following words:
“…The beginning of the end of the Religion will transpire with the abandonment of the Sunna. Like the coming loose of the fibres of a rope, the Religion will vanish with the relinquishment of the Prophetic Practices one by one.” (Darimi, Muqaddima, 16)
This means that the receding of the Sunna from our lives one after another – may Allah protect us from that! – renders our eternal deliverance to be hanging by a thread.
The Need for Adherence to the Sunna
Allah, exalted and glorified be He, commands adherence to His Beloved Messenger as follows:
“Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it willingly; and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it. Keep from disobedience to Allah in reverence for Him and piety. Surely Allah is severe in retribution.” (59:7)
“O you who believe! Obey Allah (in all His commandments) and obey the Messenger (in his execution of Allah’s commandments and in his own directives), and do not let your deeds go to waste.”(47:33)
“Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger (as they must be obeyed), then those are (and in the Hereafter will be, in Paradise) in the company of those whom God has favoured (with the perfect guidance) – the Prophets, and the truthful ones (loyal to Allah’s cause and truthful in whatever they do and say), and the witnesses (those who see the hidden Divine truths and testify thereto with their lives), and the righteous ones (in all their deeds and sayings, and dedicated to setting everything right). How excellent they are for companions!” (4:69)
The Impossibility of Complete Comprehension of Allah’s Messenger
It is not possible for us to fully comprehend the Pride of Humanity, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, within the limits of human intelligence and capacity. This is because the impressions obtained from this realm fall short of duly describing and perceiving him. Just as it is not possible to fit the ocean in a single cup, it is not possible to fully comprehend the ‘Muhammadan light’ (al-Nur al-Muhammadi).
The One Sent Bespeaks the Might of the Sender
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, is a Divine masterpiece with no equal, possessing perfect countenance and character. In this respect, no human being has the capacity to describe his greatness as it deserves to be described.
On one of his military expeditions, Khalid ibn Walid, may Allah be well pleased with him, once put up camp with a Muslim tribe. The tribal chief asked him, “Could you describe to us the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace?”
Khalid ibn Walid, may Allah be well pleased with him, said, “Describing the beauty of Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, is beyond the bounds of possibility. I am incapable of describing him (as he deserves to be described).”
The tribal chief said, “Describe him as best as you are able, in a few words.”
Khalid ibn Walid, may Allah be well pleased with him, replied:
“The one sent bespeaks the might of the sender.”
In other words, as the sender is the Lord of the Worlds, just consider the glory and honour of the one who is sent!
The Miracle of the Companions
As a result of the spiritual training of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, the people of the Age of Ignorance steeped in the darkness of tyranny and wrongdoing, who tore their daughters away from the hearts of their mothers as it were, and buried them alive, became Companions of refined sensibility and feeling heart and established a civilisation of virtue upon which humanity still looks in wonder and admiration.
One of the most prominent personalities of Islamic jurisprudence, Qarafi (d. 684) states:
“Had the Prophet possessed no other miracle, the Companions educated by him would have been sufficient as proof of his Prophethood.” (Qarafi, Al-Furuq, Darussalam, 2001, IV:305)
The Pride of Humanity
A council of scholars and thinkers who convened in the Dutch city of The Hague in the middle of the previous century identified the world’s hundred great men. The Christian selection committee were forced to select, on the basis of the key moral criteria that they themselves had established, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as the greatest personality.
Even those who did not believe in his Prophethood confirmed the virtue, superiority and success of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace.
The True Genius
On the basis of the Prophet’s success in his mission, French historian and thinker Lamartine expresses what great genius Allah’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, possesses, in the following words:
“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad?
The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes.
This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world.” (Alphonse de Lamartine, Histoire de la Turquie)
The Conceding of Consciences
The virtue and intelligence of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, was affirmed and acknowledged even by those who did not believe in his Prophethood.
Of the Prophet’s birth, English writer Thomas Carlyle wrote:
“It was as of a birth from darkness into light.”
“No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak of his own clouting.”
Similarly, Lafayette, one of the leading figures paving the intellectual groundwork for the 1789 French Revolution, examined all legal systems prior to the publication of the famous ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,’ and upon seeing the superiority of Islamic law, proclaimed:
“O Muhammad! No other has ever been able to match you in the realisation of justice…”
A Person Will Be With Those Whom They Love
The Prophet’s Companion Thawban, may Allah be well pleased with him, was once immersed in thought while looking at the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. The Messenger of Allah, the mercy to the worlds, noticed his sudden change of countenance and asked compassionately:
“What is it that perturbs you, O Thawban?”
Thawban, a devotee of Allah’s Messenger, replied:
“May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! Thought of separation from you weighs down on me such that every moment I spend removed from your light becomes for me sorrow. When my state in this world is thus, I am grieved to think about what it will be in the Hereafter. For there you will be in the company of the Prophets, while I know not where I will be or what will become of me. And if I cannot enter Paradise, I will be separated from you eternally. This thought grieves me greatly, O Messenger of Allah!”
