The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is the most elevated and select of created beings. He is a wonder of art, manifesting Divine power. He is a unique human being in that he was addressed by Allah as ‘My beloved’. The Holy Qur’an is filled with praise and descriptions of his elevatedness. Some of the verses directly praise him whilst others do so implicitly.
Allah bestowed upon him such a magnificent rank that mankind is unable to truly perceive what he was. It is not possible to reach to the level of his perfect virtue nor is it possible to completely describe him with words, which are limited. Our description of him with language is a mere drop from the ocean.
Some of the verses that indicate the lofty station of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the sight of Allah are as follows:
“We have only sent you as a mercy to all the worlds’(Anbiya, 21:107)
“Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah…(Nisa, 4:80)
“Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you for your wrong actions. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’
Say, ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger.’ Then if they turn away, Allah does not love the unbelievers (Al-i Imran, 3:31-32)’.
‘Those who pledge you their allegiance pledge allegiance to Allah… (Fath, 48:10).
Imam Malik ibn Anas (may Allah have mercy on him) once said to the Caliph Abu Ja’far ibn Mansur:
“O Commander of the Believers. Do not raise your voice in this masjid an-nabi (the prophet’s mosque). Allah, Most High, has taught a community adab in this matter by saying:
‘You who have faith! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet and do not be as loud when speaking to him as you are when speaking to one another, lest your actions should come to nothing without your realising it’ (Hujurat, 49:2).
He has praised others with the following expression:
‘Those who lower their voices when they are with the Messenger of Allah are people whose hearts Allah has tested for taqwa. They will have forgiveness and an immense reward (Hujurat, 49:3).
And he has censured another group of people as follows:
‘As for those who call out to you from outside your private quarters, most of them do not use their intellect’ (Hujurat, 49:4).
To respect the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) after his demise is like respecting him while he was still alive”.
Abu Ja’far bowed his head at these words and said:
“O Imam! Should I turn to the Qibla and pray or should I turn to the Messenger of Allah (his tomb) and pray?
Imam Malik responded:
“Why should you turn your face from him? He is a means for both you and your father Adam to reach Allah. On the contrary turn to him and ask for him to intercede for you and Allah will allow him to intercede for you. Allah has said in the Qur’an:
‘…If only when they wronged themselves they had come to you and asked Allah’s forgiveness and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them they would have found Allah Ever-Returning, Most Merciful’ (Nisa, 4:64).
Another verse which demonstrates the care and love that Allah shows for His Messenger is as follows:
‘Do not make the Messenger’s summoning of you the same as your summoning of one another…’(Nur, 24:63).
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) commented on this verse as follows:
“The people were addressing Allah’s Messenger as ‘O Muhammad’ or ‘O Abu al-Qasim’. Allah Most High forbade such addresses in order to exalt the honour of His prophet. After that the people began to address him as such: ‘O nabiullah’ (Prophet of Allah) and ‘O Rasulallah’ (Messenger of Allah)” (Abu Nuaym, Dalail, I, 46)
Moreover in contrast to the other prophets, Almighty Allah Himself never addressed His Beloved using his name but rather addressed him as ‘O Messenger’ or ‘O prophet’. In this way He taught us a nice lesson in adab.
The honouring and favouring of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by Allah is not limited to these examples and will continue on forever. A verse from the Holy Qur’an states:
‘And assuredly, He will increasingly grant you his favours one after another, and you will be contented’ (Duha, 93:5).
One day the Companions were talking amongst themselves. They were expressing their wonder about how Allah befriended a created human being, that is the prophet Ibrahim (al-Khalil), how He spoke to the prophet Musa, how the prophet Isa was His Word and Spirit and His selection of the prophet Adam.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) approached them and listened to what they were saying. He then said:
“Indeed, it is exactly as you say”. He then mentioned his own elevated characteristics:
“I am the master of the messengers and I am not boasting. I am the seal of the prophets, without boasting. I will be the first to intercede (for my community) and the first whose intercession will be accepted but I do not say this in order to boast” (Darimi, Muqaddima, 8).
“On the Day of Judgement when the earth is split open I will be the first to be resurrected but I am not boasting. The Banner of Praise will be given to me, but I do not boast about this. I will be the master of the people on the Day of Judgement but there is no boast. I will be the first to enter Paradise on the Day of Judgement but I do not make this a means to boast.” (Darimi, Muqaddima, 8. In addition see Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 1/3616).
It is not possible to completely perceive the elevated nature of the prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Almighty Allah loves him and has bestowed upon him all superior characteristics.
The following is from the beautiful poem praising the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) by Ibn al-Amin Mahmud Kemal:
“O my master who is enveloped in light from head to toe. Almighty Allah has favoured you with a special favour in that He did not give you a shadow. However on that intense Day the shade from your shadow will fall upon the heads of all of mankind, and your intercession will reach everybody”.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is the ‘Best of Examples’
Mankind has been sent to this world to be examined and so he has been created in such a way that he is capable of doing both good and evil. This is why his life, in both his inner and outer world, is spent in the struggle between good and evil. Our faculties of intelligence, cognition, foresight (iz’an) and will are not enough to allow good to overcome evil. If these had been sufficient, Allah, Most High, would not have endorsed Adam, the first human being, with prophethood. At all times, Allah, Most High, has guided mankind to the truth and to goodness through His divine revelation and through His prophets. He has also sent Books that reinforce the intelligence and the heart and has subjected His servants to spiritual training.
Moreover, the training of the human being takes place more so by taking someone as their example and by the inclination to imitate another. That is, the human being is ever in need of a model. The masses then take shape according to that model. For a human being to take someone as their model is dependent on admiration and adoration. The lover imitates the one they love to the degree that they love them. They never remove them from their heart, nor cease talking about them. Furthermore, in general, people generally fall in love with good character and personality.
Our Lord, who is infinitely merciful to His servants, bestowed upon us His most beloved and merciful prophet as a unique and unparalleled model and best guide. Almighty Allah’s love for the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and His adorning him with the best of character is undoubtedly a manifestation of his love and mercy for us.
By bestowing upon us this most beautiful and perfect example, Allah Most High has willed that we adopt a share of that loftiness.
He says in the Holy Qur’an:
‘You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much’ (Ahzab, 33:21).
One day Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“I looked at the Holy Qur’an and saw that it commanded obedience to the Messenger of Allah in thirty three places”. Then he read the following verse:
فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذ۪ينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ اَمْرِه۪ٓ اَنْ تُص۪يبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ اَوْ يُص۪يبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ اَل۪يمٌ
‘…Those who oppose his command should beware of a testing trial (fitna) coming to them or a painful punishment striking them’ (Nur, 24:63).
He then repeated this verse over and over again and asked himself:
“What is this fitna that the verse says will come? It is shirk (associating partners with Allah) and kufur (unbelief). That trial will probably come to the person as follows: Whenever a person rejects a word of the prophet, there will arise in his heart crookedness and his heart will begin to boil. Eventually that person’s heart will stray completely away from guidance and destroy its owner”.
After saying this Ahmad ibn Hanbal then read the following verse:
‘No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no resistance within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely’ (Nisa, 4:65).
One day a man said to Malik ibn Anas (may Allah have mercy on him):
“Shall I enter ihram in the Masjid an-Nabi or at Dhu al-Hulayfa?” Imam Malik responded:
“At Dhu al-Hulayfa” That man said:
“I entered ihram at the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah”.
Imam Malik then recited the following verse:
‘…Those who oppose his command should beware of a testing trial (fitna) coming to them or a painful punishment striking them’ (Nur, 24:63).
It is stated in another verse:
‘As for those who abuse Allah and His Messenger, Allah’s curse is on them in this world and the hereafter. He has prepared a humiliating punishment for them’ (Ahzab, 33:57).
The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) displayed an unparalleled beauty and perfection at every stage and aspect of his life.
All beautiful behaviour whether in summary or in detail, can be found in him. Thus, every human being can find in his noble life and his Sunnah, the best and most perfect of behaviour as their model.
Throughout history the believers who have loved the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and followed his Sunnah with a profound adulation have been the people of taqwa; that is the true masters of tasawwuf. Their love for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is a voluntary and unbiased love. What has allowed him to remain vibrant and alive in their hearts and enabled Islam to reach distant lands, in the face of oppression and persecution, has been this love and the feelings of selflessness that it brings. A life of Islam as described by the Quranic verses and by the hadith, which is the spiritual life of the prophet and his Companions, is the most perfect state aimed at by the people of tasawwuf. The prosperity of the heart attained by righteous people, who imitate the life and beautiful state of the prophet in accordance with their opportunity, is transmitted from heart to heart through spiritual reflection. That is, the greatest aim of the people of tasawwuf is to approach as closely as possible the life of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his worship
Having preferred to be a slave prophet as opposed to a king prophet the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) gave great importance to worship that allowed a person to come closer to Allah. Every state of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was an act of worship and he always tried to remain clean and pure in His presence. For this reason he would always be in a state of ablution and encouraged the believers to take ablution as often as possible. He would renew his ablution before every prayer, and advise others to take ablution before going to bed. Outer cleanliness brings about inner cleanliness. Cleansing and purifying oneself in all aspects results in friendship with Allah. Allah, Most High, only befriends those who purify themselves of filth and impurities.
Salat, the ritual prayer, was the delight of the prophet’s eye and the continuation of the Mi’raj (the Ascension). He was extremely meticulous about the obligatory prayers (the fard). He would perform his prayer at the beginning of the allocated time and in congregation.
When the prayer was commanded very soon after he became a prophet, he prayed in congregation, from the first day, with his wife Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) and with Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). In order to perform his prayer in peace he would distance himself from Mecca and go to a quiet and tranquil valley to perform his prayer. Day by day the small congregation that he formed grew ever larger and soon enveloped the entire realm.
In addition to the obligatory prayers, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would spend his days and nights in supererogatory (nafilah) worship. For instance, the sunnah prayers that he would pray before and after the fard, the tahajjud prayer that he would perform in the late night, the prayer of ishraq that he would pray 45 minutes after the sun rose, the duha prayer that he would pray when the heat of the sun began to increase, the awwabin prayer that he would pray after the evening prayer (maghrib), the four rakats of prayer that he would pray before going to bed, the prayers that he would perform as he renewed his ablution throughout the day, and the tahiyyat al-masjid prayer that he would pray when he entered any mosque. These are all illustrations of how the blessed heart of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was in a constant state of prayer.
Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would set out for battle he would perform the prayer. He would pray long nafilah prayers whilst sitting on his camel during a journey, and when he returned he would first stop by the mosque to pray two rakats of prayer before going home.
Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was pleased at some event, or received some good news, or his prayer was accepted he would immediately prostrate and pray to thank Allah for this favour.
Whenever he recited a verse from the Qur’an that mentioned ‘sajdah’ or prostration, he would immediately prostrate. Whenever he met with sorrow or was grieved he would find consolation in prayer.
He would immediately stand to pray in the face of extraordinary phenomena such as solar or lunar eclipses or earthquakes, as unique manifestations of divine majesty.
Whenever he asked for a need from Allah he would pray. When there was a drought he would pray the prayer of istiska. He would perform the prayer of tasbih from time to time. Whenever he had to make a decision about something he would perform the prayer of istikhara and ask for the best from Allah. During the month of Ramadan, he would pray the long tarawih prayer.
When we look at the Holy Qur’an we see indications for each of these prayers.
The Messenger of Allah would perform his prayer slowly and in great reverence (khushu), complying with its entire requisite conditions (ta’dil-i arkan). He would give himself completely to prayer. Those who saw him would find it impossible to describe the beauty in his prayer.
While praying, sounds like the boiling of water could be heard coming from his chest and due to his crying.
One time during a battle, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had stopped over at a place between Dajnan and Usfan. The idolaters said:
“They have such a prayer which is more precious to them than their fathers or their children. This prayer is the late afternoon prayer (asr). Be ready and we will attack them all together”.
Upon this the angel Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and revealed the 102nd verse of the chapter Nisa, which taught them how to pray in congregation during a battle. (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 4/21)
Thus, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) continued to perform their prayer on time and in congregation even during the battle.
Umm Habibah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say:
“Whoever performs twelve rakats of nafilah prayer, in addition to the five obligatory prayers, Allah Most High will build for him a house in Paradise”.
From the day that I heard this good news from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) I continued to perform these prayers.
Other narrators of this hadith, who narrated it from each other, also continued to perform these prayers (Muslim, Musafirin, 103).
Abu Qatada (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One day I entered the Masjid al-Nabi. I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) sitting there amongst his Companions. I went to them and sat with them. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said to me:
“What has prevented you from performing two rakats of prayer before you sit?” I replied:
“O Messenger of Allah. When I saw you and the people sitting I came and sat with you.
“Whenever one of you enters a mosque, let him not sit down before he prays two rakat or prayer” (Muslim, Musafirin, 70).
The Companions also received their share of the eagerness of the prophet for the prayer. Some examples are as follows:
A group of merchants once came and stayed in the musalla of Madina. The Caliph Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Abdurrahman ibn Awf (may Allah be pleased with him):
“If you are available come and let us guard this group against thieves?”
Abdurrahman accepted and they began to guard the group for the entire night. During this time they prayed as much nafilah prayer as Allah allowed. (Ibn Sa‘d, III, 301; Ibn al-Jawzi, Manaqib, p. 77)
One time when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was returning to Madina from a battle he stopped over somewhere. He turned to his Companions and asked them:
“Who will be on guard tonight?”
Ammar ibn Yasir (may Allah be pleased with him), from the Emigrants, and Abbad ibn Bishr (may Allah be pleased with him), from the Helpers, immediately replied:
“We will take guard o Messenger of Allah”.
Abbad (may Allah be pleased him) then turned to Ammar (may Allah be pleased him) and asked him:
“Which part of the night do you want to be on guard: at the start or at the end? Ammar (may Allah be pleased him) replied:
“I will take guard during the last part of the night”. He then lay down on his side and slept.
Abbad (may Allah be pleased him) then began to perform the prayer. At that point a pagan arrived and realising that the standing silhouette was a guard he shot his arrow at him. The arrow hit Abbad (may Allah be pleased him) who took it out and continued to pray. The man then shot a second and a third time and each arrow hit Abbad (may Allah be pleased him). Each time he remained standing and removed the arrows and continued to pray. He then bowed down in ruku and then made the prostration. After finishing his prayer he woke his friend and said:
“Wake up. I have been wounded”.
Ammar (may Allah be pleased him) immediately rose and when the pagan saw them he realised that they had seen him and he fled. When Ammar (may Allah be pleased him) saw Abbad (may Allah be pleased him) bleeding, he said to him:
“Subhanallah! Why did you not wake me when the first arrow flew?”
Abbad (may Allah be pleased him) gave the following awesome reply which showed his passion and eagerness for the prayer and his deep reverence while performing it:
“I was reciting a particular chapter (from the Qur’an) and I did not want to interrupt my prayer without finishing it. However when the arrows continued to come one after the other, I was forced to stop reciting it and bowed down. I swear by Allah that had I not feared losing the privilege of guarding these people that the Messenger of Allah commanded, I would have preferred to die rather than interrupt my prayer” (Abu Dawud, Taharah, 78/198; Ahmad, III, 344; Bayhaqi, Dalail, III, 459)
After that it became a habit of the Companions to perform the prayer whenever they were on guard or had made a stop-over.
It was the habit of Ali (may Allah be pleased him) that while he was displaying an unparalleled bravery on the battlefield, he would also be performing his worship in rare peace and reverence. During one battle an arrow struck his foot. Due to the great pain he felt, others were unable to take out the arrow. Ali said to them:
“Let me stand to pray and then take it out”.
They did as he said and without any difficulty they were able to remove the arrow. When Ali (may Allah be pleased him) finished praying he asked them:
“What did you do?”
They replied: “We removed it”.
The body of Ali (may Allah be pleased him) during prayer was in a state of such reverence and felt such spiritual pleasure that he had literally lost touch with the world…
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) indicates the connection of the heart that a true believer should have with the prayer:
“When the believer passes away and is placed in his grave, he will be shown an image of the sun setting. The deceased believer will sit rubbing his eyes and say:
“Leave me so I can perform the prayer” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 32).The pre-dawn
During the pre-dawn, which is the most fruitful time of the day Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would enter a different realm and be enveloped in a completely different spiritual state.
Allah, Most High, has said to His Most Beloved to benefit from the prosperity of the night:
‘And stay awake for prayer during part of the night as a supererogatory action for yourself. It may well be that your Lord will raise you to a Praiseworthy Station’ (Isra, 17:79).
The tahajjud prayer was commanded to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) when he became a prophet. After the verse that commanded him to read the book of the universe, mankind and the Qu’ran in the name of Allah, he was commanded to perform the ritual prayer and the tahajjud prayer.
In this verse the time, quality and wisdom of the tahajjud prayer are explained in detail:
‘You who are enwrapped in your clothing!
stay up at night, except a little,
half of it, or a little less,
or a little more, and recite the Qur’an distinctly.
We will impose a weighty Word upon you.
Certainly rising at night has a stronger effect and is more conducive to concentration.
In the daytime much of your time is taken up by business matters.
Remember the Name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him completely.
Lord of the East and West – there is no god but Him –so take Him as your Guardian.
Be steadfast in the face of what they say and cut yourself off from them – but courteously’ (Muzzammil, 73:1-10)
After that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) never abandoned performing the prayer during this most fruitful time of the night. He would seek forgiveness, remember Allah, recite from the Qur’an, and supplicate to Allah.
Even when he was ill or did not have the strength to stand, he would revive this time of the night whilst sitting (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu’, 18/1307).
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) the prophet’s wife, has informed us:
“…Whenever the Messenger of Allah would wake up at night, he would first perform four rakats of prayer which were of such beauty and length that I cannot describe. He would then perform another four rakats of prayer and these were also of such beauty and length that I cannot describe. Then he would pray three more rakats of prayer…” (Bukhari, Tahajjud 16, Tarawih 1; Muslim, Musafirin 125).
Huzayfa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One night I was performing the prayer with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). He began to recite from the chapter Baqara. I said to myself: “He will probably bow down at the 100th verse”. When he came to the 100th verse, he continued to recite. I said to myself: “He will probably perform two rakats with this chapter”. He continued to recite. I said to myself: “He will bow down after he finishes the chapter”. However he still did not finish, but began to recite from the chapter Nisa. When he finished that he went on to chapter Al’i Imran. He was reading very slowly and when he came to the verses of glorification, he would say: “Subhanallah”. When he came to a verse about seeking refuge in Allah, he would seek refuge in Allah. He then bowed down and began to say: “Subhana Rabbi al Azim”. His ruku lasted for as long as his qiyam. Then he stood upright and said: “Sami allahu liman hamida, Rabbena laka al hamd”. He then stayed for a period almost as long as he was in ruku. Then he bowed down in prostration, saying: “Subhana Rabbi al ‘Ala”. His prostration lasted for almost as long as his standing” (Muslim, Musafirin, 203).
Rabia ibn Ka’b (may Allah be pleased with him), who served the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) narrates:
“I would sleep by the door of the Messenger of Allah and provide him his water for him to take his ablution. A long time after he had stood to pray I would hear him say: ‘Sami Allahu liman hamidah’ and a long time into the night I would hear him say: “Alhamdulillahi Rabbi’l Alemin’ (Ahmad, IV, 57; Ibn Sa’d, IV, 313).
This narration openly shows how deep a reverence and the degree of presence that the Messenger of Allah had during his tahajjud prayer, and how long he would pray for.
In another narration Rabia said:
“I would wait by the door when the Messenger of Allah entered his house, thinking that he might have a need that I could fulfıl. I would hear him say constantly: ‘Subhanallah, Subhanallah, Subhanallah wa bihamdih’. Eventually I would be tired and go back or I would be overcome with sleep and lie down and sleep” (Ahmad, IV, 59).
According to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), the prophet’s wife, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would pray during the night until his feet were swollen (from standing).
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that she once asked the Messenger of Allah:
“O Messenger of Allah! Allah has forgiven both your past and your future mistakes, so why do you do this (why do you cause yourself so much difficulty)?”
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied:
“Should I not wish to be a grateful slave?” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 48/2; Muslim, Munafiqin, 81).
The following words of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), also describe the prophet’s love of worship.
“…I know well that on the Day of Badr, all of us slept except for the Messenger of Allah. He, however, stood under a tree and prayed until the morning, with the tears rolling down his cheeks”.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with him), narrates:
“Whenever the Messenger of Allah was unable to perform the tahajjud prayer due to a sickness of some sort, he would pray twelve rakats of prayer the next day” (Muslim, Musafirin, 140).
Amr ibn Abasa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One day I said:
“O Messenger of Allah. Is there a time that is closer to Allah than the others?”