Upon this, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “A person will be with those whom they love,” and thus gave him these glad tidings. (Bukhari, Adab, 96)
Love Demands Sacrifice
It is not enough to say, “I love Allah and His Messenger.” If we do indeed love them, then we need to question the extent of our mercy and our compassion, and the nature of our moral conduct. How much of the Prophet’s characteristics and qualities are present in us? Are we able to free ourselves of self-centredness and selfishness? Do we possess a spirit of altruism and concern ourselves with the plight of others? Does our love reflect upon our demeanour and actions? Or does our love consist merely of an empty claim remaining unfulfilled and unrealised.
So As Not to Face Separation
Great hadith scholar Imam Nawawi strove to emulate the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, with such meticulousness that he refrained from eating a watermelon throughout his entire life for fear of acting in a manner contrary to the method and manner of Allah’s Messenger, as he did not know how Allah’s Messenger had eaten one.
Harmonising Everything With Him
The friend of Allah Ahmad Yasawi, a luminous crescent for that Sun of Guidance, gave up travelling about the earth after reaching sixty-three years of age because the Messenger of Allah had passed away when he was sixty-three years old. For the ten years until his own death, he continued communicating the message of Islam in a vault-like chamber.
The Sole Concern of Allah’s Messenger was His Community
Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, states:
“Beware, I am the means of security for you during my life while after my death, I will beseech Allah in my grave saying, ‘O Lord, my community, my community,’ until the Trumpet is blown…” (‘Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, XIV:414)
He is Very Close to Us, But Are We Close to Him?
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, says:
“My life is a great good for you: you bring up new matters and new matters (Divine Revelation and Judgement) are brought up for you. And my death is a great good for you; your actions will be presented to me and if I see goodness I shall praise Allah and if I see evil I shall ask forgiveness of Him for you.” (Haythami, IX:24)
This is his closeness to us. So how close are we to him?
The Level of Our Connection
Love stems from a correlation between the qualities of one who loves and the one who is loved.
One who loves possesses the same feelings as the one they love and they strive to maintain a state that is identical to their beloved. They seek to take on the hue and harmony of their beloved.
As a result, we ought to question the level of our connection and correlation with the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, with respect to worship, worldly matters and morality, as it is his intercession on the Day of Judgement that we desire and his sacred fountain in Paradise (Hawd al-Kawthar) for which we yearn.
The Level of Our Closeness
What are the traces of the family life of Allah’s Messenger in our family lives? To what extent are we able to mirror his state of devoted reverence in our worship? How close are we to the downtrodden, the forlorn and the lonely in our own lives? How much are we able to exert ourselves in the way of prescribing truth, goodness and justice and in advising against wrongdoing and vice? To what degree are we able to take the Messenger of Allah as an effective criterion at any time or place? How much of the spirituality in his worship, the refinement in his worldly affairs, the sensibility in his inner world, the luminance in his countenance, the delicacy in his feeling, the depth in his gaze, and in short his exemplary manner and bearing, projects onto us?
A Divine Command: Invoking Peace and Blessings Upon His Messenger
Declaring la’amruka, “By your life (O Muhammad),” Allah Almighty swears by the life of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. Allah has mentioned His Own Supreme name alongside the name of His Messenger and has made belief in His Exalted Presence contingent upon belief in the Prophethood of His Messenger. Allah is displeased with voices being raised over the voice of His Messenger and does not approve of his blessed name being mentioned in the same way as any ordinary name. Moreover, declaring that both He Himself and His angels send salutations to the Messenger of Allah, Allah Almighty commands the community of the Prophet to constantly invoke Allah for blessings and peace for him also.
As is stated in the relevant Qur’anic verse:
“Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet (He always treats him with His special mercy, with the angels praying to Him to grant him the highest station of praise with Him, and for the decisive victory of his Religion). O you who believe, invoke the blessings of Allah on him, and pray to God to bestow His peace on him, greeting him with the best greeting. (Love and follow him with utmost sincerity and faithfulness, and give yourselves to his way with perfect submission).” (33:56) As can be seen, sending salutations of blessings and peace upon the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, is a Divine commandment for the believers. And every invocation of peace and blessings is a means bringing us closer to that Sultan of Hearts.
Our Need For Allah’s Messenger
Owing to the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, humanity attained the most perfected of all awaited guides to the truth. For this reason, those in our day who persist in leading a self-seeking and carnal existence will be more answerable before Allah than those who led a life of ignorance prior to the coming of such a noble, exemplary personality. In this regard, we are more in need of the spiritual training, or character building of that Peerless Exemplar in our day where humanity has for the most part succumbed to power and leads a life enslaved to the carnal soul.
Our Sole Remedy
In the same way which that Divine breath, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, was a cure yesterday for an wayward Age of Ignorance – transforming it into an Era of Happiness – it is his breath of mercy today which is to deliver humanity from the abysses of oppression, denial and ignorance and lead them to repose and felicity.
May Allah Almighty enable us all to adhere to the practice of his Beloved Messenger in this world, taking on his noble conduct, and to attain his intercession in the Hereafter.
 Munawi, V, 92/6478; Qastalani, al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyya, Istanbul, 1984, 417.