“Yes, the time when the Lord is closest to His servant is in the middle of the last part of the night. If you have the strength to be one of those who remember Allah at that time, then do so…” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 299/1277).
Abu Uthman an Nahdi (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“I was the guest of Abu Hurairah for seven nights. Abu Hurairah, his wife, and his servant would divide the night up into three parts and each would stay up for a part. Each would perform the prayer and then wake the other up (Bukhari, At’ima, 40).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would fast the obligatory fast during Ramadan, with great eagerness. After that he would continue to fast regularly. He would prefer to fast in particular on Mondays and Thursdays and he would explain the reason as follows:
“Deeds are presented to Allah on Mondays and Thursday. I like for my deeds to be presented to Allah whilst I am fasting” (Tirmidhi, Sawm, 44/747).
“I was born on a Monday and it was on a Monday that revelation began to be revealed to me” (Muslim, Siyam, 198).
The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would also give great importance to fasting on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of the lunar month, which are called ‘Ayyam-i Bidh’. He would also advise this to his Companions. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“The prophet never neglected to fast on the Ayyam-i Bidh in either peace or battle” (Nasai, Sawm, 70).
He said that righteous deeds performed on the first ten days of the month of Dhi al-Hijjah were very precious in the sight of Allah and in particular about the fast on the day of ashura he said:
“It is atonement for the sins of an entire past year and for the next year” (Muslim, Siyam 196, 197).
There was no month in which he did not fast until the day he passed away. In particular he would fast for most of the month of Shaban.
Sometimes he would perform sawm-i wisal that is he would fast for a few days without breaking his fast, however, he did not allow his Companions to do so.
His Hajj and Umrah
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) described the virtues of hajj and umrah as follows:
“Let the one who wishes to perform the hajj make haste. It may be that he falls ill, he loses his mount or another need arises” (Ahmad, I, 214; Ibn Majah, Manasik, 1).
“Umra is an atonement for the (minor) sins of a person performed between two umrahs. And the reward for an accepted hajj is Paradise” (Bukhari, Umra, 1).
“Close the gap between hajj and umrah. These remove poverty and sins just like the bellows clean away the rust of iron, gold and silver” (Tirmidhi, Hajj, 2/810; Ibn Majah, Manasik, 3; Ahmad, III, 446-447).
“Like the spending done for the sake of Allah, Allah rewards the spending done during Hajj seven hundred fold (Ahmad, V, 354-355).
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would also declare the virtues of sacrificing animals for the sake of Allah and he would do so for himself, his family and for those from his community who were unable to.
The nature of the charity of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was so elevated that it is impossible to describe it. He loved to give more so than receiving. He would give out great amounts, without fearing poverty in the slightest. He would say that what belonged to him was not what remained after he had given, but what he in fact gave out.
He informed us that sadaqa (charity) reached Allah before it reached the one in need. For this reason he would immediately give out whatever came to him, and if there was something in his house that he could give away he would not find peace and he would be unable to sleep.
Umm Salamah (may God be pleased with him) narrates:
“One day the Messenger of Allah came to me, his face having changed colour. Thinking that this was due to some pain I asked him:
“O Messenger of Allah. Your face has changed colour, what is the matter?” The prophet replied:
“I am in this state because of the seven dinars that came to us yesterday. It is night time and the dinars are still under my bed (We have not been able to give them away)” (Ahmad, VI, 293; Haysami, X, 238).
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) lived in a constant state of altruism. He would give any gifts or charity that came to him to the People of the Bench that is to those needy Muslims who had dedicated themselves to serving the religion of Allah. His mercy embraced all of creation and he was always thinking of the poor and needy.
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of the prophet was the most beloved member of his family. She used to grind wheat with a grinder and carry water in a water-skin which resulted in callouses on her hands and shoulders. Her clothes were always dirty and dusty from sweeping the house. At one time, some war captives were brought to the Messenger of Allah. I said to Fatima:
“Why do you not go to your father and ask for a servant?” Fatima went to her father, but the Messenger of Allah was talking to some people at the time and so she returned home. The next day the Messenger of Allah went to Fatima and asked her:
“My daughter, what was it that you were in need of?” Fatima was silent and did not reply. I intervened and said:
“Let me explain o Messenger of Allah” and I explained the matter to him. The Messenger of Allah then said:
“O Fatima. Fear Allah. Perform His obligatory commands. Do your family’s chores. When you go to bed repeat Subhanallah thirty three times, Alhamdulillah thirty three times, and Allahu Akbar thirty four times. This makes a total of one hundred. This is better for you than a servant”.
“I am pleased with Allah and His Messenger”. The Messenger of Allah did not provide her with a servant” (Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 19-20/2988. See Bukhari, Humus, 6).
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) later said:
“By Allah I cannot give you a servant when the People of the Bench are tying rocks to their stomach due to their hunger and I cannot find anything to provide for them. I am going to receive a ransom for the war captives and use the proceeds to spend on the People of the Bench” (Ahmad, I, 106).
Another time when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was digging the trench and carrying earth together with the Muslims, he became very hungry and tied stones to his stomach in order to quell his hunger. Seeing the pain on the face of the Messenger of Allah, Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) invited him to his house in order to offer him what little food he had in his house. However, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was always thinking of his Companions before himself. He thus gathered them all and in a miraculous fashion fed over a thousand Companions with food that would normally have sufficed only a few people.
These narrations show us how profound and endless a mercy and compassion he felt for all of the believers.
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) never kept anything beyond what was an essential need. When he could find nothing to give away he would promise to give something when it arrived and in fact even went into debt in order to meet the needs of the poor.
On the day he passed away, the Messenger of Allah told Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) to give the six or seven dinars that were under his bed to the poor. A little while later he asked what happened to the dinars. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) told him that she had forgotten to give them away as she was preoccupied with his illness. He then asked her for the dinars and said:
“Muhammad, the prophet of Allah, does not see fit that he should go to his Lord with these still in his possessions, and not having given them away to the needy…”
He then had them given to five needy families from the Ansar. After that he said:
“Now I am at ease…” He then fell into a light sleep. (Ahmad, VI, 104; Haysami, X, 239-240; Ibn Sa‘d, II, 237-238).
This was the never-ending charity of the prophet which did not decrease, even on his deathbed…
The Khushu of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
The inner conditions of worship are just as important as the outer conditions. Just as prayer cannot begin without completing the required conditions of cleanliness and wudu so too without conditions such as sincerity, khushu, and presence, which is the preparation of the heart, prayer cannot be begun.
Allah, Most High, says in the Holy Qur’an:
‘It is the believers who are successful: those who are humble in their salat…’ (Mu’minun, 23:1-2).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be him) taught his Companions both the inner and outer conditions of the prayer. One of the most important of the inner conditions is ‘khushu’ or deep reverence and humility.
Khushu is when the heart softens, becoming tender, delicate and profound in the face of the divine manifestations of greatness and power. This state of the heart is reflected in the limbs of one’s body and gives a certain peace, harmony and spirituality to one’s actions. Khushu comes about as a result of one’s connection to Allah.
Abdullah ibn Shihhir (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the Companions, describes the khushu of the prophet during prayer as follows:
“One time I went to the Messenger of Allah. He was praying and there was a sound like the boiling of water coming from his chest due to his crying” (Abu Musa, Salat, 156-157/904; Ahmad, IV, 25, 26).
The Messenger of Allah said:
“The prayer is performed in two rakats. After two rakats you sit down for the tashahhud. You find yourself in deep khushu and plead and supplicate to Allah. You are humble and lowered. (When you finish your prayer) you raise your hands to your elevated Lord, the inner palms to your face and begging: “O my Lord! O my Lord!.” Whoever does not do this, then his prayer is lacking” (Tirmidhi, Salat, 166/385).
Another time the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a person who performed his prayer quickly and without khushu:
“Go back and perform your prayer once more, because you did not in fact pray.” He then described the prayer to him as follows:
“When you rise to pray, proclaim the takbir and then begin to read a portion of easy verses from the Qur’an that you have memorised. Then bow down and stay there until all of your limbs have reached a state of calm, then rise and stay calmly upright for a while, then bow down in prostration and stay there for a while, then come up and sit for a while. Apply this to your whole prayer.” (Bukhari, Adhan 95, 122, Ayman 15, Isti’zan 18; Muslim, Salat 45).
He advised another Companion as follows:
“When you rise to pray, pray as if you were a person leaving this world”. (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 15; Ahmad, V, 412).
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) once saw a man playing with his beard while praying. He said to him:
“Look at that man, if his heart was in khushu, his limbs would be also” (Ali al-Muttaqi, VIII, 197/22530. See Abdurrazzaq, Musannaf, II, 266-267).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would not allow anything to interfere in his state of khushu during prayer. One day Abu Jahm (may Allah be pleased with him) brought to the prophet a fine embroidered robe. Allah’s Messenger performed his prayer with that robe. When he was finished, he said to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her):
“Return this robe to Abu Jahm. The embroidery caught my eye and I was about to lose my presence in the prayer” (Muwatta’, Salat, 67; Bukhari, Salat, 14).
Worship that is performed without khushu becomes empty, meaningless and a mere form without spirit.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“A person finishes his prayer and only a tenth, a ninth, an eighth, a seventh, a sixth, a fifth, a fourth, a third or half of its reward is written down for them” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 123-124/796; Ahmad, IV, 321)
Another time the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“The worst thief is the one who steals from his prayer”. His Companions asked him:
“O Messenger of Allah. How can a person steal from his prayer?” He replied:
“He does not bow down or prostrate properly and when he rises he does not completely straighten his back” (Ahmad, V, 310; Darimi, Salat, 78).
Thus, a prayer that is performed without abiding by the rules, and deprived of khushu will decrease in its value, decreasing to as much as a tenth. The angels will record in the book of deeds:
“Such and such decreased the value of their prayer by a fourth, such and such by a half…” (Abdurrazzaq, Musannaf, II, 371).
Ubada ibn Samit (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates something he learned from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him):
“…The first knowledge (that is, state) that will be removed from people is khushu. The days are near when you will enter a large mosque and not be able to see a single person praying with khushu…” (Tirmidhi, Ilm, 5/2653; Darim, Muqaddima, 29).
Allah, Most High, describes those righteous servants of His who worship in khushu as follows:
“…those who give what they have given, their hearts fearful of their return to their Lord, such people are truly racing towards good things, and they are the first to reach them’ (Mu’minun, 23:60-61).
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“When the above verse was revealed I asked the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him):
“Are those mentioned in the verse those who commit sins such as adultery, burglary or drinking alcohol?” The prophet replied:
“No, o daughter of Siddiq. Those described in the verse are those who when they pray, fast or give in charity are anxious about whether their worship will be accepted by Allah or not?” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 23/3175; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 20).
And so the most important purpose of training in tasawwuf is to allow the hearts to attain this state of khushu.
The Messenger of Allah’s seeking of forgiveness and his supplication
The most important sign of servitude to Allah is istigfar (seeking forgiveness) and dua (supplication).The one who is occupied with istigfar and dua is a person who has perceived his own weakness and who lives in a state of being together with Him by constantly remembering his Lord.
Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“You who have faith! Make sincere tawba to Allah…’ (Tahrim, 66:8)
‘The part of the night they (the people with taqwa) spent asleep was small and they would seek forgiveness before the dawn’ (Dhariyat, 51: 17-18).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“O mankind! Make tawba to Allah and seek forgiveness from Him. Indeed I make tawba to Allah and seek His forgiveness 100 times, and even more in a day” (Ahmad, IV, 261; Nasai, Kubra, IX, 168; Compare Muslim, Dhikr, 42).
“Every morning when I go out I seek Allah’s forgiveness 100 times” (Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, VI, 57/29445; Nasai, Kubra, IX, 167).
This is why the times of the predawn and the dawn are considered amongst the righteous predecessors (salaf’i salihin) to be times of seeking forgiveness and supplication and they would show great care at those times”.
Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“We would count the Messenger of Allah saying the following prayer 100 times in an assembly:
رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِى وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
“O Allah. Forgive me and accept my tawba. You accept tawba much and are Most Merciful” (Abu Dawud, Witr, 26/1516; Tirmidhi, Dawat, 38/3434).
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“I never saw anyone say I seek forgiveness from Allah and I make tawba to Him more than the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)” (Nasai, Kubra, IX, 171; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, III, 207/928).
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Whoever continues to seek forgiveness from Allah, Allah Most High will provide for them a way out of every constriction, freedom from every sorrow, and provision from where he never expected.” (Abu Dawud, Witr, 26/1518; Ibn Majah, Adab, 57; Ahmad, I, 248; Hakim, IV, 291/7677).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) also described the best form of istigfar as follows:
“The master of istigfar and the most superior is for you to say the following:
اَللّٰهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبّ۪ى لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَن۪ى وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلٰى عَهْدِكَ
وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ
بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ بِذَنْب۪ى فَاغْفِرْ ل۪ى فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ
“O Allah! You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your servant, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You”.
The prophet then continued:
“Whoever reads this Master Prayer of Forgiveness (Sayyid al-Istighfar) during the day, believing with all his heart in its reward and virtue, will be of the people of Paradise if he dies before the night falls. And whoever reads it at night, believing with all his heart in its virtue and rewards will be of the people of Paradise, if he dies before the morning” (Bukhari, Dawat, 2, 16; Abu Dawud, Adab, 100-101; Nasai, Istiaza, 57/5519; Tirmidhi, Dawat, 15/3393).
Almighty Allah says:
‘Call on your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who overstep the limits’ (A’raf, 7:55).
‘Their sides eschew their beds as they call on their Lord in fear and ardent hope. And they give of what We have provided for them. No one knows the delight that is hidden away for it in recompense for what they used to do’ (Sajdah, 32:16-17).
‘Say: ‘What has My Lord to do with you if you do not call on Him?’ (Furqan, 25:77).
The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Dua is the essence of servitude (to Allah).” (Tirmidhi, Dawat, 1/3371).
“Dua is worship itself.” (Abu Dawud, Witr, 23/1479; Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 2/2969).
“There is nothing more precious in the sight of Allah than dua.” (Tirmidhi, Dawat, 1/3370).
“Ask from the virtue of Allah. For Allah Most High likes to be asked.” (Tirmidhi, Dawat, 115/3571).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was in a constant state of supplication. When we look at books that have been compiled about his prayers we see that his blessed heart was always turned to Allah. He had various supplications for whenever he woke up for tahajjud, or went to relieve himself, or to take ablutions, to read the call to prayer, to enter the mosque, on leaving the mosque, after salat, on breaking his fast, after eating, on leaving the house in the morning, when going for battle, returning from battle, ascending his mount, stopping over on a journey, buying something new, eating the first fruit or vegetable of the season, when wearing his clothes, arising from an assembly, on reaching the morning, when the night fell, when going to sleep, when waking up in the night, in comfort and in distress…There were so many of these that his Companions had trouble memorising them all.
Furthermore, the masters of tasawwuf struggle to be always in the same state of supplication as the prophet Muhammad. They take great care to plead to Allah with these prayers that fell from the blessed lips of the prophet. The prophetic supplications know better the ways that lead to Allah.
The dhikr and Qur’an recitation of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
Almighty Allah has commanded His servants as follows:
‘Remember your Lord in yourself humbly and fearfully, without loudness of voice, morning and evening. Do not be one of the unaware.’ (A’raf, 7:205).
‘You who have faith! Remember Allah much, and glorify Him in the morning and the evening’ (Ahzab, 33:41-42).
With his beautiful character and model behaviour and actions, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), a living Qur’an, was always in a state of remembrance of Allah, be it with his glorification or with his contemplation.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah was always in a state of dhikr, at every moment” (Muslim, Haydh, 117; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 9/18; Tirmidhi, Dawat, 9/3384).
Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him), the grandson of the prophet once asked his father Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) about the character and adab of the prophet which his father described at length. At one point he said:
“The Messenger of Allah neither sat down nor rose without remembering Allah…” (Ibn Sa‘d, I, 424).
Even during his most difficult journeys the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was always preoccupied with dhikrullah. If during a journey it was not the time of karahat, he would perform his salat at length, upon his camel. At other times he would climb the hills proclaiming the takbir (Allahu Akbar) and the tahlil (La ilah illallah) and would glorify Allah when coming back down.
He did not abandon his remembrance of Allah even whilst fighting against the enemy. After describing how to perform the prayer in congregation, Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘When you have finished salat remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on your sides. When you are safe again do salat in the normal way. The salat is prescribed for the believers at specific times’ (Nisa, 4:103).
In another verse, Almighty Allah commands the believers to rush to remember Allah when the Friday call to prayer is read, and to leave all trade. Immediately after that He describes the duties of the believers after the prayer as follows:
‘Then when the salat is finished spread through the earth and seek Allah’s bounty and remember Allah much so that hopefully you will be successful.’(Jumu’a, 62:10).
At every opportunity the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would encourage his family and his Companions to perform their night worship and to dhikr.
Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“One night the Messenger of Allah awoke in fear and said:
“Subhanallah! Tonight many trials have been sent down and many treasuries have been opened. Awake o owners of the cell (here he is indicating his wives). There are many clothed women in this world who are considered naked in the hereafter.” (Bukhari, Ilm 40, Fitan 6).
Ubayy ibn Ka’b (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“After two thirds of the night had passed the Messenger of Allah would wake and say:
“O people! Remember Allah. The trumpet (sur) that will unsettle the earth is near. It will be followed by the second one. Death has come in all its intensity. Death has come in all its intensity…” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 23/2457).
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah would wake for the night prayer and say ten times:
اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ ، سُبْحَانَ اللّٰهِ وَبِحَمْدِه۪ ، سُبْحَانَ الْمَلِكِ الْقُدُّوسِ ،
اَسْتَغْفِرُ اللّٰهَ ، لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ
“Allahu Akbar, Alhamdulillahi Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi, subhan al-malik al-quddus, astaghfirullah, la ilaha illallah”. Then he would say ten times:
اَللّٰهُمَّ إِنّ۪ى أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ ضِيقِ الدُّنْيَا وَضِيقِ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ
“O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the constriction and distress of the Day of Judgement” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 101/5085).
Almighty Allah presents the Messenger of Allah to us as the most perfect example of remembering Allah much. He was in a state of remembrance of Allah in every circumstance – in fear, in hope, in distress, in ease, whilst resting, whilst working, whilst walking, whilst stopping, at night and during the day. He also advised his Companions and his community to do the same.
Muadh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“I once said to the Messenger of Allah: “O Messenger of Allah. Give me some advice”. He replied:
“Have taqwa of Allah to the best of your ability. Remember Allah near every stone and every tree. Repent for any sins that you commit, openly for those done openly and in secret for those sins done in secret.” (Haysami, X, 74).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) once again advised us to carry out our every task by mentioning His Name:
“…Lock your door and mention the Name of Allah. Put out your lamp and mention the Name of Allah. Cover your water vessels and mention the Name of Allah, even if you have to improvise something across them” (Bukhari, Badu’ al-khalq, 11).
The Blessed Companions put this advice into practice with great passion and eagerness and arrived at such a state that, in the words of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him), they were able to hear the glorification of Allah made by the food they ate.
Even though remembering Allah while alone and in secret is more acceptable, from time to time it is also quite virtuous to make dhikr of Allah loudly whilst in a gathering.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“There are a class of Allah’s angels that they travel around seeking people of dhikr. When they find a community performing dhikr of Allah they cry out to each other:
“Come, here is what you have been looking for. The angels then come and envelop the people of dhikr with their wings until they reach the heavens…” (Bukhari, Dawat, 66).
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased him) and Abu Said al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) both bore witness that the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Whenever a gathering sits to remember Allah, the angels surround them, divine mercy envelops them, and a tranquillity descends upon them and Allah Most High mentions them in a gathering of His superior slaves (the prophets and the great angels).” (Muslim, Dhikr, 39).
One day the Messenger of Allah approached a group of his Companions who were sitting in a circle. He asked them:
“Why are you sitting here?” They replied:
“We are sitting here to remember Allah and thank Him for bestowing Islam upon us thereby favouring us”. The prophet replied:
“Speak the truth in the name of Allah. Did you really sit here to remember Allah?” They replied:
“Yes, by Allah this is why we have gathered here”.
Allah’s Messenger then said:
“I did not make you swear by Allah because I did not believe you. But Gabriel came to me and told me that Allah, Most High, informed His angels that He was proud of you and that is why I said this.” (Muslim, Dhikr, 40; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, VI, 59; Compare Ahmad, III, 265).
On another day the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) described the virtues of assemblies of dhikr:
“When you stop by the gardens of Paradise make sure you benefit from them properly.” His Companions asked him:
“What do you mean by the gardens of Paradise o Messenger of Allah?” He replied:
“The assemblies of dhikr.” (Tirmidhi, Dawat, 82/3510).
Shaddad ibn Aws (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
One time I was with Allah’s Messenger and he asked us:
“Is there any foreigner amongst you?” By foreigner he meant a person from the people of the Book.
“No, there is not o Messenger of Allah”. He then ordered us to close the doors and said:
“Raise your hands and say: لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ , La ilaha illallah”
We raised our hands and made dhikr like that for a period.
After that Allah’s Messenger put his hands down and prayed as follows:
“Alhamdulillah. O Allah. You sent me with this ‘statement. You commanded me to utter it and act as it requires. You promised me Paradise in reward for it. And You never turn back on Your promise”.
Later Allah’s Messenger said to his Companions:
“Good news for you. Indeed Allah has forgiven you.” (Ahmad, IV, 124).
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) once went to Abdullah ibn Rawaha (may Allah be pleased with him). He was talking with his friends and performing dhikr with them. The Messenger of Allah said:
“You are such select people that Almighty Allah ordered me to be with you and to be patient with you in the face of difficulties”.
He then recited the following verse:
‘Restrain yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. Do not turn your eyes from them, desiring the attractions of this world. And do not obey someone whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance and who follows his own whims and desires and whose life has transgressed all bounds’ (Kahf, 18:28).
Then the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) continued:
“Know that if a number of people gather to remember Allah, then the same number of angels sit next to them. If they glorify Allah, the angels glorify Allah; if they praise Allah, the angels also praise Allah; if they declare the takbir, the angels also declare the takbir. Then the angels enter the presence of Allah and even though Allah knows about the event more than they do, they tell Him:
“O Lord. Your servants glorified You and we too glorified You; they declared the takbir and we too declared the takbir; they praised You and we too praised You”.
Almighty Allah says:
“O my angels, Bear witness that I have forgiven them”. The angels say:
“O Lord. There are such and such people amongst them who have made many mistakes and who have come with other intentions”.
Almighty Allah will say:
“They are such a gathering that those who sit with them cannot be bad.” (Haysami, X, 76; Abu Nuaym, Hilyah, V, 118).
In that case let us stop and think: Where are we in this dhikr? How close does our dhikr come to that of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with him)? Let us never forget that dhikr for the heart is like water to the fish. If the fish is removed from the water what will become of it?
Ibn Qayyim al Jawzi has said:
“Dhikr gives the dhakir (the one who performs dhikr) such strength that a person can easily perform tasks that he never thought possible before”.
Recitation of the Holy Qur’an
One of the greatest forms of dhikr is recitation of the Holy Qur’an. Hakim al-Tirmidhi has said:
“To remember Allah Most High with His own words is better than remembering Him with our own”.
Sufyan Sawri has said:
“The Holy Qur’an has a great light which is worthy of the glory of Allah, who speaks it”.
The believer will benefit from the Qur’an even if he does not understand the meaning. One of the great scholars has said:
“A person takes some medicine, but they do not know what they are taking and yet the medicine takes effect. The Holy Qur’an also impacts in this way. Every letter of the Qur’an is like a mountain that falls upon the body of the human being (his existence and his self) and it eliminates that body and wipes away all traces of human defects (that is, it elevates him spiritually). The light of the Qur’an unites with the light of the believer’s heart and the human body [physical nature] is eliminated (no claim to existence and self will remain)”.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would recite the Qur’an properly, reflect much on its meanings and immediately abide by its commands. He would recite it with his heart, feeling it and experiencing it. When reading, if he came to a verse about glorification of Allah, he would absolve Allah of any faults by saying “Subhanallah” or such similar statements. When he came to verses about supplication he would supplicate to Allah. Whenever he read a verse about seeking refuge in Allah he would immediately seek refuge in Allah. Sometimes he would repeat a single verse over and over again until the morning.
The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would regularly read the Qur’an every day. He would divide the Qur’an up into seven parts and complete an entire reading (hatim) in one week. His Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) would do the same.
The recitation of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was very clear, and he would read each letter with tartil, that is with care and reflection. He would also recite in accordance with the rules of tajweed.
When we look at the life of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), we see that he read the Qur’an at every opportunity. When teaching people about Islam and talking with his Companions he would recite from the Qur’an. When explaining a particular matter he would read any related verses and he would recite at length from the Qur’an during his night worship.
He would read the Qur’an during a journey. Suraqa (may Allah be pleased with him), who followed the Messenger as he was migrating from Mecca said that he was so close that he could hear the recitation of the prophet.
The prophet would give more importance to the Qur’an in the month of Ramadan in particular. He would recite the entire Qur’an every night of this month with his friend Gabriel. In the Ramadan before his demise, they completed this entire recitation twice.The Messenger of Allah would also carry out this recitation with some of his Companions.
Just as the Messenger of Allah loved to read the Qur’an, he also received a certain pleasure from listening to it being recited by others.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
One day the Messenger of Allah said to me:
“Would you recite the Qur’an to me?” I replied:
“O Messenger of Allah. How can I recite the Qur’an to you when it has been revealed to you?”
Allah’s Messenger responded:
“I love to listen to the Qur’an from others”.
I then began to recite from the chapter Nisa. When I came to the 41st verse which was:
‘How will it be when We bring a witness from every nation and bring you as a witness against them?’ (Nisa, 4:41)
“That is enough for now”.
I looked to see that there were tears falling from his blessed eyes (Bukhari, Tafsir, 4/9; Muslim, Musafirin, 247).
The Companions were also occupied with the Qur’an in times of both peace and battle. The following words of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are a beautiful proof of this:
“I know well the sound of the soft-hearted Ansari people when they enter (their homes) by night reciting the Qur’an. Even if I have not seen where they have stopped over during the day (during a battle), I can easily identify where they are by the sounds of their recitation of the Qur’an by night… (Bukhari, Maghazi, 38).
The contemplation of the Messenger of Allah
Even before the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was given the duty of prophethood he liked silence and contemplation (tafakkur). When the time of his prophethood was near he became even more eager for privacy and seclusion. He would go to the cave of Hira, about 5km out of Mecca, and spend days there. His worship during these retreats would be to contemplate, to take lessons from the realms of the heavens and the earth, like his forefather Ibrahim, and to watch the Ka’bah. In this way Almighty Allah prepared him for the sacred duty that was to follow.
During that time he would ponder deeply on the universe and its Creator and in his later life he would always be in a state of contemplation.
Hind ibn Abi Hale (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“…The prophet would always look straight ahead. His glance down lasted longer than his glance up. He looked at everything with the aim of taking a lesson… He was in a constant state of sorrow and contemplation. Ease was not an issue for him. He did not speak unless there was a need. He preferred to remain silent…” (Tabarani, Kabir, XXII, 155; Bayhaqi, Shuab, III, 24; Ibn Sa’d, I, 422-423).
The prophet himself said:
“My Lord commanded that my silence be contemplation” (Jazari, Jamiu al-Usul, XI, 687/9317; Qudai, Shihab, no: 1159).
Ata, from the Tabieen, narrates the following scene which describes the gentleness of the heart of the Messenger and his degree of tafakkur:
I once asked Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her):
“Can you tell me the most amazing state you saw of the Messenger of Allah?” She replied:
“Which of his states was not amazing?” She then continued:
“One night after coming to me the Messenger of Allah said:
“O Aisha! If you allow me I would like to spend this night worshipping my Lord”.
“By Allah, I love to be with you. However I love that which pleases you more”.
He then rose, took his ablutions and stood to pray. He began to cry… He wept so much that his dress, his blessed beard and the place where he prostrated were saturated. While he was in that state, Bilal came to call him for the dawn prayer. When he saw the prophet crying he said:
“O Messenger of Allah. Why do you weep when Allah, Most High, has forgiven you your past and future sins?”
The Messenger of Allah replied:
“Shall I not be a grateful slave? By Allah this night some verses were revealed to me that woe be to those who do not read and reflect upon them”.
He then recited the following verses:
‘In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with intelligence: those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire’ (Al’i Imran, 3:190-191)” (Ibn Hibban, Sahih, II, 386; Alusi, Ruh al-Maani, IV, 157).
On the night that these verses were revealed the Messenger of Allah cried until the morning with tears of pearl that would have make the stars feel envious. In the same way the tears of the believers when they contemplate on the manifestations of Divine power and majesty will be, by the grace of Allah, the adornment of these fleeting nights, and the light of the dark graves, and by the will of Allah drops of dew in the gardens of Paradise.
Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) sent his 10 year old son to his aunt Maymuna, the wife of the prophet, to learn about the tahajjud prayer of the prophet. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the rest of the story:
“At night I stayed in the room of my aunt Maymuna. The Messenger of Allah chatted with his family for a short time and then retreated to rest. When it was the last third of the night he woke up, and for a short period watched and reflected upon the heavens. He then recited the 190th verse of the chapter Al’i Imran…” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 3/17, 18; Tawheed, 27).
The following is from another narration:
“…After a half of the night had passed or just before or just after, the Messenger of Allah awoke. He sat and wiped away the sleep from his face with his hands. He then recited the last ten verses of Al’i Imran. He then rose and turned to his water urn to take his ablution…” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 3/19; Ahmad, I, 242).
The fact that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recited these verses regarding tafakkur when he rose for the tahajjud prayer indicates that the most fruitful time for contemplation is the pre-dawn.
Allah’s Messenger and his Companions would read the Qur’an and ponder on its wisdom and the details of its meanings. Sometimes he would focus on one verse until the morning and supplicate and entreat Allah.
Abu Said al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him):
“One time one Companion heard another Companion recite the chapter Ikhlas until the morning. When it was morning he went to the Messenger of Allah and told him. It was as if he considered this short verse too little to be read the entire night. The prophet however said:
“I swear by the Being who holds my soul in His hand of power that this chapter is equal to one third of the Qur’an” (Bukhari, Ayman, 3. Cf Bukhari, Adhan 106, Tawheed 1).
Contemplation of death (Tafakkur al-mawt)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) never forgot the fleeting nature of this world. He said:
“This world in relation to the hereafter is like as if one of you dipped his finger into the ocean. Let him look and see how much water is left on his finger.” (Muslim, Jannah, 55).
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
One time the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had lied down to sleep on a straw mat. When he woke, the straw had made marks on the side of his blessed body. We said:
“O Messenger of Allah. Let us get you a mattress” The prophet replied:
“What have I to do with this world? I am like a traveller who stops to take shade under a tree and then remounts his horse and moves on.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 44/2377).
Bara (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“We were once with the Messenger of Allah at a funeral service. The Messenger of Allah sat by the side of the grave and began to weep so much so that the earth became wet from his tears. He then said:
“O my brothers, Prepare well for this death (that will befall us all.)” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 19).
Another time, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged his community to contemplate upon death saying:
“Make much remembrance of death. Doing so will cleanse a person of their sins, and make one abstain from the world. If you ponder on death when you are wealthy, you will be protected from the dangers of wealth. If you ponder on death when you are poor, you will be content with your life” (Suyuti, Jamiu al-Saghir, I, 47).
“Remember death and remember the rotting of the corpse and the bones! The one who desires the afterlife will abandon the embellishments of this world.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 24).
“…Allah loves the one who remembers death often (Haysami, X, 325).
One time a Companion asked the Messenger of Allah:
“Who is the most intelligent of the believers?”
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied:
“The one who remembers death the most and prepares for what is to come after. These are the truly intelligent people” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 31).
This is why by assigning a portion of the day to reflecting upon death, the masters of tasawwuf gain a certain spiritual vitality. The vigour and enthusiasm they receive from this contemplation cautions them from wrong and futile tasks, and encourages them to perform beneficial and righteous deeds.
The best means for a person to remember death is visiting the graves. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“I forbade you to visit the graves. But now you may visit them because visiting the graves reminds one of the hereafter.” (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 60; Muslim, Janaiz, 106).
Allah’s Messenger would frequently visit his Companions in the cemetery of Baqi and the graves of the martyrs of Uhud. According to the words of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), the prophet would go to the Baqi cemetery during the last part of the nights that he was with her, and greet and pray for those there.
In fact one night the angel Gabriel came to the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said:
“Your Lord commands you to go the people of Baqi and ask for them to be forgiven”. The prophet immediately abided by this command and went to visit the cemetery of Baqi. (Muslim, Janaiz, 103).
Abdullah ibn Abi Farwa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“The prophet went to visit the martyrs at Uhud and said:
“O Allah. Your servant and Your prophet bears witness that these are true martyrs. Whoever visits these martyrs and greets them they too will respond to their greeting until the end of time.” (Hakim, III, 31/4320).
Imam Sha’bi, one of the great Tabi’een said:
“Whenever one of his close friends from the Ansar passed away, he would visit their grave often and recite Qur’an”.
We must make special mention that constancy and continuity were the essence of the prophet’s worship. He loved those acts of worship that were done consistently however few they may have been:
“The most beloved of deeds to Allah, Most High, are those that are done consistently even though they may be little.” (Muslim, Musafirin, 218; Ahmad, VI, 61).
The worship of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) brought harmony to every part of his life. When we look at his acts of worship we see that it was as if he had done nothing else in his life, as if he was only occupied with worship. Moreover, when we look at his serving others, we can get the impression that he did not find time to worship. However just as the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) carried out his worldly service in the most perfect way, so too did he perform his worship in the best way.
He taught the religion of Allah to people in the face of great difficulties, he explained with his words and his actions the parts of the revelation that needed explanation, he continued to worship day and night with the greatest care, he spent time with his family, he was sympathetic to the poor and needy, he was the most perfect guide for his community, he established a powerful and sound state, he invited kings to Islam by sending them envoys, he accepted envoys and was hospitable to them, he managed and dispatched armies, he struggled selflessly to lift the obstacles that lay in the way of spreading the religion of Allah…
That is, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) carried out his own personal daily duties without fault, weighty in themselves and which none else could have succeeded at, and also worshipped and served Allah in a better way than those who retreat to the hills to devote themselves to Allah.
As a result of this he was able to display the most praiseworthy of character with traits such as mercy, kindness, forgiveness, clemency, humility, generosity and serving others. The examples of the prophet’s beautiful character are endless.
The zuhd of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
The Messenger of Allah had perceived, to the greatest degree, the fleeting nature of this world, and that the true life was that of the hereafter. Whether it was in the building of the Masjid an-Nabi, or at other difficult and distressing times such as the digging of the trench and battle, or in times of happiness such as the conquest of Mecca and the Greater Hajj, he sought refuge in Allah with the same words:
“O Allah! The real life is only the life of the hereafter”.
That is, at every moment and in every situation, he stayed away from the pleasures and delights of this world and was always struggling to build his hereafter.
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One time I was with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). He took me by the hand and said:
“O Abu Dharr! If the mountain of Uhud were made of gold and silver, I would spend all of it in the way of Allah and would not want even one qiratof it with me on the day I die”.
“O Messenger of Allah. You would not keep one qirat or one kantar?” He replied:
“O Abu Dharr. I am reducing it and you are making it more. I want the hereafter and you ask me about the world. I would not leave one qirat, one qirat, one qirat” (Haysami, X, 239).
Abu Muwayhiba (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One day the Messenger of Allah said to me:
“I have been commanded to seek forgiveness for the deceased in the Baqi cemetery. Come with me”.
I went with him in the middle of the night. He stood by those lying in their graves and said:
“Salamu alaykum, o people of the graves! Let the state that you are in please you more than that of those who are still living. Dissensions come like waves of darkest night, the one following hard upon the other, each more worse than the last”.
The Messenger of Allah then turned to me and said:
“O Abu Muwayhiba! Indeed I have been given the choice between being given the key to the treasures of this world and staying here forever, or going to Paradise. I have been left free to choose between these or returning to my Lord”.
I immediately said:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you o Messenger of Allah. Could you not have chosen the keys to the treasures of this world and remaining here and then entering Paradise?”
The prophet replied:
“No, by Allah o Abu Muwayhiba. I chose to return to my Lord”.
He then sought forgiveness for the believers in the Baqi cemetery and went back home. After that the illness and pain that would lead to his demise began. (Darimi, Muqaddimah, 14; Ahmad, III, 489, 488; Hakim, III, 57/4383).
This is because the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) always preferred the hereafter; he did not give any importance to worldly property or wealth. He saw wealth and property as being capital for the hereafter and to spend in the way of Allah.
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“Some goods came to the prophet from Bahrain. Allah’s Messenger ordered me:
“Take them to the masjid and stack them up”.
The amount of these goods was the most that had ever been brought to the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) until that time. The prophet went to pray and did not even glance at the goods. When his prayer was finished he came and sat next to them. He gave out from those goods to whomever he saw… He left there having given out everything until there was not even a single dirham left” (Bukhari, Salat 42, Jizya 4, Jihad 172).
This is because he perceived this world, in comparison to the hereafter, to be a stopover on a traveller’s journey; the blessed house of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was also very humble. There was practically no furniture and he used to rest upon a straw mat.
One time when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw the marks on the body of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) from sleeping on this mat he began to weep and the Messenger of Allah asked him:
“Why are you weeping?”
“O Messenger of Allah. We all know how and where the Chosroes and Caesar sleep. But you are the Messenger of Allah!”
The prophet replied:
“Are you not content that they have the world but the hereafter is yours” (Muslim, Talaq, 31).
After this event Allah Most High revealed the following verse describing Paradise:
“And wherever you have a look therein, you will see unimaginable delight and a great kingdom” (Insan, 76:20) (Suyuti, Lubab al-Nuqul, Beirut 1426, p 252).
The Messenger of Allah’s house was also very small. Hasan Basri, who was the son of the maidservant of Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her), spent his childhood in the blessed house of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and said that when he was small he could touch the roof of his room.
One of the great leaders of the Tabi’een, Said ibn Musayyab said:
“By Allah I would have so much wanted that these rooms not be destroyed and remain as they are. In this way the new generations and those who visit these places could see with how little the Messenger of Allah was content with and how he did not compete to increase his wealth nor to boast about it” (Ibn Sa‘d, I, 499-500).
The items used by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and the clothes he wore were also just enough for him to get by with. He did not keep anything with him that was beyond his need, and would immediately give it away.
Qayla bint Mahrama (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“When I saw the Messenger of Allah he was wearing a garment made of two pieces of material which looked like sheets, It had been dyed with saffron and the colour had begun to fade” (Tirmidhi, Adab, 50).
According to a statement by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), on his demise, the prophet was wearing a garment made of two pieces, one of which was patched and the other which was very harsh (Muslim, Libas, 35; Tirmidhi, Libas, 10).
In terms of eating and drinking also the Messenger of Allah was very abstaining. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) once said to her sister’s son Urwa:
“We would see one crescent, then the next, and then another, that is we would see three crescents in two months, and yet there would be no fire lit (to cook a meal) in the house of the Messenger of Allah”. He said:
“My dear aunt! How did you get by then?” Aisha replied:
“With two black (things), that is dates and water. However the Messenger of Allah had some neighbours from the Ansar who had some milk producing animals. From time to time they would bring some milk from these animals to the Messenger of Allah and we would drink that” (Bukhari, Hiba 1, Riqaq 17; Muslim, Zuhd 28).
Allah’s Messenger also had his family live a life of abstinence. Sawban (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“Whenever the Messenger of Allah set out on a journey the last thing he would do was to give his farewells to his daughter Fatima. When he returned the first person he would stop by to see was also Fatima. One time the Messenger of Allah was again returning from a journey. Fatima had hung a curtain over her door and had also given her sons Hasan and Hussain two bangles of silver. The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Fatima’s house but he did not enter. Fatima realised that the reason why he did not enter was because of what he saw. She immediately removed the (decorative) curtain and the bangles from the wrists of her children…Hasan and Hussain went to the Messenger of Allah weeping. Allah’s Messenger gave their bangles to me and said:
“O Sawban! Take these bangles to such and such family. Undoubtedly these grandsons of mine are from my ahl al-bayt. I do not want them to consume the beautiful things that Allah will bestow on them in Paradise. O Sawban. Purchase for Fatima a necklace made of bone and two bangles of bone for my grandsons” (Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 21/4213).
This is how humble the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) raised his children. This was Fatima, the mother of the ahl al-bayt and the mother of those in the Golden Chain that is Abdulqadir Gaylani, Shah Naqshiband, Ahmad Rufai and many other awliya, asfiya, abrar and muqarrabin. She would also be, with the life of purity that she led, the model for all of the women in our community.
The zuhd of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upom him)
The Messenger of Allah would constantly remind his Companions of the hereafter and advise them to prepare for it. Hanzala (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the scribes of the revelation, narrates:
One day Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) saw me (crying) and asked:
“What is the matter o Hanzala?”
I replied in great sorrow and anxiety:
“Hanzala has become a hypocrite”.
“Subhanallah! What are you saying?” he said. I responded:
“When we are with the Messenger of Allah we are in such a state that when he reminds us and advises us about Paradise and Hell it is as if we can see Allah Almighty and Paradise and Hell with our own eyes. But when we leave his presence and delve into our worldly affairs and our wives and children, we lose most of what we felt and forget the advice of our prophet”.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“By Allah, this happens to me too”.
Then they both rose and went to the Messenger of Allah and told him the situation. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to them:
“I swear by Allah who holds my life in His Hand of Power that if you were able to maintain the state you are in when you are with me or be in a constant state of remembrance, then the angels would come and shake your hands and congratulate you while you were in your beds or walking (that is day and night)”.
(He then repeated three times):
“O Hanzala! Sometimes like this and sometimes like that” (Muslim, Tawbah, 12-13).
As can be understood by this narration the believer should strive to remember his Lord always and to protect himself from heedlessness to the best of his ability.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“One time we complained to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him):
“O Messenger of Allah. What is wrong with us that whenever we are with you, our hearts soften, we abstain from the world, and we become people of the hereafter. But when we leave you, and mix with our families and smell (the scent of) our children our state changes. We cannot believe the state we enter and how we can change so much”.
The prophet replied:
“If when you part from me you were able to maintain the state you are in while with me, the angels would visit you in your homes…” (Tirmidhi, Jannah, 2/2526).
Another piece of advice that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) gave to his community in order to make it easy for them to live in a climate of zuhd is as follows:
“Look at the living conditions of those worse off than you and do not look at those better off than you. This is a more befitting act for you in order that you do not belittle the favours that Allah has bestowed upon you” (Muslim, Zuhd, 9).
“…Whoever looks at those who are above them in religious matters and follows them and looks at those who are worse off than them in worldly matters and praises Allah for the bounties He has given him, Allah will write him down as being grateful and patient…” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 58/2512).
The lifestyle of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) teaches us this:
A Muslim should earn his worldly livelihood, spend of it as is enough for him without being extravagant, and give out what is left after his needs have been met, thus striving to gain the pleasure of Allah. All of creation should benefit from his hand, his tongue and his heart.
It is a good thing for the Muslims to be wealthy as long as they have the above realisation. To have great wealth and property is not inconsistent with zuhd and taqwa as long as the heart does not become attached to this wealth and one does not waste it. Likewise a small amount of wealth whose love has entered the heart and which has become one’s idol is incompatible with zuhd and taqwa.
The taqwa of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
– To protect oneself from everything that distances one from Allah,
– To dull the desires of one’s nafs and to develop one’s spiritual potential,
– To apply the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah with meticulous care to every aspect of one’s life,
– To train one’s inner world, and to carry out the religious rulings, interactions with others, and worship with great love, striving, sacrifice and passion.
– To be with Almighty Allah in one’s heart, and to have manifest in one’s heart beautiful traits such as kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness.
One can only attain these beautiful traits by loving Allah, Most High, as He is worthy of being loved and having a strong fear of losing His love or pleasure.
Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“…The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most taqwa… (Hujurat, 49:13).
“…Allah is the Protector of those who have taqwa“ (Jathiyya, 45:19).
“…(O believers) Take provision; but the best provision is taqwa of Allah. So have taqwa of Me, people of intelligence!” (Baqara, 2:197).
It is reported in a hadith:
“Fear of Allah is the beginning of all wisdom; and being wary of things which may lead to sin (wara’) is the master of all deeds” (Abu Nuaym, Hilya, II, 387).
“In the sight of Allah, the most pleasing of His servants is the one who has taqwa and does not make himself known (for it)” (Hakim, III, 303. See Ibn Majah, Fitan, 16).
“Those who are closest to me are those who, whoever and wherever they are, they are the muttaqi, who have taqwa of Allah” (Ahmad, V, 235; Haysami, IX, 22).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to pray often:
“O Allah! I ask You for guidance, taqwa, chastity and wealth of the soul” (Muslim, Dhikr, 72).
It was also very rare for him to leave an assembly without having made the following prayer:
“O Allah! Give us a fear of You that will come between us and our sins and stop us from committing them” (Tirmidhi, Deawat, 79)
One time the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made the following statement:
“I see what you do not see and I hear what you do not hear. The heavens are splitting. This is its right for there is no empty space of four fingers width where there is not an angel who bows down his forehead to Allah in prostration. By Allah if you knew what I know you would laugh little and weep much. You would not be able to occupy yourselves with your wives and you would take to the streets and ask for help for Allah with loud voices”.
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) who narrated this hadith said out of fear of Allah:
“How much I would have wished to be a piece of chopped wood.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 9/2312).
Due to his fear of Allah, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would even treat his enemies with great sensitivity and would flee from showing even the slightest amount of injustice. For this reason he would more often than not choose the path of forgiveness. The following event is a good example of this:
Suhayl ibn Amr, was the orator of the Quraysh. At a time when speech had great influence, he would constantly speak out against Islam and provoke the people. This man was captured during the Battle of Badr. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to rip out Suhayl’s front teeth so that his tongue hangs out. Then he can no longer speak against you or Islam anywhere at any time”.
However Allah’s Messenger responded:
“Leave him be o Umar! I cannot harm him in this way. If I were to do such a thing Allah, Most High, would do the same to me, even though I am a prophet. Do not be hasty. The day may come when he will make a speech that will please you and make you praise him (Ibn Hisham, II, 293).
In truth, this miracle of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came true and this man became Muslim during the conquest of Mecca. Upon the death of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), when there were movements which turning away from the religion, at a tumultuous time when Mecca was being rocked, he gave a sermon which calmed the people and saved them from the great loss of losing their faith. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) heard these words of Suhayl he remembered the words of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and, with eyes filled tears, he said:
“O Messenger of Allah! I bear witness once more that you are the Messenger of Allah”.
One time the prophet’s eyes filled with tears due to his fear of Allah and he said:
“My fear of Allah makes me weep for He has sent me upon a path of righteousness which is finer and sharper than a sword; if I deviate from it in the slightest, I will be ruined” (Abu Nuaym, Dalail, I, 237).
In fact according to a narration by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) the Messenger of Allah (said that) when a particular person heard the following verse being recited ‘With Us there are shackles and a Blazing Fire’, that a person fell down and fainted (Ali al-Muttaqi, VII, 206/18644).
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) feared having to be taken account on the Day of Judgement that he even abandoned many lawful things from his daily life.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“A glass was brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). In it was milk and honey. Allah’s Messenger said:
“Two bounties within one drink and two katik within one drink. I do not need this. However I do not believe that it is unlawful. Only I fear that on the Day of Judgement Almighty Allah will take me to account for any extravagance in this world. I am humble for the sake of Allah. Whoever is humble for the sake of Allah, Allah will elevate him, and whoever is arrogant Allah will degrade him. Whoever is frugal Allah will make him wealthy, and whoever remembers death much, Allah Most High will love him” (Haysami, X, 325).
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to give the following advice:
“A servant cannot reach the degree of a muttaqi without distancing himself, out of fear of committing a sin, from certain things that are not objectionable” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 19/2451; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 24).
“If a person swears an oath about a certain thing and then sees something which is more befitting of taqwa, let him break his oath and do the thing which is more in accord with taqwa” (Muslim, Ayman, 15).
In short, a believer should carry out his every act with the notion: “Is this act of mine in accordance with the pleasure of Allah or will it draw his wrath (upon me)?”
Above all else he should strive to possess the fear of Allah and taqwa.
It has been experienced over and over again that to try to learn other knowledge without first possessing knowledge of taqwa itself has dangerous consequences.
Let us add lastly that it is not possible for us to completely explain the worship, dhikr and taqwa of the Messenger of Allah nor it is possible to describe the depth and beauty within them.
We have only tried to give a few examples. When reading about these examples let us never forget the following words of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him):
“Whenever you hear a hadith, a word or a situation narrated to you, know that Allah’s Messenger is much more superior and beyond what you hear in terms of guidance, salah (goodness and virtue) and taqwa” (Ahmad, I, 122).
Salawat u Sharif – The heart’s bond with the prophet
Almighty Allah has said:
‘Allah and His angels call down blessings on the Prophet. You who have faith! Call down blessings on him and ask for complete peace and safety for him’ (Ahzab, 33:56).
Almighty Allah and the angels, the number of which nobody knows but Himself are constantly sending blessings upon the prophet. In that case, we too should remember the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) at every moment of our lives, submit to him wholly and invoke much peace and blessings upon him.
Ubayy ibn Ka’b (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
I once asked the Messenger of Allah:
“O Messenger of Allah. I invoke a great number of blessings upon you. How much should I do this?” He replied:
“As much as you wish”.
“If I allocate a fourth of my prayer for invoking blessings upon you, is that appropriate?”
“Allocate as much as you wish. But if you can do more than that would be better for you”.
“In that case I will allocate half of my prayer” I said.
“Do as much as you wish. But if you can do more than that would be better for you”.
I asked once more:
“Would two-thirds be enough?”
“As much as you wish. But if you increase it, it will be better for you”.
“In that case how would it be if I invoke peace and blessings upon you for my entire prayer?”
“In that case, Allah, Most High, will bestow upon you all of your desires in both this world and the next and He will forgive you your sins” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 23/2457; Hakim, II, 457/3578; Bayhaqi, Shuab, III, 85/1418; Abdurrazzaq, II, 214).
Salat u salam is so important that the Messenger of Allah himself invoked peace and blessings upon the rank of prophethood. He did this in order to comply with the command of Allah and to be an example to his community.
When a believer invokes peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), he responds with an even better response. This is enough of a reward for the believer, for the prayer of the prophet is always acceptable in the sight of Allah and never is it rejected.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)said:
“When a person sends peace and blessings upon me, Allah Most High returns my spirit to me so that I can return his salam” (Abu Dawud, Manasiq, 96).
“I hear the one who sends blessings upon me by my graveand the blessings of the one who sends them to me from afar, reach me” (Bayhaqi, Shuab, II, 215).
It is a very virtuous act of worship to be occupied with invoking peace and blessings upon the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on Fridays in particular. Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
One day the Messenger of Allah said:
“Invoke much salawat upon me on Fridays. That day is a day when the angels are present and witnessing. Whoever sends blessings upon me on that day, will have them presented to me. This will continue until he stops invoking blessings”.
“Even after you pass away?” The prophet replied:
“Yes even after I pass away. Allah, Most High, has forbidden the earth to eat up the bodies of the prophets. Allah’s Prophet is alive and is always provided for” (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 65. See Abu Dawud, Salat 201/1047, Witr 26).
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) has said:
“Whoever invokes blessings upon the prophet one hundred times on a Friday will arrive on the place of gathering on the Day of Judgement with a beautiful and radiant face. People will look at him admiringly asking each other: “I wonder what deed it was that this individual performed?” (Bayhaqi, Shuabu al-Iman, III, 212).
Invoking blessings and peace upon the prophet is a sign of the degree of love felt for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). This results in closeness to him. It is said in a hadith:
“The one closest to me on the Day of Judgement is the one who invoked much peace and blessings upon me” (Tirmidhi, Witr, 21/484).
Allah, Most High, is pleased with those who recite salutations and blessings, and bestows such great bounties and favours upon them that are impossible to describe. Allah, Most High, shows mercy ten times on the one who invokes peace and blessings upon the prophet once, He wipes away ten of his mistakes, and raises his rank by ten degrees. The angel Gabriel also asks for forgiveness ten times for the one who invokes salawat once and for the one who sends salam, he sends salam ten times.
Almighty Allah cannot be pleased with our remaining indifferent to His Beloved whom He sent as a mercy to all the worlds. This is why those who are miserly when it comes to reciting salat u salam upon the prophet will lose their way to Paradise. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) has said:
“If a gathering sits in an assembly and does not remember Allah or invoke peace and blessings upon their prophet then this is a great defect on their part and a cause for their painful loss and regret. They will also be deserving of punishment by Allah. If Allah Most High so wills He will punish them, or if He so wills He will forgive them” (Tirmidhi, Dawat, 8/3380).
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) has said:
“To invoke peace and blessings upon the prophet (with sincerity) will nullify sins quicker than water extinguishes fire. To send greetings of peace to him (with love) is more virtuous than freeing many slaves. To love the Messenger of Allah is better than the essence of life itself and striking with a sword in the way of Allah” (Hatib al-Baghdadi, Tarihu Baghdad, Beirut 1422, VIII, 39).
. See Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 1/3616; Darimi, Muqaddima, 8; Ahmad, VI, 241; Haysami, IX, 29; Ali al Muttaqi, Kanzu al Ummal, XI, 406/31893.
. Ibn Batta al-Uqbari, al-Ibanat al-Kubra, no: 99; Ibn Taymiyyah, as-Sarimu al-Maslul, Beirut 1417, I, 59.
. Ibn Batta al-Uqbari, ibid, no: 100.
. See Abdurrazaq,Musannaf, III, 183; Haysami, IX, 192.
. See Ibn Majah, Taharah, 4; Muwatta’, Taharah, 36; Ahmad, V, 276, 282; Darimi, Taharah, 2.
. See Tirmidhi, Taharah, 44/60; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 66/171.
. See Bukhari, Wudu’, 75; Muslim, Dhikr, 56.
. See Abu Dawud, Jihad, 162/2774-2775; Ibn Majah, Salat, 192.
. See Muslim, Dhikr, 83; Abu Dawud, Tatawwu’, 22/1319.
. See Bukhari, Kusuf, 2-4; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, VII, 68, 100. Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, II, 220.
. See al Baqara, 45, 153; Al-i Imran, 41, 113; Hud, 114; Hijr, 98-99; Isra, 78-79, 107; Maryam, 58; Anbiya, 130; Nur, 36; Furqan, 64; Shu’ara, 218-219; Sajda, 15-16; Sad, 17-19; Zumar, 9; Mu’min, 55; Fath, 29; Qaf, 39-40; Tur, 48-49; Insan, 26; Alaq, 19… Ibn Abbas says that where the word tasbih ismentioned in the Holy Qur’an, it generally has the meanings of prayer (Tabari, Tafsir, XIX, 191, [Nur, 36]). In the Hadith, the word tasbih is seen to mean the supererogatory prayer. See Bukhari, Tahajjud, 5; Muslim, Hayd 71, Masajid, 26; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 44/2551…
. Abu Dawud, Salat, 156-157/904; Nasai, Sahw, 18.
. Musalla is the name given to a wide space allocated for the community to pray together on Fridays, the eid prayer and the funeral prayer. In the beginning there would be places like this arranged in the outskirts of the cities for such congregational prayers and the eid and Friday prayers would be performed in such places rather than in various mosques as today. In this way the entire population of the city would get together.
. See Abu Dawud, Jihad, 44/2551.
. See Muddathir, 3.
According to this hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) first recited Baqara, then from Nisa, then from Al’i Imran. This reading is not in line with the present order of these chapters in the Holy Qur’an of Baqara, Al’i Imran, then Nisa. Exponents of hadith explain the wisdom in this in two ways: The first is that the final order of the chapters had not been finalised at that time. The second is that permission has been given to recite in this order.
. In actual fact, prophets do not knowingly commit sins. Their ‘mistakes’ are either in abandoning the better option or minor ‘slips’ called ‘zelle’. There are various reasons or wisdoms in this. Almighty Allah does not allow these ‘slips’ to remain but immediately corrects them.
. Muslim, Siyam, 204; Ibn Huzayma, Sahih, Beirut 1970, II, 52.
. See Musli, Siyam, 204.
. See Bukhari, Sawm 47, 69, Anbiya 24; Muslim, Siyam, 113-133; Tirmidhi, Sawm, 48; Ahmad, I, 241.
. See Bukhari, Iydayn 11. In addition see Abu Dawud, Sawm, 61; Tirmidhi, Sawm, 52; Ibn Maja, Siyam, 39.
. See Muslim, Siyam, 172-173, 176.
. See Bukhari, Sawm, 48.
. See Abu Dawud, Adahi, 3-4/2792; Tirmidhi, Adahi, 20/1521; Ibn Maja, Adahi, 1; Ibn Sa’d, I, 249.
. See Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 33/2470.
. See Abu Nuaym, Hilya, IV, 81. In addition, see Haysami, III, 110, 111; Ali al Muttaqi, VI, 377/16134.
. See Bukhari, Maghazi 29, Manaqib 25; Muslim, Ashriba, 141-143; Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 39; Waqidi, II, 452.
. See Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 33-35/3055; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, XIV, 262-264; Haysami, X, 242.
. Haysami, VII, 47; Mubarakfuri, Tuhfatu al Ahwazi, II, 473-474; Ibn Hajar, Telhisu al Habir, IV, 206.
. See Tirmidhi Dawat, 88/3521.
. Abdulhamid ibn Muhammad Ali, az Zahairu al Qudsiyya fiy Ziyarati Hayri al Beriyya, Beirut 1428, p. 192.
 karahat are the disliked times of prayer, for instance it is discouraged to pray right after the sun has risen, just before noon, when the sun is at its peak, and right before sunset (Translator’s note).
. Bukhari, Jihad, 131-132; Muslim, Dhikr, 44-46; Ahmad, III, 333.
. See Ahzab, 33:21.
. See Bukhari, Manaqib, 25.
. al-Wabilu al-Sayyib p 61. Fayda.
. Muhammad Parsa, The talks of Muhammad Bahauddin, p. 59.
. Muhammad Parsa, ibid, p. 59.
. Muhammad Parsa, ibid, p. 60.
. See Muslim, Musafirin, 203; Nasai, Qiyamu al layl, 25.
. See Nasai, Iftitah, 79; Ahmad, V, 156.
. See Muslim, Musafirin, 142; Ahmad, IV, 9; Ibn Maja, Salat, 178.
. See Tirmidhi, Fadail al Qur’an, 23.
. See Bukhari, Manaqibu al Ansar, 45; Ahmad, IV, 176; Ibn Hisham, II, 103; Hakim, III, 7.
. See Bukhari, Bad’u al Khalq 6, Fadail al Qur’an 7, Sawm 7; Muslim, Fadail 50.
. See Ahmad, I, 405; Tabari I, 28; Mukaddimetan, pub. A. Jeffery, p. 74, 227; Tahir al Jazairi, at Tibyan p. 26.
. Badraddin al-Ayni, Umdat al-Qari, I, 61; XXIV, 128, Beyrut.
. See Bukhari, Tafsir, 4/9; Muslim, Iman 346, Musafirin 203, 247, Dhikr 38; Nasai, Qiyamu al layl, 25; Muwatta’, Qur’an, 4, 11; Haysami, VII, 165; Qurtubi, Tafsir, I, 40.
. Nasai, Iftitah, 79; Ahmad, V, 156.
. See Muslim, Janaiz, 102.
. Abu Bakr ibn Hallal, al Kirae inda al Kubur, Beirut 1424, p. 89, no: 7.
. For details on this matter refer to my book Civilisation of Virtues.
. See Bukhari, Jihad, 33, 110, Manaqabu al Ansar 9, Maghazi 29, Riqaq 1; Muslim, Jihad 126, 129; Tirmidhi, Manaqib 55; Ibn Maja, Masajid 3; Waqidi, II, 824.
. Qirat: this was a measurement which came to the weight of five barley which corresponded to approximately 0.2125 grams.
. Ibn Sa’d, VII, 161; Suhayli, I, 248.
. In other narrations, Hanzala went to Abu Bakr, weeping and complaining about his state (See Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 59/2514; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 28; Ahmad, IV, 178).
 Ibn Hisham, IV 346; Waqidi, I, 107; Balazuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, I, 303-304; Ibn Abdi al-Barr, Istiab, II, 669-671; Hakim, III, 318/5228.
 Muzzammil, 73:12.
 A katik is a type of food eaten with bread (Translator’s note).
 Salawat u sharifa or salat u salam is to recite or invoke salutations and blessings upon the prophet Muhammad (saw) (Translator’s note)
 See Bukhari, Isti’zan, 28; Abu Dawud, Salat, 18/465; Tirmidhi, Salat, 117/314; Ibn Majah, Masajid, 13.
 See Nisa, 4:86.
. The commentators explain the angels being a witness on Fridays as follows: On Fridays the angels come and stand at the door of the masjid and write down who arrives at the masjid in order. They shake hands and greet those who pray and ask for their forgiveness. They also bear witness to the other good deeds of the believers.
 See Tirmidhi, Witr, 21/485. In addition see Muslim, Salat, 70; Abu Dawud, Witr, 26/1530; Nasai, Adhan, 37/676.
 See Nasai, Sahw, 55/1290.
 See Nasai, Sahw 55/1293.
 See Ibn Maja, Iqama, 25.